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Photo from The Simon Letter

That’s the question, isn’t it?  Especially with so many choices. And there are plenty of those.

You have the southern part of South America, where we are located, Colombia has finally been able to settle their civil problems and real estate investment advisers tell us that prices of real estate in Medellin, for example, represent real opportunity. Costa Rica has a large expat community with more expats moving in all the time.

A friend of Four Flags Journal, who works internationally, sends us information about Spain. There are beautiful properties now on the bargain table there, he says.

And that hardly scratches the surface. If you’re flush with cash, you might even consider Singapore.

We know that some of you have not been outside your home country, especially is this true of subscribers in the United States. We had been outside our home country on several occasions, but not to anywhere we would ever want to live. When  our son, who was working internationally, started talking to us about moving to Latin America, we thought the kid had lost his mind. WHY would we ever do that? Plus I confess that            mention of South America brought up visions of bamboo shacks and dirt floors.

But on his recommendation we journeyed south, first to Chile and then crossed the border into Bariloche, Argentina. And we fell in love at first sight–with Argentina.  Within days of our arrival there our son had bought an apartment with a view  of the lake and the mountains.

Of course now we live in Buenos Aires.

But we’ve lived in Uruguay and are happy there as well. We’ve spent lots of time in Chile and see a great deal of things to commend Chile. Friends in Paraguay assure us that the only people who don’t like Paraguay are people who have never been there! Each country has its good points and bad points. There is no Shangri La as you all know. We researched Chile extensively but one look at Argentina and that was all it took.

So it’s good to do all the research, but then go and visit if that’s possible. However, we do know expats who had never been to South America, who arrived with five suitcases and never went back for a visit–and they’re doing just fine. One of them even has a radio show that she runs from a small town in Uruguay.

We have our reasons for staying in this area. In our opinion, it is still the best choice from a logical point of view. OUR logic but it is a personal decision. Your situation and your preferences are what counts in your decision.

First a few words for those with young children. We can clearly see that, as technology advances, the world is going global, At the same time, with sadness we watch the U.S. gradually losing their place of  leadership in the world. Trade and business are becoming much more international. Most serious economists tell us that opportunity for our children is now moving offshore. If we, at Four Flags Journal, knew then what we know now, we would bring our children to South America while they were young and let them learn to speak Spanish like natives. The only move that could be even better, in our opinion, would be a move to Singapore where they could learn to speak native level Mandarin Chinese, Singapore is a very expensive place to live and South America is an acceptable second choice.

As you analyze your own opportunities, lifestyle, financial status, ethnicity and interests, your choice might be very different from ours. But perhaps knowing our process will help you.

We have already told you the emotional side of our decision–our instant love for the area. Argentina is still my favorite country in this hemisphere. Yes the government and the economy are insane, Argentina  probably isn’t the best place to start a business, though we know one expat who owns, not  one, but seven businesses in Buenos Aires. You also wouldn’t want to bank  here for more than an amount necessary to function  in the country. But people are managing to operate here successfully, though if you started a business, all the paperwork might end up with you being a little on the  insane side as well. But for retirees or those with online or U.S.-based  businesses, we see no problems here. It’s a wonderful place to live. Most people evaluate Uruguay and Chile better prospects if you are an entrepreneur..

Next–the health benefits. While they battle in the U.S. about whether to label GM foods, how to stop the chemtrails, how to get drinkable water without fluoride, how to avoid the health destroying chemicals in packaged foods, how to avoid mandatory vaccines–none of that exists here. Well . . . Argentina has a  high percentage of genetically modified produce, which is why we buy from the organic producers and we still don’t feel completely confident. But Chile forbids GM foods and Uruguay limits them to the farming of GM corn and soy, which supposedly they send to China and do not feed it to little Uruguayan children.

However, we know that a GM corn field can pollinate another field 500 miles away. So for our part we don’t eat corn products or soy in any country with the possible exception of Chile, where GM products are not allowed–so far–and the country is isolated to the east by the cordillera of the Andes, and to the west by the Pacific Ocean. We don’t know what the future may hold for Chile. Chile has now signed on to the TPP (Trans Pacific Partnership) and is also now accepted in the beloved by the U.S. Chileans no longer need a visa to enter the U.S. and vice versa. One wonders what kind of pressure they will be under in the future to maintain such exalted status.

We have never seen a chemtrail in this part of the world. We have had subscribers send us photos of a few chemtrails in Uruguay and we have heard of them being sighted elsewhere. We have even asked friends who live across this part of the world and answers range from no, we’ve never seen one here,  to “I thought I saw some once just offshore” to the rare person sending photos. We’ve been  here in Buenos Aires for about six years, have traveled extensively in Uruguay and Chile, and never saw a chemtrail personally. Now we realize many of you are not concerned, or don’t believe chemtrails exist. But  many of our readers want to know.

We, ourselves, treasure the absence of chemtrails.

Next is the issue of Fukushima. Again, we realize that some subscribers are concerned about radiation. Most people assume that Fukushima is all over when it is no longer in the news. However, we have a meteorologist from Montana who kept getting high radiation readings on his instruments which he attributed to fallout from Fukushima. He was concerned enough that he sold out in Montana and is now living in Uruguay.

We also have a medical doctor who did the same and now lives in Santiago, Chile. So not everyone takes it lightly. I do not dismiss it and warn my family in the States to take nascent iodine and keep their thyroid supplied with adequate iodine.

Our Montana weatherman transplant tells us that he came to the  southern hemisphere because we are isolated from fallout in the north, by both the ocean currents and winds, and will be for many years. He has explained that the wind currents rise and return to the north at the equator and do not mix with our environment here.

We’ve all heard of the doldrums at the equator for sailors of a former era, who would find themselves completely becalmed at the equator. That’s because the air rises there and returns to the north so there isn’t any wind. This man says we will get a small percentage of radiation eventually, but a very small percent and it will take years to go around the world and end up here. In his opinion, our part of the world is a safe place in that regard.

He tells us that a similar situation exists with ocean currents. We include here a map from Wikipedia showing how the currents in our hemisphere remain separate from  those to the north. We can eat the fish here out of the Pacific (or the Atlantic, for that matter) without concern. No radiation, no deformed sea lions.

We are doing fine down here. Fukushima, it appears, will never go away. But for now, the southern hemisphere is in a completely different weather system.

According to Wikipedia, “The fact that the westerlies and trade winds blow in opposite directions and that the continents prevent water from circling the globe contributes to the formation of circular ocean currents clockwise in the northern hemisphere and counterclockwise in the southern hemisphere.”

We also  see a lot going on in the world politically that appear to us to have the potential to escalate. We aren’t expecting the worst at all. We hope that international leaders have better sense but we don’t bet on it. If there were to be a nuclear war in the northern hemisphere, obviously the southern hemisphere, below the equator, would be one of the best locations for those who are at all concerned.

Now, for our part, a lot of these developments are new since we cast our lot in South America, but we consider this all positive for our area. And with all that out of the way, what are other reasons that we chose this area.

One thing you can be sure  of in any country, including your home country, things are going to change. Wherever you are, in twenty years you will be commenting how the country has changed. Wherever you happen to be, we hope that change will be for the better. Incidentally, here is a bit of advice from Gerald Celente, a very successful trends analyst in the United States. He says that anyone can tell the trend by watching current events. And from the world of investing, we have learned that a trend, once set in motion, continues in motion until something happens to change it. So wherever you are in the world, we will leave it to you to think over that principle and apply it to your area.

Historically South America has remained aloof from world wars, though you may be shocked to learn that Argentina sided with Hitler in World War II, although that sympathy did not entice them into the war. However, to our surprise, we had to come to Argentina to learn that Hitler did not die in the bunker after all, but was helped, along with his girlfriend, Iva von Braum, along with many other Nazis, to come to Bariloche, Argentina, where he lived until Bariloche began to be popular as a winter sports resort and then they moved to Cordoba, Argentina. Yes you were lied to about Hitler, along with just about everything else about World War II. But the fact that politicians tell blatant lies will not come as a surprise to most of our readers.

Our point is that, so far, all of these countries have historically remained officially neutral. They have had their own internal problems, but as far as the global scene is concerned, their policy has been one of neutrality.

We realize that a global economic crisis is almost surely ahead. Of some concern is the fact that, in some parts of the U.S., food is shipped in from the west coast–or even from South America. It is not produced nearby. Two things stand out in contrast in South America. First in most cities here, almost all the food is raised just outside the city. That includes Buenos Aires where much of the produce comes from La Plata, not far away.

Next, people here don’t have mortgages. They pay cash for homes and apartments. Sometimes the young people save until they have a large percentage of the purchase price and then family will lend them the balance. But there is very little bank-owned mortgage activity so people are not likely to lose their homes in a crisis. But also, as  you can imagine, people usually don’t own their homes until they are older.

Next, the government cannot take your home for taxes. In the U.S. in the 30s, many houses in our neighborhood were sold for taxes. That will not happen here.

Plus most people in this part of the world have been through crisis before. They don’t expect everything to remain perfect. They hope it will, but they know better, unlike people in some other countries who are used to someone else taking care of them, and think the government can and should fix everything.

The United States, right after the depression, was more like South America. That generation that lived through the depression had mortgages that lasted 15 or 20 years, no longer, and they lived to pay off that mortgage, not to buy a bigger mansion with a bigger mortgage. They had mortgage-burning parties, and then were proud to live debt free for the rest of their lives. For that reason, during the depression of the 1930’s, parents had usually paid off their mortgages and the whole family could come  home. In the  case of our family, in the 1930’s, all of my grandparents’ boys moved back home with their families, together they planted a garden, got chickens and those who could work–did. This picture I am describing was in the heart of the city–Miami. The entire country had moved to the city from small farms where many of the parents and grandparents still farmed, so those people went back home to the farms. We wonder where people will go today.

In that same vein, my own mother-in-law tells us that their parents’ farm was paid for but when she was 12, her parents went to other towns in Michigan to work in the packing houses in order to pay their taxes and avoid losing their farm  At the age of 12, she was the oldest of the children. She stayed at the farm and took care of younger siblings and the farm. She says that at age 12 she was capable, she had been working with her parents since she was old enough to take on responsibility.

When we lived in Michigan we had old-time farmers tell us of milking cows starting when they were age 5. In our era that would be considered child abuse. My own children worked for spending money on the farm across the street from our home, picking cucumber pickles, until the government started enforcing a law that kids under sixteen could not be employed. There went their experience earning extra money. The farmer had even allowed our young son, then a third-grader, to go with the big kids and pick cucumbers. He didn’t pick a lot of cucumbers at that age, but he was so proud to go and  our gracious neighbors paid him for what he did pick and he loved it.

We see quite a few things here that we think will contribute to stability. We don’t think  it’s going to be easy here either, in case of a worldwide financial crisis. But we can see advantages. However, perfection doesn’t exist here.

Another reason we chose this area is that we didn’t want to be in a country where anyone could look at us on the street and know that we are not locals. Now that may not be one of  your criteria, but it is one of ours. In this area, we walk down the street and only those who know us personally realize that we were not born right in this neighborhood–until we speak. And therein you can see the value of speaking the language like a native.

Language is important. If you are coming here to retire and enjoy the country, then language is no problem. You’ll do  just fine. Many in South America, especially in the larger cities, do speak English. Italian is pretty common here as well and, believe it or not, German. However, if you are Asian, that would be more of a problem if you don’t speak a language that is common here. We have known business people here who do not speak Spanish well but who are successful nevertheless. But you can see the advantage, I’m sure, to speaking like a native.

Next week we have a subscriber who, with her family, has chosen a different lifestyle. They are working toward a self-sufficient, off-the-grid lifestyle in the south of Chile–really south–in the Los Lagos area. They are also entrepreneurs by nature and  experience and plan a business in town once their farm is up and running. They give us ten reasons that they like Chile, complete with photos that we think  you’ll like. So tune in next week.

See you then . . . . .


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