To start, I'd like to say welcome to the site!
I'm glad you're here and I hope I can help.
Although this is primarily a site about Latin America, I also touch on other subjects. A bit further down below I've separated the content of the site into sections to make it easier to find what you are looking for.
***Check out this page for over 100 useful resources related to Latin America***
WHY DID I CREATE MY LATIN LIFE?
My motivation was simple: a comprehensive travel website for men interested in Central and South America didn't exist.
I know this because I spent weeks trying to find one.
Expat forums didn't cut it - I was too young to relate.
So after many, many months of travel, taking notes and making observations, I created a resource.
Is it the best one out there?
I think so.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
If you're just interested in knowing about a specific city, you can start with my city guides. There are about 80 of them. There is a good chance that whatever city you want to visit will have a corresponding guide.
The blog articles as they appear on the homepage don't follow any particular order - when I think of something to write about, I write about it. Only my 10 most recent posts appear on the homepage. If you'd like to scroll through my blog posts chronologically, from newest to oldest, navigate to the blog page.
If you want an overview of what we talk about here, below are some categories to make things a bit easier to navigate.
Resources And Recommendations
Still Can't Find What You Need?
Here's an archive of the 30 most-recent posts on My Latin Life:
Colombia is on the tip of everyone's tongue, and has been for some time.
Based on the emails I receive on this blog, it is by far the number one choice for folks looking to expat to Latin America.
If you want to figure out how to move to Colombia, here are the best ways to do it in 2018.
My journey to Spanish competency has been long and tumultuous. It started with Spanish classes in Mexico (which I promptly quit after just a week), then moved on to audio courses (most of which I slept through) and finally to Latin music and telenovelas, with which I finally began making some progress.
Initially, my goal was simple: learn Spanish to meet women. But it took me months of stumbling through learning methods before I was finally able to hold down a basic conversation on a discotec dance floor (discotec is Spanish for "nightclub," by the way).
If only I had discovered a course tailored to my *ahem* ultra specific needs at the time, I would have saved myself a lot of fruitless effort, valuable time and money.
Bring in El Conquistador's Pickup Spanish course.
There are many different Mexicos. There is the Mexico of American media, consisting mainly of drugs and violence on the border and along the coast.
There is the Mexico of spring break - the endless beach-drinking and partying of college students.
And there is the Mexico as it's depicted by the country's own marketing campaign, a Mexico of rich culture and tradition.
It's all true. And, apart from the drug violence (hopefully!), you're likely to experience all of it if you take a week-long vacation down south.
But what is it like to actually live in Mexico?
Peru is an easy place to fall in love with.
Rich history, incredible food, friendly people and one of the strongest economies in the region.
But how can you live here? If you want to move to Peru, there are a number of options available.
***Updated for 2018
For most folks, overstaying a tourist visa in Mexico will never be an issue.
The FMM tourist card that all travellers must fill out upon arrival is valid for a generous 180 days, meaning that you can legally spend nearly half the year south of the border.
But, maybe you're not the average traveller.
Let's say that, for whatever reason, you've stayed longer than six months down here and broken the rules of your visa.
What happens when you try to leave?
You may have seen some crazy shit on the Internet recently about Venezuela.
Mass protests, moves by President Maduro to rewrite the constitution and, of course, the perpetual food and medical shortages, crime waves and violence.
So, how did all this happen to a country that was once among the richest in Latin America?
Since 2006, the Mexican Drug War has claimed nearly 200,000 lives.
And 2017 has been the bloodiest year yet, with over 20,000 recorded murders.
Drug smuggling is old hat in Mexico, dating back to the 1800s when Chinese immigrants first introduced the Opium poppy to the Sierra Madre mountains.
But why the sudden spike in violence? To get the answer, we must travel back to the 1980s.
Visas are a pain in the ass.
Fees, restrictions and local bureaucracy can make planning a headache. If you're not prepared, you may end up paying more than you have to, find yourself in trouble with local authorities or even being barred from the country.
The good news is that Latin America isn't as harsh as some regions when it comes to allowing Americans to stay for extended periods of time.
That being said, there are many nuances that you MUST be aware of being heading south, especially if your plan is to stay longterm.
Two friends from Canada came to visit me when I was living in Mexico City. It was their first night in town and they were after some fun and some women.
"Let's go out," one of them says.
"Let me get ready," I reply, expecting them to do the same.
After a few minutes, I exit my room, surprised to see them wearing the same things as when I entered.
"...you guys going to change?" I ask
"Isn't this good?" The other one says.
I observe them. One is wearing an Under Armour shirt and Under Armour shoes, with jeans two sizes too big. The other is sporting Cargo shorts and donning a teeshirt with some metal band on it.
"Jesus Christ," I mutter under my breath.
Times have changed. Latin America has changed. I've changed.
Cities in Central and South America have a tendency to go through ebbs and flows. A great city to live in today might not be a great one tomorrow.
Take Medellin for instance. In the early 2000s, this was the place to live in Latin America. If you were brave enough to venture down to recently drug-war torn Colombia, as one of the few foreigners, beautiful women would be throwing themselves at you as you enjoyed an incredibly low cost of living and year-round spring temperatures.
And then word got out.
I know I know, I've beaten this topic to death, but two different emails this week got me thinking that maybe I've been approaching the subject the wrong way.
The gist first email went something like this. It was a rant and didn't merit a response.
Email 1: Hey Vance, based on your advice I went to Guanajuato in Mexico...and let me just say you are completely wrong! Girls in Mexico are far from easy. They are standoffish, impossible to get on dates, etc, etc.
And the second one...
**This is a guest post from a Canadian living in Nicaragua
Nicaragua isn't a country that most people think of when it comes to girls in Latin America. Many people couldn't locate it on a map and some people don't even know it exists!
But along with low prices and lots of sunshine, Nicaraguan girls are one of the bonuses about living here.
I've been here in Leon for almost two years now and I have loved every minute of it.
And I'm happy to share everything I know with you about the women of this country.
Back again, folks!
Today I'll be talking about the best places to find a wife in Latin America...or at the very least, a serious girlfriend.
You see, as much as I like hooking up with and casually dating Latinas, I acknowledge that I'm getting a bit older and more mature (relatively, at least). And, as I'm sure many of you know, after reaching a certain number of notches, the whole chasing women just for the sake of it tends to turn to ash in your mouth.
With that in mind...
Mexico City, 2016
I was finishing a lunch at KURA, a fancy Japanese spot in Colonia Roma Norte.
We were an eclectic group of patrons: an Egyptian girl, who originally moved to Mexico for her boyfriend and decided to stick around after they split, a Mexican woman with her own small advertising agency, my Japanese roommate, who worked at a bank, an American friend who sold security systems throughout Latin America and was based in Mexico City, and myself, a Canadian who no one really knew what the fuck was doing exactly...
I want to talk about sex in Colombia.
Since about the mid-2000s or so, this South American nation began to skyrocket in popularity among tourists. What was once a no-go zone for travellers 10 short years before due to extreme rates of narco violence, terrorism and political instability, all of a sudden became a hotbed of drug and sex-craved backpackers.
It wasn't long before word got out about the beautiful women and their alleged preference for foreign men.
Annnnd the rest is history.
As late dictator Porfirio Diaz once said: "So far from God, so close to the United States."
I suspect I've spent a total of three years here. That includes living in Mexico City for about 20 months, along with a handful of shorter stays in various parts of the country.
If you want to meet Mexican women, here are some of the lesser-known cities I'd recommend.
I will likely be heading down to Peru again in February or March.
As some of you may recall, this wasn’t my original plan.
In 2018, the idea was to choose a place to settle and stop this nomadic shit.
But, alas, I was playing with a bit of business while I was in Lima...
No one is ever going to entirely agree on a "safest cities" list.
First of all, it's hard to get a read on these things. Official crime statistics simply can't be trusted in Latin America. I raise my eyebrows in amusement when journalists claim that Mexico City has a lower murder rate than cities like Washington D.C or Boston, erroneously assuming that Mexican law enforcement agencies report murder rates with the same accuracy as American law enforcement agencies. Also, many people in Central and South America don't bother to report crimes such as robbery (or, in some cases, even murder) because they either don't trust law enforcement, or they know that law enforcement is so inefficient that the perpetrators are unlikely to ever be caught anyway.
Second, personal experience tends to color perception.
This post is for those of you that are wondering how to rent an apartment in Bogota, Colombia.
One of the most frustrating things about heading to a new country for a short or long term stay is finding an ideal place to live; the rush and excitement of arriving in a new place is quickly moderated by the reality of needing to hustle to find an a place to live, unless of course you're comfortable paying for an overpriced Airbnb or living in a hotel for months on end.
I'm here to help make the process of finding an apartment a bit easier.
Latin America has pumped out some great films.
Unfortunately, because of the region's less-than-impressive movie making past, many of these masterpieces have gone unnoticed. Historically, Argentina has been the leader in Latin filmmaking, followed closely by Brazil and Mexico, but recently other countries have been producing some phenomenal cinema, suggesting a promising future for the industry in the Latin America.
Watching movies is an excellent way to get a feel for the history, culture or atmosphere of a place; I'm always impressed at how a good film...
What originally drove me to live in Latin America wasn't the sex, sun and salsa. Rather, it was a fascination with the politics, culture and society in this part of the world.
My interest started in university with a socioeconomics course. Insufferable Marxist indoctrination aside, it was an engaging class and responsible for igniting my enthusiasm for Latin America. I probably never would have bothered to take the jump to live in LATAM if I hadn't taken the class.
Credit where credit's due.
As you can probably tell, I've been on a "business in Latin America" kick lately.
Today I'll be talking about what I deem the most suitable countries for anyone looking to start a business south of the border.
But before I get into all that, a few comments about how I determined the rankings:
Welcome to Part 5 of my e-commerce in Latin America series. Parts 1-4 covered how to get your store up and running, how to market your store and whether you should use dropshipping or private label goods.
But none of that means shit unless people are buying your stuff.
The good news is that, if you've followed parts 1-4 of the series, you should know whether you have a viable product for your market.
The bad news is that, when it comes to online shopping, it's much more difficult to bridge the gap between interest and the sale in this part of the world.
Allow me to explain.
Welcome to part 4 of my series on E-Commerce in Latin America. Today I’ll be talking about whether or not you should do dropshipping or private label if you plan to open an online store down here.
For those unfamiliar with these terms as they relate to e-commerce, let me break it down in layman’s terms for you.
Dropshipping – Dropshipping is when the retailer (you) doesn’t keep stock but rather forwards customer orders and shipping information to a manufacturer or wholesaler who ships the customers order directly to them.
The easiest execution of a dropshipping store is through Shopify, Obrelo and AliExpress.
It works like this.
You guessed it: another instalment in the E-Commerce series. Although this is Part 3, it really should be Part 1. After all, before you attempt to start any business, you should first make sure people want what you’re offering.
Fortunately, the Internet has made it easy to do this. Many of you may already be familiar with the idea of testing the demand of a product you aren’t selling yet by driving traffic to a sales page to gauge interest and telling any customers that want to buy your product that you’re ‘sold out’. Based on how many inquiries you get, you’ll have an idea if it’s a viable product or not.
This is a commonly-used strategy for hopeful entrepreneurs in the United States, Europe, Australia etc., but hasn’t quite caught on in LATAM.
Hello again! It's been awhile.
This is the second instalment of a series that will discuss running an e-commerce business in Latin America.
Part 1 is here: How To Start An E-Commerce Business In Latin America
The first post talked about the things you'll need to get your online store up and running, such as an appropriate niche, a platform like Woo Commerce or Shopify, payment gateways etc.
This post will talk about how you should approach marketing after your store goes live. After all, before people can buy from you, they have to know that you exist.
If you want to reside in Latin America, you'll need to find a way to make money.
The vast majority of foreigners down here will make their living doing one of the following things:
1) Teaching English
2) Working for a multinational corporation
3) Freelancing from their computers
It makes sense. These are the only immediately apparent options for expats south of the border who aren't citizens of their adopted country.
But unfortunately, these aren't always ideal work situations.
So, what do you do if you want make money in Central or South America as a foreigner, but aren't interested in any of the above options?
One of the biggest hurdles of living in Latin America is finding good accommodation.
Most travellers opt for Airbnb - after all, it's one of the most convenient ways to find a short/long term rental in almost any Central or South American city, and its terms and services protect both owner and tenant from any unexpected issues that may arise.
But, unfortunately, it's not the cheapest option. Airbnb rentals are usually...
It's July of 2017.
Thousands of Venezuelans have taken to the streets to protest President Maduro's increasingly oppressive rule and general incompetence. Mass inflation, food shortages and violent crime have seen the leader's approval rating plummet to about 20%.
Clearly, most Venezuelans think it's time for a regime change.
But how is it that - in a country that has been suffering so long, with many angry, gun-owning citizens - Maduro is able to hold on to power?