Expat Stories: Lived and Worked Abroad Many Years but Chose to Retire in Bolivia When I Met my Partner in Life Here

by Anonymous Male - From the UK
(Santa Cruz, Bolivia)

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

I answered an internal company job advertisement for a post here in Santa Cruz (August 2011) and was appointed in March 2012 after an orientation visit in January 2012

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

Originally from England but have worked abroad since 1998, initially on a rotational basis in Kazakhstan and then as an ex-pat in Egypt. I have always considered retiring abroad to live in a more benign climate and to receive my pension tax free.

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 German, Russian and now some Spanish. I can get by in French

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

As an individual.

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

Long term (permanently)

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

I don’t work, I am retired. I have had thoughts about starting my own business here but I really don’t need to do this for the money, only for the interest / life style.

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 considered several countries, mostly in South America (Costa Rica, Panama, Ecuador) but settled on Bolivia when I met my partner in life here.

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

Lots of web search i.e. Wikipedia, CIA world fact book, UK government country profile, BoliviaBella etc etc.

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

The availability of new technology. Ebay, Amazon, Mail order in general. Cheap and fast broadband.

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

The climate, the varying natural habitats, the people, the relaxed lifestyle.

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

I have relocated here twice, once with my company and then on my own earlier this year (March 2014)

12. If your plan is/was to retire in Bolivia permanently, how did you prepare financially, and in other ways to make that possible?

My finances have been held offshore since 2012 when the UK government changed the pension rules.

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?

Lots of local customs, lots of interesting places to visit, lots of indigenous culture.

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

Not really

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?

An open mind and willingness to embrace local culture rather than resisting it.

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


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

The level of Government bureaucracy.

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

Family orientated society, tax-free foreign income.

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 had a run in with the traffic police while I was working here and experienced their corruption first hand. I learned a lesson but it did not encourage me to leave.

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

Both children are grown up and live abroad independently.

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 as many kitchen and computer gadgets that you can – they are undoubtedly cheaper in your home country.

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

Nothing really, the traffic is crazy and the driving standards appalling but I came from Egypt where they are worse.

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 wasn’t frightened just curious. Having relocated to other countries I had few apprehensions that I would encounter problems. I would have liked to know more about the process of getting a residency permit and there are still some unknowns on this front.

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?

Start to learn Spanish (but there were no Spanish schools in Egypt)

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?

Yes, I had discovered BoliviaBella before I came here but it was such a long time ago that I had forgotten which parts of the site I found useful.

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Apr 25, 2018
An Update
by: Rod Peel

I was the anonymous male who wrote the article upon which I am now commenting. It is 2018 and I'm still here! I have bought a house in a wonderful open condominium which is full of wildlife and I and my partner are developing a tropical garden. I still enjoy Bolivia and of course in 4 years I am well traveled. I have my 'permanency' for residence, my driving license and , because of my age, I even get a modest discount on my water and electricity bills.

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