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Old 01-21-2013, 05:55 PM   #21
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I am thinking you do not work for International Living Magazine?

In the past history of this forum there have been many discussions about the sfety or otherwise of living in Latin America. Until very recently the dominant opinion was that Mexico for example is much safer than the US. I tended to think that could not be true overall, but that US cities that are notorious for murder and other violent crime might be be right up there with the leaders.

But these rankings do not show one important thing- a norteamericano in Latin America is like Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. Even in Southern Cone countries where many people may have similar coloring, we walk different, we talk different, we dress different, and we in general don't know what is going on.

So I imagine that we would have a different victim profile. Some members have claimed that the need for tourists would mean that we have less crime against us, particularly since a meaningful amounf of the violence in some of these cities is drug related. OTOH, kidnapping for ransom is quite popular, and I can't think of a better target than a Yanqui who can barely speak the language, and is often assumed to have money.

I appreciate these posts from those who know, and who have nothing to sell either to readers, or to themselves.


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Old 01-21-2013, 07:25 PM   #22
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I never had the impression that people argued Mexico was safer that the US, just that many areas weren't as dangerous as US media suggested. Gringos are low hanging fruit in some areas. So are people in some parts of Chicago or Seattle - easy targets stand out.

Anywhere people go to live (or visit) where they don't speak the language or know local culture they a pre at greater risk than the rest of us.

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Old 01-21-2013, 07:49 PM   #23
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Originally Posted by MichaelB View Post
I never had the impression that people argued Mexico was safer that the US, just that many areas weren't as dangerous as US media suggested. Gringos are low hanging fruit in some areas. So are people in some parts of Chicago or Seattle - easy targets stand out.

Anywhere people go to live (or visit) where they don't speak the language or know local culture they a pre at greater risk than the rest of us.
I am not interested enough to try to find the posts. You may well be correct.

However, most Americans know their way around their own city. I know Seattle well enough, yet I don't live in the best neighborhood by any means. One of the more expensive, but far from the safest. Recently there have been a number of armed street robberies not far away-one at 4pm. Same guy, brandishes a silver autoloader. I walk, so I am necesarily exposed to a greater degree than someone who lives in a good suburb and goes everywhere in a car. And any of you who have spent much time downtown lately realize that it is looking nastier.

Absolute safety is impossible, and getting more right now would cost too much in terms of the boredom that can come with suburbs. As we age, we all make better targets. Even carrying a gun- these criminal usually get very close before it is evident that their intention is to rob or attack you.

As to the 50 most dangerous cities, unless you refute or reject the article, who could be surprised at St Louis, New Orleans or Baltimore? Yet look at how many Latin cities rank higher in violent crime than the 3 worst US cities.

And this is without any thought to who stands out. You or I are going to stand out in East St Louis, or east Baltimore. But we aren't going to walk around there either.

Unless one has very good spanish, it is harder to keep up with what is going on in Latin America than here in the US. For the most part, we won't know which news outlets are more free and which less. The early story about drug trouble being limited to the border was unblelievable to anyone with any experience in Mexico. There are drug routes known for 50 years, going well down from the border And of course this is always changing, as the ultimate source of the drugs is not static, nor even the drugs that are getting most play at any time. Seems a bigger task than the typical retiree wants to take on.

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Old 01-21-2013, 08:36 PM   #24
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I married a Brazilian and have my permanent visa there (equivalent of a green card). We have young kids (3 years and 1 year) and currently spend about half the year in Brazil staying at in-laws and the other half in Texas. Besides enjoying the change of pace, we are doing this because we really want our kids to be fluent and feel native in both countries. We plan for them to go to school in both countries as well but at some point we will settle down and stay in one school system (probably back here in the States).

My wife is from Florianopolis (also known as Floripa) which is an island in the southern state of Santa Catarina. It's a great place, I really enjoy it. When we first met 8 years ago it was affordable. I was taking advantage of geo-arbitrage by living in places that were less expensive so I could try and bootstrap a small business. Unfortunately the cost of living and exchange rates make it a pretty expensive place now. We buy everything we are going to need in the States and take it down there with us. Every time we go into the grocery store, shopping mall or out to a restaurant for dinner we laugh at how expensive everything is. I honestly think there is some kind of scam going on and someone is getting very rich because the prices are sky high and the average wages are much lower then the US. So that makes the relative buying power of the people lower.

Here you can see how it ranks on the Big Mac index.
Daily chart: The Big Mac index | The Economist

Here you can see GDP per Capita:
List of countries by GDP (PPP) per capita - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

I remember paying about $800 for a round trip ticket for a longest time, now it's up to $1,200 and maybe a little north of that. With the World Cup and Olympics in the next 4 years flights are going to be full and ticket prices high.

Real estate has appreciated a tremendous amount and some bubbles are bursting (according to a friend of mine in real estate in Sao Paulo). Buying in at this time is pretty pricey.

As for health care, I found it hit and miss. My first daughter was born in Brazil the second in the USA. Both are fine but had their been an emergency, I would have much preferred to be in the USA. On the other hand, new facilities down there are buying new equipment. My wife's OBGYN here had an older sonogram machine in his office, down there you go to a sonogram clinic where they had newer 3D machines.

Taking our kids in to the pediatrician down there is interesting, we basically pay some cash on top of the insurance so we don't have to wait in long wait (and it's a top notch doctor). It's not very fun to wait for an hour or more with a sick kid or to keep a healthy kid around sick kids who are playing with toys (check-up or shots). I haven't needed to use the medical system but I have been with my wife and it's okay but I'd want to come back to the States for anything major or to Albert Einstein Hospital in Sao Paulo. I think the same thing holds true for many other countries/regions, there is a great hospital a couple hour flight away but the smaller regional ones might be hit or miss. The doctors are caring and very nice they just don't have an MRI machine or other advanced tools downs stairs like many facilities do here. There is usually one in town somewhere but they are not used as much since they are not as readily available.
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Old 01-22-2013, 02:51 AM   #25
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Most Dangerous Cities In The World - Business Insider
[QUOTE]WOW! This is an eye-opener! I never imagined Tepic as dangerous. And I did ask about Curitiba, didn't I? Maybe I'll just rent the movie.

This thread should be mandatory reading for anyone considering living in Latin America. Maybe it isn't as cheap--or as safe--as advertised.

Thanks to the contributors who have personal experience in far places!
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Old 01-22-2013, 04:34 AM   #26
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Andy R's experience is much in line what I wrote in my earlier post.

If you think about Brazil because of costs of living, then forget about it, you are better off in the US. Many Brazilians go to the US for vacation because it is cheaper for them - and they just love Disney .

It was mentioned in one of the earlier posts that costs of living are good for those who earn in US dollars. Sorry to say but those times are over. Unless you have an expat contract with great conditions local salaries (white collar) are often better paid than in the US.

Medical treatment is top, if you have good insurance and live near one of the centers like So Paulo, Rio, Belo Horizonte, Curitiba. Albert Einstein and some other in So Paulo, (Sirio-Libanes) are some of the world's best hospitals.

Most of the danger areas and also homicides are happening inside the slums, often between the gangs and drug dealers. Nevertheless I agree that one should know where to go in the big cities and talking Portuguese helps of course a lot. But well - I would also not recommend to walk around LA downtown during the night, even speaking some basic English.
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Old 01-22-2013, 07:23 AM   #27
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I currently live and plan to (soon) retire in Brazil. The above posts are all excellent, I am always impressed by the solid knowledge of our fellow members! A quick recap

- For the kind of lifestyle that most of us would want to lead, Brazil is a bit more expensive than the U.S., In these comparisons, it is important to compare apples with apples, so one should compare Sao Paulo cost of living with NYC, not a mid-sized city in the midwest.
- Very friendly people, a choice of different climates, some really nice seaside areas.
- Medical care is top notch, if you have insurance and live near one of the main cities
- Security is a concern in many locations but you can live very safely if you take some basic precautions and are willing to spend a bit of money on security.

The way DW and I reconciled all of this was to pick carefully our retirement location - Ilhabela, an offshore island about 3-4h from So Paulo. This location is
1. Safe - the fact that you need to take a ferry to get there helps
2. Not only a beautiful island with great nautical infrastructure, but 85% of the island is a State Park, covered in original Atlantic rainforest. Nice climate, too, since it has a few 4000 ft peaks and a nice breeze most days. Great place for sailing, fishing, etc.
3. Only 2.5h from Brazil's main international airport, so, convenient for travel
4. Proximity to Sao Paulo allows one to easily access top notch health care facilities (as well as shopping facilities and cultural events).

There are a few other locations like this in Brazil... Buzios (northern Rio state), a few places near Florianopolis (Santa Catarina State, further South).

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