Moving from the US to Argentina
November 14, 2018 3:01 PM   Subscribe

I will be moving from the mid-Atlantic US to Buenos Aires in June/July 2019. I'd love to hear your advice, both general and specific!

I'm a queer woman in my mid-30s moving with my cat for love -- a love of Argentine culture, a love for learning language, and a love for adventures and challenges that help me grow! After over a decade of teaching German & English in a US small town and traveling the world, I spent a few weeks in Buenos Aires this summer taking Spanish lessons and am now planning a permanent move there. I've done a lot of research and also have a good friend who's there; I am an intermediate Spanish speaker (B1/B2) and can learn quickly. I lived in Germany for a number of years so I do have experience living abroad. I'm playing to stay at least a year and, ideally, at least three to five years.

I can support myself for well over a year: I have decided to concentrate on studying Spanish at UBA and immersing myself in Argentine culture. I see they have good lessons at an amazing cost, and even less if you have a resident card. I will be working on applying for that in the US since I am not far from the Argentine embassy/consulate in DC. It appears that bringing a healthy cat isn't hard with the right paperwork. In addition to studying, I'd like to try my hand at some (unpaid) internships, such as tailoring, once my Spanish gets stronger.

Eventually, I'd like to teach English and German. As a foreigner, I believe private school jobs are my only option and those jobs are hard to get. It seems that most people teach private lessons and, sooner rather than later, I'd like to as well. I know bureaucracy is crazy there but like to do so officially, if not at first then later. I can always come back to the US and get a public schoolteaching job, so that is a nice back-up.

I'd a little worried about things like mugging and pickpockets but that happens many places; I was fine there this July. I am realistic that life in Argentina is both great and gritty; I acknowledge that I am very privileged to do this as a US citizen.

I've been reading various online sites and also old questions here at MeFi. My biggest concerns right now are

- finding housing that is both affordable and good (it seems to be all done through connections and not online listings? Many people have told me I can find a good place for $250-350 USD but I'm not seeing them.)

- obtaining a residency card (I've been studying this online for starters and ask in person for more info now.)

- transferring money back and forth (I saw how expensive it is to use ATMs with American cards due to withdrawal limits and ridiculous fees.)

- understanding health care. Are public hospitals truly free for all or is it more for emergencies so I'd need to look into a private policy for check-ups and the like? (I've heard mixed reviews of public versus private hospitals from Argentinians of various classes.)

- establishing myself as legally self-employed. (Would you recommend seeing a lawyer and, if so, could you recommend some names?)

I have a lot to learn and would love to hear any/all advice you would like to share!

This Friday I'm flying there for a week and can do a lot in person. Additionally, I know it's late but I'd love to set up an IRL event if there's interest.

Thank you!
posted by smorgasbord to Travel & Transportation around Buenos Aires, Argentina (3 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I haven’t spent that much more time there than you have, so I won’t presume to advise you on the day-to-day practicalities, but on the money side of things, I think you should definitely also consider US-based work you can do online, remotely, that gets you payed in dollars. It may not give you as much cultural exposure, but given the state of the peso right now, having income in a harder currency has a lot of advantages. It’s an opportunity lots of Argentines would kill for. Next week, see for yourself how much more expensive everything is in pesos just since July, and how much cheaper it is in dollar terms.

As for managing money transfers, this is not a long-term solution, but for when you are coming from abroad, the most convenient thing is just straight-up hundred dollar bills. They just need to be the newer 2009 series with the blue stripe on the Ben Franklin side - official money-changers mostly won’t take the older bills at all, and if the street arbolitos will, it won’t be at a good rate.
posted by strangely stunted trees at 5:00 PM on November 14, 2018 [1 favorite]

I lived in BsAs from 2005 to 2008 so some of my information is dated, but some may be helpful. (Like you, I left my job in the States to move there.)

I can’t speak to the technicalities of whether public hospitals are truly free for all (including non-residents) — it’s quite possible. But my time living there suggests that you will want to budget money for private health care. No one I know had anything good to say about the public hospitals. I used Swiss Medical and had good experiences with simple, routine medical stuff.

I was self-employed without the help of a lawyer. I am fluent in Spanish, though, so this may or may not be something you’d want to take on.

My money info is out of date; all the rules have changed and changed again since I lived there. I do have the email address of my former landlord, though. He was a good guy. No idea if he’s still in the rental game, but memail me if you’d like it.
posted by veggieboy at 4:37 AM on November 15, 2018 [1 favorite]

I lived in Buenos Aires from 2009 - 2014 (and briefly met veggieboy there back in 2007 on my first visit *waves*) and for at least the the time I was there, the public system was indeed truly free. I only ever used it once when I fractured my elbow and I simply had to show my passport (I never actually got residency which is another story and is probably no longer a sensible option). The service was basic however and I went private every time I needed something after that. I signed up on a monthly scheme with the Hospital Aleman which included dental, and again, was able to do this without any sort of official residence status. I honestly can't remember how much but it certainly wasn't more than USD50 a month.

Money transfers can more easily be done using sites like Azimo (which works for GBP) which allow you to send yourself money you can pick up from a bank (or a money transfer place) using your bank card - for much smaller fees. When I was there the USD version was called Xoom but I don't know if that is still operating. The UK also has a number of pre-paid accounts which allow fee-free withdrawals like Revolut - maybe the US has similar.

Self-employed status is (I think) called Monotributista, but I have no experience of it.

I've not been there for a while but the BAExpat forum was a good source of (read-only) information for the basics - I never actually posted on it.
posted by jontyjago at 6:44 AM on November 15, 2018 [2 favorites]

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