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Easiest place in central/south america to move/work

Discuss culture, living, traveling, relocating, dating or anything related to Latin America, Mexico, or Central America.

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Easiest place in central/south america to move/work

Postby curious_catholic_man » Sat Aug 20, 2011 7:47 pm

Im looking for a nation in latin america where I could come as an american, marry a local, and raise a large family there living a comftorable middle class existence. I don't want some vacation spot where U.S. frat guys go on spring break looking to hook up with local girls, I would like a secluded catholic culture that is very conservative. I'm willing to go to the country. My only problem is that I am 22 years old with only 5k in the bank and I need a source of income.
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Postby MarkDY » Sat Aug 27, 2011 2:19 am

If you have a college degree, you can get an TEFL Certificate and teach English as a second language. That would be your best way to earn an income.
Unlike the USA, most Latin American countries protect their native born workers, so it is often difficult to just move there a get a job that could be done by a native.
Even if you marry a native and have a child, it will take time to get your residency and work permits.
Costa Rica is often the first choice for Americans. While it does get a good deal of sex tourists and is also becoming a secular nation (which is good in my opinion) there are still many nice religious women to be found.
I would pick either Colombia or Brazil. Both have good economic growth, plenty of natural recourses and in many cities there are often more single women then men. I was in Bogota, Colombia last year. The new areas of the city are nice.
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Postby Jester » Sat Sep 03, 2011 4:45 am

I am leaving for similar reasons, plus the opportunity to be with a young, untouched woman.

Anywhere in Latin America outside beach resorts and the large cities is going to give you a much more conservative atmosphere.

The problem is where you can get in without a six-figure bank account or a corporate posting.

Paraguay is the easiest to emigrate to. Takes 5 or 6,000 USD (actual figure is in "guaranis") to deposit in a Paraguayan bank, plus a small fee to a "fixer" to process residency applcation. Then you have to stay in country for 2-4 months to complete residence. (Might be faster with a larger gratuity.) Go down there with all documents in order plus FBI clearance letter (i.e. your criminal record) authenticated by State Department or a notary in West Virginia where the FBI is. (This procedure is in flux, just do what you can, and give it a try. Paraguay is not as fussy as some countries). You'll also of course need birth certificate and passport. Take all that to your Paraguayan consulate. Set an appointment and be gracious ;) to the interviewer.

Uruguay can be done but you have to set up a company and create a steady salary for yourself (unless you have one.) Setting up the company takes a lawyer or "notario", maybe both, plus a CPA to review bank deposit records. Basically you are proving a steady reliable income of around $500 to $1000 a month. (It was $500 but I heard they were going to raise it, maybe still $500).

Basically Uruguay is looking for someone with an income, aimed at retirees. Paraguay is just looking for someone with a bank account. So for you, Paraguay would be easiest. It is also perhaps the most conservative country down there, although I think.

Also, the path to citizenship is easy in both Uruguay and Paraguay once you get residency. That gives you a second passport, and the flexibility to burn your bridges to the U.S., should you so desire at any point down the road (you never know). Also getting citizenship in either country gives you easy access to travel and live in Argentina, Chile, and Brazil too (though not to work).

In either Paraguay or Uruguay, once you have residence, you can work, buy, rent, do business, whatever.

Bolivia could work for you too, I think you need $10,000 to deposit there for a residency visa. Some racial tension between east and west, though. I think the east would be best for a North American starting a family. Like Paraguay, easy to buy guns, btw.

Anyway these are your only options in South America, to my knowledge. Anyplace else will only let you in as a tourist, unless you are a retiree or already have a job. That means you can't legally work or even rent a decent apartment, and the government will make you leave every so often.

In Central America, I know Costa Rica wants to see $1,500 a month. Mexico is similar. And I would think Uruguay would be more advanced and safer than these places - about like southern Italy.

Some folks, especially young like you, do just go to Colombia or wherever they want, and scramble for 30 days (or whatever) as a tourist, looking for a job to qualify and stay. Seems hard to me, since these countries have lots of locals scrambling for work already - but it has been done.

If you're going to try that approach, I think anywhere in Latin America will probably be conservative enough for you to raise a family, except the main cities.

Personally, *IF* I could get the residency visa, I would try the coffee country in Colombia, below Medellin, like from Manizales to Pereira to Armenia. Great climate, easygoing people (not as "hyper" as folks from Mexico City or Buenos Aires), plus noone is starving, and it has plenty of clean water (at least it's clean in Medellin), plus it's between mountain ranges, so it's safe from nuclear attack and consequent tidal waves (not my biggest worry, but also not impossible). Medellin is not a major city but it's pretty livable. Transport, libraries, wifi, etc.

I hope someone else weighs in here with more ideas. I am quite serious about moving, hence all the research.

Godspeed!
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The best way...

Postby AmericanInMexico » Sat Sep 03, 2011 4:54 am

The best way I know of to "establish" yourself in a Latin American country is to go there as a student and study a very hard, in-demand degree like electrical engineering. After graduating, the companies will be offering you jobs like you could never imagine.

I have a friend who did this; he's an American who studied electrical engineering at a university in Mexico and then after graduation got a job at a power plant in Mexico, with a full residency visa. He is now happily married to a Mexican woman and they just had their first child last year.

There are only two caveats: one, you must know Spanish from the outset (or Portuguese in Brazil) or else you will fail the degree program (obviously, since classes are taught in Spanish/Portuguese). Two, you must do this in a country that has a good university system and a high demand for engineers. Mexico, Argentina, Brazil, or one of the richer Latin American countries are you best choice; Central America not so much.

Thanks to my GI Bill, college is free even at foreign universities, so I will be doing this starting next year.

Remember one key thing: Mexicans like to complain about how hard it is for them to get visas to come legally to the United States. Ignore them. It is about 10 times as hard for a US citizen to get a residency visa for Mexico as a Mexican citizen getting a work visa for the US. Mexico has something called a "Ley Federal de Trabajo" (Federal Work Law) which says that in any Mexican-owned business, there must be at least 9 Mexican workers for every 1 foreign worker. Latin American countries really do protect their own workers unlike the United States.
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Postby Jester » Sat Sep 03, 2011 4:59 am

MarkD addresses something I didn't address, which is making a living. I think there are folks teaching English "underground", without a work permit, in many of these countries - in the major cities. Bogota might be great for that, few Colombians know English. (Lots of Mexicans and Argentines do know English, I wouldn't count on work as a teacher in those countries). Anyway a TEFL certificate is certainly a prudent move.

The thing is, if you're LEGAL, you can advertise, get corporate work, etc.

Otherwise it's just going to be work over the internet, which I'm planning to do for a while. (Writing or trading currencies seem likeliest for me.)

Eventually, though, I want that freedom to participate in the economic life of the country - open a coffeehouse, do corporate work, whatever. Put down roots.

Btw I completely agree with MarkD that it is a mistake to rely on marriage to get residency (and work permit). First, it is a mistake to involve the government in your marriage at all, anyway. Marriages nowadays should be private, church-only, unregistered no matter where you live. Second, you don't want to rush into a marriage in order to get papers. Big mistake.
"Pick a point and go to it."
-- Dr John Hunsucker, speaking about canoeing on Georgia's Lake Lanier, with its irregular shape, and 1000 miles of meandering shoreline
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Postby Jester » Sat Sep 03, 2011 5:09 am

AmericanInMexico is right on. Since the OP is just 22 years old, perhaps attending school could be a great entree. Even Argentina, generally hard to get into, will let you in as a student.

Incidentally, I guess one could brush up on one's Spanish down there (in the desired country) as a first step.
"Pick a point and go to it."
-- Dr John Hunsucker, speaking about canoeing on Georgia's Lake Lanier, with its irregular shape, and 1000 miles of meandering shoreline
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Postby AmericanInMexico » Sat Sep 03, 2011 5:13 am

Jester wrote:AmericanInMexico is right on. Since the OP is just 22 years old, perhaps attending school could be a great entree. Even Argentina, generally hard to get into, will let you in as a student.

Incidentally, I guess one could brush up on one's Spanish down there (in the desired country) as a first step.


That's the best first step. For me, studying in Mexico isn't a hassle because I already have years speaking Spanish and speak it at a near-native level. For the OP though, he should take trips there and learn the language very well.
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