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Chilean Census – 2017

In Chile, the national census is taken every five years. Wednesday, April 19, 2017 was census day, and people were forced to take a confined (paid) holiday in order for census workers to get around to them and conduct a ten-minute household interview. The idea was that other than emergency personnel and the census takers themselves, everyone should have been in his home. (That fact might explain why there was a large, Summer-style traffic jam coming into Reñaca the evening before.) At any rate, every resident, tourist, newborn (but excluding unborn children) that was located in the home as of 00:00 on April 17th was counted as living there. Even people that died later that day were included (even if the death was prior to the arrival of the census taker).


All stores were closed, at least until 8 p.m. Bus and Metro lines only ran for a couple of hours in the morning and evening in order to bring census workers to their locales. Census workers started quizzing people at 9:00 (except for homeless people, which were counted earlier before they got a chance to get up and move away). In spite of the wide publicity about the coming census, many people were still surprised when the knock on the door came. Our census taker, a young man doing military service apparently, did not arrive until after 1 p.m., and we were only the second household of the eighteen he was required to do. He was obviously behind schedule.

President Bachelet herself went to Renca (a lower middle-class comuna in north central Santiago) and personally did the census for eighteen households. She saved taxpayers 15,000 pesos, or about US$23 (supervisors got US$15 more), that would have been paid to someone else. The young man that came to our home said that he received nothing for the effort, since it was apparently part of his public service requirement.

Census questionnaires were available in Mapudungun (local Indian/Mapuche language), English, Portuguese, Creole (reflecting the growing Haitian population), French and German. The census committee wanted to make sure to correctly count tourists, new arrivals and tribal elements within the overall population. Hotel guests and passengers on trains, planes and buses were given questionnaires to complete, too, albeit with different questions than households received.

Overall, for most people, Census Day was boring and largely unproductive. Some people with small shops still opened, like my vehicle mechanic, and people with Internet-based businesses could still work. But there was little economic activity resulting from people moving around or shopping.

Many people feared (and newspapers reported) that some of the twenty-one census questions had been turned in a politically correct direction, like allowing people to declare their gender, even if different than their sex at birth. I am not sure how much traction this particular rule got, but it was annoying to read about it. Nevertheless, the census worker did not ask us our gender, but rather decided for himself that I was a man and my wife was a woman. Hence, the transgender questions were probably put “out there” for public image purposes while in reality Chileans just ignored the provision. I inquired about the matter with the young man doing the census and he just shrugged and gave me a puzzled look. Apparently, he was not gender-confused. I bet the vast majority of Chileans are not.

The “head of household” had to be declared in each home, and could be anyone age fifteen or older, regardless of gender or income. Again, in the case of our census-taker, we were never asked who headed the home, as it was evident that I did. Once again, political correctness was trumped in Chile. The gender and head of household gestures were published as a concession to leftists that ended up meaning nothing in reality.

Contestants were, apparently, allowed to remain anonymous, by only giving nicknames to census personnel. We just gave him our names when asked, since we did not find the census to be intrusive. No question was asked about household religion, as people on WhatsApp had been discussing during the week before. The only questions asked of a personal nature were one’s age, how many children he has (living or dead), one’s employment status, if he had a job last week, one’s city of birth, where one was located during the last census (in 2012), where one’s mother lived when he was born, and how many years of education one had completed.

In sum, the census was simple and hardly as contentious as some people were making it out to be. Just in case you are here in 2022, you can expect to go through the same process.

The bigger contention came late in the evening on Census Day, and the next day, when it was revealed that many people living in large buildings and certain provinces did not get counted. Scores of people wrote comments under online news stories that people were neither interviewed nor counted in places in Santiago like Maipú, Ñuñoa, Conchalí, Estación Central, Quilicura, plus provincial cities and towns like Colina, La Serena, Puerto Varas, Peñaflor, Quilpué and Ercilla. In Maipú alone, 1,358 census workers did not show up to do their job. Elsewhere in Santiago, 390 census takers did not show up in Cerro Navia (and 1,500 homes were missed) and 350 failed to do so in Pedro Aguirre Cerda (leaving 7% of homes missed). The Instituto Nacional de Estadísticas reported similar problems with absenteeism (on a lesser scale) in San Ramón, Conchalí, Cerillos, San Miguel, San Joaquín, Macul, Ñuñoa, Las Condes, La Pintana, La Granja, La Florida (where 3,000 homes were missed), La Cisterna and Huechuraba.

Like most public policies, the 2017 Census was an example of government failure. Replacements (usually bureaucrats from the municipalities) were running around the next day, and even for a couple weeks afterwards, trying to collect the missing data. Just how accurate Chilean censuses end up being is a matter for considerable debate. Academics are also upset that more questions were not asked during the push. To go to such an effort and yet only collect a paltry amount of data seemed quite wasteful to them. It is good to have it over and done with.

Fuente: –

Be sure to become a member of Escape America Now and gain access to the monthly webinar. Details at Visit for discussion and forums about the country.

Dr. Cobin’s updated and enlarged 2016 book, Life in Chile: A Former American’s Guide for Newcomers, is the most comprehensive treatise on Chilean life ever written, designed to help newcomers get settled in Chile. He covers almost every topic imaginable for immigrants. This knowledge is applied in his valet consulting service–Chile Consulting–where he guides expatriates through the process of finding a place to live and settle in Chile, helping them glide over the speed bumps that they would otherwise face in getting their visas, setting up businesses, buying real estate, investing in Chilean stocks or gold coins, etc. The cost is $149.

For a brief introduction consider Dr. Cobin’s abridged book (56 pages): Chile: A Primer for Expats ($19), offering highlights found in the two larger books. Buy Dr. Cobin’s Public Policy books at

Christian Theology of Public Policy: Highlighting the American Experience (2006)

Bible and Government: Public Policy from a Christian Perspective (2003)

A Primer on Modern Themes in Free Market Economics and Policy (2009)

Quiet Townhouses with Ocean View in Reñaca

QUIET LIVING! Beautiful Ocean View in the World’s Best Climate!

Unit N°1 (156m2/1,948sf + 40m2/430sf covered terrace/balcony) 2 stories, 4 bedrooms, 4,5 bathrooms, hardwood kitchen with green granite, 3 big closets and high-up kitchen storage, very large terraces, open-air private Jacuzzi, two parking spaces and large storage unit (10m2), in-floor heating, solar heating system.

Unit N°2 (107m2/1,151sf) 2 stories, 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, 5 big closets and high-up kitchen storage, balcony, two parking spaces and large storage unit (9m2), hardwood kitchen with green granite, in-floor heating, solar heating system. Dining area can be enlarged 6m2/64sf and include visitor’s half bath (additional cost approx. USD6,000). 

Unit N°3 (100m2/1,076sf) 1 level, 2 bedrooms (one of which is a large living room that converts to a bedroom with two Murphy beds, American kitchen, 3 bathrooms, 3 hardwood shelves/closets and laundry area, very large terrace on garden level, one parking space.

New building with three units (or townhouses). All are for sale. A 50% interest is available in N°3, permitting a 60/40 split of rental income and providing a Chilean address and place to live for some/most of the March through December (except Easter weekend, July 15-August 5 and September 15-21). Price for a share in that one is 3,425 UF or half of USD 270,000.

The townhouse for sale is perfect for newcomers from North America or Europe.

Unit N°1 PRICE 12,950 UF (343 million pesos on April 1, 2017) USD 514,000

Unit N°2 PRICE 7,500 UF (198 million pesos on April 1, 2017) USD 297,000

Unit N°3 PRICE 6,850 UF (181 million pesos on April 1, 2017) USD 271,000

Units N°1 and N°3 can be combined to make a much larger 3-story townhouse.

2% discount for cash purchase. Buyer pays all closing costs, including notary, legal and any realtor fees.

50% discount on property taxes for ten years (government discount under law DFL-2)

Very low monthly community fees: 2UF in units N°3 and N°2 and 3.5 UF in N°1.

Note: The UF is an inflation-indexed currency surrogate that is used in Chile for major purchases and loans. It has a value in pesos that changes daily according to inflation. For example, 0n April 1, 2017, one UF was worth 26,472 pesos (about US$39.69).

Here is the view:

La gran puesta del sol 31 julio 2015 edificio los arándanos de Reñaca Cobin puesta del sol 31 julio 2015 edificio los arándanos de Reñaca Cobin20150525_185940

Puesta del sol desde los Almendros 1 agosto Los Arándanos de Reñaca Cobin parte 2

Puesta del sol desde los Almendros 1 agosto Los Arándanos de Reñaca Cobin



 Nov 1st sunset




The location of the new townhouse in northwestern Los Almendros, a highly desirable section of Reñaca, a sector of Viña del Mar.

Street address is José Suárez 185, Reñaca, Viña del Mar,

Longitude/latitude to find the lot with Google Earth: 32°58’00.00″ S  71°31’26.10″ W.

Viña del Mar has been named the city with the best climate in the world on EscapeArtist Chile. It is similar to coastal Southern California. Also see this article that I wrote on Viña del Mar, this one includes Valparaíso and this one that I wrote on Reñaca Beach in 2014. Others that might interest you include:


Townhome N°2 is highlighted in yellow in the drawings (designated as “Depto 2”), Like Townhouse N°1, it is two stories and thus is on two different drawings. It is the one indicated as 105.6 meters squared on the plan legend, 107 meters squared if one counts the deep end of the large downstairs closet in the count (1,151 square feet). The deck for Townhouse N°2 is 3.5 meters squared (37 square feet). Townhouse N°1 has a 15m2 balcony and a 25m2 terrace. Townhouse N°3 has a garden terrace of approx. 50m2.  The storage unit (bodega), which could be converted into more living space or an office, is 9 meters squared (97 square feet) for Townhouse N°2 and 10m2 for Townhouse N°1. Both of these later features make the effective living area larger. Some people might consider enclosing the outside flower bed outside Townhouse N°2, enlarging the dining area by 64 square feet, adding a visitor’s half bath and possibly making the balcony larger.

A lot of Americans cannot imagine living in such a “small” space but once in Chile, like Europe or Japan, one gets quite used to living in smaller spaces comfortably, especially when there are common areas for BBQs, grassy yard with fruit trees and view decks, plus large, high-ceiling storage shelves and cabinets, in addition to the square footage for the apartment itself.

Looking down to the apartment from the street, it can be seen at the top of the drawing (for reference, the public area with marble sidewalk starts where the dashed line is indicated, the building property being to the right of it). Looking up at it from the ocean, it is on the upper right with the large view windows of the living room and master bedroom visible in the drawings.

Look at the architectural plans below, which can be downloaded as PDF files and printed. The parts labeled “Bodega” are storage areas, and one has been converted to the maid’s quarters or a fourth bedroom with full bathroom (Townhouse N°1). They have 2.87 meter (about 9.5 foot) ceilings and two go all the way to the property line, seen on the plans as a dashed line (right underneath the parking space, one highlighted in light blue). The rest of the top floor likewise has high ceilings. The apartment comes with two parking spaces, highlighted in yellow in the plans. Visitors can easily park on the street or in the large cul-de-sac, too. The lower floor, back and sides are made of solid reinforced concrete construction, as is the bodega and spine of the upper floor, with welded metal and metal framed (like one would find in low-rise office buildings) and stuccoed construction for the rest, Townhouses N°1 and N°2 share a common wall.

The yellow highlighting shows the kitchen, living and dining room and bedrooms and bathrooms. The outside landing and bodega that pertain to Townhouse N°2 are shaded in other colors.

The street-level, marble rooftop is a common area for gatherings and viewing, especially things like the famous New Years Eve fireworks displays over the port of Valparaíso and other shows over Viña del Mar, Concón and Reñaca. (This area is mixed with the parking area.) The small amount of land that “by law” goes with the apartment by law is not estimated in the highlighting.

Click on the links for each plan image to enlarge it. You can open, print and/or download a clean PDF version of the plans.

nivel-0 PDF here Street level with view deck (commons) and parking spaces, solar heating


nivel-1 PDF here Top floor (kitchen, laundry, living room, dining room, balcony, bodega)


nivel-2 PDF here Lower floor (bedrooms, bathrooms and closets)


nivel-3 PDF here Lower floor and garden area (commons)



The townhome is in a building that features 240 square meters of elegant marble flooring–2,582 square feeet! Residents even park on marble. It is quite elegant and makes the owners feel proud of their home. Much of the marble is on the view deck and staircase, both of which are shared or common areas.

Note: finishing touches are being completed. Pictures/videos thus show some debris/incompleteness.

View deck and blueberry plants up top

Parking area and View deck

Walk to front door from lawn/garden area below

Marble entrance from street and parking area down to front door Townhouse N°2

Kitchen Townhouse N°2 similar to other kitchens

Climb staircase Townhouse N°2

Master bedroom starting at bathroom Townhouse N°2

Master bedroom starting from hall Townhouse N°2

Study or small bedroom and other bedroom Townhouse N°2

Second bathroom Townhouse N°2

Banister and walk down Townhouse N°2

Cozy living room dining room Townhouse N°2

Kitchen Townhouse N°2



View from up top

Looking down from view deck

Storage unit Townhouse N°2


20160718_171629 20160718_171615 20160718_171443 20160718_171238 20160718_171249 20160718_171218 20160718_171001 20160718_17103120160718_171338 20160718_171538 20160718_171402 20160718_171433 20160718_171123 20160718_170923 20160718_170905 20160718_170839 20160718_170825 20160718_191311 20160609_17371820160610_183944 20160609_173815 20160718_191332 20160718_170626   20160718_171006 20160718_170718    20160718_171338      20161007_162016   20161008_195421 20161007_194847   20161007_173113            


° solid hardwood (lenga) interior doors, stairway, hand railing

° spacious custom closets, in Townhouses N°1 and N°2, with storage room under the stairs and high up in the kitchen, too, plus the bodega outside.

° black marble entrance way in Townhouses N°1 and N°2.

° hardwood (raulí, cedar o lenga) kitchen cabinets with green granite countertops.

° custom (mostly hardwood) bathroom cabinets with green granite or brown marble countertops

° upgraded bathrooms with European fixtures, one with Jacuzzi tub in Townhouses N°1 and N°2.

° carved-out of the hillside lawn and garden (common areas) on flat area; dramatically cutting wind and any noise, and creating greater earthquake security.

° internal rainwater irrigation support system to reduce plant watering costs

° in-floor radiant heating system in Townhouses N°1 and N°2.

° video phone/camera gate opening system; four exterior security cameras with video feed to household computers.

° solar energy supplement for vital systems and hot water boost in Townhouses N°1 and N°2.

° higher ceilings, 9.3 feet on bottom floor, narly 10 feet on top floor in Townhouses N°1 and N°2.

° engineered cherry wood flooring with areas of porcelain flooring (especially in  in Townhouses N°3 but in all kitchens).

° solid reinforced concrete base and perimeter with and welded metal internal structure, lessening potential dampness problems.

° PVC thermopane windows and terrace door with quiet insulation (Germany).

° Ecological surroundings with 150 blueberry plants and seven different fruit trees plus flowers and summertime fruits and vegetables such as watermelons and tomatoes.

There is only one other year-round resident next door. In the summer there could be carefully-chosen renters in the townhouse below. The environment is very quiet.



This price is competitive for this upscale (class “B-“) area of northwestern Los Almendros de Reñaca. In upper middle class (“C1”) areas of Reñaca, used houses or apartments (even without a view) average 1.3+ million pesos per square meter. Along the coastline, prices are nearly double. The upscale section of Los Almendros tends to be priced in between. The pricing of these units is commanded for its construction quality, its cozy setup with only one other full time family in the building rather than one unit among dozens in a larger building, the fact that it is impossible to obstruct the view, the fact that no elevator is required, the high quality of surrounding homes (some of which are 500m2 to 750m2), and the advantage of having a dwelling that is brand new without any wear and tear or earthquake history.

Earthquakes and Tsunamis?

The building in construction suffered no damage whatever from the September 16, 2015 earthquake (8.4 Richter Scale, epicenter 95 miles north) and hundreds of subsequent aftershocks (more than a dozen of them over 6.0 Richter Scale up to 7.6 Richter Scale). The townhome is safely located at about 124 meters or 410 ft. above sea level, and therefore there is no tsunami threat. Hurricanes have never threatened Chile.

Did we mention LOCATION?

The townhome is located exactly 2km to the Tottus Express supermarket and the many banks, restaurants, mail services, hair salons and shops in Reñaca, and 7km to the Jumbo and Líder Express supermarkets and the strip malls of Concón. The casino and restaurants of Viña del Mar are about 15 minute’s drive. You can see some images of the Reñaca and Concón commercial areas below.2014-01-30 21.10.31

The area is booming with new construction and roadways, making an increase in property value likely. The bus stop for line 607 is only 300 meters away, making it easy for the maid to get to work, or for renters or others to get to the store or the beach. The local bus fare is around 300 pesos or 43 US cents local travel and 68 US cents to central Viña del Mar or Valparaíso. Line 607 comes by every 10-20 minutes (until 9pm/10pm in Summer) and goes to Reñaca, the nice areas and malls in Viña del Mar (and close to the Santiago connections via the Viña del Mar bus terminal) and Valparaíso.

These images are taken from the top of the lot during the day, at sunset and at dusk. The apartment has parking and access from the street level where the photographs were taken and then the owner will walk down a flight of stairs to his apartment entrance. That means that the apartment’s second story will be below street level.

2014-02-14 20.28.47 2014-02-14 20.31.37


Online searching for properties in Reñaca will reveal a wide range of prices that reflect variables like (a) ocean view, (b) proximity to the beach (good for summer, if one can take the summer and long weekend traffic jams, but not for household humidity the rest of the year), (c) proximity to local transportation, schools and shopping, (d) age of the house and its surroundings (including its earthquake experience), (e) physical condition and/or remodeling needs, (f) ability to escape from summer and long weekend traffic jams, (g) tsunami safety, (h) busy-ness of the residential street or loud nightlife parties, (i) adequate parking (for owner and visitors) and storage, and (j) the desirability of the neighborhood in which a property is located (including the quality of surrounding homes, nearby parks, etc.).

There is a link below to an article I wrote about the best neighborhoods in Viña del Mar. The rule of thumb price for newer homes in nicer neighborhoods without ocean views is 1.3 million pesos per square meter. This property obvious offers much more and thus should fetch over 2 million pesos per square meter. It is a good deal and a place you will enjoy coming home to. 100_3591

For example, these “cookie cutter” tract homes 1km down the street in the “C1” section of Los Almendros are selling for ~US$250,000. The location is nice, but there is no view of the ocean, and the homes are of noticeably lower quality.


In the drawing with the windows, the apartment is on the upper right side (as seen from the ocean). It is an inverted “T” shape, wider on the first floor (-2) than the protruding, twice as long (deep) second floor (-1) with its obviously independent roof-line. The architect put figurines on the apartment’s deck in the drawings above.

Layout details: 2 stories, 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, big-windowed living room and dining area (white PVC thermopane), kitchen, marble entrance with a garden where flowers and shrubs can be put in, or it may be converted into more living space or a Jacuzzi; a deck for outdoor relaxation or place to put your BBQ on the street level or on the garden level below, large storage area (bodega) and parking space. Radiant floor heating and solar panel support. The bottom floor (-2) has the master bedroom with bathroom, another bathroom and two other bedrooms, one of which could be used as a study or a den. The apartment is located on a secure cul-de-sac and thus has no significant traffic or loud parties.


Yes! No elevator is required, which is an advantage given that this is technically a townhouse or condo setting. You will have to take stairs one level down from the parking area and front gate, a walkway which could be beautifully lined with flowers. Remember that in Viña del Mar, flowers grow like weeds. You can already see the garden setting that has been put in, along with a rainwater collection system with 13,000 liters of irrigation storage.


Finish work:
  • “Porcelanato” and engineered cherry wood floors 
  • Hardwood interior doors and entry door.
  • Walls painted in a neutral tone in Townhouse N°2 with white crown moldings, other in Townhouses N°1 and N°3 have green walls and some colored rooms.
  • Central heating and water heating system with solar heating support and solar backup for pumps and key outlets in Townhouses N°1 and N°2.
  • Cherry colored wood baseboards
  • Hardwood (lenga) hand railings, stairs in Townhouses N°1 and N°2.
  • Bedrooms with closets, except Townhouse N°3 that has open hardwood shelving.
  • Kitchen with tall, hardwood-faced cabinets (not typical in Chile)  in Townhouses N°1 and N°2.
  • Bathrooms with upgraded tile floor and toilet, sink and tub/shower in one bathroom, spa tub in the other.
  • The bottom floor and back half of the first floor is made of reinforced concrete (hormigón), with the remainder being thermically-efficient steel beam framed on concrete backing, nestled against the hillside. 
  • Efficient LED light fixtures are included, which is not typical for Chile.
  • Wider oven in Townhouses N°1 and N°2., dishwasher, modern faucets, gas range and hood; gas dryer connection ready in Townhouses N°1 and N°2.
  • No curtains or blinds are included.
  • Some appliances are included: range, hood, sink, wash basin.

Note: Central heating is installed in the floors in Townhouses N°1 and N°2, but air conditioning is not needed in Reñaca.  in Townhouses N°3 uses a portable heater and has a natural gas Calefont water heating unit


The EscapeArtist Chile mentioned above referenced this article online from a weather expert that says that Viña del Mar has the best weather and climate for humans in the world.


Landscaping is not included in the main entrance way flower bed but is provided everywhere else on the property. Flower gardens are easy in this climate. The backyard has grass, flowers, blueberry bushes and fruit trees planted (cherry, apple, pear, minature lemon, orange, two avocados, fig), along with some occasional vegetables. The main home and apartments are not built on fill.


You can reserve one of these properties with a non-refundable deposit of 25% down.

The Chilean tax IDs are 3032-564 for townhome N°1 and 3032-568 plus 3032-569 for its bodegas (storage units). The Chilean tax IDs are 3032-565 for townhome N°2 and 3032-567 for its bodega (storage unit). The two in-line parking spaces assigned to each of these units do not require a separate tax ID. The Chilean tax ID is 3032-566 for Townhome N°3. It has only one parking space and no bodega.

Chilean residents can go to a bank and borrow the full amount for the property.


“Gastos comunes” (condo fees) will be much lower than typical properties. The apartment will have its own property tax account, its own water, internet/TV, phone, gas and electricity bills.

The apartment owner will pay to keep up his terrace, electric gate opener, gate or fence damage, pipes and wiring maintenance or repair and walkway/patio repairs or changes.

A fund used to pay for the following common exterior items will be created:

  • Painting of walls and front gate or fencing
  • Wall and roof repair
  • Rain gutter upkeep
  • Sewage pump maintenance and replacement every 2-3 years
  • Lawn, flowers and tree/bush/plant irrigation
  • Lighting in common areas
  • Solar systems maintenance

The main property owner (Townhouse #1) will be in charge of having this work done when it is needed.

The charge will be UF2 every month, for Townhouses N°2 and N°3 which is about US$78, and UF 3,5 in Townhouse N°1. It will need to be deposited by you directly into a designated bank savings account. Instead of paying the low condo fees in this apartment, people that buy other apartments (condos) in buildings frequently pay more than $1,250 per quarter.

A lien will be placed against the property for the amount due, a penalty of 10% extra for each month the payment is late, and interest charged at 20% per year. In addition, the Townhouses N°1 and N°2 buyer agrees that his bodega titles will be forfeited after one year of not paying this small maintenance fee. Obviously, the penalty is large just to make sure that the apartment owner never falls behind.

The repairs and upkeep will be done when needed with no specific time frame. Should there be a major problem like dry rot or weather/earthquake damage, the costs of repair will be shared proportionally. This cost is above and beyond the UF 2 /3.5 charge every month.

All owners will agree to maintain fire and earthquake insurance on the property. This coverage should offset many repair costs due to fire or weather.

Please keep in mind that there are technically three living units in the building but one family will be using two of them, unless one of those units is rented or even sold later on. This is a pretty intimate relationship that family will share with the apartment purchaser.


The apartment owner will agree to make sure that the colors and materials remain uniform. The restrictive covenants have been recorded with the Chilean equivalent of the county recorder, called the Conservador de Bienes Raíces.

The buyer will also agree that no loud parties will take place, especially after midnight, by himself or by renters.


The brick exterior will be as low-maintenance as possible for a pacific coastal climate.

The small roof area is covered with “estate grey” color asphalt shingles.

The double-pane windows are white PVC window frames from Germany, providing high security and energy efficiency. They provide a quiet interior, too.


Also note that the apartment owner has full rights to rent out his apartment, of course, which can be quite lucrative in Reñaca during the summer months Dec. 26th to March 5th, and still possible after those months at at least 50% occupancy. Furnished places can get around 2 million pesos per month in the Summer if administered well (USD 100-150 per night), especially in January and February, and also good rent during the week prior to Easter, the last two weeks of July (winter break) and the week around Chilean independence (September 18th). The best ways to rent out a Townhome are with or During the non-summer months, people from Santiago also come and rent furnished places for about the same rate, viz. once again, in mid to late July (winter break), Easter week, long weekends around May 1st, May 21st and October 31st-November 1st, as well as the week around Independence Day (September 18th). So there are other rental opportunities during the year from Chileans. A market also exists to rent to foreigners that visit Chile for short periods. In general, one can expect 90% occupancy and full price during the summer, and about 30% less with 50% to 70% occupancy during the rest of the year, on average.


For those that want to keep a unit as a full-time rental all year, many people rent to university students, maybe 5 students to an apartment, for $175 per month each, during the rest of the year. But doing so is probably not going to yield as much as using online services.

Bear in mind that the owner is responsible to make sure that renters agree not “to party” or make lots of noise, especially after midnight.

Others keep their coastal apartments open for their own use during the rest of the year. Viña del Mar is a great place to live year-round and one might consider doing so or leaving it open for weekend use even if they live in Santiago most of the time.

Another choice is to live in northwestern Los Almendros de Reñaca from March through December and then rent the house for the summer while the owner rents a place down by the southern Chilean lakes and mountains or travels abroad. A very pleasant option for those that like to travel!


There is some humidity problem in this location during the wintertime that can easily be dealt with by running dehumidifiers. Listen to the evidence from the market. Locals tend not to live close to the beach for a reason, and lower price is not the only one. They want to avoid even higher humidity indoors. Townhouses N°1 and N°2 are designed to reduce dampness even further with partial steel beam framing.2014-04-26 19.26.15


Because the property is new construction and under 140m2, Chilean law DFL-2 provides for a 50% reduction in property taxes for 10 years. I do not know what the effective taxes will be, but I am guessing that they will initially be around 70,000 pesos (US$125) per quarter. They could be less.

If you are interested, please send an email to or call +56-32-3277712.

Here are some other images of the area. The neighborhood park, near the bus stop, is just 300 meters from the apartment.

P1040131 P1040121 P1040130

 Houses in the neighborhood (seen in the photos below), across the street, have between 400 m2 and 750 m2, or around 4,300 sq. ft. to 8,000 sq. ft., while adjacent apartments tend to be around 140 m2 or 1,500 sq. ft. The cul-de-sac located apartment you will be buying is located in good company for sure!

P1040128 P1040127 P1040124 P1040123 2014-07-16 12.14.02 2014-07-16 12.13.47

See a couple photos of local buses below, running through Reñaca sector, the first one being number 607, stopped at the little plaza near the property.

IMG_20150120_191735 2014-07-16 12.26.19 P1040134

Strip malls, the small Reñaca mall and other nearby shopping and services, including the new Tottus Express supermarket, all less than 2 kilometers away.





 The Reñaca area offers all the conveniences of life: restaurants, supermarkets with a wide variety of goods, beauty salons, banks, mail services, money and exchange services, appliance stores, fast food, stationery stores, and more:

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If you’re seriously interested in this wonderful opportunity, send an email or fill out the form below and I’ll get back with you as soon as possible. Please don’t use this form for any other purpose.

Construction Quality in Chilean Cities

By now, most thinking people know that Chileans build the safest buildings in the world, at least in terms of earthquake protection. In the last seven years, populated areas of Chile have been struck by three large earthquakes (Richter Scale 8.2 Iquique, 8.3 Illapel and 8.8 Cauquenes). The damage done to postwar structures and highways was remarkably insignificant. And the damage that did occur was quickly repaired. Most people went to work or carried on with life as normal the next day.

Why is Chile so much more resilient to earthquakes than New Zealand or Italy, or even California or Japan? The answer lies in the fact that during the “framing” stage, the base of Chilean homes (if not the home entirely) and all office and apartment towers is made of 10-inch thick (or more) poured, reinforced concrete. Welded beams or metal framing studs are used on higher floors in homes sometimes, but the base is always sturdy. And many upscale homes feature poured, reinforced concrete on all floors.

In my project in Viña del Mar, like others in hilly coastal Chile, I carved out the hillside and embedded the building into it, making the structure even sturdier. Partially completed, it was unaffected during the 2015 8.3 Richter Scale earthquake.

People used to criticize Chile’s “wasteful” building procedures at the framing stage, which features so many costly restraining walls, deep-base concrete forms and poured reinforced walls. However, after the last decade’s earthquake experience here (and around the world), no one is hurling criticisms any longer. Chileans have done the rough-in stage right, ever since as many as 30,000 people died in the January 24, 1939 Chillan earthquake (7.8 Richter Scale), inland from Concepcion, wherein 47% of all Chillan’s structures were destroyed. That event made Chileans very safety-conscious. Consequently, one can feel quite safe during earthquakes in Chile, especially in modern urban areas.

Finish work is another story, however. I am not just referring to the overall high-level of defects permitted in the finish-out (at least by North American or European standards), which seems to predominate all Latin American buildings. Part of that imperfection is due to not having proper tools, laziness or workers just not having a culture of quality, given that workers tend to live in squalor and do not see the need for (or desire to have) nice-looking, perfect finish work.

Instead, I would like to emphasize that Chileans (especially in the middle classes) value image over true quality. They will buy kitchens that look nice for a few years but end up deteriorating rapidly as the particle board gives way. Cabinets, doors, “wood” floors and furniture are built with cheap wood products and then laminated with hardwood veneers. Laminated doors tend to be hollow. Floors are vinyl or wood veneer laminated. Imitation marble or granite are used if something other than Formica is used at all. Bathroom fixtures and accessories are almost always on the low-end of the scale. Stucco is preferred over brick or more elegant siding. Roofing is often cheap, local tile that frequently leaks. Windows tend to be the cheapest aluminum variety one can find in home building supercenters. Yards and gardens in houses and smaller buildings tend to be pathetic as if Chileans do not care or simply ran out of money to fix them up.

All is made to look good for a little while but is not built to last. Just about the only exceptions are building/home facades and apartment building foyers and lawns, which are elegant all the way around in upscale neighborhoods. They grant an air of affluence to those that stop by to visit, making them think more highly of the residents. That vanity is highly sought after in Chile.

One might think about buying a home or apartment with mediocre finish work, then gut it and put in high-quality stuff. Doing so is fine for those that plan to live there a long time and enjoy the amenities. However, being the best in the building or on the block will not necessarily translate into obtaining a greater resale value. One will not likely get his money out of the remodeled home. However, those that do remodel will enjoy both living with elegance and safety during fires or earthquakes.

Most people that I speak to that have lived outside of Chile, in Europe or North America especially, are simply appalled by mediocre finish work in supposedly upscale homes and apartments. However, my readers should not be surprised. Chileans like to buy cheap and they almost universally buy for image rather than quality. After the barrio quality, Chileans buy for proximity to private schools and being adjacent to neighbors in their social class. Ocean or mountain views come afterward in order of importance.

If you want something different than what is offered to the masses in the middle class, you will have to buy through one of the few quality builders around (like me!) or have a custom-built home done for you with the support of a good, expensive architect.

Quality materials are available here and, other than bathroom and kitchen fixtures, they are not terribly expensive relative to other countries. Custom cabinet and door makers exist, too, but the quality is not quite the same (even though it is very good). In sum, you can get what you want, but it will hardly be the norm by upper middle-class standards. Homes for the wealthy are another story, although even their mansions pale by comparison to the fabulous structures in the Northern Hemisphere.

Be sure to become a member of Escape America Now and gain access to the monthly webinar. Details at Visit for discussion and forums about the country.

Dr. Cobin’s updated and enlarged 2016 book, Life in Chile: A Former American’s Guide for Newcomers, is the most comprehensive treatise on Chilean life ever written, designed to help newcomers get settled in Chile. He covers almost every topic imaginable for immigrants. This knowledge is applied in his valet consulting service–Chile Consulting–where he guides expatriates through the process of finding a place to live and settle in Chile, helping them glide over the speed bumps that they would otherwise face in getting their visas, setting up businesses, buying real estate, investing in Chilean stocks or gold coins, etc. The cost is $149.

For a brief introduction consider Dr. Cobin’s abridged book (56 pages): Chile: A Primer for Expats ($19), offering highlights found in the two larger books. Buy Dr. Cobin’s Public Policy books at

Christian Theology of Public Policy: Highlighting the American Experience (2006)

Bible and Government: Public Policy from a Christian Perspective (2003)

A Primer on Modern Themes in Free Market Economics and Policy (2009)

Notary and Recorder Monopolies in Chile

Notaries (notarías) and notarial services are vastly different in Chile than they are in places like the United States.

A notary designation is not easy to get in Chile, and a notary does far more than just verify the veracity of the signer. In many cases, notaries offer legal advice, too, the liability associated with doing so being a topic of academic discussion. The relative pay scales are a bit different in Chile compared to places like the United States as well.

According to El Mercurio, a Chilean notary business can rake in well over 10 million pesos (USD $155,500) per month, although a great number must languish with only USD $100,000 per month. Even in small towns like Puerto Varas, the local notary can knock down USD $15,000 per month.

That income level is due to the fact that notary positions are lifetime monopoly grants from the government (the Ministry of Justice, related to the Appellate Court, in particular). There appears to be political favoritism and even nepotism involved in the designation of notaries, which are almost impossible to remove once installed. Indeed, prior to 1995, they could not be removed at all.

One can find siblings heading different notaries, and their children. For instance, notary Tavolari has his shop in Viña del Mar while his sister runs another notary in Valparaíso, both going under the same last name: Notaría Tavolari. One would think they are related branch office, but they are not. In some cases, the designations have been effectively hereditary, passing down to children. Furthermore, the “industry” basically is unregulated. Thus, it is an ideal business to be in!

Not surprisingly, notary designation recipients _notarios_ make a big business out of their privilege. For instance, the Fischer Notary in Viña del Mar has sixty employees and rents the entire third floor (complete with private client parking area outside) of one of the most modern office buildings in the city. It is one of the largest notaries in the country. A number of Santiago notaries are even larger.

The number of notaries in any given area is limited by decree, and this fact can cause significant problems. In Concón and Lo Barnechea, for instance, both growing, largely affluent urban areas, there is only one notary, respectively. Both are congested with slow service, just as one would expect under monopolization.

Since people can use any notary in Chile, the folks from those areas often use other notaries instead (perhaps in Viña del Mar or Las Condes) in order to get better service. People might have to do that anyway since not all notaries are competent on legal matters or able to handle all document requests. Notaries willing to sign documents in English are even scarcer.

Chilean notaries are, in large measure, a product of living in a society of great distrust and mistrust. Contracts are basically unenforceable if they are not notarized. The same is true with all incorporations, transfers of vehicles or real estate, wills, affidavits, powers of attorney, insurance payouts, as well as documents needed to work with subcontractors. With the exception of some employment contracts, a non-notarized document is essentially worthless. Photocopies of legal documents, certificates, diplomas, records, etc. are likewise unacceptable, generally, unless they are photocopied by the notary himself and stamped as being a legitimate copy.

Lately, some politicians and public figures have called the notarial system “anachronistic, bureaucratic and hardly transparent.” Rates should be standardized throughout Chile for certain services. Yet prices can vary greatly: three or four times as much in one (usually affluent) place compared to another.

A parallel monopoly institution that is beleaguered by similar problems is the county recorder equivalent in Chile (called the conservador de bienes raíces that handles the recording of real estate transactions, as well as other legal rights and company formation documents. This institution, too, is very lucrative and is spawned by political privilege or favoritism. In fact, they make much more than notaries do. Getting this position is to hit a true goldmine.

Like notaries, they have an obligation to the “public trust” to ensure the safekeeping of public records for display when necessary. Consequently, they are both custodians of public documents, making them quasi-state institutions. They both subscribe to at least one powerful lobby to protect their benefits, too.

As an expatriate in Chile, it will be impossible to avoid having to use notary services, and unlikely to miss utilizing a recorder for legal transactions. Therefore, be prepared for inefficiencies, high costs and stressful hassles when you do. Nevertheless, being mentally prepared will help you cope better.

The system actually works, despite its monopolization and inefficiency. One must simply pay the price to get the desired result.

Be sure to become a member of Escape America Now and gain access to the monthly webinar. Details at Visit for discussion and forums about the country.

Dr. Cobin’s updated and enlarged 2016 book, Life in Chile: A Former American’s Guide for Newcomers, is the most comprehensive treatise on Chilean life ever written, designed to help newcomers get settled in Chile. He covers almost every topic imaginable for immigrants. This knowledge is applied in his valet consulting service–Chile Consulting–where he guides expatriates through the process of finding a place to live and settle in Chile, helping them glide over the speed bumps that they would otherwise face in getting their visas, setting up businesses, buying real estate, investing in Chilean stocks or gold coins, etc. The cost is $149.

For a brief introduction consider Dr. Cobin’s abridged book (56 pages): Chile: A Primer for Expats ($19), offering highlights found in the two larger books. Buy Dr. Cobin’s Public Policy books at

Christian Theology of Public Policy: Highlighting the American Experience (2006)

Bible and Government: Public Policy from a Christian Perspective (2003)

A Primer on Modern Themes in Free Market Economics and Policy (2009)

Overview of Nightlife and Activities for Younger People

There are many reasons to live in Santiago: jobs, business and networking, modernity, large First World areas, great medical care, extensive and modern shopping, amusement parks, bowling, golf, international access/airport hub and access to language schools or many people that speak English. Other than work and business, Viña del Mar can tick most of those boxes, albeit on a much smaller scale, and what lacks is just ninety minutes away in Santiago. What Viña has over Santiago is less traffic (except during the Summertime, when it can be a bit oppressive on the coast), cooler weather in Summer, ocean views and no air pollution. The rest of Chile pales by comparison to these two spots, and thus it is no wonder that well over ninety percent of the expats we have serviced settle in either Northeastern Santiago or Viña del Mar.

Nevertheless, one thing that often goes unnoticed is the needs of younger, usually single people, mainly in their 20s and 30s. Most expats that we see are 45 to 65 years old. A few come with children, but most do not. For that reason, these immigrants rarely ask me about what social life is like for younger people. Other than church groups, I really do not know–being a man in his 50s that likes the quiet pleasantries of Viña del Mar. So I asked my 27-year-old son what cities he prefers to meet people, go out and have fun: restaurants, dancing, pubs, shows, casinos, soccer matches, beaches, concerts, horse racing, movie theaters, whatever.

While one observation (my son’s views) is hardly scientific, I think it could be of interest to readers since he was partly raised here and has since lived in Chile for many years, attended graduate school here and is perfectly bilingual. He also gets out a fair amount.

I asked my wife to fill in bits of information she knows about Southcentral Chile. I have a few bits of information to add to the mix, too, based on locales I have seen and activities I have witnessed during my extensive travels in Chile.

In my son’s view, Northeastern Santiago is clearly the best choice. It is a “10”. However, other places are also good or fair, while most places are mediocre or outright terrible. Here are the rankings:

10 Valparaíso/Viña del Mar on New Year’s Eve and during Festival de Viña (around February 19-28)

8 Viña del Mar during the summertime (including Reñaca and south Concón)

7 Viña del Mar during the rest of the year

6,5 Concepción

6 Pucón or Villarrica (especially) and Puerto Varas during the summertime

5 La Serena and Iquique

4 Temuco and Valdivia

3.5 Puerto Montt and Rancagua

3 All other popular lakes and beaches during the summertime, Antofagasta

2 Arica, Talca, Curicó, Linares, Chillán, Los Ángeles, Punta Arenas, Coyhaique, Osorno, Calama, Copiapó, Los Andes, Quillota, Pucón and Villarrica and Puerto Varas during the rest of the year

1 Rural areas and small towns throughout Chile, other lakes and beaches during the rest of the year.

Take the ranking for what it is worth, but at least you now have an idea of what to expect in each area of the country. My son would not live anywhere but Northeastern Santiago or Viña del Mar, unless (of course) he was called to work in another city. Remember, too, that even if Viña del Mar is more suitable for his parent’s generation or retirees, there is still a fair amount for younger people to do and he can easily get to spots in Santiago by bus/metro in a couple hours for Friday and Saturday night–a virtue that no other provincial urban center provides (like Concepción–too far away).

In many ways, Viña del Mar is the superior choice if a young person does not have to work in Santiago every day. He gets the benefits of nightlife in both of those cities without having to put up with the disagreeable aspects of daily life in Santiago (smog, traffic, summertime heat). Overall, it seems pretty clear that young people will tend to be most comfortable and content with social life in either Northeastern Santiago or Viña del Mar.

Be sure to become a member of Escape America Now and gain access to the monthly webinar. Details at Visit for discussion and forums about the country.

Dr. Cobin’s updated and enlarged 2016 book, Life in Chile: A Former American’s Guide for Newcomers, is the most comprehensive treatise on Chilean life ever written, designed to help newcomers get settled in Chile. He covers almost every topic imaginable for immigrants. This knowledge is applied in his valet consulting service–Chile Consulting–where he guides expatriates through the process of finding a place to live and settle in Chile, helping them glide over the speed bumps that they would otherwise face in getting their visas, setting up businesses, buying real estate, investing in Chilean stocks or gold coins, etc. The cost is $149.

For a brief introduction consider Dr. Cobin’s abridged book (56 pages): Chile: A Primer for Expats ($19), offering highlights found in the two larger books. Buy Dr. Cobin’s Public Policy books at

Christian Theology of Public Policy: Highlighting the American Experience (2006)

Bible and Government: Public Policy from a Christian Perspective (2003)

A Primer on Modern Themes in Free Market Economics and Policy (2009)

Chilean Architects

Some Chilean professionals have a lot of power – too much power in fact. Architects fall into that group.

You might ask, “In what sense does an architect have power?” Well, he has a lot if you hire him to build a home for you or for your construction company. He gets to make calls that affect your business and life, whether you like it or not. And it is almost impossible, or at least very time- and cost-prohibitive to do so.

Architects in Chile are more like applied artists with a tinge of desk jockey mentality. They do very little math—indeed math and engineering are hardly required in their university studies—compared to the calculistas (civil engineers) that Chilean architects hire to do certain jobs at your site. Those specialists usually do a good job, as do most architects. Chile has the most earthquake-proof buildings in the world, after all.

They also manage the proyectistas de especialidades, people that specialize in water, sewer, gas, and electrical hookups. They do end up having to manage their own in-house draftsmen, secretaries and errand runners, along with the many subcontractors they hire out for services at jobsites. They also should keep up on new materials and products.

Americans in Chile will detect a lot more general contractor in the job than architect, and that is about right. Remember, cultures are different, and so are their practices. In the United States, architects are highly-trained civil engineers with an art flair; In Chile, they are art and public administration double majors with a wannabe squirt of physics and math added for good measure.

The reason that Architects are so powerful is that they control the entire building process, including the almighty government approvals. The local municipality will not allow just anyone to submit plans and deal with bureaucratic regulation. Architects must do it. And at times architects can turn into outright extortionists.

In the beginning, meetings with your new architect will be pleasant, cordial, professional and sane. Contracts will be signed and everyone will be happy. But time might erode those good feelings as everyone goes through the ups and downs of the building process, which can often take eighteen to thirty months in Chile.

Just before you finish the project and you are ready for your architect to ask for inspection and the recepción municipal, the final bureaucratic hurdle, the architect can demand more money. If you do not pay him then you will not get your building or home approved and your beautiful new property will remain considered as a vacant lot under Chilean legislation. Of course, his actions will not look like a total shaft or shakedown. He will make up some reason why you still owe him for legitimate expenses, costs or professional fees that were not in the contract or were ambiguous.

Of course, you will be mad about these doleful circumstances, wrought because the Chilean government grants too much power to professionals in general, and architects in particular. You will scour the contract you signed two years ago, and find that you have paid your architect in full—or at least all that you are required to pay at that point. You will find that the architect might have even left some contractually promised services undone, and has no intention of doing them. Hence, you will call a lawyer and have a serious chat with him. The lawyer will review the contract and payments made and tell you that you are probably right and would even win most points in a lawsuit. But he advises you to pay up anyway, just like you would pay off a crooked bureaucrat as a matter of “just being part of the way business is done.”

Why would you succumb to the extortion? Because the architect knows that up to certain amounts, say US$5,000 or US$10,000, it is not worth fighting him in court. The architect will go to court “all day” since he has already received 90% of his pay. He will lose some reputation points by being sued, and you will never hire him again, but so what? That course is the way that the majority of Chileans act, playing what economists term a “one shot game” (like the auto mechanic does that rips off tourists he will never see again when their car breaks down).

You on the other hand, stand to lose your entire investment if you cannot sell it given that, legally, all you have is a vacant lot. It will take years in the courts to win a judgment and might cost just as much as the “bribe.” Plus, you will lose sales revenue and tie up your capital by sticking with your unsaleable property. You can still live in the place you build—even if it is not “received” by the municipality. But you cannot sell it. So, your lawyer advises you to just pay. You call it extortion. The architect calls it good business. The lawyer calls it sad, but logical and efficient given the “rules of the game” set up by the government.

Not all Chilean architects are extortionists (i.e., those that practice chantaje). However, you cannot know for certain from the outset that your architect will be honest and honorable. The best strategy you can take is (1) use a lawyer to draw up the contract with the architect (worth the cost) and (2) set aside US$10,000 (in a savings account) and plan on having to pay it out to the architect–above and beyond the US$15,000 to US$30,000 or more that you will have to pay him. That way, by planning to pay it out some day, losing it will be a lesser shock and not hurt or irritate you as much.

One strategy you can try in order to avoid being extorted is to contractually hold back 25% or 30% of his fee until after he delivers the municipal approval to you. Since doing so will cut his extortionist feet out from under him, he will not likely agree to it. I also recommend that you hire an architect that has money, even if he costs more. If you go with the cheaper professional, there will be nothing to get from him in terms of damages should you end up suing him.

Another possible strategy is to hire two architects and pay the second one to piggyback on the first one, so that he can step in if the first one fails or starts extorting you. However, the cost of the piggyback architect’s services might be as much as the payoff required, so you might gain little other than the pleasure of smashing the extortionist.

Think about it. You are “not in Kansas anymore.” Beware of local practices and how to deal with them.

Be sure to become a member of Escape America Now and gain access to the monthly webinar. Details at Visit for discussion and forums about the country.

Dr. Cobin’s updated and enlarged 2016 book, Life in Chile: A Former American’s Guide for Newcomers, is the most comprehensive treatise on Chilean life ever written, designed to help newcomers get settled in Chile. He covers almost every topic imaginable for immigrants. This knowledge is applied in his valet consulting service–Chile Consulting–where he guides expatriates through the process of finding a place to live and settle in Chile, helping them glide over the speed bumps that they would otherwise face in getting their visas, setting up businesses, buying real estate, investing in Chilean stocks or gold coins, etc. The cost is $149.

For a brief introduction consider Dr. Cobin’s abridged book (56 pages): Chile: A Primer for Expats ($19), offering highlights found in the two larger books. Buy Dr. Cobin’s Public Policy books at

Christian Theology of Public Policy: Highlighting the American Experience (2006)

Bible and Government: Public Policy from a Christian Perspective (2003)

A Primer on Modern Themes in Free Market Economics and Policy (2009)

Chilean Realtors

One good (Chilean) friend of mine says they are just lazy.

Nonetheless, I would like to think that Chilean realtors are also incompetent, uncreative, and not very good problem solvers. They have a hard time thinking out of the box, too.

They have no multiple listing service and are reluctant to share commissions with other agents, thus dramatically limiting the supply of homes that each office has to show. This fact also makes it better for sellers to take dozens of nonexclusive contracts out with different realtors so that many people are involved with the sale. Realtors have even told me that giving them an exclusive on a property for sale will not increase the amount of time or money they put into selling my property.

They do not do showings, staging or open houses, or if they do then they are rare. Most of the time they do not drive clients to properties for sale. They will meet clients on site, usually, where the customer signs an agreement to pay their 2% commission.

Whenever I have had to deal with realtors, their services have left something to be desired. They are all smiles to sign up to sell your property or to give you information on other properties for sale. But getting them to do work for you is another issue entirely. I also have found them to be dramatically uninformed about the selling prices of comparable properties, the value added by having quality inputs or features, and their unwillingness to be proactive about finding or attracting prospects.

In reality, my friend is right: they are lazy–even when I offer them 1% or 2% extra commission, they hardly seem motivated. Real estate services in Chile are more than a little bit mysterious and are a lot more than just frustrating.

20161122_174612Most of the time, the best that Realtors will do is simply open the door to the house or apartment for you that you might want to purchase, or put up their sign if they are selling a property for you. I have seen some in Santiago deal with the banks and help with the mortgage and appraisal process, but that is about it.

Really, I am totally underwhelmed by this profession in Chile. In my latest project, I have contracted dozens of realtors over the last year and not a single client or interested party has been brought to the table, while I have had many prospective buyers call or show up to visit the property just because I put up a couple of large signs visible from the street and several internet ads–the one in English being especially effective relative to the others.

20161007_173113In other words, I obviously have an attractive property that many call about and most visit. However, Realtors are unable to break into this market. Few buyers balk at or complain about the price, Realtors complain about the price sometimes because they want to sell fast.

It seems to me that Realtors are part of the social upper class that could never graduate from college and know little about sales and marketing. They do the job, like selling medical insurance, because it is a decent and respectable position for upper class folks that have few other job skills.

If I had to say which professional group in Chile is the most impressive it would have to be physicians in Santiago. The least impressive would have to be Realtors. Lawyers, architects and physical therapists fall in the lower middle of that range, with regional physicians, engineers, dentists and accountants in the upper middle. The bottom line is that when dealing with real estate agents, be prepared for frustration and underperformance, and be prepared to supplement their efforts with your own.

Be sure to become a member of Escape America Now and gain access to the monthly webinar. Details at Visit for discussion and forums about the country.

Dr. Cobin’s updated and enlarged 2016 book, Life in Chile: A Former American’s Guide for Newcomers, is the most comprehensive treatise on Chilean life ever written, designed to help newcomers get settled in Chile. He covers almost every topic imaginable for immigrants. This knowledge is applied in his valet consulting service–Chile Consulting–where he guides expatriates through the process of finding a place to live and settle in Chile, helping them glide over the speed bumps that they would otherwise face in getting their visas, setting up businesses, buying real estate, investing in Chilean stocks or gold coins, etc. The cost is $149.

For a brief introduction consider Dr. Cobin’s abridged book (56 pages): Chile: A Primer for Expats ($19), offering highlights found in the two larger books. Buy Dr. Cobin’s Public Policy books at

A Couple of New Scams by “Friendly” Chileans

Chile is well-known for its scams.

It is society built on lying, cheating, stealing, dishonesty and deception. I do not know how I can put it more plainly. Yet, those of us raised in other cultures, even after living here many years, can still be blindsided by criminals and scammers. Thus, one can imagine how bad the situation can be for newcomers. That weakness is something profound that you should not take lightly, starting from the moment that you step off the aircraft at the Santiago airport. If you do not, beware the biblical adage: “Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall” (1 Corinthians 10:12), because you likely will fall!

Recently, a new client of mine arrived in Chile. It was the first international trip he had taken in his life, fueled by fears of being “Trumped.” He got scammed by a taxi service, ignoring careful instructions from me, or at least not taking them seriously.

Normally, we pick up all clients personally from the airport with VIP service. However, this one had made a last-minute plane reservation and had an arrival time that conflicted with other commitments we had, thus making it necessary to find an alternative means to pick him up. The client was so worried about President Trump and the coming expected world war that he did not want to waste any time in leaving “the land of the free.” Unfortunately, he paid the price for not acting sooner and giving us a chance to better-prepare for his arrival.

Many Chilean hotel transfer drivers have long since given up writing names of arriving guests on placards. Crooks would simply look for the names that drivers had written and write them on their own placards, figuring out ways to get to the customer first. Then they would drive him off and either rob him or at the very least charge him an exorbitant amount to get to the hotel–sort of a “ransom service.” Under current practice, many hotels just hold up a placard with the logo of the hotel and the customer is instructed to look for that logo instead of their name.

Nowadays, there are pirates at the arrival gate, masquerading as airport employees. The merry thugs and thieves hire a front-man that can speak good English, providing a welcome voice to weary international travelers in a sea of foreign language confusion. Yet, sometimes bilingual Chileans are the least trustworthy, even if they wear a convincing uniform!

The tactic is simple: identify a target as he leaves the sliding glass doors at customs. Gringos are usually easy to pick out, especially when they look lost or a little tired and bewildered. Then politely ask him if he needs some assistance, noting that (the pirate) is an airport employee assigned the task of helping international travelers: a sort of “welcome to Chile” service.

In the case of my unwary client, the pirate was informed that he needed no help since he was awaiting a transfer van from the Renaissance Hotel. Then the pirate replied, “unfortunately, that van had already left.” (Literally, “he missed the bus” and was about to get bent over without knowing it was coming.) No worries, however, replied the “airport employee,” since he had other trusted taxis that would whisk him away to his destination. This sort of mishap “happens all the time,” but the airport is prepared to serve visitors caught up in such difficulties.

In fact, the hotel driver was waiting just a few meters away with his placard held up, but was never able to connect with the client. Instead, the client was quickly taken to the nearby ATM by the pirate, who explained that it was necessary to pay for service in cash, in advance. Then, the pirate took him to one of the ring’s cabbies and loaded his luggage, He was then charged four to five times the normal rate for taxi service to the hotel, and of course paid in unfamiliar cash, further confusing the tired, bewildered traveler, not quickly apt to convert between currencies or to know that the normal rate should not exceed US$25 to US$30. Also, the employee (curiously) requested a 10,000-peso “tip” (which is about one-third to one-half a day’s wages for a common worker here).

Obviously, paid employees do not normally request tips, as if they were customary and obligatory. The fact that he did, should have immediately tipped off the client. The scoundrel was probably drooling as he watched the blue bills being spit out of the ATM. Thankfully, the client arrived safely at the hotel, even though he was ripped off and the hotel was annoyed that the airport driver had to wait in vain for over an hour at the airport.

We were worried, too, and had been on the phone with the hotel driver since the time the client exited customs. Indeed, prior to that we had been on the phone with the client since the moment he got his passport stamped, trying to ease his way out. During the 2 minutes that we lost contact with the client and he left customs, the pirate got him.

The point man probably split the cab fare with the cabbie thieves. Notice that it pays to be bilingual in more ways than one! In Chile, crime pays. And P.T. Barnum’s “sucker” gets off the plane “every minute,” from 5 a.m. to 10 a.m. and beyond!

In another new, Samaritan-esque scam, local criminals are going around and letting the air out of people’s tires while parked. When an unsuspecting driver returns, and starts to drive off, the villain appears and points out that the driver has a pinchazo or a punctured tire. Not to worry, however, since the feigned Samaritan knows where to go to have the flat repaired. Once he leads his victim somewhere out of sight, especially if the victim has let him inside his car, he will pull a knife or gun and assault or rob his victim. Yet another reason to beware of helpful and courteous Chileans!

Furthermore, Chileans might be exporting this craft more frequently and easily in coming years. Did you know that of the 35 OECD countries, only South Korean and Chilean passport holders have visa-free travel to all G-8 countries (including Russia)? Another nice feature of Chilean citizenship, but perhaps not such a boon for the rest of the world that has just made it easier for criminals to arrive and practice their craft in new “territories.”

Be sure to become a member of Escape America Now and gain access to the monthly webinar. Details at Visit for discussion and forums about the country.

Dr. Cobin’s updated and enlarged 2016 book, Life in Chile: A Former American’s Guide for Newcomers, is the most comprehensive treatise on Chilean life ever written, designed to help newcomers get settled in Chile. He covers almost every topic imaginable for immigrants. This knowledge is applied in his valet consulting service–Chile Consulting–where he guides expatriates through the process of finding a place to live and settle in Chile, helping them glide over the speed bumps that they would otherwise face in getting their visas, setting up businesses, buying real estate, investing in Chilean stocks or gold coins, etc. The cost is $149.

For a brief introduction consider Dr. Cobin’s older (2014), not updated, abridged book (56 pages): Chile: A Primer for Expats ($19), offering highlights found in the two larger books.

Buy Dr. Cobin’s Public Policy books at

Christian Theology of Public Policy: Highlighting the American Experience (2006)

Bible and Government: Public Policy from a Christian Perspective (2003)

A Primer on Modern Themes in Free Market Economics and Policy (2009)

Trump Administration May Pave the Way to Relinquish US Citizenship for as Low as $15.55

As many current and aspiring expatriates of the United States are aware, the number of Americans renouncing citizenship has been on the rise over the past decade or so.

Once the blue passport was sought by people worldwide, and flashed with pride by its bearers. The nations of the world recognized its holders as those who perhaps enjoyed more freedom and prosperity. Many nations opened their arms, banks readied their vaults and various business opportunities unfolded before them.

However, as the citizenry began to wake up to the fact that the state perceives them as property, the brilliant blue cover of a US passport lost much of its luster. The ominous taxes that continued to be imposed along with reams of draconian regulations took their tolls. Being only one of two countries in the world (Eritrea is the other) that requires its subjects to report and potentially pay taxes on all international income has certainly helped to build the resentment from both citizens and the international community alike.

FATCA implementation agreements

Internationally, warmongering and imperialistic pursuits didn’t help. This, along with the narcissistic attitudes of many Americans and the eventual impositions of the IRS and other alphabet soup agencies that form the long arm of US injustice and arrogation wore down once strong, vibrant and mutually beneficial relationships.

Blessing or Curse

Today, many banks shun the little blue book. If you are from just about any other country, they open their arms to new business. But the penalty exacted by the strength of US banks, the IRS, the caving of various governments to the political pressure of the US and the asinine FATCA invasion have resulted in banks closing their doors to US citizens.

As a result, more of them are leaving the US each year. Some just leave and work elsewhere for vocational reasons. Others want to live somewhere specifically, so go for it. But an ever growing number find ways to leave the confines of the US Inc in order to escape the insanity of the state imposing on their every move. They’re tired of the over-regulation and seemingly endless taxes on every move they make, unless it’s illegal, of course. A growing number of these are renouncing their citizenship.

As recently as seven years ago (2008), there were only 235 who renounced. That more than tripled the following year, then doubled again in 2010 to 1485, the year FATCA was implemented. Interestingly, it was that year that the US decided it should be charging to permit people to escape its clutches. The fee that year was $450. This resulted in an increase of only about 300, to 1,781 in 2011.

Something odd happened in 2012. Numbers are supposed to be reported quarterly, but two quarters were missed, so the total came out to 932. However, those lost numbers were apparently reported the following year, resulting in 2,999 reunciations. That year also saw the fee increase to $990.

So, how did a 220% increase in the price for freedom from the US affect renunciations? The following year, 2014, saw an increase to 3.415 citizens willing to pay for the keys to their US tax shackles. Incidentally, when getting grilled by the consulate over why you’re renouncing, stating that it’s for tax purposes is inadvisable. They may deny you. Of course, they may deny you because they have indigestion too, but most who’ve I’ve read about found the process fairly straightforward, other than the onerous fees. But it gets better.

Last year the fees were raised to an astounding $2,350, ostensibly because that’s what it costs to do the paperwork. Yet that year saw the most dramatic increase in renunciations so far, at around 6,000.

When is Being Owned NOT Slavery?

Make no mistake – this is the blatant pricing of freedom. When a person who is forced to be a tax slave, regardless of where they live and the source of their income, then it is clear that the extorting agent is claiming ownership. Just how much is your freedom worth? According to US Inc, $2,350 will remove your shackles. Of course, if you’re worth more than about $2,000,000 or have had a decent income over the past few years, you will be rewarded with paying an expatriation tax on top of any taxes you have already paid. If you haven’t kept current with your filing, it could get much worse.

If you expatriated on or after June 17, 2008, the new IRC 877A expatriation rules apply to you if any of the following statements apply.

  • Your average annual net income tax for the 5 years ending before the date of expatriation or termination of residency is more than a specified amount that is adjusted for inflation ($151,000 for 2012, $155,000 for 2013, $157,000 for 2014, and $160,000 for 2015).
  • Your net worth is $2 million or more on the date of your expatriation or termination of residency.
  • You fail to certify on Form 8854 that you have complied with all U.S. federal tax obligations for the 5 years preceding the date of your expatriation or termination of residency.
    Source: IRS

A Threat to Freedom of Speech = A Veiled Offer of Freedom?

There was recently a string of tweets and articles from the PEOTUS regarding the burning of flags. Such a right is guaranteed by the Constitution, but we all are well aware that regulations haven’t bowed before constitutional law for decades. Even though the Supreme Court has ruled that it is someone’s protected First Amendment right, many continue to strive to meet out punishment for any who would be so traitorous as to burn the emblem of those who would claim to own them. One of these would-be oppressors is Hillary, who introduced legislation in 2005 that would require a $100,000 fine and one year in prison for anyone burning an American flag.

Apparently the president elect has similar ideas, but with a very interesting twist. He was quoted as stating:

Nobody should be allowed to burn the American flag – if they do, there must be consequences – perhaps loss of citizenship or year in jail!

You mean, that’s all it will take? Then you get a choice?

This, of course, prompted an interesting string of comments around the interwebs. Peter Schiff was all over it.


If all that is required to lose U.S. citizenship is burning a flag, there are Americans all over the world who would gladly burn one if it gets them out of paying the $2,350 filing fee, or for wealthier Americans paying the far more onerous exit tax!

Posted by Peter Schiff on Tuesday, November 29, 2016


So, I did some looking around. You can buy a 3’x5′ American flag for just $15.55 on Amazon.

Of course, you can buy one for about any price you want to pay. But this seemed like a pretty reasonable price and substantial enough to actually catch flame visibly enough to make sure the evidence is irrefutable.

But Seriously?

#Satire aside (kinda), I really have no desire to burn the flag. To me, it’s just senseless noise. But neither do I desire to continue to be considered a tool of the state. Renunciation is a distinct possibility for my future.

Depending on your goals, you may require another passport before renouncing. In most cases, that means at least five years as a half-time resident in the country you choose. In other words, you’d need to spend at least 185 days of each year there in order to satisfy the local requirements. This varies from country to country, but it seems somewhat standard with many South American countries.

There are services that will sell you instructions and respond to email questions regarding permanent residency (not including a passport) in their country for about $500-$1,000. If you know the language, or have someone that can help, and are pretty confident in your ability to navigate, this might be a great option. This is particularly true if you don’t have much in the way of expendable cash.

For those who would rather have someone either walk them through it or take care of most of the legwork for them, the sky is really the limit. However, if you’re paying more than about $5,000 for really good service, depending on additional options, then you’re probably paying too much. Perhaps there are countries where higher fees are merited, but in most countries the work required isn’t really worth more than a few thousand bucks. The process usually takes a little over two years, depending upon bureaucratic hurdles.

Once you have permanent residency, you’re on the road to getting your passport, if you care to. Again, this will take about five years.

You don’t have to get a new residency or citizenship though. There is provision for renunciation as a stateless person as well. Of course, you are warned by the US government that doing so is inadvisable because you would no longer enjoy the protection of any government.

A final note on this: I’m no law expert, but it appears that the charging for renunciation may in fact be illegal. For those who want to dig further, you might start at the U.S. Department of State – Bureau of Consular Affairs and with Cornell’s Legal Information Institute.

Remember, it’s on you to do your own research. Due your own due diligence and caveat emptor apply, especially when dealing with international laws. These are the apparent options before you, but often we find hidden gems to help us along our way. And, whether you seek to renounce or pursue another path, may you enjoy freedom of both mind and body.

Q & A on the Election Results and Expectations with Dr. John Cobin

As the elections grew near, many considered Hillary’s coronation to basically be a formality. When they woke up to find that Trump was the new President elect, there was a sense of shock for many – some for the shock of it just being an upset, for others a shock of disappointment and yet for others one of victory. Some among the first group have even allowed themselves a sense of hope, like maybe it’ll finally get a little better. Maybe a sense of reason is still possible from Washington. If you look back over Dr. John Cobin’s blog entries and other writings fo the last several months, you will see that he predicted a Trump win–just like Doug Casey and Michael Moore did. All of them were surely in the minority but there could be no doubt in Dr. Cobin’s mind when he saw Trump’s strategy to reach and excite the masses. Hillary simply could not compete. Trump had tens of thousands of people show up at his rallies, and none of the figures were trumped-up.


A few of these folks entered into a discussion regarding whether or not it was necessary for those seeking freedom to leave the US. When that suggestion was presented to Dr. Cobin, he responded:

Still better pack your bags. Don’t let it lull you to sleep.
The elites will not let a rogue US president go along without reprisals. The powers to be have to have some say in what he does. I wouldn’t be surprised if Trump is assassinated in the next 90 days (and then we will know just who controls Pence) or we will find out that there was actually an upstart group of elites vying for power that got to Trump, helped put him in office, and now back him. The Rothschilds and Rockefellers also have family feuds.

Don’t you think that the US may have just headed off WWIII?

Your chance of war and attacks in your backyard just skyrocketed.
The police state with deportations and a walled border will start to encroach on everyone up there. It will make your escape harder.


Speaking of war, it might be a really good diversion right now, as would be a false flag, to divert the attention of the malcontents. A lot of them are young, so they could conceivably be sent overseas in military garb under a new draft to combat terrorism. Nothing better for reducing unemployment than killing off a lot of potential labor. Doing so leaves a lot more jobs for the rest. Then people that remain can be employed making bombs and other armaments. Like good mercantilists, Trumpians can capture and sell natural resources of the conquered nations, too. Sounds like a winning strategy for Trump.

The media coverage was so incredibly biased towards Hillary winning it was hard to watch the results. They are just beside themselves with horror. You have to admit, it is great seeing those media shills twist in the wind.

Sure, it was fun watching the Left wither as you said and maybe some of them will be eliminated, too. A small gesture for rightists to “enjoy.” I bet he will even prosecute Hillary, even though for the moment he has backed away from that threat he boldly made publicly. But what he will do now is potentially very scary. It reminds me of the populism and euphoria for Hitler and Mussolini in the mid-1930s. I wrote about thos paralles in a blog entry not too long ago, remember?

Trump and America’s Fascination with Fascism

Okay, so we know you aren’t too hopeful about Trump. You have to see some positives to his victory though.

Hopefully, there will be REAL benefits for the unborn now. Excuse me if I still have my doubts. Ditto for gun owners. I think he now “owes” Evangelicals, too, and thus will grant them temporary peace, and perhaps eliminate the gender-neutral bathrooms. So, all of that is a benefit, certainly better than Clinton would have done. Maybe he will listen to pro-life advisors for his Supreme Court picks? Maybe, but don’t hold your breath. I am more encouraged that he seems to want to back out of the climate change farse in the Paris agreement (that just took effect). He could save billions by withdrawing the Americans from that idiocy. Manmade climate change is a joke. He will use this money and other funds to give people jobs. That is his Keynesian side. Trump is a populist that will create employment (Keynesian) by building bridges, dams, airports, hospitals and naval/air vessels. Just be ready for the consequences of him having an even mightier military.

Do you see this affecting Chile at all? Will Chileans get trumped, too?

Chile will benefit since Trump says he will install public works projects that will put Americans to work: building infrastructure that requires copper and other things Chile sells. It is a good time to invest and live in Chile. Chile is not on anyone’s war map. There is nothing to conquer. Chile only wants to trade. Chileans like Americans,and viceversa. They have every reason to be optimistic.


Also, Chileans are even surer to follow suit in their 2017 election. They will elect a new president and congress (since they are mostly lemmings, and follow the USA to the “Right,” this time to the benefit of liberty). However, the world just became an even more dangerous place for you. But it became a much better place for Chile. Of course, the doltish Chilean Right believes that the true Right in the USA has won. They are ignorant. So are Americans–as we saw yesterday. The 306 electoral college near-landslide is impressive, as Doug Casey called at the beginning of November 2016 (along with Yours Truly).

People called me to congratulate me on my prediction. My WhatsApp note to Chilean friends on the morning after the election was as follows: ¿Cuántas veces he dicho que Trump iba a ganar? Es increíble. Es malo para el mundo en términos de inmigrantes y amenaza de guerra, aunque es un poquito mejor que el diablo Hillary. El Estado siempre ha sido nuestro enemigo. Cristianos tienen que entender esto. Todos allá subestimaron cuán astuto es Trump, y cuán tonto es el votante mediano americano. Los ganadores en EEU son los niños por nacer y los dueños de armas. Por lo menos, el En Chile, no nos va seguir a los EEUU y elegir alguien de la derecha en 2017. No va a afectar mal al comercio con Chile. Al revés: van a construir de nuevo la infraestructura en los EEUU y comparar aún más cobre. Un beneficio para nosotros.

Chile’s economy depends on exporting natural resources. It is about to do very well. Copper, iron, silver and gold will rise sharply now. Like Switzerland in WW2, Chile and other countries with similar economic profiles will have an economic boom. In Chile, we will not be able to produce fast enough to keep up with demand for all the Trumped-up projects. We are going to oust the Left next election here and make foreign investment even more favorable. (Hint: the time to invest in Chile is NOW before prices rise and other run to supply coming demand for raw materials and food). So, expect more capital to flow in to Chile, and for us to become wealthier, maybe even closing in on Nickel-producer New Caledonia in terms of GDP per capita by 2030.


On top of that, how valuable will passports and real estate be for safe places to live in the world, like Chile? Manhattan lost some real estate value last night, and so long as violence abounds, the Location-Location-Location doctrine works against you. At some point, Santiago looks pretty attractive to head business operations compared to bigger, Northern Hemisphere cities plagued by a nasty mixture of populism, welfarism, violence, mercantilism and Keynesianism. Still, in the first decade, those “Berlins” are really pretty booming places. Just ask any German in 1936, leading the way out of the Great Depression while the rest of the world marveled. Lots of employment, too, by wiping out labor competition (6 million Jews?), largely by sending folks off to die in the next war.

Too bad for New Zealand that social leftism has cut its feet out from under it and it will not have available its best things to export due to its radical environmentalist policies. Gains will be relatively small from wools and Kiwi juice exports. But Australia, New Caledonia, Brunei and Indonesia should do well, and maybe even India, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Namibia, Botswana, South Africa, Lesotho, Kenya, Peru and Colombia. Also, basket-case countries with natural resources like Ecuador and Argentina will too, lifting them out of their natural path to demise with a great injection of foreign capital. It is easy to forgive and forget the sins of the Left when the money starts rolling in.

Of the Lesser of Two Evils, Choose Neither

It’s been interesting to see the protests. The hypocrisy is most astonishing, except when one considers the cognitive dissonance it takes to be a leftist.

Looks like life for y’all just got a whole lot more dangerous, if Fox News is to be believed ([article here]( Good thing for now that these guys do not know how to aim and squeeze a trigger. You might be caught in the crossfire in a town near you! Keep checking the data on guns and ammo sales, and if more people are taking classes to learn to shoot well.
Another interesting effect will be how many democrats become strong Second Amendment supporters all of the sudden. Do they really want to live in a country governed by what seems to be a populist fascist sort (much like Mussolini or Hitler wanting to make “fatherland” in Germany or Italy “great again” in the 1930s, successfully pulling them out of the Great Depression, with a pitch to the xenophobic common men in those countries), where the government has weaponry and the citizens do not?
The Second Amendment was put there to give citizens a check against the state, not to protect hunting. So, what will they do now? Will they change their point of view and arm themselves to the teeth as they should. Trouble is, I do not think most Democrats know the first thing about guns.
I will have to add that I am glad I will not be around for the street violence or even a civil war to come. Perfect time for building momentum and numbers, then the fascist fist to crash down on these rebels around February. I feel sad for my kids up there.

Looking to Leave America? You Should be More Scared than You Are

You’re an economist. Trump is outlining plans to bolster the US economy. Some of this seems pretty legit. Are you seeing the potential for some good economic changes now?

You are about to see economic disaster build from protectionism, make-work programs, indirect debt repudiation and the next Federal Reserve fiasco to finance what is needed (no details yet on that part). On top of that, you now have violence and enough hatred that could lead to a civil war. The losers were already angry, and already willing to expend violence on cops, who were willing to return the favor or even start it themselves. Now there is rage and hatred in the face of rising police brutality. Not a pretty picture.

Note that with all protectionism coupled with Keynesianism and Mercantilism, so long as money rolls in, the economy will do well in the short run. But things will be troublesome after a few years. Then war will be needed to prop-up the economy.


Look at all the jobs people will have available in the USA shortly (if Trump keeps his trumped-up promises): building a 2,000 mile 40-foot-high wall (at Mexico’s expense?); renovating airports, bridges, roads; building larger VA hospitals and centers; building military hardware; attacking people “over there” to reduce the stock of older hardware and make room to fill up the space with new stuff (lots of jobs in logistics and warehousing). Raw materials suppliers and trucking companies are about to have a field day. I wonder if Trump could “waste” (nuke?) a middle-eastern region and then get Europe to go rebuild and pay for it as a requirement for the USA to stay in NATO, hiring a few more American companies to help. More jobs! Higher wages! Marriage of Keynesianism and fascism. Good mix, much better than gay marriage, which only produces sin and no offspring.

Thanks for your perspective and insights. Any final words of advice?

At least read a little bit more about the rise of fascism in Europe, please. And be careful whom you look upon to be your savior. The smart money and people got out of Berlin in the late 30s. While it is a nice place to live today, it was a different story under firebombing and later on when Stalin showed up.

P.S. No violent riots in Viña del Mar today, but I will keep you posted of any news.

Until next time,

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