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

January 27, 2012  

- When Latin America businesses accept US dollars and how tourists routinely get stung during dollar exchanges in places like Costa Rica

-Calculations and statistics on the probability that you’ll be assaulted or robbed -while living down here or while visiting as a clueless tourist (we all are clueless at first)

- Getting around in Latin America; tips on how to get a handle on the safe-vs-the dangerous parts of Latin American cities and towns.

-Things you should know about medium and high-end real estate projects; more reasons why the typical Latin lack of detail spells good news for Expats

-Don’t forget you can email me anytime

January 23, 2012  

-What are the calculated odds that an Expat starting a business in Latin America will succeed or fail?

-The advantages of doing business in the altiplano region- those hundred of towns and cities that have “eternal spring-like weather”

-The odd story of why middle and upper class Latins use propane fuel when they really don’t have to deal with it at all. It’s more than a tradition, in fact it could be a very good thing for First World folks to take note of.

-Hot running water, or not? Even some of the wealthy folks don’t have it and they have their reasons

-A bit about the Latin American power grid infrastructure; how in 10 short years it went from being a Third World joke to a pretty decent copy of the distribution system we have in the states

-“If it ain’t broke don’t fix it” is the prevailing Latin business attitude- precisely why most Expat businesses can’t help but succeed. And by the way, Latin businesses are plenty broken, but not by their standards

-Don’t forget you can email me anytime

January 20, 2012  
-More emails and questions about how I ended up in LA
-How Costa Rica got on the radar as a hot destination, and why it deserves to be shoved off the list

-There’s a steady flow illegal Nicaraguans sneaking into Costa Rica- do to the menial jobs that Costa Ricans feel they are too proud to do (sound familiar?)
-How immigration laws work (and don’t work) for both Latins and 1st Worlders. Crossing boarders within the 20 Latin American countries - and the strange case of Mexico
-The LA version of big brother, excessive bureaucracy, and out of control tax policies
-More on the special altiplano regions- those particular cities and towns in LA over 3000 feet in elevation where you get ideal eternal spring-like weather all year round
-More on the LA countries I would personally never want to live in (and some I wouldn’t even want to visit if you paid me!)
January 16, 2012  

-Johnny announces his upcoming very special Latin American Insider’s seminar

-Catching up on emails

-For many reasons, its not generally recommended that 1st Worlders settle in LA tourist towns, but there are certain types of tourist towns that are very good bets for Gringos hoping to start businesses.

-Another novice Gringo error; when starry-eyed Expat newcomers open businesses that butt heads with other established 1st Worlder’s in similar businesses

-DIY solar hot water heater units; another slam-dunk business idea for expats

-The Latin turtle laws and the ongoing turtle fiasco

-How about a LA college education at a high-end private university? You can get one at about 25% of the cost of a mediocre US community college or state university, but….

-The “Gringo Advantage” as it applies to Europeans

January 13, 2012  
-Why do so many Latin American politicians get shot or killed in the days leading up to an election, and who is responsible?

-The do’s and don’ts of bidding on, and winning, Latin American government contracts

-More of what you don’t know about what really happens inside Latin American


-“CAR WARS” (starring Expat Eddie): Eddie illustrates some new reasons why its never a good idea to own a nice new car down here

-Putting your money in a Latin American bank (or not), and if so how much?

-The Citibank saga in Latin America and how they stumbled into a “Gringo Advantage” (on steroids)
January 9, 2012  
-Some notes on LA attorneys; did you know that they are actually admired and not in the least bit distained or hated down here? They’re much more laid back, like small town US lawyers were in the 1950’s and 60’s- NOT the high pressure shysters we’re so used to. But watch out for lawyers in highly promoted tourist areas like Costa Rica and Panama, they’re the slimey 1st World style exceptions to the rule.
-Why 90% of the time, an LA lawyers will advise you NOT to sue! (what a breath of fresh air!)
-Notes on my 1st trip to Coast Rica in the early 1980’s, before the boom, and why it reminds me so much of my other favorite “off the radar” LA countries today. How when down in CR, I had a ridiculously simple and obvious business idea that would have been an instant success- but instead of pursuing it I did what 99% of Gringo tourists do about their fleeting ideas, NOTHING! And when I came back 5 yrs later, a few local guys began doing it (badly) and making money!
-My Mayan calendar predictions for 2012 (they differ a bit from the local shaman’s)
January 6, 2012  

-Language essentials; how much Spanish do you really need to know to have the confidence (and understanding) to open up a small business in LA? Here’s my own story of my early days stumbling around in Costa Rica and Columbia; and how I managed to start more than a few successful businesses with only about two dozen simple Spanish words and phrases under my belt.

-Even the most retarded Latin government bureaucrats realize that advanced 1st World countries manage all business, technology and the sciences in ENGLISH. Based on that fact, most LA school curriculums now make sure every Latin kid in both public and private school is taught English in both grade school and high school. Sounds good, right? So why do 95% the kids who graduate have practically no functional English at all? (except in high volume tourist areas where knowing English means tips in US dollars!) Here are the facts on why that system fails so miserably (and will continue to do so), and why that failure includes students all the way through the PUBLIC university level (And I’m not trying to be a 1st World snob here).

-Your (and my) bad Spanish and how Latins deal gently with us

-Ten more reasons why you’ll be infinitely better off down here in LA when the next big worldwide economic and social disaster(s) hit- and the clock is ticking

January 2, 2012  

- An update on how a few astute Expats, 1st World has-beens , and Latin locals are giving very successful business and self-help seminars down in LA. Though most seminars are dated and quite useless, they're still very popular with the LA business crowd due to the gullibility of Latin attendees who'll buy just about anything if it’s perceived to be fashionable in the USA (or presented by some self-proclamed 1st World business guru).

-The lowdown on the “lag time” it takes for all 1st World trends and innovations to filter down to LA and why that predictable phenomena is such good news for Expats and wanabees with an eye to start a business.

-Due to a severe lack of disposable income, middle and lower class Latins rarely throw anything away. Instead, they find new uses for their broken down old stuff, and it sure piles up!

-There’s a dearth of wild animals in (and near) LA cities over 50k population. Mostly because there’s a sad tradition of young middle and lower class boys and teenagers killing everything that moves with their Huck Finn precision slingshots. It’s a sad rite of passage handed a down from father to son and one big reason why toucans, parrots, monkeys, snakes and sloths etc., are very hard to find in the cities and burbs (except in the outback).

-Restaurant stories; Examples of how even high-end very successful LA restaurants are lacking in basic details and customer service. Less than mediocre competition and obvious low standards are yet another solid reason why Expats in the restaurant and hospitality business do so well in LA (despite the well known poor odds for those enterprises in general)