Photo by Darren Kaiser

This week we are leaving Vina del Mar and traveling south to Talca, in Maule Region VII (see the map below for location).

The Maule region is a popular area for expats, probably in part because of the pleasant Mediterranean climate, with a maximum summer temperature of about 86 and an occasional winter low of about 39 degrees Fahrenheit. We hear that it is near a top spot for surfing as well.

There are one or two real estate developments in the area that are designed as sustainable developments, producing their own organic food and catering to expats. However, we talked with one U.S. expat developer who said he thought he would be selling mostly to U.S. expats and found that Chileans were snapping up his real estate. Chile is doing very well economically and the Chileans are buying. .

From Wikipedia

From Wikipedia

The city of Talca  is about 160 miles from Santiago. Some will consider this an advantage because of its proximity to the Santiago international airport yet, being outside the large metropolitan area. Others will think it isn’t far enough from the high population density areas and is, itself, a fairly large city. Talca has about 200,000 population with a total population in the entire province around 1 million.

This is a major agricultural area.  Of course we feel like we could say that about almost any area of Chile. But in particular, the climate here has made it the major wine-producing province in Chile. They also produce fruits, vegetables and wheat. One of the things we like about our part of South America is that the food is not shipped miles and miles by truck or ship. Most of it is produced within or just outside the cities. Instead of being days in transit, it is more like hours.  The ferias (open markets) are awesome Such a variety of fresh, locally grown food.

Add to that the benefit of the fact that Chile does not allow genetically modified farming, plus they are relatively isolated from a country that does–Argentina–by a very large range of very high mountains. We consider these things advantages except we have learned that farmers are using Roundup to spray potato fields to make harvesting easier. So the country is not glyphosate-free, for those of you who are interested, but it’s better than just about anything else we know about.

The city has two universities.n

There is quite a lot of building going on in Talca, including a new hospital. For more information on the economy in Chile and development of infrastructure, Darren Kaiser has given us a great overview in his previous article Chile’s Changing Economic Climate. When we posted Darren’s article initially, several of our very smart subscribers wrote asking who is paying for it. That is a very wise question. We all are aware these days of the trap of debt into which so many countries have fallen. So we did look for the answer to that question. As far as we could determine, in every case, the debt is owed to citizens of Chile who are investing in their own country. Chile’s debt to GDP ratio is less than 10%.

In fact, we spent the day with Darren Kaiser. We accompanied him not only through the streets of Talca, but to the courthouse, the notary and even looked at some real estate along with him as he went about his day. We consider Darren the absolute expert in this area in analyzing real estate investment, contracts, the things to watch for when buying real estate in Talca and, really, most if not all of Chile. We recommend him as a consultant and this is not a paid advertisement. We just look for good people for our subscribers. Heaven knows they are hard enough to find so when we find them we tell you about them. Darren can give you advice on areas of Chile to investigate depending on your goals. He also does tours by appointment. As always, if you do consult anyone that we recommend, we appreciate  your feedback.

Hostal snipHostel del Rio

We had a recommendation of the Hostel Del Rio (hostel of the river). It’s about five blocks off the main plaza and is walking distance from a mall and large grocery store and is situated next to a small river.  You can find the hostel at their web site  We paid $25 a night for two of us in a small private room and bath. However, we should mention that the price quoted on the web site and the email was more, but when we arrived we found that if we paid cash we got the better price. That included breakfast. Nothing spectacular but much of South America has no concept of an American breakfast. Their “breakfasts” usually consist of bread, sweet rolls, coffee, although we have stayed in places where they offered fresh fruit and cheese as well.  This isn’t one of them but we will return here on our next trip. We definitely liked what we received for the price.

Of course there are five star hotels here as well., and you can check out all the local places to stay at

This also is the off season. You can expect to pay more if you come during the tourist season. In fact, if it is just as convenient, we recommend visiting during the off season for several reasons. Cheaper rates are always a good thing but, perhaps more importantly, in Chile you might be able to see what the area is like during the winter. For example, in the south of Chile the winter produces a LOT of rain. With the shortage of water that we hear so much about in the world these days, some people might consider that a good thing. There are quite a few lakes and streams in the south. To our thinking every part of Chile is beautiful in summer. We think it’s beautiful in winter as well but these are things to consider. Also, when you plan your trip, if you are in the northern hemisphere, remember that seasons are reversed on this side of the equator. When it is summer in the north, it is winter her.

talca country

Not only is Talca a farming center but also a major manufacturing area, with several foundries and manufacturing operations.

We have heard from subscribers already living in Chile,  after reading our article about costs in Vina del Mar that in the smaller towns it is common to rent a two bedroom apartment or small house for $175 to $200 a month. Another subscriber living in Yumbel, Chile tells us that they rent a three bedroom apartment there for $400 US (equivalent) per month. So for those of you put off by rents in a high end area like Vina del Mar, you might be more interested away from the city. Personally, I’d rather live in a more country area anyway, but we try to report for all of our readers. We greatly appreciate our subscribers who graciously take the time to pass on information for this community.

The same principles apply in small towns in Argentina and in Uruguay. If you leave the city and go into the country areas things can become very economical in many areas. For example, we like watermelon but seldom buy it in Buenos Aires because it often very expensive. I’ve seen just a small watermelon that was the equivalent of $10.00 U.S.  Friends in Viedma, Argentina, see that here and say, “You could buy a much bigger watermelon for 50 cents in Viedma.” Viedma also has almond orchards. Nuts are very expensive in Buenos Aires. Much less so in Viedma. In fact, those smart Argentines in Viedma planted fruit bearing trees on the public right of way. If you know where to go you can eat almonds right off the tree there. It is similar in other countries here as well. So you have lots of choices here. But back we go to Chile.

Here we have a first-hand interview of Darren Kaiser giving us his evaluation of Talca and surrounding areas.

We think things look very positive for the Maule Region.

We will interrupt our visit to Chile for now but hope to return later this year. And when we do, we hope that you will be with us.

Until next week . . .