Work Abroad but earn in USD

Friday, June 29, 2007

10 Questions for Ellen in Mendoza

EDITORS NOTE: This is a first in our series of Expat Interviews that we will frequently post. Let us know if you know someone who would be a good person to interview and we will try. Ellen is from the US and currently lives part of the year in her home in WV and part of the year in her Inn/B&B in Mendoza.

1. Where were you born, where else have you lived, and where are you living now?  Born in NY, grew up in Minneapolis, lived many yrs in Wash., DC, lived in Spain, based in a town in West Virginia now, within communting distance of DC

2. Who did you move to Argentina with? When? My partner RIccardo Accurso, bought our house in Mendoza three years ago. We are not full-time.

3. What made you pick Argentina? Friendly people, terrific climate, high quality of life, comfort with Spanish languge and Latin culture. For several years we'd been looking for a place outside of the US. Having lived in Spain and been fluent in Spanish helped us recognize Mendoza as a great place for us.

4. What is the best part about living in Argentina? The worst? The people are the best. Bureaucracy is the worst thing.

5. How do you make your living? I am a free-lance writer in the US and we operate a small business, Amazing Mendoza Tours, from our US base. Riccardo is a jewelry maker and designer, with a gallery in the US.

6. What is a typical day like for you? Shopping for excellent produce from neighborhood vendors, reading La Nacio'n and Los Andes newspapers every day, eating many meals outside on our terrace, with a view of the garden, taking in terrific new and classic movies for 5 pesos at the University Theater, joining friends for late supper at a sidewalk cafe, taking tour groups to bodegas, restaurants, the Andes, art studios, etc. and trying out new places for future tours.

7. How has living in Argentina changed your life? We have just opened a new 5-room inn, Posada De Rosas so now we will be hosting guests.

8. How does living in Argentina differ most from living in your home country? Everything moves more slowly.

9. What are your future plans in Argentina? When are you planning on leaving? We go back and forth as businesses here permit and as needed there. We have no specific schedule now and can't predict one for the future at this point.

10. What one tip would you pass on to a future expat moving to Argentina? Learn as much Spanish as you can before you  arrive, and take tutoring as soon as you get there. Your ability to function and your personal relationships will benefit immensely.

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Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Current Events: Winter Weather Closes Pass Between Mendoza and Santiago

Current event posts like this are mostly for our readers outside of Argentina. Our readers in Argentina all must know about the snowy weather that has closed the pass that connects Mendoza (Argentina) and Santiago (Chile) a few days ago. If it makes our news up here in the US, then it's safe to say everyone knows about it in Argentina. In any event, this current event is a fun bit of news that lets us mention a route often taken by tourists and expats alike: the road from Mendoza to Santiago.

This New York Times article about the storm mentions the fact that there are only 16 passes along the 2,500 mile border between Argentina and Chile. Of these 16 passes, it says only a few are paved. The main overland route from Chile to Argentina is through the Christ The Redeemer Pass. This heavily traveled route moves huge amounts of freight from Valparaiso, on the Pacific coast of Chile, on its way to places all around Chile and Argentina. The road goes from the port town of Valparaiso straight through to Santiago, then through the Andes mountains and the Christ the Redeemer tunnel (pass) to Mendoza 8 hours away (by bus), and then continues on to Buenos Aires. The pass is a crucial link for imports and exports for both countries, and it also makes a great sight seeing trip.

Many tourists and Expats will take the trip across the Andes on a luxury bus although flights to Santiago are readily available from both Mendoza and Buenos Aires. People take the 8 hour trip from Mendoza to Santiago during the day so they can enjoy the views along the way. Here are some photographs I found of the trip from Mendoza to Santiago. The road passes by Aconcagua, which is the largest mountain peak in all of the Americas (the next biggest mountain is in the Himalayas.) Looks like a fun trip to take, of course doing it in the Austral Summer (Dec-Feb) would limit the closed road problem that the 6,100 truckers up there are currently dealing with.

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Saturday, June 16, 2007

Getting Our Ducks In A Row

This last post about Shedding Possessions gives you a good idea of where we are in our journey of getting ready to leave our home country. We used to own a home, which we decided to sell as the first real step on our path to move to Argentina. By selling the home it forced us to shed possessions, and it got us into an apartment which can only be temporary, just a place to stay where we can save some extra money every month on our way out of the country.

We now own a fraction of the stuff we used to own, and when we move out of the apartment on the way to Mendoza we will sell off almost everything else. We are close to our goal, with regards to personal property, which is to be able to put all the possessions we will keep in the US into a mere 100 square feet of a self storage warehouse.

There are so many things one needs to do in order to move to another country, so many ducks to line up in a row to make the move as smooth as it can be. We are not getting sent to Argentina with a company on an 'expat package' where someone else is handling the immigration and housing issues for us. We are moving on our own, like El Expatriado did, as a self employed person who will be responsible for everything. Many of the tasks we will do on this journey cannot be done, let alone contemplated, until we are actually there. But there are many things which must be done before we leave. I see these as the major steps for us to make before the move.

1.Shed possessions so we can leave with minimal expenses in the US (to store items we are keeping while we are gone).

2.Increase our virtual business revenue, earn more USD in our small businesses that operate over the phone and on the Internet. We can operate our virtual businesses from anywhere in the world with high speed Internet access, and if we can increase our income a bit here then we will have total freedom to live almost anywhere.

3.Deal with the bureaucratic items we must deal with to legally move; our own immigration paperwork (family of three), and the paperwork we need to bring our cat & dog.

We are mostly done with the shedding possessions stage, and are making progress on growing our virtual business revenue. We have done quite a bit of the research on the bureaucratic items we need to deal with to be able to get visas and entry paperwork for the people and pets in the family, but we have not pulled the trigger on hiring help to start this yet since we are more than 6 months away from moving. Our biggest task that we are currently focusing on is growing our businesses. The income from these small businesses will be the core of our monthly income when we are in Mendoza, earned in USD, and spent mostly in Argentine Pesos. Once these businesses grow a bit more we will be ready to set a move date a few months out (at a break point in our daughter's school schedule), and then get moving on the paperwork and the visas which we are going to start at least 3 months before we move.

We have a long way to go until all of our ducks are in a row, and we are ready to transition into our new life in Argentina. But we alone control our future and we are having a good time enjoying the journey.


Friday, June 08, 2007

Now Hiring Expats in BA!

Hello everyone! There are open positions for native English speakers at my company in Buenos Aires. I thought I'd share the news with everyone here just in case you're in BA and you're looking for work:

About Us

GeoDesign is an Internet and technology consultancy headquartered in the USA with offices in Buenos Aires. Candidates are needed for a new English-language contact center which will be operated for one of our US-based clients in the financial services industry.

All successful candidates will receive extensive training and no prior experience in the financial services industry is needed. We are looking for native English speakers for this position. GeoDesign is an equal opportunity employer.

Primary Responsibilities

  • Answering mortgage-seekers telephone inquiries regarding their mortgage application.
  • Completing mortgage applications over the phone with mortgage-seekers.
  • Contacting mortgage-seekers to correct incorrect/missing information from their mortgage applications.

  • Native English speaker
  • High school diploma
  • PC proficiency
  • Excellent comprehension, listening, negotiating and basic mathematical abilities
  • Excellent verbal and written communication skills

We Offer

  • Competitive salary & benefits
  • Visa assistance for expats
  • Comfortable low-stress working environment

Please send your resume/CV to along with your contact information. This position is located in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Only candidates currently living in Buenos Aires will be considered.

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Shedding Posessions

Once we decided to relocate to Mendoza, one of the first questions we asked ourselves was "What are we going to do with our stuff?" We've heard this is a major issue that a lot of expats face. Dealing with a household full of furniture is such a daunting task. There are a few options: packing up and moving everything (see this previous article Shipping Quote Post about various companies that specialize in doing so), storing everything, or selling most everything and starting fresh in your new country. When it came time for us to decide, we chose to combine the second and third options. We would sell most of our things, and store those things that we just couldn't part with. Our goal is to move to Argentina with our clothes, some small electronic items like laptops and cameras, our 2 pets, and not much else. We want to carry everything with us, and get 3 people, 2 pets, and all we are taking with us in a regular minivan taxi!

Several months ago when we put our house on the market, we started a major "de-cluttering" project. We sorted everything into "garage sale", "put into storage", "give to charity" and "keep" piles. We also went room to room and decided which furniture we would keep for our interim apartment, and which we would sell.

As soon as we got a contract for our house, we had a HUGE garage sale. All in all, we sold about 50% of our belongings, gave about 20% away to charity, and kept about 30%. Of the things we kept, most of it will be sold when we make our final move out of our short-term apartment and into Argentina. Our antiques and family heirlooms will be placed in a 100 sq foot storage space.

At first, I thought that getting rid of so much of our stuff would be a very difficult practice. But, in fact, it turned out to be a very freeing, cleansing experience. It was amazing how many things we had accumulated over the years, and it felt very good to shed the weight of it all! Knowing we never had to move those things again was also a bonus!


Saturday, June 02, 2007

Phases of the Expat Experience

This blog is about the expat experience as it relates to Argentina. That includes both what it takes to become an Expat in Argentina, and what it takes to live in Argentina as an expat. For purposes of categorizing the content on this blog, I saw the opportunity to label the articles according to how they fit into the different stages of life as an expat. Here are the three phases of life as an expat that we will use on this site to categorize posts in the future (along with other keywords). Posts and articles will be searchable by these keyword labels through new links that will be posted soon in the left navigation bar.

Three Phases of the Expat Experience
1. Pre-Move Preparations (in home country, before you move),
2. Transition Phase, moving to and setting up your new household in Argentina,
3. Living in Argentina as an expat.

It's really two major phases, Pre-Move Preparations and Living in Argentina as an expat. The Transition Phase is really a sub-set of Living in Argentina, but it focuses on the first few months of the expat experience which is quite distinct in many ways. There are so many issues to deal with in the Transition phase that it is worth taking these issues on in a more detailed way. That is why I think it's worth defining this Transition phase as a separate part of the expat experience. Many of these issues will be done once or just a couple times during your whole stay as an expat in Argentina. Chores like leasing an apartment, dealing with garantia issues, buying real estate, getting your all your government IDs and numbers, getting your residency paperwork approved on arrival, getting a bank account opened, getting utilities on in your new place, importing possessions through customs, etc. Whereas the items discussed in the third phase, Living in Argentina as an expat would include things like the issues of living abroad for years at a time, travel tips, restaurant guides, child-care recommendations, communication advice, things to do, places to see, expat interviews, etc.

Over the next few weeks we will be introducing some new blog contributors, and welcoming their posts. A big reason why we will introduce more new contributors on this site will be to bring you more fresh content across all three of the different phases of an expat's experience.

Have a Question or an Idea for a Post? Send us your questions and ideas for posts as comments. We will do our best to answer questions that we can, and when we can't, we will call upon our panel of expats on the ground in Argentina who can help out the Expat Argentina Community. Send us a post if you can help out in that regard, by answering an emailed question every now and then. We are eager to hear from people in the interior of the country in addition to the B.A. residents. We welcome your help in making suggestions for blog posts that will improve the site. You can submit your questions or ideas as a comment by clicking the comment link below any post.

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