Signs that Living in Latin America Could be for You
Nearly every single time that i’ve met a new person since i’ve been living in Latin America, i always get asked the same question, “Why on earth did you switch the UK for South America?” – to which i’ve always struggled to answer. I mean, rationally speaking, moving to South America doesn’t make much sense at all, and on paper, the UK is a much better place to live – higher salaries, a stronger economy, better career prospects and a much safer environment to live in. With this in mind, you’ll be shocked to hear that i’m actually much happier now that i’m living in brazil than i ever was back in Europe and have no plans to move back. Managing to explain this has always been a struggle but after a good hard think i’ve managed to figure it out.
The truth is that living in Latin America is not for everyone – in fact some people would hate it here, but i know that there’s a hell of load of people who would be far happier living in places like Rio de Janeiro or Buenos Aires than in Europe or North America. If you want to find out if you’re one of those people, then carry on reading this post.
1.You like Adventure & Spontaneity:
When i say Adventure, i don’t mean the sort of jumping across gorges or skydiving out of a plane every day, but rather just being presented with higher levels of unpredictability in your day to day lifestyle. Whilst i often felt in the UK that plans had to be rigidly stuck to, i found that there’s more of a “go with the flow” mindset here, meaning that anything can happen. It’s pretty normal here to just go out on a whim, end up meeting a load of new random people and go out to a new place just out of the blue. There’s an element of uncertainty to living in south america, but for me that’s what makes it exciting.
In fact, i’d go as far as saying that life is in many ways actually more exciting in “dangerous” places like Latin America and more predictable and boring in many of the so called “happiest countries in the world” in Western and Northern Europe. It might just be my personal opinion, but i find that the chaos and “danger” allow you to experience a rawer, and more sensual and exciting version of life than can seem tough to experience in many first world countries.
2. You’re not bothered by Disorganized and Laid Back Environments & Thrive in Chaos
Most likely due to the laid-back attitude, living in Latin America is chaotic and disorganized to the point that it can sometimes be difficult to even carry out basic tasks. Facing slow Customer service, dealing with staff who don’t know what they’re talking about and constantly seeing things breakdown can be frustrating. Moreover, Latin America is a bureaucrat’s paradise and somehow they can even manage to make the most basic things complicated.This stuff is without a doubt frustrating, but it obvious irritates some more than others. As a naturally disorganized person, I easily got accustomed to this and have grown to love the chaotic and party atmosphere of many places in Latin America.On the other hand, if you like to be organized and your environments to be likewise, then living in South America might not be the place for you.
3. You’re Excited by Language Learning
Learning Spanish or Portuguese is an absolute must when it comes to really making the most out of your experience out here. Yes, you’ll find some people who speak English and will still be able to make some friends, but you’ll essentially be like a toddler who’s dependent on someone to hold his hand when it comes to doing even basic things like going to the doctor’s or the bank.
Being persistent and excited by the prospect of language learning is important as there are certain pitfalls that make the process more of a struggle. Firstly, those who do speak some English will be very eager to practice with you, and this, combined with the inevitable self-consciousness that comes with language learning and mental effort needed to speak a foreign language at the beginning may just make it easier to give in and speak English.
Secondly, due to the feelings of intimidation that are inevitable when moving to a completely foreign environment, falling into an Expat Bubble when living in Latin America is so easy to do (as i did when i was living in Buenos Aires), and as routine sets in and a comfort zone is built, you’ll find it ever harder to meet locals and crack the language. Having clear language learning goals, adopting a learning method that is effective for you and surrounding yourself by as many natives as possible should help do the trick.
4. You’re a True Libertarian
Without getting too political, i feel significantly “freer’ living in Latin America than i ever did back in the UK mainly due to the fact that i feel that the state isn’t breathing down my neck all the time and that i’m able to express my opinions without being labelled as a racist, sexist or bigot. Back in Europe I feel that the amount of unnecessary rules and regulations and Political Correctness has spiraled out of control to the point that i feel that people aren’t able to state any “controversial’ opinions or even crack a joke without running the risk of being negatively labelled or potentially getting into trouble. Here in Latin America, on the other hand, i’ve never had to look over my shoulder to see if the thought police were watching me whilst making a joke or a stating a “controversial” opinion.
The truth is that the government has less control over your personal lives than it does in places like the USA or Western Europe, meaning that in many sense you’ll feel that you’re free to do as you please. The flip side is that if you have an emergency, then the state is less likely to come to your aid.
5. You’re a People Person
As you can probably tell from watching the supporters of a Latin American country playing in the world cup, Latin Americans love a good party and are generally much more extroverted than us Westerners. Whilst striking up a conversation with a stranger in places like London may be frowned up or seen as downright weird, you’ll find that people will think you’re strange if you are super shy and don’t make the effort to make eye contact and talk to people when the opportunities arise. People are generally much more friendlier out here as well, and you’ll find that people just tend to take themselves less seriously rather than pretending to be cool all the time.
Although this can be annoying when you’re feeling in an unsociable mood and people are expecting you to make conversation, I personally feel that because of this, meeting people just seems so much more natural than it does in the West. It’s not uncommon to start talking with someone and instantly feel as if you’ve known them for years.