• The Quest For Shangri-La

  • Shangri-La: A fictional land of peace and perpetual youth.

    I have spent more than a decade in South America. Several years each in Paraguay, Argentina, Colombia and Uruguay. Plus about half a year in Peru and many  shorter stints in Brazil and Chile.

    My last home base was in Punta del Este, Uruguay.

    While each place has its pros and cons I have left behind previous locations mostly because I was bored of my environment or simply because  I was craving a new experience.

    Uruguay is a different case.

    The extreme socialist, statist mentality mixed with a strong dose of laziness and apathy will drive any rational  human being crazy in the long run.

    Out of the countless examples I could list here let me just tell you one quick story that sums up everything that is wrong with the place:

    I enter the Antel office in Punta del Este.
    I'm lucky, there is absolutely no other customer in sight.
    No less than 8 employees are waiting to serve me (or so I thought...).
    I say I want to sign up for a new internet contract.
    "We can't do this, you need to make an appointment via internet for that".

    (For more painful examples simply click on the "severe mental retardation" tag on Expat Bob's blog.)

    I am content with my current home base in Medellín. We have decided upon it after spending five years traveling the world non-stop and looking at a lot of options.

    Obviously no place is perfect but the better it matches my criteria the closer it comes to being my personal Shangri-La.

    Here are some of the factors that are important to me:

    Warm Weather

    For me this means tropics or subtropics. Anything further is too cold for my taste.

    I prefer the southern hemisphere but this is not a must.

    The more sunshine hours and the less humidity the better. Two  examples of what I consider a pretty close to perfect climate are Florianopolis, Brazil and Medellín, Colombia.

    Pro Business Environment

    I am allergic to socialist nonsense.

    Fascist police states like the European Union or China are completely out of the question.

    And of course the less bureaucracy the better.

    Therefore in South America I like the Pacific Alliance countries much better than Mercosur countries (Paraguay being a notable exception).

    No Taxes

    Taxation is institutionalized theft. This is not something I can support. So I am looking for a place that has no income taxes or doesn’t tax funds that are not brought into the country.

    This doesn’t automatically rule out high tax countries.

    Most countries consider one non-resident for tax purposes when spending less than 183 days a year in the country.

    With my different interests across the globe I am not spending that much time in any single country anyways.

    This is one of the pillars of the classic PT (perpetual tourist/previous taxpayer) concept. In fact, I have been living this way for many years.

    Access To Technology

    I do business online so good internet is a must. Luckily this is becoming less and less of an issue as internet connectivity and speeds are improving everywhere.

    Right now I’m renting a house in Tulum, Mexico in the middle of the jungle and the internet is decent.

    Access to technology means a place that is open for business with limited tariffs/import duties, providing access to the latest technology at world market prices.

    Medellín skyline at night

    Young Demographics

    I like up and coming, vibrant, young places. An international mix of sophisticated people.

    I always find it a bit depressing when I'm in my native Germany and I look around and find myself surround by people that are above 70. Going to a restaurant feels like going into a retirement home.

    There are other criteria but these are the most important ones.

    There's long list of locations which more or less fit my criteria that I've already investigated over the course of about 5 years. At the moment, for me nothing tops Medellín, Colombia. But the ever elusive Shangri-La is always just around the corner...

    Stay tuned for more on-the-ground insights from different places around the globe.