Moving to La Paz in November
Hello All, I was in Bolivia this past Spring, met a girl I really like, and now I'm saving some money to move back there in November. I should have about $7,000.00 saved up after airfare. I believe that I can live a good life (a good life for my needs) in La Paz for about $800.00 per month though with a bit of travel and some extras that can easily be $1000.00 a month. I am hoping that this will buy me enough time to learn Spanish, get the lay of the land, and figure out how in the world I'm going to make a living there.
In getting ready to head back I've got some questions (by the way, I'm coming from the US):
1) VISA: My girlfriend and her mother went down to the visa place two times and they instructed her all the things I need to do to get the Visa De Objecto (sp?). Mostly, she says I can show up at the airport and apply for it instead of applying for a tourist visa. Then I will have to do some stuff there while waiting for the full VISA approval.
Is that true? I've been looking at the Bolivian embassy page and can't figure out too much because I don't know Spanish that well. I believe, from what I've read, that I'm supposed to get the the visa here. Has anyone on this site shown up without a VISA de Objecto and applied for one at the airport? I only have one more month left on my tourist visa. I used 60 days in March and April. From what I've read you can only use a total of 90 days in any 12 months period. Is this a hard and fast rule? Can I travel to Chile, then re-enter and get my visa tourist renewed every three months?
2)Money Exchange: Is it wise for me to switch my currency to Euros before heading down? My GF thinks that's a good move because the Euro is stronger, but I would have to pay two exchange fees instead of one, so I'll just have less euros to work with. Theortically, I don't think it will matter because the exchange is designed to take into account the relative strength of each currency so changing money for US to EURO to BOL shouldn't yield a benefit for me should it?
3)Internet: I have two jobs here. One is part time as a tele-marketer. I can continue to do that in Bolivia as long as I have a solid internet connection because we connect on the web and run the calls VOIP. This would allow me to make a US paycheck while living in La Paz, but I have to really have reliable internet. Any suggestions? Can I rent a room at an internet cafe and work from there for a while? I am leery of entering into a long term internet contract and I don't know if the providers there allow for short term unlimited internet contracts. Does any here know anything about call centers in La Paz that dial into the USA? If so, I'd love to pick your brain.
4) Apartments: My apartment in Sopacachi was a good deal. I paid $200.00 a month for one bedroom, cable TV, and a private bath with a shared kitchen. How is it in Zona Sur? Does anyone here know of any good apartment deals there? I'd like to live in Zona Sur to be closer to my girlfriend. Specifically, I'd love to get a place in Achumani so I can also be close to a gym I like. How about Los Pinos or Cota Cota. Are they any good for apartment deals? I would not like to enter into a shared living situation, but I could always look at that too.
5) Inflation: I'm hearing that prices, almost all prices, are going up in La Paz. Does anyone have any idea what we're looking at for inflation? Should I adjust my budget that is based on my experience in March and April?
6) Bank Account: Can a US citizen get a bank account in La Paz? I suppose that with the VISA de objecto it's possible. Can someone share what you think about that? I am planning on keeping my money in my US account and withdrawing it from ATM's. Maybe I could open a smaller account in La Paz.
7) Work: I have the tele-marketing idea to provide me some security, but I'm also interested in teaching english. Does anyone here have experience with doing that as a full time job in La Paz? Can you make a living at it?
So...This is my situation and I would LOVE to have any advice that you can provide. If you need more clarification to answer a question please post and I'll answer.