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

March 30, 2011  

On Backpackers and Skinflints (especially you ladies) – Part 2:

- Why blonde backpacking ladies (especially Euro-ladies) have more fun.

- When 1st World ladies on vacation meet those Latin six-pack surfer boys...Then look out!

- Confessions of a Latin six-pack surfer-boy Gigolo... Or, how to milk those starry-eyed 1st world ladies in one easy lesson.

- When 1st world girls meet those Costa Rican surfer boys... a variation on a theme.

- When 1st World guys on vacation meet hot Latin ladies...Fuggedaboudit! (no fast action cuz they've got your number, you're on vacation Bud, and they're not that stupid!).

- Hot water and Hotels (its complicated).

- Scorpions and Hotels (and I’m not taking about the rock band here).

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March 28, 2011  

On Backpackers and Cheapskates, a Reality Check (especially you ladies) - Part 1:

- Why backpacking through LA is not just a slightly more rustic version of last year’s hike through the south of France (and will never be).

- Watch out! Those obliging locals are NOT what they seem.

- The backpacker’s code of honor, and the universal ethics of skinflint 1st world travellers.

- How to test the honesty of your hotel staff (you should do this BEFORE you get robbed, not after).

- A near surefire way to prevent your valuables (money, passport, plastic) from theft, and even if you do get robbed, you actually won't! (you let em’ have the decoy).

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March 23, 2011  

Water Wars - Part 2:

- Pulling a fast one with bottled water labeling down here - lies and more lies.

- Sun-baked bottled water,... that’s exactly what you’re drinking (but they won’t put that on the label).

- Two very excellent (and dirt cheap) alternatives to bad bottled water (though one’s ugly and one’s pretty).

- Why many dirt poor rural dwellers have cheap (or even free) access to ultra-pure water when better-off city dwellers continue to drink the swill (and don’t even know it).

- Email questions on detailing a house in exotic hardwoods (and other high grade materials unavailable to the common guy in the 1st world), and all for the price of cheap pine.

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March 21, 2011  

Banks and Bank Accounts - Part 1:

- Why opening a simple passbook account can be as simple as brain surgery.

- Traveling to LA any time soon? Leave your kids at home...PLEASE!

- Changing money without getting gouged.

- Counterfeits, counterfeits everywhere. How can you tell the real thing?

- Those ‘know your customer’ banking laws have just landed down here, courtesy of a tsunami of narco money and thieving politicians. The result?... a blizzard of paperwork (just like in the 1st world).

- Having a lawyer open a bank account for you... good idea or not?

- Transferring money using your lawyer’s escrow account a good idea or not?

- Why you absolutely need a debit card from a local bank, and how to get one in a hurry.

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March 16, 2011  

Renting an Apartment and More:

- Why you should not rent a furnished apartment, unless the furniture is brand new. Always rent unfurnished if you can.

- Oriental Expat success stories in LA, and why Latinas won’t date them (unless of course they have money, and they usually do).

- Great inside advice on selecting the city and neighborhood you want to rent/live in.

- How to get a full-time, college educated, English speaking translator for 50 bucks a week (and why you’ll need one if you apartment hunt and don’t speak a lick of Spanglish).

- How to avoid paying a deposit, get a free month’s rent, and still have your landlord love you.

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March 14, 2011  

More Listener Emails:

- More about crazy Spanish wording and unknown terms and conditions found in those funky Latin real estate ads.

- Why when buying or renting a house from an old timer, they make a big deal about the the fixed phone line. Who cares!... especially when every shoe shine boy and cleaning lady has a cell phone? They care, and reason will surprise you.

- (Almost) everything you need to know about cell phone service in Latin America,... including how to call the USA for as low as 3 cents a minute.

- Why internet cafes are more common than shoeless street kids. And why they’re a cheap option (not the kids, the cafe's) but do bring a box of handiwipes.

- How to get the latest Blackberry for 50 bucks (though it might be the very one stolen from you the day before).

- How pompous rich Latins have such self-esteem issues that they must continuously impress their friends (and put on a ridiculous show for Expats).

- Why your house will probably have a “servant’s quarters” whether you like it or not.

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March 9, 2011  

The Business of Garbage- some awfully dirty subjects like sewage and waste disposal:

- When in LA, the world is your trash can. The dirty little secrets of sewage disposal in Latin America, and why every lake, river and ravine is a sewer so 19th century diseases like cholera still persist.

- The idiocy of 1st World “feel good” donations to Latin governments, and why bad oversight lets corrupt local bureaucrats take the money and run (but not before nice “feel good” embassy photo-op sessions and pretentious check presentation ceremonies).

- The care and feeding of your septic tank (and why Latins just feed theirs until they burst).

- What to do when your home builder starts cutting corners and improvising. Don’t let him or you’ll be sorry.

- Garbage dumps everywhere (both legal and illegal, mostly illegal), and the subculture of families that live in them (oh yes they do, and it ain’t pretty).

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March 7, 2011  

Listener email questions about real estate and water:

- Crazy wording and unknown terms and conditions in those funky Latin real estate ads.

- Why when buying or building a house you also need to purchase the phantom rights to a monthly volume of wter, at a price which doesn’t actually include the water itself, just the right to use it... then you get charged for it again! Confused yet?

- Why your condo or house should always be connected to a private water well in your subdivision, in other words, avoid a municipal water hookup at all costs.

- Don’t drink the tap water or the bottled water either, since its often tampered with, unregulated (and the locals don’t care).... but there are some excellent very inexpensive alternatives I highly recommend(even more than cheap beer and tequila).

- Solar hot water, just what the doctor ordered, and the systems here are simple and dirt cheap. And even better(since it never freezes in most of LA) these units are zero maintenance, and that’s great news because down here the word maintenance doesn’t really exist.

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March 2, 2011  

Listener Emails on Building or Buying a House

- Tales from a Costa Rican construction project, or... why its so damn hard to fire your general contractor, even if he’s stealing from you...

- Another lesson that proves Latin women are solid gold.

- Latin scams, schemes and temptations.... and why most Latin men aren’t intentionally dishonest, they do exploit the trusting naivety of stupid Expats (like me).

- Those ubiquitous Latin style 3rd World electric water heaters, a boring subject yes? But not so boring if you’re the one who gets the 220 volt jolt in the shower.

- Here's yet another expat mystery no one can solve... half the electrical wiring jobs down here are so seriously substandard (and even downright dangerous), so why do so few people actually get fried? Is it the tequila, the tortillas, Jesus or just dumb luck? Take a guess.

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