All you need to know about Iberian America

The Beginner’s Guide to Moving to Latin America

Published July 3, 2020 in Guides - 2 Comments

What’s up,

My name is Matt and I from the midwest of the US.

And I have spent about 5 years of my life in Latin America as of July 3, 2020 with 3 years in Mexico and 2 years running around the region traveling. 

Now with the years going by and with me getting older…

I have been giving more serious thought about where I want to end up in Latin America down the road.

So the purpose of this article is to do just that -- break down, so far, 50 factors below very briefly that I think either have importance to me or others in deciding where to settle down in Latin America.

And I say briefly because this article is already near 20,000 words long and expanding on each factor in great detail here would simply make it at least 50,000 words if not more.

But in the future I do plan on expanding on many of the factors below in seperate articles and you will likely find links to those articles here in the future.

In the meantime, it should also be said that I am not an expert on every factor brought up in this article obviously. 

While on some factors I do have more experience in...

On many of them, I am just a normal guy who did a lot of research to begin the process of breaking down important things to consider for myself and others for deciding on where to relocate to in Latin America.

At the end of the day, this article is meant to give “food for thought” so to speak.

A “beginners guide” in the sense that it helps get the ball rolling for everyone interested in moving to Latin America.

Not some bullshit “buy my $97 USD e-course on finding happiness abroad”

All the information here is free. No agenda to scam you. No bullshit. 

And in the process, I hope it helps others out there too that are serious about this topic.

Havana, Cuba -- a city in Latin America of amazing history

Now if you have any of your own factors that are not included in this list that you think are important…

Just tell me by email, Twitteror a comment in this article. My contact info is in the Contact section here.

And I might include it here in this article in later revisions if I think it would help someone else.

Finally, remember again that the size of this article is about 20,000 words.

In order to navigate the article, you can obviously read the entire thing from the first factor to the last to get as much information as possible about which factors to consider for moving abroad.

Or you can check out the menu I provided below where you can simply click on whatever factor out of the 50 that best fits your needs.

Because in the same way only a handful of those factors are important to me in deciding where to live...

Probably only a handful of them are applicable to what you want in a country to move to in Latin America. 

So just click on whatever factors that are most interesting to you in the menu provided below. 

Also, if you want to know more about my own considerations for which countries I am most interested in moving to long term for my own personal interests...

Just skip to the section near the bottom of the menu below titled “Where in the Hell is Matt?”

Anyway, let’s stop bullshitting around and get to all the factors I have considered to be important for thinking about which Latin country would be ideal to relocate to.

Enjoy reading this monster of an article (or is it an e-book given the length?).

Table of Contents

Factor 1: Food

Ceviche -- a type of food popular in Peru

Here let’s consider a small factor that really isn’t that important.

The food.

Now this is obviously very subjective since everyone has different interests in different types of food.

However, from what I have seen, most people agree that the tastiest Latin foods are usually:

  • Mexican
  • Argentine
  • Peruvian
  • Brazilian

Honestly, I’d say as well El Salvador has some good food options as well and also Cuban food.

While, on the other hand, in my personal experience, some of the Latin countries with the worst food include places like Colombia or Bolivia.

Don’t even get me started on Bolivian food *vomits*

Again, opinions will vary here quite a bit by person either way.

Also, I wouldn’t move to another Latin country just for the food.

Especially as you can find most popular Latin styles of food in most big cities from Santiago to Buenos Aires to Mexico City.

Either way, based on my own personal tastes, Mexico and Argentina has the best food.

That’s just my opinion anyway.

Factor 2: History

Another part of living in a new country that is not where you were born is getting to enjoy the history of the place.

By learning about it and also visiting historical areas.

For example, a goal of mine is to eventually visit the areas of the Jesuit Missions in South America.

In say Paraguay, Misiones, etc.

Another aspect of Latin history that I really enjoy is reading about the armed revolutionary groups that formed after the Cuban Revolution.

Groups like the FLN (Las Fuerzas de Liberación Nacional) that formed in 1969 in Mexico. 

So assuming you have no knowledge of Latin American history…

I included some books below (non-affiliate links) of general Latin American history to get you started.

Maybe you will find a topic that is interesting to you.

I also included below some links to books that I have read that I like quite a bit here.

Enjoy!

Factor 3: Music

Street Performer in Puerto Rico

Another minor factor to give consideration to is the music of the country you would relocate to.

Based on your personal tastes, you will find some countries have better music in their culture than others.

For me, I never liked some of the music you hear in the streets in Mexico.

That isn’t to say there are not any good bands from Mexico but it never really grew on me too much from what I have heard here.

However, I am a bigger fan of bossa nova music from Brazil and also the rock music that comes out of Argentina and Chile.

Of course, this is a very minor factor to consider but I suppose one you can think about when considering the culture of different Latin countries.

Factor 4: Size of the Country

Something to consider also is the size of the country you are thinking about.

Recently, I was once talking with a guy over Telegram about different Latin countries to relocate to and he said something along the lines about how weird it would be to live in such a small country like Costa Rica.

In a way, I agree with him.

However, the reason why I find it not ideal to live in a small country is mostly because I strongly prefer living in a city of at least 200,000 people or more in Latin America.

The thing is that cities in Latin America tend to feel smaller than they actually are.

So a 200,000 person city down here isn’t going to feel too big but it’s big enough.

For me, the bigger the better.

So when you look at small countries like Costa Rica, you have to ask yourself…

“Where in Costa Rica would I live?”

And I prefer a country that has options – ideally at least 3 cities of over 200,000 people to choose from.

In the case of Costa Rica, there only seems to be one city that has over 200,000 people – San Jose.

As you can check out more here.

In the case of Uruguay, there also seems to only be on city of that size or bigger – Montevideo.

In the case of Mexico, it seems they have 74 different cities over 200,000, according to this source here.

Argentina seems to have 20…

Colombia seems to have 33…

Chile has around 7 from what I see…

And so on and so on…

Factor 5: Climate

Dominican Republic

This is obviously another important factor to consider – what type of climate do you prefer?

I know plenty of dudes who haven’t lived in Latin America but think my life in Mexico involves sitting at the beach all day drinking cocktails.

Well, the cocktail part is right but not so much the beach…

Since I live in Mexico City.

But I have lived on the coast in other countries like Colombia when I was spending time in Barranquilla.

And even though there were plenty of beaches nearby…

It sucked to live in a climate that was so hot all the time.

You couldn’t be outside for more than 5 minutes without sweating your balls off.

So while you, my fellow reader, might have this fantasy of living on the beach in Latin America with cocktails…

Just know fantasy is not always nice as reality.

But also know this – not all of Latin America is some tropical paradise of hot beaches.

The climate in this region varies greatly obviously since it’s a huge region.

So many people describe Latin America as one giant place that is the same everywhere – usually despite never having been down here.

So what type of climate works best for you?

Somewhere very hot without a beach?

Maybe try Paraguay.

Somewhere hot with a beach?

The Caribbean Coast of Colombia could work well for that!

Somewhere that gets snow?

Try some areas around southern Argentina or Chile.

Like the Chilean city of Punta Arenas for example.

Or how about a place that is described as being “spring year around?”

Medellin, Colombia.

Etc, etc…

You get the idea.

I’m not an expert anyway on the climate in every specific area of Latin America but I prefer a place that isn’t too hot and maybe has some snow occasionally that isn’t too strong.

Some place that reminds me of home.

Though I could be fine without snow either – another good climate for me would be something like what Medellin in Colombia has.

Either way, you will have to do your own research obviously on what areas have the best climate for you.

Here’s a map below anyway that I got from wikipedia here that looks into the climate across South America.

Factor 6: Natural Disasters

Want to live the exciting life of adventure?

Where you can be walking outside in one of Latin America’s largest cities….

And then have entire buildings collapse all around you and you have to dance around the falling concrete so it doesn’t hit you?

While trying to maintain your balance during a crazy earthquake?

Come to Mexico City!

Just joking.

Kinda….

Well, I’ve never had concrete falling from the sky almost hitting me after 3 years of living here…

But earthquakes do happen quite a bit and one of Mexico City’s biggest earthquakes in a while happened on my birthday on September 19th a few years ago.

Unfortunately, it is a part of life in this city.

But no place is perfect.

Where I am from originally, tornados and river flooding is the main issue.

Do you like hurricanes?

How about try Cuba, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, the Caribbean Coast of Colombia, etc…

How about forest fires?

Well, the Chilean city of Valparaiso might have a word about that…

Of course, no place is perfect…

But I remember reading online at one point about how Paraguay supposedly doesn’t have too many natural disasters.

So I had to look it up – apparently they do have flooding issues.

Well, you pick your battles.

I personally don’t mind earthquakes so much.

But would hate any place that had tornados, forest fires or hurricanes.

Probably why I won’t ever settle down in areas like Puerto Rico or the DR.

Especially as hurricanes are predicted to get much worse in the future.

And you remember what happened to Puerto Rico during this major hurricane a few years ago?

Yeah, that’s a no from me.

Factor 7: Touristic Areas

Do you want to live near ancient pre-Columbian ruins?

Or have the Amazon Rainforest nearby that you can take occasional easy trips to visit?

How about having the amazing Andean mountains nearby that you can hike anytime you like?

Or have other natural wonders close to where you live..

Or perhaps you want to enjoy nice wine tasting at some nearby vineyards?

Well, as said before, every part of Latin America is different and you will have to do your own research about what each country has to offer.

But this should be a factor to consider – what does the country have to offer that you can enjoy every once in a while?

For me, I love hiking.

So a place like Chile or Argentina would be ideal in that sense.

Take Santiago, Chile where you can check out some of their hiking opportunities nearby here.

For me, that would be amazing to enjoy often.

And it’s not just local touristic areas you should consider for picking a country to live in.

But when you do pick a country, you will also have to pick a city to live in as well.

So make sure whatever specific city you pick also has enough local entertainment to keep you busy.

May it be enough nice bars for you to visit or maybe you prefer a park where you can relax.

Whatever it may be!

Factor 8: Already Got Any Local Friends & Family?

This is an obvious point to consider for just a few of you here…

Which is do you even have any local friends or family in any of the countries in Latin America?

Obviously, being nearby people you already know would make the transition process a bit easier to moving to Latin America.

I remember my first few trips to Latin America where I never knew anybody in any of the initial countries I visited.

There were times where I was lonely for sure.

Though that loneliness resolves itself anyway the longer you live in a particular country where you can make friends.

But do consider if you already know some people down here.

For me, I already have a few friends in a few select areas of Latin America..

From Mexico City to Barranquilla (Colombia) to Cochabamba (Bolivia) to Buenos Aires…

Factor 9: Getting Along with the Locals…

Arequipa, Peru

A bit similar to the factor above but slightly different in its own way…

But do ask yourself – how well do you fit in with the locals?

Do you often find them to be very friendly or a bit cold and indifferent?

Or even hostile?

Of course, I feel this strongly depends on the specific community in question and not necessarily the country.

For example, I found people in Cochabamba, Bolivia to be very friendly.

Potosi, Bolivia?

Not so much.

In Buenos Aires, I found a lot of the locals to be very cold and indifferent relative to latinos from other areas of Latin America.

But the Argentines you meet in say Misiones or Corrientes were much more open and friendly to me.

In Barranquilla, I found most of the people to be quite friendly but there were a lot more people always trying to scam me.

Just seemed to be a common issue.

But then in Bogota for example, that was less of an issue.

So, in many ways similar to other factors on this list, do consider the specific community in question that you want to relocate to.

Because even in these countries like Argentina or Colombia, you will find noticeable differences between various cities.

In the same way you would in the US from NYC to Wallace, Idaho.

Factor 10: Fit in Racially

Guatemala

This factor is also similar to the last one but really deserves its own mention.

In my time living in Buenos Aires, I got to meet other Americans living there as well from all backgrounds.

One thing I noticed among the Americans I did meet was that specifically Black Americans seemed to have a more negative perception of Buenos Aires than non-black expats.

Of course, everyone has a different experience and I’m sure some black Americans do like Buenos Aires.

But issues regarding racism were a bit common from what I picked up.

Similarly, I met another traveler in my days running around Latin America who was a black American from Chicago.

Who happened to be spending some months in Peru and explained to me experiences with racism among Peruvians against black people like himself.

In my own experience being a white American, I generally find most Latinos down here tend to treat you indifferently or might even treat you more favorably based on my status as a white foreigner.

However, I have met some people who would treat me the opposite – often with a bit of xenophobia as well.

In my personal experience, living in a country where there are very few locals who look like you can overall be a negative experience to some degree.

I definitely don’t mind being in the minority where there’s at least enough local white Latinos that look like me.

But in my own personal experience, I definitely don’t like feeling like I am literally the only white guy in town.

Specifically, countries like that would include Bolivia for example.

It’s also one of the reasons (among others) for why I don’t want to live in a community that is too small in Latin America.

Because then I would stick out more easily I believe as being the unique foreigner in the town and I generally don’t like bringing attention to myself.

I enjoy anonymity.

But in my experiences traveling across Latin America, there are usually enough local white Latinos in most Latin countries where I don’t feel like a complete stranger from Mars.

So if you are white, black, Asian, etc…

I would recommend you take this into consideration.

And at least live in the community you are considering for a few months to see if you come across any issues.

You probably won’t but it is a factor to consider I believe.

Factor 11: Influence of Western Culture & Expats

While traveling around Latin America, you will notice something…

Some foreigners absolutely hate being in areas that are too “westernized” or “Americanized.”

That have a sea of expats living in the area.

Like San Miguel in Mexico.

While other expats tend to go the exact opposite and only hang around other expats in very touristy areas of Latin America.

Me personally?

I really don’t care if it has foreigners or not.

It doesn’t bother me but 99% of the people I interact with are locals to be honest.

It’s not that I avoid the other expats – I just don’t go out of my way to meet them.

And I tend to live in areas where I rarely see other expats to begin with.

Not because I’m trying to avoid them but because I go where I want to and that happens to be places with little to no expat presence.

But it is what it is – consider this factor as well as some communities are much more touristy than others.

Factor 12: Cost of Childcare

Given that I do not currently have any children, I cannot comment on the cost of childcare in any part of the world unfortunately.

Someday I might do more research on this topic on the cost of childcare in different Latin American countries.

Nonetheless, it can be an issue obviously to consider regardless childcare services down here.

For more insight on this topic, check out this article I found here on someone living in Colombia who commented a bit on childcare over here.

Factor 13: Flights Home

One of the benefits of living in a country like Paraguay or Uruguay is that both countries do not currently tax your worldwide income.

So if you make income that does not come from activities done in Paraguay or Uruguay, then you don’t have to pay taxes on that specific income from what I understand.

All sounds great, right?

Well, sure!

But there is a catch – you have to live in Paraguay or Uruguay obviously to take advantage of that.

And keep in mind that the cost of flying back to the US for example is a bit more expensive for those countries than say Panama or Nicaragua where you also don’t have to pay worldwide income tax.

As of June 28, 2020, I am looking at flights for Paraguay, Uruguay and Panama.

For Paraguay, the cheapest flight from Asuncion to Chicago is 665 USD with most flights being a little bit more than a thousand bucks.

For a flight from Montevideo, Uruguay to Chicago, the cheapest flight right now is about 1,100 USD.

While the cheapest flight from Panama City to Chicago is only 240 USD as of right now.

But there’s more…

Imagine now you are 50 years old with less energy.

Where taking a long flight is more exhausting than it is when you are in your 20s and 30s.

Because if you live abroad, you will probably take flights back home to visit family obviously every year.

The trip from Panama City to Chicago is 18 hours from what I see with about 11 hour layover in Florida after a small 3 hour flight. Then off to Chicago.

For Paraguay? A 31 hour total trip where you fly for 4 hours to Lima, Peru.

Then a 14 hour layover in Lima before a 6 hour and 40 minute flight to Houston, Texas.

With a 3 hour layover in Houston before a 3 hour flight to Chicago.

Just imagine how tiring that will be every single year.

And this isn’t to pick on Paraguay or Uruguay for that matter.

To live in a city that far south in South America, you are going to be eating bigger flight costs every year and also longer travel time and more flights to get home to see family.

Of course, this also assumes you live in the capital cities of one of these countries (Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, Paraguay, Brazil) and that you didn’t have to take a bus or flight to the capital city from another city.

Before flying home.

To show you what I mean – back when I lived in Buenos Aires, I had to leave to go back home.

First, I wasn’t even in Buenos Aires at the time. I was in Misiones, Argentina.

So I had to take a flight back to Buenos Aires again to catch my flight to the US.

The trip involved flying from Buenos Aires to Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia for a layover there.

Then a flight from Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia to Miami.

After that, Miami to Orlando for whatever reason (still doesn’t make sense).

Then Orlando to Chicago.

And finally took a train from Chicago to a small town in the Midwest where most of my family is.

And that trip kicked my ass.

Thankfully, that trip didn’t involve any flight delays or anything to make it last longer.

So just keep that in mind for where you decide to relocate to in Latin America..

It’s not the most important factor to consider but is one of many.

Factor 14: Do You Even Like Living There?

Mexico City

Over the time of living in Latin America, you come across a variety of people who live down here for different reasons.

One Dutch woman I met was running some NGO in Guatemala and that was why she was here.

Another person I met – an older man – left the US because of his concern about government overreach.

There are also dudes who live down here because they believe that the women here are so much better than the women in the US, Canada or Europe.

Many of them don’t really have any real interest in Latin America.

And some of them even dislike it down here!

So why do they stay?

The pussy.

Fact is, we all have our reasons for living down here – superficial or otherwise.

But from my 5 years being down here so far…

Most of the people (men and women) who didn’t actually like living down here eventually left.

For example, I once met an American chick living in Colombia for a tiny bit who had a bit of a Latino guy fetish in my opinion.

She ended up engaging with some Colombian dude pretty darn quickly but it never worked out.

Thus, she ended up moving back to the US because I don’t think she had much of a reason to live here outside of have sex with Latino guys.

You could say the same about the dudes coming down here for love and pussy – many of them I feel do end up going back as well.

And if you don’t even like the country you are in and are only here for superficial reasons like the folks mentioned above..

Well, I can almost guarantee it that you will wake up one day…

Hungover, stumbling into the bathroom to take a piss…

And looking to the side at the bathroom mirror and asking yourself “what the fuck am I doing in (Latin country)”

While at the same time there will probably be commotion in the background…

Horns honking outside…

Street vendors yelling “SE VENDE SE VENDE SOY UN PENDEJO SE VENDE SE VENDE CHOCOLATE”

Hell, maybe even one of your neighbors is having a heated argument with his wife about being caught fucking someone outside the marriage.

Which, by the way, all this commotion might be the reason why you woke up earlier than you wanted.

Whatever the case may be!

If you don’t have a real interest in the country you are living in, I would guess you won’t last here forever.

You might – I’m sure some do.

But I’ve seen more leave than stay when they didn’t have a real desire to live here or an interest in the country they were in.

So just make sure the country you choose is a place you’d actually see yourself setting up a real life in for a long time.

Factor 15: Corruption

What a typical bribe to a Mexican cop looks like

Every country on the planet basically has some type of corruption.

Question is, how much corruption do you want to deal with?

Typically speaking, I have noticed corruption does tend to be worse in Latin countries that are poorer than the richer ones.

But that’s not always the case.

Mexico for example is one of the wealthier countries down here and has a fair share of its own corruption.

And also this would all just be my own experience.

So check out this reliable source here called the Corruption Perceptions Index that looks at which countries in Latin America are the least to most corrupted.

And corruption here can take its form in a variety of ways.

Such as when I was once accused by a cop in Mexico City for doing a crime that I did not do and I had to pay the guy about 400 pesos (20 bucks) to let me go.

There’s also this expat forum here for people living in Colombia and it goes over the issues of bribes in Colombia as an example of corruption. 

Either way, it is something to think about as some countries down here have it worse than others.

The corruption not only is with the politicians…

But also the police and the judicial system as well.

Factor 16: Home Prices

What a typical house for the middle class looks like in Latin America. Market value for this is usually about $10,00 USD

Home prices can be a major factor in influencing where you might decide to end up someday.

For example, there’s this expat in Paraguay who calls himself “Paraguay Mike.”

He has plenty of good content on Youtube.

And according to his website you can find here

Apparently one of the motivations to move to Paraguay for him was the cheaper housing he found down there.

And truth be told, the housing situation in Paraguay definitely is ideal compared to some other Latin countries.

Like Argentina or Chile where you can usually expect housing to be a bit more expensive.

And in the case of Argentina, from what I understand, you have to pay in USD for a home!

At least according to this article here....

And of course you have other Latin countries where housing is a bit cheaper like Mexico for example from what I have seen.

According to this article here, apparently housing in Peru has gotten quite expensive over the years.

But keep in mind also that when we are talking about housing in any Latin country..

That while some countries will be cheaper than others.

Where you could get a decent house for say 50,000 USD.

There will be quite a bit of variety in pricing obviously depending on what part of the country you are talking about.

So just don’t forget that nuance – Mexico City is obviously more expensive for purchasing property than say Pachuca, Mexico.

Asuncion is more expensive than Luque from what I was told.

And probably housing is cheaper in a random Guatemalan village than Guatemala City.

But that’s just my suspicion.

Factor 17: The Language Factor

Throughout my years so far living down in Latin America, I have mostly spent it in the Spanish speaking countries.

So not much time in Brazil.

Therefore, I don’t really speak Portuguese very well. It’s very basic.

But my Spanish is much better obviously!

And honestly, I really don’t feel like going through the effort again of living in a country where I don’t speak the language very well.

I do have some interest in improving my Portuguese but it’s a relatively minor interest for the most part.

So for me, Brazil is not likely a country I would ever relocate to long term.

How about you?

Are you better at Spanish or Portuguese?

And let’s say you were better at Spanish and didn’t want to learn Portuguese…

Also keep in mind that the Spanish of the locals is a bit harder to understand in some specific parts of Latin America compared to other parts.

This might be true for Portuguese in Brazil since it is a very big country but I’m not sure.

But regarding Spanish, you will probably find that people in the DR, Puerto Rico and the Caribbean Coast of Colombia have a type of Spanish that might be harder for you to understand.

Though keep in mind it is all subjective.

I remember being told that the Spanish in Argentina is very hard to understand but I found it very easy actually.

Either way, this issue regarding language ability is something minor to consider.

Above all, you will hopefully be quite strong in either Spanish or Portuguese over your time living down here.

Though, oddly enough, some foreigners never do for some reason. Might be because they stick to their bubble of expats.

Don’t be like that.

Factor 18: Predictions for Future Stability 

When me & the boys get carried away during a riot in Latin America

Around the 1980s, Venezuela was one of the richest countries in Latin America.

Not anymore.

Back in the 1980s and early 1990s, Colombia was experiencing very heavy violence in its efforts against the Medellin Cartel and other crime groups.

Now Colombia has become relatively more peaceful.

Around 1970, Chile was experiencing intense societal and economic issues under Salvador Allende. By 1973, Chile entered into a dictatorship under Pinochet.

But now in 2020, Chile is one of the more prosperous and democratic countries in Latin America.

And keep in mind all of this is within a lifetime.

Things can change rapidly in any country.

So when picking a country to live in, you should also be mindful of its relative stability and where you think the country might be headed into the future.

Especially if you plan on raising kids in that country or owning a house.

Of course, nobody can predict the future perfectly…

But you should be mindful of the economic and political issues facing the country and how they might play out into the future.

Some of those issues we will briefly mention below in other factors to consider.

One of them being resource dependency.

Does your potential country have a dependency on the income generated from a certain industry?

Like Venezuela did with petroleum?

If so, your country is likely to have serious problems in the future if the price of that decreases and government deficits increase.

Which can cause a whole bunch of issues down the road like what we saw in Venezuela…

So just keep that in mind that you should be mindful of how stable your chosen country might be in the future.

Factor 19: Worldwide Income Tax?

El Salvador -- where they have no worldwide income tax

As briefly mentioned before…

Some Latin countries have more favorable tax systems than other Latin countries.

Of course, you have different taxes to consider from income tax to property tax to taxes on businesses, etc.

But in this section, we will look at if they tax your worldwide income.

Now keep in mind that if a country has a worldwide income tax, then it taxes all your income.

Not just the income you earned in that specific country.

Well, obviously we don’t want to be taxed on our worldwide income, do we?

So what Latin countries do not have the worldwide income tax?

From the research I have done as of June 28, 2020….

The countries that do not tax your worldwide income are Bolivia, Uruguay, Paraguay, Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Guatemala, El Salvador and Belize.

Factor 20: Passport Strength

If you eventually relocate and get citizenship, then you can get a new passport from whatever Latin country you settle down in.

And of course the strength of that passport is important if you want a second one to have.

So which Latin countries have the strongest to weakest passports?

Well, I’m no expert on this subject so I am referring to this source here on that matter from strongest to weakest passports of Latin America:

  • Brazil
  • Argentina
  • Chile
  • Uruguay
  • Mexico
  • Costa Rica
  • Peru
  • Panama
  • Ecuador
  • Venezuela
  • Paraguay
  • Nicaragua
  • Colombia
  • Cuba
  • El Salvador
  • Honduras
  • Bolivia
  • Guatemala
  • Dominican Republic

Factor 21: Trustworthiness of Local Banks

One of the issues you might encounter while living in Latin America is if you can trust the bank that you are dealing with down here.

Sometimes it might be the case that you are setting yourself up to get robbed if the bank you pick is unreliable.

Such as the case in Mexico sometime ago when a bunch of American expats found their money in their local bank accounts was stolen.

As you can read more about here.

You can also read about a similar issue regarding bank security in Colombia as reported here.

So if you want to keep your money safe, just make sure to do your research about which bank to associate yourself with.

Here’s a list anyway of some of the biggest banks in Latin America. Hopefully it helps.

Factor 22: How Democratic is Your New Country?

As said before, political stability is something you need to keep an eye on regarding which country you pick to live in Latin America.

And one way to look into that is to consider which countries in Latin America have better functioning democracies.

Now I’m not a trained political scientist that specializes in Latin American democracies, so I’ll leave it to the experts on this one.

Here’s a source I found here called the Democracy Index that apparently ranks different countries by the quality of their democracies.

From best to worse as reported in 2019 by The Economist, the list of who has the best democracy in Latin America goes as follows:

  • Uruguay
  • Costa Rica
  • Chile
  • Colombia
  • Panama
  • Argentina
  • Brazil
  • Peru
  • Dominican Republic
  • Ecuador
  • Paraguay
  • El Salvador
  • Mexico
  • Honduras
  • Guatemala
  • Bolivia
  • Nicaragua
  • Venezuela
  • Cuba

Keep in mind that the only countries ranked as “full democracies” were Uruguay, Costa Rica and Chile.

If you are willing to settle for a “flawed democracy,” then those countries were from Colombia to Mexico.

Factor 23: Local Politics

For this factor, it will is going to depend on your personal tastes.

Some communities simply as much more politically conservative while others are more politically liberal.

Depending on what you prefer can help you decide an area to settle down in Latin America.

And I emphasize area and not country here because you will find differences in politics more by the area than country I believe.

For example, Mexico City tends to be noticeably more liberal than the rest of Mexico.

Granted, that’s no surprise – it is the capital city after all.

So just keep that in mind.

If politics is very important to you, then it’d be something to consider.

And it should because policy at the government level – including new taxes that could be implemented – will impact you.

Factor 24: Local Job Market for Your Skills

Another factor to consider is if you plan on actually working in the country that you are going to relocate to.

Perhaps you want to work for a large corporation or be a journalist.

Now I usually would recommend people either start their own business down here or earn money online as the best ways to support yourself..

But maybe you have specific skills that you think can be transferable and profitable in whatever country you pick.

Just make sure to consider this factor then if that is the case so you properly evaluate the local job market for whatever career you think you could be good at.

I remember about a year or so ago when I met a German dude who loved living in Pachuca, Mexico so much that he seemed desperate to stay there!

So he ended up sitting down at a table with myself and other individuals and was going down ideas for what he can do to make a living.

One idea he got stuck on was that he could be a mechanic!

Very quickly, a local Mexican who was sitting at the table with us shot his idea down because it likely would not very profitable at all.

So just do your research ahead of time.

Factor 25: Starting a Local Business

It can be complicated to figure out which countries are the best for starting a business in Latin America.

For example, some areas of Latin America can be more hostile to businesses for security reasons.

If, for example, you start a physical business in Mexico and end up getting extorted for money a local crime group.

That maybe threatens to kill you if you don’t pay.

As you can read more about here

But to keep this simple for now because this really is a topic that could use its own article (and it will someday)…

 I decided to make it simple by looking at one tool to at least get us started thinking about which countries are more favorable to starting a business.

And that tool is the “Ease of Doing Business Index” from the World Bank.

From best to worst, the Latin countries that are ranked here as of 2020 are the following:

  • Chile
  • Mexico
  • Puerto Rico
  • Colombia
  • Costa Rica
  • Peru
  • Panama
  • El Salvador
  • Guatemala
  • Uruguay
  • Dominican Republic
  • Brazil
  • Paraguay
  • Argentina
  • Ecuador
  • Honduras
  • Nicaragua
  • Bolivia
  • Venezuela
  • Cuba (wasn’t ranked obviously)

Factor 26: Wifi Issues?

One issue some potential expats might consider is wifi.

Especially for those who work online and need a solid internet connection to make money.

Now I have heard some expats complain about wifi at different places they have lived at while down here in Latin America.

My personal experience is that I have never really had much of an issue with wifi almost anywhere down here.

I really feel this is more of a local issue than a country issue.

Unless you are talking Venezuela or Cuba where I have heard the internet is really bad in both places.

But in my personal experience, on top of my head, I had more wifi issues only in really rural areas for the most part.

Which is a bit obvious because some of the rural areas you might find in Latin America really don’t have a solid internet access.

I’m thinking places like rural Chiapas, Mexico when I visited the Zapatista movement one time many years ago.

Or when I went to Uyuni, Bolivia where the internet wasn’t very good.

Otherwise, you might encounter some wifi issues in places with heavy rain.

Though that is not true of all places with heavy rain. Just depends on the infrastructure.

In Mexico City, heavy rain doesn’t impact my wifi and I’ve never had an issue.

But in Barranquilla, Colombia?

During the rain season back when I lived there, the heavy rain would sometimes shut things off in my apartment.

So it depends.

But again, just remember this is a local issue and not a country issue.

Do your research on the specific areas of Latin America you’d like to move to regarding if there are any wifi issues.

Factor 27: Religious Discrimination

For those of a particular faith, it might be important to know if your specific community that you want to move to would be accepting of your faith.

Or if there is heavy discrimination.

In my years living down here, I never really noticed much religious discrimination at all.

Unless you are not religious or an atheist.

Which, being personal for a second, I am.

In my personal experience being an atheist in Latin America, it basically boils down to “don’t mention it to la familia.”

What do I mean by that?

Well, here’s the deal – most younger people tend to be more accepting of religious differences.

Especially so in the bigger cities like Mexico City for example.

But even in Mexico City, you have some folks who really don’t take it well if you don’t believe in religion.

Now, from what I have seen, it’s more common for those folks to be in the older generations.

So what happens then if you end up dating a younger Latina?

Well, in every single instance where I have dated a young Latina and we actually got into a serious relationship where it wasn’t just casual…

You would end up being introduced to her family of course!

La familia.

And she, every time, would tell you to not mention that you are not a Christian to her family because they might lose their shit.

When I was a little bit younger, I went along with that.

Nowadays, I don’t care. If they accept it, tough shit.

Because there’s no point in lying about being something you are not.

And so what happened when I decided to tell one family in particular that I wasn’t a Christian?

Her brother flipped shit and basically hated my guts.

The guy was one of those religious types that will judge you for every little thing.

In fact, the guy even got more angry when he realized we were having sex and he learned she wasn’t a virgin.

Which is crazy as shit but that’s how he was.

So religious discrimination?

If you are an Atheist, quite possibly when it comes to dealing with the family of a Latina you are dating.

But, like I said, the younger generation tends to be a lot less religious from what I have seen.

And when it comes to discrimination against other religions?

I literally have no idea because I have never seen it.

There was, in one instance, a huge terrorist attack against a Jewish community in Buenos Aires a long time ago that you can read here.

But I don’t think most people in Buenos Aires hold negative views of Jewish people – at least not from what I have seen.

So take all of that how you will.

I couldn’t find any studies on religious discrimination in Latin America unfortunately so that’s my best take on it.

Factor 28: What Do Other Expats Say?

Best free stock photo I could find of an expat. I mean, he kinda looks like an expat, right??

As a very minor factor to help you decide which country to relocate to…

Why not consider the opinions of other expats who live in Latin America?

According to this great resource called Expat Insider 2019, which you can find here

They seem to have a great methodology in collecting the viewpoints of expats around the world in different countries.

To help give us a greater insight into what expats think of their respective countries by different issues.

Now this document didn’t seem to look at every Latin country there is.

So the Latin countries that they did look at that were ranked best to worst in terms of overall ranking?

  • Mexico
  • Ecuador
  • Panama
  • Colombia
  • Costa Rica
  • Chile
  • Peru
  • Argentina
  • Brazil

Again, you can read more into detail about the study and its methodology here.

Factor 29: Quality & Cost of Healthcare 

What my personal nurse in Latin America looks like. Her name is Alejandra.

In my time living in Latin America, I have heard comments from relatives and friends back in the US about the healthcare in Latin America.

“Like, do they have real hospitals there?”

Yes, they do.

That’s a silly question to ask but I have actually heard it once.

Generally speaking, healthcare will vary by where you are of course but there are good hospitals down here.

And the cost of healthcare is generally less expensive than how it is in the US from my experience.

But also keep in mind that I don’t have any major health issues as I am in shape and young so I don’t have much experience in this topic.

So according to this study here, supposedly these are the countries in Latin America with the best healthcare system from best to worst:

  • Ecuador
  • Argentina
  • Mexico
  • Colombia
  • Uruguay
  • Chile
  • Costa Rica
  • Panama
  • Peru
  • Brazil
  • Puerto Rico
  • Dominican Republic
  • Venezuela

As you may have noticed, this list only looked at some Latin countries and not all of them. 

About 89 countries in the world overall and these were the ones based in Latin America.

On top of that, the study analyzed the quality of healthcare in each country by taking into consideration the following factors:

“Statistical analysis of the overall quality of the health care system, including health care infrastructure; health care professionals (doctors, nursing staff, and other health workers) competencies; cost (USD p.a.per capita); quality medicine availability, and government readiness.”

When it comes to the affordability of the healthcare in Latin American countries…

Well, I do know it is generally cheap down here compared to the US. 

But I couldn’t find a study that compares the affordability of each Latin country to each other.

Though I did find this article that claims that these specific Latin American countries have some of the most affordable healthcare in the world. 

The order they put it in from first to last for Latin American countries is:

  • Brazil
  • Costa Rica
  • Cuba
  • Mexico
  • Panama

On an interesting note, I had a suspicion that Chile might have relatively more expensive healthcare than most other Latin American countries.

So I did some research on that. 

According to this article, the total money spent on health care per capita in Chile is about $1,914 USD.

Which is higher than some other countries they looked at like Canada, which apparently spends about $1,401 USD.

Obviously it is still cheaper than say the US that stands at about $10,209 USD.

Just something to keep in mind.

Factor 30: Air Pollution Issues

Not a Covid image. More of a "don't want to get sick from air pollution" image

Which countries have the worst air pollution in Latin America?

Well, in my experience, this is again more of a local issue than a country wide issue.

For example, Mexico City for sure feels like it has more air pollution than say Pachuca de Soto.

Though I’m not positive that is entirely accurate because I haven’t seen the data but that was my personal experience in living in both areas.

And apparently Bogota has a bit of air pollution in Colombia but I know other parts of Colombia are not so bad.

So again, this is more of a local issue that will vary by where you decide to live specifically in Latin America.

But you can find the data here on air pollution by area in Latin America from places with the worst air pollution to the least:

  • Peru
  • Chile
  • Guatemala
  • Mexico
  • Brazil
  • Colombia
  • Argentina
  • Costa Rica
  • Puerto Rico
  • Ecuador

Other areas in Latin America were apparently not included in this list and you can look at it yourself here.

Factor 31: Foreign Direct Investment 

As said before, I believe it is important to look at some of the political and economic conditions of the country you are thinking of relocating to.

Though I’m not an economist, one economic factor that I consider important is foreign direct investment (FDI).

According to the World Bank here, the countries with the most to least FDI are the following:

  • Brazil
  • Mexico
  • Colombia
  • Peru
  • Argentina
  • Chile
  • Panama
  • Dominican Republic
  • Costa Rica
  • Guatemala
  • Ecuador
  • Venezuela 
  • Honduras
  • Uruguay 
  • El Salvador 
  • Paraguay 
  • Nicaragua
  • Belize 
  • Bolivia
  • Puerto Rico
  • Cuba

Of course, FDI is just one factor to look at…

Factor 32: GDP Per Capita 

Here we will also look at GDP (PPP) per capita to better understand the average living standards of the people in each of these areas.  

Here according to the World Bank for the areas in Latin America with highest to lowest GDP per capita, which are the following:

  •  Puerto Rico
  • Panama
  • Chile
  • Argentina 
  • Uruguay 
  • Costa Rica 
  • Mexico 
  • Dominican Republic
  • Venezuela 
  • Colombia
  • Brazil 
  • Peru 
  • Paraguay 
  • Ecuador
  • El Salvador 
  • Bolivia 
  • Guatemala
  • Belize 
  • Honduras 
  • Nicaragua 
  • Cuba 

Then there are poverty rates…

Factor 33: Poverty Rates

Here we will look at the percentage of the population that is living below their national poverty line.

You can find my source here from the World Bank and then check out the list below from countries with the lowest percentage to the highest:

  • Uruguay
  • Chile
  • Peru 
  • Costa Rica
  • Panama
  • Dominican Repuiblic 
  • Paraguay 
  • Nicaragua 
  • Ecuador 
  • Colombia 
  • El Salvador 
  • Argentina 
  • Venezuela 
  • Bolivia 
  • Mexico 
  • Honduras 
  • Guatemala

For whatever reason, Brazil, Cuba, Belize and Puerto Rico did not have any data. 

Factor 34: Gini Index

Now the Gini Index is basically a tool that measures economic inequality in a society.

The reason why I think it is important to look at the Gini Index, the poverty rates and the GDP (PPP) per capita is because economic issues can lead to societal issues.

As we saw in Chile recently where there were mass protests in Santiago as you can read about here in this article.

Or if you were to read into Latin American history in general and realize that a lot of armed conflicts were started over socioeconomic issues.

To better understand how your chosen country might do when it comes to political, social and economic stability, you should take these factors into account in my opinion.

So here my source for the Gini Index and the following are the countries from the best score to the worst:

  • Uruguay
  • Argentina
  • El Salvador
  • Nicaragua
  • Bolivia
  • Guatemala
  • Dominican Republic
  • Paraguay
  • Brazil
  • Peru
  • Costa Rica
  • Mexico
  • Chile
  • Panama
  • Honduras
  • Colombia

Note: I didn’t see Venezuela, Ecuador, Cuba or Puerto Rico on this list.

Honduras -- one of the countries ranked lowest in Latin America for the Gini Index

Factor 35: Boiling Points

There are also very specific areas in Latin America that I consider to be boiling points.

What I mean by this is that these specific areas tend to have a lot of desperate people who have shown to take the rule of law into their own hand and mobilized together to do so.

This could be for economic reasons such as the Landless Workers Movement in Brazil to economic and political reasons like the EZLN in Chiapas.

Taking those two examples in consideration…

You had a heated situation in Chiapas, Mexico in the 90s when an armed group named the EZLN did an uprising and started taking control of different parts of Chiapas.

And actually ended up taking some of the land and keeping it to claim as their own territory.

With the Landless Workers Movement, you have a movement of people that stage occupations on land that they deem to be unproductive so that they can give the land to their own members.

You can read more about the EZLN here and more about the Landless Workers movement here.

But again this goes to the issue of socioeconomic inequality and how it plays out in certain pockets of Latin America where it can be intense.

Because if it is intense enough, you could end up with a situation where there is social unrest or even a group of armed people stealing your property.

One of the greatest examples we have had of this issue is in Venezuela in my opinion.

But again, there are only certain pockets of Latin America where this is a considerable issue if you plan on purchasing property somewhere.

Even now, you could purchase property in say Chiapas without the EZLN stealing it.

But given the history of socioeconomic conflict in that area and a few other parts of Latin America, I’d simply be hesitant to purchase property there.

It’s something you have to consider for very specific areas of Latin America and you should do your research obviously.

Factor 36: Resource Dependency

In the background you can hear Nicolas Maduro yelling "Get the oil faster!! We need more money!!"

Another factor that you need to consider regarding the economy of your chosen country is if it has any resource dependency.

Meaning that the country produces a certain resource and much of the money that the government spends comes from selling that resource.

One of the greatest examples is currently Venezuela where over 60% of the government revenue relied on the oil industry and 96% of Venezuela’s exports were in oil as of 2015.

Which you can read more about here. 

Bolivia is another interesting example where a considerable amount of Bolivia’s economy has benefited from the sell of hydrocarbons (natural gas).

Where, according to this resource here, the sell of hydrocarbons amounted to 8% of Bolivia’s GDP and 54% of their total export revenue in 2014.

The problem with this over reliance on the income of a single resource is this…

Imagine a political party gains control of the national government in a country.

That political party promises that it is going to help the poor with poverty reduction programs.

Sounds great!

Well, that same country also just might have an over reliance on a particular resource like petroleum.

Anyway, that political party has to keep its promise so it greatly increases government spending.

Perhaps even at a time when the global price for whatever commodity it sells is relatively high.

So it has more money to spend.

Either way, the price of that commodity eventually falls and the government starts to run considerable deficits.

Well, it would make sense to cut government spending as well, no?

Wrong.

It can’t do that because it would piss off the poor people that became dependent on it.

And that political party’s voting base largely consists of poor people who depended on that government support.

So it decides to instead just run the deficits and hope the price of that commodity goes back up soon.

A bit like what Maduro in Venezuela has been hoping for with the global price of petroleum.

Though it hasn’t happened for him yet.

Either way, economic crisis starts and a variety of issues happen.

I’m not an economist by the way but that’s my rough understanding of how some of these issues unfold.

And so when talking about the economic stability of a country and if it might become unstable in the future…

Look at if that country has any large dependency on a particular commodity.

Because it won’t look too good when the price of that commodity falls.

Because either a leftist government might insist on not cutting government spending and deficits run.

Or a more right wing government will have to play the role of the villain and put in austerity measures.

Probably at the insistence of the IMF so that they can get financial help.

And such austerity measures will piss off the local population and mass protests and social unrest will ensure.

Anyway, hope that was understandable. If a real economist comes by and wants to explain it better than I did in the comment section, please do. I’m not an economist so I’m sure that explanation can use some work.

Factor 37: Big Government Spying

Government Spying?

As said before in this article, some people are very concerned about privacy issues in the US.

With the government and corporations invading our privacy with technology.

Now I am not an expert on how this issue plays out in Latin America.

I do know that it was reported here by the New York Times that the Mexican government has invested a bit in spying on its own citizens – particularly activists.

But I couldn’t find much information anyway about which countries in Latin America engage in invasive practices on privacy.

And how invasive those practices would be relative to other Latin countries.

My suspicion is that probably richer countries like Mexico or Brazil would be better at invading privacy because they would have more money to spend on that.

Whereas poorer countries like Guatemala or Paraguay would be less efficient and with less resources to do so.

But I could be completely wrong.

The only thing I do know is that obviously Cuba would be a bad place if you care about your privacy.

But that goes without saying…

Factor 38: Social Mobility

Another factor you should consider is social mobility.

Again, one of the reasons being is that a healthier country to relocate to would have less socioeconomic issues.

The more socioeconomic issues there are, the more likely potential conflict can emerge in my opinion.

But also if you were to raise a family in this new country, you’d want your kids to have the best opportunity and your grandkids as well.

So it’s better to pick a country with stronger social mobility.

The source for this is the Global Social Mobility Index by the World Economic Forum for this and you can find the countries with the best to worst social mobility ranked below:

  • Uruguay
  • Costa Rica
  • Chile
  • Argentina
  • Ecuador
  • Mexico
  • Brazil
  • Panama
  • Colombia
  • Peru
  • El Salvador
  • Paraguay
  • Honduras
  • Guatemala

Factor 39: Education System for Your Kids

There are a few ways to look at the education systems in Latin America more broadly.

First, which countries have the best universities in Latin America?

Let’s take a look at this source here.

Below are the top 10 universities in Latin America:

  • Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile (Chile)
  • Universidade de São Paulo (Brazil)
  • Tecnológico de Monterrey (Mexico)
  • Universidad de los Andes (Colombia)
  • Universidade Estadual de Campinas (Brazil)
  • Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (Mexico)
  • Universidad de Chile (Chile)
  • Universidad de Buenos Aires (Argentina)
  • Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro (Brazil)
  • Universidad Nacional de Colombia (Colombia)

Now this list goes on for 100 different universities but I am not going to list them all.

If you want to go through that, click here.

But I will count which countries have how many of the top universities in this list of 100 universities in Latin America.

Chile: 15

Argentina: 12

Mexico: 16

Brazil: 27

Colombia: 11

Costa Rica: 3

Venezuela: 4

Puerto Rico: 1

Cuba: 2

Uruguay: 2

Peru: 3

Ecuador:  4

Clearly, Brazil, Mexico, Chile, Argentina and Colombia have the better higher education systems.

Now when it comes to world rankings of the education system of different Latin American countries, I took a look at this article that reported on this matter.

Apparently the countries in Latin America with the best education system are the following:

  • Uruguay
  • Chile
  • Mexico
  • Argentina
  • Puerto Rico
  • Dominican Republic
  • Costa Rica
  • Colombia

The other areas of Latin America were apparently not looked at in this study unfortunately.

Either way, some of this should give you a good idea of which countries have better education systems if you were to raise kids in one of them.

Factor 40: Human Development Index

Here you can find the human development index by Latin American country. The human development index basically looks at the quality of living by social and economic measures of the people living in a area.

The source used for this is the United Nations and the countries from best to worst by the human development index are:

  • Chile
  • Argentina
  • Uruguay
  • Panama
  • Costa Rica
  • Cuba
  • Mexico
  • Brazil
  • Colombia
  • Peru
  • Ecuador
  • Dominican Republic
  • Venezuela
  • Paraguay
  • Belize
  • Bolivia
  • El Salvador
  • Guatemala
  • Nicaragua
  • Honduras

Factor 41: Personal Income Tax

Another factor you will want to consider is the personal income tax that you might have to pay if you become a resident or a citizen of a new country.

Now as said before, some countries have no taxes on your worldwide income.

So this personal income tax, for a few Latin countries, would only apply to money made from a source originating within that country you live in.

But I will cover just some Latin countries that I feel are worth mentioning in the moment.

And I will later come up with an article taking a bigger look into the individual tax rates of each Latin country since that really is an article by itself.

But here’s some important details that I found out that will get us started on this topic.

For Mexico, the personal income tax rate is a progressive tax rate that starts at 1.92% and goes up to 35%. You can be taxed 30% by the way on anything more than 458,132.40 MXN, which is $19,952.35 USD at the time of this writing.

Source for that is here.

For Colombia, they have a progressive tax rate from 0% to 39%. You can be taxed 28% after you earn 58,259,000 COP, which is 15,604.41 USD at the time of this writing.

Source for that is here.

For Chile, they have a progressive tax rate from 0% to 35.50% where you can be taxed 30.40% beyond 75,787.10 USD.

The source for that is here.

For Uruguay, it should be reminded that they do not tax worldwide income. But for any income earned from Uruguayan sources, they have a tax system from 0% to 36%. You will face a 27% tax on anything above 2,492,400 UYU, which is $59,231.89 USD. But also keep in mind that you can also be taxed at 24% for anything above 747,720 UYU or 17,769.57 USD at the time of this writing.

The source for that is here.

For Panama, they will tax you 15% from 11,000 USD to 50,000 USD and 25% for anything above 50,000 USD. They also have no taxes on worldwide income so this only applies to income from a source in Panama.

The source for that is here.

For Nicaragua, they also do not have worldwide income tax so this personal income tax only applies to sources from Nicaragua. Anyway, their tax rate goes as high as 30% and that 30% tax is applied for anything beyond 500,000 NIO, which is $14,814.88 USD at the time of this writing.

The source for that is here.

For Argentina, they have a tax rate that goes from 5% to 35%. For anything beyond 528636.91 ARS or 7,543.83 USD, you will be taxed that 35%.

The source for that is here.

And finally, for Paraguay, they do not tax worldwide income. But they do have a 10% tax for any income source from Paraguay that is beyond “36 monthly minimum salaries” or roughly 13,000 USD.

The source for that is here.

These were just some of the countries that interested me the most and to help get the ball rolling on looking at income taxes down here.

Again, more info will be provided at a later point regarding this topic. If I didn’t cover a country you are interested about, just Google “personal income tax in …..”

Factor 42: Cost of Living

Making a budget for your cost of living

This is another factor that obviously would be quite important to most people.

And really is one of the more popular reasons for why people move down here.

Now it’s a bit impossible to really compare “cost of living” from country to country since each country has areas that vary quite a bit in terms of cost of living.

If you lived in Mexico for example….

You would probably have a hard time finding a one bedroom apartment for anything less than $750 USD in Polanco, Mexico City.

Maybe you could but I haven’t ever seen that and $750 USD might even be a bit on the generous end.

However, if you just move an hour and half outside of Mexico City to a place called Pachuca de Soto, then you could have a furnished house for maybe around $250 USD.

But either way, most areas down here tend to be cheap enough that I’m never worried about cost of living.

Unless you plan on living in a gated community somewhere, you will probably be fine.

But it depends on your individual circumstances.

My best advice is to do your own research and use this website here to compare the cost of living between whatever city (or cities) you are thinking of moving to and where you live now.

That website I linked to is pretty helpful overall for that purpose.

Another tip is to go to ask around – ask me or other expats who happen to live in whatever city you are thinking of going to about the cost of living.

Factor 43: Residency Program

Also, keep in mind the different residency programs that each Latin country has.

Some will have their own positives and negatives compared to others.

This is especially important if you actually plan on getting residency and not just living here as a tourist forever and ever.

Some programs have tighter restrictions on how long you can be in the country while others are more relaxed.

For example, according to this website, you can have residency in Costa Rica and only have to be in the country one day out of the year to not run into problems.

Then you have Panama, which according to this source, you only need to be there one day out of every two years to maintain residency. 

Then you have Chile where you need to spend at least 180 days per year in the country to keep your residency visa according to this source here.

There are other Latin countries who are more relaxed on requirements than that.

On top of that, what do you have to go through to get the residency to begin with?

According to this website, you need an anecdotal and a deposit of roughly $4,500 USD into a bank in Paraguay to get the process going for residency in Paraguay. 

For Panama? You need to deposit $5,000 USD into a bank in Panama and open up a company according to this website.

Also, of course, there is the time required to get the residency itself and the amount of paperwork each country requires.

Similar to other topics here, this will become a bigger article by itself at a later point due to how complicated it can get.

But it is something to think about for deciding where to relocate to.

Factor 44: Public Transportation & Infrastructure 

A metro station in Mexico City

In quite a few Latin American cities, public transportion isn’t all that important as everything is reachable by walking.

For example, if you live in Pachuca de Soto in Mexico near the center, then you can reach most things by foot.

Unless you are going to Soriana or Walmart where you can take a vehicle called a combi to take you there.

And it is cheap and pretty easy to use.

But the issue of public transportation is more important for bigger cities where it would be a pain to walk everywhere and where everything is more spread out.

For example, compare Barranquilla in Colombia to Buenos Aires in Argentina.

In Buenos Aires, the metro is good enough to take you anywhere and is easy to use.

In Barranquilla (though a smaller city), it is a pain in the butt to get anywhere because the city is more spread out and they don’t have a metro.

On top of that, the busses are not very comfortable and the taxi drivers often tried to rip me off.

So getting around Barranquilla was a pain for sure.

So this is really city specific but you want to consider it if you plan on living somewhere specific.

Can you walk around easily or no?

If not, is the public transportation good enough?

If I choose to get a car, how bad is the traffic?

For example, in Colombia, I found the people drove pretty terribly compared to other countries.

And also how is the infrastructure in the city?

Because in the case of Barranquilla, flash floods (called arroyos) were common enough in the rainy season.

Then you have other cases like Bolivia or Guatemala for example where I found the quality of the roads to be much worse.

So again it is something to think about for when moving around.

According to this resource, this appears to be some data collected on the quality of roads in most countries in the world.

So from countries with the best roads to the worst, check this out here:

  • Chile
  • Mexico
  • Nicaragua
  • Panama
  • Dominican Republic
  • El Salvador
  • Honduras
  • Uruguay
  • Argentina
  • Brazil
  • Guatemala
  • Peru
  • Colombia
  • Venezuela
  • Costa Rica
  • Paraguay

Keep in mind a few things here.

First, it didn’t include countries like Bolivia or Cuba.

Second, the source is from the World Economic Forum and see to be taking in a poll asking people about their opinions on the quality of their roads.

Not necessarily doing a actual study on the conditions of the roads in these countries.

Which makes sense because I find it doubtful that El Salvador has better roads than Uruguay for example. Some of it seemed off.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a study looking at the quality of the roads initially but will keep looking for something to update this article with down the road.

So just remember it was more of an opinion study.

Factor 45: Public Debt to GDP Ratio

To understand the healthiness of an economy, it’s also important to look at the public debt as a percentage of GDP per country.  

This is the website I use. 

The following list starts from areas with the most public debt to GDP to the least:

  • Puerto Rico
  • Belize
  • Brazil
  • El Salvador
  • Costa Rica
  • Uruguay
  • Argentina
  • Colombia
  • Honduras
  • Bolivia
  • Mexico
  • Dominican Republic
  • Nicaragua
  • Ecuador
  • Panama
  • Cuba
  • Guatemala
  • Venezuela
  • Peru
  • Chile
  • Paraguay

Factor 46: Crime Statistics

Which country is overall safer to live in?

By using the Global Peace Index, which I consider to be a reliable source that you can find by clicking this link.

We can see how different Latin American countries rank against each other in terms of which areas are more peaceful.

Again, this is only on a national scale.

Every country has its safe and dangerous areas on this list.

Just something to keep in mind so that you do your own research on which areas are safe and dangerous in whatever country you choose to relocate to.

Anyway, from the most peaceful to the most dangerous:

  • Chile
  • Costa Rica
  • Uruguay
  • Panama
  • Ecuador
  • Argentina
  • Peru
  • Dominican Republic
  • Bolivia
  • Paraguay
  • Cuba
  • El Salvador
  • Guatemala
  • Brazil
  • Nicaragua
  • Honduras
  • Mexico
  • Colombia
  • Venezuela

Factor 47: Dating Preferences

Along with cost of living, this seems to be another factor that is quite popular among those who choose to relocate to Latin America.

And funny enough, most of the people who consider this factor more heavily tend to be men.

Some women though!

But not very often.

Either way, I will say this first and foremost – if you don’t have any other reason to live in the country you are going to besides pursuing love or sex.

Then you probably won’t last long there and will end up regretting the decision.

Though there’s nothing wrong with messing around and dating different people.

Go have fun if you want!

The nightlife and the dating scene down here can definitely be a complement to your life.

But do not make this your only factor in deciding where to live.

Having said all of that, men and women in Latin America do not all look the same.

And the culture in each country – including the dating culture and the nightlife – can vary quite a bit by where you are.

So which place in Latin America that would be more appealing dating wise is going to be heavily dependent on your own personal tastes.

Factor 48: Alimony, Divorce & Child Custody Laws

Who gets to keep the cat in case of divorce?

In the same way that I admitted that I am not an economist earlier in this article…

I am also not a divorce lawyer.

But here’s the thing – I have seen a handful of people in my life get “divorce raped” and lose much of what they had to divorce.

And the reality is that divorce is quite common in the world and is increasing in most places that I have seen.

Suffice to say, there is a good possibility that whatever marriage you enter might end up going south someday.

Hopefully it does not but it might!

And if you are someone who wants to get married someday and have children…

I strongly believe that the area where you get married and live together is very important because of how different divorce laws can be more favorable or harmful to the quality of your life.

Me personally, I am not greatly interested in getting married but I’m not opposed to it.

It’s still a decision I am evaluating.

Either way, I will never get married in an area where the divorce laws could ruin me financially.

That’s just begging to get screwed over if things go south.

Of course, most divorce laws in most countries I have checked out tend to have a bias towards the woman.

So, while I’m not an expert on this topic, it seems as if finding the right country in Latin America with the most favorable divorce laws is like looking for someone to screw you over the least.

You might still get screwed but it won’t be as painful.

One helpful resource I have been using to check out divorce laws in different countries down here is this source here.

It’s been very helpful!

Only thing to mention is that it has info on a lot of countries around the world and you will have to use the search function to find what you are looking for obviously. Just type in something like family law in (latin american country).

Otherwise, another source you could go for is asking expats you find online or in person about if they know anything about the divorce and family law in that country.

Many won’t but you might find someone with inside knowledge.

Of course, getting legal insight is always better than insight from random expats.

Just in case you happen to be thinking about getting married in Latin America someday…

Do your research ahead of time to best know how to protect yourself and what areas have the most favorable laws in case things go south.

Factor 49: World War 3?

Photo of an atomic bomb explosion

Though I know it seems paranoid to some to consider the possibility of a world war or a global nuclear conflict occurring…

It isn’t.

It very well could happen in our lifetimes.

There are various conflicts around the world that could tip the scale into a larger conflict occurring where nuclear weapons are used.

Such as a possible miscalculation on the Korean Peninsula or any other issue going into the future.

Either way, there’s at least two things to mention on this point:

First, which countries would be least likely to have any strategic importance in such a conflict?

Second, which countries would be exposed to the least nuclear radiation?

In the first issue, it is nice to know you are considering to live in Latin America and not Europe, Asia, the Middle East, the Indian subcontinent, the US, Canada or Australia.

Because those are the regions or countries that I consider to be more likely to be somehow involved in such a conflict.

However, some countries in Latin America are not entirely safe but it is hard to predict which ones because nobody knows how such a conflict would get started.

But the areas I’d be more hesitant about are the following:

First, Mexico because of its economic ties to the US. I don’t consider Mexico to be the most likely to be involved in anything but it does have some strategic importance given its location and ties to the US.

Second, Cuba. Cuba has been a country with more hostility towards the US and was a place where a nuclear confrontation almost started in the Cold War.

Third, Venezuela. This country also has more hostility towards the US and could be used against the US by Russia. Read this article here describing how that is already happening in a way.

Fourth, Panama. I don’t consider Panama too much at risk here but it does have strategic importance due to the Panama Canal.

Fifth, Puerto Rico for obvious reasons given its ties to the US.

Sixth, Nicaragua could possibly be a point of contention in the future but I doubt it. They do have a government a little more hostile to the US and also they could have more strategic importance if China ever decided to finish an important canal project that they were looking into in Nicaragua. It was meant to rival the Panama Canal and you can read more about it.

Photo of Nicaragua

Seventh, Colombia is another country that I do not think would be involved but it does have more military cooperation with the US and is the only Latin American country that is a global partner of NATO as you can read about it in this article.

But what about countries that I feel have the least chance of being involved in anything?

I honestly can’t see anyone bombing Uruguay or Paraguay. They would probably be safe!

But let’s now talk about nuclear radiation…

Even if no Latin American country was involved in any major conflict.

Let’s say it was a more regional conflict between India and Pakistan that use their nuclear weapons on each other.

What would happen to the nuclear radiation?

 Well, countries closest to those involved would likely get a higher amount of nuclear radiation than those who are not as close.

So unless a country like Chile were to be involved, which I doubt…

I’d rather be somewhere in the southern hemisphere.

As this writer pointed out here, Easter Island in Chile would be a good place.

Also Antarctica as he pointed out but Antarctica might be a bit cold for most of us.

So why not then something close to Antarctica like the Patagonian region of Chile or Argentina?

Probably some places north of that would be OK also like Paraguay or Uruguay.

Either way, I’m no expert on nuclear radiation and how it would go through the planet but most of what I have read indicates that the southern hemisphere would likely be ideal.

Personally, this is a factor to more heavily consider if I ever plan on having kids and a family someday.

If not, the prospect of a world conflict isn’t as concerning but should be for most people.

Either way, something to think about.

Factor 50: Climate Change

In my opinion, climate change and how it will impact different Latin countries should be a considerable factor.

Even if you only believe that climate change is a natural phenomenon and not influenced, then it is still something you should consider.

Though if you don’t believe in it, then obviously skip this factor.

Also true if you are considerably old beyond 70 and won’t be around for more than 20 years….

But for those who are young enough and do think we will see considerable changes in the climate in our generation…

Then let’s talk about climate change in Latin America and which areas will be less than ideal to live in due to expected changes.

First and foremost, there is this study done here that looks at which Latin countries will be most prepared or resilient to handle the impact of climate change.

The countries from most prepared to least prepared are:

  • Chile
  • Uruguay
  • Costa Rica
  • Mexico
  • Colombia
  • Brazil
  • Panama
  • Argentina
  • Peru
  • Dominican Republic
  • Paraguay
  • El Salvador
  • Suriname
  • Ecuador
  • Cuba
  • Venezuela
  • Belize
  • Nicaragua
  • Guatemala
  • Honduras
  • Bolivia
  • Guyana
  • Haiti

The list here really isn’t all that surprising given that the wealthier countries tend to be closer to the top and the poorer ones to the bottom.

I’m sure if Venezuela had not collapsed economically that it would be higher on the list.

Though obviously the size of a country’s economy is not the only thing since countries like Brazil or Argentina would be higher than Costa Rica on this list then.

Make sure to read more about this study linked previously to get a better sense of how they compared the ability of each country to prepare for climate change.

Outside of this list, there are also just certain countries I’d be more concerned about personally based on my own opinion.

For example, how will climate change impact a country like Paraguay – which is already considerably hot as you can see by the map below here of average yearly temperature by country (non-academic source: wikipedia).

And why should high temperatures be an issue?

Because is it predicted that some parts of the world will have certain days throughout the year where the temperatures rise to a certain point where it can be deadly to be outside.

Such as this map below that looks at just that below (click here for more info from where I got this map).

Original source: the University of Hawaii.

Look up again at the map above that is simply a prediction of which areas in Latin America will be at most risk for this by the year 2100.

The countries showed on their map that seem predicted to have the worst time when it comes to temperature changes are the following: Brazil, Paraguay, Bolivia, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, Dominican Republic, Cuba, and all of Central America.

Also, this map above again illustrates that it is more important to consider the specific city or region you plan on relocating to than specific country.

Because not all of Brazil seems to be as equally bad here on that map.

Brazil

Peru and Mexico seem to have a few areas that would be bad.

Of course, very few of us will be alive by the year 2100.

And if anyone reading this right now would be alive, you would be almost dead anyway.

But why should you care then?

Well, first, it’s not like these specified areas will become instantly more dangerous during certain days of the year by the time 2100 hits.

It’s a process where things will continue to get worse each year from now and until then (and likely after the year 2100 also).

Also, if you are young enough and plan on having kids in Latin America, then I’d avoid picking a country that is predicted to be overly exposed to climate change.

If you don’t want to have kids down here, this will much less of an issue (though something still to consider in my opinion).

Of course, your kids would have American citizenship (or Canadian, British, etc) and could always go back there to live when they are adults.

But I’d still want to avoid any of the countries that might not be the most prepared for climate change.

And this issue regarding temperature is just one issue to consider.

Also, what about countries in the Caribbean area like the DR, Cuba or the territory of Puerto Rico?

Remember that hurricane here that wrecked Puerto Rico and made them lose a good deal of their electricity a few years ago?

Well, according to this study here, more severe hurricanes are expected to be more common as climate continues to warm up.

So I’d be hesitant to reside long term with residency in any area where that will be a bigger issue in the future.

There’s also specific cities like Buenos Aires that will likely experience some issues with sea levels rising and flooding from storm surges as you can read about now.

Buenos Aires

Which again shows how you need to eventually look at how climate change might impact your specific chosen area to relocate to and not just the country as a whole.

In the same way Miami is probably more at risk for flooding than maybe say in the mountains of Colorado.

Additionally, there’s an issue regarding how the stress from climate change will impact the ability of each country in Latin America to pay back their own debts.

For example, the credit rating agency Moody’s released this report here that evaluated just that.

Whereas the countries rated as “most susceptible” are Bolivia, Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador and Belize.

Then you have countries that are listed as “susceptible” and they are Dominican Republic, Ecuador and Paraguay.

After that, the rest of Latin America (minus the one country below) are listed as “less susceptible.”

The only country in Latin America that seems to be rated as “least susceptible” is Chile.

All of which you can check out by clicking here.

So in this instance, it would seem Chile would be less likely to have financial issues due to climate change and the countries most at risk are Bolivia, Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador, Belize, Dominican Republic, Ecuador and Paraguay.

There are other studies you can look at as well and it is important you stay updated on it since new research will come out in the future beyond the publication of this article.

Check out this study here for example if you care to (download is free).

There’s also this research article here that looks at climate change in southern South America at Brazil, Argentina, Chile and Uruguay.

It is important to remember also that climate change will impact countries in a variety of ways and this section here only really covers the surface of what you should be looking into.

I’d also be looking into issues regarding food security, water security, which countries have better health systems to handle the spread of new diseases that might arise from climate change, etc.

All of which I might elaborate more on here at a later point in another article but not until I’m less busy.

Hope that all helps in getting you a start anyway into looking at how climate change will impact Latin America.

And ultimately decide which country would be better to relocate to.

Ecuador

Again, if you are 70 years old and not planning on having children down here…

Where you would die anyway in say 20 years or less.

Then these countries above might not be terrible since you wouldn’t be leaving behind a family-based legacy in those places and would probably die before climate change got much worse.

Otherwise, I’d suggest you avoid those countries entirely for residency and/or family raising purposes.

And regarding which of the countries you should move to?

Well, that’s entirely dependent on you personally and which of those areas appeal to you most based on what you want in life.

I laid out some of the basic facts about the more important factors to consider and you can use that information (plus personal experience traveling to these places) to help you decide.

But what about me personally?

Having talked about all the factors you should consider.

Perhaps some of you might be interested in what countries I am considering long term for living down here.

Well, let’s finish the article on that topic and wrap things up since this article is long enough as it is (basically the size of a small e-book now).

Where the Hell is Matt?

Uyuni, Bolivia

Or better asked – where the hell will I end up pursuing residency?

First, a link for those who don't get the reference from the title above...

Well, I already have 5 years living down here as the time of this writing on July 3rd, 2020.

On top of that, I’m a bit young not older than 35 at the time of this writing in 2020.

So fortunately, I feel that I have a small handful of years left before I feel I'd have to make this decision. 

So going forward, some of what I feel about which countries I could see myself settling down in or not might change as my interests change.

However, let's first start by talking about countries I am and am not interested in.

I won't cover every reason for why some of these countries are not appealing to me but I will cover some of the basics (and some of the reasons have already been mentioned in the factors above).

Which Countries are Considerable?

A picture of Caracas, Venezuela

So first, countries I would not consider usually fall under one of the following issues:

  • Economic instability
  • Over exposure to climate change
  • Miscellaneous Issues 

So by this standard, which countries would I not consider?

Well, first, Brazil is an obvious one. I'm just not interested in learning Portuguese.

And other issues...

Such as issues regarding personal income taxation, the local politics of the country, issues regarding bureaucracy that I have heard about (not experienced), etc...

Among other issues....

Then we have Guatemala.

I simply don't like Guatemala very much outside of hiking some of the mountains they have.

But for long term living, I think I'd hate living in that part of Central America.

Then you have Cuba for obvious reasons as I'm American.

Then you have Venezuela for obvious reasons. Unless that country dramatically improves (which it could like Colombia has), it ain't happening.

Then you have some countries that simply have very high taxes that I see no reason to ever pay. 

When we are talking, for example, 30% taxes on annual income over, let's say, 15,000 USD, then it's a no from me.

So that takes out Colombia, Argentina, Mexico.

Though, to be fair, if I decide against getting residency for a while, I could see myself spending a lot more time in Mexico and Colombia.

Just as long as it is done in a way to avoid being taxed on my worldwide income (such as being in Colombia for less than 6 months out of each year).

Then you have certain countries not removed already that I think are going to have a very rough time dealing with climate change. 

And looking at this study that I linked to before, it ranked different countries in Latin America based on how well prepared they are.

And it gave them a ranking out of 100 (the closer to 100 you are, the better prepared you are).

So for countries that, let's say, didn't even get a score of 55 (slightly better than half), then out it goes.

Those countries would be: Argentina, Peru, Dominican Republic, Paraguay, El Salvador, Ecuador, Cuba, Venezuela, Belize, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Honduras and Bolivia.

Of course, many of these countries I'm not really interested in for long term living for other reasons outside of climate change.

With Bolivia, Peru and Ecuador, for example, I feel that I would feel like too much of a foreigner. 

Bolivia and Paraguay are also countries that are a bit too rural for my tastes compared to other Latin countries and I am much more interested in more developed and urban places.

Same could be said for Nicaragua. 

Then you have the DR, which as I said before, would be uncomfortable to live in long term given that the issue regarding hurricanes will likely get much worse in the future. 

Plus I'm more of a fan of visiting the DR than living there for years for other reasons. 

And the other countries on this list I already covered.

Now keep in mind obviously that situations can change in the future where maybe one country becomes more favorable with time and others become less favorable.

In the same way Venezuela become a much more unstable country in the last few decades while Colombia has improved notably. 

One way it could change for example is if Colombia or Mexico reformed their tax system and made it more appealing. 

Then I could see myself becoming a tax resident in either country quite possibly. 

So taking everything into consideration....

The only countries left that I can see myself living in for a long time would be:  

  • Panama
  • Chile 
  • Uruguay 
  • Costa Rica 
  • Mexico (assuming I don't become a tax resident)
  • Colombia (assuming I don't become a tax resident)

But let's now dig a little bit deeper than just narrowing down the list by countries....

And actually look into specific cities that I am interested in and also different life paths and decisions that are most attractive to me.

My Four Paths for Moving to Latin America

The choice as to where to relocate to is a difficult one currently given that I only see four paths for me and it all comes down to a life choice I have to make at a later point.

And what is that life choice?

Basically, if I want to have children at some point in my life or not.

If I do decide to have children and a family at some point, my priorities are going to be very different than if I don’t want children and a family.

The priorities I will have if I decide to ever have a family would be:

  • Cost of living
  • Safety of the country
  • Future political and economic stability of the country
  • How safe would it be against climate change and any global conflicts or pandemics
  • How good and expensive is the education and healthcare system
  • In case of a divorce, how bad is the divorce and alimony system in regards to how it treats men
  • Issues regarding taxes

Among other issues that might come into play but those are some of the ones that come to mind…

And in this case, from what I have seen, it really is apparent to me that the best countries in Latin America that I would consider settling down in if I were to have kids are Chile or Uruguay.

Santiago, Chile

Really no other country comes to consideration here if I go down this life path.

But what if I don’t want kids?

Then the following would be what I consider to be more important:

  • Issues regarding taxes
  • Cost of living
  • Proximity to the US
  • Residency programs
  • How hot are the local women
  • Preference for a large international city
  • Local entertainment options

In option number one where I have children and a family, then you can see I am obviously more concerned about the quality of life those children can have and protecting my money in terms of taxes and avoiding severe penalties in case of divorce.

However, in the second option without children, then I am much more concerned about comfort and entertainment.

Personally, I feel I’d be happier to live in a bigger city for the rest of my life like Panama City, Mexico City, Medellin, Santiago, etc.

But in the case of children, I’d prefer living in a quieter city that would be calmer and have less activity.

Less chaotic.

A sacrifice necessary to make if I go down that life path.

In the case of not having children, I don’t personally care so much about the political and economic stability of the country.

Because I’m used to living down here and I know how to take care of myself in more dangerous areas.

I’ve lived in some relatively more dangerous areas in Latin America and was fine.

I wouldn’t want to take any chances though if kids were involved obviously.

And regarding pandemics and climate change…

Well, that issue is a little bit concerning for me personally given the fact that we will likely see some of the more severe consequences of climate change...

And how that can make some places down here less appealing to live in compared to others as time goes by.

Such as the DR or Puerto Rico getting hit hard by so many more severe hurricanes. 

But also, as we have seen with Covid-19, such pandemics can also shut down borders.

So having residency somewhere before bigger travel restrictions are applied (if that happens again) would be preferable to me. 

So then what are the four paths I see myself possibly going down in terms of where I’d live specifically in Latin America?

Path 1 to Living Abroad

Punta del Este, Uruguay

As said before, if I chose to have kids, I’d settle in Chile or Uruguay.

No other country seems as qualified.

But where in these two countries would I go?

Well, I have more minimal experience in these two countries as of this writing so I’m not entirely confident yet.

For Chile, it’d be somewhere more south in Patagonia region.

One city that interests me as of right now is Puerto Montt.

Regarding Uruguay, I’m not sure I’d pick Montevideo.

Something about living in the capital city and raising children doesn’t rub me the right away.

Especially as capital cities tend to be hot spots for more political activity, protests, riots, etc.

Unfortunately for me, Uruguay doesn’t have any other cities that have more than 200,000 people outside of Montevideo.

And as I said before, I prefer a Latin city with at least 200,000 people since cities down here tend to feel smaller than cities in the US.

But I don’t feel I’d stick out as much in smaller cities in Uruguay since most people are white and I am white.

And also they seem to be relatively safer than other areas of Latin America so I guess it would be OK.

OK but boring.

So given my minimal research into Uruguay, I’d maybe pick a place like Salto.

And between Chile and Uruguay, I’d probably pick Chile in general for Path 1.

Since Chile seems to…

  • Be predicted to handle climate change better
  • Has relatively favorable alimony laws from what I have seen
  • More cities to live in
  • More outside hiking opportunities to keep me entertained
  • Cheaper airfare
  • And even though Uruguay would be better tax wise, Chile doesn’t have a terrible tax system as bad as Colombia or Argentina for example

But, like I said, if I were to go down this path, I’d have to do more research on specific cities to relocate to and my decision might change as to where specifically I’d go.

Path 2 to Living Abroad

Located in Panama

Path 2 basically involves me living the bachelor life for the rest of my life.

Unless I decide to get married, which I very likely won’t in the future if I never have kids.

Mostly because, as a personal opinion, I don’t see much reason to legally marry someone if I won’t have kids with them.

Though that doesn’t make long term relationships are out of the question and anything could change.

But as said before, my priorities in this case are much more about comfort and entertainment.

In this case, I’m basically looking for an international city that has….

  • Plenty of local entertainment
  • Low cost of living
  • Hot women
  • A good social scene where it’d be easy to make friends with people
  • Good nightlife to where I can hang out with friends
  • Proximity to the US
  • Ideally no worldwide income tax (or relatively fair taxes compared to other Latin countries)
  • A preferable residency program

In this path, and what makes it different from Path 3 below, is that I’d pursue getting into a residency program in some Latin country.

And if I were to do that, I’m going to have to face local taxes in that country.

But at the benefit of having a second home that I can always enter and possibly get a second passport eventually.

And also it’d be easier with residency (or I think necessary) if I ever wanted to invest in real estate down here.

Ideally I’d be in one of the biggest and better developed cities in Latin America.

And given some of the countries down here like Mexico or Colombia have crazy taxes in my opinion…

I’m afraid Mexico City, Medellin and Bogota are out of the question.

Though, otherwise, I would probably live in Mexico City or Medellin easily as I would heavily consider those places for residency.

So where else?

Well, from what I have seen, the only two cities really worth considering here are Santiago, Chile and Panama City.

Santiago if I’m willing to pay a little more in taxes and have longer and more inconvenient flights to the US.

And considering that, I’d probably go to Panama City.

As Panama City doesn’t have a worldwide income tax, is closer to the US….

And I don’t have to deal with learning the vosotros, which is something that the Chileans use in their Spanish.

Which might seem like a weak reason to prefer Panama City over Santiago but it’s more like the cherry on top for why Panama City would be more convenient.

I honestly don’t like the vosotros – it’s a bit ugly to the ears but it’d be tolerable if I had to move there.

Might need to take a shot of whiskey though every time I hear it…

And finally, while settling down in Panama City, I can take occasional trips to nearby cities in Latin America for fun and travel.

Like Mexico City, Medellin, etc.

Or to nice spots outside the city like the Uyuni region of Bolivia, mountain hiking in Peru, etc.

Path 3 to Living Abroad

Medellin, Colombia

In this path, it’s basically hop around from city to city and never settle anywhere…

But never get residency so that no government can screw me over on taxes.

So let’s say 6 months in Mexico City and 6 months in Medellin.

Or 6 months in Santo Domingo, DR and 6 months in Panama City.

Etc, etc…

If I was to go down this path, it would suck that I never get residency.

What, for example, if another pandemic like covid 19 happens and shuts down borders for a while?

I could go back to the US I suppose but I’d prefer sticking it around here.

And that’d be easier if I had residency in a particular country in my opinion.

But it does allow for the same amount of traveling that I do enjoy and I can stick to the cities I find most favorable to this lifestyle.

As it is a lifestyle I am already familiar with.

And I wouldn’t really have to worry about taxes in this path either.

Places on top of my head that would get most of my time would be…

  • Mexico City, Mexico
  • Santo Domingo, DR
  • Santiago de los Caballeros, DR
  • Medellin, Colombia
  • Pereira and Manizales, Colombia
  • Panama City, Panama
  • Cali, Colombia
  • Barranquilla, Colombia
  • Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
  • Santiago, Chile

Also, I’d probably consider certain cities in Venezuela possibly if that country ever stabilized in my lifetime…

It will at some point so it’s just a waiting game I suppose…

But as you can see, most of the cities I would consider (outside of the last 2) are not any more south than Colombia.

So it wouldn’t be very inconvenient to travel back to the US.

And out of those cities mentioned, my personal favorites would probably be Mexico City, Santo Domingo, Medellin, Bogota and Panama City.

So really the only difference between this path and the previous path is if I want to get residency someday.

Which, honestly, I’d only get residency in a country with no worldwide income tax unless I want to have kids.

With kids, the taxes would be worth the price as long as it is not ridiculous like in Argentina or Colombia.

Which basically means Chile or Uruguay. 

Unless San Jose in Costa Rica ever grows on me…

Path 4 to Living Abroad 

Puerto Montt, Chile 

This path is basically a hybrid idea of Path 2 and Path 3.

In this idea, it is under the assumption still that I may not choose to have children in the future.

However, the basic idea being that I enjoy life in different Latin cities for a little bit longer than planned...

Say 10 or 15 more years into the future.

Where I move around and enjoy extended visits of 6 months (or more) in places like Mexico, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Brazil and Panama specifically.

Maybe Peru as well or Venezuela if that country stabilizes in that time.

Then make an exit for Santiago, Chile or maybe the US if issues surrounding climate change get notably worse. 

Because if you look at the research, it becomes clear that certain Latin countries are going to experience considerable pressure from climate change before 2100. 

And I don't see myself hopping around Latin America forever without an official residency somewhere. 

Mostly because I may want to have children someday or perhaps buy a house.

And would prefer residency in a country established at some point to give myself a more official home that I have a legal right to be at. 

And if I'm taking into consideration major issues like climate change, then I'd rather be in Chile than Panama City for example.

Perhaps in a city like Santiago.

Or Puerto Montt or Punta Arenas. 

And there might come a point as well where I prefer to leave the bachelor lifestyle in a big city like Mexico City and go for somewhere more calm and quiet.

As I have known several foreigners change in that way who are a little bit older than I am.

And could just as easily see myself go down that route as well.

So time will tell as time goes by but those are my thoughts on the different paths I see myself taking in Latin America.

And so to wrap things up, what specific areas do I see myself settling down in Latin America?

The Most Likely Destinations for Me as of 2020

Patagonia, Argentina

Putting all of these paths together….

The most likely destinations for where I’d likely end up settling down in Latin America are…

  • Panama City, Panama
  • Santiago, Chile
  • Salto, Uruguay (or some other small city in Uruguay)
  • Puerto Montt, Chile (or some other small city in Patagonian region of Chile)
  • Hopping around with no residency among these cities: Mexico City, Panama City, Santo Domingo, Medellin, Bogota and Rio de Janeiro.

And in all honestly, out of these places, the two most likely options for me that are most appealing in the moment are either…

  • Live in Chile (Puerto Montt, Punta Arenas or Santiago as most interesting options) 
  • Get residency and a second passport in Panama while living in Panama City for 8 to 10 months out of the year and enjoying the rest of the year seeing family and traveling around Latin America to places like Mexico City, Medellin, Santo Domingo, etc.

What About You?

Ciudad del Este, Paraguay

Any specific country that has your interest for relocating to?

As said before, you should always consider more heavily specific cities instead of just the specific country as every country has numerous places where you could live and they are all different.

In the same way Texas is not Alaska.

Ideally, you also should pick at least 2 places in Latin America where you could eventually relocate but nothing more than 5 to keep your options open in my opinion.

Where you can then travel to these specific places and get real world experience first before making the move.

And any other factors you think are important that are not included in this list?

There’s probably a few that could be included at a later point that might be of specific interest to specific people.

Like if you are concerned about which places that have less water pollution.

Or places with less discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender, etc.

Or if you are concerned about how efficient life is in some of these countries…

Which is an issue you will come across living in Latin America as you will find things down here tend to be run less efficiently when compared to the US.

But it varies greatly by where you are in Latin America as, in my experience, the more developed places tend to be more efficient.

Etc, etc…

This article is long enough so I kept the factors to 50 for now but that might change in the future.

But if you have any questions on other factors to consider, also throw a comment below in the comment section and I will try to help.

If so, let me know in the comment section below ideally or send me an email!

I enjoy talking with other folks who live down here and exchanging ideas and information.

Hopefully the information here gave you some food for thought.

And I hope you have a good time enjoying life in Latin America.

Best regards,

Matt

Costa Rica

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