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Lock The Door Behind You
Aug. 5, 2014 León, Nicaragua People sometimes complain that increased editorial coverage of an expat destination can have a negative impact. Here’s the truth.
Dear Live and Invest Overseas Reader,
As a writer covering overseas living and real estate, I get my share of comments and complaints. No matter what topic you touch on—from prostitution to condo deals to Wi-Fi on the buses in Uruguay—there's someone out there with something to say. This feedback is good for a writer—and the publisher—as it keeps us connected to the readers.
But there's one topic that I have trouble responding to. It concerns the impact that our coverage can have on the destinations that we write about.
Readers sometimes write to say that our reports are changing the character of a destination...or attracting too many people...or driving up real estate prices. At times, there's even a feeling that the increased attention is changing the very attributes that made a destination attractive in the first place.
The truth is that all of these can be true at times. Editorial impact on an expat destination usually has one of three effects...
For some larger destinations, the effect of more expats moving in is insignificant. In places like Fortaleza (Brazil), Medellin (Colombia), or Montevideo (Uruguay) the high level of reader interest is a drop in the bucket. In Medellin, I see more North Americans all the time...but in a town of more than 4 million people, a few hundred expats is hardly changing the culture.
In other destinations, the coverage (and influx of expats) unquestionably benefits the local community and expats alike. In Quito, for example, North American expats were virtually the only people who were buying the dilapidated, abandoned buildings in the historic center. Today they've been beautifully restored into colonial homes, tasteful condos, restaurants, and boutique hotels. No one can deny that everybody won: the historic city, those who initially invested, and the end-users who got a good deal on the restored properties.
But the third effect can be a problem. The dilemma arises in cases where the influx of expats has actually changed the character of the destination. And whether you perceive it as good or bad depends on your personal role in the situation and when you came on the scene. In this category I'd include places like Roatan (Honduras), Vilcabamba (Ecuador), Granada (Nicaragua), and Boquete (Panama).