Latin America

How to Live in Bolivia – How to Live on a Dime and See the World

How did I come to live in La Paz, one of the world’s highest cities? Read on to explore how I made this dream a reality, and how easily you could do the same! Of course, finances are crucial in an international move, so we will also be tackling: how much does it cost to move to La Paz (Bolivia)?

How can I live in Bolivia?

Provided that you’re a lover of travel willing to sacrifice  a few home comforts in exchange for the dream of living abroad, surprisingly easily.

Your dollar will last a mile here if you buy local

Examples include, a extremely expensive top European style meal- USD $30, but any local restaurant will serve a ‘menu’ or set 2 or 3 course lunch or dinner with very few choices but for only $5-10. An imported Coke could cost $6 but  a local drink from any vendor will be exquisite and cost less than a dollar.

This means a typical day of an intrepid traveller could look something like this: breakfast of pan con tomate; $2, menu lunch in the city; $5, sangria and dinner in the Plaza Murillo; $12, transport via semi insane bus driving; around 70 cents every few blocks depending how far you go, teleferico to see the city at sunset; 3Bs or about 50 cents, shopping in the Mercado de las Brujas; depends very much upon your haggling skills etc…etc… You see how this could be done?

El Alto

Compare this with a teaching job online or via skype which would pay  at least $10-20 USD per hour. You wouldn’t need to work too many hours to pay for your stay. I have  a full post on teaching English online with agencies you can try here.

If you’re wondering about accommodation, hang tight, I’ll be covering that in detail in an upcoming post with costs, places to look and all my insider tips.

The Need to Knows

  • You’ll never have been so high, and not in a good way! The altitude in La Paz, Bolivia left me wheezing like a granny at the slightest hill. Local remedies for altitude sickness are worth a shot and deftly deflect catcalls at your pathetic physical stamina with suggestions that, back home, hills are unheard of.
  • Looking for a bus stop? More fool you! Transport here is by minivans and they’ll stop anywhere so long as you wave. Hop on for around 2 bolivianos and always carry small change or prepare to get zilch back. Don’t worry about finding a van, they can spot an expat a mile away.
  • The local shoe shiners wear dark balaclavas to cover their face at all times here- I couldn’t say why. It might be due to the fact that many of them are nowhere near old enough to grow a moustache. Allowing them to work is considered good courtesy in the city.


La Paz

  • Regardless of where you’re from- you are now  a gringo or gringa (foreigner). Best embrace it, I’d say! Bolivia is one of the best places to travel on a budget, so this is chicken feed.

La Paz

You’re not the only one making a muck of the Spanish language

The further you travel from the city, the more you’ll meet people whose own grasp of Spanish is halting. Their first language may well be Quechua, Aymara or a host of other languages. I met whole communities that where no one could read of write in the alphabet that you and I use, so stay respectful and shamelessly forge ahead with hand gestures. If you want to know how to live in Bolivia, you’ll need a taste for the out of ordinary anyway and living in La Paz will certainly do that.

Sad to say, Bolivia hasn’t become one of my 10 countries-I consider it number 1.5. I left after only 2 months due to the dangerous political upheaval at the time, my insurance pulled out and my airline warned they were stopping all flights. All I can say is if, as the days tick off towards your departure date, you notice a lot of disturbing images on TV don’t decide ‘nah, it’ll all blow over!’and hop on plane! All worth it, however, to spend time in one of the best cities in South America.

How to live in Bolivia- how much does it cost to move to La Paz Bolivia

Image kindly used with permission from @aya73aya on Instagram


Images copyright @Flickr user Danielle Pereira

Featured image ‘La Paz’ copyright @Flickr user Anthony Tong Lee 


  1. Jose Gonzalez

    July 25, 2016 at 9:47 pm


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  2. Becky

    July 27, 2016 at 9:42 am

    Bolivia is one of those countries I know I’d love but yet haven’t gotten to yet. I especially want to see the rainforest there, although I’m sure I’d see La Paz too. Thanks for the tips!

  3. Rob

    August 1, 2016 at 4:00 pm

    These principles can apply to almost any country, especially 3rd world ones. I can say that Bolivia has never been on my list to live in, but maybe visit.

  4. Lydia@LifeUntraveled

    January 31, 2017 at 4:52 am

    I saw a documentary about the young shoe shining boys and apparently they wear the scarves over their faces to allow them to sniff glue which is rampant among street kids. I haven’t been to Bolivia but it’s a country I would be interested in visiting though I don’t think I would consider living in La Paz.

  5. Chantell - Adoration 4 Adventure

    January 31, 2017 at 6:25 am

    What an amazing experience! These prices are somewhat inline with Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. I loved having dinner from the street vendors for USD $1 each night. I would really love to visit Bolivia and appreciate this as a starting guide.

  6. Claire Summers

    January 31, 2017 at 6:37 am

    I’m currently travelling Central and South America and I must admit Bolivia is one of the few places I’m planning to move through quickly. I want to see the salt planes but I’ve read a lot of negative things about it so wasn’t planning on staying more than a week or so. Really good to hear a more positive post and I’m reconsidering my short visit!

  7. Sandy N Vyjay

    January 31, 2017 at 5:58 pm

    Bolivia is a relatively lesser known and lesser written about destinations. So this post provides me with a wealth of information and perspective about the place. You have given some valuable pointers about life there which would be invaluable to anyone planning to go there.

  8. Tara

    February 1, 2017 at 12:12 pm

    I would love to visit La Paz, and I think it’s really cool that your goal is to actually live in 10 countries – such a great way to travel. I haven’t read much about Bolivia in the travel blog world, but it sounds inexpensive and lovely.

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