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Using 90-day tourist visas to take refuge from US hyperinflation Part 2

Posted by John Reed on

Honest countries

Well, I will care about what I want to care about and you should, too. If honesty and promise keeping matter to you, you should probably go to the less corrupt countries during your 90-day tourist visa escapes. Since rule of law, a related habit, is the main determinant of prosperity around the world, you will generally find that honest countries have a higher cost of living and standard of living and lower cost-of-living countries have lower integrity standards. Unlike the live-abroad book authors, I will not tell you how to think about it or whether to accept it. I am just pointing out that’s the way it is. You can make an informed choice with that knowledge.

Here is a list of the top 26 honest countries according to TI:





















1



Denmark













1



New Zealand













3



Finland













3



Sweden













5



Norway













5



Singapore













7



Switzerland













8



Netherlands













9



Australia













9



Canada













11



Luxembourg













12



Germany













12



Iceland













14



United Kingdom













15



Barbados













15



Belgium













15



Hong Kong













18



Japan













19



United States of America













19



Uruguay













21



Ireland













22



Chile













22



France













22



Saint Lucia













22



The Bahamas













26



Austria



Drop down from there and you are in the Middle East, Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking countries (other than Chile and Uruguay), Africa, Eastern Europe, Asia.

On page 53 of that book, the author says

…a boundless sense of the absurd will serve you well as you adapt to your new environment [in Costa Rica].

Uh, why is it not absurd to recommend living in a place where you need a “boundless sense of the absurd?” And what is the meaning of the word “sense” in that sentence? Affection for the absurd? Must be an acquired taste. I saw the absurd as a normal thing in the Army—SNAFU they call it—and could not wait to get out. In America, the absurd is more technically described as the various government organizations, like the Army. In Costa Rica, and I am guessing some other Latin American countries, it applies to the entire culture, which is also more governmented up than in the U.S.

Counterfeit money

You often get counterfeit money in Costa Rica. Maybe the person who gives it to you got snookered when they got it, but their solution is to snooker you—a sort of upside-down “pay it forward.” One standard way to get rid of it is to use it to pay a cab fare at night. The author of Living Abroad in Costa Rica brags about doing that. Very funny.

But the basic problem is passing counterfeit money knowingly is immoral. The fact that it is normal in Costa Rica does not mean you should start doing it. When a newly elected politician starts acting like sleazy politicians in Washington, they call it “going native.” Going native in one of these low-TI-rating foreign countries could have a corrosive effect on your previously honest American soul. Don’t pass counterfeit money. Just be extremely careful about accepting money especially in situations where someone is trying to give you the bum’s rush.

Too close

Part of the culture in Latin America and Asia is people physically pressing up against you in crowds or lines and standing way too close to you when talking to you. Even the author of Living Abroad in Costa Rica admits she can neither explain this away nor get used to it herself. My middle son, a quiet guy, almost flipped out in Barcelona, Spain when a guy tried to pick his pocket on a crowded bus there. That is the non-North American jamming together combined with the non-North American acceptance of petty street crime. Don’t be too quick to assume that you can comply with the “when in Rome…” rule on such things. The culture you have lived in your whole life is not just a jacket you can take off and replace at will in an instant. And when it comes to integrity, I don't think you should adopt the less honest culture even if you could.

As was in another book about living overseas, the Living Abroad in Costa Rica book says non-North Americans are very noisy at all hours of the day and they are not going to change for you.

Getting around

Generally, the list of honest countries is also a list of places where Americans can drive a car. Actually, you may drive in almost all countries, but I am told you won’t want to, because they drive like demolition derbies there. I saw that in Vietnam. Buses would have people hanging off them and sitting on the roofs. We Americans painted double yellow lines on the highways, but the Vietnamese would ignore them. If both lanes on a four-lane highway with a double yellow line were blocked, they would go across the yellow lines into the oncoming traffic to get around. The Marigold Hotel movie also showed the insanity of Third-World drivers and traffic, and I’m guessing the Indians don’t like being called Third-World.

So you need to think about how you are going to get around. In Latin America and other poor areas, apparently it is often very cheap to take buses or trains where they have them or taxis or to even hire a driver. But the more rural the location, the harder that is. In Costa Rica, they do not have many street signs or even numbers of buildings as addresses. The address on a letter is a list of directions to the mailman—the way we might direct a friend to meet us at a particular picnic table at a park!

So if you want to go rural, you need to take refuge in a country where you can drive as a practical matter. I have some American friends who own a vacation home on the Coromandel Peninsula in New Zealand. They have a couple of vehicles which they drive—on the left—on roads that generally have no shoulder! I rode with them. A bit freaky, but they said you get used to it. If you are in a country where you cannot drive or do not want to, you have to go to an urban area and one with walking-distance public transit or cheap taxis and hired cars/drivers.

If you want to prove your manhood by driving in the crazy countries, good luck. Get a lot of steel around you. Actually, you may be safer inside a car than being a pedestrian in these countries. Better a bus or train, though.

Buses in decent foreign countries sound a lot nicer than the long-distance buses in the U.S.

Water

Reportedly, you can drink the water in most parts of Costa Rica and this is unusual for Latin America. You ought to consider such things when picking a 90-day refuge. Our oldest son went to China for 19 days when he was in high school. He was in Beijing the night Hong Kong reverted to China. My research for his trip indicated he must not drink the water on the Chinese plane, brush his teeth with the water or even let a drop of it fly into his mouth when taking a shower. He abided by that advice and was one of the few on his trip who did not get sick. My wife went to China for 19 days in 2012 and got very sick, as did almost all the others in her group. 90 days of sick may not be better than 90 days in a hyperinflated US.

Cuisine

I like most foreign foods but I often have to leave a Mexican restaurant without eating because I don’t like anything on the menu. That might make it tough for me to take refuge in Latin America. If you have any category of food you don’t like, you probably need to rule out countries where that is the rule, or at least limit yourself to their big cities where you can go to McDonalds, KFC, and nice restaurants featuring French or Chinese or American cuisine.

Language

The vacation travel books give you phrases. The Living Abroad books tell you to take immersion courses to learn the language. What about being a 6 to 24-month 90-Day tourist visa traveler? If you are an American like me or an English-speaking Canadian, you probably ought to limit your travels to English-speaking countries. I listed them in my other article about 90-day tourist visa travel: http://www.johntreed.com/checklist-for-taking-refuge-from-hyperinflation-in-foreign-country.html

Or you can stay in the expensive hotels like the Four Seasons or Fairmont in which case they will have plenty of English-speaking staff and outside contractors who speak English.

Should you study the language seriously if you take refuge in a country where English is not the main language? Well, if it’s Spanish, you could visit a series of countries for 90 days then move to the next one all of which speak Spanish and each of which has its own 90-day tourist visa. Here is the list of Spanish-speaking countries:

Spain (Schengen Area)
Cuba
Guatemala
Mexico
Costa Rica
Nicaragua
Argentina
Colombia
Venezuela
Peru
Ecuador
Bolivia
Honduras
Paraguay
Honduras
Panama
Chile
Dominican Republic
Uruguay

Note that each of these countries speaks its own version of Spanish, but if you speak any of them, you should be okay.

Portuguese is not recommended because you would have to go to Portugal (Schengen Area) then Brazil then Portugal then Brazil—long flight and maybe they do not want you there that many times.

French? Nah. That just gets you France, which is in the Schengen Area, and some Schengen countries that have French as one of a number of languages, but you have to leave the whole Schengen Area after 90 days and stay away for at least 90 days. The other French-speaking countries are numerous but lousy—Haiti and a bunch of countries in Africa.

Are there any other languages that you could study one then use it in a number of countries that you visit sequentially for 90 days each? Not really. The most widely spoken language is Mandarin, but you only need it in China and Taiwan. Singapore has it but they also have English.

Spanish is the second most widely spoken language in the world, then English. After that you are into Hindi and Arabic. They speak English in India and I read that educated Arabs speak English rather than Arabic at home. Portuguese is actually the sixth most spoken language in the world, but other than Portugal and Brazil, it is just some African countries. However, Portuguese and Spanish are so similar that you can reportedly get by if each if you speak one. So you would study Spanish rather than Portuguese because it gets you far more countries and people.

So if you are an English speaker, and only know another language from U.S. or Canadian high school and/or college study, you should either stick to English-speaking countries or expensive hotels in major cities in any country or learn Spanish and do your sequence of 90-day stays in countries that speak Spanish or Portuguese. If you go to non-English-speaking countries, you could also help yourself a lot by living among, and hanging around with, expats from English-speaking countries.

Portable businesses only

Living abroad books talk a lot about getting work permits and business permits. About the only business you can do on 90-day tourist visas is a portable one that can be done in each country. Like my writing/publishing business or being a travel writer. Or maybe something you can do totally on the phone or by Internet or both. Are there any countries that allow a 90-day tourist visa person to work or engage in a business? Costa Rica does. If there are others, and you want to pursue a business or need to, you could find out what others there are and confine yourself to only visiting them. So can you earn money as an employee or entrepreneur when you have to change countries every 90 days? Yes, in certain jobs or businesses. Is it legal? In some countries, yes. And in all telephone/Internet jobs in which you are communicating only with people in other countries are probably invisible to the authorities so as a practical matter your moneymaking will not be prevented.

Telephone

Can you have the same phone number while you move from country-to country every 90 days? Yes. I think you can do that with Skype and Vonnage and maybe some other providers. I don’t want to get too deep into that subject because it is dynamic and the details are not that important. But as I understand it, you can get a phone number, or use one you already have, such that when your friends, relatives, and business acquaintances call you, it rings wherever you are. The caller need not know where you are. For example, they may call a Denver area code. After a couple of rings, you pick up. You are in, say, Wellington, New Zealand, but there is nothing that tells the caller that unless you do. If there are any other considerations that are important enough I hope readers will apprise me of them and I will add them here.

There is also the issue of cell phones. Many say to buy them when you get to the country in question. I have never done that but cannot say there’s anything wrong with it. I have a Samsung Galaxy S III from Verizon. It is supposed to work more or less in every country. It did work in Australia and New Zealand, but I had to get on the phone for about two hours with Verizon from New Zealand to get it working. Part of it was taking the battery out and re-installing it. I was ordered not to use it in Canada because it is extremely expensive.

So you are going to have to research that with the particular fact of changing countries every 90 days being focused upon. Fundamentally, there is an optimal phone solution for a person who spends 6 to 24 months changing countries every 90 days. I do not know what it is exactly but I know there is a best way to do it. I hope readers who do a lot of international travel will tell me what it is.

Health care

The same is true of health care. When we went to Australia and New Zealand, Kaiser in California where we live said we were covered for emergency care—including seeing a doctor for a sore throat, not just ambulance/EMT stuff. Also, New Zealand provides free care to all including foreign tourists for accident injuries! What about non-emergency care? Not covered. Do it when you get back Kaiser said. If you try to get a residence permit, almost all countries make you prove you have health insurance that covers you in their country. U.S. Medicare does not.

You can buy such insurance from U.S. companies, international insurance companies, and some other entities. But when you go on a 90-day tourist visa, you typically do not need to prove insurance—another benefit of the 90-day visa compared to residence permits.

But what if you get sick or injured and are not covered? So you need it not only for getting a residence permit, but also for avoiding severe financial damage from the cost of the care. As with the telephone, I am sure there is some optimal solution for a person who is going to change countries every 90 days for 6 to 24 months. In part, it depends on which countries you are going to. If, for example, it’s just Canada, you could probably come back to the States for the treatment, even during USD hyperinflation. Pack a lunch.

There are some staying away from the U.S. legal and contract provisions. For example, somewhere in Obamacare, it says you do not need to sign up and pay if you are away from the U.S. for 330 or more days per year. There are probably similar clauses in health care insurance policies. You need to know if taking refuge from USD hyperinflation in other countries for 90 days or more will trigger any such laws or clauses, and if so, take appropriate action. For example, if being away that long invalidates your health policy, you probably ought to stop paying the monthly premiums, or maybe touch base in the U.S. often enough to avoid triggering a too-many-days-out-of-the-U.S. clause.

Also, it is apparently hard to become a new policyholder on a health insurance policy when you are over 65. Not sure what the fix is, but see if it is a problem for you and, if so, start researching how to fix it.

There is also medical tourism. That is where you pay out of pocket for a surgery or other treatment, but you do so in countries where the procedures cost 1/6 to 1/3 of what the same procedure costs in the U.S. India and Thailand have been prominent medical tourism destinations for Americans. Costa Rica also happens to be one of the destinations for such medical tourism. I expect that because of ObamaCare, new medical tourism facilities will open closer to the U.S., namely in Mexico and the Caribbean. I wrote about medical tourism more in my other 90-day tourist visa article: http://www.johntreed.com/checklist-for-taking-refuge-from-hyperinflation-in-foreign-country.html

Costa Rica ranks high in happiness and friendliness surveys. I would have to go there to comment on that but I think it’s true that some countries are distinctly better than others in those sorts of personality metrics. In Spain, I asked the fare collector on a bus, in Spanish, to tell me when we arrived at a particular street because the street signs were zipping by so fast. He agreed and another passenger offered to walk with me all the way to my destination, which he did. In Germany, a week later, I did the same thing, in German. The fare collector just looked at me. So I strained to read the zipping-by signs. Then he cleared his throat. It was my stop.

Did they help me in both countries? Yep. Was there a drastic difference in the personalties of the two peoples? You do the math. Is this important for deciding where to go for extended periods? Yes.

No army

One of Costa Rica’s claims to fame is no army. Until Vladimir Putin finds out, or the Vladimir Putin of Latin America. I think that means Costa Rica is assuming we will protect them and free-loading off that. Americans are getting a bit tired of that. We seem to be paying for the defense of the western world and not getting much for it.

Political and economic stability

Costa Rica brags about being politically stable since 1948. Hell, I’ve been politically stable since 1946. If you want to grade on the Latin American curve, I guess that’s saying something. But America has been politically stable since 1865 and Canada longer than that. They grow a lot of bananas in Costa Rica. And it’s a republic. I hope they stay stable and see no immediate trouble on the horizon, but when I look at the globe seeking stability, Costa Rica is not the first place to come to mind.

On page 29 of the Costa Rica book, there is a little Indian legend of the origin of white people—leaf-cutter ants who destroy everything in their path. It’s next-to-last sentence is

The white man cuts down everything that is green, and where he lives there are no trees, no rivers, no animals.

Lovely. Can’t wait to enjoy social harmony with those folks. They need to get out more. I heard there was actually still a tree somewhere in America.

The claim to economic stability is disproved by their very typical Latin American action of devaluing their currency in 1979.

Not so many Spanish

I originally had a vague notion that since Latin Americans speak Spanish and Portuguese, their ancestors were Spanish and Portuguese, just as ours are mainly English people.

Apparently not. Not that they don’t claim that is the case. In their census, in which they get to self-select a race, they come up 83.6% white or mestizo (part Indian, part white); mulatto (half black half white like Obama), 7%; refuse to say, 5%; 1% black.

I have been to Spain and Mexico. And we have lots of Latinos here in California. They do not look Spanish or Italian to me. They look more like American Indians. And some Latin American countries, like Cuba, look more like blacks.

It is typical and a bit comical that Latin Americans and their governments often claim to be Italian or other European ethnically, not Indian or black. It’s only the “shades of dark prestige in Third World countries”s thing. Lighter skin is more claimed than darker. I read somewhere that DNA-type analysis of Latin Americans reveals more Indian and black ancestry than is admitted to. The Costa Rican president in the early 1990 said there had been no Indians in Costa Rica when Columbus discovered America—a false statement.

A 1995 study by geneticists found that almost all Costa Ricans are mestizos—and that the not-Indian DNA in them is 40% to 60% white; 15 to 35% Indian; and 10 to 20% (not 1%) black. Also, about half the populations is recent immigrants from Nicaragua. Costa Rica is not, like America, mainly a nation of colonists from the mother monarchy country followed by European immigrants.

For the record, I am 7/16 Scots-Irish; 4/16 Irish; 4/16 Magyar or German (my maternal grandfather claimed his parents were German but he was born in Budapest and had a Hungarian-sounding name); and 1/16 Cherokee Indian. I will judge a person by the content of his character, not the color of his skin, but I do not care for people downplaying, ignoring, or denying their DNA, like Obama claiming he is black. What he is was determined by who his parents were, not by who he wishes they were. I prefer Tiger Woods’ answer. Oprah asked him if he “considered himself” black. He said no, he was Caucasian, black, American Indian, Chinese, and Thai. His father had at least three of those so Woods is not even half black. Woods calls himself Cablinasian, a word he made up.

Champagne social welfare with a beer budget

Costa Rica, and probably most other Latin American countries, talk a good game about universal education and health care, but they lack the money to pay for it and a high percentage of kids go to private school and the health care system for wealthier people is private or a mixture of the public system, which everyone must join and pay for, and the private one, which is more efficient and competent.

Because they are poor, the IMF and USAID who bail out Costa Rica and similar countries with loans have forced partial privatization of the various monopoly government businesses like the phone and electric utilities, banks, oil company as well as reduction in protectionism.

Children

This can be a deal killer. School age kids can probably be home schooled as you move from country to country. As a practical matter, even if the country in question had a law against that, like Germany, I can’t see how they would know you exist other than as an American tourist family. Home schooling takes time and effort and that is not my area of expertise. Here, I am just telling you that it does not appear to me that you will be able to enroll your kids in local public schools in another country during a 90-day tourist visa. Private schools might be willing to work something out. Private tutors could probably be hired.

Back to the language issue. The Living Abroad in Spain book says kids 10 and under can be put is local public schools and they will make friends and learn the language. But that over-ten American or Canadian kids not only will not just pick up the language, they may have a melt down. Kathleen Peddicord’s daughter did not care for moving from America to Ireland. Then they moved to Paris, also not to the liking of the daughter until she got a French boyfriend after which she liked it fine. Peddicord’s son was okay with both countries.

My wife and I know a family where they were just moving from one U.S. coast to the other when one of their kids was a teenage boy. He was extremely unhappy, and committed suicide with the father’s pistol! Teenagers are delicate. Peer approval means all to them. Ripping them from their friends and maybe the puppy love of their life can seem the end of the world to them. Throwing them into a foreign school where they are the only one who can’t speak the language is akin to throwing a kid who can’t swim into the deep end of the pool. You may think this “If it’s Fall, this must be Canada” permanent tourist status is a great adventure, or a necessity caused by USD hyperinflation, but your teenager(s) or 11 or 12-year-old may violently protest and be harmed by it or his or her reaction to it.

You need to anticipate that and prepare for it. Perhaps some pre-hyperinflation fire-drill-type trips to get everyone acclimated. How you deal with it is very much an individual situation that I have no knowledge of. But I do need to warn you that is is a distinct possibility if you have kids over 10 and maybe for some who are 9 or 10.

Sports and other TV

If you enjoy American sports, leaving the U.S. may require some TV gyrations. The sports you can attend in foreign countries are typically soccer and rugby and apparently sports are not a college activity outside of the U.S. They have baseball in Latin America and Asia.

So you need access to Internet TV. Expats in Australia reportedly use Apple TV and Slingbox. I know nothing about either, but I am guessing it takes significant bandwidth and you cannot assume such is available in every banana republic or every metro area in countries that do have broadband Internet. Satellite works everywhere, in theory.

So you need to ask the expats in countries you are considering how one watches U.S. TV there. It will almost certainly be a satellite or high-speed Internet connection so need to make sure where you are considering living has an adequate, affordable version of either.

You gotta go there

All the books on living abroad say you can only get so much from reading. You have to physically go there to get a final reading. Part of it is personal taste. The author of a book on Costa Rica typically loves it and lives there because they love it. Whether Costa Rica would be to your taste is another matter. You gotta go there. The books typically call it your “fact-finding” trip. “Taste-finding” may be more accurate. You can get a lot of facts from the books and Internet. I made fact/taste-finding trips to Canada, Australia, and New Zealand in recent years.

Falling in love with a place

Many fall in love with foreign countries or foreign cities. Never happened to me yet. I kind of like London and Paris. Rome seemed to be an acquired taste to me. I liked the people in Spain, Mallorca, Australia, Canada, New Zealand. Germany was interesting but the people were cold. Vietnam was sort of like the Slumdog Millionaire/Marigold Hotel movies—so awful and foreign as to make We Gotta Get Out of This Place and Leaving on a Jet Plane our favorite songs when we were in Vietnam.

I lied Montreal, Vancouver, Victoria, and Lake Louise, Canada, but I did not fall in love with any of them. Hong Kong was stinking hot and humid in July, shockingly crowded, so foreign as to be other-worldly (selling raw fish spread out on the dirty city sidewalk with no paper or plate under it for customers to see) and I felt racial animus as a Caucasian there. So there is much to lean that requires an in-person visit.

My geographic falling in love has involved Boston; Manhattan; the Wildwood, NJ boardwalk; New Orleans French Quarter, San Francisco Bay Area, Los Angeles Area, San Diego, Santa Barbara; Lake Tahoe; Yosemite National Park; and Hawaii. Chicago is okay when the weather’s not bad.

Summary

As far as I can tell, 90-day tourist visas are all you need; no residence permits or citizenship in a non-U.S. country If you can get a second citizenship with little effort, cost, and hassle, I would recommend it. Bu I do not see it being worth it if you have to go through the normal trouble.

If and when you have to flee the U.S. because of hyperinflation, make sure you pre-position money in foreign currency savings accounts and that those accounts are outside of the U.S. Because of the need to move every 90 days, I think you should stick with only countries where the official or defacto language is English unless you happen to be truly native-born fluent in another language. If you must go to a country where they speak another language, most countries seem to have cities and neighborhoods with large American and/or U.K. expat communities and English-speaking schools, doctors, and so on. Live in those neighborhoods.

Try to live where you can rely almost totally on public transportation. Outside the U.S., most major metro areas have better public transit than most American cities. Forget about driving except in the former British colonies that became populated with Brits or Northern European countries.

Make sure you have the health care and car insurance you need while you are on this extended hiatus from the U.S.

The more money you have and are wiling to spend, the less guidance you need from me. The less you have, the more you have to follow my advice in this and other articles about a possible USD hyperinflation hiatus away from the U.S.

There are enough honest, rule-of-law, civilized, low-crime countries that you need not live in some second- or third-world country—unless they are the only kind you can afford.

Nowadays, you can find all kinds of cuisines in any major metro area in the civilized world. If you have to live in a rural area of a foreign country for cost reasons, you had better pick a country where you like the native cuisine.

If you have kids age 11 to 18, you need to take great care to have them buy into this and great care on making sure they can fit in and find friends in the foreign country. If they have some unbreakable tie to your U.S. home, like they are the starting QB on their high school football team, you’d better figure out a way to leave them here and send them real money from abroad.

Remember that 90 days is a maximum, not a minimum in most countries, and only with regard to consecutive days. You do not have to stay that long. You can leave whenever you want before 90 days if you can afford it.

Here is an email about this article from a reader [and my comments in red]:

Jack,





This is another great article!





I think the best line in it is the one which offers the advice:  “if you’re going to live in a dangerous country, try living in a dangerous US neighborhood first.”  Being married to a woman from [Latin America] and having traveled extensively throughout Latin America, I applaud that notion with both hands and feet.  Please let me explain why:





I speak fluent Spanish after having been with my wife for 12 years.  This includes colloquialisms, jokes, slang, etc., to the point where people ask me if I am from Argentina, because I have blond hair and blue eyes and evidently there are a lot of people with those traits in Argentina.  This is because I can speak almost like a native.  Which is why folks who “speak English” in Europe come to the US and have no clue what we are saying.  Because what you learn in school or from “Living Language” or “Rosetta Stone” CDs is NOT A TRUE REPRESENTATION OF HOW POPULATIONS SPEAK NATURALLY IN THEIR NATIVE COUNTRIES.





So if you think your 3 months of DVD classes are going to prepare you to live abroad—think again.





Most “normal” Americans would not spend a night in South Central L.A., South Detroit, or on Chicago’s South/West side.  Because they don’t want to associate with slums or run the risk of being shot.  What they have in Latin America makes the aforementioned locations look like 4-STAR RESORT PROPERTY.  I am not kidding—and if you haven’t been there, you have no clue what I’m talking about.  As I read through your Latin America list I found it hilarious to note that almost every single country named has had or is having some sort of armed, internal conflict.  Having traipsed through several of these locations in the past few years, I can tell you without reservation that you DO NOT WANT TO BE EVEN A SPECTATOR AT ONE OF THESE EVENTS.  You have no idea how a 6’-tall white person sticks out amongst Latin American folks—angry, revolutionary Latin American folks who hate Gringos….





Crime is extremely common in these locations.  Pick-pocketing is mild.  I won’t describe the other end of the spectrum.  And their laws on “self-defense” are quite different as well.  If you clobber someone trying to rob you and he pleads a different case when the cops show up, good luck trying to win the non-English-speaking Law Enforcement Officer over to your side.  Have you heard about Mexican jails?  Yes, they are that bad.  And guess who will be marked as the #1 target once you’re thrown in?  Yep, you got it.  You think we have racism in THIS country?  Good luck in Latin America—Gringo.  BTW—they don’t like African-Americans, Asian-Americans, or Hispanic-Americans there either.  And let’s not forget the moral compass reorientation you may have to make re:  bribes in an effort to get yourself out of a simple situation that rapidly developed into something way out of your control quick, fast, and in a hurry.





I dislike expat communities because they are, invariably, populated by too-rich arrogant American a-holes who opine that, even though they live outside the US, they are still “superior” to the natives of the country in which they currently reside.  They continuously (and angrily) demand that everyone around them caters to their every need and speak English whilst doing so.  They exist solely at the whim of local government—which is happy to accept their American Greenbacks, particularly at recent exchange-rate prices.  Let’s not kid ourselves, however, that you will have any “real, native” rights in those communities.  And not sure why I’d want to hang around these types of folks anyway—I wouldn’t even do that in the US. [I think there is some truth to the superiority of America in relationship to poor countries, but if that is the case, why are you there? And if you are there, you’d better hide the superiority complex completely. As a practical matter, the locals can probably imprison or kill you if they want to and maybe without suffering any consequences for it. My experience in the U.S. Army had some similar characteristics. You don’t want to live like that.]





My advice:  if you are a white English-speaker who wants to live in a foreign country, go live where the population is predominantly white and English-speaking.  [I suspect Northern European countries are also acceptable.] Unless your white spouse is a native of the chosen foreign land and he/she is willing to accompany you everywhere as a permanent translator.  I can tell you, from personal experience, that Latin America is the LAST PLACE you want to take up permanent or quasi-permanent residence as a Gringo—even if you, like I am, are colloquially-fluent in both the language and the culture.



[In a couple of my web articles, I have warned Americans going abroad that they have no rights and the officials in the other country are doing them a favor just to let them be there. The border guards can deny you entry and even ban you for years or forever. If you act like a jerk, you increase the chances that you will be mistreated. Complaining is a luxury of people who live in rule-of-law countries. There are not very many of those.]



Jeff

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