Monday, June 20, 2016

Expat Report: Year 4 - The Cost Of Living

It's been four years since we moved to Argentina and it still amazes us how we've managed to survive. When we first got here, we were thrown for a loop and it's been an emotional roller coaster ride ever since.

We've been around for two Argentine presidents and the only constant thing we've seen is the country's financial crisis getting worse.

The Cost Of Living
Utility bills have skyrocketed, particularly since the current president took away the subsidiaries, which gave people here a bit of a breather from some otherwise costly utility bills.

Things have gotten pricier between 2013 and 2016 (sorry, I don't have the prices for 2012).

Should I even talk about how badly the value of the Argentine peso has gotten? Particularly in the last seven months?
  • On December 31st, 2012, the cost of one US Dollar in Argentine pesos was: 4.90
  • On December 31st, 2013, the cost of one US Dollar in Argentine pesos was: 6.51
  • On July 29th, 2014, the cost of one US dollar in Argentine pesos was: 8.19
  • On December 24th, 2015, the cost of one US Dollar in Argentine pesos was: 12.97
  • On June 19th, 2016, the cost of one US Dollar in Argentine pesos was: 13.89

Essentially, in today's current Argentine economy, the Argentine pesos is worth .07 cents in the U.S. 

On the plus side, people are able to send and receive money through Western Union now, which was practically unheard of when we first arrived here in 2012.

The new president seems to be invested in allowing importing and exporting again, which means we could be seeing food and other products from the States trickle down to Argentina. We can only hope.
These are some of the products that are already available. Bacon and Pepperidge Farm Goldfish snacks aren't easy to find. Snickers and Skittles are easier to get. The most notable addition we've seen in 2016 is coleslaw.
Yay! Bagels!
Bacon Gets A New Name
One thing I found odd was that they changed the name of bacon, which they called 'breakfast bacon' on the package to a lengthy Spanish name which is 'panceta salada cocida y ahumada'. I can only assume that this was done to get people here to buy the product. Ironically, I've only seen it sold in Walmart and they sell like hotcakes.

Employment opportunities have decreased all across the board. Take a look at the number of jobs that were available on on October 2015. In less than a year, the number of opportunities decreased.
October 2015

June 2016
Companies I've reached out to through LinkedIn or local temp agencies don't contact me, despite the fact that I'm more than qualified for the job. I've been looking for a legit 9 to 5 job for the last four years without any success. Freelancing is okay, I supposed, but it's sure as hell not a career. The pay sucks, and I get treated like garbage.

Obama's Visit
Obama was invited to visit Argentina this year and unfortunately, a lot of Argentinians weren't happy about it. Much to my sorrow, I saw anti-American posters like this one all over the city. They try to blame the U.S. for being involved during The Dirty War of the 70s, which saw the disappearance of over 30,000 people in South America, but that's just ridiculous!
Translation: Leave Obama! We're against the impunities of yesterday and today. No to the adjustment of Macri.
Seeing posters like this one up on walls in the downtown area hurts like hell, especially when you know that the hatred being spat out isn't warranted. 

Issues At Home
Being gay makes us feel even more isolated than it would if we were in the States. Back home there was practically an LGBT center in every city we lived in. Here there aren't any, at least not in Cordoba. Try joining an LGBT group online and it's usually for hookups and not actual community support. Case in point, the recent Orlando shootings at a gay club. Even being thousands of miles away, it still hurts to hear such terrible news, but there's really no one here to talk to that really gets it.

Case in point: A Doctor Who forum recently announced that an LGBT character would be introduced to an upcoming spin-off series, and the response from the locals was not necessarily a positive one. In fact, one person went as far as to say that being gay is such a popular thing these days that he's not surprised and that it's all part of the LGBT militia. Oh, and by the way, any time that Argentinians don't like something, they associate it with a militia. The level of ignorance is outstanding.
Translation: The LGBT thing is so popular that everyone is using it.

Comment 1:It seems like sexuality in a program like this one is irrelevant and would not help the storyline. It seems more like a desperate attempt to appear inclusive due to pressure from LGBT militia extremists.

Comment 2: How fragile is the wholeness and determination of an individual if they need to see a representation of themselves in order to know that other people like themselves exist?

Zach and I have begun feeling isolated. So much so that we barely leave our house anymore, except when we hang out with our Argentine friends, who are dear to us.

We've strongly considered moving back. In fact, we were certain, and had the financial means to go back home to the States by September of this year, but there were some complications that we hadn't foreseen. As devastating as the decision to remain stranded here was, we also knew we had to figure out how to make the next 30 or so years work without wanting to jump off a bridge.

Right now we're playing it by ear and trying to survive emotionally a day at a time. Fortunately, we're somewhat okay financially. I mean, it's not like we have to worry about rent, which is a huge expenditure here.

Keeping Busy
I'm working on going back to school in August for a one-year career program. I've also been working on republishing my novels. The original versions were okay, but since I've grown as a writer, I felt I needed to do some major polishing on the novels. The first novel will likely be reintroduced sometime in August or September and available on Amazon. But I'll keep everyone posted on my progress in the near future. The goal is to have at least 6 novels and one non-fiction book based on my experience as an expat published by the end of 2018 or early 2019.

Over the last four years people have asked me for advice on moving to Argentina. Different provinces provide different pros and cons. You also have to ask yourself what you're hoping to gain. Are you planning on retiring, looking for work (good luck!), etc.? Our goal was to go into  early semi-retirement, but things didn't go so well. You might have a better shot in Buenos Aires, in the CABA area. It's livelier, there are more job opportunities, and it's a lot more multi-cultural and fun. All I can recommend is that you dip your toes in the water before jumping in the pool.