Expat Stories: I came to Bolivia Thinking it was Time for a Change. What a Change!

by Anonymous Male - From Australia
(Santa Cruz, Bolivia)

Flower of the toborochi tree, typical of Santa Cruz

Flower of the toborochi tree, typical of Santa Cruz

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

The Company I was working for in Australia went in Partnership with a Company here in Santa Cruz. I offered to go over and help with the set-up that was needed. As I had never travelled overseas, I thought it would be a good experience.

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´m from Australia, and the Australian Company shut down. The Boss in S.C. offered me a full time job. I thought it was time for a change, and what a change!

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 I now get by with what Spanish I know. I did not speak a single word of Spanish when I came here originally.

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

I am currently teaching Traditional Japanese Martial Arts. Small beginnings but am planning to expand.

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?

I had no thoughts about moving to another country, it was only my work that gave me the opportunity.

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

Almost nothing. Some classes in Spanish.

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

Family, Friends, Beaches and Bakeries. And CHOCOLATE.

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

Friendly people, the hot weather, stunning girls and cheap living.

11. Did you relocate on your own, or do you work for a company that relocated you to Bolivia?

I relocated alone.

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?

The level of Machismo and, in retrospect, the level of where some of the populace put themselves as far as “Gringos” are concerned. Many consider themselves far too inferior. This was something completely new to me.

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

The amount of corruption.

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?

Come with an open mind and have plenty of patience.

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

Only if you are an extremely impatient person, or unwilling to change a little.

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

By far I think it´s the long-winded, frustrating, corrupt beaurocracy. More than once I have had to hold my tongue with Police and people in Immigration. I have been completely polite at all times but in contrast to what I have said above, some who have a little power under their belt feel it is in their power to be unnecessarily rude and make things hard for you just because they can.

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

The people here are very friendly. I have made some great friends and they have helped me through some trying times indeed. Also the lifestyle can be quite relaxed at times. Although they know how to party. If you like hot weather you are in for a treat. Food is fantastic!

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?

I suppose for me the biggest one would be the language. There were days I felt like chucking it in out of pure frustration. That and the corruption. There are some seriously mentally challenged people working where they shouldn´t be.

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.)

Do your best to learn as much of the language as you can beforehand. Something as simple as asking for a straw in a shop can turn into a nightmare if not asked for properly. Be prepared for the traffic. It is chaotic.

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

Corruption, Traffic and the attitude of “Mañana”. Puncuality is not a big priority. Very difficult for an Australian as Four o´clock means Four o´clock. Here it means anywhere from 4-6:30. Or later.

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?

Difficult question. I believe it´s up to the individual to adjust. You can tell them everything, what to bring, how to behave etc. But I think it´s not until you are in said Country that you can appreciate on how to “relocate”.

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?

Study Español harder!!

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?

Never heard of it.

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Comments for Expat Stories: I came to Bolivia Thinking it was Time for a Change. What a Change!

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Jul 05, 2016
What a stupid rule
by: Annie

The American School is officially a part of the US public school system. They are accredited by the US public school system so they should NEVER be allowed to turn down the children of an American family, as long as the family is able to pay the tuition. I mean I know that it's considered a private school, but if it's a matter of space, they should take American families first, and then IF there is any space left, families from Bolivia or other countries. You could easily find out which US public school chapter they are accredited by and write a complaint.

Feb 02, 2016
Agree, Agree, Agree...
by: Shantel

I found your comments not only refreshing but almost like they came from my own mouth. I have only been here 30 days today; for the past two weeks I've had said numerous times that I have never seen or dealt with so much corruption. I am from the United States and although I've held my tongue many times, I did slip up a couple (By origin I am Hispanic). I am also married with a five year old, that being said.. I can handle some of the things that have come my way after all it was mine not my husbands (He was born in Bolivia) decision, however my issue now is that I can't even send my son to the American school because we need to know at least three families whose child/ children attend there. That has got to be the most ridiculous rule, I mean we just moved here and my husband hasn't lived in his country for nearly 25 years! He isn't even from this city so how are we suppose to go out and meet three families just to enroll our son in an American school... I have many frustrations and with a glass of wine or a cold beer I can make them appear better but this one is the hardest pill for me to swallow..
Anyway I won't rant anymore, I just wanted to let you know in 30 days I've faced more than my share of frustration an corruption.. Thanks for your story, I got a good chuckle out of it!


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