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Posted on February 11, 2017 at 23:30

This is my third attempt at writing this blog, I've been trying for weeks now. I always begin with the same paragraph but then I go on rambling and rambling, ending with a huge and boring blog. This time I said screw it, whatever comes gets posted.

First of all, the great news is that I finally have a plane ticket to get away from this mess. Unless the airline scammed me I'll be flying from Caracas to Santiago on March 18th. I'm hoping everything goes well and I never ever return to this god forsaken land.

What finally prompted me to do this was simple. With the pay raise I was supposed to get this year I could finally afford to rent a place somewhere nice in Caracas. But it turns out that'd be an awful idea. In a country where most people can't get food a 20-something that can afford rent and live on his own sticks out like a sore thumb. With crime being as bad as it is (most violent city in the world) I decided to call it quits. I don't want to be kidnapped or murdered.

Rising criminality has been a top issue for decades now, and now I'm kicking myself for not taking it into account. Had I predicted this (and I should have) I'd have left sooner, way sooner. What use is money if some asshole can just kidnap or murder me over it? All these years complaining about pay and the economy only to run after finally conquering those. Now I'm wondering what the hell did I do with my life these past years. I should have left way earlier.

On August 2014 I went on vacation to my parent's apartment in Madeira, Portugal, right after I graduated from college in July. Had I been a little more enterprising back then I'd have applied for jobs in Spain and England as soon as I made it to Portugal, or even a week or two before leaving. I'm sure I'd have caught at least something by October. By now I'd living comfortable on my own in a first world country and with over 2 years of experience under my belt.

Cash wasn't even a problem. I barely had 4k euros to my name back then, but I still had available an extra $3k of government subsidized dollars (read: free) and worst case scenario I could have asked my parents for help, I'm sure they could have lent me $10k or even $20k.

Imagine I got a regular market-rate software engineering job in Europe starting on October 2014 and I saved an average $800 per month, which I don't think is entirely unreasonable given how frugal I am. By the end of March 2017 I'd have saved $24,000.

Compare that to Venezuela, where I managed to save exactly as much money over the same time period, except by taking a lot more risk, exploiting free rent and food from my parents and suffering a lot of emotional and physical hardship. Even then over 50% of those savings were due to currency arbitrage and bitcoin appreciation, not my job.

What a poor ROI. So much wasted time and opportunity.

And the end of it isn't near! I'm going to Santiago, Chile next month, and I have the feeling that by doing that I'm about to fuck up again.

I chose that city largely on a whim. When it came to it I narrowed down my realistic emigration choices to Spain and Chile. Both speak spanish, so no language barrier there. Pay looked similar (adjusted for cost of living and taxes) and visa policy looked easy.

I broke the tie in favor of Santiago based largely on two things:

- I have a few friends there. 5 right now and more incoming.
- Santiago is going through a property boom. You can a get a brand new downtown 2-bedroom for less than $200k.

Santiago has a lot of cons though:

- It's yet another third world latin american country. Although Chile looks good today, you never know what to expect from the future. After all Venezuela looked just as good 40 years ago.
- Consumer goods are expensive as hell. A $450 iPhone in America costs almost $700 in Chile.
- Although it looks easy to get a visa, nothing beats getting free permanent residency in the EU.
- Social safety net is scarce to non-existent.

I feel that those cons don't quite make up for the pros of already having friends there and cheap property. I think I'm falling again on the trap of following my so-called friends rather than going for the rational choice.

Thing is, I don't have all the data to know exactly which is the rational choice; I cannot have all the data unless I'm living on my own, and I cannot live on my own in Venezuela. Catch 22. I won't know if those friends are going to be worth anything or if I really care about property in Santiago until I actually go there.

Good news is, huh, I have a bunch of cash and I'm still young, so I think I can afford one more fuck up before getting on the right track.

The plan is to give Santiago a trial. I'll grab the first job offer I get, rent an apartment and then ride it out for a few months. The main objective is to prove whether or not those friends and cheap property are worth sticking to yet another third world country.

If all goes to hell, well, I have a fallback plan. This summer my parents are going to Portugal for the first time since 2014. I have a chance to go there and relive that year, but doing it right this time.

One thing is for real though, I do not intend to return to Venezuela under any circumstance.

EDIT: grammar, formatting.

Man, over these last years I've read about your experiences in Venezuela with excitement. The perspective and the story is intriguing and it's like nothing else I've ever read. It's been so intriguing seeing you game the system and work to get out of it. (Honestly, it's one of the major reasons I lurk constantly)

I'm glad you're getting out. I'm shocked you haven't sooner. But i kinda get why you wouldn't at the same time. That's just something about our natures. That horrible catch 22 that you said. It's one that you kinda gotta dive in blind.

Chile will be better. That I know for sure. Having friends in the country is definitely something that's sizable. It'll help you more than government assistance if you get in situations that aren't like, broken bones. Wish you the best of luck, man.
Posted by Kenon February 12, 2017 0:59 - 6.3 months ago
| [#1]

Just googled "Madeira, Portugal" what a beautiful place. Don't worry so much on the ROI, you've learned a lot and you're going to keep building upon that. And Santiago sounds like a much safer place to live in, so don't focus on what might have been better, just focus on what's better now and how you can make it better.
Posted by Ferret February 12, 2017 13:35 - 6.3 months ago
| [#2]

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