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Old 03-25-2012, 06:26 PM   #31
alexcorral
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Spent some time as an expat in Chile (Santiago) and currently expat in Panama (for now). I go (and ride) where the company moves us and have enjoyed it so far. I must say that Chile was the best for rides (F800GS) in the Andes. Panama has some fun rides but nowhere near as good as the Chilean/Argentinean Andes.

As a corporate expat I do live above standard conditions (vs. locals) and get a lot of support ($$$) from the corporation.
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Old 03-25-2012, 09:10 PM   #32
Chiriqui Charlie OP
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Alex

Alex, would you tell me where the roads are that you like to ride? There is some pretty country here in the Highlands, but Panama seems to have limited riding opportunities, as there is just one highway the length of the country, and not that many side roads or loops. Also, the rainy season is 8 months long
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Old 03-29-2012, 10:53 AM   #33
miguelito
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chiriqui Charlie View Post
I'd like to hear about folks who have moved down here, on a permanent or semi-permanent basis. Where are you, why did you make the move, how do you like living here?
I have been in the Panama Highlands for six years, my main peeves are that there aren't all that many roads to explore, and the rainy season is too long! But I like the prices, and no snow to shovel.
That rainy season would be a deal-killer for me charlie. I had been spending my winters riding in Mexico just to get away from the winters in New Mexico for a couple of years. I had always thought that I would retire down here some day, and during these winter trips I began to look at the towns I was traveling through with a critical eye and as candidates for a place to settle. I was mostly interested in towns with small to no ex-pat communities. I think that was from touring the beach communities which seemed to sprout gringos like weeds into insular groups of white men and women who gathered on Thursdays for the steak special at ______'s bar/restaurant, and Saturday night at some other local cantina with a lasagna special. I've got nothing against that, but most of those ex-pat communities were pretty small, (like smaller than my high school class was), and something about the gestalt didn't appeal to me.

After my last winter touring here, at one point it had been about a month since I'd had a real conversation in english, and I had my first dream in Espanol. I was beginning to become immersed. I rode into the town of San Miguel de Allende prepared not to like it, as I knew there were scads of Canadian, American, and European ex-pats living here. i checked into a hotel and reserved it for 2 nights. I met an interesting older American gent and one of his Mexican friends my first day here. they invited me to their apartment, and a friendship began. Two days later I booked the hotel for 2 more nights. That scene repeated itself for 10 nights, when I realized that I liked this town, and that I could have rented a really nice apartment or casita for a month for what I'd just spent on 10 days in a hotel.

So I rented a fancier and bigger place than I needed, and settled into a month of SMdA. I made more friends, including some ADV riders, and now had a motorcycling community here as well. I started dating a girl. Then I stayed another month. then I started dating a different girl who I really liked. Finally my tourist visa was about to expire, and I had to leave the country. I invited the girl to join me in New Mexico, and go on a 10 day ride through Colorado. Ten days through Colorado turned into 35 days to Idaho and back. We decided it would make sense to move in together, since two can live almost as cheap as one by splitting the bills, etc.

Sold my house. Sold my gear. Moved to Mexico with what fit in the back of my GF's SUV and my topcase and panniers. I had been making a slight living writing, so I could do that anywhere, and I love Mexico, it's significantly less expensive to live here, and I had a cute GF here, so moving made sense in just about every sense. That was about 2 years ago, and I still love living here. I do not see myself moving back to the US at this point in my life. When I do go back I'm struck by the commercialism of the place, and often reflect on how much Americans sacrifice in order to lead the life of conspicuous consumption they do. Here's an animated version of what crossing the border into the US seems like to me these days:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mgV7kwkb8xU

I could possibly move to another country in Latin America, but don't anticipate it. I'm not a genius with language, but have become passably fluent in Spanish, so I don't see myself moving to a country where I have to learn another language, but that too could change.

So what's so great about San Miguel de Allende for me? First off the thing I thought would be a negative, (the large gringo population here), turns out to be a plus for the most part. It's a large enough community, (10,000 peeps or so), that you get more of a cross section of the folks back home than you may get in a community with a couple of hundred year round ex-pats. On top of that the community seems to have a dominant component of liberal thinkers, which aligns more with my own predilections, hence I seem to connect more easily with the ex-pats I do meet here.

A strong second component for me is the climate. We're at about 6000 ft. elevation in the tropics, so the weather is not too cold in the winter, and not too warm in the warmer months. It's an arid climate as well which I prefer to the humidity of the coastal towns.

There's spectacular riding within a half hours ride of here in the sierra gorda. there are several nice, larger towns nearby to procure the necessary crap you need to keep your bike running, and it's not so crowded here, that you can't escape easily. At this point I've got a strong support network of gringos as well as Mexicans, and there are a multitude of restaurants, bars, and cultural eventos to keep you busy if you like. Oh, and you can rent an awesome casita for about what you'd pay for a dirt-bag apartment in the worst section of town back across the northern border.
[YT]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LB6FZ9m_0u4[/YT]
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LB6FZ9m_0u4
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Old 03-31-2012, 10:02 AM   #34
Watercat
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Originally Posted by C5! View Post
very good point. I didn't answer that post because I don't consider myself an expat.
Expats are normally on assignments working for government (diplomats) or foreign multinationals. They have often company apartments, company cars, a better than average living conditions and status. These are the ones who bitch most normally.
The "you call it immigrant" or "I'll call it adventurer" normally lives like a local, works for a local company, or when working for a foreign company, works for local wages and working conditions. He is often married with a "local" as well. When you find both in the same city (the expat and the adventurer), they normally don't mingle, they are world apart.
+ 1 . . . . . . . . .

Was channel surfing and caught a few snippets of "Living Abroad" . . . . . some cable station . . . . .

Just about made me sick to my stomach . . . . . .

. . . . . . Corporate types living in their gated compounds; The accountant dude's corp. was paying his rent in Tokyo - $18 K / mo. etc. Similar situations with other peeps in other cities.

Nothing to compare with your average Joe going it alone . . . . . . . . . living on the local economy.

I lived in Korea 4 years, Thailand three years independently; Found local jobs, bought my own furniture, found my own pad & paid my own rent, arranged my own work visas with the local sponsoring school/company . . . . .. . . . . . . Teaching English - Which is my career of choice to this day - only now I teach in public school near Seattle.

There's a vast chasm between multi-national corp./ military / even NGO sponsored ex-pats and the more hardcore ones who are actually taking great risks going it alone . . . . . Truly adventuring overseas. YMMV

Perhaps they could change the monicker of their show to "Sponsored Abroad" . . . . . . ? . . . . .

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Old 04-03-2012, 11:28 AM   #35
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Laugh I too am interested

Spent 2 weeks last winter in Costa Rico, rented a car and drove everywhere, a day or two here there and everywhere mostly in the NW part of the country and totally loved it! Never felt unsafe or unwanted for that matter regardless where we went and truly loved the locals. Wanted to immerse myself in with the locals and culture to truly determine if it was a place we could live and I believe so. I want to take two more trips and look at the SW part and the Caribbean side before jumping ship but not wanting to limit ourselves to a location. Both of us work electronically so that aspect won’t be a challenge and out Espanola is getting better all the time.
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Old 04-04-2012, 08:55 AM   #36
SR
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Watercat View Post
+ 1 . . . . . . . . .

Was channel surfing and caught a few snippets of "Living Abroad" . . . . . some cable station . . . . .

Just about made me sick to my stomach . . . . . .

. . . . . . Corporate types living in their gated compounds; The accountant dude's corp. was paying his rent in Tokyo - $18 K / mo. etc. Similar situations with other peeps in other cities.

Nothing to compare with your average Joe going it alone . . . . . . . . . living on the local economy.

I lived in Korea 4 years, Thailand three years independently; Found local jobs, bought my own furniture, found my own pad & paid my own rent, arranged my own work visas with the local sponsoring school/company . . . . .. . . . . . . Teaching English - Which is my career of choice to this day - only now I teach in public school near Seattle.

There's a vast chasm between multi-national corp./ military / even NGO sponsored ex-pats and the more hardcore ones who are actually taking great risks going it alone . . . . . Truly adventuring overseas. YMMV

Perhaps they could change the monicker of their show to "Sponsored Abroad" . . . . . . ? . . . . .

Watercat, I haven't seen the program you refer to but I am sure it was meant to evoke some kind of emotional response or some drama. Otherwise who would watch it? I have worked in several offices full of corporate expats and it generally is not that interesting, just people working long hours.

What do you expect these people to do if they are offerered good pay/benefits to work abroad, turn them down for less pay? The only reason international companies send Expats anywhere is because they cant find the local skill set they need to get the job done. The only reason companies have to increase pay/benefits for Expats is to entice their own employees to take these positions. We may have adventurous spirits, but there is a much longer line of people wanting to come into the US/Canada than people wanting to leave and those people drive the labor market.

Don't tell me you wouldn't have taken better pay/benefits to do your work abroad if it were offered to you? Getting sick sounds like hater talk.

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Old 04-04-2012, 09:23 AM   #37
Airhead Wrangler
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Watercat View Post
I lived in Korea 4 years, Thailand three years independently; Found local jobs, bought my own furniture, found my own pad & paid my own rent, arranged my own work visas with the local sponsoring school/company . . . . .. . . . . . . Teaching English - Which is my career of choice to this day - only now I teach in public school near Seattle.

There's a vast chasm between multi-national corp./ military / even NGO sponsored ex-pats and the more hardcore ones who are actually taking great risks going it alone . . . . . Truly adventuring overseas. YMMV

Perhaps they could change the monicker of their show to "Sponsored Abroad" . . . . . . ? . . . . .

Quote:
Originally Posted by SR View Post
Getting sick sounds like hater talk.
I'm a "corporate expat" also. I don't live in a mansion in a fortified compound. I don't have an army of full time "help." I drive a rickety 13 year old pickup truck with multiple cracks in the windshield that I have absolutely no intention of replacing. I live in a very normal house. I live a pretty normal existence by local mexican standards. I just get paid more. Why wouldn't I go for that, given the chance? Claiming the moral high ground because you chose to make less money and implying that my life abroad is somehow less "authentic" is a bit elitist and does indeed sound like hater talk. If you were offered 40% more than your pay in the US plus fuel and utilities to go teach abroad I have a hard time believing you'd turn that down. Yes, we have to find our own houses and buy our own furniture too.

If you think teaching english makes you "hard core" then try working 6 12 hour days per week in construction in Vietnam inspecting rebar and concrete in a remote greenfield site full of UXO, snakes, and scorpions, on your feet in the sun all day. I don't think that makes me hard core, just hard working. A lot of petrochem expats work 5 weeks on 5 weeks off. 12 hours a day, 7 days a week for 5 weeks straight in a natural gas camp in Turkmenistan. That's hard core. Yes, they make a lot of money, but don't underestimate how truly hard the work is. They earn every penny of it. A lot of "corporate expat" positions require a slew of psychological testing to be considered for the position. It's a significant expenditure on the company's part and even with the testing to weed out the ones who can't hack it, a significant percentage of people don't make it through their first year. It's not always as cushy as your TV show made it out to be.
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Old 04-04-2012, 11:45 AM   #38
MikeMike
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Airhead Wrangler View Post
I'm a "corporate expat" also. I don't live in a mansion in a fortified compound. I don't have an army of full time "help." I drive a rickety 13 year old pickup truck with multiple cracks in the windshield that I have absolutely no intention of replacing. I live in a very normal house. I live a pretty normal existence by local mexican standards. I just get paid more.
Hmmmmmmm........let's see now.
I am not a corporate ex-pat but I am a corporal ex rat.
I don't live in a mansion but some of my neighbors do.
Fortified compound? The last one of those came from a pharmacist to treat a nasty infection I had.
An army of full time help? LOL! Damn, I wish!
I have a 12 year old pick up with cracks in the dash and not the windshield and I will trade the Airhead Wrangler my windshield for his dashboard! Then we can both be happy.
I disagree with a "normal" existence as there is no real definition of "normalcy" in Mexico, in fact, I think being normal is frowned upon to a large extent. I have never trusted anyone who is normal because they likely are hiding something or they are probably one of those kinds of people that wash their motorcycles. Best to avoid those!
And now we come to the little detail of "I just get paid more".
Try as I might, I have never been able to unlock that secret!

I think, like Airhead W and SR might believe as well, a program like that is for people who merely spend some time working abroad but never jump in with both feet and really connect, like when you marry into the culture.

Now, about that windshield and dash swap?????
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Old 04-04-2012, 01:29 PM   #39
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Now this is something to live by, Sir Mike Mike:

"in fact, I think being normal is frowned upon to a large extent. I have never trusted anyone who is normal because they likely are hiding something or they are probably one of those kinds of people that wash their motorcycles. Best to avoid those!"

I say - EXACTLY!!!
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Old 04-04-2012, 01:52 PM   #40
Airhead Wrangler
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When I used the word "normal" I meant only in relation to my standard of living. Anyone who knows me will agree that I'm far from normal... whatever that is. Mike, I heartily agree with your view of normal.
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Old 04-04-2012, 02:56 PM   #41
Kamuk
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The term "Normal" brings back many a humorous moment / situation...

As in the reply to "Why am I the only normal one here?" being - "Come on Norm, you're as @#$%'ed as they rest of your crew!"
Maybe that's what truly being "normal" is?

Then again there's all those Abby Normals running about...
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Old 04-05-2012, 10:02 AM   #42
miguelito
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MikeMike View Post
....they likely are hiding something or they are probably one of those kinds of people that wash their motorcycles. Best to avoid those!
Now that, my friend, sounds like hater talk!
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Old 04-07-2012, 10:33 AM   #43
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Actually, I wash my motorcycle.

That is outside the norm here, so I am hiding nothing.

Tomorrow is the end of semana santa here. Maybe I can be riding on Monday......
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Old 04-07-2012, 01:15 PM   #44
MikeMike
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Actually, I wash my motorcycle.
You are not to be trusted.
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Old 04-18-2012, 09:23 AM   #45
Rob.G
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Quote:
Originally Posted by theturtleshead View Post
You will bend for it.

It will not bend for you.

Learn this fast if you,re planning to stay.

If it pisses you off-fuck off home and stop pissing the rest of us off!

concise enough?

AL

Colombia

I just found this thread, and of the three pages so far, this post explains it best. If the US was the same way -- if people coming here would realize that they need to assimilate to local customs instead of expecting us to give everything to them, it'd be a much better place.

I'm thinking that if some major changes for the better don't happen in the next 5-10 years, I'm going to do the expat thing too.

Rob
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