You are a gringo in Medellin, Colombia.
Having been living in the city since 2002, you remember the days where another gringo was a rare sight perhaps.
However, now in your days walking by Parque Lleras, you see gringos EVERYWHERE.
It’s ruining your vibe, man.
These skinny dorks in their casual attire and speaking in English, German or French loudly.
A few experimenting with their best broken Spanish and a solid “5.5” gal walking by their side.
In the distance, a few aspiring digital nomad types sitting on balconies working from their laptops and trying their best to sell their ebooks to “how to live like a king in Colombia” for 4.99 a book.
If sales go well today, they’ll cash out the month with a solid 782 USD this month in earnings. Solid bro.
To the side of you, there might be an older 70-year-old gringo male who seems to be interested in “prepagos.”
And you think to yourself: “what happened? This place has lost its charm!”
Perhaps you see yourself moving to another Colombian city.
But yet, to your surprise, the sight of the gringo expat or digital nomad isn’t uncommon there anymore either!
All thanks to those travel blogs promoting how hot the women are in Pereira or other ones discussing how great it can be for retired folks.
And, just like you, there are other expats who have spent years in other random parts of Latin America.
In Mexico City, we’ve had a flood of gringos arrive in the last few years since Covid started as you can see here.
Equally, some gringos who have been here long enough get annoyed about that also.
They might, as I wrote before in various other articles, think of their corner of Latin America as something to be protected.
They hate the sight of the gringo “invading” their space.
Perhaps because of the belief that it’ll drive up local rental prices and make the place not so cheap anymore (it will).
Maybe it’ll lower their “exotic value” to the local women?
Perhaps they think of themselves as “Christopher Columbus” blazing new trails to places gringos have supposedly never been to before and get angry when the sight of other gringos ruins that image of themselves.
Maybe they were losers back home and the sight of gringa women reminds them of that.
In other cases, said gringo truly just wants a more “authentic” experience that doesn’t feel “tainted” by the presence and influence of other foreigners (ignoring the fact that they are foreigners themselves).
Among many other reasons – some legitimate and others not so much – regarding this disdain at the sight of gringo waves coming in to their corner of Latin America.
A topic that I have beat to death plenty of times over in other articles.
Though there is one small detail to this topic that has come to my mind recently that I wish to share here.
Just an opinion of mine that I feel I haven’t shared yet.
It’s a small detail but one worth mentioning.
“They Will All Leave Soon Anyhow!”
In life, it’s common for us to sometimes “cope” with issues we have by inventing shit in our heads that either isn’t true and/or doesn’t really matter.
For the gringo who hates seeing other gringos in “his area,” one such cope is the idea he says to himself about how “they’ll all leave anyway!”
It’s this idea – which is true actually – that most gringos who come to Latin America will leave Latin America anyhow.
Most are tourists to begin with that only wish to be here for some odd time (a few weeks to a few months).
Then you got expats who only wish to be here for “however long” without an exact time in mind necessarily but they end up leaving soon anyhow.
Most expats in my experience seem to leave after 1 to 3 years for various reasons.
Perhaps it takes a crazy man to want to relocate to another country permanently like myself.
Of course, some of these expats had more “superficial” reasons to be here like only pursuing sex and love (with no interest in learning Spanish).
While some can make that work for years and maybe forever (especially if they are older on a retirement income), many do get tired of it and go home if nothing else attaches them here.
And you got some expats who even get kicked out (their visa expired).
While they could find legal ways to stick around, many choose not to and “throw in the towel.”
So it’s not a wrong idea to say that many expats do leave!
But is it a cope?
If said gringo is saying it because he hates the sight of other gringos in “his area,” then I would say it might be a cope.
The reason being is that said gringo doesn’t interact with 90% of the gringos he hates seeing.
The simple sight of them annoys him or rubs him the wrong way somehow.
But they are all interchangeable.
Even if that gringo you saw at the café yesterday is leaving today, he’ll be replaced by a new gringo showing up tomorrow.
“White Guy Mark” is replaced by “White Guy John.”
And do you truly give a fuck if said gringo is replaced by a man who looks “similar enough” to the last one but with a different name that you didn’t know anyway?
You didn’t care.
Because it’s not necessarily the specific gringo that you dislike but the simple sight of them in “your area.”
Granted, there are “types of gringos” to be fair that rub people the wrong way not because of their simple presence but due to their behavior.
The drug addict gringo, the scamming gringo, the dork gringo who falls in love with the first “Latina 5” that gives him a handjob, the “activist” gringo who wants to change local customs to be more “socially aware” and so on.
We all have “that type” of gringo that rubs us the wrong way.
But, for the gringo who simply dislikes the presence of “too many” gringos in his area (for legitimate reasons even), he simply isn’t going to change his mood just because “White Guy Mark” is replaced by “White Guy John.”
Or maybe “Black Guy Tyrone” is replaced by “Black Guy Marcus.”
Or whatever stereotypical names you can come up with for Asian expats, Latino ones from the US, etc.
Above all, for this type of gringo who hates seeing other gringos in “his area,” I see it as a cope when he says smugly “they’ll all leave anyway!!!” because they’ll be replaced anyway also on the same day that they left.
Let’s wrap this up on two more points to make concerning this topic.
“Escape to Greener Pastures”
I think I’ve said this before on my blog and so I’ll say it again only so briefly.
If you are like the gringo above – and I’m not hating you for it because I understand there are some legitimate issues to dislike this phenomenon – then here’s a suggestion: move to another part of Latin America with no gringos.
The fact is that a vast majority of gringo expats get absorbed into Mexico because of its proximity to the US and Canada.
When said gringos venture out deeper into Latin America, most venture to VERY specific pockets of Latin America.
Granted, there are reasons for why they go to those pockets and one of those reasons is because those areas do actually have value.
Still, if the simple sight of other gringos is something that rubs you the wrong way and you can’t imagine living near other gringos, then I’d suggest moving away from them.
It’s an obvious tip but it truly is that easy.
For example, I live in Mexico City.
As I said before, Mexico City has gotten a WAVE of gringo expats since Covid started for various reasons (remote work more common, escaping Covid restrictions, etc).
Having said that, I DO NOT see other gringos unless I move north of where I am to touristy areas.
Granted, some would say I live in a dangerous area and that’s kinda true.
But you don’t have to live in a dangerous area of Mexico City to avoid seeing another gringo every single day.
While gringos are now moving out to other less commonly known areas, they are doing so slowly and most do get absorbed into the typical areas of Roma, Condesa, Polanco, etc.
The issues that come with being in “gringo heavy” areas do not exist in my area nor do they exist in safer areas with no heavy gringo presence (and there’s plenty of those areas given how big the city is).
And, in a way, Latin America is a microcosm of that – most gringos get absorbed into very specific pockets but you got a vast amount of area in the region known as Latin America where heavy gringo influence isn’t a problem.
But, even if they do ruin your specific part of Latin America, the only other thing that comes to mind in terms of advice is to learn how to “find beaty” in areas of Latin America that few gringos care about.
I live in a neighborhood of Mexico City that most would call a shithole but even I find things to appreciate here.
The nicer and more curious people (given I’m the only gringo here), the “barrio girl” look that more women have, the history of the neighborhood (where, over time, you do find more fascination with local history of specific pockets of Latin America), the vibe of the community, etc.
Finally, there’s one other point that comes to mind.
“Will it Get Worse?”
In our generation, yes.
In future generations, it’s questionable.
Much of the main point of this article is based on the ASSUMPTION that the gringos you hate seeing in “your area” will be replaced the very same day that they leave by more gringos.
The “new gringos” replace them because they ALSO heard online that the place you live in is a nice place to check out and/or live in.
Because of the special circumstances surrounding Covid and how only a few places in the world accepted expats with no Covid entry requirements, Mexico City took on a lot of new expats for the time being.
As we have seen in countries like Costa Rica or the DR, those restrictions are SLOWLY being dropped one by one.
Time will tell how many other places drop the restrictions.
Therefore, I do wonder how many of these “new expats” will stay in Mexico City or go elsewhere.
In short, the number of those leaving becomes greater than those new ones coming in.
On top of that, we have remote work.
For the expats who are not old enough for retirement, how does remote work impact it all?
Well, as you can see here, the number of remote work individuals is expected to grow.
"Accelerating the remote work trend that has been going on for the past few years. This same report predicts 36.2 million workers or 22% of Americans will be working remotely by the year 2025. This is an 87% increase from pre-pandemic levels."
But, from what I know, plenty of remote work jobs come with difficulties that can make it hard to live abroad.
For one, plenty of bosses don’t want you working abroad because 1) some are boomers who hate knowing that you are enjoying life beyond work and they can’t micromanage you at work as easily if you work remotely and 2) because there are tax code complications with having formal employees living in other countries when they aren’t just “freelancers” or something informal like that.
Second, while some jobs will advertise themselves as being remote, many will make it “part remote” where you come in to the office for 2 days out of the week while the other days you can work remotely. That’ll make it impossible to live abroad and not just take vacations.
Third, plenty of folks try to get around the “tax issues” by using VPNs to hide their locations while working on their laptop. That’ll be challenged more by companies using technology to detect that.
Finally, as you can see here, having more people working “full remote” where no office space is needed does threaten tax revenue and those invented in property. You know damn well those people (government and investors) will put up a fight against that to retain their money.
As Joe Biden said here, “it’s time to return to work.”
Still, despite those challenges, I do think that, as we move out of “Covid times” to whatever degree that we do, there will be more people in the future who can work remotely full time than in the past.
Obviously not all of those people will desire to be expats but it will increase the total amount of expats that can replace “the expats of yesterday” that some expats hate seeing in their areas.
Next, we have climate change.
Regardless of what you think about it, the fact is many of our politicians worry about it and those on the top DO want you eating fake meat and not flying as much.
As you can see here, the attention is on meat these days.
In my opinion, they WILL turn to flying someday and, when that happens, I imagine the amount of expats living abroad who don’t have residency down here will decrease as it could become harder to do visa runs and other “informal” ways that expats live down here if the elites pass legislation to make flying more expensive to “protect the environment” or any other regulations to restrict movement of people by airline.
Not to mention if another scenario similar to Covid happens that also restricts travel.
Finally, I see changes to legal programs that will make it both easier and more difficult for "gringos of today" being replaced.
On one hand, as I wrote in other articles, you have most of Latin America slowly making it impossible to do visa runs and also standards for residency programs are only getting higher.
On the other hand, you have the adoption of digital nomad visas that benefit some gringos who meet the financial requirements (many don't though but remote work will make it where more will in the future).
Anyway, let’s get back to the point of the article.
In the short term, I see more gringos “replacing” the gringos you hate seeing in your area as remote work becomes more common. There will be even more of us than before that you hate.
But, in the long run (meaning 2 decades or more), I do challenge the idea that “the gringos of today” will be replaced by “the gringos of tomorrow.”
It’s all just speculation anyhow.
But, for those gringos who hate seeing other gringos in “their area,” I do think they’ll be happier in the future as I think challenges to travel and living abroad MIGHT become more common that make it difficult for those, at some point in the distant future, from traveling to your corner of Latin America.
In short, if you live here long enough over decades (with legal approval by residency and not just tourist visas), you JUST might reach a point where you feel that your corner of Latin America is “more authentic” again with the consequences of “saturated gringo influence” being less extreme in your area (exaggerated rent prices, more women finding you “exotic,” etc).
Therefore, just MAYBE the “gringos of today” are no longer replaced by “the gringos of tomorrow” but, as of for right now, they are.
Anyway, that’s all I got to say.
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Thanks for reading.