Moving to South America: Research

Plaza de Armas in Cusco

First of all, when researching all involved in moving overseas, the amount of material available is staggering thanks to the internet and Google searches.

My first and still my primary source of information is the experience of actually being there. I’ve traveled to Peru about 30 times since 2005. Most of those trips were to Iquitos, but I’ve also spent considerable time in Cusco and Cajamarca along with many weeks of time in Lima. Needless to say, with the exception of Cajamarca, these are the place I’m considering.

I can’t express enough just how important it is to spend as much time as possible in a potential location before you make the decision to move. Spending time in a resort or a luxury hotel where you have little interaction with the local community won’t cut it, either. You have to immerse yourself as much as possible. I constantly think about thinks I like and things that I don’t like, always weighing pros and cons to see which way the scales tip.

Go to the market, eat at restaurants, take your dirty closes to the local laundry, etc. — all the kinds of things that you would likely be doing as part of your daily life should you choose to live in a particular community.

It’s not a bad idea to make a list of all the things you do at home in a normal week then check out the options for doing some of these same things near your potential new home home. You’d probably find that some things won’t even be possible, but other things might turn out to be easier (and cheaper) than you think.

Selling Spices in Mercado Belen

Make friends who live there. Exchange emails or make contact on Facebook. That way you can ask questions when you return home about all the new thoughts and concerns that will come up as you make plans. Not only will you gain the best insight and knowledge, you’ll be strengthening friendships that will be so important when moving to a new place. I talk to my friends in Peru constantly and I look forward to seeing them again when I return to my adopted country.

Facebook groups can be a huge source of relevant and up-to-date information. I used Expat groups in the cities of Lima, Iquitos, and Cusco. In particular, Lima Expat group members were always quick to offer help on every question I asked – and I asked a lot of questions!

There are groups for almost anything you can image. For instance, I belong to Facebook groups in Iquitos and Cusco for people offering homes, apartments, and even rooms for sale or rent. (You’d be surprised at the kind of places advertised in Iquitos. You can imagine the kind of place that $75 a month can buy!)

Lastly, I’ve used a number of books to help me prepare. The problem with books is that they can quickly become out-of-date. I’ll be writing specifically about some of the more useful books I’ve read in a later post.

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