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

April 27, 2011  

Road Hazards, Car Problems and 3rd World Driving Survival tips:

- Pickups, 4x4’s, and other macho vehicles we recommend that you drive.

- Why lightly used luxury sports cars are so very cheap down here (and why only entitled kids of rich idiots drive them).

- Tumolos (i.e., speed bumps on steroids), and other car pulverizing Latin road hazards, and how to deal with them.

- Driving Latin style; where tailgating is a way of life, and rear-end collisions trump all other smashups.

- Two different ways to get a Latin driver’s license; the cheap, normal way (by way of a driving test), and the slightly more expensive grey market away(by way of cash money).

April 25, 2011  

FOOD PRICES, the COST OF LIVING, and more on BANKS;

- Kicking your addiction to 1st World specialty items and why buying locally produced stuff is both smart, and cheap.

- Cooking with gas, electricity, or wood. Yes, half the people down here still use wood! (and you’re wondering where the rainforest went?).

- High fructose corn syrup, and why it hasn’t caught on down here (thank Buddha).

- The many ways a simple 2x4 framing stud down here beats its 1st World equivalent hands down. - When crime pays; Bank robberies in Latin America, and why just YOU might get robbed right outside of your bank.

April 20, 2011  

The Right Car To Drive, Car Theft, and How To Deal With Traffic Cops - Part 2:

- When thieves steal your car and negotiate over the phone.

- Why there are so many hit and run accidents (er,… I mean the other guy actually running away on foot!).

- How and why a collision can be 100% your fault, and NOT your fault at all!

- Expats, breathalyzers, drinking and driving and the state of the DUI laws.

- Expats, radar, and speed traps.

- Why 1st World safety violations don’t mean a thing down here.

- Why the Macho society kicks into high gear when women Expats face the cops, and/or the legal system.

- Why Expats bearing small gifts make for big favors when dealing with cops.

April 18, 2011  

The Right Car To Drive, Car Theft, and How To Deal With Traffic Cops - Part 1:

- Why it’s smart for Expats to “temporarily” go native (when it comes to cars).

- Why Police roadblocks are everywhere, and they love stopping Expats.

- What to do when you get pulled over and they search your vehicle (illegally).

- The fine art of bribing the police, and why you won’t have to ask (they will).

- When cops bond with Expats, just play along (and try not to laugh).

- A simple $5 way for Expats to totally foil a car thief.

April 13, 2011  

Electric Utilities, Power Outages, Part 2,

- Your undecipherable utility bills part 2… just like in the 1st World, only worse (since they’re in Spanish).

- How Expats handle power outages.

- Where and why power outages do and don’t occur… And it’s not just a roll of the dice.

- The truth about portable generators, and what you’ll really need in a pinch down here.

- Total 3rd World energy self sufficiency? Can Expats really get off the grid and stick it to the oil companies (well, almost, but not yet).

April 11, 2011  

Understanding Electric Utilities, Part 1:

- 3rd World utility bills,… And you thought nothing was more confusing than your 1st World utility bill!

- The secret cult of Kilowatt hours explained (almost) in 30 seconds… Hey! Watt the hecks’s a watt anyway?

- How big power subsidies for the poor distort an already terrifically screwed up energy market… And why energy’s practically the only thing that ain’t cheap down here.

- Why its no use fighting it out with a 3rd World utility company. If you think your bill’s wrong, its best to take a few deep breaths and just pay it(and then have a couple of margaritas).

- You know those little yellow “Energy Consumption” appliance stickers? They have them down here all right, but they’re all in English (duh!).

- The age old Latin custom of tapping into a power pole and stealing juice.. not recommended (but done all the time).

- Clandestine cable TV hookups, and other lessons learned while living in the land of the pirates.

April 6, 2011  

When Expats go into Business Part 1:

- Reasons why Expats succeed in business without really trying (or lying).

- Why nearly every 1st World franchise that lands has the midas touch,.. even ones that, by rights, shouldn’t have a chance. Example: Starbucks

- King of the sandbox,... A psychologic breakdown of the medium and upscale Latin consumer, and why their misguided perceptions work in your favor.

- Why Expats (outside of the tourist areas) tend to get the royal treatment, whether they deserve it or not.

- Analyzing that oh so common “hey, I can do that!” pipe dream that so many tourists and Expat wannabes down here have when they spot a nice Expat owned hotel , bar, or restaurant (and why it really is a pipe dream).

April 4, 2011  

On Banking, Credit Cards and more:

- How not to get clipped when changing dollars or euros into (or out of) the local toilet paper (but quite pretty) currencies.

- Credit cards -vs- cash, watch out!

- Visa/MC plastic issued on 1st world banks -vs- Visa/MC issued on banks down here, they look the same but there are major differences.

- What to do if your bank statement seems wrong, you're spoiling for fight, and your 2nd grade Spanish is failing.

- How to spot an ATM scam.

- Getting robbed on the beach, and how to avoid it.

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