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.
My Latin Life's Minimalist Packing Guide To Latin America (Coming soon)
Best Songs For Improving Your Spanish (Coming soon)
How A Complete Idiot (Me) Learned Conversational Spanish And How You Can Too (Coming soon)
Want To Work In Latin America? Here Are Some Ways To Make It Happen (Coming soon)
My Awkward Journey To Location Independence (Coming soon)
5 Helpful Tips For Dealing With Extreme Leftist Backpackers In Latin America (Coming soon)
Resources And Recommendations
What Does It Cost To Live In Major Latin American Cities? (Coming soon)
What Does It Cost To Fly Between Major Latin American Cities? (Coming soon)
Still Can't Find What You Need?
Here's an archive of the 30 most-recent posts on My Latin Life:
I always thought I'd work in Latin America.
I loved the countries and the cultures so much that I figured I was destined to earn my keep south of the border.
So, I went down every Internet rabbit-hole I could find to try to figure out how to live and work in Latin America: teaching English, hostel work, international corporations, hotels, sales, transcription, writer, bartender, house-sitter, etc. I was open to anything...
I'm finally qualified to write this post.
Well, not really.
Admittedly, I haven't visited all of Mexico's numerous beaches, but I have spent time in 5 popular Mexican resort cities: Cabo San Lucas, Puerto Vallarta, Cancun, Playa del Carmen and Mazatlan.
While this doesn't make me an expert, I figured I'd share my thoughts on each city and discuss whether or not they'd be a good place for a single man to put down roots in 2018.
But first, a few things to remember.
As much as I try to forget, the first time I had sex will always be burned in my memory.
It was around a decade ago. I was in high school (late bloomer) and I got a summer job working on a corn farm. I'd wake up at the crack of dawn, harvest corn until noon and then deliver it to various produce stands around the city.
Mikaela worked at one of these stands. She was a year older than me and went to the high school across town. About 5'7", long blonde hair and brown eyes. Thin as a twig but somehow was blessed with an ass that disobeyed gravity...
These days, the majority of the emails I receive (aside from hate mail, of course) have something to do with relocating to Latin America. Students that are wondering where to do a year abroad, retired men who are looking to say adios to the United States, digital nomads who are looking for a good base to settle down for a few months...folks from all kinds of backgrounds who are looking to live south of the border for various reasons.
Usually, they're trying to sort out which city in Latin America would be best for them to live in. Here are some less-obvious answers to that question.
I'll never forget that day. Dusty roads, the smell of fresh laundry drying in the sun, the crow of roosters, little Mexican schoolgirls in white shirts and black skirts...
It was at that moment, that first bus ride into a Mexican town, that I knew.
I will live in a place like this one day.
My only question was: where are the best places to live in Mexico?
Well, I now think I know the answer, and I'm here to help you out.
I know what you're thinking.
Telenovelas, essentially Spanish/Portuguese-language soap operas, are for old ladies with too much time on their hands.
But I have a confession: I immensely enjoy them.
Not only are they great for learning Spanish, but they can also make for some high quality television.
Here are the 12 best Spanish-language telenovelas that I've found
I can't believe I haven't done a post on nightlife in Mexico City.
For your information and for my own nostalgic pleasure, here is your comprehensive, insightful and, most importantly, entertaining guide to the bars and nightclubs of Mexico City!
Vance, back at it again. This time, to talk about expats in Mexico City.
Here are ten types of foreigners that you'll meet in the Mexican capital.
There are many, many reasons to live in Cartagena.
Whether you're into beaches, year-round sunny skies, exciting nightlife or great local cuisine, this Caribbean city has got something for you to enjoy.
But, moving to Colombia isn't easy. At the very least you're going to need to find somewhere to live.
And that's what I'm here to help you with today!
Let's talk about how to rent an apartment in Cartagena, Colombia!
No matter where I travel to in Latin America, my mind always drifts back to Mexico. It has become the benchmark from which I compare all other countries in the region.
I've reflected a great deal on why I've come to love this place so dearly.
Sure, part of it is nostalgic bias; after all, this was the country that kicked off my interest in Latin America, as well as the first foreign country I've ever lived in.
But after having talked to what must be hundreds of travellers, it seems that others share my love for this country...
Today, I'd like to discuss Cuban girls.
Consider this your short and sweet introduction to Cuban women!
I'm not outgoing.
Don't get me wrong, I enjoy having a crew to hangout with, hit the bars with and bounce shit off of, but I am also very comfortable with being alone.
I've always been that way.
If I arrive to a city where I don't know a soul, I'll have to go out to bars and clubs solo. And after much trial and error, I think I've finally figured out how to do it without looking like a rapist or serial killer.
Do you want some Mexico travel action this year? Don't let the new warnings scare you off! There are still plenty of places to enjoy down south without putting your safety or security at risk.
Vance again. This time, to talk a bit about dating in Mexico.
After having spent a cumulative total of about three years here, I like to think I've learned a thing or two about how to attract Mexican women...
*Updated for 2018
Alright, so you want to expat to Mexico.
And who wouldn't!
Amazing beaches, dynamic cities, friendly locals...and all at a fraction of the cost of the USA.
But, as we all know, moving to another country isn't easy. There's a process. Unless you want to live your life doing endless border hops every six months (it is an option..we'll get to that a bit later) you're going to need to meet some basic requirements before you can legally settle down south.
I'm going to go through these options with you now. Here is how you can move to Mexico.
Ever wondered what living in Lima, Peru would be like?
While I've done it, and I'm here to tell you about it!
I'll discuss quality of life, women, cost of living, safety, weather, food, infrastructure etc. All the stuff you might want to know about Peru's capital city.
We've all heard the news.
Severed heads in Ciudad Juarez, Durango and Mazatlan.
Bodies hanging from bridges in Zacatecas and Morelia.
Grenades thrown into nightclubs in Guadalajara and Monterrey.
There's no denying that Mexico does not have the greatest reputation in regards to safety and security. But is Mexico as dangerous as it's made out to be?
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.
So, you came to Peru, loved it and stayed. Lost track of time. It happens.
Now, you want to head back home to visit family, or leave the country to explore new lands.
Only one problem: you've overstayed your tourist visa for Peru.
So, now what happens?
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.