-Where were you born?
I was born in Fort Rucker, Alabama, where my parents were stationed after my father was drafted to serve during the Vietnam War.
-In which country and city are you living now?
We are currently living in Buenos Aires, Argentina
-Are you living alone or with your family?
We are a family of 4: husband, wife and two daughters in grade school.
-How long have you been living in Argentina?
-What is your age?
-When did you come up with the idea of living in Argentina?
In my 20s, I spent 4 years living overseas in Asia and Europe and the experience was life changing -- in a good way. After getting married and having kids, Tom and I always knew that we wanted to live overseas with the girls at some point. The tricky part is the timing. They need to be old enough to appreciate it and remember it, but young enough that they don't hate you forever for taking them away from their friends. The final clincher for us was the worsening economy. We sold our house in the summer of 2007 because we saw the writing on the wall, which then became a catalyst for selling everything else and moving to Argentina.
-Was it hard to get a visa or a work permit?
It's not too hard to get a rentista visa if you have some money, but we decided to just do the 90 day renewable tourist visa and leave/enter the country as needed. Because we were new to the region, we wanted to do a lot of traveling anyway. If we were going to stay here for 4 or 5 years, I would probably go the proper visa route. Rumor also has it the immigration is going to start getting stricter with expats living on their 90 day renewable in Argentina, so it's something to be aware of.
-Was it difficult for you to get medical insurance before you went there or when you first arrived?
Medical insurance is very easily obtainable in Argentina and it is very affordable.
-How do you make your living in Argentina? Do you have any type of income generated?
We are currently not working, but are presently in the process of developing several business ideas to generate $US or Euros with location-independent businesses. We are also working on longer term business ideas for wherever we settle next.
-Do you speak Spanish and do you think it's important to speak the local language?
I speak Spanish, but my husband and daughters did not before coming here. My kids agree that speaking some of the language before arriving would have made things easier for them, especially the older they are. If your kids are older than about 3rd or 4th grade, it's pretty impossible for them to start in local schools because the curriculum is advanced enough that they can't get away with a low level of Spanish proficiency. My husband also finds it difficult not speaking the language, but in general, Porteños are super friendly and helpful to those who speak less-than-perfect Castellano. If you want to start a business here, work here, or are going to be enrolling your kids in school here, it would be very very difficult without some functional Spanish.
-Do you miss home and family sometimes? Describe your favorite recreational activities there or those that are available.
Since I'm old enough to remember life before the Internet, I find it much less isolating to be overseas now than in the early 90s. With video skype and Fed Ex, it's like we live the next State over, not halfway across the world.
Buenos Aires is amazing, we are currently taking family horseback riding lessons in the center of the city, and the girls are also working with a tennis coach a couple of times a week at a local club where the #15 player in the world practices as well. The girls regularly attend birthday parties and sleep overs, and there is always a restaurant, musical event, gallery, or show to attend if you have the time.
-Do you have other plans for the future?
We know we will be in Baires until December 2009, then we shall see. We may do more traveling regionally, we may head to Asia, we may return to the US and start a business...it's all possible!
-What about housing, have you bought, or are you renting a home? How much do you pay for it?
We decided to do the furnished short-term rental, of which there are many options in Buenos Aires. That way, we spent no time searching for furniture, all of the bills are paid, and we have been able to live in different neighborhoods. The other benefit of short-term rentals is that you can come and go. We put our limited belongings in storage during the summer break this year and applied what we would have paid for housing toward two months of traveling in Uruguay, Chile, and Argentina!
Generally, for a 2 bedroom apartment you are going to pay from $1500 to $2500 and for a 3 bedroom apartment you will pay from $2000 to $4000 per month. Included is maid service once or twice a week, all bills paid, cable, Internet, furniture, dishes, all linens and towels are changed once a week... . These prices are for a home with a standard of living similar to the US.
-What is the cost of living in Argentina?
Housing is cheaper than New York or San Francisco, but more expensive than smaller cities in the US (like Portland, where we come from). Food is cheaper, by 1/2 to 1/3 -- that means restaurants and produce. Entertainment, events, and classes are less than the US by about 1/2 to 1/3 as well. Electronics are nearly double what you would pay in the US.
-What do you think about the locals?
Very friendly and helpful for such a big city. Very patient with non-native speakers of Spanish. Warm.
-What are the positive and negative aspects of living in Argentina?
We pretty much love everything about living here except for two things:
The first is the food. Argentinians are not adventurous food souls -- they like meat and potatoes with no spices, not even pepper! Very bland food. Vegetables and fruits are a complete afterhought here and the selection of produce is pretty substandard. I was not expecting that. On the other hand, they do meat, wine, gelato, and potatoes very well!
The other issue is the schedule. You read before you come here that everything is late -- meals, entertainment, etc. But when you have American kids who need more than 7 hours of sleep, you find you are always fighting the Argentinian propensity to do everything very late in the evening. We have to cook a lot because we can't eat out at good restaurants until 8 or 9 pm. Kid birthday parties last until 8 or 8:30 during the week. School gets out at 4:30 pm or 5:00 pm here, so if you want to do sporting activities, they run quite late as well. We are always struggling to get enough sleep for the girls.
-Do you have any tips for our readers about living in Argentina?
Bring some good pans and knives. Bring your own tampons for the ladies. Bring a lot of cash. If you have comfort junk food, bring some with you.
-Do you have any favorite Web sites or blogs about Argentina?