Last Updated on April 18, 2024 by Eric Livingston

Moving Abroad? Congratulations! 5 Essential Things to Consider!

Moving Abroad? Have You Considered What’s Truly Important to YOU?

In the video that follows regarding moving abroad, I start off on my KTM moto, heading to Costco (yes, we still love Costco abroad), while I go over my thoughts on what I think people should consider before making the leap. I made the first mistake I discuss. I’m trying to help people not make the same mistake.

Tren Maya Project Was 3 Times Over Budget and Does Nothing for the General Population

Additionally, I discuss how I feel Mexico dropped the ball on the $28.5 billion Tren Maya project, which ran 3 times over budget. The Tren Maya stations in Mérida and Valladolid aren’t even close to the city, meaning the traveler has to get off the train and get on another vehicle to get to their main destination. This is a major design flaw in my opinion. I mean, if you want to ride the train just for the experience of riding the train then I get it. Heck, I’ll probably do it someday. I mean, it’s cool for sure, but I just see vast amounts of people in poverty, terribly paved roads, and some not paved at all. I believe the $28.5 billion dollars could’ve gone a long way to really make a difference in people’s lives instead of being some novelty that will generally only appeal to tourists whether Mexican or international.

Bottom Line is Take ADO Bus if You Want to Arrive Directly to Your Destination

The efficient and direct service offered by ADO buses, which are modern, comfortable, and air-conditioned can’t be beat. The bus station in Valladolid, for example, is 6 minutes walking or two blocks from the zócalo named Parque Francisco Cantón Rosado. Once there you can see the Maya performers dance la Jarana, a beautiful ensemble celebrating la vaquería.

In the Video I Discuss the Importance of the Following

Willingness to Stick Out
Geographical Location
Foreign Language Skills
“Safety” is overrated in my opinion when choosing a place to move abroad.

If Moving Abroad, Don’t Blindly Just Pick “Safety” First

In the video I describe how many people make the big mistake of placing safety first as their criteria for moving abroad. In my opinion, this is a huge mistake. Don’t get me wrong, safety is important, but it must be put into perspective. If you want to live in the absolute safest country in the world, move to Iceland, but would you be happy there? You know what temperatures are like. The reality is, some of the most interesting and exciting places in the world don’t necessarily top the “safety” metrics. By only picking “safety” as your criteria you could be missing out on amazing opportunities and a lifestyle you’d cherish.

Stop Comparing Country to Country Statistics on Safety Before Moving Abroad!

There’s a HUGE difference in safety between the following cities, yet they both belong to the same country:

Mérida, Yucatán vs. Tijuana, Baja California (Mexico)
Florianópolis, Santa Catarina vs. Feira de Santana, Bahía (Brazil)
Burlington, Vermont vs. Detroit, Michigan (United States)
Strasbourg, Grand Est vs. Marseille, Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur (France)
Jakarta, Daerah Khusus Ibukota vs. Ubud, Bali (Indonesia)

I Believe Climate is the First Consideration When Moving Abroad

Before moving abroad, use a site like Zoom Earth and check out the climate of the area you’re interested in. Also remember to check your destination in its “worst season” to see if it’s a place you could live year-round. To me this is super important. I made the mistake of choosing a “safety first” place and I regret it. For me, it’s miserable. I realize that everyone is different and some people actually like humid, tropical climates. I don’t. This is why I’ve chosen to leave Mérida, Yucatán, despite its safety accolades, which in my opinion are overrated.

Mérida, Yucatán Mexico Reaches 43.7 ºC (110.66ºF)

Mérida Isn’t as Safe as So Many Claim

I’ve mentioned numerous times that my bicycle was stolen on Thanksgiving Day, November 23rd, 2023, from the gated community where I live. Just a week ago my neighbor recorded another bicycle robbery attempt on his security camera. Luckily, he had his bike locked up and the would-be thief left. The more a city grows the more crime it will have. Don’t believe all the hype.

Are You Willing to Stick Out?

So many foreigners stick out like a sore thumb when they move to a foreign country, me included. It doesn’t matter if you speak the language or have years under your belt living overseas. If you look a certain way, you’ll always be the odd person out, no matter what. If you’re white skinned like me, and you don’t look like the general population, then yeah, you’ll get stared at frequently. It happens to me all the time and it’s tiring. In Latin America, white skinned people can blend into places like Argentina, Bogotá, Colombia (to some degree) Chile, Southern Brazil, and Uruguay to name a few. Of course, you’ll only blend in until you open your mouth.

Moving abroad, black guy sticks out compared to 3 white females and 1 white male to his left.
Moving abroad? Consider if sticking out matters to you.

Black People Will Stick Out as Well

Sticking out doesn’t only apply to white skinned people. If you’re black, you will stick out in many places. It’s not about racism, it’s just that you’re different, just like white skinned people. In Latin America, Black skinned people can blend into places like Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Northern Brazil, Cartagena, Colombia, and Haiti, while also being able to fit into places in the Caribbean like the Bahamas, Jamaica and Turks and Caicos. As mentioned above, you’ll only blend in until you speak.

Safety – Know Your Risk Tolerance Before Moving Abroad

You should have an idea of what your risk tolerance is before moving. This is something very individualistic or perhaps familiar if you have a family, especially young children. A 20 something year old looking to party, probably has a bit of a higher risk tolerance than a married couple with 3 young children to care for. Remember that most violent crimes in Latin America are gang on gang or cartel-cartel crimes. I realize that sometimes innocent bystanders to get hurt and even killed, however, it is not common at all for someone to just walk up to a foreigner and kill them for no reason. That just really doesn’t happen. Keep that in mind. Generally speaking, there’s also no “road rage” like there is in the United States.

Use Common Sense Safety Precautions

You can find these all over the internet, but I will list what I think is crucial to staying safe in Latin America:

Don’t wear bling; leave jewelry (even fake) at home; the thief doesn’t know it’s fake
Don’t get wasted, watch your drink AT ALL TIMES, give your location ONLY to trusted friends or family
Remember the saying “Nothing good happens after midnight”
Try and use Uber or whatever reliable taxi service the country you’re going to has
Wear your backpack in front of you (like a baby), especially in sketchy areas, metros and buses
Ignore street vendors, you can always go later with friends or trusted local and buy something if you really want
In cities known for theft, make your WhatsApp chats or telephone calls INSIDE a mall or store
Chill on the selfies, it’s fine, but really check your surroundings, don’t be so wrapped up in your perfect image
Use burner phones if you can that “look” like a good one, and carry a small amount of cash in case you’re robbed
Skip the double strapped Tevas, cargo shorts, baseball cap backwards and shorts in general (coastal location, gym if you must, and beach is ok, Brazil is also “short friendly” but in most places, people wear pants)

When Moving Abroad Think of the Country’s Geographical Location

Is living close to your home country important to you? If you’re from the United States, then you may want to rule out places like Brazil and Asia, as both are quite far away. In fact, southern Brazil, basically from Rio de Janeiro/São Paulo and further south to cities like Curitiba and Florianópolis only have a modest proximity to Uruguay and Argentina. Pretty much anywhere else you want to go is going to be a long flight, whether that’s the United States, Canda, Europe, Asia, and Australia etc… Asia is even further away from the United States.

Real Talk – Would Americans Live in Mexico if it Was Located Far Away?

If Mexico had the same crime stats as it does today and was located in Eastern Europe somewhere, hardly any Americans would live there. That’s just the truth. People lie and say how much they “love the culture”, although the vast majority don’t partake in it. Getting wasted drinking tequila and eating tacos doesn’t make one culturally immersed. Staring at the Chichén Itzá pyramid or an old cathedral doesn’t either.

Many Expats/Immigrants in Mexico Lie About Their Love of Mexican Culture

Do expats/immigrants to Mexico play Pok ta Pok? Do they even know what that is? Do they make Oaxacan mole from scratch with 30 ingredients? Do they have banda, corridos and mariachi music on their MP3 player or phone? Do they go to lucha libre matches or fútbol games in estadio Azteca? Have they taken a trajinera and navigated the waters of Xochimilco and seen La isla de la muñecas. Do they know what la jarana dance is and what it represents? I could go on and on. Honestly, I don’t play Pok ta Pok, nor have I seen lucha libre or a fútbol match, but I don’t pretend to “love the whole culture”. I certainly like most of the culture, but I just wish people were more transparent. Pretenders suck. The rest of the things I have done and a lot more. People simply lie about “loving the culture” when they really have no clue.

The Importance of Learning a Foreign Language When Moving Abroad

Would you really want to live in a country where you can’t even communicate with the locals? I’d never do that. I may visit as a tourist and take it all in, but I’d never expatriate to a country where I can’t speak the local language. That’s just me. I believe Spanish is by far, the most important language to learn for most people looking to expatriate. Although not all countries are great, in fact, some flat-out suck, the fact that you speak Spanish gives you 21 countries to live in if you include the territory of Puerto Rico as a country. That’s a lot of options. Options are good. Also, there is nothing wrong with moving to an English-speaking country or even staying put and just vacationing occasionally to far off places; nothing wrong with that. Really think about it before jumping in.

Did You Know?

The northernmost point in Brazil is closer to Canada than it is to the southernmost point in Brazil.

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