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

July 28, 2013  

-These days, in most of the 20 Latin America countries, regular gasoline is now around $5 a gallon. However there are a small handful of oil producing Latin countries whose governments (not just Venezuela) heavily subsidize gasoline at the pump. And though it sounds like a dream come true for the locals its created some dark, unintended consequences…

-And now a true incident  I witnessed as so-called government VIPs (truly ass-wipes) embarrassed and demeaned a young worker at a local Latin gas station. Things like this give real working folks plenty more reason to despise politicians and government jerks of all stripes…. from any country.
-Gringos often wonder why Latins don’t seem to be bothered by unsightly garbage and ubiquitous litter dumping. For the average guy, tossing trash in bins or cleaning up the yard or the neighborhood does not seem to be on the radar until its so bad someone complains. And while Latins don’t notice or care about the mess they create, gringos and foreigners seem too embarrassed to call them on it. Meanwhile, its the efforts of gringos and foreigners that keep up the pressure to act ;like adults.
-Driving a car in the rainy season can be a harrowing experience. That's when might come across a temporary lake (that used to be a road a day earlier), and yet there may be no alternative but to trudge forward into the unknown. But my advice is to wait for some brave soul or two to slogging through ahead of you first. Let him be your “canary in the coal mine”...the scout that finds the hidden underwater potholes along the way, not you!
-There are some very insulting Spanish slang words that you should NEVER use yourself;  forbidden slang when speaking to a Latin person of any social class. And even if you hear Latins using them now and then (and they will) you should still keep them out of your vocabulary.
-What about the catch-all word “gringo”? Is it a compliment, an insult, or just plain neutral? Well, its mostly a compliment, but it can be all three of the above... depending on how its being phrased…….
-Follow the link on the main page at www.ExpatWisdom.com to schedule a private 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.
-And while you’re at www.ExpatWisdom.com don’t forget to pick up your free reports!
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July 26, 2013  
-If you like Animals…
In Latin America, outside of the big cities especially, expect to encounter perhaps ten times as many animals as you would in your day to day life in Cleveland.... animals of all kinds. But its not a bad thing, just part of the experience. You’ll get used to it quickly if you remember the various creatures are just going about their business as you are. Just be aware when driving (especially at night) that animals of all kinds might cross the road…. or even slip into your house.
-Out in the boonies many poor farmers with small plots of land still have horses instead of cars simply because horses are cheap, reproduce, and are very low maintenance (since owners just let them out to in the morning to graze). However, most are scrawny, sad looking, overworked and underfed. Then there's the case of those special show horses that good excellent and eat well but suffer just as much but in different ways...
-Most Latin American small farmers live on the edge of insolvency and don’t have a bit of discretionary income to call a veterinarian when animals get sick or injured. Instead they keep their animals healthy and fit by simply consulting the guy behind the counter at the local “Agropecuaria” feed store. They take his sage treatment advice as gospel. And what does that have to do with expats?  If you have animals or pets, you can visit the ever-knowlegable “agropecuaria” guy too. Expat Eddie vouches for that 100% and here’s why…..
-One of the things that first world people find hard to believe is how scheduled and prescription drugs are available at Latin pharmacies without a doctor’s prescription. Because of that fact a lot of young partying US tourists (mostly spring-breakers) come down on vacation and try to score Xanax, Tylenol #3, Zoloft, Viagra or whatever. Well here’s the scoop on that…
-Recreational drugs in Latin America…
What with marijuana so cheap its practically free, and cocaine dirt cheap too, isn’t it funny that in 20 plus years down here the only gringos I have met who really abuse the stuff seem to be those spring-breakers again and college kids on vacation looking for that never-ending party. Long term expats (off the tourist trail) are not so inclined to get wasted that way (booze is their drug of choice). And as for the Latins, the only ones I know that really abuse the stuff are the upper class (2%) gringo wanabees, the Latin yuppies (and their spoiled children) along with certain privileged kids in private high schools and colleges. And since they are gringo wannabees too, their drug of choice is not pot, but cocaine and the designer drugs, like exstacy.
-Follow the link on the main page at www.ExpatWisdom.com to schedule a private 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.
-And while you’re at www.ExpatWisdom.com don’t forget to pick up your free reports!
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July 21, 2013  

-Should you, or shouldn’t you, bring your pets down to Latin America? Well, along with the hassle and stress of getting them on an airplane, through customs and immigration, many animal-loving wanabees wonder if Spot, Rover or Obama can really settle in comfortably and get the kind of 1st world treatment they were getting back in Cleveland. …

-Now for the real story on pet food products in Latin America. And yes, nearly all of the first world brands are available, but choosing the one Rover liked to munch on in Cleveland is not as simple as you think, even though its in the stores, and here’s why….
-Dog, dogs everywhere. Yes, Latins do love their dogs… and the poorest of the families always seem to have more Rovers (and kids) than they can possibly handle. And yes, those critters do spend the day roving the neighborhood since their owners don’t have food to spare and rarely have extra dough to buy real dog food. That means you’ll see a lot of sad looking skinny dogs giving you the hungry eyes, So if you’re invited for dinner, its ok to stealthily drop a few morsels under the table
-Today we discuss a few more sure-fire business ideas for expats, this time dealing with pets and animals. The “gringo advantage” rides again in that department too!
-Like Richard Martin says on PRN’s “Wake Up Call” show, I too am very much convinced that enlightened first-world people must get out of Dodge before Big Brother closes the window completely. Many smart people in the know think that door will shut tight in the next year or so at most. So, If you don’t make your plans very soon you’d better buckle up and get ready for the worst ride of your life. The American dream has moved to Latin America. There will not be better days up north and It will only get worse.
-Follow the link on the main page at www.ExpatWisdom.com to schedule a private 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.
-And while you’re at www.ExpatWisdom.com don’t forget to pick up your free reports!
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July 19, 2013  
-When you’re off the tourist trail and not living in a transplanted gringo neighborhood, your Latin neighbors will surely be kind, friendly and gracious…unless you’re an unsociable jerk. You’ll probably the only gringo in the subdivision and as usual you will get the visiting dignitary treatment. And sure you’ll always have that oddball neighbor with a barking dog or have to deal with a problematic neighbor kid, but that’s life. Recently Expat Eddie had such an incident to deal with, and he did so in his own peculiar way…
-And now a valuable housing tip that I wish someone would have mentioned to me when I first arrived in Latin America….NEVER rent, buy or build within six blocks of an Evangelical church. That is, unless you don’t mind your Saturday and Sunday nights tinged with erratic high volume wailing and guttural noise pollution (which begs the question; is Jesus deaf?)
-If you live in an upscale first-world style subdivision, it’s a fact of life that you might be sharing the neighborhood with a few thieving politicians and the occasional upscale narco (they can be decent family men too). Both types can afford to live anywhere they want. But unlike the Hollywood stereotype, upscale narco guys will strive for a nice life but keep a low profile. So here are a few tips on how to handle the situation if you or your kids get invited to a “cince anos” party at Tony Soprano’s house…
-Find out why Expat Eddie insists that  “IMPATIENCE is a virtue” (when in Latin America of course). Hear his reasons why its a big part of the “gringo advantage”
-Wanabees always ask about low budget business ideas that a new expat can instantly jump on. Well, like I always say, “boots on the ground” is the best way to find out. And sometimes one only needs a week or so to see a great little opportunity or niche market. Now for example, the last seminar group that came down in June just boiled over with business ideas after just a few days here. But what about expats with very low or almost no capital? Well here we give an example of an ultra-low budget, unglamorous but novel, business idea (one of dozens tossed around at the June event) that one of our seminar gang came up with just by spotting an obvious (or not so obvious) need...
-Follow the link on the main page at www.ExpatWisdom.com to schedule a private 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.
-And while you’re at www.ExpatWisdom.com don’t forget to pick up your free reports!
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July 14, 2013  

-Did you know that with Panama’s new airport taxes, additional charges and fees work out to anywhere between $250 to $500 on top of (but included in) the ticket price?  I found it out the hard way when recently hit with $260 extra on a flight a few weeks ago. Word has it that the most expensive first world airport departure fees and taxes are incurred when flying out of Canada,but even those bloated govt charges don’t match Panama’s new blood-sucking rates.

-And now a few things you should know about the high cost of living in Panama and the cash crunch its having on expats who are in the Panama “pensionado” program… a program once considered a very good deal especially to expats living solely on a social security check.
-Few people realize the Chinese now own the Panama Canal outright (and made local politicians millionaires in the process) but even fewer folks outside of Panama realize the extent of the Chinese penetration and influence in the Canal Zone, and beyond. Now for some examples that may just blow your mind…….
-Let’s demonstrate how predictable the “lag time effect” is in business and how it gives us expats a special leg up. You just have to keep your eyes on what’s been hot or fashionable up in the states and you can bet a badly done Latin version will eventually follow, usually a few years later. So what’s stopping you from being the first (or one of the first) to introduce something thats old hat in the US and do the job right?
-Latin American fashion is all about …fake eye colors, tinted hair, sexy cloths and ultra-high heels. Well how about those Latin ladies and their occasionally outrageous sense of fashion? Though some aspects of the Latina dress code may seem extreme especially to newbee expat women, those transplanted gringas soon realize it’s a cultural thing and get over their first impression that many young ladies are skanks. Nope, they’re not skanks at all according to local standards… just in sexy competition with each other.
-Here’s a new report on my latest trip to yet another Decameron, one of the oldest of their “all inclusive” resorts in Panama. Its less luxurious and more basic than the newer Decameron resorts I’ve seen in other countries but It's got its charms. And I bet you’ll get a kick out of what happened to me when I recently spent a few days there.
-Follow the link on the main page at www.ExpatWisdom.com to schedule a private 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.
-And while you’re at www.ExpatWisdom.com don’t forget to pick up your free reports!
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July 12, 2013  
-Some thoughts on some ingrained first world gringo traits we never seem to completely lose no matter how long we live down here.
-How do big first-world business franchises like for example, McDonalds, Sears and Office Depot, deal with chronically tardy Latin employees? Though local businesses tolerate lateness as a fact of life, first world franchises do run on time, and live and die by the clock… even in Latin America
-I’m looking at the massive Panama real estate bubble first hand (its already twice the size of many of the other Latin bubbles) and I have to say that when it blows it won’t be pretty. Trust me…you don’t want to be there when it pops. Even though the deals will be stupendous, Panama is fast running out of electricity and water and they have already started announcing new water rationing schedules in the papers and on TV!
-A hot report on how just last week, at the peak of the bubble, some lucky Canadian friends accidentally turned a $140k Panama property into a half million bucks (and then they high-tailed it out of Panama directly after cashing the check!)
-Report on the horrors of the newly installed mega-million dollar Panama Big Brother airport immigration operation. Its so intrusive and scary now, that you’ll never want to go back to that little privacy compromised country again
-Did you know that TSA can tag you, then take your computer and smart devices for 30 days. They’ll copy your data and use anything they deem incriminating to prosecute you. I personally know of three people who have had their laptops confiscated by TSA lackeys in the last year.
-Follow the link on the main page at www.ExpatWisdom.com to schedule a private 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.
-And while you’re at www.ExpatWisdom.com don’t forget to pick up your free reports!
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July 7, 2013  

My Latin American “Expat Wisdom” seminar ended with a bang (a very good bang) and here are a few of my comments about the crowd that made their way down. For one thing, this  group were not a bunch of “tire kickers”. Most of them see the light dimming up in the states and are very, very intent in leaving Dodge… permanently.

-I keep getting similar emails from older wanabees who are afraid they’ll have a hard time learning Spanish (you can’t teach an old dog ….) so they’re looking towards English speaking Belize as an option. So again here are a few more insights on that. Realistically, its a nice place for tourists, the very rich, and young guys and gals who think they are invincible (weren’t we all at 23?) but its not the best choice for the average older expat.
-Those nutty gringos and their Bermuda shorts…
So what if it’s a sign of an unseasoned tourist? Well if you do wear shorts, and there’s not many people around, there’s no better way for a neer-do-well to spot you a mile away. And sure, gringo tourists tell me that I’m nuts when I advise them against wearing gangsta pants. First world tourists insist its just typical comfy beachwear…to which I say NO…a bathing suit is typical beachwear… which is a-ok. So guys especially, please skip the gansta pants.
-Some inquiring minds want to know if there is a Chemtrail problem in Latin America. Whatever your opinion might be as to that phenomena (or lack of it), here’s what long term expats are saying about it…
-What’s Latin America like for alergy sufferers? One would think it would be much worse here for all the rapidly growing trees and plants, not to mention 3 to 4 growing seasons. Well here’s the story on that… and its not what youd expect´.
-Follow the link on the main page at www.ExpatWisdom.com to schedule a private 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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