If you’re considering a move to Latin America, it’s normal to have fears and concerns about making such a dramatic change.
When we first considered moving abroad, we had a lot of fears about the safety, healthcare, infrastructure, language barriers, and other challenges that come with living in a new country.
In particular, Latin America seemed dangerous and underdeveloped compared to our home in the United States.
However, after doing a lot of research, and after living in Ecuador for more than five years, we realized that our fears were largely unfounded or exaggerated.
In this article, we’ll explore the top 10 fears we had about moving to Latin America, and how they turned out in reality.
First on our list was the fear of crime. We had heard a lot of horror stories about kidnappings, murders, and other violent crimes in Latin America.
However, we soon realized that these stories were often blown out of proportion by the media and that the reality of crime in Latin America was similar to other parts of the world.
While theft is a reality and we’ve been victims of pickpocketing (in Ecuador) and robbery (in Mexico), expats are rarely targeted for kidnapping or murder.
The key is to be aware of your surroundings, take precautions, and avoid carrying large amounts of cash or attracting unnecessary attention.
Our second fear was getting scammed. We had heard stories about all kinds of scams, from fake bus attendants to getting gringoed (aka price gouged).
However, we soon realized that scams can happen anywhere in the world and that common sense and caution can go a long way in avoiding them.
By paying attention, negotiating prices, and keeping our belongings with us at all times, we have been able to avoid most scams.
The third fear we had was about parasites. You may know them by other names, such as Montezuma’s Revenge or Bali Belly, they are gastrointestinal issues that can be caused by drinking or eating contaminated water or food.
However, these concerns are not unique to Latin America. In fact, the US has had several Listeria and E. coli outbreaks over the past several years.
Maybe the US needs a clever name for its gut bombs. Geronimo’s Revenge comes to mind.
With proper precautions, such as drinking bottled or filtered water and washing fruits and vegetables, we have managed to avoid these issues while living in Ecuador.
Might Not Like It
Fourth on our list was the fear of not liking Latin America as a living destination.
Moving abroad is a big commitment, and we were afraid that we might not enjoy our new home, be able to make friends, or adjust to the cultural differences.
While some aspects of living in Latin America have been challenging, such as the culture shock and different ways of doing things than we’re used to, we also found that has a lot of wonderful differences that have expanded our worldview.
It has also been much easier to make friends than we expected. By putting ourselves out there, joining clubs and groups, and exploring our new community, we were able to find a sense of belonging and make lasting connections.
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Might Be Lonely
Our fifth fear was being lonely. Moving abroad can be intimidating, and we were afraid that we might feel isolated or cut off from our support system back home.
However, we discovered several ways to connect with other expats and locals in Latin America. By joining Facebook groups, attending language classes or cultural events, and seeking out expat communities, we were able to find a sense of community and support very quickly.
Sixth on our list was the language barrier. We were afraid that we might not be able to communicate effectively or find help when we needed it.
While it can be difficult and frustrating at times, learning Spanish has been a valuable and rewarding experience. With the help of translation apps and patient locals, we have been able to navigate most situations and even improve our language skills over time.
Seventh on our list was the fear of bad infrastructure. We were afraid that we might not have access to reliable internet, electricity, or water, or that finding suitable housing might be difficult.
However, most of the world has reliable internet now, and mobile data is fast and reliable in most places in Latin America. We’ve run several Zoom meetings using the 4G network in Ecuador.
While some areas may have issues with power outages, many of the newer buildings have backup generators that kick on if the power goes out. Two of the buildings we’ve lived in use backup diesel generators.
Access to potable water may vary depending on the region, but in some areas, water delivery services are available. In Cuenca and parts of Loja, Guayaquil and Quito, you can drink the tap water. Some of the nicer, newer condo buildings have reverse osmosis filtration systems. Water has been much less of a concern in Ecuador than it is when we visit Mexico.
Eighth on our list was the fear of bad healthcare. We were convinced that healthcare in the US was the best in the world and were afraid that we might not be able to find quality healthcare in Latin America.
However, many countries in Latin America have excellent healthcare systems, and private insurance can be much cheaper than in the US.
While public healthcare facilities may be lacking in some areas, private healthcare options are so affordable that many people choose to self-insure.
Check out this detailed article about our healthcare experience in Ecuador, including quality and costs.
Might Miss Consumerism
Ninth on our list was the fear of missing consumerism. We were afraid that we might not be able to find the things we needed or that we might miss the convenience of services like Amazon Prime.
However, most things are available in Latin America, although some items may be more expensive than in the US.
In some cases, we even discovered new alternatives that we liked even better than our old favorites.
Getting by with less and simplifying our lives has helped us save money and live more sustainably.
Might Get Homesick
Finally, we were afraid of being homesick. Moving abroad can be a big adjustment, and we were afraid that we might miss our families, friends, and familiar surroundings.
However, homesickness has not been a major issue for us, probably because we didn’t live near our families in the US, and most of our friends were work-related (so, not real friends that stand the test of time).
While homesickness is a real problem for some expats, we found that staying connected with loved ones through technology and exploring our new home and community helped us feel grounded and fulfilled.
While moving to Latin America can come with its challenges and uncertainties, most of our fears were unfounded or exaggerated.
By taking precautions, doing our research, and staying open-minded, we were able to adjust to our new home and community and even thrive.
Moving to Latin America was the right decision for us, and we hope that by sharing our experiences, we can help others make informed decisions about their own international moves.
Watch the Video About Our Misconceptions About Latin America
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Hola todos! Welcome to my author bio page! Let's see. Where to begin... I grew up in the country on a lake outside a small Kansas farm town. As soon as I could, I got the hell outta there! Since then, I've lived and/or worked in Kansas City, Washington D.C., Denver, San Francisco, and Ecuador. I started and sold a dotcom, wrote a book about it, started a YouTube channel, and now I write a lot. Amelia and I have embraced the Unconventional Life and we want to help you do it, too!