Review: “Here’s exactly how American expats go crazy in Central America, explained by an expat.”

I stumbled across this post the other day and decided to address some of the issues that the American author wrote about in this negative outlook on Central America.
You can find the post here:

The author is a disgruntled expat who lived in Latin America for 7 straight years. Granted he has lived down there as an adult for much longer than I have and has some valid complaints about the region, I think his overall analysis may have had much more to do with his own business decisions than the quality of the countries themselves. His analysis of the three phases of expats are smack-on. There are in fact the short term expats who get over their honeymoon phase and pack off back home when it gets rough. There are the mid-termers who stay for a while and eventually wear out the high of being an “Americano” celebrity of their local town, and there are the long-term expats who invest years of their lives down south.

Many of these guys and gals are entrepreneurs who are going there for adventure, a break from the USA, want to marry or find love down south, or are just looking for a fresh start. If your goal in going is simply pleasure and fun, you will be in for a rude awakening. However, many of the pitfalls (such as shady business partners) emerge from poor business decisions. Yes there is corruption and yes there is a higher crime rate, but life goes on for Central Americans all the same and people do business regardless of the higher risks of running a startup. For many people it is understandable to be homesick, but ultimately, it boils down to your resolve on how long you want to live in Latin America, and how good of a businessman you are. Many people go to Latin America with hopes of getting rich with a good exchange rate but leave and blame the government or bad business. While ease of business is important, it is also important to partner up with people you trust, avoid corruption from the start, and make cautious and sensible business decisions. Yes, safety is an issue, but varies city by city and neighborhood by neighborhood. To lable all of Central America as a crime zone is factually incorrect and it all boils down to who and where you do business.

Ultimately, my biggest piece of advice stemming off this article is: get some work experience under an established business for a year or so in Central America before running off on your entrepreneur ventures. Working vs. visiting is very different and many expats think that just by checking out the country, they are prepared to pair up and run a venture. It is always better to test the water and build reliable connections within an established business instead of jumping in head first.




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