A libertarian-fashioned community in Chile is now accepting bitcoins in exchange for plots of land within its boundaries.
The project is called Galt's Gulch Chile, a name inspired by the character John Galt in Ayn Rand's landmark novel Atlas Shrugged. Galt decided he no longer wanted to support a society that was oppressed, over taxed and over regulated, so created his own community.
Galt's Gulch Chile is designed to be a fully self-sustaining community that is situated in a coastal mountain range 10 miles north of Curacaví, which isn't far from Chile's capital Santiago.
The 11,000-acre site was purchased in two trances, with the most recent purchase of 6,874 acres taking place in August.
The land is home to abundant supply of fresh clean water, sourced from over fifty wells, two underground aquifers, canals, two rivers, a manmade lake and a number of natural springs.
Ken Johnson, managing partner of the Galt's Gulch Chile project, said: "We chose Chile for its economic freedoms, as well as its freedom in general."
He went on to say that the climate, people and the culture in Chile are all "wonderful", adding:
There is a 250-acre farm on the recently purchased land, which is being subdivided into five 25-acre lemon orchards and a 125-acre Galt's Gulch Organic Farm.
The community will use the farm to grow pesticide-free and non-GMO vegetables, fruits, nuts and spices, which will be sold worldwide under the brand Galt's Gulch Organics.
Johnson said "private funding mechanisms" were used to raise the money required to buy the land and start creating the required infrastructure.
"We have a very large amount of equity in our land, and even more so in our very large amount of registered water rights. Several banks have inquired about funding the project, so we intend to keep all options open with them as well," he added.
Johnson explained that around 20km of roads have been created in the areas that will contain residential lots.
"Power, water, irrigation, Internet, etc are all in on a good portion of the land, with the remaining lines to be installed in the coming months, as all roads and lots are approved," he added.
Land for sale
Galt's Gulch Chile's website lists 1.25-acre, 2.5-acre and five-acre lots for sale at $75,000, $128,500 and $195,000, respectively. The price in bitcoin is not listed on the site.
Johnson said the money from the lots sold will be used to acquire more land, plus fund infrastructure development and operations.
People have been stung by scams involving bitcoin recently, so many may be reluctant to part with such a large amount of currency for a slice of a community that some would say sounds too good to be true.
"Those who have been to our Spring Celebration, and/or have toured our project, know that the project is not a scam and is quite real," said Johnson.
He went on to say that the community has been built upon free market principles and the members and founders intend to keep it that way.
Jeff Berwick, spokesperson for Galt's Gulch Chile, said: "I can think of no better way to invest bitcoins than on real estate, especially legally protected land with clean water and organic farmland in quickly developing markets, like Chile."
Berwick, who is founder of StockHouse and TDV Media, went on to say he believes that, just like bitcoins, land in emerging markets will only increase in value over the coming years.
"The US dollar and other fiat currencies will continue to collapse and we recommend those holding dollars to divest themselves of those dollars as soon as possible. We also want to show our commitment to bitcoin and accept it very happily as payment for land at Galt’s Gulch," he added.
Similarities can be drawn between Galt's Gulch Chile and the Free State Project (FSP) in the US. Like Galt's Gulch Chile, the aim of this project is to create a libertarian community, however, the members of the FSP are not building their homes and infrastructure from scratch.
The aim of this political migration is to get 20,000 libertarians to move to New Hampshire to create a stronghold for libertarian ideas.
Vanessa Vine, co-organiser of New Hampshire's PorcFest (the Porcupine Freedom Festival), said bitcoin is “huge” within FSP and is a focus of any FSP-related event.
The Galt's Gulch website claims people of all ages, professions and walks of life have enquired about becoming residents, including engineers, doctors, artists, craftsmen, teachers, retirees, farmers and families with children.
Those living in the community aren't completely free from taxes and charges, they will have to pay quarterly fees, although these are referred to as being "very low". These will be used for the upkeep of features such as gated security, staffing for clubhouses, landscape maintenance for common areas and upkeep of community roads.
Residents will also have to check whether they are required to pay income tax, VAT, real estate tax and stamps tax.
"We fully intend to report all income to the project, so as to abide by all Chilean laws," said Johnson.
The leader in news and information on cryptocurrency, digital assets and the future of money, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups.