If you’re moving from North America to South America, you may think that life there won’t be too different. But despite the proximity and similar names, the two continents can be worlds apart in some instances. Whether it’s the cultural diversity or the healthcare system, there’s a lot you need to know about your new destination before moving.
Luckily, you won’t be alone in your journey to South America since 40% of American emigrants move to their neighboring continent. And if you’re specifically moving from Miami to South America, you won’t be a stranger to the Latin American lifestyle either.
So, before you make the move, take a few minutes to read this guide on everything you should know about the continent.
1. Cost of Living
It goes without saying that the cost of living in North America and South America is drastically different. If you’re used to living in a city like Miami, where the cost of living is high, you’ll find South America pleasantly affordable. Bolivia and Ecuador are a few countries with the lowest cost of living on the continent. Meanwhile, the urban areas of Brazil and Chile may be more on par with Miami’s standards.
2. Cultural Diversity
South America is a continent where cultural diversity thrives. If you’re currently living in Miami, this diversity might feel somewhat familiar, as the city is often referred to as the “Latin American capital.” But of course, it all depends on which country you’re moving to. Whether it’s samba in Brazil or the Andean panpipes in Peru, you’ll find a different cultural expression in every region. Moving from Miami to South America, you’ll also be faced with cultural influences from The Andes, the Amazon, and the Pampas.
3. Language Differences
Language can be a bridge as well as a barrier in this diverse continent. Of course, you’ll still find regions, especially urban areas, that primarily speak English, but there’s an emphasis on Spanish and Portuguese throughout the continent. So, the importance of learning these languages before you move cannot be overstated. Whether it’s Argentina, Colombia, or Peru, you’ll need to know basic Spanish to communicate with the locals. Not only is it crucial for your new life on this continent, but it also looks great on your resume.
4. Visa and Immigration
The visa and immigration process can be quite complicated when moving to a whole different continent. Depending on the country you’ll move to, there are some requirements you’ll need to meet. For example, Brazil requires you to obtain a visa in advance, while Ecuador will give you a tourist visa upon arrival. Of course, you’ll also need to carry proper documentation, including visa applications, proof of income or employment, and any necessary health or criminal background checks. Initially, you may face some challenges, such as language barriers or bureaucratic delays.
5. Healthcare System
North America’s healthcare system is unconventional, to say the least, so you may get a slight shock once you arrive in the neighboring continent. Each country has a different healthcare system. For example, Chile and Uruguay have well-developed systems with modern hospitals, well-trained medical staff, and advanced medical technology. On the other hand, remote areas may not have specialized care. Still, quality medical services are always available, but we recommend researching the infrastructure of the region you’ll be moving to. Some countries in South America offer public health insurance, but it’s still a good idea to have private health insurance as a safety net.
6. Safety and Security
The one thing many people are apprehensive about when moving to a new region is whether they’ll be as safe as they were in their home country. When it comes to South America, you can expect a few safety concerns, but don’t fall prey to misconceptions. Like any continent, it has countries with high crime rates and countries with safe and welcoming areas. Local advice is the best way to stay safe wherever you move. Rio de Janeiro, Caracas, and certain parts of Bogota have higher crime rates. They may advise you to hide your valuables in public, use reputable transportation, avoid unofficial taxis, and keep your documents safe.
7. Climate and Geography
South America can be pretty hot at times, so it’s best to be aware of the climate and geography before you move. From the rainforests of the Amazon Basin to the arid deserts of northern Chile, it’s safe to say that the climate zones are pretty diverse. Most of the time, you can expect a mild, Mediterranean-like climate. That means you’ll need light, airy clothing in your new South American wardrobe. The continent is also prone to natural hazards, like earthquakes and volcanic activity in Chile and Ecuador or tsunamis in coastal areas.
8. Job Opportunities
The most crucial thing to research before moving anywhere new is the availability of job opportunities relevant to your expertise and sector. In fact, you should score a job in South America before you even move there. Technology is definitely a high-demand sector in the continent, along with education, tourism, engineering, and finance. If you have experience and education in any of these sectors, you’re in luck! Knowing any of the local languages will definitely set you apart from the tons of applications, so we recommend learning Spanish or Portuguese to make your new South American life much easier.
If you have children or are simply pursuing higher education, you should also research the schools in South America. Many universities on this continent offer programs taught in English, making it easier for you to pursue a master’s degree or a PhD. Other than that, Argentina and Brazil have universities with strong academic reputations and international student programs.
10. Integration and Community
Last but not least, you must try to build connections and find a sense of community once you move to South America. It’s the only way to make it your home. You’ll find the local community highly rewarding as they’ll help you navigate daily life, learn the local language, and understand the culture.
The decision to move to South America is a significant one. The continent is brimming with new opportunities and adventures you may not have found in North America. Now that you know everything significant there is to know about your new home, you can make the move with confidence and knowledge.