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Where is the best place to live in South/Central America?

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Jun 13th, 2011, 11:46 AM
  #1
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Where is the best place to live in South/Central America?

My boyfriend and I are planning on moving to South or Central America in about 6 months, but we don't know where the best place to move is.

Our first task when we get there will be to learn Spanish, so we want a place that has good language schools that give back to the community and their teachers. We also want a place that has a good international culture and young people that we can meet and explore with. We are both recent college grads and want to be able to make friends and have a good time. However, we don't want a place that is super touristy.

We also want something pretty cheap as we are planning on not working for the first couple months. After that we would like to be able to find a job and possible volunteer opportunities as well.

I would prefer something on the beach, but that is not a necessity as long as it is beautiful.

If anyone has any suggestions it would be greatly appreciated! Or if anyone knows of any good websites that have information about good Spanish Schools that would be awesome also!

Thanks for your help!
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Jun 13th, 2011, 01:43 PM
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Ecuador best awesome ecodiverse and cheap

Good locals places

Guanguitagua.com

Www.hosteriamandala.info

bolivar2.com

Saexplorers.org/clubhouses/quito

Rooms $100/mo

Careful many scammers middlemen on the boards

Volunteering scammers charge big up front fees

Never wire money always pay with CC

Pay no more than $100/wk for homestays school volunteering etc

Was there last fall in the know locals saved me a tonne on my 2k road trip

Happy Hunting,

Best places for climate weather

CA too much rain except for winter
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Jun 13th, 2011, 01:48 PM
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Insuremytrip.com wise travel.state.gov for entry safety

Guanguiltagua.com missed link above

Santa Barbara Air MIA UIO cheapest flights down for me usually

$150 each way last fall

Magic Bean Hostal in the Mariscal district Quito best safest hostal
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Jun 13th, 2011, 01:58 PM
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I was in Antigua, Guatemala for only about 3 weeks. I found the most helpful and insightful language teachers. The accommodations were very reasonable and it was easy and cheap to travel around the country.
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Jun 13th, 2011, 05:30 PM
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Define "moving to." Just picking up and moving to another country isn't as easy as it seems. You need proper documentation for a long-term stay. You certainly need proper documentation to work. It's no more legal to go to another country to do those things than it is for a foreigner to come to the U.S. to do them.

Going to another country to study Spanish and do volunteer work is one thing. That's reasonably easy to do, although you're still going to have limits on the length of time you can stay. Finding a paying job isn't going to be very easy. I wouldn't count on that part.
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Jun 13th, 2011, 06:58 PM
  #6
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Thanks for your help and all the websites! Does anyone know where to find information on good homestays?

We aren't leaving for another 6 or 7 months, but before we make solid plans we want to know where we are going. Thanks for the concern, but we aren't doing this because it is an "easy" trip and we understand that we have plenty of planning to do before we leave! If you have any suggestions of places to find information about legal issues in South American countries that would be greatly appreciated!

If anyone has any other helpful information regarding Visas in any of the countries that would be great!

Thanks!
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Jun 13th, 2011, 07:43 PM
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Moon Books (www.moon.com) has a "Living Abroad" series that might help you.

They are usually pretty good about letting you browse their books online, should give you the various links to the national immigration services of each country.
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Jun 14th, 2011, 03:29 AM
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We spent 5 months South America in 2008 with the idea of making a permanent move there. Of the places on your list we only visited Peru which is where took our Spanish lessons. We joined South American Explorers Club www.saexplorers.org which I can highly recommend as it is a great place to meet others in your position. Whilst at their clubhouse in Cusco, we had a chat with a Dutch guy who has set up Fairplay, a language school out in San Sebastian (one the suburbs of Cusco) whose teachers are all unmarried mothers (apparently not good news in Peruvian society!) who have been trained up in teaching Spanish pretty much using the immersion method.

The deal was that we paid a proportion of the cost direct to the school and the bulk of the cost direct to our teachers so we were reasonably sure no one was getting ripped off. It was also possible to help out in schools and orpanages as part of the deal and they would also arrnge cheap accomodation with local families (even more opps to develop your language skills!).

Volunteering is not always what it seems as many organisations are set up purely with the intention of making money for the organisers and benefit the local community very little. Personally, I would be very wary of any organisation that charged for the priveledge. We did some work for several weeks with

If you are serious about volunteering you also need to consider exactly what skills you have to offer any organisation and whether these will ahve any impact, good or bad on the local community. As an example, I have seen many example of well meaning foreigners helping to build schools etc. without a thought that they may well be taking a job away from a local worker.

Whilst in Peru we did some work with http://www.livingheartperu.org/ which is based in Ollantaytambo in the sacred Valley. Not your ideal beach location but may be worth making contact.
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Jun 14th, 2011, 09:42 AM
  #9
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Wow thank you so much!
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Jun 14th, 2011, 02:59 PM
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Most of the information you're going to find out there is about how to retire in Latin America, since that's what the majority of Americans who move to the region do. That's perfectly legal to do, and doesn't have anything to do with one's age. You have to demonstrate that you have a minimum source of income from your home country, for example, monthly income from a pension. The terms of that status don't allow you to work.

Information about working and earning money is scarce because jobs down in this part of the world are scarce. Just as in the United States, these countries want to keep jobs for their own citizens. Realistically, you either need to find a U.S.-based employer with foreign operations who will sponsor you and make you legal ... or a local employer who will do the same. In either case, they'll have to demonstrate that you can do a job that local people cannot do. That's nearly universal.

That's not to say that Americans don't work in Latin America. They do, but many of them work illegally and deportation is a constant worry. Here in Costa Rica, the police go through periodic sweeps of places likely to employ foreigners, such as bars and restaurants in beach towns or language schools that teach English. No work permit, and you're outta here.

I know you say you have a lot of time to prepare, but I think you're looking for something that will be more difficult than you anticipate. You can make the language study and volunteering happen -- that part will be easy -- but getting a job where you can earn money to support yourself is going to be tough.
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Jun 19th, 2011, 07:05 PM
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I lived in Tela, Honduras. Living 5 minutes from the ocean was really a treat. Tela has progressed since the last 15 years so you might really like it. In terms of safety, I recommend that you be smart. No traveling alone in unfamiliar territory is a no no in these countries. Basically people are nice and cooperative. If you've never lived outside of the U.S. it is a good idea to check out the territory first (make a small visit) for a week or two just to get the feel of the place before making a decision. These countries have water problems. Where you might be taking a bath and bam! the water is gone. So funny. Or you might be cooking on your electric range stove and again bam! the light goes. So ya' gotta love the place to tolerate stuff like that. But overall, I love Honduras.
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Jul 4th, 2011, 08:58 PM
  #12
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If you are interested in Peru, this source helped us a lot on our several trips there : http://www.livinginperu.com/
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Jun 6th, 2012, 07:34 AM
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My fiancee and I are getting ready to move to Central America as well. In fact I started a blog on the subject the day I realized I was done with the mortgages and mayhem of the First World.

So far, the majority of what I’ve learned about the expat lifestyle in Latin America has come from a series of Podcasts by John Mueller of http://expatwisdom.com. In 20 years, John has managed to avoid establishing residency in Latin America. Instead, he takes advantage of the fact that your passport, all by itself, gets you 90 days. That being the case, he simply makes sure to cross a boarder three times a year, effectively resetting his passport.

I think this is a brilliant idea for several reasons, but primarily because we have no interest in finding ourselves tied down again anytime soon. We’ve had enough of that up here in the States. That being said, we won’t be looking for a gated expat community down there. If we were normal retirement age I suppose that might be the goal. But at 47 and 48, we’re much more interested in the real Latin America, imperfect as it may be.

Tela, Honduras looks like a candidate. So does Livingston, Guatemala. Both are small beach towns recommended by Mr. Mueller. Neither is going to have anything resembling first-world infrastructure, so we won’t accidentally find ourselves living in the States down there. And because we’d be in the relatively small group of countries comprising Central America, crossing a border from time to time should be reasonably convenient.

If we do this right, we may not even have to own a car.

I'm curious if you ever managed to get down there. If you're still seriously interested in doing volunteer work down there, I personally know of a great little grassroots charity that is planning a mission to El Salvador soon. You can contact them at somethingworthdoing.com

My own process for saying goodbye to the first world and landing in Latin America is at http://johnbrighton.wordpress.com

Good luck!

John Brighton
Expat-In-Training
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Jun 7th, 2012, 01:55 AM
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Interesting blog John. I look forward to reading more as we are considering a similar move.
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Jun 7th, 2012, 02:31 PM
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Bolivia is a unique country with stunning landscapes from soaring Andean mountains to lush jungles. Sucre, where we live (in the Andes) has great language schools that are reasonably priced. The city is very safe with lots of cafes, bars and restaurants and not too over-run with tourists. Some of the language schools offer homestays if you really want to immerse in the language or we can point you in the right direction if none of them suit you. There are a lot of volunteer opportunities and we can put you in touch with community projects. We offer volunteer opportunities too for work in our hotel that locals cannot do. Happy to help with more info if you need it.
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Jun 7th, 2012, 02:37 PM
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a little ps about living permanently in Bolivia. You can try out for 90 days but that is your max each year. Turn it into 180 by starting your 90 days beg Oct, leave at the end of Dec then re-enter for another 90 days beg Jan. You can apply for 1 year residency cost is about $400 each, then another 2 years, same price, followed by permanent residency for a minimum of 5 years. Main requirements are a regular income from your country, or $10,000 US in a bank account to show you are solvent and a project ie setting up a business that will employ Bolivians, language study, long term volunteering or a job in Bolivia.
Best of luck with whatever you decide.
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Jun 7th, 2012, 05:41 PM
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Some things you may not have considered, John. It's not quite as simple as you're making it out to be.

1) Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, and Nicaragua form a four-nation immigration union called the CA-4. Time in one country counts toward time in all of them. You can't spend 90 days in Honduras and then cross the border to Guatemala. You've used up your time there too. You'd have to go to Belize, Mexico, Costa Rica, Panama, U.S., ...

2) After awhile the "perpetual tourist" routine starts to look suspicious. The constant coming and going will cause an immigration official to ask you at some point, "What are you doing?" The thing is, nobody will tell you how many times you can come and go before you arouse suspicion. It's guaranteed that you'll get the question at some point, though.

3) You still can't work if this is your status. Have an outside source of funds to live on.
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Jun 8th, 2012, 04:03 AM
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Hello,
Ecuadoris the best place to live in south america.Ecuador's population is ethnically mixed.
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Jun 8th, 2012, 02:50 PM
  #19
 
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Thanks Jeff, I didn't know about the CA-4. Will definitely have to factor that in. I'm not sure what to do about #2 on your list. Got any creative answers for me? luckily I do have an outside source of funds. I'm quitting my job as an advertising creative director and going freelance, with a little help from the World Wide Web.

I don't know why I don't like the idea of a 1 year residency. John Mueller has a thing about "Big Brother." That's not my hangup. I think it's just an overall aversion to anything that tries to tie me down again, once I finally snap the leash.

In the meantime, thanks for the insight.

Expat-In-Training
http://johnbrighton.wordpress.com
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Jun 8th, 2012, 03:19 PM
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By the way, thanks Creliston for your interest in the blog. It's pretty new and I wasn't sure anyone was even reading it besides my fiancee. I'd just started to think of it as my own weird little diary.

Bolivia sound great, but it's four-seasons isn't it, Sky?

What else can you tell me about Ecuador Pinki? Hadn't really considered it.

Expat-In-Training
http://johnbrighton.wordpress.com
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