This update has been challenging to get my thoughts together and figure out what to say, which is why it’s taken a while to write! I’d like to do an update every 3 months, so I hope you find these interesting…
Everything is going amazing in Chile, but the anxious side of me wants to also say we’ve got life figured out down here, which isn’t the case yet! But, this blog post has helped remind us that we’ve accomplished a lot in the past 4 months since returning to Matanzas Chile on Sept 20th from the USA. For sure, we don’t regret our decision.
I think the most important thing to say, is that our happiness with our life here has exceeded our expectations in the most important ways, and we really can see ourselves building a family here.
So why Matanzas?
All along our travels, we were constantly asking ourselves the question: “this is a cool/beautiful spot, but do you think we could live here?” The answer during 18 months of travels was always “no” or most often “no way”. When you’ve spent the last 12 years in San Francisco, it’s pretty hard to find a better place. But when we got to Matanzas Chile, it seemed to have everything: great family vibe, super safe, close to an international airport/city, plentiful & excellent fruits and vegetables, wonderful community and gorgeous beaches with excellent surfing and kitesurfing. And a chance to learn spanish! After meeting Martin and Joy who had recently moved full time to Matanzas from Switzerland, we decided we could also give it a try!
The cost of living is much lower than the USA (our two bedroom apartment is about $500 / month), so we decided we had enough savings to give it a shot living here – at least for one or two years. We said, “this place has almost everything we are looking for, so let’s give it a try for a couple of years and see if we can figure out how to earn money here AND enjoy a happy fulfilling life”.
So four months in – the good stuff – we are enjoying life, that has been the easy part!
Jenine is 6 months pregnant and everything is going great with the pregnancy. We find the health system here to be very good, with much less administrative mess and opaqueness of the States. Jenine is due April 12 and we are working with a wonderful natural birth team in the coast city of Viña del Mar. We having 3 months to decide on a name for our little girl.
Overall, we are very healthy here, much more than we’ve been in our lives. We have adopted a mostly vegetarian diet and Jenine is helping out at an organic farm during week and we have a little garden growing at our house. We buy most of our food at farm stands and visit farms like “Señora Nana’s” to pick fresh produce.
The kitesurfing and surfing has vastly exceeded anything I could have imagined. I’m addicted to wave riding, especially kitesurfing, and we live maybe in one of the top places in the world for it. Jenine does yoga twice a week at a small local studio. Additionally, I recently discovered how amazing the mountain biking is here, and last weekend I completed my first Enduro style race in Matanzas. It was so much fun!
We have a great little group of friends and we feel part of the community. Every week Jenine joins a playgroup with other mothers and their kids. The town isn’t so big, but all the locals living here are so nice and wonderful. Our neighbors Marcelo and Silvia and their three daughters are the friendliest family ever and have been so kind to us (they also own our cabaña). Jenine is helping one of their daughters with Spanish each week.
Plus, Chile is an awesome place to visit. Foreigners visiting Chile was up 26% in 2016, and already we’ve had some fun visits from friends and my parents came for 10 days and had a great time. We are always down to help you plan your trip to Chile!!
One of our main goals here was to find some land and build a house, and ideally, we wanted to build the house ourselves. We are very happy to report that we bought land with a house that Martin and Joy are currently building. A few years ago, Martin bought a nice piece of land (just over an acre) with a great ocean view, and was in the process of building a house to sell when we arrived here. After realizing it was going to take us a long time to find land and build a house ourselves, especially with a baby coming, we jumped on the opportunity to buy Martin’s new house. It should be ready around July. Additionally, we found that Chilean maestros (General Contractors) mostly can’t be trusted. So we are tremendously fortunate to have Martin building our house with such love and care. It is going to be a great home here. We are still hoping to buy some more land and build a house ourselves, to earn some rental income, but it has been challenging to find good land right now for the right price.
The more challenging side of starting a new life abroad.
First off, Spanish may not be necessary to travel in Chile, but to live here and to figure out a business here, it is absolutely necessary. Jenine and my Spanish is OK, and improving, but it still seems like it’s gonna take us a year (more?) to get to fluency, especially with Chilean Spanish. Lately, we’ve gotten more Chilean friends who are taking the time to put up with our bad Spanish so that we can progress. I’m very thankful for that, it is necessary to have patient people to help you learn!
Next, I thought it would be easier to invest in Chile or develop businesses or at least find rental properties to earn some income. This should be a good business, especially as Chile is becoming such a hot tourist destination. Unfortunately, we are at least a few years late to the real estate party, and as prices have skyrocketed, it’s hard to find good investment opportunities. In 2017, we need to figure out a way to support ourselves down here. I’ve been approached by a few people with ideas to start different types of businesses, so maybe something unexpected will come through. Our cost of living isn’t so high but it isn’t cheap, our expenses are about $3K to $4K/month (with health insurance, medical, cars and trips home budgeted), and we have money set aside to invest in projects. So hopefully, we can find a business opportunity for us this year. If not, I’m not sure how long we would stay down here, unfortunately. I’m 36 years old, and if I need to find a job again in the states, I need to do that sooner than later 🙂 However, even if we did return to the USA, we for sure would not regret any moment down here.
However, as Jenine and I were sitting outside overlooking the ocean yesterday, I was just thinking, no matter what, we are going to figure out how to make it work!
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