Work Abroad but earn in USD

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Working in Argentina

Regular readers of this blog will recall that I usually advise people against working in Argentina. However, I'm going to take a stab at this question anyway. I'll also give my cautionary warning, as always.

Reader's Question

I came across your blog and loved it. My question to you is: how did you find a job over there? Did you go through a recruiter? My expertise is in the healthcare arena and I thought you may know how to connect with people.

I am planning another visit in Jan hoping to visit some companies. I will just continue to read your blog from the beginning hoping to gain some insight.

Working & The Middle Class

The main reason I usually advise expats against coming to Argentina and trying to find a job on their own is that they're going to be paid a normal middle class salary here. Middle class in Argentina is very different than middle class in the United States or in Europe. The fact is, your earning power is going to take a significant hit if you give up your job in the US or Europe and take a job here, with a few notable exceptions.

If you're sent here by an international company, you're probably going to continue to earn the same kind of wage you earned back home. In that case, you should jump on the opportunity to move here. You'll be earning a high wage, but your costs of living will drop drastically -- a recipe for savings.

If you are a successful businessperson, you should consider Argentina as well. You can start a business here with less capital than you can elsewhere. Labor is widely available and not too expensive. There are opportunities everywhere.

If Money Isn't Important

If you just don't care about the fact that you'll lose earning power by working for a local firm, I can still share some recommendations. First and foremost, you'll need to speak Spanish fluently. Unless you're going to be working with English-speakers all day long (there are only a few jobs like this and they don't pay well, such as teaching English), a complete domination of the Spanish language will be necessary. Your employer is not going to provide you a translator.

How would you go about finding the job? The reader mentioned recruiters, which do exist. However, the recruiters work for the companies, not the worker. You'll find that many recruiters will advertise for their positions in the Clarin or La Nacion (there's a section with help wanted ads for professionals).

The Big Obstacle: The Work Permit

The big problem is that most foreigners don't have authorization to work. They don't have DNIs and CUILs and that means that to the local labor market, they don't exist. Any employer who wants to hire you will have to retain a visa lawyer to do your foreign employee visa, which is going to cost them time and money. They could just hire an Argentine worker and not bother with all of that.

If you are really serious about getting a job here in Argentina, one thing you might consider is getting yourself a rentista visa and just coming down here and starting your job search. Contact ARCA and they'll get your visa taken care of. Once you get a visa, DNI and CUIL, you can then enter the job market on equal footing with any other Argentine. Companies won't have to spend any money or waste any time with the government when they go to hire you.

One Last Warning

Let me just warn again that if you are going to take a job in the local market here -- without being sent by a international company for some specific expertise that you have -- you're going to take a serious hit in your wages. Here you might just earn between 20-35% of what you earned in the USA or Europe. In addition to that, you won't be building up credits in your home country's pension system, so you might jeopardize your chances for a comfortable retirement if you work here for the long term.

If you just want to try it out for a few years as a change of scenery, make sure you have plenty of savings and realize that you might have to make serious compromises in your lifestyle in order to make things work. Good luck!

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Anonymous Anonymous said...


I would like to hear your experiences using ARCA to get a residence visa. I plan to apply under the "Representative of a Foreign Company" category using an American LLC. Would you mind giving feedback on your experience with ARCA? Thank you.

10/09/2006 02:11:00 PM  
Blogger ABA said...

Definitely, as usual EE is spot on. DEFINITELY do NOT try to make any serious long-term plans living on a local salary. There is no reason a local company will hire you and pay you any more than a local. There simply is no reason for it. I get resumes on a daily basis from Americans and Europeans wanting a job. I always turn them down. While I have hired some Americans, it was Americans that were born here so they already have a DNI and speak perfect English and Spanish. They make local wages.

It's very difficult to make money here. Consider that doctors and lawyers make very little here. I know CEO's and CFO's here for large companies that make relatively peanuts. I know the Director of a large private hospital here. He is an experienced physician that runs a large hospital here. He has worked for the company almost 20 years. His salary?? 12,000 pesos per month (u$s 3,870).

It's a great country but people really need to think things through before thinking they can make any significant money here.

The only way you can really do well is finding a job that pays you in u$s dollars, euros or your home currency. Those kind of jobs are almost impossible to find.

Companies like are moving down here to open call centers and hire computer people. Average salary is less than 3,000 pesos per month. You'll see more and more major companies opening call centers here because of the time difference from the USA and it's cheaper to employ here than in India.

Good luck all.

10/13/2006 04:08:00 PM  
Blogger ABA said...

I forgot to mention, DEFINITELY I would highly recommend ARCA. I used another immigration attorney before and got cheated. They made TONS of mistakes and took over a year to get my visa and in the end never got it.

When I fired them to get my paperwork back, they refused to give it to me without paying them u$s 1,800. I immediately hired ARCA and they had my visa within 1.5 months. Lorena there is highly responsive and very competent. My highest recommendations for them.

10/13/2006 04:10:00 PM  
Blogger Dr. Pancrácio said...

I'd like to find a job in Argentina that pays me in ringgit. Sounds like that may be difficult to do.

10/17/2006 02:00:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Companies like are moving down here to open call centers and hire computer people. Average salary is less than 3,000 pesos per month."

So, less than US$972 a month? That's still more than I'm making right now in the US. My job only pays $5.75 an hour because I work for my university.

10/23/2006 06:13:00 PM  
Blogger Dr. Pancrácio said...

Well, sounds like a move to Argentina's a no-brainer for you, then. I'd drop out of school and catch the next plane down.

10/24/2006 01:05:00 AM  
Blogger ABA said...

I agree with Ted...ha, ha. Keep in mind these people making this salary are people with University degrees that are bi-lingual. Keep everyting in perspective. Also, most of them are probably working 9 hours a day and probably many of them 6 days a week.

10/24/2006 06:01:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Drop out of school and take the next plane down? Haha. That would be kind of hard to do since I have a small daughter as well. At any rate, I'm getting a degree in Foreign languages and International Trade (Spanish and Russian), and my spanish is fairly good (I lived in Mexico for a year when I was a teenager).

Although I might not pack up and take the next flight today, I am needing an unpaid International Internship as part of my degree, so perhaps two or three weeks this summer in Buenos Aires would be good enough for now. haha

10/25/2006 11:24:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Agreed, except for the business opportunities. You are more likely to be robbed blind by everyone you meet. Until you lose your accent (ie, never), you will be regarded has simple minded fair game. That risk does exist at home too, but unlike Argentina, you will know most of the tricks.

My experience in the legal sector is that top law firms will pay 1800 pesos (US$600) per month for first year associates. 3000 pesos is a huge salary for a young professional in BA.

11/01/2006 02:04:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

$1800 pesos per month is STILL a huge salary for most 'young professionals'.

Imagine what the just plain 'young' are making ....

11/06/2006 03:15:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello, I am an American student from Montana State University studying Spanish and International Business in Buenos Aires until July. I am seeking a position as an intern or protégé of some type. My area of interest is import/export or transportation logistics but, I am willing to learn other fields. I am outgoing, confident, and a fast learner. I communicate effectively in Spanish although I would not consider myself fluent yet. Opportunity and learning are more important to me than pay. I believe I can earn money "over the table" with my temporary visa status. I am a full time student during the academic semester so I would be looking for part time work during school and full time during the summer (December-March). Please contact me for resume, references, and contact information if you are interested or if you have any ideas.

11/10/2006 06:45:00 PM  
Blogger Maria Casanova said...

hey.. I read your comments.. I am argentinian and what you did not mention is that a salary of 3.000 pesos for just one person is more than enough to live here and have a great time.

11/16/2006 02:50:00 PM  
Blogger miss tango said...

According to my argentine roommate the average wage here,is 800 pesos around 266.66 us dollars. And a lot of people make less than this. 50% of the people here are living below the poverty line.
I don´t know how they do it. I have been trying to stick to 1500 pesos (500 us dollars per month) which here is huge, and have a very very excellent porteño rent, and i can not imagine even trying to raise a family with this amount per month.
Something to think about.

12/20/2006 07:35:00 PM  
Blogger Mad_Maxx said...

Those of you with an outside income might consider moving outside BA. In the northern provinces a person making $3000 pesos a month has a REALLY good income.

1/05/2007 03:54:00 AM  
Blogger ABA said...

In addition to what everyone else is writing, again I will point out there is not really any need to pay any foreigner a high wage. I pay my employees (especially management type positions) much more than the locals. I think the Directors and Office Manager make more than typical lawyers here. Still by USA standards it's low.

Another thing to keep in mind that the taxes here are EXTREMELY high for employers. There are a lot of taxes here when you are working completely "white" legal and paying your employees in the "white". I pay a HUGE amount per month in various taxes, fees, insurance, etc. I've owned a company in the USA and it was no where as much % wise as it is here.

So while it is possible to make money's not so easy even if you start a company. Cheers all.

1/11/2007 11:40:00 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Hi. In considering moving my business down there from the United States, I have a number of questions. If anybody out there has some answers or can point me toward a source that might help, I'd greatly appreciate it.

For questions 1 to 6 below: I'm interested in info on (a) a middle manager; (b) a low level employee
1. Is it difficult to find skilled labor?
2. How many hours per week do employees work (officially)?
3. What is the average yearly salary in USD? How does it compare to that in the US?
4. On the payment to employees, what percentage is made up of taxes for health, pension and social security?
5. When and how can you fire someone? Do you have to pay? How much?
6. How many days is the standard paid vacation leave? Is paid overtime the norm?

1. Is unionism pervasive? Are trade unions powerful? Is a strike at your operation likely?
2. In general, does labor law tend to benefit the employer or the employee?

Section 8 Expats Management

1. Housing. Monthly rent per sq mt of an apartment? Cost of a sq mt? What is the minimum monthly amount for rent and services in a rented apartment?
2. Personal taxation: income tax? Capital gains tax? Personal assets tax? Estate and gift tax rates?…
3. Cost of a car? Car maintenance?
4. Health coverage for a expat managers? Features? Costs?

3/05/2007 12:10:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

wow, thanks, this is fabulous :) thank god i did one more day of research, i had my tail on fire to be hasty and come down!!! i heard a story on npr and it sounded so fabulous (and cheap!)--but they were of course comparing it to nyc--i'm in milwaukee!!!

i've always wanted an excuse to go to a spanish-speaking country, since spending a summer studying in Ensenada, Mexico, and taking a college class--i loved the culture/language/people, and took to spanish so much easier than years of french...

now i have a main man to come with...but we should really investigate and plan first... my very young boyfriend has his head on straight and tried to tell me ;)

i love your intelligent analytical blogs! very impressed.


3/07/2007 02:52:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

wow, thanks, this is fabulous :) thank god i did one more day of research, i had my tail on fire to be hasty and come down!!! i heard a story on npr and it sounded so fabulous (and cheap!)--but they were of course comparing it to nyc--i'm in milwaukee!!!

i've always wanted an excuse to go to a spanish-speaking country, since spending a summer studying in Ensenada, Mexico, and taking a college class--i loved the culture/language/people, and took to spanish much more easily than years of french...

now i have a main man to come with...but we should really investigate and plan first... my very young boyfriend has his head on straight and tried to tell me ;)

i love your intelligent analytical blogs! very impressed.


3/07/2007 02:55:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How long does it take to get a work permit if you're sponsored or recruited by an argentine company? Are there any temporary work permits so that you can get started quickly? Thanks.

3/23/2007 01:26:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

am here in BA to study and i came in with a one year temporary resident permit though a student visa.i've completed my studies and i seem to like BA and would very much love to spend another year here.just recently i was employed by an english speaking call centre but my question is :Is it possible to change my student visa to a work permit?

4/30/2007 01:30:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would like to further praise ARCA. I worked with Lorena there to acquire a rentista visa and she completed everything in about 1.5 months for me to get the visa.

I am now in BA and have an apppointment in June to get my DNI, after which I will wait 15 more days to get the CUIL.

ARCA is very reliable and professional and worth the price.

5/09/2007 03:59:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi, I have just been spending 3 months in Argentina through my work, I felt madly in love with a argentine woman and the feeling is mutual ... unfortunately my work requires me to move around the globe in different countries and stay for at least 2/3 months in various places ... I know it's gonna sound crazy but I am at the moment considering dropping everything im doing and leave for Argentina ... the plan would be to get married and get the papers so I can start working over there ... I have read many things about how long it could take to get a DNI and I have only 1 question: does any of the blog readers knows if you can have some sort of temporary papers once you get married so you can work straight away or do you have to wait for your DNI to be completed (i.e. wait for months before you can start working)? Would be great if anyone has any info on this. Thanks

5/30/2007 02:35:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hi its raggamuffin im just wonderng if you could tell me how many people are working and not working in argentina if you cold tell me it would be a real help as i am doing a project in geography please please

thanks raggamuffin

10/11/2007 08:14:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you are retired and have foreign currency, or if you are, say, a professor on sabbatical still earning your foreign salary, the cost of living here is shockingly low. In my first two months I realized that my new friends and colleagues must think I'm throwing money around. A really good dinner for three in a great restaurant with every imagineable course and drink comes in at around $80. That is close to the minimum monthly wage. The cost of living for locals is very high; there are frequent boycotts because of the rising prices of things like tomatoes and squash. Rents are climbing quickly. It makes me uncomfortable to suddenly be a wealthy person. Working here at local wages is not a very good idea.

10/28/2007 12:23:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi I am plannig to move Argentina next month. I got some info that, you should stay in Argentina for minimum 4 months to get tax benifits otherwise you will be charged to 50% tax. Can anyone guide me with this tax slab?

5/31/2008 03:00:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi, I work for a company in the US that allows me to work from home. I would really like to relocate to Argentina, and work virtually from there. Can anyone tell me what kind of Visa I would need?

7/02/2008 12:52:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

For a short term (< 1 year) assignment, say person earns 100K in US - what can she expect to earn in Buenos Aires?

7/30/2008 12:43:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can anybody help me in answering what kind of retention strategies Argentina uses to keep their employees?

9/17/2008 11:44:00 AM  
Blogger Hanwyn said...

Hello, I'm English and I'm thinking of visiting Argentina in a couple of months and I'm hoping to get a job to prolong my stay there. I'm not looking to make money - I'm just going to be looking for kitchen/bar/waitressing work as an excuse to stay in one place and slow down on spending. Is it possible to get a job without a working visa? I know that in some countries that's not a problem but that in others no one will employ you on a cash in hand basis. I've never been to Latin America so I don't know how things like that work over there.

10/23/2008 10:45:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

ohh wow I am glad I read this...I am so not in the position to move down there :(

12/26/2008 03:04:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How about if you have a criminal matter in the US? Like suppose I have my son and I took him to Argentina?

What about teaching english there?

9/24/2010 03:27:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am not sure if you are still activly checking or posting on this blog however I am curious about one aspect of renting an apartment. I have lived in Argentina in the past and the most difficult problem I encountered was access dollars in order to pay my rent. As you are familiar almost all rent is collected in dollars. I have a bank account in the US but cannot take out dollars from the ATMs in Argentina and am looking for a solution before I move back to BA in March. Any advice would be appreciated.

2/13/2011 11:19:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi I am a radiology doctor in pakistan .Should I move to Argentina for a job? How much would I be paid? Are there any registrations or work permits I have to get before coming to work in Argentina, What wld be my monthly salary and are there any exams I have to pass.

1/20/2017 05:42:00 AM  

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