Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Relocating to Argentina (or elsewhere)

One of the interesting things about living outside one's native country is the opportunity to meet people from many different walks of life, with many different motivations to move outside their comfort zone to live in a foreign country. I moved here for family reasons, as many others have. I found this conversation between a guy I call 'Bob' and a group of expats on an Argentine expat website that I thought was interesting... it shows the misconceptions about what is important in deciding to become an expat. A lot of people are SO TERRIBLY UNHAPPY with their current life circumstances, they are seeking a quick fix.

That never works, guys... sorry. You carry your problems with you and run face first into a whole new set of serious life debilitating issues if the move is not completely researched and carefully orchestrated. It took us over a year to get all our documents ready for the relo, and we already owned a home in Argentina. Also, my wife is a citizen of Argentina AND the USA. It took me over a year and a half to get a DNI: Documento nacional de identidad after we got here, without which I was denied a bank account in my name and a local driving license.

We did all the paperwork ourselves without legal representation, which had no effect on the time required. I am not trying to work here, depending upon my US dollar retirement and investment income from the US. The cost of using an ATM machine at my bank's local branch just increased 40% a month ago. It takes a minimum of 5 days and a USD$30 fee for our daughter to go to our bank and do a wire transfer. In the event of a 'corralito' (Google this) we would have to depend upon the amount of cash and junk gold items we have ratholed around the country... hoping we will never have to use it.

IN MY HUMBLE OPINION a plan to skedaddle out of your native country needs to be fairly well set up NOW for the remote future possibility where staying put would be life threatening. I agree that everyone with the capability to get a foreign passport should do so. I will be applying for an Argentine passport when I have spent the requisite amount of time here. My brother's Italian wife and half-Italian sons will be carrying EU/Italian passports. My wife'z kids from a previous marriage will be carrying US and Spanish passports as well as Argentinian passports. For those of you looking to qualify, I recommend you consider Chile, where I understand the residency requirement is only 2 years.

BUT... it is veryveryvery important to get your short term survival, G.O.O.D. situations squared away FIRST and worry about a foreign safe haven ONLY after taking care of the local stuff.

The Expat site info follows:

BOB: Hey, guys! I enjoy reading all the posts here. I visited Argentina several years ago and really enjoyed it a lot. I am considering relocating to Argentina. I am hoping that those of you who are already in Argentina will share info on recent prices/cost of living vs. those of, say, four years ago. Obviously, economic reasons have a lot to do with my desire to relocate.

EXPATS: Personally I think moving here for economic reasons is not a very wise decision at all. There are other reasons that are much more valid and reasonable such as change of scenery, life style, midlife crisis, family, etc. But economics? No way. Not even if you are living on US$. Don’t believe everything they tell you in the travel guides and websites. imho

BOB: Obviously pure economics is not a good reason to move ANYWHERE. But I recall about 4 years ago in BsAs a great steak dinner for 2 with malbec (of course) and dessert was about 90 pesos, which at that time was about $30 U.S. I am just trying to get some feel for how much prices have gone up.
At this point I am coming to spend about 3 months, but may decide to move in the near future...I'm on kind of a home-hunting expedition. I'm also looking at Uruguay.

EXPATS: Forget the 90 pesos!! Maybe is 90 pesos each these days. I think Uruguay is more expensive than Argentina, but not sure.

EXPATS: Moving to a Latin country for economic reasons is not a smart thing to do. Latin countries have crazy economic cycles, Argentina is one of them. When we moved here in 2000 it was more expensive then living in California, we did not move here after the economic meltdown of Dec 2001 because it was cheap. Move here because you want to experience a Latin lifestyle, culture, excitement, great friends.

From my www.argentina-info.net website:

Cost of Living - Healthcare

Cost of Living - Inflation Percentage Changes - 2003 to Present

Cost of Living - What things cost in July 2004

Why I love Argentina!

Good luck! Suerte! -CapnRick

Thanks Rick, we had a terrific time by the way, say hi to the family for us.
A good example of how things not always end up being what they looked like can be found in the price of meat. There's a link there that mentions buying two "2 HUGE filet mignon steaks in the supermarket for 5 pesos (USA $1,81)". That was in 2006, today the price is 8 to 10 times as much in supremarkets and neighborhood buthcer. 
Pay special attention to that, regaridng prices of living in Argentina. Today with two kids, I'd be spending less money living in Miami than living in Buneos Aires. Same for living in Spain or most other European countries. This is mostly because school for kids has to be private, and most of teh expenses tipical for kids, clothes, toys, social activities when they grow up , etc, are all pretty expensive here.
When considering other... shall we say... favorable exchange rate countries, may it be in Latin America or Asia, check the stability of such currency durign a span of several years so as to have an idea of what to expect.
No use in relocating somewhere that looked cheap only to have hiperinflation eat up your funds.
 Also, like Rick says, some people seek a quick fix , and make mystakes. A frined of my family came back to Argentina after getting divorced, she had been living in USA for over 30 years. Now in Rosario and in her 50's, she asks herself why she ever came back here and wishes she could go back. 
Plan carefuly, get to know the places. RENT and live on your plan C location for a few months before rushing and regreting it later on.



Bones said...

One of the reasons California is so full of fruitcakes is because of all the people who move there to "find a better life". CA is welcome to them.

You could say the same thing about NYC, too. ;)

Anonymous said...

Hey Ferfal, I wanted to ask you about stun guns. I don't recall ever seeing you mention anything about them.

Seems to me they would be a pretty good close-range self defense weapon. Most are pretty small, easy to operate, and perfectly legal in most states in the US ( don't know about Argentina ).

Do you have any knowledge of the effectiveness of stun guns for general self-defense in an environment like current-day Argentina?

Patrick said...

Yeah I first came in 2007 and I have to say, inflation deflated my dream. Fortunately the liquidity crisis in 2008 put a pause on that for maybe a year, but recently we had another round, can't have a basic dinner for 2 on less than 80 pesos, starting to eat in almost exclusively.

Saving in gold coins cannot be overstated, in addition to the mitigated price risk of the currency (by betting gold will go up in price as the currency gets debased) you're also hedging against the all important liquidity risk of capital controls or a corralito, that's money that you control.

Regarding education, I think all schools are bullshit and are only good for the social environment, which can be created in other ways. I'm going to take personal responsibility for my kid's education.

Anonymous said...

Is it a straw that broke the camel's back (one more law, regulation or mugging)... or is it how the future is, or might unfold that determines when to boot scoot out of a country?
Was it any one thing in particular or was it everything?

There are a number of people (in the U.S.) who would choose the cone as a B.O.L., I wonder if this will cause them to choose another and what would that be?

Regarding education, as far as socalization and "the social environment" schools aren't even good for that according to this:

"The entire theory behind using schools to socialize children is based on the nonsensical premise that children become socialized by being isolated with large numbers of other children, with a few token adults present. Presumably, the purpose of socialization is to help children one day interact in the larger world. Yet, modern schools are set up in such a way as to be as unlike the larger world as possible."