Work Abroad but earn in USD

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Argentina Customs Taxes On Electronics

Getting home theater equipment in Argentina is not easy. The prices are insane. If you plan on watching anything larger than a 30 inch TV, forget about buying your TV there – unless you like being ripped off. Retail price for a 50” Marantz Plasma TV:

  • Argentina: $11,990 (Wullich Audo Video)
  • USA: $7999 (Wild West Electronics)
  • Difference: $3991 (50%)
  • Customs Tax On Electronics: 50% (recently sent a digital camera to a friend and found this out the hard way)
  • Coincidence? I think not.

What’s the moral of this story? If you want nice electronics, buy them BEFORE you go to Argentina and take them with you. From what I understand from the moving companies, if you take things with you in a big 20-ft container and declare that they are your own personal property, you don’t have to pay customs tax on bringing them into the country. Of course, if you bought the TV outside of the country and just had them ship it individually (without other household goods) into the country, they would probably nail you for the 50% customs tax.

I’ve never been too sympathetic to all the anti-globalization protesters, but things like this just further prove my point. Its times like these that you have to say… countries without free trade suck. Despite all the problems with US foreign policy, promoting free trade around the world is not one of them.


Thursday, January 20, 2005

There Goes the House… Moving For Good

I recently decided to take the plunge and live full-time in Buenos Aires. In mid-May, I’ll be moving there permanently and getting rid of my US residence. Until now, I’ve always spent more time in the US than in Argentina. I’ve had my foot in both countries for a while now, but in May I’ll be there full-time in Argentina. In upcoming posts, I’ll keep everyone updated on the adventure of moving an entire household to Argentina. I already sold my house last year and we’ve downsized to a two bedroom apartment in anticipation of this move, but we still have a lot of things to take with us:
  • 1 bedroom
  • 1 family & dining room
  • a home office
  • 2 dogs
  • 1 bird
  • and the love of my life … my home theater
  • 1 significant other (the other love of my life)

There are generally two schools of thought regarding international moves. The first is to sell as many things as possible before you move (furniture, appliances, etc.) and take only the necessities. The second is to take everything with you when you go and take it all back with you when you return. My girlfriend, always ready to redecorate, is a member of the first school. If it were up to her, we’d liquidate everything and start from scratch in Argentina with an interior designer. I’m closer to the 2nd camp than the first, so I’m not too enthusiastic about her idea.

The option we end up choosing will likely be a combination of both. We live in an apartment, so we won’t be taking any appliances. That’s probably a good thing, since the power system in Argentina is different. However, Argentina is not the consumer electronics capital of the world by any means. The home theater products they have there are expensive (more expensive than here due to taxes) and there’s just not enough selection. So, I’m adamant about taking my home theater equipment with me.

We’ve already contacted two relocation companies based in Argentina as well as several based in the US. I’m going to get quotes from all of them and then post here on the blog the companies’ names, phone numbers, and the quotes the gave me. That’ll give all of you an idea who you should call when it comes time to move your household for good.

Labels: , ,

Milk in Argentina Supermarkets

Today I received a question from a reader asking about getting milk in Argentina. The reader had just returned from Costa Rica and said the milk there tased like thick cream and she couldn’t stomach it. Well, I have good news for you... The milk in Buenos Aires supermarkets is generally pretty much the same as you’d find in the USA. One big difference is that you can get milk that is “super pasteurized”. Its sold in the same aisle as breakfast cereal, it is vacuum-sealed, and its not refrigerated. Apparently you can keep this milk at home in your pantry for 6 months and it’ll still be fresh and tasty when you open it up.

I’ll admit right now that I’ve never tried. In fact, the first thing I do when I buy the milk there is take it home and put it in the fridge. I just can’t seem to allow myself to store it outside the fridge, even though they had it unregrigerated at the store. Old habits die hard, I guess.

The milk is labeled with the amount of fat contained – 0%, 1.5%, and so on. It will say “1.5% graso” and you’ll know what to expect if you’re accustomed to US milk. So, no worries!

You shouldn’t have to worry about getting American-type foods and sauces when you’re in Buenos Aires. In the northern suburbs there is a large American expatriate community that surrounds the Lincoln College and there are supermarkets there that sell American sauces, foods, and stuff you’re used to. One thing you’ll notice when moving the Argentina is that they are not big on sauces. You won’t find A1 in steakhouses here, for example. But it shouldn’t be so hard for you to get the kind of foods you like if you’re willing to travel to the American neighborhoods. Let me make the disclaimer that I’ve never been up there myself, so I am only repeating what I’ve heard from others. One day I’ll get up there and check things out myself and report on my findings.

Labels: ,

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Business in Buenos Aires

Today, I’m responding to the comment of a specific reader about the business environment in Buenos Aires. The reader asked, “Is there a lot of Italian food in BA, I like that and always thought of a restaurant as a universal business that could work anywhere.” The answer is an enthusiastic “YES!” As you may or may not be aware, Argentina traces its history back to a large wave of Spanish and Italian immigrants. In fact, in the Spanish-speaking world, Argentinos are commonly thought of as people who speak Spanish with an Italian accent.

There are quite a few Italian restaurants in Buenos Aires. In addition to their mate and empanadas for afternoon snacks, you’ll always find porteños eating at steakhouses, pizzerias, and Italian restaurants for lunch and dinner. Though I don’t know much about the restaurant industry, I can give you a gut feeling that an Italian restaurant would work well in Buenos Aires – people there eat a lot of Italian food.

Of course, I’m no expert, but just being in the city for a while can tell you a lot of things. For example, I’m almost positive a bagel shop would fail. I have yet to see a single place that sells bagels. There are no Einstein’s or Bruegger’s bagel shops anywhere on Buenos Aires. When I tried to describe a bagel to my co-workers, they just had no concept of what this strange food was.

If you’d like to learn more, I can give you a good contact. The husband of one of my co-workers works for a food distributor, supplying food to restaurants in Buenos Aires. So, if you are interested in learning more, drop me a line and I’ll send you the contact. Thanks again for the comment.

Remember readers, send me comments! I’ll happily address your individual questions and interests in future articles.

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Anyone Reading?

When I first started this blog, I put up a few articles, waited a week, and no one came. Now I'm back, 6 months later, and I find a few comments. I've decided to give blogging another try. So, from now on, each time I get a comment on one of the articles, I'll make a new blog entry. This ensures that I actually have an audience out there. I'm not going to write if no one is reading, but I'm happy to make entries if people are interested. So, if you like what you see and want to see some more, let me know and leave a comment.


Visa Requirements

Several people have asked about the Visa requirements under the "rentista" visa program. You have to show income of $2500 pesos per month in order to qualify for this visa. You will need to be able to show that this income will continue when you move to Argentina. For example, it would not be a good idea to show pay stubs from a job located in the USA, since the Argentina authorities would assume this job will not continue when you move to Argentina. As a self-employed person, I have a small S-corporation that pays annual distributions. I had my company's accountant write a simple letter stating that I was a shareholder in the corporation and received distributions in the amount of (greater than $2500 pesos / month). In the letter, I also had the accountant state that the money could be wired to a bank in Argentina. I provided a few months bank statements as well, showing the distributions. These were all translated to Spanish and sent to the immigration authorities in Argentina by my attorney. I highly recommend that you obtain an Argentina immigrations attorney to help you with this process. Like everything in Argentia, the cost is reasonable and they know the process a lot better than you will. I'd be happy to provide a contact if anyone needs one.