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

March 28, 2014  
- How and why so many tens of thousands of legal Latin aliens up in the states(former illegals) are now retiring from their middle and lower middle-class first-world unskilled jobs (bus drivers, city workers and such) and moving back down to Latin America in order live like kings and queens- like they never could up in the states on their small pensions and savings. What do these folks know that others don’t? Well, nothing we don't talk about on the Expat Files all of the time. We knew that already!          

 -Once you get settled in Latin America, you really must check out all the great Yard and Rummage sales. For all you antiquers there are tremendous opportunities… and get this: a lot of amazing one-of-a-kind handmade and furniture items you simply have never even seen before. But do remember that all the great deals and amazing things will almost never be found on the gringo tourist trail. In Costa Rica for example, the gringos already picked through the good stuff ages ago. 

 -You ever wonder where all the world's manual typewriters went? Remember those... the ones that you hated in 9th grade typing class? Not so long ago every stateside home and office had them. Yup, I even had one once. Well, not all of them made a trip to the dumpster (or melted down to became Toyotas). There are millions still in daily use down here in Latin America and they still sell brand new ones in stores and by bulk in the newspaper classifieds!

 -My next upcoming July, 2014 “Expat Wisdom” seminar is nearly set to go so. The dates will be Saturday, July 12th thru Thursday, July 17th. Do send an email totheexpatfiles@gmail.com to get on the early-bird list. The agenda and complete the signup details will be up on the www.ExpatWisdom.com website in a few days. Just click the “Latin American Seminar” link on the top of the main page for full details.
 
-Do 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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March 24, 2014  

-Occasionally the emails come in from doubters claiming they probably would just not be comfortable at all living in Latin America. They worry they’d be too isolated and out of touch with what’s happening out in the rest of the world. Can it be true? Here’s how it really stacks up..      

-Today we have some quirky examples of the “gringo advantage”. Though if you live down here you just smile and remind yourself that nothing that happens to gringos is too surprising.

-Is this not amazing? I’ve yet to come across one single Latin person born, bread and educated in Latin America that actually knows anything at all about what we call in the first-world the “alternative media”. There really is no organized alternative media down here to speak of. Even very educated Latins have a hard time with the “alternative media" concept... even when you gently explain it to them. They too buy the usual traditional corporate media crap hook, line and sinker. So in a way Latins are much like most stateside folks- who know infinitely more about Miley Cyrus and pro-sports than the organized government/corporate rot that’s eating away at their country. Now understand that during the bad old Latin days of Ollie North, the military coups and the civil wars, of course there were many alternative underground newspapers etc. But most Latins today weren’t around back then or aren’t old enough to connect with that stuff. And besides.. we're mixing apples and oranges.             

-Latin women and sports. Would it surprise you to know that most Latin women know all the personal facts and dirt about the one or two most handsome (guapo) guys in the national soccer league? Sure, Latin ladies attend sporting events but most only know their team colors and thus who should win. They rarely know the rules or how the game is actually played (sound familiar?)  

-Do 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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March 21, 2014  
-Latin folks can have a very different take on USA first-world history as we know it (or history as we have been taught in stateside schools). Take the Kennedy assassination for example. Its been 50 years since it happened and its still an unsolved mystery to us gringos, yet Latins (the scant 5% who actually read and pay attention to world events) are quite certain who was behind it all. Yup, they think they’ve solved it all right! Its interesting stuff to be sure, but who are we to pummel their illusions.  

-Latins are genuinely friendly to us gringos (part of the “off the tourist trail” gringo advantage).

Occasionally a gringo standing in a line to pay bills or waiting to get some idiotic government stamp, will strike up a conversation with a nearby Latin person(a friendly stranger). And even though only barely acquainted, surprisingly enough the Latin person may actually invite said gringo for dinner at the house or to an upcoming family get together. It does happen so don't be shocked. I bet if that happened in Jersey or Cleveland one would suspect the person making the gesture had dark ulterior motives or is at least a little unbalanced..or maybe a pervert, or just recruiting for Jesus. Yes, your new Latin friend will have ulterior motives for invitng you over too, but 99% of the time they are not dark motives at all.   

-Now a few facts about Fidel Castro’s “Oil for Doctors Program.” First of all. I bet you didn’t know such thing existed. But here it is: for each Doctor sent to oil rich Venezuela the Cuban govt gets paid 3 barrels of oil per day. So at $100 a barrel, that’s $300 per day for each doctor. Now with over 30000 Cuban doctors in Venezuela, the Castro boys get over 3 Billion dollars a year for their capitalistic trade of docs for oil.. the docs by the way are ever so eager to get the hell out of Cuba and get that extravagant $185 per month salary...(7 times a doc’s monthly salary in Cuba... plus extra ration cards).              

-Do 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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March 18, 2014  
-Now some very valuable tips for anyone renting or buying a house, apartment or office space in Latin America. You can save yourself a world of hurt and frustration if you follow a few of these simple rules when shopping around for any living or office space.   
 
-Its well known that nearly all standard bathrooms in Latin America (even the ones in upper middle class homes) are much more than a notch or two down the hygiene scale compared to what we gringos are used to or expect. That said, one of the first things many of us do after settling into a new Latin homestead is to spend a few hundred bucks and upgrade the generally horrible bathrooms to our own (hopefully) much higher standards. But in trying to achieve that, do get ready for some unwanted surprises...it’s not quite as easy as it sounds... 
 
-Excerpts from a very revealing -and somewhat sad- interview with a humble gardener/maintenance man who’s been working for wealthy Latins and their families (and the occasional gringo in-between) for over 40 years. Its yet another true story that strongly confirms why average working-class Latins have come to believe so many positive stereotypes about gringos(whether true or not)… and why most Latins much prefer working for first-world bosses rather than their own occsionally abusive countrymen.  
 
-Do 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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March 14, 2014  
-How really, really “BIG” business is usually done in Latin America… as opposed to the kind of small enterprises most of us gringos and expats get involved in.      
 
-In every Latin country there are 20 or so mega-wealthy land-owning families with a monopoly on basic agricultural commodities and traditional industries like coffee, sugar, tobacco, cement, electric utilities, steel, as well as some older technologies like radio and TV frequencies, stations, newspapers, etc. These entitled families traditionally buy politicians like candy … so they’ve been calling the shots politically for decades and thus easily squelch any local upstart competition (sound familiar?) But alas, in the past ten years first-world mega-companies like Nestle, Johnson and Johnson, Siemens, etc., with their first-rate marketing and advertizing machines have landed and are intent on conquering. Trans-nationals have their own kind of mega “gringo advantage” and as of late have been taking hefty bites out of the old-school moneyed class.
 Bottom line: the old money never had that kind of serious competition before (or really any kind of competition) so they’re scrambling. Many of these lumbering giants are so inflexible and land rich (with such top-to-bottom management sclerosis) that massive structural changes are in the works. As the old saying goes, “Oh how the mighty have fallen.” No, not that they’ve fallen yet... but some are teetering: and with the massive real estate bubble that old money is now heavily invested in… they will soon get duly burned. Hurray! It’s about time too!            
 
-Do 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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March 10, 2014  
Few female expat wannabees and gonnabees truly understand the plight of women (of all socioeconomic classes) when living in a Latin macho society. True, a few first-world ladies have some knowledge of the male macho thing, but no gringa up north knows the full extent of the macho effect unless she’s actually dated (or married) a Latin guy up north, hung around with a Latin girlfriend or has been a frequent guest in a 100% Latin home.         
 
-Today we have another absolutely true expat story of a Canadian who landed way “off the gringo tourist trail” some 15 years ago. Our hockey man found Latin life so cheap, fun and easy that he ended up doing what so many single, lonely gringos do. He became a party animal and nearly became the poster boy for a Jimmy Buffet song. Then after striking it big in business, and finding his true Latina love and settling down, another weird expat life experience began…   
 
-Why do so many Latin adolescent boys and young men still go to church on Sunday when most don’t really believe in the ceremonial part at all and could easily get out of the weekly event with no family recriminations whatsoever? You’ll be surprised at the answer (or not!) and it has nothing to do with faith or guilt.
 
-Note that when you hit any Latin beach town, you’re bound to run into a few long term expats who have gone completely “native”. Here’s a short primer on that subject..       
 
-A word about those fabulous and famous local “Expat bars” you fond in every decent sized Latin city… and why you should try to avoid them as much as possible.
 
-Do 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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March 7, 2014  
-The Spanish language has many words with double and triple meanings. Meaning, even long term expats with seemingly impressive Spanish skills can screw up in casual conversation. Its a good thing Latins are so easy going and forgiving when it comes to language fax-pas (when coming from gringos). Yes, you guessed right… its part of our “gringo advantage” again. In fact we gringos and expats often get away with language blunders that would make your average Latin blush, or even run and hide. In that regard we expats are the clueless ones. Sometimes we wish the locals would clue us in, but most Latins are just too damn polite.           
 
-Every Latin mother and grandmother’s unspoken (and sometimes spoken) dream is to somehow lighten up and heighten up the family bloodline. In other words… having a gringo or gringa marry into the family.
 
-A word or two about having a Latin “mother-in law”(“suegra”) and how suegras differ quite a bit from the so called first-world bulldozer “mother-in-law” stereotype.
 
-Like us, Latins have their favorite foods and traditional dinner favorites. For them its refried beans, tacos, tamales and tortillas (though slowly but surely being repaced by Whoppers and Happy Meals). Aside from the traditional stuff, most Latins eat about ten times as many chiles and hot peppers as stateside folks do. Not only that, each person also eats at least ten times the number of lemons and citrus fruits as we do too. And a diet like that has very positive consequences and one very obvious negative one too....   
 
-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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March 2, 2014  

-One of the unspoken anxieties new expats have is a fear of snakes, bugs and unpleasant animals… some of which inevitably end up inside our homes. So why freak out about it? After all, most of Latin America is in the tropics and thus home to many super-sized spiders, insects and of course… snakes. Here’s what you might like to know regarding that creepy subject… and what to do about it.
 
-Latin cops are notorious for not showing up the day you call for their assistance. Many times they just don’t show up at all. Its a flip of a coin. But there are certain things one might say to the police dispatcher (provided they answer the phone at all) that will instantly make your call a priority… then once they arrive your gringo advantage will kick in.   
 
-People are always sending emails asking where, and how I do the Expat Files shows. Well today for example, I’m looking through a huge window from a cabin on a mountainside and staring at a number of very colorful tropical birds as they pick holes in a very large pendulant avocado. There are a few avocado trees of various species on this property all quite different in both look and taste. DYK: there are at least 12 different kinds of avocados? Unfortunately the very best type is so fragile that you'll probably never get a chance to try one at all in your life.      
 
-It takes most gringos and expats a season or two to get accustomed the sun, humidity, tropical weather and extended rainy seasons. The climate will certainly have a harsh effect on your house or office.  Here are some building and maintenance tips that will help you avoid the many headaches and common problems that Latins have simply learned to live with (but you really don’t have to).    
 
-Follow the link on the main page at www.ExpatWisdom.com to schedule a private consultation with Johnny. If you want to discuss the details of living, working, playing, doing business and/or retiring in Latin America. Now you can discuss your situation one on one.
  
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