I first started traveling to Latin America maybe around 7 or 8 years ago…
My first trip was to Mexico…
Then Guatemala and Nicaragua…
Then South America and Mexico City after that ultimately…
Now, initially, my desire to travel to Latin America was not because I had some strong interest in the region.
I simply chose Latin America because I already was learning Spanish and also because I was able to secure funding to travel there.
Whereas getting funding to travel to other areas of the world was more competitive and less abundant…
So, in order to satisfy my desire to travel the world…
Going to Latin America at the time was basically the path of least resistance to obtaining my goal of traveling the world.
And when I started my first few trips…
To say Guatemala and Nicaragua for example…
I wasn’t very impressed.
Guatemala wasn’t bad but wasn’t amazing either. It was OK.
And Nicaragua, as you can read here, almost led me to not revisit Latin America because I had a pretty bad time.
It wasn’t until I went through South America on a trip that involved visiting most of the countries on that continent…
That I had one hell of a time.
That involved a lot of partying and exploring amazing natural scenery.
And getting a broad introduction to the variety of cultures in the region.
Plus, on top of that, meeting different foreigners, young ones such as myself, who managed to make it in Latin America by earning money online.
And through those interactions, I got exposed to the possibility of carrying the dream forward…
Of course, pursuing that dream does not come so easily as there are certain things you have to overcome…
Some Initial Challenges to Living in Latin America
If you decide to live abroad in Latin America…
Keep in mind that you will end up coming across a variety of challenges, small and large, against your desire to live abroad.
Which will bring us to evaluating the reasons to live abroad afterwards..
But some of the initial challenges that I can recall as of right now..
Just to cover a few…
First, everyone among your family and friends will think you have gone crazy.
As most people consider Latin America too dangerous to visit…
Let alone live in.
So some of the verbal pressure and judgment from those you know back home might come along eventually…
Second, visa issues.
Not every country is very friendly to foreigners living there.
For example, in my experience, I had to apply for a visa outside of Brazil to be allowed in.
And from what I remember, countries like Brazil or Colombia will only let you in about 6 months per calendar year.
Whereas, other countries, like Mexico, allow you inside for 6 months without applying for a visa ahead of time and you can simply leave and revisit a few days later to get the next visa of 6 months.
But even in that case, it can be inconvenient to have to leave and revisit for the next visa.
And going through the residency process or even getting citizenship will obviously be time expensive and cost a tiny bit.
So it is something you will have to deal with when living down here.
Third, you might encounter maturing issues when moving down here.
What maturing issues am I talking about?
Read this article for a full description of my encounter with this issue when I moved to Mexico City.
But it basically comes down to growing up and not being so lazy when moving down here.
Because it can be easy to tell yourself to not work on a particular day of the week…
And spend that day chasing pussy and getting drunk on liquor…
And one day of that becomes a full week of doing it..
Which then becomes a month..
Then 6 months….
And so on and so on…
To really make it abroad, you have to mature to the point where you are not just working minimally to cover your minimal living expenses of $500 USD a month…
But then actually working hard enough to build wealth on top of that…
You can have your fun of course on the side but don’t lose focus.
Otherwise, your time down here will likely come to an end and you won’t be building much wealth of anything.
Fourth, you will have issues regarding being the foreigner down here.
Where perhaps you don’t speak the language and don’t have any friends.
Of course, this is a minor issue in my opinion as you will probably learn the language well enough with enough time down here…
Though many don’t even after a decade of being here somehow..
But you will probably make enough ground on the language and making local friends so you won’t be lonely..
Though my initial days in Latin America involved a bit of loneliness and working hard to learn the language as you can imagine.
Fifth, and by far the biggest challenge I had to living down here..
A challenge bigger than any of the other ones mentioned and any other issues not mentioned here…
Is learning how to make money and supporting yourself while down here.
Some gringos do this by being poorly paid English teachers or some other low end job that won’t go far.
Others do it by poorly paid freelancer work like I did at one point much earlier on.
While others have specific skills or contacts that keep them afloat here..
And then you also have others, like myself, who have learned to build content online for the purpose of monetizing it and making money from that.
Among so many other ways to make money..
This will likely be one of the biggest challenges and will be one that I will focus on at a later point in a separate article…
Either way, these are just a few of the initial challenges that you will come across to living in Latin America.
And, of course, I might someday write a more extensive article on the challenges one comes across to living down here…
And when considering these challenges and all the others you might face..
You might then ask..
Why the hell would I want to live down here and overcome those challenges?
What is in it for me?!
Let’s briefly cover some of the common reasons for why I see gringos pursuing long term living down here before getting to my personal rationale behind it…
Common Reasons Gringos Live in Latin America
Among the gringos I have seen that live down here…
Some of the reasons for why they choose to live here include..
First, sex and love.
The type of gringo that just can’t keep it in his pants and needs to spread his love around the planet.
Apparently there are not enough women in the US for him to make love to…
I get it, I get it..
These aspiring conquistadors have simply run through all the American women and now need to move on south of the border to continue their conquests.
Though in all seriousness, these usual folks are either looking to have sex with as many women as possible…
Or find a wife.
No judgment here but this is by far one of the most popular reasons I have seen for living in Latin America.
Second, you have the folks who got assigned to live down here by some corporate job or they are a journalist.
These folks might have a lot of travel experience down here or will only be here for a very short time period.
Either way, that is why they are here.
Third, they want to save the world!
These folks are usually working with local or international NGOs to try and solve some major issue in Latin America.
Main difference I have noticed between the last two crowds is that I have noticed the people in the last crowd tend to have much deeper experience here.
Though I may not always agree with their politics..
I do tend to appreciate that they tend to go well off the typical tourist trail to see how life is in Latin America beyond the nicer areas.
Fourth, they are tired of big government and taxes!
Think Expat Files as you can see here.
These folks tend to be very concerned about big government overreach and taxation up in the US and want to leave it all behind.
This crowd is usually then in Latin America for political reasons in my opinion.
And in my experience, it’s much more common to find folks who are more politically conservative than liberal when they are leaving the US for political reasons.
Which, in my opinion, is sometimes ironic when these same folks sometimes pick countries with more socialist or left-wing governments.
Some of them from what I have seen truly believe that these types of far left politics don’t exist down here!
Either way, this is one of the motivations for why some leave the US.
Fifth, they want to enjoy the benefits of a lower cost of living (which also might include no taxation).
Some of these folks are retired and trying to stretch their retirement dollars as far as they can as it might not be much in the US.
Others simply don’t want to work very hard and prefer a cost of living that allows not having to put in too many hours of work to cover the bills.
You can call those folks lazy all you want but it is how it is.
While, of course, there are many other reasons for why some folks would live down here as we have only covered the surface..
Which this will probably be its own article someday in the future…
And, admittedly, the last reason is really the main reason for why I have continued living in Latin America.
So that is where I go now into my own motivations…
My Own Motivations to Live in Latin America
Of course, my own motivations don’t include just one reason..
There are a variety of things I do like about Latin America..
Such as the following:
- Enjoying the amazing outdoor scenery
- Not having to deal with the excessive winters up north
- Getting to travel to new areas of Latin America and always be introduced to some new place that is exciting
- Visiting historical areas that are interesting to me down here
- Being able to more easily forget about the intense identity politics of the US and the constant polarization of everything in American society
- Not having a healthcare system that charges an insane amount of money for simple medical services
- Spending time with all of the friends I have made down here. It could be said I probably now have more friends down here than I do in the US given the time I have down here so far.
- Spending enough time down here has somewhat made me accustomed to life down here and readjusting to life in the US would be a minor disincentive to move back up, I suppose.
- No taxes.
- Of course, the women down here do tend to be enjoyable as well. Can’t leave that one out can I? 😉
And those are just a handful of some of the benefits to living down in Latin America…
But, if we are being honest for a second, they are not really why I live down here.
Because many of those benefits I could enjoy up in the US also.
Granted, not all of them but many.
For example, the US has plenty of places without a bad winter and with amazing history, culture and outdoor scenery.
Also, readjusting to life back in the US would be maybe inconvenient but not terrible.
Plus, there’s plenty of women in the US who are just as down for some casual fun and they come with plenty of diversity,
So plenty of different types of women to enjoy up there also.
And I can always reconnect with old friends up there…
And can more or less avoid the overly politicized folks who tend to get angry over every little political thing..
Though I do think that would be harder to do up there than down here..
Either way, while all of those are legitimate benefits to living down in Latin America…
The main motivational factor for why I continue to live down here all basically comes down to the fifth reason for why some gringos live in Latin America.
And that is..
The low cost of living and the benefits it brings to my life.
My Biggest Reason to Live in Latin America
Is the low cost of living and the benefits to my life that I enjoy because of that.
As of right now, my cost of living in Mexico City is about $700 USD a month.
That includes my small little place in a normal neighborhood of Mexico City that isn’t touristy but isn’t very dangerous…
Well, not dangerous by my standards but I’m sure some gringos who have never stepped outside of Cancun whould shit themselves at visiting it.
And also a few days a week of eating out and plenty of healthy and high quality meals to cook at home that are ideal for my diet.
With plenty of liquor..
Endless amounts of black tea (it runs in the family….)
Some fun money to go out with friends..
Or for dates that come by every so often…
Utilities as well…
Local transportation costs…
And every so often a trip outside of Mexico City taking a bus to some nearby location to enjoy.
Granted, I could spend more down here if I really wanted to.
But I tend to lean towards a little bit of minimalism and I like it that way.
Now because of that small budget…
I can enjoy some of the following benefits that comes with it…
Benefit 1: Living in Big Cities at a Fraction of the Cost
To live in a city of similar entertainment in the US would end up costing me so much than how it is in Mexico City, Buenos Aires, Santiago, Santo Domingo, etc…
Personally, I find much more enjoyment living in a big city with all the entertainment that it provides..
And the low cost of living in a place like Mexico City makes it easier to do so without the stress that some people face with having to pay higher rents to do so.
And that ties into…
Benefit 2: The Exchange Rate
Of course, the low cost of living can’t be explained without going into the exchange rate.
Where, as of recently, the US dollar has been killing Latin currencies in Mexico, Colombia, Argentina, etc..
And so because of that, it is even slightly easier now than before to live a fun life down here without having to spend much money.
Compared to a place like the European Union where the US dollar is not as strong…
Benefit 3: No Taxes
As one of the benefits of living in Latin America in my experience…
Is that it has been easy to avoid paying higher taxes in the US.
Not only do I not have to pay US state taxes since I don’t live in my state anymore.
But also there are certain tax benefits you can enjoy while living outside the US.
Making it where your tax obligation is either 0 or not very much in some years of living down here.
Now granted, your taxes could be higher if you choose to get residency in a Latin country that has higher taxes like Colombia or Argentina.
But the solution to that is simple – don’t get residency!
Either way, tax benefits are nice too for living down here and adds to the low cost of living.
Benefit 4: Higher Monthly Savings Rate
Usually I earn, as of this writing, about $1,800 to $2,200 USD a month depending on how well the month is going.
Not amazing money by any means..
Definitely not a millionaire.
But that allows me to save over $1,000 USD at the very least per month into my bank account.
And, mixed with the low cost of living, allows me a degree of financial security where I never feel stressed about the bills.
And can build up wealth at a pace I am happy with.
When, as you can read here, so many Americans couldn’t even get $400 USD if they had to in an emergency.
But yet my low cost of living lifestyle mixed in with my monthly earnings allows me much greater financial security and wellbeing.
All while enjoying a pretty nice life where I can live abroad, occasionally visit a new country whenever I want to move somewhere different, live in a big city, etc..
With all the entertainment that provides.
Benefit 5: Self-Employed & Multiple Streams of Income
Given the low cost of living….
Be it $500, $700, $1,000, $1,500 USD or whatever it may be…
It makes it a hell of a lot easier to be self-employed.
Especially if you prefer living in a big city with all the entertainment that it provides.
Now, granted, I could be self-employed now with the money I am making in the US.
But that wasn’t always the case.
Back when I first started living down here, there was no way I could be with the little bit of money I was making.
And most foreigners don’t make the money I am making now in such little time.
Some do but many don’t.
I simply worked very hard to get it done.
And maybe got lucky along the way a little bit here or there.
But even then…
If I wanted to live in the US, I wouldn’t be as financially comfortable as I am down here as the money I make isn’t that much in the US.
But goes far enough down here.
And so overall, living abroad can be a good start to being self-employed with no boss, no colleagues and no commute.
As you don’t need to earn as much to get it done.
And when you do get established and can make decent money online..
You start to diversify by building different online income streams.
Which allows even more freedom in life as you are less exposed to a recession than if you were employed in a traditional job with only one income stream.
Just ask all of those folks who lost their jobs due to the Coronavirus recession that we have had recently as of this writing.
Who all had their incomes tied to this one job and now that job is gone..
And they are dependent on the US government to give them unemployment money.
In my case, the recession hasn’t really impacted me that much.
My savings rate is still high…
I got a random $1,200 USD check from the government, I guess.
With my income streams still alive and diversified to where I am not likely to lose all my monthly income realistically speaking…
And I can make it while working from home anyway so I never really lost my job.
To me, that is freedom.
Benefit 6: Other Benefits of Being Self-Employed Abroad
Then there are other benefits that come with being self-employed...
That I am the owner of what I do.
Where, in a traditional job, if I get fired, then that's it.
Despite giving a contribution of my own labor to that company for so many years, I don't own anything.
But being self-employed, I do.
Plus no boss, collegues or commute...
I can work at the exact time that I want to.
If I feel sick, no need to ask for a day off or be at the mercy of someone else to get time off.
And I can more easily work during the night, which is what I prefer.
Plus, I don't have to work too many hours anyway given the low cost of living.
While also having the freedom to live anywhere in the world while making money since my income doesn't require that I live anywhere specific.
And furthermore, given that a lot of my income comes from so called "passive income," I am often paid for my results than the exact amount of hours I put into my work.
Making it easier to scale up my income in the long term assuming I do things right.
Of course, I can be self-employed and enjoy many of these benefits while in the US...
But then my cost of living would be much higher while having to pay more in taxes with a lower savings rate...
And I would be giving up all the other things I like about living in Latin America...
And, to be personal for a second, I concluded early on in life many years ago that this was the right path for me.
Especially during the 2008 recession.....
To be personal for a second…
And perhaps this explains why I feel so strongly about this lifestyle…
In that I remember being a bit younger during the 2008 recession…
Now my dad worked in the car industry and he lost his job during those days as some of you may remember that the automotive industry got heavily fucked over.
He came over…
And it was one of the only times in my life I saw him shed a tear.
And where I could see the worry on his face.
A concern that I could not understand at the time as I was not in charge of providing for a family.
But, growing up, the labor experiences my dad experienced made me very skeptical of the usual 9-5 path so many men take.
In part because of the stress he went through working at the business he did...
And also because of the lack of loyalty that companies have for their workers...
As shown by the example above…
That my dad sacrificed so many years at this business only to lose his job to a company he had been loyal to for such a long time.
That, in a moment’s notice, he can lose his entire income stream and have to go through the stress of trying to make it work out.
Despite having worked and given value to a company for so many years and also not even having any ownership of that company or his own contribution to it.
Whereas with the type of work I do, I do have ownership of what makes me money.
Now so many Americans are losing their jobs due to Covid-19...
And guess what?
Though many men, like him, do and did make it work out as he got another job quickly enough that paid the bills…
And as you can see here, suicides increase during recessions.
Now why is that?
Perhaps for a variety of reasons but one of them being financial stress.
Where you as the man cannot find another well paying job and the wife leaves after the financial stress that causes…
Your manhood is in question, I suppose..
You lose the house and she takes half while you lose significant access to your kid.
And due to forces outside of your control that made you lose your job.
Even if you were good at your job and did nothing wrong!
Now while fortunately my dad was able to get through it and not deal with the extra consequences above that some men do face from losing their job in a recession...
The question still stands...
So why put so much sacrifice to a company that doesn’t give a shit about you and can toss you to the street just like that?
Regardless of all the years you put into that company...
Being your own boss.
Where you have more control over your income.
Especially if it is diversified and comes from different sources…
And where you can build something in life and take ownership of it.
Something that won’t as easily be taken away from you…
Which can give you a sense of pride and honor.
And a legacy as well.
Without depending on no other man to give you your paycheck.
At his mercy to not fuck you over and put your financial security and your family at risk.
Among other issues I take with working a 9-5 job for someone else….
And going back to my reasons to living abroad…
So much of this is easier to do in Latin America when cost of living is low…
Your savings rate can be so much higher…
And you can be self-employed with those benefits while enjoying the lifestyle of living abroad and in international cities like Mexico City.
And so in summary....
The main reason, above all the minor reasons, for why I live in Latin America is that it is easier to live the self-employed life while also enjoying different financial benefits from the low cost of living at the same time.
And so what does the future hold for me in Latin America?
Wrapping it Up: My Future in Latin America
As wrote about in this article here…
There are only two places I see myself living in down here realistically speaking after a bit more travel....
Panama City or somewhere in Chile.
And personally, I will probably go the Chile route eventually for a variety of reasons.
And since we are talking about reasons for why I live in Latin America…
Some of those reasons being is that I personally have a strong interest in Chile outside of just the low cost of living.
The nature and the outdoor scenery is stunning to me.
Not to mention I have a much stronger interest in Chilean (and Argentine) history than the history of really any other Latin American country.
Even if you were to look at my Twitter here..
You’d probably notice that a good deal of the photos of Latin America that I share are of Chile and Argentina.
And so while I enjoy the low cost of living in Mexico and all the benefits it brings…
I’d like something more.
A place that I feel a stronger interest in due to its history and the landscape.
With all its amazing outdoor scenery that I can enjoy.
Which brings me so much pleasure to hike and enjoy outdoor scenery.
And Chile is one of the best countries I have seen for that in Latin America.
While still enjoying, of course, that low cost of living and its benefits as I wrote about before.
So in the long run, that is probably where I will end up.
Because while low cost of living and the benefits of that can keep a man down here for a long time..
I personally feel a lot of the folks who don’t have any other reason to be here tend to leave eventually for a variety of reasons.
Not all of them but many do for their own reasons.
And while I would end up staying down here just for the benefits of the low cost of living…
As I said, I want something more in life – a place that I can feel I can truly call home.
And only really Chile or Argentina out of the countries in Latin America can do that for me in my opinion.
Along, of course, with the other benefits of living in a country like Chile as I could go on about in another article at a later point (and probably will)…
Either way, I hope you enjoyed this article.
If you have your own reasons for why you live down here, let us know in the comment section below!
Or send me an email here or reach out to my Twitter here.
Thanks for reading!