Yes, I’m serious. You didn’t think I was a farmer, did you?
Well, you’d be right. I don’t know shit about farming. But times are a changin’. I will explain.
As an American, foreign real estate is one of the few things that are exempt from American taxes. Pretty cool. I’ve also wanted to own land outside the USA for quite a while now for various reasons, including personal, financial, and five flags related.
Also, agriculture is a fantastic investment right now. Agriculture is at historic lows. Agricultural commodities like sugar are at 75–year lows(!). They are a great investment buy. All kinds of agricultural commodities like sugar, corn, cotton, and numerous others are likely going to explode in value over the new few years/decades.
The reason for this is simple. Being at their lows, if the world enters into a time of prosperity, demand will rise, so their prices will also rise. If instead the world enters a huge recession (which much more likely of course), collapsing Western governments all over the planet will do the only thing they know how to do to prevent recessions: print money like maniacs. This will drive prices of commodities, especially underpriced commodities like agriculture, upwards.
Investing in agriculture is pretty much a win/win scenario in my opinion, at least in the mid to long-term. The one possible hitch in the long-term is technological growth. It’s possible that in years/decades down the road, someone will invent something where you can snap your fingers and make all kinds of vegetables appear out of nowhere (instant growth, etc). This may drive agriculture prices down. Maybe. I consider this a small risk that I’m willing to take. Also, this kind of thing would only affect the first world. The second and third worlds will still need their corn and sugar.
Because of all of this, one of the aspects of my long-term financial plan was to own a small farm far outside of the USA. The benefits to me would be:
– Income from the farm
– Long-term investment in land
– Mid to long-term investment in agriculture
– International diversification (my Country D for five flags)
– Possible tax benefits
– A home/base of operations in a foreign country (one of my “flags”)
My plan was to purchase this land in South America, likely Chile or Peru, about 5-10 years down the road.
I’ve changed this plan to do this in Paraguay next year. Here are the reasons:
1. This will help me gain both residency and citizenship there. If I can show a real effort to invest in Paraguay via buying land, setting up a business, employing Paraguayans, selling to Paraguayans, and re-investing back into the community, all of which I intend to do, this will help my process a great deal. There are no guarantees, but it will at least help.
2. I have officially fallen in love with Paraguay. I’ve been there three times in the last nine months and I always find myself excited to go and missing it when I leave. The more I go, the more I like it. Despite it’s second-world aspects, the people there are amazingly friendly and relaxed across the board. The climate is gentle, the environment is cozy, and literally everyone I’ve met from poor people to middle-class workers to upper-class professionals and attorneys, all have been fantastic.
3. It will force me to up my timetable on learning Spanish, something that my five flags plan requires me to do for numerous reasons.
4. I’ve made a network of contacts with people in Paraguay who I really like, most of whom speak English, who I can rely upon for basics. I’m not alone down there anymore.
5. This can count as my fourth Alpha 2.0 business, just in case I want to eliminate or downsize one of the other ones in the next few years (which is likely).
So, I’m going to do this in 2020 instead of 5-10 years from now. I’m very excited.
Do I know anything about farming? No. But a farm is a business, and I know business. I will hire any experts I need and outsource everything, Alpha Male 2.0 style. I’ve also always wanted to start a business that I knew nothing about, forcing me to outsource all of the SW tasks. It’s going to be an amazing adventure and I can’t wait to get started. (Seriously! I’m getting excited just typing this.)
As to the type of farm I’m going to start, I’m going farm corn. As I said, corn is an amazingly fantastic, versatile, and safe investment. I considered farming soybeans, sugar, cotton, and a few other things, but corn seems to me the best and least complicated choice. I also briefly considered raising cattle, but as an international traveler dealing with livestock would present a problem for me, so I passed. Too many international entry forms ask you if you’ve had any contact with livestock during your trip. No thank you.
Here’s my current plan:
- Return to Paraguay on or before December of this year to finalize my residency process. I should be a legal resident of Paraguay before the summer of 2020.
- Have several meetings with some farmers and agricultural experts here in the USA I know (two of which are in my extended family) and come up with a very specific plan and budget to purchase the land, establish the farm, and sell the goods.
- Start casually looking at land online to get a feel for regions and prices. I don’t necessarily need a farmhouse, but real estate outside of Asunción is so cheap in Paraguay I might as well get one.
- Visit Paraguay at least two more times by the end of next summer and purchase the land.
- Use my attorneys and other business contacts down there to help me hire a staff to maintain the farm and to sell the corn.
- Hire either someone down there or someone internationally to document all procedures of the farm and create an operations manual so I don’t have to rely on any specific individuals as employees and can rehire people and train them very fast.
- Hand the day-to-day management of the farm over to someone capable. This person will email me regular profitability reports.
- Visit the farm on a regular basis.
This farm will be an example of an offline Alpha 2.0 business. It will run profitably without me having to physically be there all the time despite it being in a set, real-life location instead of a website. My IT marketing company is my other offline business, but that doesn’t require a location.
I’ll keep you all updated on my progress. I can’t wait to get started.
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oh man that sounds wonderful. a dental assistant one time talked me out of being a farmer because he said he grew up on one and that id be poor. I was 19 then.
Getting hardcore on cutting expenses and creating cashflow so I can gedt to fun stuff like this. I’m very interested in offline Alpha 2.0 models when the time comes. Very cool you’re doing this.
He was correct, but his advice was out of date. Farming has been a horrible industry for decades, yes. But it’s ready for a huge turnaround for a number of reasons, mostly demographic.
Interesting as are all you posts we share many similar ideas!
It sound an excellent idea.
I live in Brazil, and as I know, Paraguay is a friendly place to invest, low taxes and welcome foreign people to invest there.
If you need some help on farming there, I have a cousin which own a feltilizer company in the south of Brazil, and have some clients at Paraguay. I’m sure he will be glad to work with you.
Put my vote down for documenting process of setting up the farm. If possible video would be great, there’s a big movement on YouTube of tradcons getting back into farming in a big way with people like Owen Benjamin, etc. so likely potentially quite profitable for you.
I’ve been working on farming investments the last couple years as well, farmland is very cheap in the US because the land taxes work on a rolling average system and we’re coming down from historically high grain prices making the taxes almost break even for the average farmer.
For example, a piece of land that generated $200 per acre used to cost about $20 in taxes currently costs about $200 in some states.
Lots of opportunity.
I think the reason why food is at a 75 year low is because of technology making it cheaper. Shit like drones are some of the new things on the block.
Also I would get a consult about which crop to do for Panama. You’d be competing against US corn subsidies for example.
How very cool. The devil is in finding a good manager to run the thing.
Do you know why they ask about livestock handling on the immigration forms?
Easy. Just follow the Rule of Three. You may have to go through two or three managers, firing each one, before you find the correct one.
Disease fears. Mostly unfounded.
When working on your Spanish, be sure to use modern methods. No classrooms, no stupid exercises. You need a great amount of reading and listening. The YouTube channel Dreaming Spanish is a particularly good source. For vocabulary, nothing comes close to spaced repetition systems like Anki. Focus on understanding people, speaking will come by itself, don’t try speaking from day one.
Hello Caleb. In the article you mention that you are planning on having employees on your farm. Does that not violate your Alpha 2.0 model, or is this an exception to the rule?
Whenever I say “employees” that always means “staff” or “helpers.” Yes, having actual, W2 salaried/hourly employees (or the international equivalent) is a direct violation of the Alpha 2.0 business model and I will do everything in my power to avoid this by using subcontractors and similar instead. However, if I get more tax / residency benefits by having “real” employees instead of subcontractors (and I don’t know if I will or not yet), then yes, I will purposely though reluctantly violate the model for that reason. If this was a typical business with the sole goal of creating profit, I would never, ever do that, but as I said in the article, I have other reasons for formulating this business beyond just making a profit.
Just want to echo what pseudonymous user said!
Check out Steve Kaufmann; he’s got a big Youtube channel and speaks 20 languages. His advice is always excellent.
And good luck with the farming!
Yeah, Steve Kaufmann and Alexander Arguelles are among very few legit polyglots. There are many wannabes but their definition of “fluent” is very generous and their advice in terms of learning a language to a practical level is useless.
Paraguay, not Panama. But yes, I will.
Ha! I’m actually ahead of you on this one, for once!
I married, (yeah ….. I’m doing the monogamy dance), a loving young lady from the Philippines, and have two kids with her. Now we are investing in her family’s farm.
We, (she and our two kids), are majority owners of a pig and chicken farm in rural Mindanao, (the southern, “troubled” island). Her sister and brother-in-law supply most of the local labor, while yours truly functions as a walking ATM.
The farm is just now getting off the ground, (we’re still building coops and investing in livestock), but we hope to be fully profitable by January 2020.
May I humbly suggest that having family and/or really, really close friends you can trust is crucial in making sure something like this succeeds. I have worked with a few guys who tried to farm in central America, and they all got ripped off by the locals in one way or another. My wife’s family has lived in their village for several generations now, so they are definitely part of the “in crowd”, and less likely to be taken advantage of.
Other than the lack of solid local support, I think your plan is a good one. It is refreshingly easy to start a business in a place like the Philippines, so I assume the same holds true for Paraguay. I think it’s pretty pathetic that we westerners need to look outside our borders for opportunity.
Meanwhile, we still live here in the USA. Both our kids have severe allergies, which is the only thing keeping us from pulling the plug and expatriating to Asia. But as they get older, that will become less of an issue.
Good luck with your farm!
I agree with that advice but that is not an option for me, though I have at least two people down there I now consider friends.
I’m actually planning on this in advance and I will build some level of theft and/or corruption into the budget as an expense item. As long as I’m even a little profitable, or even just break even, I’ll be happy even if some of the staff are skimming. Again, this is not the typical business with the typical business objectives.
Thanks! Yours as well!
Sounds like a cool idea! I’ve been dreaming about doing similar ventures in other parts of Latin America (and the US), though growing more tropical types of plants/trees. I don’t really know enough to speak to what would be the best options, but some of the big ones that everyone has heard of would be coffee, cacao, and teak.
I’ve been also thinking about how to run something that’s both long-term profitable (or that doesn’t cost “much” to maintain, like $1k-5k/year, to start) and where I only need to be there part of the year. For me, if it happens at all, it’ll certainly be a multi-year process.
Enjoy the adventure! Farming is tough business, at first blush I’d hazard a guess that you won’t make much scratch unless you’re there doing a lot of the work yourself as there aren’t good margins on commodity agriculture and seasonal variation plays havoc with the business plan. But really, what you need is not some super profitable farm but a solid place to park some money and get your citizenship underway, so yeehaw!
I’ve invested in 2500+ac in Colombia with local partners there, but looking at it as more of an ecotourism development over agriculture (it’s in beautiful jungle on the edge of vast wilderness). All I want is for it to break even and give me a hideout away from the collapsing world if and when I need it. If we make a bunch of money (and there are exciting possibilities that we may do just that) it will all be gravy.
I am in Latin America for the first time. I am starting to learn Spanish with Memrise and Duolingo apps on my mobile. I never had any Spanish lesson at school.
And you, how are you learning Spanish?
Yeah I don’t expect to make a lot of money doing this.
That’s in interesting idea too.
I really haven’t started yet, but I have Memrise on my phone and I’ve definitely played around with it.
The most time-efficient method of doing so would be as follows:
1. Take a big Anki deck, e. g. https://ankiweb.net/shared/info/241428882, and memorize several thousand words (you’ll find that a great many words are obvious cognates like información that you can immediately suspend. That deck only has slightly above 1000 non-cognate words)
1a. This particular deck has both English–Spanish and Spanish–English cards. Edit it in Anki to only leave cards with Spanish on the front and English on the back, i. e. to study recognition.
2. Start the Listening-Reading method: http://how-to-learn-any-language.com/forum/forum_posts.asp?TID=6366
3. Watch Dreaming Spanish: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCouyFdE9-Lrjo3M_2idKq1A
4. Get a grammar book and read, in general terms, how the language works. It’s OK if you don’t remember everything.
5. Study pronunciation—very important. Don’t try to speak early though.
The above is in no particular order. You can, and probably should, do it all simultaneously.
As someone who has been spending the last 3+ years working really hard to get my Spanish down b/c already spending time in and investing a lot in Colombia / Panama, my $0.02 on learning language for someone who actually needs it vs. someone who ‘would like’ to have language ability:
Fuck the do-it-yourself apps, books, whatever. At least to start. Anything you learn incorrectly at the start you will have to UN-learn later to get it right and that will be HUGELY inefficient. Teaching yourself will be a great way to learn wrong stuff and bad habits that you’ll inevitably have to get rid of later.
Start off with a good tutor or in-person instruction, preferably both in the country you plan to spend the most time in (so that you get all the correct regionalisms of the local dialect) AND back at home, so that you have at least weekly some instructor time and a commitment (homework) to spend extra time focusing on your learning each week, hopefully a little each day. This will cost more $$ in the beginning but is SO worth it to get your learning off to the right start.
After that yes, all kinds of books and apps and youtube channels are great, but if you’ve chosen a good instructor they will have plenty of recommendations on those. The key is to use as many modalities as possible to get the language into your brain. A good instructor will know to do this and will have you reading, listening, practicing conversation, transcribing dialogue, translating song lyrics, etc., etc.
The rest of advice is similar to any skill development that takes ~10,000 hours; keep at it no matter what and don’t be discouraged by big steps back as they will happen all the time as your brain processes the new info and restructures its language center.
-spend as much time as you can speaking with native speakers, in Spanish speaking countries, etc.
-get involved with people (friends, lovers, clubs) when you can, even if and especially if it puts you in a position where you risk making a huge embarrassing ass of yourself. These moments are golden for learning.
It will take many years, will be hellishly frustrating much of the time and is absolutely worth every second.
Enjoy the ride, it will ultimately be one of the greatest joys of your life to gain mastery in another language.
Thanks for the recommendations, I have a couple of decks on Anki too. I just won’t go the class or tutor route. I had german class for 12 years it was uttely useless, I think it’s a personality thing: mine doesn’t respond as well as reading and practicing on my own and with locals. I know some english and I am french – extremely similar language to spanish – except spanish spelling does make sense, whereas french spelling is completely messed up with no logic whatsoever.
10,000 hours? What? According to the FSI, it takes 600 hours to reach proficiency in Spanish. Hell, Japanese takes 2200 hours.
It does not need to “take many years” nor “be hellishly frustrating”. 200–300 hours and you can already reasonably get by in a Spanish-speaking country.
True. When I started visiting latin america regularly several years ago I could already ‘get by’ using the Spanish I already knew from college. I’m talking about fluency and mastery of the language. Very different things.
Great recommendations! I’ve taken some notes.
I’ve heard both sides of this argument, and notice how your advice is pretty much the opposite of Pseudonymous. I think both arguments have merit, but I have no idea which one is “right” or “wrong.”
I will likely do both; establish a rigorous self-learning program and hire a Spanish coach that I work with sporadically to help calibrate. I’ll write more about this later when I really get into it.
Speaking of offline businesses Caleb, I’ve been focusing hard on how to create offline, highly residual (at least 90% residual), and highly scalable (up to 10k per month or more) businesses.
If you ever release an ebook/ video course about businesses that meet all the criteria above, I would buy it in a heartbeat! Have you ever gotten requests for something like this in the past?
Well Caleb, you claim you’re good at hiring people who know what they’re doing and don’t let yourself get stuck with incompetent ones, and here that’s as important as everywhere else. I think the biggest pitfall to avoid is tutors who work with you in the directions that make you feel good (“good boy, you conjugated this verb correctly!”) or prepare you to formal tests as opposed to those that really give you the understanding of the language (“well, this thing is called the subjunctive, and you’ll sound weird if you use it incorrectly, but people will still understand you, so make a note that sometimes verbs take strange endings, and we’ll return to this much later to save precious time now”).
Whatever you do, you need listening comprehension. It’s of paramount importance. When you speak, you can resort to simple grammatical constructions and only use the words you know, but natives will use their entire vocabulary and grammar knowledge, not to mention not bothering with clear articulation. With that in mind, there’s no way around inundating yourself with Spanish content, spoken and written. Have your tutor, if you hire one, work primarily on bringing you to the point where you can listen to Spanish podcasts and the like. Feel very free to prevent the tutor from teaching you things you don’t see yourself using in your daily life, or from ones you’ll easily acquire from listening and reading (for example, teachers love to have students memorize numerals, days of week and the like, and it’s rather hard work because those words aren’t logical, but if you read lots, you’ll learn those words automatically). A good idea is so-called crosstalk, whereby the tutor speaks only Spanish, if you don’t understand something you ask in English but they reply in Spanish.
Do you have the experience when you are unsure how to say something (in English), and you try different options in your mind until you feel that one of them sounds right? Building that “sounds right” detector in your brain is key to learning any language, and you need to read and listen to get that. Once you have it, speaking will come by itself, so don’t focus on speaking until a couple of weeks before visiting your farm. Many people need tutors to curb their anxiety and the feeling that everyone around them will judge them for their bad command of their target language, I’d imagine you’re not quite the kind of person to have anxiety issues.
That’s exactly what I teach. You’ve just described my IT marking company.
I did last year, the Alpha 2.0 Business Course. I will release something similar again early next year.
Regularly. 🙂 That’s why I made that course. 🙂
Setting up and running a farm would seem to present a bunch of necessary risks:
o Political risks that you land or profits would be seized by a corrupt government
o Foreign currency translation risks. Although these can be hedged against it’s difficult to achieve a perfect hedge and is somewhat of a PITA.
o Risks involving adverse commodity price movements. See my above hedging comment.
o Legal risks. A corrupt legal system may screw you, or unjustly side with local workers screwing you.
o Risks regarding import tariffs
o Low barriers to entry. Which would quickly result in increased competition that would drive down any long term rise in agricultural commodity prices.
If you want to bet on commodities rising in price and have the capital to invest why not just make a direct bet by buying commodity derivatives. Or investing in farm related stocks?
If it’s for tax purposes you could become a resident of Puerto Rico instead and be exempt from taxes on: personal income from capital gains, interest, and dividends. I believe you’d also be exempt from US Income tax.
Yes. Setting up a new business always presents a risk. Doing so in a foreign country presents more risk. Not concerned.
Incorrect. Highly unlikely in a sleepy little country like Paraguay.
Incorrect. The US Dollar will collapse (or have a lot of trouble) well before the Paraguayan guaraní ever does. I view the currency diversification as an additional upside, not a risk.
Correct, that is a risk.
Correct, that is a risk. Note what I said in my comment above about possible corruption.
Incorrect. I’m not going to be importing or exporting anything from Paraguay. Avoiding tariffs is one of the biggest reasons. I don’t like paying taxes.
Incorrect. Farming has a low barrier to entry? Uh… wrong.
I have already done so. I’m doing a farm in addition to this, as well as to help my Paraguayan citizenship.
I’ve already addressed that on this blog. You have to spend most of the year in PR in order to do that, and I do not want to live in PR. PR is going to crash when the US does, and I don’t like hurricanes.
Amazing how an open mind finds opportunity
Quick scan of Wikipedia points out some great points about this country
History of business minded foreigners resettling in Paraguay
If the farm is in a scenic place you could get some video shoots and tourists
Instead of hiring locals you might find several families from the same business minded immigrant group that have been there two or more generations to manage farm
..couple of days ago saw a guy wearing a T-shirt with English letters but words of a completely different language
He said Paraguay soccers players speak it to confuse other teams
I think the biggest hurdle is usually getting to basic conversational fluency. Then it’s just a matter of continuing to converse with people. But getting to that point usually takes a while for English-speakers, unless they move to a Spanish-speaking country for a couple of years.
While there’s no one way to learn a 2nd language (Spanish) as an adult, here’s my 2 cents for people who don’t already speak a 2nd language/don’t speak another Latin-based language (and what has worked for me):
1. Consistency – 5-10 minutes a day is way better than 1x/week for an hour.
2. Watch TV/movies with Spanish dubbed in or Spanish language movies AND WITH subtitles on in Spanish
3. Over several years, take multiple 4 hour/day immersion classes for 1-12 weeks. I think the best time to start considering taking an immersion class is once a person can hold basic conversation and understands basic grammar.
4. Get 1-3 weekly Skype tutors for 30 minutes/week
5. Listen to music/radio in Spanish
6. Once you can read in Spanish, practice reading Spanish outloud – to improve pronunciation and fluency.
7. Learning to speak Spanish decently as a 2nd language (for most people) is going to be a multi-year process.
8. Stay in a Spanish-speaking country for at least 2-4 weeks/year
It’s better to practice consistently, as opposed to cramming at the last minute. In other words, if you want to speak well, plan a few years in advance, and follow through.
For most people, even if someone learns the grammar and vocab (500-2000+ words), they probably won’t be able to speak well (with decent pronunciation) and understand well what other people are saying for at least another year, unless they go total immersion. And then it’s possible to speak well in maybe 6-12 months.
Hi Caleb,you said that you want to learn Spanish,if you research the income tax or the corporate tax in all the spanish speaking countries,you will see that with the exception of Paraguay and Panama and Bolivia,in all the other countries the corporate tax is over 25% and the income tax is usualy over 30%. IT-income tax , CT-corporate tax
(Examples:Chile-IT:35%,CT:25%;Argentina-IT:35%,CT;35%:Spain-IT:45%,CT-25%,the first 2 years in spain the ct is 15%).
To learn the spanish language from zero and to get to B2 level,you need 400 hours.
Dont you think that the opportunity cost is to high?
Because you can use that 400 hours and do for example 400 hours of consulting(400 hoursx300$=120.000$ or you can do other projects in that time).
If you learn spanish it will help you (if you are lucky to get citizienship in paraguay or panama,the odds of getting in both countries are low),other than this there is no advantage in your case to learn spanish.So dont you think you will get a higher ROI,by buying a 100.000$ passport from Saint Lucia for example?Because you will make more money using the 400 hours?
I can offer you my ranch in Paraguay. Very close to the Asunción. Let me know if you are interested. I have 3450 hectares.
Irrelevant to this particular scenario; I’m doing Five Flags, not relying on Paraguayan income. Read this.
1. No, because saving money on taxes isn’t the only reason I’m learning Spanish.
2. I am considering purchasing a passport from a place like Saint Lucia already, in addition to all of this, as I’ve stated several times already. The issue is that I need multiple extra passports, not just one or two.
Sure. Email firstname.lastname@example.org with the details.
Hi, how much does such a farm, together with the vehicles, livestock, seeds, etc, cost?