Our Insider Tips For A Smooth Relocation

To Latin America

Are you thinking about relocating to Latin America in 2023? With years of experience living and working in various Latin American countries, we’ve put together a list of advice to help guide you through the process of finding the perfect neighborhood, integrating into the local community, and making new friends.

Finding the perfect neighborhood

You’ve already decided on the country in Latin America that you’re relocating to, but which city, town, or neighborhood will you live in?

We don’t need to run through the obvious in this article. You know how to decide if you want to live in a city or a small town, and you likely already have an idea if you prefer access to beaches or mountains. However, you may not have considered some of the less obvious details that will make a difference in your move.

Expat communities

One of the biggest factors in your decision-making will be what kind of friendship groups and communities you’re looking for. Most regions in Latin America have expat hotspots, where foreigners from all around the world are located. These can be either clusters of neighborhoods in big cities or smaller towns.

Everyone has their preference. For some, it’s important to be living within an expat community, while for others, it may be more desirable to have a deeper cultural experience by living in a more local area.

In Mexico, for example, you’ll find strong expat communities in most regions of the country. So if you want to live a more culturally immersed experience away from expat communities, you’ll need to look a bit further outside of the center of smaller towns.

You’ll also find in cities, different neighborhoods attract different types of expat communities. In Buenos Aires, for example, you’ll find a very large digital nomad expat community living in the neighborhood of Palermo. Or you’ll find a big community of expat retirees living in the neighborhood of Belgrano.

Each region across Latin America attracts different types of expat communities, so make sure you have an idea of what kind of friendship groups you’d enjoy.

Proximity to transportation

When choosing a neighborhood, consider what mode of transportation you’ll be using. If you plan on having a car, then you’ll have a lot more flexibility in the more remote areas. If you’ll be relying on public transportation, make sure there are taxis, buses, or subways accessible at the times that you’d like to be out and about.

An insider tip we have is if you want to live in a rural area, consider the accessibility and proximity to the closest city. It can be so beneficial to live within an hour’s drive from a city for more choice. A city provides better options for shopping, banks, and post offices, a broader range of dining options, and better medical care. A city will also likely have an immigration office in case you need to apply for a visa or residency.

Also, consider your proximity to airports. If you plan on making regular trips, living within an hour’s drive to a regional or international airport will make a big difference in your ease and flow of travel and comfort of living.


Remember that in relocating to Latin America you are moving to a completely new culture. However, some areas are more modern than others, so it’s important to find a match for you.

Community culture differs greatly between regions, but the general rule is the bigger the city, the more modern the people. For example, some of the smaller towns in Latin America can have an unofficial dress code, which usually means dressing more modestly for both men and women. However, in most cities and beach towns in Latin America, anything goes.

Finding a neighborhood that matches the depth of culture that you want to experience is also something to keep in mind. In Peru, for example, there is a big difference between the everyday culture of the people in the city of Lima, in comparison to Cusco. Do you want to experience a more modern, or a more historical Latin culture?

Airbnb, hotel, or rental contract?

While securing a long-term rental contract before you arrive in Latin America may seem like a well-organized plan, consider instead booking an Airbnb for the first month or two. This will allow you to try out your new neighborhood to see if it’s a good fit and preview longer-term rentals in person. If you’re signing a 3-month to 3-year lease, then you want to be sure that the place is right for you.

Latin America does not have the same tenancy laws as the United States, and each region has its own regulations. So make sure you read the rental contract when you sign it. Keep in mind that it will be in Spanish or Brazilian-Portuguese, so bring a translator if needed.

In some regions of Latin America, you will need residency to sign a long-term rental contract. If this is the case for the region you are moving to, look for shorter-term options for tourists. You should be able to find a three or 6-month furnished option without needing a residency. You’ll likely need to pay a little extra, but it will be more affordable than staying in Aribnbs.

Accessing your money in Latin America

Most countries in Latin America have well-developed banking systems and a wide range of options for foreigners to access their funds.

The easiest way to access your money is by using your credit or debit card. Many restaurants, hotels, and shops in Latin America accept major credit cards, and you can withdraw cash from ATMs using your debit card, which usually gives you a better exchange rate than cash exchange. Some banks even have ATMs that cover your ATM fees.

Just notify your bank before you travel to avoid any issues with your card being blocked, and make sure that your ATM card is able to be used in the country you’re traveling to.

Ideally, you want to get a credit card with no foreign transaction fees, with a good points program, and with included travel insurance that covers medical costs, trip cancellation, flight delay, lost luggage, auto rental collision, and more. Forbes has a list of the best no foreign transaction fee credit cards of 2023.

Our insider’s tip is to bring a backup card if your bank can issue you one, or a secondary account as a backup. This is in case your primary card is lost or stolen, as getting a replacement card shipped to you in Latin America can take a few days.

We recommend traveling with the Schwab Bank debit card, which has no foreign exchange transaction fees, rebates ATM cash withdrawal fees, and offers a range of travel benefits. Using this card is a foolproof way to avoid international ATM fees and get the best currency exchange rate possible.

A note for relocating to Argentina

Accessing your funds in Argentina needs to be dealt with in a completely different way to most other regions in Latin America. 

In Argentina there are two exchange rates – the official dollar and the blue dollar. The blue dollar is a term used in Argentina to refer to the unofficial or parallel exchange rate of the US dollar. This rate is not recognized by the government, and it is often used for transactions in the informal economy.

In 2023 the blue dollar is a little more than double the official exchange rate set by the Central Bank of Argentina. This means that if you can exchange your money with the blue dollar, you are more than doubling your money in the exchange.

ATMs in Argentina will give you the official rate, so avoid them completely. The best option is to send your money for cash pickup in pesos through Western Union, or bring US dollars in cash with you to exchange at the rate of the blue dollar. 

It’s also an option to use a Visa or Mastercard in shops, hotels, and restaurants, as you’ll be charged the official rate then refunded part of your purchase to match close to the blue dollar rate. This is not as good an exchange rate as cash, but it’s close and definitely more convenient.

Integrating into the local culture

Integrating into the local culture is more than just learning the language. It’s about immersing yourself into the customs, traditions, and ways of life of the people around you. It’s about embracing the differences and finding common ground. By doing so, you can deepen your understanding of the country, build relationships with the people, and feel more at home in your new surroundings.

Latin America is a rich and diverse region with a wide range of cultural traditions. From the colorful festivals of Mexico to the tango dancing in Argentina, there’s something for everyone. By taking the time to explore and experience the different cultures, you can gain a deeper appreciation of your new country of residence and its people.

And don’t be afraid to make mistakes – Latin American locals are usually very open and happy to help foreigners learn about their culture. You may even find that many are very curious to learn about your life and what it’s like where you’re from too.

Learn the language

Spanish is the dominant language in Latin America, and while you may be able to get by with just English, being able to communicate in Spanish will open up many doors for you. It’ll allow you to have deeper conversations with locals, understand the nuances of the culture, and navigate everyday situations such as ordering food or asking for directions.

Once you’re living in Latin America, you’ll easily have the opportunity to practice every day. But before arriving, it’ll be helpful to have at least some basic phrases under your belt. A good start is 1-1 Spanish Tutoring.

Making new friends

One of the most wonderful things about Latin America is how friendly and open the people are. You’ll likely find that making new friends is a lot easier than you think.

Of course once you arrive, you will need avenues to be in the situation to meet people. For those of you relocating with your dog, you’ll be making instant friends at your local parks. For those who are single or with families, there are so many avenues to try. You can go to an expat meetup group with Meetup.com or InterNations, or join a local event if you feel comfortable with the local language.

Our insider’s tip if you’re trying to find a way to make new friends in Latin America, is to visit the same places frequently. For example, get your coffee from the same cafe each morning, and you’ll likely find that you’re good friends with the baristas or the other cafe regulars in no time. The same works for weekly classes, whether it be yoga, dance, or surfing.

Making local friends is a wonderful way to feel more at home in your new country of residence, as well as adding extra security and safety for your time living abroad. It’s been in our own difficult times living as an expat in Latin America that we’ve found it priceless to be able to get support and advice from our local community of friends. Even with just day-to-day queries, such as where to buy a transport card, what’s the process for visiting a doctor, or where can I find the best money exchange, it’s so helpful to be able to ask a local.

Final thoughts

We believe that relocating to Latin America in 2023 is a smart move. With a high quality of life and low cost of living, beautiful scenery, and friendly people, it’s an excellent opportunity to start a new chapter in your life. And with our insider tips, you’ll be able to make the most of your experience.

So why wait?  Start planning your move to Latin America today, and get ready for the adventure of a lifetime! Contact our team at Latam Plan B to get started.

Most Popular Posts

A Real Look Into: The Safety Of Expats Relocating To Latin America

How Much Money Do Expats Need To Live Comfortably In Latin America?

Flag Theory: How To Create A Life Of Personal & Financial Freedom

× Let's talk!