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

August 31, 2012  
-Latin American tax codes –vs - USA tax codes, the similarities and differences
-How to legally save $27,000 to $35,000 on your US income taxes by simply moving your ass and assets to almost any of the 20 Latin American countries. (Don’t forget, whatever you save is really YOUR money that you earned anyway!)
- Latin American tax avoidance, evasion and collection.
-All Latin governments have a  #1 cash cow- the VAT tax (called IVA down here) - how it works and how local individuals and businesses try to side step it.
-Corporations and corporate taxes in Latin America
-The dope in those special sequentially numbered purchase receipts called “facturas”. They’re used extensively as write-offs and deductions to drastically lower personal and corporate taxes. These “facturas” can be real, fake, altered, stolen and reused. But can Latins or expats or even the tax official themselves tell them apart? Does it even matter?
- Like in the USA, immediately before tax deadline time there’s always a monumental last minute scramble for tax deductions and receipts. However, down here if you’re short on deductions, you can actually BUY the proper number of receipts you need on the greymarket to zero out your taxes.  But should expats risk doing do it? Most Latin businesses routinely go that route. It’s not exactly illegal, but…………
-Now you can follow the link on the main page at www.expatwisdom.com to schedule a consultation 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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August 27, 2012  
-Some more info on that screwy RFID chip in your passport.
- Remember, it’s a $5k fine (and maybe even jail time) if you bend, staple, mutilate, put “smiley faces” or Jesus stickers on your passport…., that is, unless you’re a Mormon.
-One of the secrets to being a happy, stress free expat (stress free, compared to you poor guys up in Cleveland) is to work a bit at maintaining a low profile. That means minimizing your physical and internet footprint. Now for a few easy steps to begin the process,Sasquatch.
- What happens if you are living happy as clam in the Latin American paradise of your choice, and suddenly find out you’re being sued by someone out of your first world past? In other words, some legal eagle in Cleveland is taking steps to attach your business assets and all you’ve accumulated down in Peru or the Dominican Republic.
-You cannot be punished, or even extradited from a Latin American county for so-called US tax crimes. That’s because most US tax crimes are NOT considered crimes at all in the Latin third world and therefore have no basis for trial or prosecution there. However, if you’re a big high-profile fish and the US really wants to nail you, the US Financial Crimes Division just might get dirty and accuse you of money laundering- an international crime these days- just to get you nabbed and extradited (guilty or not)
-A word about Rolexes, convertibles, sportscars, Corvettes and other completely idiotic things you should never even consider owning in Latin America.
-Now you can follow the link on the main page at www.expatwisdom.com to schedule a consultation 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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August 24, 2012  
-Some email questions for Expat Eddie concerning the finer points of how to run a brick and mortar business in Latin America.
-The fine art of tipping waiters (or not). Did you know that (on the tourist trail) some local Latin waiters and waitresses actually count on the general stupidity of green USA tourists? When travelers tip locals with their “funny money”, tourists nearly always tipway too much!
-Did you know that on the tourist trail as many as 25% of bar, restaurant and hotels bills are intentionally padded? And if you can’t read a bit of Spanish you’ll never even know it.
- A word about Latin American “customer service”; the obvious lack of it, why it remains retarded, and how expat gringos can exploit it for fun and profit.
-One of the very few really expensive things in Latin America (besides petrol and guns) are the electric rates. They’re 2-4 times as expensive per KWH as in the states, which means those ugly compact florescent bulbs are sprouting up everywhere. Yuk! And you know what that means; those horrid bulbs give off a putrid light that would make Vegas look like a basement locker room. But unfortunately, these bulbs are now dangling from fixtures in 80% of the bars and restaurants, and 99% of Latin homes. What a revoltin’ development!
-Organic food is in huge abundance at outdoor markets and at mom-and-pop stores throughout Latin America. But say the word “organic” to the local farmers actually growing the stuff don’t and they don’t have a clue to what you’re talking about.  And though their methods are what we gringos up north would call “organic” farming, Latins just call it “normal”. Meanwhile back in the states, Americans pay a hefty premium for the privilege of eating organic and Latins don’t even have to make the choice, it’s how they’ve always been eating (though fast food is catching up fast) .
-Now you can follow the link on the main page at www.expatwisdom.com to schedule a consultation 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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August 20, 2012  
- An email about thoughts on what to do if you are robbed or assaulted and actually end up killing the guy in the process. Though it does sound extreme, it also presents an interesting view of how strikingly different third world and first-world countries view the self-defense claim (and revenge killings).
-Here’s a very enlightening news report of what happened during a very recent armed assault on a chicken bus in Honduras. This story illustrates very well what happens when common Latin working folks have had enough of their useless, brain-dead, lard-ass police force.
-What happens when expats get into traffic accidents or have the bad luck to nail a pedestrian, even if the guy’s blind drunk? Does that good ole “gringo advantage” still work for you then? Find out if being a gringo helps or hurts; after all, you are a “rich” gringo and the guy you hit surely realizes that you have vastly deeper pockets than he does.
-Typical legal advice Latin lawyers give their expat clients “officially”- versus what they tell you “unofficially” over dinner or at parties.
-What happens when a Latin judge puts an embargo on your passport? An embargo means he placed a block on your passport at the Intl airport(s) and you won’t be able to leave the country until the court says you are free to travel. This can happen if you get sued for nonpayment of alimony or child support or are principally involved in an ongoing court case. Here are the details.
-Now you can follow the link on the main page at www.expatwisdom.com to schedule a consultation 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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August 17, 2012  
- An email and some thoughts on the so-called new, stricter rules on gringos entering certain Latin American countries. Is it something you should worry about? Does that mean more hoops to jump through? You’ll be surprised.
-Even if you have a valid US passport now, here are two excellent reasons why it is highly recommended that you get a brand new US passport ASAP- before BB changes the rules. Do it before it’s too late and you won’t regret it!
-DYK that hackers with basically Radio Shack equipment can read your passport data from 200+ feet away as you stroll by? It’s not Sci-Fi anymore- like in the Tom Cruise movie “minority report”. Some people, who don’t like the notion of being monitored, have found clever ways to kill the passport RFID chip. Parents, don't let your children try this at home! (or not)
-Do you need a return airline ticket when you arrive in a Latin American country? What about proof of income for your stay? Most Latin country websites say you need this stuf, but us long term expats know different!
-What happens to expats who stay in a Latin country way beyond their visa expiration date? Belive it or not, many expats end up staying in a country for years illegally. Guess what? Now it’s the gringo who’s the illegal alien for a change! What happens when a guy in that predicament tries to leave the country? What happens when he finally does get out of Dodge and someday tries to get back to the same country where he broke the immigration laws?
-Now you can follow the link on the main page at www.expatwisdom.com to schedule a consultation 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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August 13, 2012  
- How to handle yourself when you visit those gigantic, chaotic, Latin American indoor/outdoor shopping markets.
-If you own a car in Latin America you really need to consider having very, very dark (the darkest possible) window tinting installed. There are some very good reasons for this that may not be obvious (since Big Brother doesn’t allow such things in the states how would you know?)
-Some expats (like Eddie) have had their cars broken into multiple times, but luckily the cars themselves were NOT stolen. There are certain things that make a car appealing to thieves and here are some tips on how to keep a car safe from break-ins.
-How experienced thieves can easily disable your car alarm; and a few simple things you can do beforehand to thwart the bad guys.
-Expat Eddie gives some tips on how to get even more for your money at those big Latin produce and food markets (remember, he’s in the restaurant biz and buys a lot of that stuff daily)
-Now you can follow the link on the main page at www.expatwisdom.com to schedule a consultation 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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August 10, 2012  
- An open letter from a 50 year old man who lost everything in the 2007 financial blowout. He explains how, as a last resort, he went down to Latin American with only $65 and a backpack and proceeded to find his version of paradise. Yup! The “gringo advantage” rides again!
-In first world news reports we are bombarded with horrific crime statistics about Latin America that routinely scare the snot out of average US tourists. So they don’t come. Its time we look at some of these numbers and see what they are really implying
-The scoop on bicycling down here. Bikes are good, cheap, green transportation but are they practical for Latin America?  What about long very distance bike trips?
-Did you know that the average bus fare for a Latin American city route is only 25 cents? How is that possible? It’s because heavy bus fare subsidies are a strictly maintained age-old tradition. Dirt cheap fares are so engrained that just proposing a 5 cent raise in fares often results in civil unrest and mobs taking to the streets destroying buses (like they aren't worthless pieces of crap already) .
-What’s it like for expats who own motorcycles? It’s a great way to get around especially weaving through city traffic jams, but are they really recommended?
-Now you can follow the link on the main page at www.expatwisdom.com to schedule a consultation 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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August 6, 2012  
-In response to many, many emails about expats owning cars in Latin America, here’s some of the pointers and do’s don’ts when buying, owning and driving
-In Latin America it’s a very common to see people hoofing it down the highway with an empty coke or water bottle. Are they saving the empty for a deposit? Maybe, but just as likely they scouting a gas station- they’re out of petrol. For locals, running on fumes is an epidemic (but not us expats- I hope). Not that we’re any smarter, we just don’t make a habit of putting a dollar’s worth of gas in the tank. Even in the year 2012, millions of Latin drivers do exactly what you and I did back in high school- throw in a buck and hope it lasts till you get home (though back then gas was a buck a gallon!)
-The details concerning the very lucrative business of buying wrecked late-model cars (in the USA) from internet auction sites, then performing the expensive bodywork and mechanical repairs with ultra-cheap labor down in Latin America
-Latin America is not a good destination if you have germ phobia. A phobic guy like Howie Mandel (who never ever shakes hands) would not survive here long. His head would explode if he were to just sit down in the average Latin’s car.
-Used car shopping in Latin America- how to terse out the car ads- how to spot a lemon or a major problem just by the way an ad is worded
-Now you can follow the link on the main page at www.expatwisdom.com to schedule a consultation 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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August 3, 2012  
-When dating a Latina, get ready for the serious sit-down you’ll be expected to have with her father. Just like in an old white-bread Hollywood 50’s movie, you’ll have to explain your “honorable intentions” to him (yup, that’s same guy who has likely been cheating in his own wife, your best gal’s mother, for years). So when he gives you his fatherly advice, please try not to laugh out loud, ok?
-Because its such a macho society, there are some glaringly extreme ironies and hypocrisies that us long term expats see on a daily basis; things that just would never fly in the first world. But these things are such a tradition that they don’t even register with the locals as regressive and damaging at all; and they probably never will.
-Its surprising to know that many Latin men- who are notorious for their drinking, wife beating and womanizing-  actually have prayer and bible meetings at each other’s houses every week or so. Eddie and I and most long term expats have been invited to these more than few times. And I know the experience would be wonderful grist for the Expat Files Show, I just can’t do it. I’d never be able to keep a straight face.
-Have you heard of those famous “quince anos” parties? That's the big bash every Latin family, rich and poor, throws when a daughter turns 15 years old. These are parties that all expats eventually get invited to(and are bored to death by) so here’s the low down on what to expect from that scene.
-Expat Eddie has a neat little trick that discourages Latin friends (and his girlfriend’s relatives) from hitting him up for cash loans (which BTW, is an occupational hazard for all so-called “rich” gringos).
-Now you can follow the link on the main page at www.expatwisdom.com to schedule a consultation 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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