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

May 30, 2014  
-Here's some clandestine “boots on the ground” facts you’ll never get from the mainstream press…and direct from a gringo recently married to a Venezuelan, and now living with their new kid in Caracas- a city the stats say is the murder capital of the world. He tells first-hand of kidnapping accounts and other crimes frequently happening so close to home that they occur practically on his doorstep… and all this is in a so-called “good” neighborhood!  
 
-Other than politicians, government officials, black marketers and drug lords, very few Venezuelans with legitimate careers make a decent living on what we might call an equivalent first-world salary. But plastic and cosmetic surgeons are doing fine. In fact they’re cleaning up. Here’s a story taken from my late night interview with one such Venezuelan doctor who explained the how’s and the why’s of the business and in sometimes shocking detail.
  
-Now a little background on a little Colombian business that has taken the fashion world by storm. In fact it has penetrated all of Latin America and has now franchised up to the states and is doing gangbusters. And as you are aware, almost no Latin businesses ever successfully franchise to the first world.    
 
-My upcoming JULY, 2014 “Expat Wisdom” seminar is set to go so. The dates will be Saturday, July 12 thru Thursday, July 17. The agenda and complete signup details are on the www.ExpatWisdom.com website main page. Just click theLatin American Seminar link on the top of the main page and check it out.
 
-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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May 25, 2014  

-Here’s one for the books. A few days ago on a Latin Cruise ship voyage down South America way I witnessed an event that speaks volumes on what we gringos might generally describe as a demonstratively emotional culture.    


-Part 1 of my own personal take on an all-inclusive South American boat cruise: Just because it’s dirt-cheap compared to other North American Cruise lines, that’s not the only reason to consider booking this trip. Because you're traveling as a first-world gringo who's probably been on cruises before, you’ll instantly notice a different, more agreeable, happy and pleasant attitude among all the passengers and crew. Note that even if you speak no Spanish at all, you will enjoy the whole experience immensely and it does help that everyone on board seems to be having the time of their lives.       

-The passengers on my particular cruise to South America consisted of 99.9% Latins. All of them obviously in the upper 3% of Latin folks economically positioned to afford the fare. So then, what types of Latin folks would sign on for such a cruise? What are the occupations, educational backgrounds and incomes in that cross section? You’ll be surprised.               

-My upcoming JULY, 2014 “Expat Wisdom” seminar is set to go so. The dates will be Saturday, July 12 thru Thursday, July 17. The agenda and complete signup details are on the www.ExpatWisdom.com website main page. Just click the Latin American Seminar link on the top of the main page and check it out.   

-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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May 23, 2014  
-Have you ever flown a Latin American international airline like TACA, COPA or AVIANCA? Note that there are a lot of little differences that are quite worth mentioning. Compared to flying US or European based airlines, Latin Airlines are much more friendly, relaxed and pleasant. Again, it’s like going back in time to the US airlines of the 70’s or 80’s… and when at Latin airports outside of the USA, there’s no manhandling or embarrassing pokes or probes. Even in Panama- which has a very big brother style airport and the personnel are lazy-ass jerks who seem to hate their jobs. Yes they give you the evil eye but do not hassle, grill, poke or drag you over to special lines to humiliate or examine your orifices.
 
-Part 3 of an expat hanging out in Venezuela: this may be the one of the strangest “gringo advantage” stories yet
 
-For many reasons I don’t recommend Panama for expats, but because it happens to be a large international airline and cruise ship hub you will sometimes be forced to make connections there- especially if you’re going to South America. That said, here’s some advice and money saving tips on how to make the best of your (hopefully) short stays in Panama (and an unbeatable hotel "all inclusive" package that's not to be missed)  
 
-There’s something special you should know about those hotel room digital  lock boxes called “caja fortes” in Spanish.     
 
-My upcoming JULY, 2014 “Expat Wisdom” seminar is set to go so. The dates will be Saturday, July 12 thru Thursday, July 17. The agenda and complete signup details are on the www.ExpatWisdom.com website main page. Just click theLatin American Seminar link on the top of the main page and check it out.
 
-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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May 18, 2014  

-Are you planning to become an expat in Latin America in an effort to continue to live a first-world lifestyle? If you’re on a budget (aren’t we all?) or restricted to a $1200-$1500 a month SS check, you’ll find it harder and harder to pull that off of you’re in SOUTH AMERICA, that is, unless you are many miles away from any medium or large city and can adapt to the slow-paced rural life. Though admittedly, you can still do quite well in Paraguay on a SS check- even in Venezuela. But believe me, Venezuela’s a different ballgame and not for the faint of heart.      


-Some more general thoughts about retiring on a tight budget, or just plain maintaining a first-world lifestyle in Latin America on something like an average Social Security check.          

-Part 2 of an expat hanging out in Caracas, Venezuela: Despite what you may have heard about the persistent Chavez anti-gringo effect, the folks here in Venezuela do both love and envy gringos. In fact the “gringo advantage” is very, very strong here. But since there are almost no gringos around to feel the power, it’s a somewhat moot point! For 99.9% of gringos, in the final analysis Venezuela’s a difficult, uncomfortable place and definitely not for the green gringo! Also note that so few people speak English here that if you aren’t boned up a bit on Spanish you could have a time of it just finding a decent restaurant, bathroom or even ordering a coke. And forget about finding toilet paper, that stuff’s only found in high-end hotels.      

-And now from the, “Just when you thought you’ve heard it all” department: a petty crime-prevention trick I bet you’ve never heard about before. It was a new one for me too.    

-My upcoming JULY, 2014 “Expat Wisdom” seminar is set to go so. The dates will be Saturday, July 12 thru Thursday, July 17. The agenda and complete signup details are on the www.ExpatWisdom.com website main page. Just click the Latin American Seminar link on the top of the main page and check it out.  

-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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May 16, 2014  
-Today I’m hanging out in Caracas, Venezuela. Last time here (when Chavez was alive) I was fired upon and my rental car tires were shot out, but that was a few years back. So now, with all the new economic and social turmoil we’ve been hearing about lately, it was time to see for myself just how much the media and stateside blowhards have spun the situation(or not). Who can you believe? Me of course (err.. maybe)? Does all the reported street chaos make for great opportunities for expats in Venezuela - or should we stay away until the place hits bottom? Is now a good time to go in and use your “gringo advantage”? The question is: how much of what we hear about Venezuela from the 1st world media is really true… or is it just the US govt and the alphabet agencies manipulating us with video and sound bites yet again? Well now you have the skinny direct from me in the trenches…
 
-My how the common folks in Venezuela tell white lies. And how.. they try to rip you off and attempt to slyly gouge you.  Let me count the ways! They tried all of that stuff on me a number of times and sort of got away with it to a small extent. Don't get me wrong, it’s not that the folks there are innately criminals or born rip-off artists. Is just that it’s impossible to live, pay rent (and eat too) even if one makes four times the so-called mandatory minimum wage. That said, 90%  of Venezuelans are angling for extra dough to just survive(and you would too).              
 
-My upcoming JULY, 2014 “Expat Wisdom” seminar is set to go so. The dates will be Saturday, July 12 thru Thursday, July 17. The agenda and complete signup details are on thewww.ExpatWisdom.com website main page. Just click the Latin American Seminar link on the top of the main page and check it out.
 
-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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May 4, 2014  

Reporting from a wild night at a strange (strange to us gringos) but typical (typical to the locals) Latin wedding. Yes, if there are any gringos in attendance at a Latin wedding they will act accordingly- give nice gifts etc., and follow the usual first-world customs. But get ready expats, you won’t believe your eyes when you see some of the gifts and presents that do occasionally come from the Latin side of the family.  


A few other excellent examples to prove that when you’re off the gringo tourist trail the “gringo advantage” rides again.  

It’s getting more and more difficult to spend and covert all but the most pristine flawless US dollars at banks and vendors. Even the Latin ATM machines are putting out a certain percentage of US dollars that aren’t being accepted by retailers or banks (even with retailers that advertise that they do accept US dollars). Here’s the latest on that.   

A word or two about motorcycles and Latin American motorcycle cops and their pathetic, laughable machines. Actually a good thing, depending how you look at it.                 

My upcoming JULY, 2014 “Expat Wisdom” seminar is set to go so. The dates will be Saturday, July 12 thru Thursday, July 17. The agenda and complete signup details are on the www.ExpatWisdom.com website main page. Just click the Latin American Seminar link on the top of the main page and check it out.   

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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May 2, 2014  
-Nope, Latin American governments do not put fluoride in the water. Though they put fluoride in the salt and they also “fortify” the sugar with vitamin A. Talk about screwy! So then you might plan to avoid all that and buy imported sea salt. No problem. That stuff’s readily available down here too. However, having fluoride in store-bought salt means that every time you eat a restaurant you are certainly getting an unwanted dose of that toxic stuff. Yes you are, gringo! Just remember that when you eat at stateside restaurants your food is cooked in fluoridated water and overdosed with the stuff too, so you get it both ways. Do you think for a minute any Latin person reads food labels or even knows a thing about fluoride? No way Jose. After all, gringo’s fluoridate their water, they invented it! They give it their kids so it must be first-world good and wholesome, right?     
 
-Latin America is a honey lover’s paradise. There are thousands of mom and pop farmers who have colonies that produce just a few pounds a week or month. Many are kitchen table operations… you can’t get more natural and unprocessed than that! Note that as you go from town to town all honey looks and tastes a bit different due to the flowers, altitude, climate, bee strains and such. Here’s how to locate some of that great, unpasteurized, homemade stuff you could never get back up in Cleveland (just too many ridiculous OSHA regs).
 
-Have you heard the latest bad news about having a US passport? It’s becoming more of a burden than you can imagine. Have a listen and see what it’s going to cost you to get a simple tourist visa to visit certain South American countries like Brazil, Argentina. Chile and Bolivia, etc. You won’t like it.  
 
-My upcoming JULY, 2014 “Expat Wisdom” seminar is set to go so. The dates will be Saturday, July 12 thru Thursday, July 17. The agenda and complete signup details are on thewww.ExpatWisdom.com website main page. Just click the Latin American Seminar link on the top of the main page and check it out.
 
-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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