I've only come across your blog lately, but have been furiously reading through the content on your site; it's fantastic. Thank you for sharing your wisdom.
I'll try to keep this as short as I can. I am 34, live in Canada, married, with 3 small children. We are very adventurous. We grew up on farms, and know the ins and outs of organic gardening well, and I can build and fix things with reasonably good skill. I am fluent in English and German, and am quickly upgrading my French and Spanish. I have a well paying sales job in an industry (aerospace/automotive related), and we're both freelance musicians and educators. I know that when the SHTF, my job won't be very safe.
In the last 2 years, in light of the wisdom that people like you have opened my eyes to, we have put "our house in order". We have sold our house, are renting, and have paid off all debts, and accumulated about $50K in liquid savings.
Now, we are starting to look for some property/house in South America, both as a place to escape to when the inevitable collapse comes, and as a place to expand our family's horizons, and begin our world travels. Our goal is to have a base somewhere in South America - we're favouring Argentina, but have looked at Uruguay as well.
I have found many answers to my questions on sites like yours, but there are a few that I could really use some advice on.
1. Given our financial situation (no debt, but not huge savings), what kind of property could be obtain, and would you recommend buying? We like living rurally, but close enough to a fairly good sized city.
2. I have a good skill-set and language situation, and my wife and I have a lot of music educating experience, as well as performing. Where would you direct me to either find a job, or work freelance to sustain a living?
3. I would like to travel to South America myself in the near future to "scope things out". Any tips on how to best spend my time (1-2 weeks) there, in order to prepare to move my family there within 8-14 months? Would you be at all open to meeting with me when I come down to your country?
I really appreciate any insight you might be able to provide. I'm sure you get many, many inquiries.
Hi Terry, I’ll be honest with you. I don’t think you’ll be making enough money here as a musician or music teacher. You might have better luck teaching English to people that can afford it, but that also means you’ll have to sacrifice some the idea of rural living given that you’ll need enough population that requires your services. I can’t emphasize how important it will be to have people’s skills, clients wont be knocking your door, you’ll have to meet people, make friends, talk a lot, be nice, etc. You should actually start right away with the online expat communities of the location you wish to go to. Expats are usually friendly/helpful with one another and that’s your best shot at finding a job.
There’s also some people that moved to Patagonia from USA, but the problem there is that most of them are the retired type (no kids) with good incomes. You’d be mostly dealing with wealthy or middle class Argentines that want their kids to learn English. Education is still important for educated, middle class or rich folks around here and its common for families with middle class income to make the extra effort so as to send their kids to bilingual schools so that they fluently speak English. With the new Chavez-like politics leaking into our culture, there’s more “gringo=bad person, greedy capitalist” but there’s enough people still that know better. 10 years from now and another K presidency? That might change a bit.
50K isn’t that much around here any more. Even for moving to Panama, they ask for a 100K investment. Real estate prices may not be as bad a in Canada, but its not Dominican Republic either. I’ve checked Canada’s real estate before, and in general you’re looking at prices that are 40% cheaper than in Canada, so while there are places for that kind of money (50K), they may not be what you had in mind and your options are more limited. Forget about anything fancy, or some of those American gated communities in Patagonia or up north. With that kind of budget, you’re better off looking in Uruguay in my opinon.
Its not easy to move to a strange country, I wouldn’t move from Canada and all the options it represents for my kids to Patagonia where his view of the world and his options would be much more limited, but that’s just me.
I’ll give you an example of how this could work ok or go very wrong. We have some friends from back when we lived in Boston that got divorced a few years ago. They are both Argentine but had their kids and lived most of their lives in USA. Kids already grown up and both having good jobs, each of them was left with 800K after the house was sold.
He decided to retire to the Argentine South (Patagonia) close to Bariloche. He bought 3 houses, about 250K each, rents two and lives in one. The rent he gets from those two properties is enough for him to live. On the other hand, she stayed in USA, bought a 400K home and a very fancy car, the real estate bubble exploded and lost half of that, then lost some more money due to the expensive lifestyle she had. Finally she moved back to her hometown in Argentina. She had 400K left and was told that was enough by her relatives here. She bought a nice 300K home, soon burned through the 100K she had left. Now she wants to move back to USA, but doesn’t have the money she used to and the chances of her finding a job in USA again at her age aren’t very good. Small town Argentine life isn’t what she expected of course. Her husband had a much more realistic idea of what life in Patagonia would be like (Alaska type nature, but little chance of earning a living).
If you’re the adventurous type, then you’d deal with these kinds of inconveniences better.
I suggest you read Tom Frost and his website. I’ve met him before, he’s lived in Argentina, then bought a farm in Uruguay and is now living in Japan for a year. Here’s an article he wrote with a couple good points and this is his website. If you email him, tell him Fernando“FerFAL” says hi! :-) http://www.expatarrivals.com/article/confessions-of-an-expat
Regarding your questions.
1- I wouldn’t waste much time in Argentina, specially not with the budget you have in mind. Uruguay is more affordable and its still close to Buenos Aires in case you need to travel, or other things a big city has to offer. Close to Montevideo would be your best bet, check some of the smaller, more affordable towns near by. Colonia is also nice, but the population may be too low.
2- As I was saying, your best bet is teaching English rather than music. There’s lots of musicians around here, but not that many people that speak English fluently. Landing a teaching job in Montevideo is more realistic. You could try finding teaching jobs in Buenos Aires, Cordoba, San Luis (cheap land and OK province for what you have in mind) or try finding that sort of job in Bariloche or Calafate. Don’t be that adventurous, try finding the jobs on line before making the jump. Contact expats in these locations and see what help they can give you. Captain Rick is a good friend and lives in Mar del Plata, he could give you some guidance as well.
3- Of course, I have no problem in meeting with readers visiting Buenos Aires. I do that often when I can. I’ve been offered jobs by real estate brokers here targeting Americans, but I don’t like the angle they are going for and don’t feel comfortable lying to people about what they are to expect in Argentina. Real Estate brokers tend to do that you know. :-)
I would do everything I can on line, contact expats in Argentina and Uruguay so as to take advantage of the trip. Other than Buenos Aires, unless you have solid contacts in Patagonia or other provinces, your time would be best spent in Uruguay. Contact Tom Frost regarding Uruguay, he will give you good advice.
Take care and good luck!FerFAL