Work Abroad but earn in USD

Friday, July 29, 2005

Making It Financially As An Expat

Today's question concerns the financial considerations of becoming an expatriate. For expats who are moving on their own, without the support of their companies or without being officially assigned overseas, it can be especially difficult financially. Not only are you not receiving any reimbursements for the move -- in many cases you might not even have a job lined up! If you think finding a job or starting a business in your home country is hard, just imagine trying to do it overseas. So, let's address these issues here.

Reader's Comment

I've been following your blog off and on for a couple of months, as I am also considering an "expat move" in the next couple of years -- and BA is definitely on my radar, although I haven't been yet (I'm going early next year to check it out).

Your first entry suggests that you decided to move to BA even before you had a solid business plan or (permanent) place to stay. Did your business provide you with sufficient financial means to support yourself without additional income? If so, why did you need to start another business? (other than the obvious desire to engage in something productive rather than just slack). In other words, how are you getting by? By the way, how much does the 2,500 pesos/month requirement translate to USD these days?

How Much Preparation Is Needed?

Let me first clarify that I did not decide to move here without a solid business plan. I've been doing software and web development since 1997. I opened my first offshore office in India in 2001 and made a gradual transition to Argentina once I learned about the benefits the country had to offer. I started by using local web development companies here. Once I got more comfortable with the business environment, I began to hire contract workers. Only recently did I make the decision to incorporate a local company and directly invest in the country.

When I made the decision to invest, I did so with a local partner that I had worked with over the last two years and who has proven to be capable and trustworthy. Over the last couple years, I also worked on changing my business plan to one that required me to sell our services over over the Internet, through resellers, and by word of mouth. It obviously isn't practical to be moving to a foreign country if you're expected to be out on sales calls all day long.

Living On Pesos

The exchange rate as of today is 2.85 pesos per dollar -- which means the $2500 peso requirement translates to $878 dollars per month. Aside from housing, I find myself hard pressed (as a single person living alone) to spend more than $3000 pesos per month. Right now, I think it would be prudent for any foreigner to have an income of at least $2000 USD monthly, however, before considering a long-term move here. The reason being twofold -- fluctuations in the exchange rate and the very real risk of inflation. You don't want to be scraping to get by in a foreign country.

Also be aware that when it comes time to renew your visa, the authorities will examine your bank records to see whether you've made the minimum monthly transfers into your bank account here. If you haven't, you won't be given the visa renewal. So, don't take risks financially. Make sure you can afford it before making the decision to move.

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Blogger ABA said...

You can't overplan your move here. Spend significant amounts of time putting together a good business plan. I do a lot of consulting for foreigners wanting to move here and most of them have no clear business plan or the ones they have have been horrible.

I spent over 2 years putting together a business plan before I moved to Argentina and it is paying off now. Argentina is a really difficult country to make a significant amount of money. The only way is to start your own business and to succeed here you need to really plan, have a great business plan and enough capital to make your company run smoothly.

It can be worth it. Moving here was the best decision of my life.

8/09/2005 12:57:00 AM  
Blogger Ajijicrichard said...

I am a young, single 62 year old. I retired two years ago and moved from Houston to Ajijic, Mexico. I have lived in cities all over the world and have had to face the fact that I don't belong in this retirement community. I think I learned most of the wrong things to do when I initially moved from the U.S. to Mexico and would try not to repeat the same errors again, like moving everything I owned down here with me.
Although I am a WASP/gringo or whatever I'm called, I do speak Spanish fluently.
My intention would be to sell most of my accumulated crap and make a bare bones move to Buenos Aires.
I have a retirement income of somewhat over $3,000 USCY a month. I cycle, walk, read voraciously and enjoy stereo photography. I love a city!!!! I have been to Buenos Aires three or four times over the last fifteen years and at least have an idea of the city and
and know that it has a lot to offer. I am self sufficient.
I need assistance in knowing the areas that might be appropriate for renting an apartment and positioning me for walking, cycling, restaurants, bookstores etc. I see almost unlimited furnished apartments for rent on various websites in all areas of the city. In my searches I usually put "downtown" as the area of interest. Opinions?
I also would like some assurance that my 3k a month would enable me to live in relative comfort including rent. I am aware of the trials and tribulations of Argentina over the years and am aware of the inflation possibility, especially since the city is presently listed somewhere around 147 cheapest places to live out of 150. But, my income is in dollars and we all know where that's going (well, maybe we don't).
Anyway, I've read a large portion of the blog and have a feeling that I'll be ok financially unless something drastic happens with Argentina or the U.S. I would appreciate comments however, and I would very much appreciate having some input as to areas for renting an apartment, and if anyone knows, some information as to the trustworthiness of some of these on line apartment locator/rental agents.
Most appreciative,
Ajijic Richard

8/27/2005 08:06:00 PM  
Blogger ABA said...

Hi Richard,

u$s 3,000 a month will be enough to live a comfortable lifestyle here. No doubt about it. You will be hard pressed to spend that much per month.

As you mentioned, there are many apartments for rent. I would advise against the downtown area though. The Microcenter is mainly commercial and very polluted compared to areas like Recoleta, Palermo, Barrio Norte and Belgrano.

If you like cycling, walking and the outdoors you might want to consider Palermo. There are many parks and walkable neighborhoods.

Buenos Aires is a world class city and one of the most affordable big cities to live in around the world. Just as I predicted after the crash, (I publically posted in 2002 it would stay between 2.75 - 3.25 and it has) the exchange rate shouldn't change too drastically. It will NEVER go 1:1 again. NEVER.

I like like a King here with u$s. I do spend over u$s 3,000 a month now because I live in the most expensive area of the city, I dine out quite often in nice restaurants and take several trips but if you live a normal life style here you will be fine.

FYI - below is the list you mentioned. From most expensive to cheapest. BA is ranked near the cheapest. Good luck.

Source: Mercer Human Resource Consulting, 2004 Cost-of-Living Survey 2004

Rank City

1 Tokyo, Japan
2 London, UK
3 Moscow, Russia
4 Osaka, Japan
5 Hong Kong
6 Geneva, Switzerland
7 Seoul, South Korea
8 Copenhagen, Denmark
9 Zürich, Switzerland
10 St. Petersburg, Russia
11 Beijing, China
12 New York City, USA
13 Milan, Italy
14 Dublin, Ireland
15 Oslo, Norway
16 Shanghai, China
17 Paris, France
18 Istanbul, Turkey
19 Vienna, Austria
20 Sydney, Australia
21 Rome, Italy
22 Stockholm, Sweden
23 Helsinki, Finland
24 Abidjan, Ivory Coast
25 Douala, Cameroon
26 Amsterdam, Netherlands
27 Los Angeles, USA
28 Berlin, Germany
29 Hanoi, Vietnam
30 Shenzhen, China
31 Taipei, Taiwan
32 Guangzhou, China
33 Tel Aviv, Israel
34 Budapest, Hungary
35 Chicago, USA
36 Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
37 Beirut, Lebanon
38 San Francisco, USA
39 Luxembourg
40 Düsseldorf, Germany
41 Glasgow, UK
42 Frankfurt, Germany
43 Munich, Germany
44 Bratislava, Slovak Republic
45 Jakarta, Indonesia
46 Singapore
47 Dakar, Senegal
48 Riga, Latvia
49 Prague, Czech Republic
50 Athens, Greece
51 Birmingham, UK
52 White Plains, USA
53 Brussels, Belgium
54 Kiev, Ukraine
55 Miami, USA
56 Barcelona, Spain
57 Honolulu, USA
58 Hamburg, Germany
59 Zagreb, Croatia
60 Algiers, Algeria
61 Madrid, Spain
62 Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
63 Amman, Jordan
64 Kuwait City, Kuwait
65 San Juan, Puerto Rico
66 Casablanca, Morocco
67 Melbourne, Australia
68 Washington, USA
69 Lyon, France
70 Boston, USA
71 Lisbon, Portugal
72 Morristown, USA
73 Houston, USA
74 Almaty, Kazakhstan
75 Tallinn, Estonia
76 Warsaw, Poland
77 Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
78 Manama, Bahrain
79 Sofia, Bulgaria
80 Auckland, New Zealand
81 Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
82 Ljubljana, Slovenia
83 Dubai, United Arab Emirates
84 Mexico City, Mexico
85 Atlanta, USA
86 Wellington, New Zealand
87 Brisbane, Australia
88 Adelaide, Australia
89 Toronto, Canada
90 Seattle, USA
91 Vilnius, Lithuania
92 St. Louis, USA
93 Leipzig, Germany
94 Perth, Australia
95 Limassol, Cyprus
96 Vancouver, Canada
97 Accra, Ghana
98 Cleveland, USA
99 Cairo, Egypt
100 Denver, USA
101 Detroit, USA
102 Monterrey, Mexico
103 Kingston, Jamaica
104 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
105 Portland, USA
106 Panama City
107 Winston Salem, USA
108 Guatemala City, Guatemala
109 Mumbai, India
110 Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei
111 Lagos, Nigeria
112 Pittsburgh, USA
113 Montreal, Canada
114 Calgary, Canada
115 Tianjin, China
116 New Delhi, India
117 Dacca (Dhaka), Bangladesh
118 Lima, Peru
119 Bangkok, Thailand
120 Tunis, Tunisia
121 Nairobi, Kenya
122 Tehran, Iran
123 Santiago, Chile
124 Ottawa, Canada
125 Lusaka, Zambia
126 Johannesburg, South Africa
127 Colombo, Sri Lanka
128 São Paulo, Brazil
129 Bucharest, Romania
130 San José, Costa Rica
131 Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
132 Karachi, Pakistan
133 Chennai (Madras), India
134 Caracas, Venezuela
135 Blantyre, Malawi
136 Quito, Ecuador
137 Bangalore, India
138 Manila, Philippines
139 Bogota, Colombia
140 Harare, Zimbabwe
142 Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
143 Montevideo, Uruguay
144 Asunción, Paraguay

9/03/2005 04:53:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi - I am just about to get my rentista visa (finally!). My attorney, NMD and the Consulate all seem to be confused about whether transfers of 2,500 pesos per month actually have to be made into an account in Argentina. You wrote that upon renewal, authorities will review bank records to confirm this. Did this actually happen to you or is this what you have been told? Thanks!

3/07/2007 10:48:00 PM  
Blogger westerndemocrat said...

Howdy from Montana,dude. I'm a licensed CNA(certified nurse's assistant) and want to know is there a similar job description in Argentina? I would like to live and work there at least a year to see if I would like it before moving there for good. Do you know where I can find out more information? The receptionist at the Argentine Consulate considered me crazy for even inquiring about leaving the US,which pissed me off to no end.
My email address is Thanks.

6/11/2011 08:50:00 PM  

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