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Jingthing

Expats in Thailand considering moving to Latin America prompted by Thai visa changes

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On 12/6/2019 at 4:04 PM, Jingthing said:

We've had a lot of intentionally scaremongering posts over the course of this thread about crime and violence in specific countries in Latin America. I've been careful to point out that people should calm down and DIFFERENTIATE between the crime problems that are likely to impact expats in the specific places that they may be living VS. other places where expats generally and correctly fear to tread. For example the Pacific coast of Colombia has extremely high crime and I've never even heard of a typical expat moving there.

 

HOWEVER, I have come across a news story that I am taking a lot more seriously. About cartel control in San Miguel de Allende of all places!

 

I've had the feeling there are some places in Mexico where it's not rational to be very afraid of cartels. I still think there are such places. But if San Miguel de Allende can be impacted this way, I now am wondering if anyplace in Mexico is really immune any more. 

 

Yes, even Queretaro City. 

 

https://cuencahighlife.com/drug-cartels-move-into-mexican-town-popular-with-u-s-and-canadian-expats/

 

 

You make some excellent points about the scaremongering posts, but, as you say, it's not all roses either. 

 

The wife and I spent about a year trying to decide if we wanted to do Latin America, SEA, or move back to Thailand, doing quite a bit of research on all of the options, including asking lots of friends who have lived in LA or are originally from LA countries. 

 

I have also been to Mexico dozens of times over the years and have many, many pleasant memories.  I have never been shaken down by police or been robbed or had any overly negative experiences.  So, no bone to pick either. 

 

That said, even the people that speak glowingly of LA often caveat it with the fact that things can get dangerous depending on where you are. 

 

That's really not a caution you hear about in Thailand.  Sure, you've got scammers and petty theft but there are no parts of Thailand that are too dangerous for foreigners to visit (that I'm aware of). 

 

Ultimately, it was very difficult to draw apples-to-apples comparisons between Thailand (and much of SEA) compared to LA because LA is, essentially, a part of or an extension of western-culture. 

 

If you came to Thailand because it is so different from western-culture, that's a hard thing to reconcile by moving to a LA country with a western based culture.

 

Of course, if cost or ease of getting a long-stay visa was your major driver, maybe that's less of a concern. 

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19 minutes ago, digibum said:

 

You make some excellent points about the scaremongering posts, but, as you say, it's not all roses either. 

 

The wife and I spent about a year trying to decide if we wanted to do Latin America, SEA, or move back to Thailand, doing quite a bit of research on all of the options, including asking lots of friends who have lived in LA or are originally from LA countries. 

 

I have also been to Mexico dozens of times over the years and have many, many pleasant memories.  I have never been shaken down by police or been robbed or had any overly negative experiences.  So, no bone to pick either. 

 

That said, even the people that speak glowingly of LA often caveat it with the fact that things can get dangerous depending on where you are. 

 

That's really not a caution you hear about in Thailand.  Sure, you've got scammers and petty theft but there are no parts of Thailand that are too dangerous for foreigners to visit (that I'm aware of). 

 

Ultimately, it was very difficult to draw apples-to-apples comparisons between Thailand (and much of SEA) compared to LA because LA is, essentially, a part of or an extension of western-culture. 

 

If you came to Thailand because it is so different from western-culture, that's a hard thing to reconcile by moving to a LA country with a western based culture.

 

Of course, if cost or ease of getting a long-stay visa was your major driver, maybe that's less of a concern. 

Yes on all your points.

The idea of this topic hasn't ever been to suggest that Latin America is better (or worse) than Thailand. 

We all have different circumstances and by now I think it's not controversial and really already baked in that a rather significant number of expats in Thailand are considering (or have already) going elsewhere. (Strong baht, visa and immigration tightening and increased hassles, health insurance requirements, etc.) Targets include home countries, neighboring countries to Thailand, eastern and wester Europe, and Latin America is on that list especially for North Americans. 

 

There are some more expat bubble areas in Latin America where it can be easier to function as a foreigner, but I'm not sure there is anywhere there with the ease offered in Thailand in the expat magnets for such basic things as getting housing, banking, etc.

 

I've recently been following some stories of expat stress and drama in trying to get locally priced unfurnished apartments in Colombia. Compare to Pattaya you can basically throw a rock and find someone willing to rent to you on the spot. Such things really do make a big difference and of course there are very good reasons to stay in Thailand for people that can manage the immigration hoops, etc.

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On 10/18/2019 at 10:52 AM, grifbel said:

https://www.businessinsider.com/latin-america-is-the-worlds-most-violent-region-crime-2019-9?r=US&IR=T

 

400 murders a day: 10 reasons why Latin America is the world's most violent place

Outside of active war zones, Latin America is the world's most violent region, despite some variations among countries there.

No single thing explains why there's so much bloodshed, but there are several factors common throughout the region.

 

Latin America is home to about 8% of the world's population but has about one-third of its homicides — in 2016, that meant some 400 homicides a day, or roughly 146,000 a year. But the bloodshed is not evenly distributed. 

 

.......

I have an opinion on why Latin America is so violent.

It's the "machista" of the latinos (males) and the values (or lack thereof) of their christian upbringing.

I have observed that christian societies are the 2nd most violent cultures on the planet...

Buddhist cultures are the least violent and most receptive of foreigners.

Before you flame me, these are just my observations after living/working/traveling to over 50 countries. YMMV

 

 

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On 12/22/2019 at 4:33 PM, thailandsgreat said:

wonder how the Pattaya guys would like S.A. The areas where many farlang spend time in Thailand are designed for foreigner. Thai are used to foreigner there. In S.A. you usually end up interacting with locals that are less used to foreigner. 

 

Food in Thailand outstanding and cheap.

 

More tension and less safe in S.A. More strict in S.A. 

You're right.  

I am in my 50's and if I moved to South America I would focus on learning Spanish, I would probably meet a local and end up in a relationship and enjoy the culture,  like I did in Thailand, bur still not on the same level. 

I would probably feel less like a tourist and try to integrate into the community. Which is a hard thing to do in Thailand.

I would probably enjoy the food in Mexico and Colombia so would not miss the Thai food that much. 

But you need to be willing to learn a new language and culture so you can build on that before you get too old, I would never move in my 70's. 
 

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16 hours ago, Bournville said:

Hola from San Miguel de Allende. I'm here on a scouting trip. After 4 years in Thailand I decided to check out other places. 

 

The world is changing fast. Here in San Miguel the crime is palpable. Walking just 5 blocks to a freinds house from my airbnb was met with grave concern by my gringo hosts. Killings. Kidnapping and extortion are very common here now.. All have happened in my 2 weeks here. Add to this zero degrees Celsius most of lady week at 7 am... No thanks. 

 

I'm off to Mazatlán in 2 more weeks... Like San Miguel..I've lived there before.. Let's see what changes have happened there. 

 

Finding a place to call home is not as easy as it once was. 

Yeah the news from San Miguel de Allende has not been good. As one of top iconic expat havens in Mexico I don't know what that portends for expats in general in Mexico. 

 

Good to hear from you as a person with boots on the ground there now.

 

I spent some time in Mazatlán too in the old town area. But years ago. It felt plenty safe to me back then but less so in other areas and word is the old town area has become predictably expensive.

Edited by Jingthing
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I believe the "colonial pearls" are a reasonable option. A couple preparing for retirement. One year Spanish back home in evening class + 6 mo on site goes a long way regarding language.

 

These places do not seem exceedingly dangerous to me. At night you take a cab. If something happens you just hand over your stuff.

 

I have not stayed long in such places. But they look clean and beautiful. In Mexico I remember bubbles in Mèrida and San Cristóbal de las Casas.

 

Cuenca, Lima, Miraflores, Cartagena, Santa Marta, Montevideo, Medellin (much safer now), Buenos Aires. La Habana (frequent visa runs to Cancun I believe). Santa Cruz, Bolivia. And many more.

Food in LA is a little more fattening, a little more monotonous. But good and easy to adapt to. Except for whole grilled guinea pig in Ecuador region. Popayan has a security problem, unfortunately.

 

But to me Thai food is #1. Not oily, fresh, varied and moderately priced.

 

I could see people retire there.

 

Why am I in Thailand? I am not sure. I have lived in Asia long time (other countries) and still fight with Thai language 


As a European, Thailand feels close to home. I once had  tropical infections in Indonesia, managed to get to BKK and easy transport home. It is more costly to fly S.A. to Europe.

When you finally get settled in LA, it may be a little boring. Less varied than SEA, Spanish you learn quicker. SEA cheaper.

 

In Merida I got to know some locals better. They did not say but the feeling was that they didn't like rich foreigners taking over the old houses even though the locals didn't have money for the upkeep. Not always good attitude, but if you are a couple spending time together, maybe it is less important?

 

I dont know Mexico so well. But maybe the Americans should go further than N. Mexico and the problem areas?? But the expat havens quoted are certainly good. (I never visited that.)

 

Except for Costa Rica I am not certain middle America is a good choice. Belize? (I have not visited Belize) But there are probably good places in Middle America I dont know of.

Edited by thailandsgreat

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11 hours ago, thailandsgreat said:

I believe the "colonial pearls" are a reasonable option. A couple preparing for retirement. One year Spanish back home in evening class + 6 mo on site goes a long way regarding language.

 

These places do not seem exceedingly dangerous to me. At night you take a cab. If something happens you just hand over your stuff.

 

I have not stayed long in such places. But they look clean and beautiful. In Mexico I remember bubbles in Mèrida and San Cristóbal de las Casas.

 

Cuenca, Lima, Miraflores, Cartagena, Santa Marta, Montevideo, Medellin (much safer now), Buenos Aires. La Habana (frequent visa runs to Cancun I believe). Santa Cruz, Bolivia. And many more.

Food in LA is a little more fattening, a little more monotonous. But good and easy to adapt to. Except for whole grilled guinea pig in Ecuador region. Popayan has a security problem, unfortunately.

 

But to me Thai food is #1. Not oily, fresh, varied and moderately priced.

 

I could see people retire there.

 

Why am I in Thailand? I am not sure. I have lived in Asia long time (other countries) and still fight with Thai language 


As a European, Thailand feels close to home. I once had  tropical infections in Indonesia, managed to get to BKK and easy transport home. It is more costly to fly S.A. to Europe.

When you finally get settled in LA, it may be a little boring. Less varied than SEA, Spanish you learn quicker. SEA cheaper.

 

In Merida I got to know some locals better. They did not say but the feeling was that they didn't like rich foreigners taking over the old houses even though the locals didn't have money for the upkeep. Not always good attitude, but if you are a couple spending time together, maybe it is less important?

 

I dont know Mexico so well. But maybe the Americans should go further than N. Mexico and the problem areas?? But the expat havens quoted are certainly good. (I never visited that.)

 

Except for Costa Rica I am not certain middle America is a good choice. Belize? (I have not visited Belize) But there are probably good places in Middle America I dont know of.

 

There are loads of great places in LA. The main problem for many in this thread is they require more money than they have and the visa may not be any easier. If I am completely broke yet able to hang onto my status in Thailand I would not go to some place like Honduras looking for the good life. 

 

Aside from the gringos in Mexico and the fact it borders a very wealthy country like the USA, Mexico itself is richer than somewhere like Thailand. Belize looks very nice indeed and if you can afford it I would say try it.

 

However if you are counting to the last satang what street food and baht busses cost I don't think many places are favorable compared to Thailand. 

 

Another factor is outside of expat areas you won't be as welcome as you are in Thailand.

 

 

 

 

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On 12/29/2019 at 6:24 AM, Cryingdick said:

 

There are loads of great places in LA. The main problem for many in this thread is they require more money than they have and the visa may not be any easier. If I am completely broke yet able to hang onto my status in Thailand I would not go to some place like Honduras looking for the good life. 

 

Aside from the gringos in Mexico and the fact it borders a very wealthy country like the USA, Mexico itself is richer than somewhere like Thailand. Belize looks very nice indeed and if you can afford it I would say try it.

 

However if you are counting to the last satang what street food and baht busses cost I don't think many places are favorable compared to Thailand. 

 

Another factor is outside of expat areas you won't be as welcome as you are in Thailand.

 

 

 

 

 

You totally hit the nail on the head on the fact that bang for the buck, it's hard to match Thailand.  If you have millions, there are tons and tons of places you can retire to.  But as you start factoring in budgets, Thailand does stands out. 

 

You don't have to be the satang counter, you just need to be someone that is looking to get good value, safety, and so-on. 

 

There are a gazillion things wrong with Thailand too.  But each of those factors is going to have different weight for different people. 

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On 1/1/2020 at 12:13 AM, digibum said:

 

You totally hit the nail on the head on the fact that bang for the buck, it's hard to match Thailand.  If you have millions, there are tons and tons of places you can retire to.  But as you start factoring in budgets, Thailand does stands out. 

 

You don't have to be the satang counter, you just need to be someone that is looking to get good value, safety, and so-on. 

 

There are a gazillion things wrong with Thailand too.  But each of those factors is going to have different weight for different people. 

Yes I agree Thailand is one of the more affordable expat destinations. I don't really think it's the most affordable though largely because of rising prices, exchange rate issues, and visa issues that hit some people much harder then others.

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2 hours ago, Mike Teavee said:

Top places to retire in 2020... 

  1. Portugal
  2. Panama
  3. Costa Rica
  4. Mexico
  5. Colombia
  6. Ecuador
  7. Malaysia
  8. Spain
  9. France
  10. Vietnam

https://www.asiaone.com/lifestyle/portugal-ranked-best-place-retire-2020 

 

LATAM scores 5 out of the top 6 spots, IIRC Thailand came in at 17th but I can't find that link now... 

 

I find that a "fun" thing to do with such lists is consider what to me is the highest priority -- do they offer formal retirement status and do I personally qualify financially? Of course the results will vary based on the individual but I never understand why such lists include countries that have no formal program.

 

So for me:

 

Portugal NOT qualified

Panama QUALIFIED

Costa Rica QUALIFIED

Mexico QUALIFIED (show money method)

Colombia QUALIFIED (for now, will not if proposed changes are passed)

Ecuador QUALIFIED

Malaysia NOT qualified

Spain NOT qualified

France NOT qualified

Vietnam NO SUCH VISA STATUS OFFERED!

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1 hour ago, Jingthing said:

I find that a "fun" thing to do with such lists is consider what to me is the highest priority -- do they offer formal retirement status and do I personally qualify financially? Of course the results will vary based on the individual but I never understand why such lists include countries that have no formal program.

 

So for me:

 

Portugal NOT qualified

Panama QUALIFIED

Costa Rica QUALIFIED

Mexico QUALIFIED (show money method)

Colombia QUALIFIED (for now, will not if proposed changes are passed)

Ecuador QUALIFIED

Malaysia NOT qualified

Spain NOT qualified

France NOT qualified

Vietnam NO SUCH VISA STATUS OFFERED!

Being from the UK, I'm (currently) qualified for the EU countries, need to make a big decision (soon) about whether to capitalise on that while I still can & Portugal would be my favourite...

 

 

 

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I really enjoyed my long trip to Portugal years ago and if qualified it would definitely be up there for me. However the only times I've ever been robbed have been in Portuguese speaking countries (Portugal and more predictably Brazil) and also I find the sound of old country Portuguese grating to my ear.

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4 hours ago, Mike Teavee said:

Top places to retire in 2020... 

  1. Portugal
  2. Panama
  3. Costa Rica
  4. Mexico
  5. Colombia
  6. Ecuador
  7. Malaysia
  8. Spain
  9. France
  10. Vietnam

https://www.asiaone.com/lifestyle/portugal-ranked-best-place-retire-2020 

 

LATAM scores 5 out of the top 6 spots, IIRC Thailand came in at 17th but I can't find that link now... 

 

It seems they only compared 24 different countries in the world.

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