The Expat Files: Living in Latin America A guide to moving to Latin America, finding work, and settling in.

September 19, 2014  
- Announcing my January 2015, Expat Wisdom, Latin American Insider’s Seminar…. another “off the tourist trail”, boots-on-the-ground, fast-track experience for expat gonnabees, expat wannabees and those who are looking for the new and better version of  “American Dream”…. the one that’s “south of the border”. 
 
-Some stories that come directly from the mouths of Latins that were illegals for years up in the US... coming from those have now been deported to their home countries (at your expense)  
 
-Here’s the latest scam that’s popped up in Mexico concerning illegals on their way to the states through Mexico traveling ostensibly “unmolested” on that new so-called 72 hour immigration transit pass…
 
-There are millions of deported Latins now licking their wounds back in their home countries. Most of them would very much like to work for a gringo (like you) if they could. So then, if you have a business or need a gardener/maintenance man, is it a good idea to hire one of these guys? After all, your Spanish might really suck and most deported guys and gals speak some English. Well listen up cuz here’s what Expat Eddie’s got to say about that dilemma … and he’s a guy who’s employed many dozens Latins of all stripes in his restaurants over the years. Long story short; according to Eddie the verdict on hiring “deportados” ain’t good.
 
-California State is knowingly giving out legal California drivers licenses to illegal aliens. In fact just last week I saw one of these documents being sported by a deported guy from Panama - a man still licking his wounds in Panama City after being rounded up and sent home by air. Though he absolutely loved his first airplane ride home (at your expense).         
 
-Do follow the link on the main page at www.ExpatWisdom.com to schedule a private phone, Skype or Mumble consult with me. If you want to discuss the details of living, working, playing, doing business and/or retiring in Latin America, now you and I can talk about your situation one on one.
 
 
 
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September 14, 2014  

-Now for some astute tips when you travel through third-world Latin American airports…. nope, that’s not a redundancy, since most Florida airports and LAX are pretty much Latin Airports now too!

-Note that quite a few travelers have reported small items like perfume, jewelry, electronics, Swiss Army knives, etc. missing from their stowed luggage, especially when traveling on connecting flights through Latin America. There are a few simple ways to completely avoid the problem.
 
- If you’re into coconut water, you’ll find plenty of fresh coconuts for $5, some identical ones for one buck and tons of free coconuts too. So what’s up with that? Well, in the Dominican Republic you’ll find a lot of other peculiarities too.
 
-Spanish speaking Evangelical Christian con men are at it in full force all over the airwaves down here in Latin America. Now as for  us Expats, after seeing how undereducated poor people living on just a couple bucks a day are being hooked by these sharpies with their particular line of BS, we find it very hard to sympathize with poor dummies in the states who’ve been sucked into the first world version of that con. After all, the poor up in Cleveland and Philly have their cars, computers, electricity, hot and cold running water and big screen TVs.   
 
-With an unofficial estimate of 3 million Dominicans now living up in the states (most of them illegals) one has to wonder how all of them actually got there since they came from an island country with no porous land border like Mexico to sneak through. Here's the unofficial story on that conundrum…          
 
-Do follow the link on the main page at www.ExpatWisdom.com to schedule a private phone, Skype or Mumble consult with me. If you want to discuss the details of living, working, playing, doing business and/or retiring in Latin America, now you and I can talk about your situation one on one.
 
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September 12, 2014  
-Part 2 concerning near bankrupt and heavily debt ridden Ecuador. It has a new government run crypto-currency scheme for 2015. It looks to be one of the dumbest moves ever. Not only have they put NO limit at all on the amount of the stuff the govt itself can create (note that finite limits were fundamental to the widespread adoption of Bitcoin), the government has, at the same time, banned all other crypto-currencies like Bitcoin. Most cyber-currency insider/specialists predict the idea will crash and burn
 
-Did you know that Goldman Sachs gave the (technically broke) Ecuadorian government $400 million in exchange for a big chunk of their national gold reserves? Not to mention China owns more than half of Ecuador’s national debt… which is mortgaged against future oil reserves. Now what that means is that Ecuador is no longer a 100% sovereign nation. Meaning when push comes to shove, certain foreigners will be pulling the financial strings. (But then again, with China holding more than a trillion in T-Bonds, is the US really a sovereign country?)   
 
-More bad news from the Uruguay government. It’s sad enough that about 1 in 3 adults work for the government, but now Big Brother advocates in that little country have placed currency controls on all cash payments over $5000 (as of Jan 2015). That restriction will be on any transaction whatsoever; including giving your grandmother a 5 grand gift for a facelift or a trip to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland. Even restrictive US cash regs are not that crazy, yet. Can you guess why Uruguay has such high taxes and a near first-world cost of living index?
 
-Do follow the link on the main page at www.ExpatWisdom.com to schedule a private phone, Skype or Mumble consult with me. If you want to discuss the details of living, working, playing, doing business and/or retiring in Latin America, now you and I can talk about your situation one on one.
 
 
 
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September 7, 2014  

Live from the DR: 


Part 2 of a report on living the expat life in the Dominican Republic. Like Costa Rica, tourism is now the #1 foreign income source in the DR. If you’re looking for inexpensive middle-class accommodations (USA style) or want to hit the ground running- cheap backpacker style, you’ll find there are not many low-end tourism options. The country mostly specializes in expensive upscale beach resorts.   

-Now here’s a big surprise: somehow upscale, wealthy Russians and Ukrainians have discovered (er,.. invaded?) the DR. As a country loaded with many hundreds of beautiful upscale beach resorts, so many wealthy Russians are coming down on vacation that many signs, menus and ads are in Spanish, English and Russian! How’d that happen? I asked around and have the surprising answers.    

-Some unsettling news concerning US banks and moving of money and assets around using Bitcoin.  Still more news, if true, of how and why the FED, Wall Street and the corrupt banksters are secretly terrified of Bitcoin and the cyber-currencies.          

-Ecuador (a socialist, near bankrupt, heavily debt ridden 3rd world country) announces a new government run crypto-currency scheme for 2015 that sounds like one of the dumbest moves ever
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September 5, 2014  
-A live report from the DR: Part 1 of a report on living the expat life in the Dominican Republic. Many have had questions about what it’s like for gringos and expats living on this large, beautiful but troubled, very hot, white-sand island. Oddly enough, the whole place seems to be a distorted reflection of what is happening in the USA- in regards the illegal immigration/boarder disaster. 

-The DR is being flooded with cheap, illegal labor from Haiti. They are coming in by the millions. As a result, desperate, uneducated Haitians will work the menial crap jobs for 100 bucks a month, while the official legal minimum wage is around $300 a month. Both salaries are too low to allow people to live decently and is why most Dominicans live in Oakie like, depression style poverty. As for the Hatians.. it's really sad to see how they have to struggle to survive. 

-Some estimates state that from 20% to as high as 30% of the DR workforce is composed of illegal Haitians (sound familiar?) 
-Did you know that according to the average native Dominican (when discussing race, culture and skin color), the Haitians are considered to be blacks, and the Dominicans consider themselves to be Latins. So note there exists an extreme racial and cultural prejudice between the Dominicans and the Haitians that seems awfully crazy to us expats.
        
-The totally out-of-control run for the border, Part 2: Some more “boots on the ground” little known facts and unsaid truths coming from those-in-the-know on the Latin American “supply” side of the equation. Do you want to know what some expats and USA embassy types stationed here in Latin America are saying in private about the illegal alien flow through the US border? You'll get a kick out of this... 

 -Please follow the link on the main page at www.ExpatWisdom.com to schedule a private phone, Skype or Mumble consult with me. If you want to discuss the details of living, working, playing, doing business and/or retiring in Latin America, you and I can talk about your situation one on one.
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August 31, 2014  

 -Observe the quirks and odd superstitions of your Latin help (maids, gardeners). Their strange habits are sometimes only exceeded by our own gringo peculiarities (peculiar to Latins, that is). Why do you think Latin workers often refer to us as “crazy gringos” behind our backs? Luckily, the locals almost always mean "crazy" in a nice way- Latins off the tourist trail mean it kindly, that is. Yup, we certainly do amuse them. So how do gringos know that? If you know enough Spanish to eavesdrop you'll soon get the picture…   


-As you might already know, in Latin America the most common reported crime of all is cellphone robbery. The statics are such that about one in every 20 to 25 people in Latin America gets his or her cellphone stolen each year. But there are things they’re not telling you…     

-Now for a word or two about vigilante lynchings- which still occasionally happen mostly in small Latin towns out in the boonies…     

-The totally out-of-control run for the border, Part 1: Some unknown facts and unsaid truths coming from those-in-the-know on the Latin American “supply” side of the equation. Some surprising new details concerning the illegal alien flow through the US border.       

-Please follow the link on the main page at www.ExpatWisdom.com to schedule a private phone, Skype or Mumble consult with me. If you want to discuss the details of living, working, playing, doing business and/or retiring in Latin America, you and I can talk about your situation one on one.
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August 29, 2014  
Screwed up in Translation: You can't believe how so-called professional Spanish media and entertainment translators can screw up a simple English to Spanish translation. For example, so often when you look up a USA movie or TV show while perusing a Latin paper or TV guide for example, when purviewing the “translated” Spanish title you might never recognize it as a film or TV show you'd normally be totally familiar with.
From the “be careful what you wish for department”:
ECUADOR, Part 4(or is it 5?): Much more about Ecuador, this time with a few pointed emails and rather harsh stories from ”boots on the ground” gringos who've seen first hand how certain “ Ugly Americans” have been slowly contaminating the calm, peaceful, low stress Ecuador they once knew.
-As Ecuador becomes ever more socialized, The country has eliminate certain press freedoms and the ability criticize the government and the president as well as enacting new banking restrictions and penalties (read, taxes) on foreign wire transfers.
-How Ladinos and Criollos (and any other Latin with the slightest drop of old world Spanish blood) wrongly place themselves far above the Indigenous people both socially and economically. Its a shameful attitude and that's how its always been, and it ain't pretty. Again, that's why the lower classes much prefer to work for gringos
-Do follow the link on the main page at www.ExpatWisdom.com to schedule a private phone, Skype or Mumble consult with me. If you want to discuss the details of living, working, playing, doing business and/or retiring in Latin America, you and I can talk about your situation one on one.
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August 24, 2014  

-Zoning laws in Latin America: how can you be sure your next door neighbor won’t suddenly accumulate goats, donkeys or chickens? Stranger things have been known to happen, even in very high-end subdivisions with strict rules supposedly prohibiting such things- this is Latin America you know.    

-Driving the famous Pan American Highway: as you may have picked up in 7th grade geography class (unless you’re under 40 and got socially promoted) it’s a 2000 mile straight shot from Alaska, directly to Panama, City (no, not that geriatric capital city of the world in Florida). You really should try driving it at least once when you're in Central, America. Note that once you get past the Mexico stretch it’s not dangerous at all, but be prepared for a huge education in how not to build a first-world super-highway…    

- Home and business insurance coverage Latin style: what you need to know is that Latins generally think it’s money down the toilet and rarely buy any kind of insurance at all, while gringos and expats have an inbred first-world style “insurance guilt“ complex. Many of us are so knee-jerk about it that don’t sleep well at night if we don’t have a policy for every occasion. Meanwhile, Latins sleep just fine...   From the “biting the hand that feeds you" department:

-More Bad news from Costa Rica. Besides the fact that its first-world expensive and that gringos are targets for all kinds of scams, more and more Expats and gringo visitors are now reporting that many CR locals want gringos to go home. The fact is, locals are becoming rude and antagonistic to the very people that raised them many notches above their formerly banana republic status. In a way you can’t blame them. since so many “Ugly American” types have invaded that many locals want nothing less than to kick every last gringo out.   From the “be careful what you wish for department”: ECUADOR, Part 2: today we have expat opinions on Ecuador, people with ”boots on the ground” experience and sounding off about disturbing changes they’ve personally witnessed in not only Ecuador but in other places touted frequently by big retirement magazines and expat websites    

-Do follow the link on the main page at www.ExpatWisdom.com to schedule a private phone, Skype or Mumble consult with me. If you want to discuss the details of living, working, playing, doing business and/or retiring in Latin America, you and I can talk about your situation one on one.

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August 22, 2014  
From the “be careful what you wish for department”:
One of the top complaints I hear from expats with a new brick and mortar businesses (successful or not) is from day one they become “married” to it. Note that expats always say they come down to relax, slow down and have more free time, but many without real hobbies get bored and then start businesses only to find they have less freedom than ever. Bottom line: if you fancy a brick and mortar business in Latin America you’d better love it, or at least like it a lot. Select carefully whatever it is that you’re doing or selling because you’ll probably be chained to it for quite a while.

ECUADOR, Part 2:
Why gringos almost always pay more than they have to for real estate in Ecuador as well as in nearly all places considered to be “on the gringo tourist trail”. That said then why, after walking away from the closing, do so many gringos think it was the deal of a lifetime?  
 
-A short primer on how to dicker and haggle with Latin vendors:
Should you (a supposed “rich” gringo) try to play hardball when haggling with local vendors as local customers do? Why not? Why pay more if you don’t have to? Vendors never sell stuff at a loss.

-Though Gringos often overpay a street vendor intentionally- when the seller appears to be quite poor, be charitable of course, but make sure you select your own charity… don’t let the charity select you!       
 
-Do follow the link on the main page at www.ExpatWisdom.com to schedule a private phone, Skype or Mumble consult with me. If you want to discuss the details of living, working, playing, doing business and/or retiring in Latin America, you and I can talk about your situation one on one.
 
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August 17, 2014  

-Expat Eddie fires cleaning lady #3 … once again for petty theft. This time you’ll never guess in million years what she palmed. And Eddie, after thinking about the misdemeanor for a day or so, threw out the book on his normally rock-solid employee rules and principles and decided to hire her back. It had to do precisely because of what item she pilfered.       


From the “be careful what you wish for department”: ECUADOR, the next Costa Rica? Yup, it’s beginning to look that way tourist-wise anyway, but what you didn’t know is that its government is beyond broke and Ecuador has one of the very worst international credit and bond ratings (in the bottom 10 of all 200 plus countries in the world). Not to mention the president is a very confirmed socialist. I know, I know: all Latin scumbag presidents and politicos conveniently blab the socialism line to snag the votes of the poor and uneducated, but Correa is really a dedicated marxist.   

-Though parts of Ecuador are still very, very nice, gringos are invading and having their usual negative effects on the place and the people. Here are a few disturbing things that tourists, wannabees, gonnabees (and the soon to be retired) need to know.   

-You read pronouncements all over the internet, in retirement rags as well as International Living, etc., that one can retire comfortably in Ecuador for 600 bucks a month. Some say $1000 a month will do it and still others say $1500, or $1800. So what’s going on here? Who’s right, who’s blowing smoke and how do the people living on the $600/month low-end actually do it?              

-Do follow the link on the main page at www.ExpatWisdom.com to schedule a private phone, Skype or Mumble consult with me. If you want to discuss the details of living, working, playing, doing business and/or retiring in Latin America. Now you and I can talk about your situation one on one.
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