Governments usually foul things up worse than they already are, especially when its intervention is propelled by Marxist and socialist doctrines. Such has been the case in Chile, although public outrage has stymied the worst of leftist policies from being implemented in 2014.

Moreover, the future is bright in Chile. It seems less likely that the left will be able to maintain itself in power after President Michelle Bachelet’s term ends in three years.

Nevertheless, enough leftist venom reached certain sectors of the Chilean economy to cause lasting damage. One of the more important casualties of leftist public policies has been in new construction, where media reports put national unemployment for the industry at 12%.

In Viña del Mar, a construction firm posted four internet ads in order to recruit a total of three day laborers, offering to pay 350,000 pesos (US $577) per month. The sites selected were www.yapo.cl, www.vivastreet.cl, www.elrastro.cl and www.locanto.cl. A print ad was also ordered for the local daily El Mercurio de Valparaíso, but the ad was canceled before it ever ran since the internet sites alone yielded over 25 calls from prospective workers.

Hiring good construction workers is easy these days in the Valparaíso metropolitan area. The cost of construction is also quite low on account of lower labor costs. Bad business conditions led big box store Construmart (a chain like Home Depot) to close its Concón branch, adjacent to Viña del Mar.

The situation is worse in Iquique, where government policy has stifled the opening of a new copper mine and a planned salt mine by a German firm. Some genius in the leftist government decided that these minerals will have to be mined by state-owned companies, or at least not by foreigners.

What is the result of such folly? Fewer jobs and layoffs. One mining support firm recently laid off 600 people in town.

None of this activity has helped the construction industry, which has slowed considerably. Iquique was booming but now there are only 6 or 7 apartment tower projects left going, and government policy has made little land available for anything but tower projects, stifling single family home and town-home construction. Workers in Iquique used to be making as much as three times the salaries of their counterparts in Viña del Mar, but now their futures are bleak. They face a state-imposed slowdown and little help from tourism (nothing like what is available in Viña del Mar) to impel progress.

The story of leftist failure is repeated time and again. It is “obvious” to libertarian-minded people that the state fails. And Chile in 2014 has added yet more evidence against interventionism.

Chile also provides a good present opportunity to buy real estate on account of the huge and growing immigration numbers, up 21% since March, 50% over the las 5 years and over 80% during the last decade. Most immigration stems from Perú but there are plenty of professionals coming from Brazil, Argentina and Spain, as well as Germany and the United States.

Despite the bad local news, foreigners are coming to Chile in order to escape the failed interventionist paradises where they reside. These people demand homes, just as tourists from Brazil and Argentina continue to demand summer beach homes near Viña del Mar.

Those are some of the reasons why housing demand is not just a function of a bubble bolstered by artificially low interest rates (which is also the case in Chile 2014). It is a sheer function of demand and good value relative to other countries.

Even with the rise in selling prices over the last few years, compare home prices in Santiago and Viña del Mar (or Iquique) with prices with Auckland (50% to 80% more than comparable Viña del Mar) most European or “developed” Asian cities. Chile remains a bargain.

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Visit AllAboutChile.com for discussion and forums about the country and what’s going on with Freedom Orchard.
Dr. Cobin’s 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 $49.
Dr. Cobin’s sequel book, Expatriates to Chile: Topics for Living, adds even further depth on important topics to expatriates who either live in Chile already or who have Chile on the short list of countries where they hope to immigrate. The book deals with crucial issues pertaining to urban and rural real estate transactions, natural disasters, issues pertaining to emigration and its urgency, money and the quality of life, medical care and insurance, business opportunities, social manifestations (including welfare state and divorce policy concerns), Chile in the freedom indices, social maladies (lying, cheating, stealing and murder), as well as discussion of a few places worth visiting and some further comments about Santiago.
Dr. Cobin’s next sequel, Living in Chile: Key Details of History, Culture, Politics and Places for the Serious Immigrant, goes into detail that mainly those people living in Chile already or serious immigrants will be interested in. It is also of special importance to libertarians that want to know something about the political and ideological undercurrents, past highlights (like having a free port much like Hong Kong or free banking), and people that want practical information and where they can retire on their budget. The travel section compliments the other books in the series so that those that read all three books can be sure to have covered the key places of the country from top to bottom. This book is chock full of savory details that only a true immigrant and former American with many years of experience would know. Some things are only learned over long periods of time and observation. Take advantage of tapping into Dr. Cobin’s deep knowledge of the country and insights of importance to serious immigrants.
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.