Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Retiring in Peru and Traveling the World

When I first moved to Peru, I was frequently concerned that I was making some kind of huge error. I was 26 years old, and of course I had been pretty thoroughly brainwashed about how important it was to have a career (that is, become an indentured servant to some "respectable" company).

However, that kind of a life path just wasn't in the cards for me.  I've mentioned before on this web page how I have a problem with stupidity.  The way that translates into reality is that I can't "suck up" to my idiot superiors just so I can move up some artificial corporate ladder.  I can't.  

Now, this doesn't mean that I have contempt for people who can.  My wife, for example, is great at navigating and handling the morons who battle her at work.  If she sees something stupid, she puts on her poker face, files the information away in some secret compartment, and waits to pull it out to her advantage.

I, on the other hand, loudly declare, "that's idiotic!"

The result is that I have a certain career path and so does she.

So, anyway, Peru was a great place to go since it was somewhere I could be left alone.  Also, everything was so economical back then that I didn't have to make much money.  I was able to watch my investments grow, learn Spanish, and develop as a human being without being constantly harassed.

Still, I was worried because you just can't escape the social conditioning of pages like Yahoo that do nothing but rag on and on about how to touch up your resume, or what your office behaviors should be.  You'll note that Yahoo almost never has articles about how to become an independently wealthy individual.

The years went by and I became more and more comfortable in Peru.  Then, a funny thing happened in the US.  The entire economy collapsed (mainly due to ridiculous mismanagement by the Republican party in my opinion--they don't raise taxes, but they destroy your net worth by allowing the housing market to plummet into oblivion).

For those of you who read this blog frequently, you'll be familiar with the comments of Dean.  Dean mentioned yesterday how he had spent his entire life working only to retire and be fearful that he hadn't made enough.  It's true.  All the things that were generally considered long-term investments to assure your retirement, have pretty much gone up in smoke.

What that means is that for an entire generation of people, all the things they sacrificed their youth for have evaporated.


Although I'm annoyed about this, the one positive thing that has come from it is that it has retroactively justified my decision to spend so much of my life in Peru.  I've effectively established a base camp in a foreign nation which means if Peru collapses I can live in the US, and if the US collapses I can live in Peru.  To put it less dramatically, I can go and take advantage of whomever has the worst economy, which happens to be the US at the moment (personally I think there are more opportunities for wealth in a bad economy, because I'm a builder not a leech).

But for those of you who are reaching retirement age in the US, I'd suggest you consider Peru.  Using Peru as your country of residence, you can save money and enjoy cheap, holidays to Europe, or even frequent trips to the US.  The whole trick is that Peru doesn't evaporate your money like the US does.

However, most Americans have this ridiculous mentality which prevents them from doing what's in their own best interest.  Whether it's a lack of education, brainwashing, or simple stupidity, I just don't know.  From my perspective, the "American Way" is to drive as much industry, achieve your maximum individual potential, and gather as much wealth and influence as possible.

These days, most Americans seem to think it's more important to keep making payments on an underwater house.  They call it honor, I call it dumb.  Worse than dumb, it's a disgrace.


  1. Dean Charles MarshallApril 25, 2012 at 8:45 AM

    Thanks for jumping in Ben and adding to the truth. Edward Abbey, author of the great eco revolution manifesto, "The Monkey Wrench Gang" and founder of Earth First said, "Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of a cancer cell". It's official, Obama and Romney are the official candidates for the Presidency of the US in 2012. And as the "Blow Hard Express" readies to leave the station embarking on another journey to "bamboozle" the American public with lies and chicanery the average American will stand by the roadside waving old Glory and half remembering the words to "God Bless America" deluding themselves that one of these "paper mache" candidates will "bring America back". That's such wishful thinking it's completely absurd.

    "Resistance is a moral imperative" - Chris Hedges

  2. It's a shame that so many people spent their lives chasing the American dream only to discover that it's an illusion and completely beyond their reach.It's even a greater shame that so many find themselves completely incapable of admitting that this country has been betrayed by people who pretend to be patriots while stealing as much as they can get away with. The moral bankruptcy of a John Edwards is actually about pat for the course in US politics, So expect very little from Romney in the way of enlightened policies. It should be real interesting watching him lie through his teeth as he tries to displace Obama for the "keys to the kingdom." And I agree wholeheartedly with Mr Peru. If you're smart and a bit adventurous,you can live real well in Peru for relatively little money.

  3. FWIW, I live in a high COL/tax state, and I'm doing ok. There is nothing wrong with living within your means no matter where you are. I've traveled in country and I've traveled overseas. We have cheap getaways here in the states as well, and the Caribbean is quite accessible.

    As with anything and everything else, you have those who do well, and those who don't do so well. There are just as many people in Peru who are scrambling, living from pay period to payperiod, all the while getting roped in by ez-credit.

  4. What I have a problem with is people who work all their lives for the promise of a pension, only to have their fund be taken away the second they reach retirement age. Or a corrupt system that drives the housing market up to unrealistic heights and then pulls the rug out from under it. Or a wall street crash that causes millions of investors to lose their retirement savings. I'm not talking about people who are irresponsible with their credit, I'm talking about hard-working, honest people who are screwed by systems that prey on the little guy.

  5. That's right,Mr Peru,I'll congratulate all those who worked hard to become financially successful and there are plenty of people out there like that, both in Peru ans in the USA. But I've never forgotten the words of one of my wealthy Peruvian buddies who lamented top me many years ago that he had to work harder to keep his wealth than to gain it. I never understood that until I, myself, became financially well off which was the result of some good luck combined with a lot of hard work. Now, I find myself preyed upon by all sports of wolves who incessantly try to swindle me out of my hard earned cash. It's really quite unbelievable and depressing to see how many of these con artists that there are out there. Unfortunately, way too many of them have insinuated themselves in important positions of power and have successfully screwed the US public out of hundreds of millions of dollars while getting rich in the process. And it might even be the case that one of these crooks will shortly be running for the US Presidency. What's truly sad is that the American public is so easily hoodwinked by these pariahs and enthusiastically support them. On the whole,Peruvian politicians are no better than those from the USA, and are possibly a lot worse.In any event, good luck to all those out there still struggling to find and achieve the good life. It's definitely achievable, and I truly admire all those who can attain it without screwing over someone in the process.

  6. Dean Charles MarshallApril 26, 2012 at 12:44 AM

    Free enterprise made America great, "casino capitalism" perverted it. Why? Because it's like when you go to an actual casino, you're lured into believing (the American Dream) that if you put enough coins in the slots, roll the dice and hit lucky 7 or 21 at Black Jack you'll win (home ownership or a retirement pension) and the house (government) will honor their bets and pay you off. But like with any casino the odds are always to the house's advantage, so that the longer you keep playing the more likely you are to end up losing your money. And that's what's happened in America. Citizens pay their taxes, save for their retirements, buy a home as a secure investment and live within their means. But Wall Street and Washington being joined at the hip (fascism) has discovered that through the tax code, full faith and credit in the United States and other forms of financial chicanery like collateralized debt obligations and credit default swaps can embezzle money right out of the pockets of the citizens without them ever being the wiser. It's a rigged system called "legalized extortion" and it's exactly like when you bet your money at a casino. You may win a little bit initially, but by the time you're ready to stop playing (retire) you've been fleeced clean until you're essentially flat ass broke. Unfortunately when you have such a system so corrupt and pernicious it eventually "cannibalizes" itself out of existence, and that's exactly what is happening in the US this very minute. Casino capitalism doesn't invest in the future but keeps skimming the money off the top to finance "phony baloney" wars, the military industrial and financial complexes, prop up corrupt foreign dictatorships and of course to keep those 300,000 "fat cats" who make up our country's wealthiest 1% happy like "pigs wallowing in slop". Yep, these days you can be assured some people will rob you with a gun others with a fountain pen. Amerika - ain't it grand?

  7. Why yes, yes it is grand. There are too many people living decently, or better yet, comfortably in retirement to say otherwise.

    There is a wide swath of territory between 1%, 99% and being a hobo eating beans out the can, living on a park bench.

    I'll take casino capitalism over having my toddler son hustling caramellos in Larcomar.

  8. Rafael, you hit the nail oin the head. Peru and The USA both embrace different types of Capoitalism and both display some of the worst excesses of it. But given a choice, yes, life in the USA is quite luxurious when compared with the life of the average man in Incaland.That being said, my countrymen in the USA continue to be screwed by the powers that be, but most people in the USA are too naive to realize it.

  9. Dean Charles MarshallApril 26, 2012 at 7:53 AM

    Meaning no disrespect Rafael, but please don't delude yourself with all that American Dream bullshit. There are plenty of well documented reports available through AARP and the US Department of Health and Human Services that confirm how millions of retired Americans are struggling to make ends meet on their fixed incomes. And what retirement savings inflation didn't gobble up Wall Street's insidious "real estate debacle" screwed the rest out of the them. These are the facts on the ground. Hey there's always exceptions and sure some people made better investments than others, but the "blood letting" isn't over and the Great Recession has only turned into a recovery in the minds of the politicians, pundits and with the balance sheets of corporations who are multinational in scope and profitability. For the average American we're stuck in a limbo of an increasing cost of living against a back drop of stagnant wages and minimal job creation. Maybe America isn't awash in Hobo Joes yet, but if the "powers that be" don't pull their heads out of their asses we may be sooner than later. Now that's just my opinion and I could be wrong, but regardless Rafael, you have a nice day. Oh and by the the way, Safeway has cans of pork and beans on sale - 2 for a $1.

  10. No disrespect taken, you may want to check your premise, though. I see far too many people (here and abroad) chasing and achieving "The American Dream" to think it's bullshit. Far too many people here take what this country has to offer for granted. That's on them.

  11. Dean Charles MarshallApril 26, 2012 at 1:08 PM

    You know Rafael it's all about perspective, does one see the glass half full or half empty? You say you "see far too many people( here and abroad) chasing and achieving the "American Dream" to think it's bullshit". I could come up with plenty of facts and figures to dispute that claim entirely, but what's the point? Everyone's entitled to their opinion. All I'm saying is this, if you're living in the US right now as I am there's no way you could look me in the eye and say with a straight face the American Dream is happening for average Americans, especially after they lost over $7 trillion in equity value with their real estate and retirement portfolios during the Great Recession. And here's an interesting newsflash, illegal and legal immigration in the US is at an all time low. Why? No fucking jobs. Why? Because American corporations outsourced and off shored all its manufacturing to foreign "low ballers" to bolster the bottom line. But if your American Dream aspirations are to flip burgers, run a cash register or hug a keyboard all day you can probably find a minimum wage service job in America doing just that, and for sure with no health or retirement benefits either. Again Rafael, I'm not looking to argue. I'm a sixty year old American, well educated, ran his own business and had my share of real estate. And don't ever question my patriotism, because I love my country very much, but the government is a fraud and nothing but a front for big business.

  12. That a lot of people take what America has to offer for granted as Rafael says is true. However, I don't think that just because there are some good things in the US means that people should stop doing whatever they can to make the country better. I doubt the founding fathers would consider complacency as a manifestation of patriotism. Unfortunately we currently live in a culture that criticizes anyone who dares to point out flaws in the US or attempt to make it better. If that isn't a corruption of the American dream then I don't know what is.

  13. The two concepts aren't mutually exclusive. People don't have to stop doing whatever they can to make this country better. There's nothing wrong with pointing out flaws in the US, I've done it myself a time or three.

    At the end of the day, griping and groaning will get you only so far, and you're going to buck up and make moves. Gnashing of teeth and rendering of garments about the elite 1%, the illuminati or the talking point du jour isn't going to cut it.

    It's different for everyone, but having experienced the slums of DR, Peru and Honduras, and having colleagues that have emigrated from China, Russia & India, one gets a pretty good perspective on things. Are things perfect here? No, of course not. They could be better, but I'll still take my chances here.

    Given the weddings and housewarmings (one benefit of that real estate debacle is cheap housing; dark cloud meet silver lining) I've attended, I'd say "Average Americans" are doing ok for themselves, or at least the ones I choose to associate with. They run the gamut from gov't workers to servicemen to teachers to small business owners to corporate stooges... None of them work "minimum wage service jobs," and they probably haven't worked one since college.

  14. Dean Charles MarshallApril 26, 2012 at 10:42 PM

    OK Rafael you've got my full attention, so if the "gnashing of teeth and rendering of garments about the elite 1%, the illuminati or the talking point du jour isn't going to cut it" what will? How will I and millions of my fellow Americans ever recover the $7 trillion dollars worth of the American Dream we lost or that was more likely stolen during the Great Recession? Do we just sit waiting patiently for Wall Street to hatch another Ponzi scheme in the hopes of getting in on the ground floor? Do we toss our conscience to the wind and act like a pack of hyenas or flock of vultures taking advantage of the misfortunes of others of who lost their homes when the bubble imploded? Do we keep reelecting charlatans like Romney and Obama knowing that insanity is defined as doing the same thing over and over again but expecting a different result? Do we spread the virtues of democracy by preemptively invading other country's under false pretenses to satisfy the military-industrial complexes insatiable appetite for profits? So Rafael I'm tired of "gnashing my teeth" what do you suggest?

  15. I suggest you change your attitude.

    You claim to that you're a "sixty year old American, well educated, ran his own business and had my share of real estate." Seems to me you took action other than gnashing your teeth. Mr. Peru took action by, well, moving to Peru. I took action by getting educated and minimizing my distractions, and broadening/improving my skillset so that any downtime due to unemployment will be minimized.

    The problem with your previous entry is that it's looking to point fingers. It's a built in excuse, a crutch for failure. May as well throw up your hands and give up; doesn't matter what we do, because of Wall St, the military-industrial complex, the illuminati, the elite 1%, the Jews, big banks, big business, illegals, etc, etc, etc...

  16. Dean Charles MarshallApril 28, 2012 at 1:30 AM

    Rafael, you sound like a "know it all" sitting on the side of righteousness, but with an axe to grind. You're quick to criticize and find fault, but pretty superfluous when it comes to providing details or specific suggestions. But hey, thanks for sharing anyway. Have a nice day!

  17. Dean Charles MarshallApril 28, 2012 at 8:19 AM

    See how Rafael works; you say something that he doesn't like and instead of disagreeing with the premise of what is stated he attacks the individual using a lot of pseudo intellectual "mumbo jumbo' and hot air. For example, when asked him for specific suggestions to remedy society's ills instead of just the "gnashing of teeth" he offered nothing and fell back on his standard modus operandi, the personal attack. If you don't like what I have to say argue against the premise and points of what I'm saying instead of using a personal attack masquerading as an attempt at meaningful discourse to make your point. But hey Rafael, welcome to the family on the "Streets of Lima".

  18. No, a personal attack would be asking if you were high when you wrote that last entry. So, were you high when you wrote that last entry? ;)

    You want specific suggestions? Grow up and take accountability for yourself and your actions. That's as specific as it gets since it means something different to everyone, because there is no cookie-cutter solution (and someone with your experiences should know that... See what I did there?). In your case it meant education, running a business and owning property. In Mr. Peru's case, it meant setting up shop in Lima. In my case, it meant education, mentoring, starting a career, owning a part time business and generally improving/positioning myself for bigger and better things. Overall, avoiding the complacency that was mentioned earlier.

    Others have joined the service, others have started their own businesses, returned or have started going to school, others are developing their careers. Generally, taking advantages of the opportunities presented to them. There are many routes to success.

    If I don't like what you have to say, I have no problem telling you to "go fuck yourself," I am a NY'er, after all.

    Thanks for welcoming me, but I've been here for a while :)

    You have a great day, and don't project so much (Axe to grind? Couldn't be further from the truth. Couldn't care less what you do as whatever you do, are doing, or have done in your corner of the world has little to no impact on what I do here in my corner of the world) :p

  19. Dean Charles MarshallApril 28, 2012 at 12:33 PM

    Come on Rafael don't take it so personal. Lighten up and hit your refresh button. In the words of that great American philosopher, Rodney King, who after getting his ass beat into submission by the LAPD back in 1992 said, "Cant we all learn to just get along?" Come on Rafael, how about a Bro hug?

  20. Didn't take it personal, not out of sorts at all... I'd be up for a bro hug, heck, if we were to cross paths, I'd even buy you a beer or beverage of your choice :D

  21. LOL!

    That's why all my relatives in Lima wish they could just jump on a plane and move to the US; right? Because things are SO much better over there?

    Some of my family can't wait to come legally; so they travel illegally through Central America and Mexico; risking their LIVES. Where are all the Americans risking their lives to come to Peru??? Are there immigrants washing up on the shores of Lima on rafts??? Give me a f*ckin break man.

    Look; if you can afford to retire overseas, you'll live well. That is; until you get ill (God forbid) and go and visit a Lima hospital. That's when a witch doctor comes out with a chicken and una de gato to heal your stage 3 cancer. My point is; Peru is great for many reasons....IF YOU HAVE THE MONEY. But if you speak english; and look non-Peruvian, I'd like to see you try and walk the streets of MOST of Lima without being KIDNAPPED. Try and prance around any neighborhood outside of MiraFlores/Barranco and watch how fast you get robbed. The country is poverty stricken; and just because you've managed to arbitrage the system by making money in your first world nation then retiring to live like a king among the poor doesn't mean you should trash the USA. It's not perfect, but like I said before; if Peru was better there'd be waves of Americans illegally immigrating to Peru; and not the other way around.

    And things have gotten tough in the US; I can't deny that. But they're improving as we speak. Job market is getting better and 2012 college grads are actually having more luck getting work after graduation. Housing prices have bottomed out and hopefully we're on our way to recovery. But the American Dream isn't dead. My 57 year old uncle from LIMA moved here two years ago without knowing a word of English or ever having a real job in his life. He works in a kitchen here, but has been able to send his wife and daughter money and also has been able to get much needed medical attention that he couldn't in Peru. He would be DEAD or at least bed-ridden there in Lima. He doesn't sit around and drink and eat ceviche all day on the beach; but he's MAKING MONEY and not living off the pittance his American relatives would send him.

    My other uncle has been year less than a year. He lived a shitty dumpy shack in Lima that made the worst ghetto in the US look like Beverly Hills. But he was good at handyman work. Came to Houston, got a job at a car dealership doing electrical and handyman type work; and is now earning $15 an hour with benefits. Might not seem that much to you, but it's a DREAM COME TRUE for him and his family. Now he's saving up enough money to one day return to Lima and open a business. And he's learning English too. What do you know? An AMERICAN DREAM come true.

    So before you start trashing the US; stop and think about the words coming out of your mouth. Ask yourself if you're stating "facts"...or BLANKET statements? "The ENTIRE economy collapsed"....did it? Because I didn't lose my job; neither did anyone in my family. Our 401k's took a hit; but is there "an entire generation who's dreams have evaporated?" ....gimme a f*cken break man. "All long term investments have gone up in smoke"?...really? I think if that were the case the entire government would collapse; people would be rioting in the streets and chaos would ensue. No; I'm afraid your doomsday description is a bit dramatic.

    I came to your blog because my Mother plans to retire in Peru. I wish you the best of luck, and hope that you can stop listening to all the Chavistas out there.

    1. Where are all the Americans risking their lives to come to Peru??? Are there immigrants washing up on the shores of Lima on rafts???


  22. Ask the people who invested with Bernie Madoff how their investments are doing.

    1. Jeffry Picower seemed to have had done ok...

      "He appears to have been the largest beneficiary of Madoff's Ponzi scheme, and his estate settled the claims against it for $7.2 billion."