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Moving To South America


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I lived in Bogota for a little over a year. Very safe these days (compared to other S American capitals), perfect climate (for me, like English summer) and people will bite your hand off to have an English English teacher. None of them want American accents. And the women. Oh my good god. They love British blokes! And they're absolutely gorgeous.

Colombia as a whole is changing so rapidly - I feel so lucky to have been there when I was (up until two years ago) and see what is regularly voted the world's happiest nation really start to find its feet.

Wonderful, wonderful place - get there before it's flooded with yanks!

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My wife is Colombian. Went there last April and off again for 3 weeks in December.

Beautiful country, friendly people, cheap, amazing women, I recommend it. One of the few countries that has mountains, lakes, beaches, jungle and a Pacific and Caribbean coastline. Hot in the valleys and cool in the mountains with not much rain. Security has increased enourmously over the last 5 years, still have to be careful and use common sense like most countries but Bogota, Pereira and Cartagena are fine for tourists.

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Planning a trip to South America next year with a view to moving there. Anyone have any experience of the various countries?

Been to Argentina, Chile and Brazil. Buenos Aires is pretty European, and most things are (were in 2005 anyway) cheaper in Argentina than in Chile, although both are quite a bit cheaper than the UK.

Loved both and the people are sooo friendly and welcoming, they love the fact that you have come to visit their country. I felt Argentina had a bit more character than Chile.

Brasil was also beautiful, but unfortunately as I can speak very little Portugese (and even less Brazilian!) it was harder to communicate with people but again found no-one unfriendly.

My sister has been to most South American countries, and loved Colombia most I believe they speak closest to Spain Spanish too.

A friend from Venezuela was telling me that inflation is really high and the people are increasingly using bartering rather than cash.

Seeing the shanty towns in Argentina and Brasil, and young Bolivian children rifling through bin bags for something to eat after dark was not pleasant though, and if the government annoy you here the corruption over there is far worse.

Not sure if you include Mexico in your question, but it is also an amazing place, some of the beaches are STUNNING, and the people are the friendliest of any country i've ever been to. For example we stayed at a fairly basic hotel in Veracruz, where rooms were about £6 a night, paid and were unpacking in our rooms when the receptionist came and knocked on our door and said she had spoken to her manager and could let us have the rooms for £4 a night. Also we for some reason found ourselves in the garden of a man who picked oranges from his tree for us and wouldn't take any money for them. Some of the people we met had so little but they wanted to share it. They put some of the British to shame they really do.

Have an amazing time!

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I have met many Argentines and let me tell you all of them don't give a shit about the Falklands and would often joke about it - and they are very friendly too, apart from Maradona - he's a twit.

Just noticed when you write t w a t the software changes it to twit!

Edited by theworkingnomad
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Planning a trip to South America next year with a view to moving there. Anyone have any experience of the various countries?

Costa Rica

I know its central America

but its so cool they dont even have an army

wildlife is amazing

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Great stuff to go on, thanks! Am surprised about Columbia which I might have avoided before. I am going there with a view to being poor there too, so I would want to really experience life there as much as possible.

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Planning a trip to South America next year with a view to moving there. Anyone have any experience of the various countries?

If it were me I'd go back to Uruguay - particularly Montevideo. They call it the Switzerland of South America - clean, very low crime, education is good, politically calm and stable and a fab quality of life... interesting culture, swimming pools in gardens are de rigeur, beautiful beaches, wonderful inland plains and a fab climate. I was in SA for a while with work and I felt perfectly safe out alone in Montevideo in the evenings - the crime rate is very low.

By contrast I wouldn't want to live in Buenos Aires at all - far too unstable, dirty and volatile: might have been a bit of a buzz when I was travelling in my teens, but as an adult and particularly if you have kids I wouldn't consider it. Brazil has lovely pockets if you are rich - but the poverty (and therefore crime and violence) is shocking if you open your eyes to it and the police system is just scary if you ever have to deal with it. Again, I know someone further up the thread has commented on the joys of Colombia but my firm still refuses kidnap insurance on staff travelling there because it marks them out as a kidnap target... don't risk it if you have kids.

Edited by The Dragon
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There is a great little town on the border of Brasil and Bolivia called Corumba. Dodgy wee place. Lots of 'trading' going on. We went on a trip to the Pantanel from there. Middle of the wetlands. Went out and fished for caymen with big bits of chicken, fished for piranha in water up to our chests, caught huge snakes, saw river dogs and many other things. Amazing place. Well dodgy though. Just a wee camp in the middle of nowhere. Took us about 3 hours to get there. Only the second trip they had done for tourists either.

One night we all got bevvied and the big guy in charge took us out in the swamp with torches searching for caymen. Mental. Truly mental but that is what life is all about. When we were leaving we needed to get our passports stamped to get over the border. For some reason the place was shut so our new pals just drove us in the back of a pickup around the border (Where there was a rather large cement factory…) to get them stamped on the other side.

That sort of place. Immense and dodgy. Rules didn't seem to exist...

I also loved Chile. Places like Arica and Iqique on the coast are lovely. Inland there are also supposed to be amazing mountain towns/resorts. I will leave that for my next trip.

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Costa Rica

I know its central America

but its so cool they dont even have an army

wildlife is amazing

I thought Costa Rica was full of Americans. It seems to be the done thing to go to South/Central America and buy a ranch or a banana plantation. But I would love a place that has nice nature and wildlife, with maybe just enough land to grow some roses.

And I've always thought that Argentina was the best place to be for when WWIII breaks out. Look at a map. It's quite isolated and ery big, so lots of room and space. Plus, if they start making it hard to live there permanently, you could always jump over to the Falklands, which is, I believe, a colony of Britain and so more or less the same rules of residence as Blighty I should think.

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There is a great little town on the border of Brasil and Bolivia called Corumba. Dodgy wee place. Lots of 'trading' going on. We went on a trip to the Pantanel from there. Middle of the wetlands. Went out and fished for caymen with big bits of chicken, fished for piranha in water up to our chests, caught huge snakes, saw river dogs and many other things. Amazing place. Well dodgy though. Just a wee camp in the middle of nowhere. Took us about 3 hours to get there. Only the second trip they had done for tourists either.

One night we all got bevvied and the big guy in charge took us out in the swamp with torches searching for caymen. Mental. Truly mental but that is what life is all about. When we were leaving we needed to get our passports stamped to get over the border. For some reason the place was shut so our new pals just drove us in the back of a pickup around the border (Where there was a rather large cement factory…) to get them stamped on the other side.

That sort of place. Immense and dodgy. Rules didn't seem to exist...

I also loved Chile. Places like Arica and Iqique on the coast are lovely. Inland there are also supposed to be amazing mountain towns/resorts. I will leave that for my next trip.

That's another thing which is so refreshing, they don't have ridiculous amounts of rules and signs and CCTV and health and safety annoyingness. Have done some hikes where I thought if this was in the UK there would be fences and warning signs everywhere, but I had to make my own decision and live with the consequences - wish it was more like that here.

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Try hard to look beyond the postcard images - the reality can be uncomfortable.

Just a few weeks ago a Mexican friend received news that her dad had been shot by gangsters - he was on the way to the bank with his company's takings.

Spent some time in a nice suburb of Lima. Virtually every street was shut off with a security guard patrolling. The houses all had loads of barbed wire. We're not talking of millionaire row here - in the house where I stayed, the family father worked as a telecoms engineer.

Basically, what I'm saying is that a gringo will stick out like a sore thumb and be a target for every scumbag in town :) and that includes most of the police and politicians as well.

That said, I agree with the comments about the people: get away from the tourist traps, and they are amazingly happy, generous folk.

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Nicaragua is a very peaceful friendly place these days. But terrible infrastructure and dangerous roads - probably too much corruption to be able to live there

El Salvador - not called Little Los Angeles for nothing. Best to live in the countryside there. Great people and reliable - not much corruption

Guatemala and Honduras - very dark places in terms of state violence - no redress if they don't like you.

Costa Rica - San Jose has become a place you don't go out at night in sad to say except the entertainment centres. Very gringo-ised

Panama - a disaster

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An interesting aside on currency exchange.

When the OH came over here from Colombia 3 years ago it was 4600 pesos to £, it's now 2900. She has a house and a taxi over there and we get a few hundred pounds sent over every month from rent, this could soon be alot more :blink:

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On the subject of safety. Heard a few dodgy stories when I was over there. Never got into any trouble myself though. Travelled through central America for 6 weeks on my todd. Ginger as well so stood out like a sore thumb !!

I usually bought a football top of a local team, I also learnt a bit of Spanish and especially a few rather rude words about the birds.

Had a few situations where a group of blokes hung around. The football top and the remarks about birds seemed to do the trick though. I think I managed to say in a few seconds:

"Look I am not a *****y dreadlocked traveller, I am just like you - I like football, beer and birds"

Not saying this is going to stop you getting kidnapped or mugged or anything. However it will certainly help in a few situations. If I was a mugger in Honduras I would definitely go for a *****y dreadlocked traveller ahead of a football wearing beer drinking guy talking about sluts. biggrin.gif

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Chilean lake district is good - Villarica volcano. 4wd from San Pedro de Atacama (Chile) to Uyuni a classic (firmly on the backpacker circuit - but so what right?) Galapogos awsome but can be pricey to get to. Loved Colombia like many others here have. Venezuela... not my cup of tea (found the people more mardy & the place more dangerous than colombia).

Iguazu falls - worth a trip out there. (Isla) Santa Catarina in Brasil - lovely place.

As a colombian pal of mine says - south america is great to visit, but living there is a different thing entirely. (Still, i've been thinking about it myself recently...)

Bueno suerte!

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Just a few weeks ago a Mexican friend received news that her dad had been shot by gangsters - he was on the way to the bank with his company's takings.

No disrespect to your friend, but from what I have seen of the narcos they generally don't interfer with everyday people. If you get involved with them you are risking your life, but that is true of any country. Your general thrust is correct though, South America is more lawless than the UK.. on the plus side though more freedom, lower taxes, high standard of living, friendly people, amazing women and great social side to the culture.

To anyone thinking of going to Mexico, there are some rough areas in most cities (just like in the UK).. the only one I would particularly recommend you stay away from is Tijuana (100% bad news).

Not to be taken lightly though, you will need to learn Spanish (that will take you a year to be fluent, 2 to be business level). You would also be well advised to apply for a job before you go there.. preferably with an international company to start with so they can arrange your visa and entry details. Most hightech business is in Mexico city or Monterrey.. otherwise consider real estate (selling condo's to Americans), teaching English, tourism.. perhaps not ideal careers but they are probably the best chance of getting a foot in the door.

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what about Agua Caliente

My wife and I spent the best year of our lives living in an apartment in Oaxaca, Mexico. Travelled around the whole country too. Great place, friendly people, lovely food. As soon as folk realise you're not an American, you're quids in... I've never been invited to so many people's houses or fiestas in my life. Spent six months teaching myself Spanish before we left the UK (my missus is fluent) and it was the best investment I ever made - it's a beautiful language and it opens so many doors for you as a traveller.

Safety wise we didn't have a single problem in 12 months of living in fairly low-rent places and staying in grotty hotels and cabanas, although I wouldn't fancy spending more than a few days in Mexico City at any one time... :ph34r:

Edited by Mugwump Boy
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I thought Tijauna was allright. Was in 2000 mind. Staying in San Diego we spent every Saturday night down there. Good times. No donkey shows though. Not for want of asking...

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