Expat Stories: Bolivia is Not What it Seems From the Outside. Be Flexible and Open-Minded.
by Anonymous Female - From Russia
(La Paz, Bolivia)
Photo © BoliviaBella.com 2013
1. How did you first hear about Bolivia and/or become interested in Bolivia as a possible place to live? Return to Bolivia Expat Stories Home Page
When I met my husband.
2. Where are you from originally and why are/were you considering living overseas when you first took Bolivia into account as an option?
I am from Russia and I thought it would be better for our family to live in Bolivia than over there because of the climate, people, quality of life and some personal reasons.
3. Which languages do you speak? If you do not speak Spanish, has this made adjusting to, and living in Bolivia more difficult for you?
I speak Russian, English, Spanish, a little Portuguese and French now but back then I didn’t speak Spanish at all, so yes, it was more difficult for me adjusting to living here.
4. Did you come here as an individual, couple or family?
I came here as an individual.
5. Are you planning to live in Bolivia short-term or long term?
6. Do you work or plan to work or start your own business in Bolivia?
I plan to work or open my own business, just haven’t decided yet.
7. Is Bolivia the only country to which you contemplated moving, or did you consider other choices? If so, why did you ultimately choose Bolivia?
No, I didn’t consider other choices.
8. What steps did you take to research about Bolivia to prepare yourself prior to arriving?
Prior to arriving I used to read a lot about Bolivia, also I used to watch videos and talk to people which already lived here (locals and expats), trying to gather as much information as I could about the country itself, the culture and the mentality of the people, the lifestyle, etc.
9. What do you miss most about your home country?
My parents, some relatives and friends, some food and the seasons sometimes.
10. What do you like/love/appreciate most about Bolivia?
The climate, the food, the affordability, a lot of nice people, more opportunities to have your own business, less stressful, more laid back life than in my country of origin.
11. Did you relocate on your own, or do you work for a company that relocated you to Boliv-ia?
On my own.
12. If your plan is/was to retire in Bolivia permanently, how did you prepare financially, and in other ways to make that possible?
If my plan was to retire in Bolivia I would probably invest in some properties for rent and/or open a business.
13. For those of you who have lived in Bolivia for at least 6 months, now that you are here, what have you learned about Bolivia that you did not know before?
I learned that Bolivia is not what it seems to be from outside. It’s not as poor as a lot of people from different countries think and it is actually a good place to live.
14. Is there anything about Bolivia that turned out to be very unexpected to you?
No, not really. Maybe, too many dogs on the streets and higher prices at the grocery stores than at the markets.
15. What special skills or attitudes do you think a person or family needs in order to ensure their stay in Bolivia is enjoyable/successful?
Well, not just in Bolivia, in any other country. To make their stay enjoyable people need to be more flexible, more open-minded and they don’t need to expect much, because there is always something that they are not going to like.
16. Is there any reason you would NOT recommend Bolivia as a place to live, work or retire?
As any other place in the world Bolivia is not for everyone. So there can be different reasons for different people. Everybody needs to do a good research before moving somewhere.
17. What is the most negative aspect about living in Bolivia in your opinion?
In my opinion the most negative aspect here is the government and their ideas which sometimes can be crazy.
18. What are some of the most positive aspects about living in Bolivia in your opinion?
One of the most positive aspects is that you can enjoy your life here without making a lot of effort. Bolivia has the natural beauty and the climate zones which can suit almost everyone, fresh fruits and vegetables all year round. Bolivia is a very authentic country and I like that too.
19. Have you faced any unexpected difficulties while living here? Were you able to over-come those obstacles? Are they serious enough to cause you to want to leave?
Yes, I have, but they were easy to overcome and were not serious enough to cause me to want to leave.
20. If your children moved overseas with you, how did you prepare them for the differences in lifestyle or culture shock?
I would help them to learn the language and to get to know more about the country to try to minimize the culture shock.
21. For future potential expatriates who are considering living in Bolivia, what advice would you give them (how to prepare, what to bring or not bring, etc.)
The most important thing is to learn the language, of course. Also I would recommend to visit the country before relocating to see if that is really what they are looking for. I would bring more clothes and electronics with me.
22. What are some of the things that were most difficult for you to accept or adjust to in Bo-livia?
Some people. They have a lack of tact and punctuality and like to postpone things they are supposed to do, irresponsibility. The restaurants, the roads and the shopping are best to be desired.
23. Prior to moving here, what aspects of living in Bolivia would you have liked to know more about or have more assistance with? Is there anything anyone could have done, or informed you about that would have made your choice to move to Bolivia, the relocation process itself, or your initial adjustment period easier, less stressful, less frightening?
I can’t say exactly what I would have liked to know more about, but I think the more you can find out the better.
24. Hindsight is 20/20. If you could go back in time to the months before you moved to Boliv-ia, is there were anything you would do differently to prepare for living in Bolivia?
I would definitely learn Spanish before moving here.
25. Just for statistical purposes, had you heard of BoliviaBella.com or Expat Services prior to moving to Bolivia? If so, which parts of our website were most helpful to you? What information would you like to see added for future potential expats?
I found out about BoliviaBella.com after I moved here and I could see a lot of helpful information there – things to do, places to visit, places to stay, etc. So I don’t even know what I’d like to see added.