The best expat advice for South America comes from expats who already have experienced relocating to South America. Below you’ll find ten important questions to ask about expat living in South America, or when choosing expat retirement destinations, and especially if you are moving to South America with kids. Don’t just ask what are the best South American expat cities. What is right for some may not be for you.
Many expats relocate or retire overseas for financial reasons. Simply put, they want to save money. Others truly want to experience a different culture. Still others are married to people of another culture and want to learn about it.
If you are considering living abroad because you want to save money, you need to be sure you choose a country that can offer you a lifestyle you’ll be pleased with. Expat advice: if you’re not adventurous and are not motivated to learn about other cultures, you are better off seeking out a country where you can afford to live in a relatively similar manner as you do now. Many expats do want this and even hope to afford higher living standards than they currently enjoy.
Even if you do find a country that provides what you want and is affordable, you must ask yourself if you are willing to give up some of the things you enjoy (being near your family, speaking your own language, going to a church of your religion, etc.). Expat advice: don't expect two countries are ever the exactly the same, no matter how similar they may be. The only place you can live a US lifestyle, for example, is in the US. The only place like Australia is Australia.
If you really do want to learn about other cultures you’ll likely choose a country that is very different from your own and do so on purpose. But is this truly the best decision for you? Are there things, people, ways of living, conveniences, standards, or anything else that you might end up missing so much you feel miserable? Some people think they can adjust to a very different culture only to find themselves trying to maintain the lifestyle they were accustomed to – and when unable to do so they regret their decisions. Expat advice: ask yourself if you are SURE relocating is your best choice. Or should you consider touring each year instead?
If you’ve married someone from another culture fitting into their culture may be easier for you because you’ll have help. But does that mean you can get used to living in their country? Visiting their country and living in it can be very two completely different scenarios. Expat advice: sometimes love is not enough to get you through the changes. Your first commitment is, of course, to your spouse and you must be willing in any marriage to compromise and make some sacrifices. After all, your spouse is likely doing the same for you.
But there are other very real considerations you must both take into account such as the skills, language, and other abilities necessary to earn a living in that country. Unless your spouse will be the primary breadwinner and already has an employment contract, this is a necessary step to take. The technical term for you is “trailing spouse” and as the “follower” you must take this into consideration before you make a final decision (or agree with your spouse to a trial period). Expat advice: whether you are moving to please your spouse or because you truly are interested in living in their culture, you must be able to make a living or otherwise afford to live there. If you can’t, you’ll both end up miserable. If you have children take their needs into account as well.
If you’re looking to live exactly as you live now, you won’t find that anywhere other than where you live now. Expat advice: research employment options, housing availability, schools and the costs of educating your children, language skills needed, costs of living, living standards, hygiene standards, health care costs, medical facilities, the availability of any medications or treatments you need, the local cuisine and the cost and availability of your choice of foods, the costs and availability of phone and internet options, vehicles and transportation, documentation requirements, money transfer and banking options, work or driving permits and licenses, tax issues, and anything else you use in your daily life.
Make a list of what you, your spouse, and your children do each day. Then make a list of what you use when you do those things. Research costs and availability. For the things you won’t have available in your host country, ask yourself seriously: “Are we really willing to live without them? Really? Again, really???” Another way to approach this question would be: “If we change our minds once we’re in our host country, will we be able to return home and resume our lives?”
10 Questions Expats Must Ask Themselves
1. Why do I really want to move overseas? (What is my primary motivation?)
2. What lifestyle do I want overseas? (And can I afford it?) (And is it possible or available in my host country of choice?)
3. Will I be able to make a living in my new host country? (Or is my retirement portfolio sufficient for this?)
4. If things don’t work out or we change our minds, will we be able to return home and resume our lives? (Will we be able to afford to move back?) (Once back will we be able to find employment again?)
5. How does each member of the family feel about the move? The decision must be mutual between partners. Children won’t ultimately decide, but should be made to feel their opinions were taken into account, regardless of the final decision taken. Will I (will our family) truly benefit from relocating abroad?
6. Did I fully research housing, schooling, employment, transportation, healthcare, and everything else I’ll need overseas?
7. Could I (or could my family) benefit from some additional preparation before relocating overseas (language courses, culture transition coaching, career coaching, etc.)
8. Do I (does our family) have a plan for repatriation in case of emergencies? (And should this happen could we afford it, and where would we return to?)
9. Are there any options we should leave OPEN prior to moving? (Would my employer take me back if I return, should I keep my business partially open until I’m certain, etc.)
10. Am I (are we) truly willing to blend into local life, accept the things we are not accustomed to, and thrive despite the changes?
Expat advice: there is a big difference between living and thriving in your new home! Ask yourselves: