Researching the Next Country is not Going Well

Chasing ideas has been like watching popcorn popping in slow motion. Except once it progresses to where kernels start to go off 3 or 4 at a time I toss the mess in the trash. I found some interesting places in Argentina and Chile where the air quality wouldn’t kill me quickly, but the Spanish spoken in both countries is not beginner friendly. Colombian Spanish is accessible to beginner but the pollution is stunning, as it is in the rest of the continent’s cities located in Andean valleys. Costs and dollar exchange rates have changed since the bulk of my research 5 – 8 years ago and some places are now just too freakin’ expensive.

Perhaps the biggest problem is quickly getting simple answers to simple questions. It took years of reading Philippine expat forums to get a clear picture. Reading between the lines was essential because most of the writers, IMHO, had priorities and incomes that limited them to Phils or eating dog food in their home country.

Anything from a site associated with travel or real estate is immediately discounted. Travelers reports often suck because there is no way of knowing what their frame of reference is. I knew a Yuppie once who said “My idea of roughing it is staying in a Holiday Inn.”, which means the observations, let alone the opinions, of anyone with similar standards is useless to me.

A recent thread on a local expat forums devolved into ragging about the amount of trash in Thailand. Trash? That’s not trash. I’ve seen trash, and this is a little lose stuff lying around. Jeeze, these pantie twisters would go apoplectic if I took them on a one day tour in Cebu.

But my favorite so far is the person on who, in response to a question about air quality in Buenos Aires, said that today it was ‘crystal clear’. Right. A town of 14 million people, ringed by agriculture and heavy industry, with 20 – 30 year old buses that are legendary for the size and density of their trailing toxic clouds has crystal clear air.

So it’s time for a Plan B of how to research places to live.


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