Living in Latin America - Like a Local or Like a Foreigner?
When you’re considering your options to initiate a move to a new country, an aspect you may overlook is where you’d like to live. And we don’t mean where as in, which country or city, or whether you prefer a mountain or ocean view.
We mean where as in, would you rather reside in an established expat setting – English speaking neighbors, like-minded interests, etc., or would you prefer being immersed in a local town with the local people.
This significant early choice may not have struck you… but it’s certainly something worth considering. Your final choice on where you live will have a large impact on how you experience your day-to-day life in your new home.
No doubt about it, living in a community with other expats is definitely the ‘easy’ way to live in Latin America. After all, you’re able to speak English rather then learn a new language, and get together to share each other’s criticisms about living in a foreign country.
This setting is a convenient way to get a taste of what living abroad is like, as opposed to jumping in with both feet right off the bat; you can enjoy the glorious weather and benefit from the affordable cost of living. That being said, you may feel an odd sense of familiarity… the same type of people, the same activities (Tuesday night card night, anyone?) and can always find someone to speak English with.
However, imagine how different your International living experience would be if you settled in a quaint fishing village… or a colonial mountain town where, as a foreigner, you’re among the minority. Settling in a local environment means adopting the local way of living.
How does that make you feel? Does the prospect excite and invigorate you? Or does it freak the heck out of you? Consider this for a moment… and be honest with yourself about the thoughts that are inevitably rolling around in your head.
Just remember, there is no right or wrong answer… either option provides pros and cons.
To help put it into perspective… some of us were travelling on behalf of Where International and we met Collin and Beth in Trujillo Honduras. Now, Trujillo is located on Honduras’ mainland… and the majority of expats in this country tend to gravitate towards the Bay Islands, specifically Roatan. But Collin and Beth liked the idea of living in a more local setting, and expat communities are few and far between in this area of the country.
Originally, Collin visited Honduras for missionary work. He enjoyed it so much that the following year he brought Beth with him and they explored a bit more then he had on his own. Three years after that initial visit, they’re enjoying their new life. “We taught ourselves some Spanish before we made the move”, Beth explains. “But we didn’t really pick it up until we were living here full-time. You don’t really have much choice!” But for them, it was exciting to learn a new language… exciting to meet new and “incredibly friendly, hospitable” people and exciting to discover a new way of life.
Certainly, the path that Collin and Beth chose in Honduras isn’t for everyone. However, it’s interesting to consider an ‘in-between’ way of living abroad. Who says it has to be cut and dry? Who says you can’t enjoy living in a home that’s built to North American standards, but in an ‘off-the-beaten-path’ area? You’re still able to enjoy the comforts of home but can still enjoy the local cultures and traditions. Sure, the option to drive, fly or take a ferry to large, metropolis areas is at your disposal, but your ‘home’ can be imbedded within a local community.
This is possible, and we can point you towards these types of communities. Our Discovery Weekends are a wonderful way to see the surrounding neighborhoods, interact with both local and other expat residents (future and current) and get a quality feel of what your future life could look and feel like.