Posts Tagged ‘foreign residency’

The door narrows in Chile

Posted: April 28, 2015 in News
Tags: ,

A new change to the laws regarding acquisition of a temporary RUT number in Chile (for things like buying property and vehicles for non-residents or non-citizens) has been implemented. Now you must have a co-signer in Chile who is either a citizen or full permanent resident, in order that they may receive correspondence and legal notices to the RUT applicant.

I would guess that most lawyers and notarias will do this service for people, but it just adds an extra complicated step in the process and takes away something that was, before, a walk-in-walk-out process.

Living abroad: is it worth it?

When I first set out over 6 years ago, I would have said, “Yes, absolultely.”

This may be a bit dark and introspective, but if you have been thinking about moving abroad, please do read it and try to absorb what I say.

I was so hungry to get out of Homelandistan that I was blinded by the adventure, blind to the long-term consequences, blind to the difficulty and stumbling blocks, not just those newbies run into but those that continue to plague seasoned pros.

Maybe age changes things, maybe experience changes things, maybe wisdom changes things. At least your perspectives change. After a good heart-to-heart with BeelzeBob, who is also planning on returning to Homelandistan, as well as an excellent long conversation with SwingdanceBob in Uruguay, I think I have a good deal of it figured out, and this here is an effort to not only get my own thoughts in order but to share with others in the hopes that you may avoid the pitfalls.

SwingdanceBob was upset when I started this blog: “Everyone who starts a blog on Uruguay ends up leaving.” I called bullshit on that at the time, but SwingdanceBob was right.

It’s not just BeelzeBob pulling the ripcord. CaliforniaBob, DiverBob, ExFedBob, MexicanBob, BrazilianBob, GermanBob, and I am definitely forgetting a few other Bobs, have left already or are getting ready to leave Uruguay for greener pastures, most of them on their ways back to their Homelandistans. There are a few holdouts, but the numbers are dwindling. The Sociedad Southrun board which once thrived is now a mere husk of its former self with little, if any, activity. There are new arrivals but not nearly the way it was 6 years ago when the “first wave” seemed to be hitting (which also held, in my opinion, the best of the best and most adventurous souls that could be found).

Moving abroad will change you. It will stress you to your breaking point, test your resolve, change your opinions of people and places and things in deep, fundamental ways. It will change you as a person. I am not the same person I was a year ago, not the same person I was 5 years ago. And as you change, you likely will come to a point where you no longer want to deal with the pitfalls of living abroad and crave the simplicity and familiarity of your particular Homelandistan, despite its warts and its wrinkles. It sucks, for sure, but everywhere else sucks worse.

Perhaps, like me, you were so hungry to leave Homelandistan that you failed to cultivate or maintain friendships there, and when you return you find yourself a stranger in a strange land, with nobody to call, no shoulders to cry on, no moral support, etc. You will distance yourself from your family. They think you are crazy anyways for wanting to move abroad but once you actually take the step, it’s like a cutoff in their minds. You’re out of sight, out of mind. These are just a couple of the major pitfalls that nobody ever tells you about when they regale you with tales of the sugarplum fairies dancing on the other side of the border.

Moving abroad will stress and most likely destroy your spousal relationship as well. Call me a naysayer, but even if all things are going generally well for both parties, your paths and motivations for living abroad will eventually diverge, and the atmosphere will become toxic as those paths tug you apart. Once again, nobody tells you this stuff when you are signing up. It’s happened to countless relationships I have watched, and it happened to mine despite leaving the dark realm of Uruguay for the promised land of Chile. ExWifeBob and I have no ill will towards each other, and I still have great relations with her family, but time and stress have set us in opposite directions.

Probably the only relationships that will survive life abroad are those where the assignment is temporary. The having of the things, and the building of the nest, and the maintenance of owning an empire spread among many foreign lands are just a few aspects of what drives the couple in different paths. Not to mention those with children. Even the staunchest couples I have seen where both arrive with stars in their eyes and everything in alignment, I’ve watched the spark wither and die countless times. It’s not just Uruguay, it’s everywhere. Maybe there is something to settling down at home and having a simple life; it never sounds like it will suit me but then I look at the disaster trail behind me and wonder why I just didn’t plug myself back into the matrix.

When I set about my great South American adventure, I spoke a handful of horrible Spanish. Dunked into the flow of things, I had to swim or sink, and now after 6 years of it, I am pretty well fluent in the language. Learning this skill is one thing I do not regret, but listen to me please when I say this: It does not make things much easier. Anyone ought to think it should, but it doesn’t work that way. You will understand every word that is written or said, but you still will not understand the lack of logic behind you not being able to get done what needs to get done. And it will not stop the culture from ripping you off and raping you every time you take your eye off of it. Scumbags are scumbags because they lie, in any language.

South America, all of it, is the way it is for a reason. It is not for lack of foreign influence, it is not for lack of access to people or services or things. It is the way it is because of stubborn culture, ingrained (encouraged!) ignorance, and government interference with any and all things wonderful and efficient. When you get drafted for your adventure, you will show up thinking that there is opportunity at every turn, and why the hell hasn’t anyone done this yet? The simple answer: they have, and they failed miserably, not due to lack of trying but due to the locals mandating their failure. Every bright idea you have in South America is just the dying ember of someone else’s broken dream, and once you start digging you will find the buried bones of all those old ideas under the foundation of everything. No, you will not get ahead by holding the torch of reason high for all to see. That will just make it easier for them to come after you with their pitchforks and tear you down. The torch of reason makes them angry, actually. Like kicking a bee hive. Reason and logic are the Frankenstein Monster of South America.

So you left Homelandistan because you felt you didn’t belong. Now you are leaving SouthAmeristan because you don’t belong, and when you return to Homelandistan, you still find you do not belong because your old friends and family have stayed the same, and have not evolved to match you, you are extra alien, and nothing fits into place. The locals are ignorant and just as lacking as before, maybe even moreso. Because you are a citizen of the world, you are now triple-homeless. What to do? I don’t know the answer. Maybe I’ll go back to being a boat hippie. Maybe I’ll be so enamored with Asia (leaving tomorrow) that I’ll just repeat the same idiot behavior and head straight into the local Expat Draft Office…

As fucked up as it is, Homelandistan is still home, we have to face that. As much as I hate Big Brother, I love Big Brother. I am Winston Smith. This painful reality is sinking in. I struggle a great deal with the moral implications of this, because I find supporting the empire to be morally revolting, what with the rampant killing of foreigners, locals, and policesurveillancestateification of everything.

Some say hunker down and fight the system, some say walk away, some say quietly prepare for the worst… what do you do when all the trends point to shit? Can you do more for you and yours by staying in a place where you can be most efficient, most successful, and most able to make quick changes if things get ugly? Can you do more by bowing out and not feeding the beast? I certainly can’t do enough by being in South America. But I am starting to feel like I need to be where I can do the best for myself, because that is the best for the rest, my tide will lift all the boats, and I can only do that if I settle back in Homelandistan for a while, keep my head down, minimize my taxes as much as I can, all while eyeing the exit.

What I do know, and one thing BeelzeBob mentioned to me while discussing this matter, and another thing that nobody tells you when you sign up, is that we end up having more in common with our expat friends than anyone else anymore, and we have to stick together despite how far apart we are. It’s a strange patchwork adopted family.

So, living abroad, is it worth it, now? No.

I’m poorer for it, poorer in friends and family, lacking a true home, and I have passed up countless opportunities over the years chasing after bullshit in the third world. Sure I learned a foreign language in several local dialects but I could have done that for a few hours a week in a community college. Yes, a few investments in the third world panned out nicely but nowhere near what I could have made, had I simply stayed home. And had I not incurred the expenses of living in pricy places abroad, getting ripped off by locals, etc, I could have just bought a second passport. As it stands the Uruguay passport is still a “who-knows?” situation after another year of pestering and trying and, literally, 12+ kilograms of papers submitted. Yes, I weighed them.

I could have also gotten and maintained my foreign residencies and still lived in Homelandistan, vacationing once in a while in those places instead of living there. That would have been smarter. Even though I have no passports to these places, I can still head back to them and stay as long as I want if need be. That’s a pretty good plan B, your choice of 3 countries not to mention their trade partners.

Do I regret it? To be honest, sometimes yes, sometimes no. I am a firm believer that you should regret things you haven’t done, not ones you have, but then what grand things could I have done had I stayed? There have been lots of things I have wanted to do, which I couldn’t because I was stuck chasing papers in some asshole bureaucrat’s office, doing some moron’s job for them, or generally herding cats in the third world.

As I write this, I am getting my bags packed to travel Asia for 6 weeks, and I found out last night that the guy I trusted to finish the renovations on my apartment in Santiago has not shown up for a couple of weeks and I am probably going to return “home” to the same half-finished wreck of a place I left two months ago. What a nice thing to think about while you’re trying to relax on the other side of the earth… where you will be on a boat with no internet and no telephone for another 3 weeks…

My advice: stay put, keep your powder dry, cultivate your friendships, build your adopted family. Work hard in your Homelandistan where you know the lay of the land and the locals are less likely to fuck you, live within or below your means, save aggressively, but be ready to hit the road if you absolutely have to. Learn to sail and navigate, and you can go anywhere in the world. Just don’t give up your homeland opportunities at the expense of that shiny El Dorado hiding just behind the next hill.

There is such a glut of empty and foreclosed and reposessed housing in Spain, as icing on the cake of their financial woes, that the government has proposed a program to offer permanent residency to foreigners buying properties valued at €160,000 or higher (USD$200,000). The plan has yet to become official policy but maybe they’ll get it drafted into effect in another decade or two.

Read the article here for more information.

We are now temporary residents of Chile. Our paperwork went in on Sept 20, and now, as of Oct 5, it is ready. Nice. Some other places could learn a thing or two about getting this stuff done. Ones that start with a U.

We are now official permanent residents of Paraguay. Hooray!

My plans to take over the world are coming together… muahahahaaaaaa!