If living as Bolivia expats is something you are considering, it stands to reason that you are doing everything in your power to inform yourself as much as you can about Bolivia, the city or cities you may consider living in, possible work or self-employment options, retirement options, language barriers, culture shock, the economic and political situation and future trends, finding a home, enrolling your kids in school, learning about available medical facilities and... what will happen if you get to Bolivia and things don't go well or you change your mind about it...
Wait... you did take some time to think about what might happen if, for any reason, you need to repatriate (return to your home country), didn't you? Well, as it turns out, many people spend days, weeks and months researching and planning for the expatriate life. But some fail to ask themselves some very important questions, such as what happens when something goes wrong, or it's simply time to return home? Expats in Bolivia and other countries often face emotions they never expected to feel, and sometimes didn't prepare for, when it's time to "go home".
Many expats relocate or retire overseas for financial reasons. Simply put, they want to save money. Others truly want to experience a different culture. Still others are married to people of another culture and want to learn about it.
If living in Bolivia is what you're considering because you want to save money, you need to be sure that the country can actually offer you a lifestyle you’ll be pleased with. If you’re not adventurous and are not motivated to learn about other cultures, you are better off seeking out a country where you can afford to live in a relatively similar manner as you do now. Many expats in Bolivia do want this and even hope to afford higher living standards than they currently enjoy.
Even if you do find that being Bolivia expats provides you the life that you want and it's affordable, you must ask yourself if you are willing to give up some of the things you enjoy (being near your family, speaking your own language, going to a church of your religion, etc.). Don't expect two countries to ever be exactly the same, no matter how similar they may be. The only place you can live a US lifestyle, for example, is in the US. The only place like Australia is Australia.
If you really do want to learn about other cultures you’ll likely love that Bolivia is very different from your own country. But is this truly the best decision for you? Are there things, people, ways of living, conveniences, standards, or anything else that you might end up missing so much you feel miserable as Bolivia expats? Some people think they can adjust to a very different culture only to find themselves trying to maintain the lifestyle they were accustomed to – and when unable to do so they regret their choices. Ask yourself if you are SURE moving to Bolivia is your best choice. Or should you consider touring Bolivia each year instead?
If you’ve married someone from Bolivia, fitting into their culture may be easier for you because you’ll have help. But does that mean you can get used to living in Bolivia for an extended length of time? Visiting Bolivia and living in it can offer two completely different scenarios. Sometimes love is not enough to get you through the changes. Your first commitment is, of course, to your spouse and you must be willing in any marriage to compromise and make some sacrifices. After all, your spouse is likely doing the same for you.
But there are other very real considerations you must both take into account as Bolivia expats such as the skills, language, and other abilities necessary to earn a living in Bolivia. Unless your spouse will be the primary breadwinner and already has an employment contract, this is a necessary step to take. The technical term for you is “trailing spouse” and as the “follower” you must take this into consideration before you make a final decision (or agree with your spouse to a trial period). Whether you are moving to please your spouse or because you truly are interested in being an expat in Bolivia, you must be able to find a job or otherwise afford to live here. If you can’t, you’ll both end up miserable. If you have children take their needs into account as well.
If you’re looking to live exactly as you live now, you won’t find that anywhere other than where you live now. Research employment options, housing availability, schools and the costs of educating your children, language skills needed, costs of living, living standards, hygiene standards, health care costs, medical facilities and technology, the availability of any medications or treatments you need, the local cuisine and the cost and availability of your choice of foods, the costs and availability of phone and internet options, vehicles and transportation, documentation requirements, money transfer and banking options, work or driving permits and licenses, tax issues, and anything else you use in your daily life. (By the way, you'll find all of this information about Bolivia under the Live in Bolivia section).
READ PAGE 1 of this 3-page article: Listen to this 2-part webcast interview done by RealityAbroad.com in which I give my personal account of life as an expat in Bolivia.
READ PAGE 2 of this 3-page article: Are you really ready to be a Bolivia expat? Before you move to Bolivia, or anywhere else abroad, ask yourself these ten questions.
If you are still in the research stage and haven't yet determined whether or not Bolivia is right for you, I encourage you to exhaust every resource available to you. You can ask questions in our public Expat Forum, read through all of the pages in our Live in Bolivia and Bolivia Facts sections, join our BoliviaBella Facebook Group, get in contact with other Expats in Bolivia, and keep up with Bolivia News and current events. All of these are free public resources. However, if after all of your research you still have questions you'd like answered, consider making use of the BoliviaBella Question and Answer Service. Read more about it here.