By- Rick A. Griffith
South America has gained popularity in recent years as one of the new frontiers for backpackers seeking adventure. From the untarnished beauty of Patagonia to the revived cities in Colombia, there is no shortage of outstanding attractions. For many, the idea of expatriating to this part of the world where economies are growing, resources are abundant, and the cost of living is low, is too tempting to ignore. For those intrigued by this ever growing trend, here are the top five South American cities for would be expats to consider.
Photo Credit- Delamaza
1) Santiago, Chile- Santiago is an example of a progressive government that is taking the right steps toward future economic growth. Furthermore, the country is opening its doors to entrepreneurial foreigners and even incentivizing many expats to come work in Chile. A flood of startup tech companies are taking notice, many moving from the famed Silicon Valley in favor of the tax advantages and lower cost of living offered in Santiago. An additional incentive is the recently launched “Startup Chile” program, which not only offers residency to entrepreneurs relocating to Chile, but also $40,000 in capital to qualified start ups. It is clear that the regime in charge headed by President Pineda, a billionaire business man, are willing to take bold measures to ensure the Chilean economy continues to thrive
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2) Buenos Aires, Argentina- Buenos Aires makes the list, not because of its booming economy or progressive government, but rather because its mismanagement for decades has made this beautiful city an incredibly cheap place to live. There is already a large expat community present in the city and many expat entrepreneurs have succeeded in starting their own businesses. The city seems to be stuck in the past in the way of customer service and with the growing population of westerners, businesses catering to the expat community continue to thrive.
Photo credit- Dani Gama
3) Rio de Janeiro, Brazil- This city is not only beautiful, but the economy is thriving. Thanks to vast natural resources, including massive oil reserves and fertile farm land, Brazil is well positioned to continue its ascent and become one of the top economies in the world. A growing expat community and a shortage of skilled labor, provide tremendous opportunities for qualified foreigners to find opportunities in the workforce, or start their own companies. If there is a downside to Rio, it would be that the city is gradually getting more expensive as the Real, the Brazilian currency, gains strength and more businesses and professionals flock here, driving rents higher.
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4) Medellin, Colombia- To those in the know, Medellin is fast becoming a favorite among the backpacking crowd. Fortunately, the city is not overrun with expats as the “Colombian Stigma” created by the FARC and Pablo Escobar days has kept many travelers away from Colombia. For those willing to overlook outdated information and realize that the city is fast becoming a hub for young professionals, there are some fantastic opportunities. The property market in particular offers excellent investment yields and is one of the few South American cities to have not seen a massive increase in prices in recent years. Many are taking notice and forward thinking expats willing to get in early will reap the largest rewards.
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5) Asuncion, Paraguay- Sure, this one is the long shot. Leaving the comforts of western society to move to Asuncion may sound absurd to many. However for entrepreneurs looking to live cheaply and start a business on a shoestring budget, or freelancers able to work remotely, this place is ripe with opportunity and remarkably affordable. Another bonus is that obtaining residency here is not at all difficult. The country is also rich in agricultural land, has a large freshwater supply and boasts the largest hydroelectric facility on earth. In an era with commodity prices and energy costs rising sharply, Paraguay is well equipped moving forward and non dependant on other nations for these essential needs. There is not a large expat community here, but this may change as the cost of living continues to increase worldwide.
The one constant in all of these cities, is that growth and progress seems inevitable. Meanwhile, many western nations teeter on the verge of economic disaster, while young professionals find difficulty navigating through an extremely difficult job market. For many, the bold action of heading south to these cities ripe with opportunity may yield greener pastures.