Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Moving to Cafayate, Salta, in Argentina?

Recently got and enjoyed your book.  Scary times ahead but very practical information and suggestions as opposed to buy a cabin and spending tens of thousands of dollars stocking it etc…..
I’m in financial services and one of the researchers I read suggests having a place to go in another country, similar to you.  He has chosen Argentina.  Here is the link to the place.  http://www.laestanciadecafayate.com/
I thought this was interesting since you are writing about survival based on reality in Argentina and he’s look at Argentina as a place to survive when the SHTF in the U.S.  Any thoughts.
Again really appreciate you sharing your knowledge!

Hi Ryan,
I’m glad you enjoyed my book.
The researcher you read makes that suggestion because he happens to be very much interested in selling you his real estate investment in Argentina. There’s nothing wrong with that but it is up to you to investigate beyond the salesman’s speech.
Why chose Argentina and market it as the best place in the planet to live in? I´m sure the decision to build in Argentina is for the client’s best interest and not merely looking to maximize profit by building in a poor country hundreds of thousands of locals that had the means to do so decided to leave behind. What confuses me is that besides building in a poor country, they chose to build this country club in one of its poorest provinces, in the province of Salta, almost 2000 miles away from the country’s only international airport. Rich people in Argentina live in the safe parts of Buenos Aires like Recoleta, but then again you can buy all the land you want in Salta for the price of an apartment in Recoleta.
You’d think that begin in the belly of a country that is already the belly of the world would have some benefits. Maybe solitude, isolation from the cruel reality around you? Well,… no.  in Cafayate you’re not just far away from Buenos Aires, you’re also just 20 km away from Tucuman, the poorest province, with the greatest amount of poor people in Argentina. This is actually where people first started to starve to death in Argentina after 2001 (little girl Barbarita)

You’d think that being 20 km away from this paradise that is Salta people from Tucuman would just walk and pick the plentitude of fruits that just happen to pour out of the ground. Well… no. You see, Cafayate (which is in the province of Salta) , Tucuman and most of the northwest of Argentina is desert. You have wine, but that’s all you’re going be growing there, using artificial irrigation.  Argentina is a long country with different climates. The pampas are green, lustful, that’s where most of the crops and cattle are. So is the northeast with its plentitude of water. Rich Americans bought in Patagonia down south, that’s where the lakes are and Ted Turner bought a huge place, his own private lake included so as to ensure his water supply. But Salta? That’s mostly desert, and without artificial irrigation you’d have no golf, no wine and nothing growing there. This is a huge strategic mistake, placing yourself in one of the few places in Argentina that seriously lacks water. Land is cheap there though, so that’s an advantage if you’re looking to buy for little money, build houses and then sell for 400.000 USD a pop. In terms of business, yes, if you plan on buying a few acres, building some roads and homes and selling it to Americans for what it would cost to buy a nice home in a first world country, by all means go for it.

Such a middle of nowhere place should be safe at least. Well… no. You’re close to the border with Bolivia and drugs, illegal weapons and sex slaves go back and forth all day. You’re too close to dirt poor Tucuman which has its own share of shanty towns (the place IS mostly shantytowns) and Salta is plenty of poor on its own in spite of some locations where tourists visit. “FerFAL, you’re mean, stupid and hate Salta for some reason!” Well…no. As a matter of fact just two days ago a couple of French tourist girls got brutally raped and murdered in Salta, just a few miles away from supposedly safe Cafayate. Don’t hold your breath, it has happened before and the murderers will not be found. People getting killed in Argentina happens just too often for any serious investigation, especially in a God forsaken province up northwest.
Salta is still beautiful. The desert, la Puna, Salta capital city? Just a beautiful little town and the colors in the desert, those red, orange and brown combine in incredible ways. Hotter than hell but beautiful.
Infrastructure? Well… no.  Salta is small, Cafayate 100 miles away from the capital city of Salta is just a few blocks across (9 blocks across to be precise) of which two are pictouresque, including one block that is a nice little park. Other than that it’s a dirt poor little town in the middle of nowhere. Yes, you can buy wine there. Then again you can buy the same wine or better in any city of this planet. Guess where the best wines of Argentina get exported to? Everywhere else except 10.000 population, dirt poor Cafayate. You better like the wine they make there a lot because that’s all you’ll be drinking.
I try not to sound one sided and keep looking for things that would make a sane person drop half a million bucks in Cafayate. Lets see… education. No at all. You wont find a half good school anywhere near the place. You may find a bilingual school in Salta capital city if you’re willing to commute 200 miles every day. Still the education you’d get there would be poor at any level and your kids will hate your guts if you took them from USA to such a place. Now if you come from Liberia where people eat each other after combat, that’s different. I’d rather live in Cafayate than Liberia. But then again if I had half a million dollars to spend, or even USD 200.000, I wouldn’t chose to move to Salta. Don’t take my word for all this. Use google maps and you can see all of this, drop the little yellow guy and take a look at all that beautiful desert all around you.

In terms of fun, restaurants and entertainment all you have is a couple restaurants in Cafayate itself (which I’m sure are world class) and the golf of the country club itself and that’s it. Forget about ever catching a last minute movie ever again (unless you drive the 200 miles back and forth to Salta city) What if you need medical attention? Like what if you break a leg or suffer an attack? If you broke a leg or got cut you better know how to stop the bleeding, man up and drive to Salta City unless you want to risk it with one of these little emergency rooms where you’ll mostly catch an infection and they have the equipment and personnel to barely stitch you up (without anesthesia). A heart attack? Hey, you get to die surrounded by beautiful desert. There’s far worse ways to go.
Now don’t get me wrong here folks, please. All I know of Argentina is based on living here practically all my life, having traveled from Salta to Ushuaia, living in the province of Cordoba for two years, the rest in Buenos Aires, so that’s as far as my knowledge goes. I shoot every Friday and after that have dinner with street cops, police sergeants, special operations instructors, a judge and a local district attorney and we always end up talking about the crime problem in our country. That’s how I learn certain things that I’ll never see on TV, like for example that several police districts in the city don’t have enough money to buy the gasoline needed to patrol the streets every day, so one day a week patrols are canceled, and its that day when you especially don’t want to risk going out because it becomes no man’s land.

Maybe its main trait is that it’s a cheap place to live in. Well… no. The properties in this particular place seem to be selling pretty expensive. They start at USD 200.000 and go up to USD 600.000. Seems that the golf and “wine” justify this sort of price. “But I’m sure its dirt cheap to live there, Fernando”. Well I’m sure its not. The price of the property is already more than what I would pay even if I’m drunk, high on heroin and you put a gun to my head. Ok, maybe if you threat to shoot me, that’s the only way I’d pay those prices in Salta. These sort of places have HUGE fixed expenses, and the cost of living in Salta, WITH THE LIFE STANDARD AN AMERICAN IS USED TO, will indeed be significant. Some people live in Salta with 500 USD a month, some live in Salta with nothing at all, but then again I doubt an American is planning to live in Salta in a mud hut with a dirt floor, with no running water, eating fried tortillas to survive, which is how these people that live with such low incomes manage to live.

Golf playing, wine drinking American expat, with a big house and a couple maids  in Cafayate or anywhere else? Yes you can do it if you have 10.000 USD a month at your disposal.  Maids aren’t cheap, not even in Cafayate and especially not when a rich American is paying. Health care is just as expensive as in USA, buying a car will cost twice as much, the expenses will soon pile up beyond what you could possibly believe. Buying anything from a washing machine to a TV or a simple flash drive will cost you 3 or 4 times as much as you would pay in USA. Buenos Aires is already expensive, this sort of gig in Salta will blow your mind after a few months.
What about your rights, Argentine politics? In political and legal terms it’s like living in Venezuela for an American. Chavez and our president Cristina are best buds and think alike. Soon enough I wouldn’t be surprised if they take away the property of “gringos”.

As beautiful as Salta is, its mostly freaking desert, and you have just as beautiful places, even prettier ones, more vast with wildlife you cant even dream of in Argentina, already in USA. No sane person leaves USA for Argentina because of nature. For a nature lover USA is a far better option. Go to California if you want wine that bad. Half a million buck home? Why not France?
Having said all that, the heart wants what the heart wants. If you must live in Cafayate by all means do so. When you need a tooth repaired or to buy some clothes and need to travel to Buenos Aires drop by and we’ll have some coffee if I’m still living in Argentina. If I had that kind of money and income I know Salta would be the last place on Earth were I’d end up.

Join the forum discussion on this post


CapnRick said...

Lots of folks think Argentina is cheaper than the USA. My wife is visiting Miami now to close on some condo and home deals at prices you would not believe... far below Mar del Plata prices... more than half the price of a comparable property in MarDel.

A loaf of sandwich bread in Miami is usd$2, and it is usd$4 here.

It is good to do all the reasearch you can reasonably do prior to seriously planning a move.

Anonymous said...


I have seen you post before about precious metals, inflation from govt printing money to pay its debt, Ron Paul, and other economic issues in your country and the US. Walter Block is an Austrian Econ guy, just like Ron Paul. I have seen him speak in person and he is great. If you are in the area it would definitely be worth it to attend!

The Austrians were the group who predicted everything. I made a lot of money off of buying gold when it was cheap, for instance, just from following what the Austrians said would happen.

I believe lewrockwell.com linked to you recently, too. Let me know if you attend!

russell1200 said...

You forgot dinosaur fossil hunting. Was not the rather odd sauropod dinosaur "Saltasaurus" found in Salta?

Anonymous said...


Do you agree or disagree with this article? Boom times in Argentina?


Anonymous said...

Oh man, Casey again? Read some of his newsletters. The man completely lacks humility. I remember reading him brag how much of a greater man he was than Gates or Buffett. Yeah, OK... greater, just a little poorer. In any case, he reminds his readers of why he never gives to charity and why Gates and Buffett are fools for doing so.

The crazy thing about the so-called credible financial writers (Richard Russell, Doug Casey, Addison Wiggins, Jim Puplava, John Doody, Bill Bonner, Frank Barbera etc.) is that they know each other and read one another. A lot of them have respect for Casey and I can't understand why. The only one of these writers that has been consistently on target is Richard Russell. Follow the others to help them beef up their portfolios while you go broke. I know from having read them for years. I know people that have lost fortunes with those tools. Only Russell has been right, and his big call years ago (buy gold/silver) is now past and he has no good advice for readers other than to keep your powder dry. Casey will have you buying "prime real estate" which, fortunately, FerFAL while protect you from by smacking you in the head with some common sense. Thanks, FerFAL.

Trey said...

Argentina nabs 7 suspects in French tourist deaths


Sometimes the authorities do try. Can't hurt the tourist trade, you know...

Anonymous said...

Here is a news article in the Miami Herald today:
Argentina nabs 7 suspects in French tourist deaths:

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina -- Argentine authorities have detained seven people, including the son and daughter of a high-ranking local police official, for questioning in the rape and slaying of two French tourists whose bodies were being flown back to Paris on Sunday.
Investigative Judge Martin Perez didn't identify the suspects, but Argentine news media are reporting that they include a police commissioner's adult children, who were arrested after they were found with the victims' camera and cell phone.
Salta's judicial authority announced on its website that all the suspects were arrested Saturday and will be formally questioned by the judge on Monday.
Along with semen, hair and skin from the victim's fingernails that is now being examined in Buenos Aires by Argentine and French experts to extract DNA, police also recovered a gun that appears to match the .22-caliber bullets that killed 29-year-old Cassandre Bouvier and 20-year-old Moumni Houria, the judicial authority announced.
It was the cell phone that led investigators to the latest suspects, El Tribuno, the local newspaper, cited unidentified police sources as saying in its Sunday edition.
When someone put in a new chip and turned on the phone Friday, detectives traced the signal to the home of the police official. Detectives then raided the home overnight and arrested the son - himself a police cadet - and daughter. Many digital images and phone records remain in both devices, the paper reported.
The paper reported that the daughter said her boyfriend, who works as a part-time tour guide, had given her the phone; the son said his cousin sold him the camera. Police followed the leads and arrested the other men, who include a caretaker of a gated community of weekend homes near the trail where the women had gone hiking, and several tour guides.
Bouvier and Houria had studied in the Sorbonne's Latin America program and had come to Argentina for an academic conference before their side trip to provincial Salta. Police now believe the guides led the women to an isolated spot where they and some of the others could rob and rape them, El Tribuno reported.
By the time a hiker came across their bodies on July 29, two weeks had passed since they had last been seen alive.

Read more: http://www.miamiherald.com/2011/08/07/2348768/argentina-nabs-7-suspects-in-french.html#ixzz1UMe1iIxw

Anonymous said...

Killed with a .22

But I thought the 9mm was a wimpy round... so what does that make the .22? You mean .22s can kill people?

Sorry for the sarcasm, and sorry for the French girls. "Cute" that these scum rapists (if this isn't a frameup) were involved with the police. Totally sick. What a sad world for the common man or woman.

So much for Doug Casey's South American Paradise. :-/

joe-7k said...

Your debunking of Salta is hilarious. Too bad some rich fools will be parting with some of their money by buying into this Doug Casey project. I like visiting deserts but I prefer to live where these is water, rain, green grass and wildlife. And this is where I live.