Work Abroad but earn in USD

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Beginning Your Move to Argentina

Even though I've covered these topics before in this blog, I still get many questions about what to do when you decide to move to Argentina at the very beginning. Hint: Read some of my very old posts from a year ago, they're very helpful in this regard. However, since I just received a few e-mails with questions about this, I'll go ahead and do a "summary" post to cover as much as I can in a short amount of space.

Reader's Question

We are hoping sometime in the next 3-4 yrs to move to Buenos Aires, still being shy of minimum retirement by 3 yrs, but financially able to do so.

Could you advise what would be the proper first steps to put in place our plan to move and live there permanently, but still being citizens of the US?

I know this is a broad question, but I can't get responses from the Argentine consulate here in the US to answer the phone or e-mail. I'm sure they don't have any motivations to allow more norteamericanos to move there, but we are serious, my wife has family there and we have visited 3 times in the past 5 yrs.

Thanks for any little info you can afford me, and who to contact for moving a car and furniture in a container from the US to Buenos Aires....prohibitive monetarily or possibly reasonable?

Step 1: Get Your Visa Early

You are smart to try and start-up with your visa right away. However, speaking with the consulate is like talking to a wall. The people working in the overseas consulates are totally uncaring and usually only work on visa matters maybe 2-3 hours a day for a few days each week. Don't expect them to help you because they have no interest in doing so. They are paper pushers and it seems like a big chore for them to talk to Americans on the phone and try to help you with your visa.

The better option is to bypass the consulate entirely. Give a call to the nice folks at ARCA and ask them to do your visa for you. Unlike the consulate, ARCA is a private law firm that you hire to represent you before the Department of Migrations. They will file a visa petition for you directly with the Buenos Aires office of the Dept. of Migrations.

They prepare all your paperwork and complete all the filings on your behalf and can obtain your visa very rapidly. They will send you a permit that you take with you to the consulate that shows you have been pre-approved for a visa by the authorities in Buenos Aires. The consulate cannot deny your visa after you have this permit. You simply give them the permit and they put the visa in your passport and the process is finished -- without you having to waste time and energy dealing with these lazy workers at the consulate.

Step 2: Sell Everything You Own

My recommendation is not to bring your car and certainly not to bring any furniture. The fact is, you can furnish an entire apartment here in Buenos Aires (if you need a recommendation for an architect / interior designer, let me know) for what it might cost to remodel a 1-2 rooms in the United States. Don't even think about bringing your stuff here. For the cost of shipping alone, you can furnish half your house here with new things from the best furniture designers.

Step 3: Rent a Furnished Apartment Here

After you arrive in Buenos Aires, I suggest you rent a furnished apartment here for a month or two while you figure out what section of the city you want to live in. Then you can go ahead and look for a place to buy. There are plenty of furnished apartments in the city that you can rent for a month or two. I recommend using, but if you're on a limited budget there are others that are cheaper. I have a few posts about these issues.

Step 4: Buy Your Place Here

The next step is to find and buy an apartment here. I can give you a referral if you need someone to help you find a place. Keep in mind you won't be able to get a mortgage, so you'll need to come up with 100% of the cash required.

Step 5: Enjoy Argentina

And that's it! You're done! Give yourself a big pat on the back for choosing such a great place to live. Your retirement money will certainly go a lot further here in Argentina than it would have in the United States.

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Thursday, January 26, 2006

Kirchner Fighting Inflation by Freezing Prices

Argentina's President Kirchner has been on the inflation warpath recently, trying to freeze prices of as many products as he can. Yesterday it was announced that he came to an agreement to freeze prices on some products with two prominent U.S. companies -- Kimberly-Clark, which makes diapers, facial tissue, and other paper products, and Proctor & Gamble, the largest consumer products company. This is in addition to the price agreements he already secured with ranchers, farmers, and supermarket owners.

Last month the annual inflation rate reached a 31-month high of 12.3%, so it is clear Kirchner has some work to do. It remains to be seen whether his war on prices will have any effect (so far it seems it hasn't). Previously, inflation was the scourge of Argentina for many decades. It disappeared for a decade in the 1990s after the peso was linked 1-to-1 with the dollar.

Kirchner has said that he worries about inflation so much that it "keeps him awake at night." Already I can see some of the beginning effects -- more and more property owners are asking for rent to be paid in dollars rather than pesos.

For the sake of the economy, which has just begun to really recover after the 2001/2002 crisis, let's hope Kirchner and the government can get this problem under control. As popular as Kirchner is right now, he could find himself in a very bad position if there is runaway inflation by the time the election rolls around.

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Tuesday, January 24, 2006

A Country, Its People, and Its Leaders

There was an interesting post made today and I wanted to respond to it. I think perhaps this reader hasn't yet discovered something very fundamental -- a country, its people, and its leaders are not a single entity marching in unison. You shouldn't judge a country or its people by its leaders or its government.

Reader's Comment

As I left Argentina, las noticias were reporting that the Boys of Brazil, Cuba, Venezuela and Bolivia invited Iran's (very nuclear) president for a little visit. If Kirchner kisses Iran, I will not travel to Argentina next year -- and neither will the folks on this blog.

An Interesting Flight

Several years ago, one of my American business partners and I were on a flight to India from Taiwan. Sitting next to him was a Chinese woman. After a little while, they each started discussing why their two countries were so aggressive with each other and always spewing rhetoric against each other. She just assumed that Americans must not like the Chinese people. By the end of the flight, the two of them came to the realization that the games leaders play between each other have nothing to do at all with the people in their countries.

Who Are The "Evil" People?

When Bush labeled Iran as part of the "Axis of Evil", I remember seeing a news segment a day or two afterwards, asking ordinary people in Iran what they thought about being included in this so-called axis. By and large they felt threatened and wanted to know why the Americans thought they were evil. They were ordinary people with ordinary jobs and families. They wanted to live their lives without the threat of B-2 bombers shock and awing them into submission.

Try putting yourself in the place of the Iranian government for one minute and see if you can see things from their perspective:

  1. The U.S. President thinks you are evil and your country is included in an alliance of evil powers that includes both Iraq and North Korea... and how has the U.S. responded to those other "evil" countries?
  2. The U.S. has launched a preemptive war against Iraq, which borders your country, and currently occupies it. The country did not have nuclear weapons.
  3. The U.S. has thousands of troops along the Korean DMZ but has not invaded and talks about working out its problems diplomatically with North Korea. North Korea is rumored to have several nuclear weapons.

If you are able think like the Iranian government, you'll realize what they have already figured out -- that having nuclear weapons is a strong deterrent to a U.S. attack, which is a very real threat to the survival of their government. Survival is the most basic human instinct and permeates everything we do. If someone feels their survival is threatened, they will do anything and everything to counter that threat.

The United States' Military Conflicts

But surely the Iranians have nothing to fear, since the American people are peaceful and not interested in wars of agression. While that is true, a country's leaders do not always share their perspective and many times try to solve their problems through armed conficts.

As much as Americans would like to believe that their country is a peaceful one (and most do believe it), that just isn't consistent with the facts. This is a list of militarized conflicts involving the United States, the dates show the years in which U.S. military units (primarily regular, occasionally irregular) participated:

American Revolutionary War (1775–1783)
Undeclared War with France (1798–1801)
First Barbary War (1801–1805)
War of 1812 (1812–1815)
Second Barbary War (1815)
Mexican-American War (1846–1848)
Bear Flag Revolt (1846)
Nicaragua Naval Battles (1854–1858)
Utah War (1857–1858)
American Civil War (1861–1865)
Reconstruction (1865–1877)
Occupation of Nicaragua (1867, 1894–1933)
Shinmiyangyo Battle in Korea (1871)
Spanish-American War (1898)
Second Samoan Civil War (1898–1899)
Philippine-American War (1899–1913)
Boxer Rebellion (1900)
Panamanian Revolution (1903)
Second U.S. occupation of Cuba (1906–1909)
Tampico Affair & Occupation of Veracruz, Mexico (1914)
Invasion of Haiti (1915-1934)
Occupation of the Dominican Republic (1916–1924)
Pancho Villa Expedition (1916–1917)
World War I (1917–1918)
Polar Bear Expedition (Russian Civil War) (1918–1919)
Spanish Civil War (1936–1938)
World War II (1941–1945)
Korean War (1950–1953)
Cuban Missile Crisis (Oct-Nov 1962)
Vietnam War (1964–1975)
Invasion of Dominican Republic (1965)
Capture of USS Pueblo (1968)
Mayagüez Incident (1975)
Operation Eagle Claw (1980)
Gulf of Sidra Incidents (1981, 1989)
Lebanon Peacekeeping (1982–1984)
Operation Urgent Fury (Grenada) (1983)
Libyan Patrol Boats (Jan-Mar 1986)
Operation El Dorado Canyon (15 April 1986)
Operation Earnest Will (1987–1988)
Operation Prime Chance (1987–1988)
Operation Praying Mantis (1988)
Operation Golden Pheasant (1988)
USS Vincennes shootdown of Iran Air Flight 655 (1988)
Operation Just Cause (Panama) (1989)
Persian Gulf War (1990–1991)
Iraqi No-Fly Zones (1991–2003)
Operation Provide Comfort (1991–1996)
Somali Civil War (1992-1995)
Battle of Mogadishu (1993)
Operation Uphold Democracy (Haiti) (1994)
Bosnia and Herzegovina (as member of IFOR and SFOR peacekeeping forces, 1995—)
Operation Infinite Reach (strikes on Sudan and Afghanistan, 1998)
Kosovo War (NATO operations, 1999)
Operation Enduring Freedom (Afghanistan) (2001—)
Operation Iraqi Freedom (Second Persian Gulf War) (2003—)
Haiti Rebellion (2004)

President Eisenhower warned against the dangers of maintaining standing armies and the the military-industrial complex at the end of his term as president. You'll notice when looking at this list that the number of armed conflicts has increased dramatically after the end of World War II, when the decision was made to maintain a large military force. It makes our leaders lazy and dangerous, using the military as the solution to all their problems rather than working hard to negotiate peaceful solutions to our problems.

The Disconnect

I hope this list serves to show the disconnect between a country, its people, and its leaders. I believe that the people of the U.S. and Iran both want peace. The problem is that the leaders do not. Throughout the history of the world, old rich men have had arguments with each other and sent young poor men to fight and die to force the other into submission.

If the rest of the world judged the American people (and many do nowadays, which is a shame) by the actions of their leaders and their government's foreign policy, we'd have the welcome mat pulled out from under our feet virtually everywhere. When dealing with the rest of the world, governments and leaders act selfishly, without concern for people outside their borders. Individuals, on the other hand, do not. Individuals care about their families, friends, job and just want a good life for them and their children.

That's why it is a shame that you'd consider changing your travel plans to Argentina because their president invites Iran's president for a visit. Who cares? What we need are more people traveling back and forth. We need more people from all over the world immigrating everywhere. We need to see foreign people in our communities and foreign children in our schools. We all need to relate to one another as human beings and not as collective entities who are trying to protect various "interests".

The fact is, countries that trade with each other and have travelers & immigrants moving back and forth will begin to understand and relate to each other as fellow human beings, not as adversaries. That will be a good thing for everybody. So, please, don't cancel your trip here. Come to Argentina and embrace the fact that the country welcomes all kinds of people here -- Americans, Armenians, British (yes, even British people are welcomed, despite the Malvinas war), Chinese, Koreans, Iranians, and more. So, despite what happens in the world of politics, I hope everyone out there continues to travel, see the world, and learn about all the different kinds of people out there.


Monday, January 23, 2006

U.S. and Latin America Move Further Apart

Yesterday Evo Morales was inaugurated as the new President of Bolivia. A coca farmer, who is the first indigenous president in Bolivia's history, plans to nationalize the natural gas industry, increase coca farming, and transform the economy using a socialist model. He is an open admirer of Hugo Chavez and Fidel Castro.

As the Bush administration has been single-mindedly focused on the "war on terror", they've twiddled their thumbs as Latin America elects leader after leader who plans on taking their country leftward -- Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Venezuela, and now Bolivia. And there are more elections to come with more leftist candidates expected to win. By 2008, when Bush leaves office, Bush's eight years will have marked pretty much the entire South American content's move from mostly center-right governments to leftist or center-left governments.

In many cases these changes of governments also come with changes in relations. There is outright hostility to the United States in many countries. Perhaps some of this is due to simple neglect. The U.S. hasn't done anything to enhance its relations with the South because its been too busy with a one-issue foreign policy.

If one were just looking at the numbers, the U.S. should be on much better terms with Latin America. Hispanics make up more than one in eight U.S. residents and are the fastest growing population segment. Most countries in South and Central America have their largest (and most financially successful) diaspora in the United States. In fact, there are about 18 million first generation immigrations who were born in Central or South America who are now living in the U.S. That's about half the population of Argentina and twice the population of Bolivia. The U.S. is the fifth largest Spanish-speaking country in the world, after Mexico, Colombia, Spain, and Argentina.

Instead of moving closer together, though, the U.S. and Latin America are moving further apart, and that's a shame. The U.S. is moving dangerously to the right and Latin America is most certainly moving too far to the left. I do hope that the next decade will see everybody moving back toward the center.


Financial and Tax Planning in Argentina

This question was posted to the blog a few days ago and I thought it would be a good one to address here on the blog.

Reader's Question

What do retirees do with the retirement plans / investments they have back in the US? I'm guessing they keep them invested in the US but are their advisors in B.A. that can help them? I'm a financial advisor and I can't imagine how these people couldn't want little help keeping their portfolio's current.

Also for taxes. I've spoken with an American in Germany who does taxes for Americans there and he charges about 4x normal US rates because of limited supply of US tax professionals in Germany. Just wondering if that is a problem in B.A. I could see a problem with being disconnected enough from US news that keeping up with current tax laws and financial news would be a chore most aren't interested in taking on.

Any thoughts?

Tax Planning

Every expat should be using two accountants -- one in Argentina and another in the United States. Additionally, make sure your U.S. accountant is familiar with filing for the expat tax exception and housing allowances. If not, you may want to change accountants or at least make sure your accountant can get up to speed with these rules.

Your Argentina accountant will take care of your property taxes here (which need to be prepared and filed just like we do income taxes in the U.S., you don't get a bill in the mail). If you're working for an Argentine company, the company accountant will handle your income taxes. The tax will be paid by your company.

Financial Planning

It is my recommendation that all expatriates leave their investments in the United States. It is just way too unstable here to put any large amount of money in the banking system. You never know when they're going to confiscate the dollars, restrict withdrawals, or whatever else they can dream up.

Unless you really need face-to-face contact, I think it would probably be easier to continue to use your current financial advisor. With the Internet, fax, phone calls, instant messengers, FedEx, etc., it shouldn't be too hard to keep working with a financial advisor in the United States. If expat advisors really are charging 4X normal U.S. rates, it doesn't make any sense to use them. You might pay a little more for an expat tax return, but you should in no way pay more for financial planning or advice.

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Thursday, January 19, 2006

Bringing Money Into Argentina

A reader recently left a comment on a discussion about bringing money into the country. There was some confusion over this, so I wanted to try and clear things up.

Reader's Comment

So, it seems no one has a solution [to the problem of bring money into Argentina] besides bringing in cash under $10,000 [when traveling]? I am involved in a business that requires money to be transferd to Argentina. Money that can not go down with a person. Any suggestions, comments, contacts would be greatly appreciated.

This is really sad for Argentina.

You Can Bring Money In

There is no problem bringing money into the country. If you're a legal resident you can transfer money to your bank account. The problem is that property here is priced in dollars and that's what people are usually bringing the money in for.

This presents a dilemma. The Argentina Central Bank converts all incoming wires into pesos. You can't wire-in dollars. That means when you convert the pesos back to dollars, you've lost 7-10% of your money, depending on what rates you get. That's a huge sum of money to lose on a wire transfer. To further complicate matters, the central bank sometimes withholds 30% of the amount of the transfer for a year, to make sure you are not a speculator.

There are various financial firms, private parties, money brokers, etc. out there that will let you do a wire transfer in dollars. They maintain a bank account in the U.S. and let you make a transfer into that account. After receiving the sum in the U.S., they give you cash in a bag here in Argentina.

Even though the financial firm you are dealing with may be a well respected legal entity here in Argentina, the operation they just carried out for you is extra-legal. The law of the land is that all transfers must go through the Central Bank. Someone told me the term for this is "blue money" -- not quite black money from drugs or something else illegal, but not exactly 100% legal either.

Despite this, virtually everyone transfers their money using one of these firms. But since this service is typically unadvertised, you'll need to have a contact or a referral. Usually this will come from your real estate agent or from your Argentine business parter (they all know someone), etc.

If you're operating a business, however, you should check with your accountant before using something like this. I've heard from people in the real estate industry here and they say that eventually the government may ask people to document the source of the income used to purchase the apartment. This would probably happen when you sold the apartment. They say there might be some hoops to jump through if you can't show that you transfered the money in a legal way, but no one really knows. Its all speculation at this point.

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Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Something Bush and Kirchner Have In Common

Anyone who follows Argentine or U.S. politics might be surprised at the title of this article. After all, with Kirchner moving closer to Hugo Chavez and Venezuela, what could Bush and Kircher possibly have in common?

A Complete Disregard For The Role of Independent Media

In Argentina, it has been reported that Kirchner retaliates against journalists and newspapers that print unfavorable stories. He directs government ad buys to papers and media that support him. He denies critical journalists access to government sources and presidential briefings. He has never sat down for a complete interview. Kirchner remarked once that his favorite journalist were photographers, because they don't ask questions.

The Economist stated in its most recent issue that the Argentine people might want to pay attention to this issue more closely, or else they might miss having a fair and impartial press in the future. I think they should be giving the same warning to the people of the United States.

Bush's government, instead of trying to influence media covertly and subtly like Kirchner's administration, directly issued payments to television personalities, such as Armstrong Williams, to spew government propaganda. They created TV news snippets and distributed them to local news stations, which ran them without identifying they were government-produced. Now the Department of Defense has been found to be paying Iraqi newspapers to plant U.S. propaganda in their news reporting. The articles were actually written by DOD spin-masters.

I find the whole situation distasteful and it proves that even though you can have two politicians that are on opposite sides of the issues, they're both wrong about the ways the go about trying to garner support. I'm sure each of them thinks they're only defending their own views and trying to move the public to their side of the issue, but what they're really doing is weakening the institution of the press in their respective nations.

When they're both out of power and the other party takes office a few years down the road, they're both going to wish the press was stronger to investigate the scandals and misdeeds of the next guy. No matter who's in power and what agenda they're pushing, everybody loses when we don't have a free, impartial, and independent press.


Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Health Insurance For Expats

I received a question about health insurance for short-term visitors to Buenos Aires. Although I'm not entirely positive about this issue, I'll try as best as I can to answer it.

Reader's Question

I am moving to BA for four months starting in March. You mentioned that you have good, inexpensive health insurance. Can I get health insurance for only four months and without a DNI? I'm just planning to do the 90-day travel visa, which I'll renew for the last month. My US insurance (through my law firm) will only cover "emergencies" and for that they charge $475/month, which I don't want to pay.

Health Insurance Without a DNI

I'm not sure whether or not it is possible to get health insurance without a DNI or residency visa. My guess is that it would be up to each individual provider. I have a faint memory of Hospital Alemán asking me to provide either a DNI or passport when I signed up. I don't remember for sure, though. They could have just asked me for my DNI and I'm remembering incorrectly.

Maybe some other expat who doesn't have a visa/DNI could comment on this issue? Did anyone out there get a health plan without being an official resident?

Regular health needs are so cheap here that you really don't need health insurance. The last few times I came here (when I wasn't a resident), I regularly went to the dentist, a doctor, bought medicine, etc., and I didn't have a health plan. You might pay $100 pesos for a doctor or dentist visit, for example.

Keeping Your U.S. Health Insurance

I also currently maintain a U.S. health plan for emergencies, which I advise you to do as well. As good as the care is in Argentina, who knows whether they'd give you an organ if you needed one? I still like having the option of going back to the U.S. for health care if I become gravely ill.

I have U.S. health insurance with a $10,000 annual deductible. For a single man in his twenties, the cost of this plan is less than $500 per year. I then combine this plan with a Health Savings Account, which allows me to put up to $2700 per year in a tax free savings account. The money deposited is deducted from your income tax and the interest earned from the money deposited in the account is tax free as well.

If your marginal tax rate is 30%, that means that you'll save $810 in Federal Taxes by using this Health Savings Account, more than offsetting the cost of the health insurance. For expatriates, this means they can essentially get free U.S. health coverage.

In the event that you become gravely ill, you can withdraw the money tax free from the Health Savings Account to pay for your medical expenses up to the $10,000 deducible. The money can be withdrawn throughout your lifetime tax free for any medical expense except the purchase of health insurance. If you manage to be healthy throughout your entire life and not need the money, you can still withdraw it without penalties during retirement, just like an IRA. So, there's really no downside to having a Health Savings Account.

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Monday, January 16, 2006

Argentina for Retirees

I received a comment from a reader about a week ago about Social Security and living outside the country. As I'm not retired, I don't focus on this issue as much in this blog, so I wanted to take some time to address it.

Reader's Comment

I enjoy your blog. I have always heard that living outside the U.S. earning US dollars is the way to go! From your blog, it seems that you can do quite well living on a lot less, especially if you are living off of Social Security.

Pushing Your Dollars Further

I personally believe that in a few years, the U.S. is going to see a very large exodus of retirees. As the baby boomers reach retirement age (my own parents have begun to think seriously about what to do during their golden years) I believe many of them -- especially the well-traveled ones -- will realize the universe of opportunities outside the United States.

Let's face it, most boomers are going to be relying on Social Security as their primary source of retirement income. Private pensions are rare nowadays. Every day we hear about one corporation or another that's either abandoning its pension plan or dumping it off on the Pension Benefit Guarantee Corp. (which doesn't actually guarantee benefits, it cuts them by 50%).

If you're a retiree earning $1500 a month, you're not going to be living too comfortably in the U.S., even if you did manage to pay off your mortgage. First off, health care costs could eat up half your income. With what's left, you'll be lucky to meet the basic necessities of life. In Argentina, however, its a different story.

I just paid my bills again this month. My water bill came to $15, gas was $10, cable was $20, internet was $12, electricity was $13. I own my own apartment, so I pay no rent. Some of these bills are bi-monthly also. My building expenses were $75. I pay $25 per week for a chef service to prepare 7 healthy dinners for me and I always order delivery for lunch, which comes to maybe $3.50 daily. Add on a hundred dollars for miscellaneous expenses and I'm still at less than $500 USD per month.

Retirees who come here (and own their own home or apartment) can actually be saving money from their Social Security income. As long as you take rent out of the equation, you can easily meet your basic needs for $500 USD per month. In fact, you'll probably have money left over for trips throughout the country. With airfare in pesos for legal DNI-holding residents, your in-country trips will be affordable.

Moving from the U.S. to Argentina is literally "upgrading" your lifestyle and spending power. As long as you are willing to approach some of the challenges of living abroad with an open mind and a willing spirit, I see no reason why a retiree should be struggling to make ends meet with Social Security in the U.S. when they could be easily living in comfort here.

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Sunday, January 15, 2006

Argentina's Unfriendly Banks

Although probably obvious by now to any expat who's already here, I felt I should point out to newcomers that the banking system here in Argentina is pretty terrible. It is an ordeal just to open up an account. And if you don't have a visa and DNI, forget about it. Bank accounts come with outrageous fees and taxes as well. The interest rates paid are well below the inflation rate and forget about accessing any type of credit product -- whether it be a mortgage loan or even a credit card.

To top it all off, the attitude is pretty terrible as well. Banks act as if they're doing you a favor just by letting you have an account with them. In fact, the vast majority of Argentina's banks have a Moody's rating of "E", the lowest possible rating. Banks rated "E" have very weak intrinsic financial strength, financial fundamentals that are seriously deficient, and a highly unstable operating environment. That pretty much sums up the banks here.

The banks should be clubbing each other over the heads trying to secure more depositors, but it seems as if they're doing everything they can to turn away business. It is a very odd situation, especially for an American expat who's used to vigorous competition for his financial business back in the states. You can't walk into a bank in the U.S. without them trying to give you a toaster, a Home Depot gift certificate, or a T-shirt of something or another to get you to open a no-fee checking account with free online banking and bill pay.

Here you'll wait in a queue for 10 minutes just to talk to someone to open your account. Then he'll direct you to another 10 minute queue to make your deposit. You'll also pay for the privilege of giving someone else free use of your money. And when the end of the year rolls around, you'll find out the government taxes you on the balance of your bank account, which causes a mini bank-run around late December each year, as people withdraw their cash from the banking system so they don't get taxed on it. It is truly a screwed up system all-round.

Its no wonder there's no credit in this country. With the rich sending their cash abroad to Miami and Europe and the middle class putting their savings under their mattresses, there's nothing to lend. It seems to me that the government could do a lot to improve the financial situation of the country by first working on improving the banking system.

Meanwhile, expats should expect frustrations. Make sure you have a very good relationship with a bank in your home country. First because you'd be nuts to put your savings here and second because you'll never get a loan here either. You'll have to rely on your homeland for the vast majority of your financial services, which is really too bad for Argentina and expats.

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