Expat Stories: From India to Bolivia Giving it All Up for Love
by Vimal Menon - From Mumbai, India
(La Paz, Bolivia)
1. How did you first hear about Bolivia and/or become interested in Bolivia as a possible place to live?View Vimal Menon's corporate tech solutions company
The very first time I ever heard of Bolivia was in TinTin comics titled the Broken Ear. Yep, I am not kidding. The second time was when I was actually studying in U.K. and my roommate who was the crazy mountain climbing goat went off to Bolivia to climb the Andes.
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 India, born in South West of India, Kerala and lived most of my life in the financial capital of Mumbai. Why I took Bolivia into account is because I met a Bolivian in India and fell in love, no other reason.
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 English, Hindi, Marathi, Malayalam (mother tongue), Tamil and now I can say I understand Spanish and speak Spanglish. Not speaking Spanish has had its pros and cons but yes it is difficult to live without knowing an ounce of Spanish here.
4. Did you come here as an individual, couple or family?
Solo like Hans Solo.
5. Are you planning to live in Bolivia short-term or long term?
For now it seems to be a long-haul but you never know what destiny has in store.
6. Do you work or plan to work or start your own business in Bolivia?
I run my own software consultancy. That is after the first one failed. I am also a solution architect for a few Bolivian firms here. I am the resident tech nerd in BoliviaBella for a longtime.
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?
As I mentioned here, I came to Bolivia as I fell in love. This included throwing away a secure job, and comforts of back home with family.
8. What steps did you take to research about Bolivia to prepare yourself prior to arriving?
All the information I got from BoliviaBella.com, and from my lady love.
9. What do you miss most about your home country?
Food! Indian food well not any more now as there is an ethnic Indian restaurant. And off course the fast life of Mumbai.
10. What do you like/love/appreciate most about Bolivia?
The beautiful landscape, food, expat community and the 2-hour lunch break!!!
11. Did you relocate on your own, or do you work for a company that relocated you to Bolivia?
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?
Make sure your business is well established as the salary here is not much to save for a retirement.
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?
It’s full of surprises. Do not cancel your credit cards as getting a credit card is really difficult.
14. Is there anything about Bolivia that turned out to be very unexpected to you?
Few people know about Bolivia outside Bolivia. And it’s a peaceful place well at least LA PAZ.
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?
Be calm, follow art of ZEN as things move here very very slowly...
16. Is there any reason you would NOT recommend Bolivia as a place to live, work or retire?
If you’re here to work this is not the place as the salary is very low.
17. What is the most negative aspect about living in Bolivia in your opinion?
If you do not know Spanish, you’re in trouble.
18. What are some of the most positive aspects about living in Bolivia in your opinion?
Nature, flora, fauna, people if you meet the right type.
19. Have you faced any unexpected difficulties while living here? Were you able to overcome those obstacles? Are they serious enough to cause you to want to leave?
Yep starting my business was very difficult and many of my expat friends helped me. Adjusting to the new culture and slow pace.
20. If your children moved overseas with you, how did you prepare them for the differences in lifestyle or 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.)
Bring lot of patience and let go of how it was back home nothing more to say.
22. What are some of the things that were most difficult for you to accept or adjust to in Bolivia?
Slow pace of how things work, at times the loss of valuable production time with long lunch breaks and sudden political changes.
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?
People told me it has a huge mafia and crime rate, but I think when you live and keep out of the wrong places it’s an amazing country.
24. Hindsight is 20/20. If you could go back in time to the months before you moved to Bolivia, is there were anything you would do differently to prepare for living in Bolivia?
Yes, I would never cancel my credit cards :P
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 knew BoliviaBella.com before moving. I think they have everything in place.
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