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

January 23, 2015  
-Why is it that you will instantly meet the stinking rich and the scumbag poitico movers and shakers in Latin America by simply joining a golf course or country club? It’s because there are virtually no public golf courses in Latin America. That means the cost of club membership not only rules out the Latin middle classes but also the so called Latin upper-middle classes. Only the truly wealthy (and some above average income expats) can afford the $20k or so membership fee. And though not all are pretentious jerks- that will be the general class of people you will be duffing with…  
-I don’t golf anymore. One of the reasons I quit was because when I’d hit  the links with a group of Latin duffers- whether in Costa Rica, Panama or Colombia- I’d usually catch some guy cheating. And why not? Latins that can actually afford the club memberships are generally sleazebag politicians, or the snooty class of hereditary land owners, or high-ranking military jerks with dough to burn (usually on the payroll of narcos), and of course their entitled kids. But the very nice thing for us Expats is that the courses are virtually empty. The members rarely golf since the payoff for Latins is simply the status to belong…  
-Like the Chinese water torture: multiple small earthquakes, tremors and the infrequent large quakes will do small but continuous damage to water pipes. Little by little, pipes will shift and thus crack and break. You can’t stop entropy, but there are a few things you can do to minimize the inconvenience and the damage..  
 -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, we can talk about your situation one on one.
 
 
 
 

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January 18, 2015  
-Just a few pointed observations about the often spoiled and pampered children of long-term Expat gringos. Though gringos should know better, they’re often guilty of letting their kids run roughshod over the maids, nannies and cleaning ladies. And when witnessing that stuff first hand, you just have to keep your mouth shut or lose friends … 
     
-There are some pretty skanky Latin lawyers out there, most of the sleazy ones I’ve met personally have been plying their trade “on the tourist trail” in places like Costa Rica, Panama and Mexico- hard at work stiffing clueless gringos. Though as a rule when “off the tourist trail”, most lawyers are, nice, low key and generally boring… not nearly the right stuff necessary to swim with the sharks. 

-Beautiful Spanish tile and ceramic floors are to be found everywhere in Latin America and they last practically forever. But because of constant low grade seismic activity, sooner or later a tile or two will come lose and require some repair work. Sounds like a no brainer, but it isn’t. That’s when you need to crack the whip. 

-Certain interesting and unexpected things can happen when gringo couples come down to live in Latin America. One of the most common anomalies is- all other things being equal-the woman (gringa) learns her Spanish and bonds with the locals much, much faster than her gringo partner. So then what’s it about us gringo guys? Well, compared to gringa women, is it just that we’re lazy or perhaps a bit thick?

-Another cool new Expat story that proves that when off the tourist trail, the “gringo advantage” is alive and well!  
            
 -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, we can talk about your situation one on one.
 

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January 16, 2015  
-There are some decidedly strange New Year’s events and traditions in Latin America. You might want to be aware of them because you certainly will get invited to Latin New Year’s celebrations. It would be nice to know ahead of time what to expect… since New Year’s parties “south of the border” are definitely NOT what you’re used to up in Cleveland.    
-Did you know that Latin men have such a height complex (the average guy is about 5’4”) that the installation of “shoe lifts” is a very lucrative business? In fact, many, many, job want-ads have a minimum height posted in the classifieds; all the more reason to straighten up, and wear your hidden 2” lifts at your own next interview! And DYK that in Latin America the job wanted ad's for "Personal Bodyguards" lists the minimum height requirement at a very intimidating 5''4". 
-Finally, this question is addressed today:
How do educated, above average gringos and expats keep mentally stimulated, happy and self-satisfied in a society that doesn’t read books, has little interest in topics like world events, nutrition, or any serious issues facing our planet today?    
    
 -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, we can talk about your situation one on one.
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January 11, 2015  
-Questions have been dribbling in concerning Latin America drought conditions, leaving some listeners worried. That said, there are two Latin countries in very big trouble now (and well into the foreseeable future). Every expat should be well advised keep well away from these two particular places, and here’s why… 
-Some Latin businesses and families are forced into getting their water supply from the local municipality. In congested Latin cities and neighborhoods, just like in the states, one cannot hire someone to dig a private well in the backyard. Out in the boonies, yes, you can have a well….and residential towers and private subdivisions can dig their own wells too. But reality is that many, many Expats are city types and thus are unfortunately stuck with slow, spotty, contaminated municipal water sources. So, today we’ll go over the worst of those particular problems and present some easy solutions…
-Some surprising news about Latin male fertility rates. Turns out, testosterone levels in young Latin men are way, way up as compared to the T levels measured in young men up the states. And it’s not due to certain things Latins eat, but rather more likely due to the things they don’t consume... though they are on much the same track.     
 -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, we can talk about your situation one on one.
 
 
 
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January 9, 2015  
-We already know that gringos and expats can avoid getting sick by following a few simple and obvious hygienic practices. However, there are some difficult to avoid situations that could easily lead a person to the porcelain goddess or send them crawling (on all fours) to the nearest pharmacy. 

-Many long-term expats who have learned their lessons well (like me) haven’t been really sick (other than maybe a simple head cold) for 5 or even 10 years or more, yet other expats don’t seem to care and do get sick regularly(just like they did back in the states). Some throw caution to the wind, which can be especially testy when eating out.   
 
-If you’re thinking of starting a Latin business, here are some notes on the occasionally stilted world of Latin American marketing. The fact is, Latin businesses of all kinds commonly get away with crude and sexy marketing strategies that could never be attempted (or sanctioned?)up in the first world. If tried up north, there would surely be class action lawsuits with (enlightened?) women taking to the streets(or not). 

-Tips to guide you when buying a used car in Latin America. Don’t be tricked into buying a car that’s actually a restored total wreck that was bought at auction in the states. Learn three ways to tell if the seller is trying to pull a fast one. 

-A “boots on the ground” repair story for “Apple” product users in Latin America   
      
 -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, we can talk about your situation one on one.
 
 
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January 4, 2015  
-Direct from Miami, a soon to be gringo Expat shares his secrets on how to best learn conversational Spanish right in the good ole Obamanation before voting with your feet and coming down to Latin America for good. Our astute Miami e-mailer suggests one of the best ways to assimilate Spanish without even trying is by watching certain Spanish language programing- and he gives tips on which programs to check out and the ones to avoid.

-Certain things you never knew about Latin music and the Latin music TV scene. Just lately many Latin music channels formerly only available in in Latin America, are now galloping into the big US Latino markets.  

-And now a few crucial and rarely discussed things about the proposed Nicaraguan canal. Sure it will break ground, but it’s destined to be the greatest human construction endeavor that will never actually be finished…  
    
 -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, we can talk about your situation one on one.
 
 
 
 
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January 2, 2015  
-You may have heard that Citicorp/Citibank took great chunks of the unprecedented billions in taxpayer bailout money, went south of the border with your dough and opened up more than 500 Citibank branches throughout Latin America. And yes, at first Latins of all stripes fell all over themselves to open accounts with what they perceived to be a solid-gold, first-world enterprise (duh…ignorance is bliss). However, no one could have anticipated what would happen next…

-What about corporal punishment in Latin America? Are teachers etc., allowed to whack unruly kids, and if so, is it a common practice? You’ll be surprised… 

-The top complaint newbee expats and gringos have when trying to converse with Latin Americans is the machine-gun rate at which they speak (the same thing Latins say about us when we speak English!). So often, us Spanish language newbees get the first sentence or two down ok only to get snowed under with the next machine gun blast of words. That said, here’s a great trick to subtly force Latin people into slowing down without you coming off as an idiot gringo.
 
-What’s with all the hydro-cephalic marble and bronze sculptures all over the place in Latin America? Can’t Latin artists carve a human head that’s not disproportionately large? Maybe it’s a bizarre inside joke on corrupt leaders perpetrated by the artists hired to honor said genocidal despots. Or maybe not….
     
 -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, we can talk about your situation one on one.
 
 
 
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December 30, 2014  
-Things to know if you hire Latin locals for your expat business... are they going to be working “on” or “off” the books? It makes a big difference, to both you, the employer and the employee. Of course the legal (but not necessarily correct) thing to do is to hire people according to the labor laws of the country you’re in. However, many prospective employees will insist on “cash only” and will refuse to sign on as “official’ workers. Why? Because then they will have to get a tax number, have a percentage of their salary withdrawn for taxes and their version of social security, chip in for the failed  national health program, etc., etc. All of those extracted sums which are either misspent or stolen by politicos and govt slugs… sound familiar? So... what else is new.  

-One of the truly amazing things about living on Latin America is that you can trim out your home and/or business with the wood from amazingly beautiful rainforest hardwood trees for the cost of clear pine (available at your local Home Depot up in Cleveland). But wait a minute… what about all that reported clear-cutting and deforestation going on down here … and the rumors of forest depletion and even extinction? What can or should you do if you want the best world-class wood and can’t stomach the crap synthetic wood look?       

- What’s your exit plan? Do you have a "Plan B"? Last Chance, the clock is ticking….
If not- it’s your last chance to check out my latest off-the-tourist-trail, boots-on-the-ground, fast-track seminar event in Central America. Come down to the January 2015 seminar, formulate your own “Plan B” and find out how to live an extraordinarily good life in Latin America on a measly Social Security check. For complete details, go to www.ExpatWisdom.com, and click on the Latin American Seminar link at the top of the main page.

 -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, we can talk about your situation one on one.
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December 26, 2014  
-Get ready for the festivities! Latins like to celebrate the holidays hard and heavy…up to two months before the big event. Nope, you’ve never seen or heard anything like it (lots deafening bombs and fireworks) nor have you seen people so happy about spending what little they’ve got and going into debt over it. 

-You’d probably celebrate for a month or more too if you were given an extra month’s pay every December 15th. That’s one big perk all Latins (working on the books and paying taxes) are entitled to by law. It’s called Alginaldo”.

-Get ready for what might be the most unlikely holiday story you’ll hear all year. It’s a true story of weird and crazy things that can only happen to gringos like me who work as Latin American radio hosts. Try topping this one! 
 
-When gringos bring up kids in Latin America they always want to send them to the best bilingual K thru 12 private schools… and there are some very very excellent ones. But look out. Your whole plan of having educated well-rounded kids can easily backfire. Being that much of child’s personality and demeanor is shaped by the kids they go to school and hang with, at those high end schools your kids will mingle with a high percentage of entitled, spoiled, superficial, materialistic brats- with unlimited allowances and armies of nanny’s and bodyguards. Are you ready for that? Unfortunately, no gringo ever is! 
    
What’s your exit plan? Do you have a "Plan B"? The clock is ticking….
If not- be sure to check out my latest off-the-tourist-trail, boots-on-the-ground, fast-track seminar event in Central America. Come down to the January 2015 seminar, formulate your own “Plan B” and find out how to live an extraordinarily good life in Latin America on a measly Social Security check. For complete details, go to www.ExpatWisdom.com, and click on the Latin American Seminar link at the top of the main page. 

 -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, we can talk about your situation one on one.
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December 21, 2014  
-Art and Artists in Latin America: there is so much very, very good (and very crap) art in Latin America. But did you know that almost no Latin artists- even the best ones- make what you’d might call a standard first-world style middle-class living at it? The Latin visual artists you occasionally see in the media, ones who have frequent gallery shows: those artists you might normally consider successful (meaning that don’t live at home with mommy anymore) usually owe their popularity and success to the patronage of first-world gringos and tourists…. 

-The sad, desperate state of public libraries in Latin America: they’re on par with everything else the public gets when lazy, corrupt Latin governments are in charge…

-Here’s a commentary on the state of women’s rights and the feminist movement in macho Latin America- including stark quotes from the most widely read Latin female author. She writes realistic, gritty novels about Latin women and highlights certain things Latin men don’t want to discuss… much less read about.

-The art of telling lies in Latin America, and how people call each other out on falsehoods in the Spanish culture.

-There are hundreds “Call Center” jobs off the tourist trail in Latin America. These big companies will hire just about any real gringo that walks through the door. Here’s a story about one fresh expat gringos who walked right in, got a job almost instantly and in 4-6 months became a “trainer” (basically a proper English teacher for the tele-grunts) for double the money he started with …

-Expat Eddie is in a tough spot again… this time it’s because he’s always been a soft touch for a hard luck story. Even when he was broke he’d give a bum the shirt off his back. But down here in Latin America that kind of generosity can sometimes have the parasites crawling out of the woodwork…            

 What’s your exit plan? Do you have a "Plan B"? The clock is ticking….
If not- be sure to check out my latest off-the-tourist-trail, boots-on-the-ground, fast-track seminar event in Central America. Come down to the January 2015 seminar, formulate your own “Plan B” and find out how to live an extraordinarily good life in Latin America on a measly Social Security check. For complete details, go to www.ExpatWisdom.com, and click on the Latin American Seminar link at the top of the main page.

 -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, we can talk about your situation one on one.
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