Expat Stories: Be Open-Minded and Ready to Learn in Bolivia. Your Way is Not Always the Right Way.

by Anonymous Female - From United Kingdom
(La Paz, Bolivia)

1. How did you first hear about Bolivia and/or become interested in Bolivia as a possible place to live?

As a student I came for one year to study and then 6 years later I came as an aid worker to settle permanently.

2. Where are you from originally and why are/were you considering living overseas when you first took Bolivia into account as an option?

Manchester, UK. My interest related to my work as an aid worker and also my partner who is Bolivian.

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?

English and Spanish

4. Did you come here as an individual, couple or family?

Individual and then I married a Bolivian and now have a Bolivian family.

5. Are you planning to live in Bolivia short-term or long term?

Long term.

6. Do you work or plan to work or start your own business in Bolivia?


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?

Only Bolivia - due to my Bolivian partner.

8. What steps did you take to research about Bolivia to prepare yourself prior to arriving?

I studied Latin American studies at university and also development studies in UK in which I specialized in Bolivia.

9. What do you miss most about your home country?

Family, friends, British tea, long summer nights.

10. What do you like/love/appreciate most about Bolivia?

Nature, friendly people, safety, food, culture, fiestas.

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?


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 learn something new every day. This country continues to surprise and inspire me every day – even after 16 years!

14. Is there anything about Bolivia that turned out to be very unexpected to you?

It is important to come with an open mind - EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED!

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?

• Respect, tolerance, open mindedness.
• Do not come as a new imperialist
• Do not be a complainer – it is your choice to be here so don´t spend all your time criticising!
• Be sociable, look for Bolivian friends, don´t just stay with expats
• Be open minded and ready to learn
• Your way is not always the right way

16. Is there any reason you would NOT recommend Bolivia as a place to live, work or retire?

• Altitude in La Paz
• Political and social instability
• Lots of grey areas in the law
• Red tape
• Internet is slow and expensive
• Tropical diseases in low lands

17. What is the most negative aspect about living in Bolivia in your opinion?

• Political and social instability
• Lots of grey areas in the law
• Red tape

18. What are some of the most positive aspects about living in Bolivia in your opinion?

Weather, friendly people, safety, beautiful nature, culture, spontaneity.

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?

Every time I have to do a tramite (procedure) – corruption, long time, changing rules, queues, etc.

20. If your children moved overseas with you, how did you prepare them for the differences in lifestyle or culture shock?

They were born in Bolivia.

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.)

Speak to other people
Have good health insurance
Bring small home comforts and favourite food, toysets but the rest you can buy here

22. What are some of the things that were most difficult for you to accept or adjust to in Bolivia?

• Red tape
• Drunk drivers
• State of the mountain roads
• Dangerous public transport

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 don’t think so.

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?

I would not have bought over so much stuff, you can buy most things here – but it tale time to get to know where to shop for certain things.
Schools are expensive here for children.
Health insurance is a must.

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?

No, I didn’t but now I refer all our volunteers there as the best source of updated info on Bolivia for foreigners. You provide an excellent service!

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