On Getting Out of Dodge
WE GET LETTERS
As you know, we always answer all emails and, as a result, we find outselves in the middle of some real life dramas. We are also encouraged by your many letters of appreciation, and we appreciate the wonderful information that we receive from subscribers, which often ends up in the newsletter or sometimes as an article if it is long enough and we don’t want to cut any of it out. We love to publish articles from subscribers who now live in South America and can bring special insights to others from their own experiences and/or areas. We even have subscribers who generously send us technical advice. What would we do without you all!
We decided this week to pass on to you some of what we are privileged to receive here. The following came from Diane Cohn and her husband in response to our post to encourage those of you who are having a hard time just getting started on the project of paring down and moving. The Cohns are in the final stages of their transition, trying to decide which location they will call home in the future. They are down now to what we consider the fun part.
As she points out, all of us do not take the same path. In my own case, I sold what I could and then I called the Rescue Mission and just gave them the rest. I’ve done that more than once since my own paring down came in degrees and steps. There comes a time when you’ve just agonized too much and you make a decision. My decision was to give it away. .
The lesson here is that if you just keep on taking one step at a time, you will finally actually achieve your goal. In my own case I didn’t bring anything except what is important to me in day to day life and I love the freedom of not being weighed down with “stuff.” But others treasure their possessions and have come with as much as two containers full of furniture and other items. So we each seem to have a different style. Here is the Cohn’s unique story:
The Cohns Tell Their Story!
I am sitting in a hotel room in Pucon, Chile. We just arrived yesterday. After a Google search looking for local expat resources, I happened to find my way to this most excellent post in the Four Flags Journal about getting started on getting out.
The hubby and I are on this very same journey right now. Like Arlean, we started out from the States, disturbed by the deterioration we see. Like Linda, (who commented on the article) we worry about the money. And like Jim, (who also commented), we worry about what to do with the stuff . . . and the family, the kids and the cat.
But at least we had (step 1) covered… Passports. So in 2011, after two years of internet research (step 2), we took a month-long trip with our teenagers in tow, to see places of interest in South America (step 3): Santiago, Viña del Mar, Buenos Aires, Colonia, Montevideo, Punte del Este and Rio de Janerio.
Was taking that much time, spending a significant chunk of money, going to foreign places with nothing more than cave-Spanish skills, um, scary? Yes. Was it worth it in retrospect? OMG yes!
We learned that we liked Chile, that Buenos Aires just wasn’t for us full-time, that Colonia was cute but too small, that Montevideo was too drab in the winter but had nice expats, that La Barra was wonderful but kind of expensive, and that Rio was fabulous, but so expensive I don’t even know how anybody can afford to live there unless they live in the Favelas.
Originally we thought we’d move the following winter but didn’t, due to our one daughter being so close to high school graduation in an academic program difficult to transfer. Plus given the added expense of two private school tuitions, and that whole, what would we do for a living thing… We held back.
So it was back to being restless in the States for almost three more years as both kids progressed toward high school graduation. But we did make some progress in the interim, step-by-step.
We sold our last house (step 4) and have been renting ever since, for flexibility.
We broke up with California for good and established residency in Nevada (step 5), which we feel is a better launch point for leaving the US from a tax-claim standpoint.
Our older daughter graduated high school, spent a year abroad in Belgium, and is now studying engineering with a far more worldly point-of-view. So she’s out of the house and on her way (step 6).
Meanwhile the hubby, a software engineer, secured a position with a company that lets him telecommute, a major piece of the puzzle that partially solves the what-do-I-do-for-a-living question (step 7). I say partially because you just never know when it’s a job versus your own company, and even that can be uncertain. So we still need to create a business, preferably one that’s portable.
During this interim period, we had frequent conversations about moving to South America. They went something like this: “We need to get out. Should it be this year? Next year? In the next six months? Next week? Should we be looking at Ecuador instead? Or Colombia? What about Puerto Rico?” But our discussions always came back to Chile.
So we decided to take a closer look. We planned a 3-month trip that we almost cancelled but thank God we didn’t, which we’re in the middle of right now.
But first we had to get our younger daughter out of the house. So we arranged for a 3-month cultural exchange for her in Brazil (step 8) conveniently timed to take place during our own trip.
Then we gave notice to our landlord and moved everything into storage (step 9). Although we still have two cars and a 10×40 foot container’s worth of belongings to decide what to do with, we figure we’ll deal with that later. For us, storage is relatively inexpensive, and luckily, we found a good cat sitter.
So here we are, half way through our three-month adventure at the bottom of the world. It’s day one in Pucon. We don’t know anybody other than Jeanette Schnall at Southern Chile Properties, who I’ve exchanged emails with, though we did meet some nice expats in Puerto Varas who we found on Facebook who said we should go say hi to some other expats who run a good restaurant here… So that’s what we’re gonna do, we’ll see where that goes.
And that’s how things roll once you get down here. Or anywhere. You really don’t know what’s going to happen when you go someplace new, but if you reach out, you meet people. And even if you can’t communicate perfectly (or even well), most of them seem pretty nice. You just have to take it all one step at a time as Arlean says.
My steps were a bit different than Arlean’s, and we’re not even done yet. But we’ve made progress, even if it’s been slooooow, as each step leads us closer to a place that works for us.
Just do that first thing. Maybe it’s as simple as cleaning out your closets or selling some surplus stuff on Craigslist or biting the bullet and planning that first two-week trip to Cuenca. Baby steps. That’s all it takes.
You can do it
You can see Diane’s blog at Preperties.com. She has some beautiful photos there from South America and you can read more about the Cohns and their exploratory travels as they try to select the part of South America that their family will eventually call home. We think you’ll like it and perhaps it will be inspiration.Just keep on moving forward, a day at a time, and eventually you will arrive.
Gautam and Parul
And now we move on to another story, which really was dramatic. It is of Gautam and Parul, from India. Their correspondence with us began in 2012 and ran through five pages in our email account inbox (we counted them), several family photos including their wedding picture which you see here, and progressed through repeated disappointments. There are some nationalities for whom emigration from their country is a challenge for various reasons.
We do not provide immigration services. We merely research, publish information, and try to keep track of good, dependable people that we can recommend to our readers. We depend a lot on your recommendations and your experiences so we hope that you communicate if anything goes wrong–and let us know when it goes right, as well. We interview people that we recommend. They often ask, “Do you ask for a commission?” and we say, “The only think we ask is that our people are happy.” So far, so good.
Gautam and Parul asked about Argentina. We worked with our attorney who told us their best chance was a student visa. That could have worked if they had had someone in the country to sponsor them. but unless you have friends or family, that can be impossible.
They tried country after country. They would go to the city of the embassy immigration office in India, miles from their home, stay in a hotel and wait, only to be refused. In one case they had to have round trip airline tickets just to be considered. They did buy the tickets, the visa did not come through and they could not get a refund–a loss of several thousand dollars. Gautam wrote us the outcome at that time and said, “My wife is packing and she is crying.” What a heartbreak.
Both Gautam and Parul have medical credentials and are capable of serving others and supporting themselves. They are also financially stable, and yet they had so many difficulties. I think that often people in an easier position don’t understand the desperation of those who are trying to emigrate against all odds. Gautam was relentless in his efforts. I contacted one lawyer for him who was irritated because he had already been contacted several time by Gautam. But Gautam just wasn’t going to give up no matter how much rejection he encountered. And this is a good example for all of us. If there is something that is important and that is a genuine goal in our lives, no matter how much discouragement we bump into, just keep on keeping on. Don’t give up. Gautam and Parul have put the mere challenge of what to do with our stuff in a different light!
I did find an attorney in Paraguay who explained some of the procedure to me for someone from India and thought he could help Gautam and Parul. We had not heard from them for a while but we wrote and told them the news.
At first we received no answer and wondered if all was well with them.
Then we received the following letter:
We are very very surprised to receive your email. First of all,we are very sorry for delayed contact, Please accept our apology. Actually we have been in Quito Ecuador since last a month only. We wanted to contact you from Quito, but our one month was passed in arranging accommodation.
By the way,we have Permanent Residence of Ecuador and we got the Cedula for 10 years. The Ecuadorian passport will be in 3 years. We arrived on Tourist visa and applied for the Investor visa after in Ecuador. The visa was approved in one week procedure and applied for Cedula.
As you know we struggled very hard to leave India, Finally we aimed at our target. My wife Parul, conveys lovely and sweets regards to you. Nowdays,we are learning the Spanish ourselves from the Book and Dictionary. Also,we are doing our best try to find the suitable job in Quito. We will registrate our educational credentials to the Educational ministry in Ecuador and then wait for the validation and right of use our Indian qualification in Ecuador.
Ecuador runs with the Spanish language and we must learn the Spanish in order to have good job. This our journey started from Paraguay, Uruguay, Peru, Argentina and finally reached at Ecuador. We are very very thankful of your Four Flags Journal which you usually sent to us. You provided us very deep information for all kind of visas and ways to enter in South America.
You will stay in our Heart always and will never forget you. Please contact us if you come to visit Ecuador.
Again thank you for providing the contact of Attorney in Paraguay, But we prefer to settle in Ecuador until we obtain the Ecuadorian passport.
Sincerely thanking you always
GAUTAM & PARUL
Gautam graciously took the time to write out for us all of the obstacles they met in their efforts to emigrate to each of these countries in order to help us in the event we have another Indian couple at some time. It is unusual to have someone contact us from India but if we do, his graciousness in providing that will be helpful.
And you all thought that all we did around here was write articles! 😉
Take care . . . see you next time,
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