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Old 01-21-2010, 11:12 AM
 
228 posts, read 437,941 times
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I am looking at potentially moving to South America with a good friend next January from anywhere between 3 and 6 months. The main reasons for the trip will be to practice and learn spanish in a real life context and to explore living in a completely new environment with a good friend. We have tossed around the idea of moving to Uruguay, more specifically Montevideo, as he has been there before and has a few connections in the area. After doing some research I found out that Montevideo is not nearly as cheap as it used to be due to the U.S. dollar becoming weaker against the Uruguayan peso. Also, it seems as though many people have already "discovered" Montevideo, and as usual when this happens, rents and other expenses go up in price. Another big thing is the price of flights down there. I was thinking that if we explored other options we might find cheaper airfare, but if not it's not too big of an issue as I do not expect great deals on flights when traveling that far away.

Since we are both young and won't have loads of money to toss around, we are trying to find somewhere inexpensive. I understand everyone's ideas of cheap cost of living are relative due to people's lifestyles etc. We are both definitely not looking for some luxurious experience where we live like kings while watching the locals suffer in complete poverty, and are willing to do without many things that some older folks who are used to high standards of living might not be willing to sacrifice.

With that said, what countries, or most specifically, cities and towns would be good places to live for 3-6 months to: rent an apartment or house, get a good cultural experience, not be fearing for our lives on a daily basis, and have a low cost of living? We both want a real, raw adventure where we immerse ourselves in the local culture, not some shielded tourist experience.

One last thing I wanted to add was that I was going to toss around the idea of possibly backpacking around instead of staying in one place, but I was wondering if this might actually be more expensive due to transportation costs and living in hostels (where we wouldn't have a kitchen to do our own cooking and would be forced to eat out) or if there were places that are cheap enough that it wouldn't make a difference. Thanks!
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Old 01-21-2010, 12:22 PM
 
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I would recommend Ecuador.
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Old 01-21-2010, 08:39 PM
 
Location: Niceville, FL
7,680 posts, read 16,101,231 times
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In terms of safety, I'd say Costa Rica, Panama, and Chile, with Chile being the least Americanized of the group.
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Old 01-21-2010, 09:00 PM
 
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Bolivia is the cheapest country in South America and the city that everyone goes to there for Spanish lessons is Sucre. You should get by fine for $500 to $600 a month.
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Old 01-21-2010, 10:07 PM
 
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Venezuela is interesting,
there's 2 exchange rates, the official rate 2.15Bs/dollar and the black market rate (street rate) about 5Bs/dollar.

What that means is that if you take dollars over there, people in the street could give you 5Bs for every dollar.

If you decide for Venezuela, I don't recommend Caracas,
it's too packed with people and crime is high.
I always like the "Paraguana Peninsula" (Falcon State) that is on the North-West part of the country.
ESTADO FALCON, Península de Paraguaná, Venezuela


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Old 01-21-2010, 10:47 PM
 
Location: Tucson/Nogales
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My first and major consideration is climate. Remember in January, it will be summer months for Argentina, Uruguay, Chile, possibly uncomfortable, particularly on the east coast with more humidity.

I avoid all places which suggest tourists and expatriates. Easy to find in any travel guide. When I look at a prospective city to visit and it says: tourists generally avoid this city, I'll take a beeline for that city. Or country, like El Salvador, or Bolivia. Generally, safer and cheaper.

Costa Rica is not the safe country, it used to be. The blame? It's a no-brainer.

Lots of nice off-the-beaten track medium-sized cities down there which will be cheaper than the touristed cities. Try Salto, in Uruguay. In Argentina: Santiago del Estero, Catamarca, San Rafael, Tucuman, Salta. In Chile: Rancagua, Arica, Iqueque Concepcion. Ecuador: Riobamba, Ambato. Bolivia: Cochabamba, Tarija, Sucre. Peru: Cajamarca. I've spent time in all of these cities.

But if your friend has contacts in Montevideo (great city) my suspicion is that you'll end up there regardless. Just a guess.
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Old 01-22-2010, 08:04 AM
 
228 posts, read 437,941 times
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Thanks for in input. Does anyone know how cheap/expensive Chile is? Also, I have heard Bolivia is not safe, is there any truth to this or are they refering to specific areas?
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Old 01-22-2010, 07:33 PM
 
Location: Tucson/Nogales
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I spent two weeks in Bolivia a few years ago. Bought one of those airline passes where you could fly all over the country for a set price: San Juan, Sucre, Cochabamba, Tarija, Potosi, La Paz.

I would stay away from Central La Paz, other than than that, I felt very safe the whole time I was there. The altitude in La Paz is too high anyway, at 12,500 (as well as Lake Titicaca). Too much huffing and puffing!

Chile, IMO, was the most expensive country I visited. Ecuador, Bolivia, the cheaper.
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Old 01-22-2010, 08:20 PM
 
Location: GA/AL state line
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I lived a year in Asunción, Paraguay back in the 80s and I loved it. I was going to my sophomore year of high school and there was lots of drinking and partying around town. I was a teenager so I never worried about safety. I'd be interested in seeing how things have changed there over the past 20 years.
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Old 01-23-2010, 11:55 AM
 
Location: Austin
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I spent 6 months in Brazil. Some of the best times of my life.
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