2020 South American Expat Thread

Blade Runner

Pelican
Orthodox
Its the diesel..... like me

But now that Panama closed its borders to people coming from Colombia. I imagine it will be sold before I make it up there :mad:
What is going on in Colombia and Panama is just perplexing to me on many levels.

But hey, honk honk I guess was always prone to going super honkity honk honk, ha
 

Cr33pin

Peacock
Gold Member
Well since its hard to tell when I will end up in Panama and the Toyota will probably be sold by then... I started looking at cars here in Colombia an found this beast. They were asking over 12k USD for it, I offered 10k an they said come on down. I will go check it out tomorrow. It's in Barranquilla... I can just ship it to Panama when ever they open the border and I head up there. Or if I get bored enough I can drive down to Ecuador.

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Cortés

Woodpecker
Gold Member
I recently left Brazil to come back to the states for a bit. Im somewhat divided, as I can establish residency in either Brazil or a handful of Mediterranean countries because of ancestry. I told myself I would live in Europe for a few years once the borders reopen, but im hearing the countries im looking at are still VERY anal about wearing muzzles and things are still rather closed, so Im already leaning towards spending a few more years in Brazil. Ive been doing on the ground research about ways to establish yourself in Brazil, compared to other countries in Latin America Brazil is very lacking in this regard online. So I figured I would share what I have found.

So aside from having a Brazilian parent or being a nerd with a PhD, there are three routes that you can take

1 - Enter on a tourist Visa and overstay until you decide to leave, find a wife or have a child on Brazilian soil

2 - Take Portuguese classes on a student visa

3 - Set up a shell business and put R150,000 (as of now about $29000) into a company bank account and get an investment visa

1 - Overstay

This is historically what immigrants have done in Brazil. There is no deportation in Brazil, aside from the case of war crimes and similar stuff. In the entirety of time that you stay in Brazil, whether 6 months and 1 day or 5 years, your overstay wont be an issue with police. You shouldn't carry your passport around with you in public, and police will tell you as much. You can hand them your drivers license and pretend you dont speak Portuguese and they will leave you alone. The issue is that they will hand you a fine of R100 per day upon leaving, payable if you return. The maximum fine is R10000 ($1900). Apparently they will also hand you this fine if you marry and legalize your stay. But it is no questions asked, you pay the fine and they wont hold it against you in giving a residence permit in the case that you legalize. This may seem expensive, but as you'll see below this is actually cheaper than other popular immigration routes, and you dont have to get documents and run back and forth to the consulate. The biggest downside is that you cant leave Brazil until you sort out your immigration status unless you pay the fine. This only makes sense if you know that you want to stay and are looking for a path long term residency. You also cannot buy a vehicle without a Brazilian cosigner (more on this below)

2 - Student Visa

This is the most popular route for Americans/Europeans/Westerners who have some money and want to stay more time legally in Brazil. Unless you really want to learn Portuguese at an overpriced school, this option is the worst of all paths. You are obligated to find a 16+ hr/wk Portuguese course that does visa sponsorships. Ive looked into this, and I have yet to find a program that would sponsor a visa and charges less than R14000/year for courses. You also have to run around getting paperwork and apply at the consulate for the visa (hundreds of dollars in fees alone). The only upsides to this are that you can network with other foreigners, and you receive a RNE ID card, which gives you some liberties in buying property. You are tied down to one specific city for the duration of the visa, you have to get a bunch of paperwork and you end up paying more than you would if you just overstayed.

3 - Investment Visa

This one has a serious lack of information online however I think that this can be a sensible route if you have some money laying around, are serious about staying in Brazil and are willing to do some writing. You don't really need to invest in a company or spend your money, you just need to open a company and write some business plans. The cost to set up the correct type of business is about R2000 ($400) and you end up spending a few hundred in documents/fees to get the visa. You need to deposit R150,000 into a company account and show proof of the transfer during your application. They grant a 3 year visa and supposedly (havent confirmed yet, possibly depends on the bureaucrats feelings any given week) dont check on the company operations aside from renewing the visa a few years later. A big upside is that this is the cheapest option in terms of fees. You get full residency rights like registering a vehicle or buying *rural* property. A downside is that you need to find a Brazilian that you trust to sign as a co-owner of the shell company. I imagine if you explain this plan to a friend they would be willing to help out, but i guess it is possible some snake could betray you and drain the company bank account if you dont act quick enough. You also have to lock up at least $29000ish for a few months. This is all on top of being the most bureaucratic and document-chasing path out of the three. Of course you can open up a legitimate business and hire employees etc. I used to think that Brazil would be a great place to have a tech startup. However with the release of dear leader Lula, its looking more like Brazil will swing hard left if Bolsonaro doesn't cross the Rubicon. This is a good path if you are looking to do things legally, plan to buy property, and have money that you can lock up for a bit. Ideally within the 3 year validity you find a good Christian wife and then change your residency to one based on marriage.

------------------------------------------------

My opinion is that 1 and 3 are the best options as they are the cheapest. Option 2 is a mediocre mix of both at a higher price. It comes down to whether or not you plan to buy property, have a bank account, work in Brazil etc. Obviously, this is for people who have already visited and would like to pull the trigger on moving to Brazil. Ive made other posts on this thread about different regions of Brazil, there is a city for everyone. Theres plenty of great small towns to settle in.

Getting a CPF

To get a gym membership, a local phone number, or to gokart with friends, you need a CPF. Its Brazilian social security number. Theres plenty online about it but here's the short and skinny

-Go to a post office or bank
-Explain that you are there to solicit a CPF number, wait where indicated
-Insist that yes, foreigners can get a CPF (regardless of residency or just a tourist)
-Use a friends address/phone number (what you put in doesnt really matter, it doesnt come by mail)
-Go to a Receita Federal, wait in line and turn in the papers that the bank gave you
-Wait 2 weeks, go back to the Receita Federal and pick up your CPF card

Pretty simple honestly. Depending on who youre dealing with and your portuguese level this could be a painful experience


Buying a vehicle/property

I purchased a motorcycle here. Some of the inspections, paperwork etc required is a pain in the ass. It depends on the state. I Bought it in Minas Gerais and tried to reigster it in sao paulo. It failed a Sao Paulo inspection and the fees would have been 6 times what I ended up paying in Minas! I actually hit a pothole/spiral manhole thing and dumped the bike on my way to the inspection in Minas. The mirror and brake clipped off. I arrived and the police officer doing the inspection laughed and passed me anyways. I gave all the papers to a despachante (Line Waiting and bureaucracy specialist) and he told me he would be in touch with the new title in a few weeks. Two months go by and finally he calls me to tell me that the Detran (DMV) wouldnt issue a new title because I need a Brazilian ID. Apparently each month of not registering it I incur a fee. I was also rudely awakened by 10 traffic infractions that have been pouring into my friends mailbox. They have cameras set up everywhere to catch people speeding and running reds. According to my friends, all of these fines only become an issue upon selling (or if i actually registered the bike now lol). Ive decided im not going to register it rather than pay about $1000 in fines and still have to find someone to cosign the bike to.

You need a CPF number and to establish residency or have someone you can trust to be able to buy a vehicle. The salesman will tell you differently but this is what you need.

Ive read that foreigners can purchase property in a city, but you must be a resident (or citizen?) to by a rural property or land in general. I dont have experience here but I imagine you at least need a CPF among other things.

---------------------------------------------------

Overall, nothing in Brazil makes sense. What a chaotic country. But even as I come back to America to plan a move to Europe, Brazil wont leave me at peace. The more time I spend there the stronger my thoughts on Brazil become. I love it more but I hate it more. I feel more at home but I feel more like i'm amongst animals. Overall I know that whether or not I end up going to Europe in the following months, this was certainly not my last time in Brazil.
 
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Cr33pin

Peacock
Gold Member
Ahhh the Brazilian traffic cams. I found out about those the hard way as well. I rented a car and drove from Porto Alegre to Corumba and it was amazing. Then I kept getting email notifications from the rental company about tickets I had obliviously racked up via the traffic cams. They had my credit card info and charged them all to that.... fair enough. The fines were not so high but apparently I was going for quantity over quality.

As far as that sexy beast I posted previously.... I started looking into shipping it to Colombia an it seemed pretty involved and a pain but doable. Then I posted in a Panama forum about getting it registered and it seemed like a gamble. Apparently I have to retire the Colombian tags before shipping it to Panama and then pay the taxes and fees on it and try to register it for new tags in Panama. I can foresee that ending up being a mess. Some weird document that I don't have a foreigner buying cars in Colombia preventing me for being able to register or legally drive the car in Panama. Or even having the process drag out for months or something (similar to one of the stories posted on here) So I suppose I will wait till I hit Panama to purchase a car. Sucks cause I was excited as it gets about that particular vehicle...

I dedicate this song to the beast......
photofunny.net__final_3109437986704170596_.jpg,qact=53.pagespeed.ce.cibwpgyEnO.jpg
 
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Brother Abdul Majeed

Kingfisher
Gold Member
I believe you can still fly into Tocumen from several places in Colombia (unless that's changed in the last day or so).


"The national government has determined to temporarily suspend the entry into the national territory by land, sea and river routes of any person coming from the border with the Republic of Colombia, as of May 20, 2021," the foreign ministry said in a statement on Wednesday.

I can't say for sure, but I think the reasons they gave for closing the border has more to do with stopping the flow of Venezuelans and Colombians from crossing illegally than it really has to do with Covid. The number of people who make that crossing has increased dramatically in the last few weeks. I think Colombia is on the verge of real political instability.

Flying does entail a bit of a risk though. My mechanic flew back to Panama from Colombia yesterday and one person on the plane tested positive. Everybody on that flight was sent back to Colombia right away. No exeptions. He was upset about that.

As for the cars you were eying up, I wouldn't get too attached to any particular vehicle until you've seen it up close. There are a lot of lemons for sale. Many of the best deals aren't even advertised on the internet. A lot of the wealthy (by Panamanian standards) old farmers in Chiriqui just park their cars on the side of a busy road with a "se vende" sign. They have never used the internet in their lives and see no need to.
 

Cortés

Woodpecker
Gold Member
Ahhh the Brazilian traffic cams. I found out about those the hard way as well. I rented a car and drove from Porto Alegre to Corumba and it was amazing. Then I kept getting email notifications from the rental company about tickets I had obliviously racked up via the traffic cams. They had my credit card info and charged them all to that.... fair enough. The fines were not so high but apparently I was going for quantity over quality.

As far as that sexy beast I posted previously.... I started looking into shipping it to Colombia an it seemed pretty involved and a pain but doable. Then I posted in a Panama forum about getting it registered and it seemed like a gamble. Apparently I have to retire the Colombian tags before shipping it to Panama and then pay the taxes and fees on it and try to register it for new tags in Panama. I can foresee that ending up being a mess. Some weird document that I don't have a foreigner buying cars in Colombia preventing me for being able to register or legally drive the car in Panama. Or even having the process drag out for months or something (similar to one of the stories posted on here) So I suppose I will wait till I hit Panama to purchase a car. Sucks cause I was excited as it gets about that particular vehicle...

I dedicate this song to the beast......
View attachment 31128
Speaking from the experience of selling my first moto for a fifth of its value, I cant recommend enough purchasing in the country you are planning on staying in for a while. Trying to import a used vehicle is supposed to be near impossible without paying double the value in import fees. It would be doable to just temporarily have the car if you bought it in a border country like Ecuador -> Colombia for example, but the Darien gap would be a pain in the ass if you need to ship it back to sell it. You could do the border runs every few months and you can get a fresh TVIP import permit. I guess from Panama you could just go to Costa rica for a border run. But say a few years from now you plan to sell it, you have to ship it to Colombia and hang out for a few months there to sell it.

Buying and registering in Colombia was pretty simple and residency is not needed. I imagine Panama may be similar. I dont mean to give tons of unsolicited recommendations, just some things that I wish that I thought of before I bought my motos. Even keeping these things in mind the second time, I still got screwed out of being able to legally title my bike. A $10,000 investment into a vehicle can quickly turn into a $15,000 nightmare
 

BLMeToo

Sparrow
Question: How realistic is it for a foreigner to assimilate into Latin American society? I'm not Hispanic but I look pretty Middle Eastern, I speak B1-level Spanish (and am looking to improve), and I'd be willing to marry a local woman and raise my family devoutly Catholic with good values. Probably Ecuador or Colombia.

I guess my biggest fear is always being seen as a foreigner and an outsider, and that I'll always feel like a stranger. I've seen how hard living in America was for my dad as an immigrant from the Middle East and how it drove him to alcoholism. Granted, he's not a man of faith, but I could tell how much it broke his heart to be away from his homeland, his family, his language...I mean, I suppose he's assimilated well enough to the US, but I'm just afraid I'll never really feel at home in South America. And if SEHTF, I'll be seen as an outsider and would be afraid of retribution from the native-born citizens.

Am I just being paranoid?
 

Brother Abdul Majeed

Kingfisher
Gold Member
Question: How realistic is it for a foreigner to assimilate into Latin American society? I'm not Hispanic but I look pretty Middle Eastern, I speak B1-level Spanish (and am looking to improve), and I'd be willing to marry a local woman and raise my family devoutly Catholic with good values. Probably Ecuador or Colombia.

I guess my biggest fear is always being seen as a foreigner and an outsider, and that I'll always feel like a stranger. I've seen how hard living in America was for my dad as an immigrant from the Middle East and how it drove him to alcoholism. Granted, he's not a man of faith, but I could tell how much it broke his heart to be away from his homeland, his family, his language...I mean, I suppose he's assimilated well enough to the US, but I'm just afraid I'll never really feel at home in South America. And if SEHTF, I'll be seen as an outsider and would be afraid of retribution from the native-born citizens.

Am I just being paranoid?
Yes, I think you're being paranoid.

Latin America is not a monolithic culture. There are literally millions of native Latin Americans who are just as pale as I am. Unless you plan on opening an empanada stand in a run down barriada I can't see why anyone would treat you as an outsider.

I'm not sure what people mean by "assimilate". Most Panamanians are trying very hard to lead a middle class lifestyle, the kind of lifestyle I already have. If anything, they are trying hard to assimilate with people like me. Perhaps you associate Latin America with an East L.A. Latino ghetto.
 
In your guys' opinion, what is the safest, cheapest LatAm country to escape to for an American or European? Cheap would include the cost of health care, but obviously it would have to be decent.
 

BLMeToo

Sparrow
Yes, I think you're being paranoid.

Latin America is not a monolithic culture. There are literally millions of native Latin Americans who are just as pale as I am. Unless you plan on opening an empanada stand in a run down barriada I can't see why anyone would treat you as an outsider.

I'm not sure what people mean by "assimilate". Most Panamanians are trying very hard to lead a middle class lifestyle, the kind of lifestyle I already have. If anything, they are trying hard to assimilate with people like me. Perhaps you associate Latin America with an East L.A. Latino ghetto.

I'm not trying to say Latin America is the same as East LA. I'm genuinely curious as to how possible (at least in Colombia and Ecuador) it is for foreigners to live life and feel like part of a society, without being mistreated or seen as a stereotypical gringo as opposed to just a regular person just trying to be a productive member of society. And by assimilate, I mean have a job/business, own property, have friends, be part of a community, etc. What I'm saying is I want to be able to set some roots and really be part of a community, and not just seen as an outsider there to screw over the locals or bed girls all the time.
 
Don't go to Mexico. The left populist president is destroying this country. The three main cities (Guadalajara, Monterrey, Mexico City) have been corrupted by globohomo bs. Women from those cities tend to be super spoiled, entitled and bitchy. They get super fat once married, and even then, they still want a white skinned buff CEO chad. Also, outside of the three great cities, most of the territory is controlled by drug cartels. Spring break cities such as Cancún, Puerto Vallarta or Acapulco are also degenerate shitholes full of the worst blue pill gringos you can imagine. You could find some trad women in the small towns of places like Michoacán, Jalisco, Aguascalientes, Guanajuato and Querétaro but most of them in lower-middle classes are uneducated and tend to be single moms. Don't recommend you the northern states ( pretty women, but dominated by degenerate narcoculture, want a narco Chad) or the southern states (ugly women leaning towards hard left commie bullshit).
 

mr2

Pigeon
Don't go to Mexico. The left populist president is destroying this country. The three main cities (Guadalajara, Monterrey, Mexico City) have been corrupted by globohomo bs. Women from those cities tend to be super spoiled, entitled and bitchy. They get super fat once married, and even then, they still want a white skinned buff CEO chad. Also, outside of the three great cities, most of the territory is controlled by drug cartels. Spring break cities such as Cancún, Puerto Vallarta or Acapulco are also degenerate shitholes full of the worst blue pill gringos you can imagine. You could find some trad women in the small towns of places like Michoacán, Jalisco, Aguascalientes, Guanajuato and Querétaro but most of them in lower-middle classes are uneducated and tend to be single moms. Don't recommend you the northern states ( pretty women, but dominated by degenerate narcoculture, want a narco Chad) or the southern states (ugly women leaning towards hard left commie bullshit).

This is great. Telling it how it is. (I comment on the style of the writer. I can't speak for the veracity, but it makes sense).

Do you have a comment on Merida?
 
This is great. Telling it how it is. (I comment on the style of the writer. I can't speak for the veracity, but it makes sense).

Do you have a comment on Merida?
Mostly peaceful city, but the women aren't very attractive overall. Probably still one of the less corrupted cities in Mexico.
 

lonewolf1968

Kingfisher
I'm not trying to say Latin America is the same as East LA. I'm genuinely curious as to how possible (at least in Colombia and Ecuador) it is for foreigners to live life and feel like part of a society, without being mistreated or seen as a stereotypical gringo as opposed to just a regular person just trying to be a productive member of society. And by assimilate, I mean have a job/business, own property, have friends, be part of a community, etc. What I'm saying is I want to be able to set some roots and really be part of a community, and not just seen as an outsider there to screw over the locals or bed girls all the time.
Language is the key man, and it's the highest barrier to assimilation for an outsider. For us locals the highest barrier it's income, we are segregated in very defined economic 'stratos' and class. The only group of people in Colombia i think would be hesitant to fully assimilate a gringo/foreigner are the lower classes and why would you'd like to be assimilated with them in the first place (as Abdul put it with the small empanada stand), i don't, i want to escape from them.

Middle and higher classes are curious and hospitable enough to consider a foreigner part of the family and community as long as they speak the same language i think. And girls here drool for foreigners, if a westerner has a hard time with girls here you're too ugly, awkward, creepy or something cause the stuff i've seen girls doing for a foreigner husband/boyfriend opened my eyes on women.

i guess being born in a country with so much difficulties and downsides and meeting a foreigner who wants to stay is just flattering. Just my two cents
 

Dilated

Woodpecker
In your guys' opinion, what is the safest, cheapest LatAm country to escape to for an American or European? Cheap would include the cost of health care, but obviously it would have to be decent.

Probably Ecuador. And that’s more a commentary on the safety- the value is pretty poor for S. America. If you can avoid cars and electronics you can mitigate it somewhat. Land and housing construction away from the cities can be pretty cheap (a few thousand per acre and $60k for a new 1,300 sq ft house).
 

BLMeToo

Sparrow
And girls here drool for foreigners, if a westerner has a hard time with girls here you're too ugly, awkward, creepy or something cause the stuff i've seen girls doing for a foreigner husband/boyfriend opened my eyes on women.

I hate to ask, but is it because they assume they're rich doormats? Or is it because of "machismo" in Latin men? Also, where in Colombia are you based out of?
 
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