Everyone who knows me knows I am a gypsy and have been since I was very young so it’s not a surprise to anyone when they find out I now live abroad. I am currently living in Chile (yeah that's in South America). I decided to write this article because of all the questions I get about life in South America. It seems to fascinate people that someone might live abroad. I will be answering the most common questions I get.
"What's it like down there?"
Life in South America (especially in Chile) is very similar and very different to life in the United States. Let me explain. Think you will have to say goodbye to your Starbucks latte? Well you won't. Addicted to Pizza Hut or Subway? In a three block radius from my office there are two Pizza Huts and three Subways and I won't even mention McDonalds. So what is different? Life is on a different rhythm than it is in the United States. These are not developed countries. They are semi developed. You will wait in lines. People will look at you funny. The streets are smaller and drivers are crazier unless you are used to New York City. Everything takes longer. Is this bad? We have been raised to think slow is bad but after initial adjustments I have come to enjoy a slower rhythm. It’s easier to enjoy life when you aren't in a race.
"Isn't it dangerous down there?"
In case you didn't notice the trend, almost every question has the words "down there". Well the answer is yes; it can be dangerous but much less than cities like Los Angeles, Chicago and Atlanta. Every city in the world has dangerous areas but if you do your homework you will probably be all right.
"Are you like a rock star down there?"
I love this question. I'm a redhead. I think I'm pretty cool. I am not a rock star ANYWHERE but if you are referring to the fact that the money I earn writing articles (you can too here) goes farther here that "up there" then yes, it does. In South American countries, especially some like Argentina or Bolivia, you could live a rock star lifestyle for a normal U.S. salary. To give you an example for most of the year I live in Chile in a high-end beach town named Reñaca. I rent a three bedroom, two bath apartment with water, cable TV, and internet included for around $600 U.S. dollars a month. The thing is the apartment is oceanfront. I cross the street to get to the beach. The view from my balcony is amazing. How much would that cost in the States?
“Do I have to speak Spanish?”
Speaking the language makes life easier but it is definitely not a requirement. I know several “gringos” down here that either don’t speak any Spanish or learned here and they loved it as part of the adventure. Take some classes but you don’t have to be a linguist. There are quite a few people that speak English in South America and the people are generally very helpful.
"When are you moving back?"
This question usually comes from my mom. I don't know. When I can match my income to live the same lifestyle in the States as my lifestyle here I may move back but then again with the amount of money I would need to live the life I live here in the States I would be in a whole other ballpark down here. Time will tell but for the time being I love living in South America and I would recommend it to anyone who wants a change.