Tag Archives: budget

Dollars to Argentine Pesos through Xoom

16 Dec

We arrived to Buenos Aires somewhat clueless of the rapid inflation and high prices. I had always thought people were exaggerating about how quickly the prices of everyday products increase, but now, the reality of 20-30% inflation is real to us too.

I’m no expert on parallel currency markets, but because of the economic situation here in Argentina, there are two dollar-to-peso exchange markets: official and blue/informal. The difference between the official and blue rates is significant. At the time of this writing, the official rate is US $1.00 to AR $4.88 and the blue rate is US $1.00 to AR $6.53. Check out today’s rate here.

Thankfully, we found out about Xoom.com, an online money transfer services that allows you send money from your U.S. bank account to yourself (or someone else) in Buenos Aires for cash pick-up or bank deposit.

The advantage of Xoom to cash withdrawals from an ATM is that Xoom offers close to the informal exchange rate, while banks operate with the official rate.

So far the process has been fairly smooth. We follow some basic guidelines we’ve learned from others’ experiences posted at BAexpats.org. Namely:

  • Send money from a checking account NOT credit card, as credit cards will most likely categorize the expense as a cash advance.
  • Make sure to use recipient’s full legal name on ID, no nicknames, etc. (If you are sending to someone else, verify this information.)
  • Don’t send more than $2999.99 (we never reach that!) for a transaction or it could really slow down the process.
  • Send money at least one day in advance so there’s time for it to process through XOOM and MMT.
  • Take your Passport (no DNI needed) and just the transaction number (no need to print the full email).

Last time I went in to pick-up cash, the local business here in Buenos Aires that handles the transaction, called MORE Money Transfers (MMT), handed out some information that I found very helpful. So, I’m posting that here:


Dear Customer:

Under present Argentine Authority’s regulations — A.F.I.P., Anit-Money-Laundering Law Nr. 25.246 and Financial Information Unit (UIF) Resolution 66/2012 — in accordance with F.A.T.F (Financial Action Task Force) rules, MORE MONEY TRANSFERS SERVICE is compelled to request from all its clients (those ordering or receiving money remittances) the following data:

  • Full name
  • Passport or MERCOSUR ID
  • Marital Status
  • Address in Argentina
  • Telephone number (in Argentina)
  • E-mail
  • What links you to the sender?
  • Activity or purpose of your stay in Argentina
  • Purpose or destination of the money of this transaction
  • CUIT, CUIL or CDI (if applicable)
  • Source of funds involved in this transaction
  • If remittances amount is larger than AR $5,000, a sender’s identification number must be provided. Passport, ID Cards, Driver’s License and SSN are equally valid.
  • If remittance amount accumulates with previous transfers (on annual basis) a sum larger than AR $40,000, you must provide information about the origin of monies involved, such as: a sender’s bank statement, senders source of income (salary receipt, employment contract).

As much as I hate waiting in line to pick-up the cash now that Xoom has become more widely used, it’s always worth it. So whether you’re about to travel to BA, have family here, or are living in BA, checkout Xoom and save some cash.

Xoom stories on BAexpats.org:

*Oh, I am in no way affiliated with Xoom or MMT, nor did I get paid to write this. Just trying to spread the word.

Our New Apartment in Buenos Aires

12 Feb

We love our new Buenos Aires apartment. We have experiences here that make us feel as though we’ve stumbled upon a secret.

On a daily basis, we are stretching out on the couch, getting lost (in thought) on our patio, roaming from front to back through the spacious kitchen, looking awkwardly at the bidet, and resting in something called a bedroom.

You see, as much as we appreciated our first apartment in Buenos Aires (especially our landlord), our new apartment has elevated us to a new realm. We now have seating options! We now have outdoor space. We now have a shower with pressure (too much, in fact) and room to move. We now eat dinner anywhere but in bed. And we now enter and leave without having to go through someone else’s home.

These things seem so normal, but I’m coming to appreciate how significant they are. It took us an extra $350 per month to regain these luxuries. Maggie’s hard work in finding teaching jobs has made it all possible. For a bit of comfort and rest, the $350 is money well spent.

Check out our great studio apartment of luxuries.

We found the apartment on Craigslist after 2-3 days of incessant hunting. We rent directly from the landlord, who is awesome, and were able to talk with the previous tenant before signing the contract. We do have to pay in U.S. dollars, which is difficult until Maggie can get her work visa and DNI process started.


A Day at the Feria

6 Dec

Porteños love their farmer’s markets and festivals on the weekends. Recently, we traveled with some friends about forty minutes outside of the city to one called Feria de Mataderos. Good music, great food, and gaucho games entertained the public throughout the hot afternoon.

Take a look:

It’s been a while since we posted. Recently, many of our other adventures have involved cooking at home. More on that to come!

Hooks Make a Home: Our Buenos Aires Apartment

20 Nov
Our Buenos Aires apartment

Entrance to our apartment from the street.

Before we arrived in Buenos Aires, we had set up to stay in a small studio apartment for six weeks. After weeks of some investigative searching for another apartment, we’ve decided to stay right where are for at least another 6 months. So happens that our apartment costs about half (US $400) of what the lowest rate seems to be these days for temporary apartment rentals. And we’re stuck to looking at temporary rentals, because we don’t have the Argentina equivalent of good credit — we don’t have a “garantia.” I write about this so easily now, but we beat our heads against many walls trying to find a way to get an apartment at the lower “garantia” price.

Since we’re sticking around, we’ve gone into nesting mode. We had to make some adjustments to best use the little space we have. One of the best purchases we’ve made were these two packs of hooks that stick to the wall. We’ve popped up 30 of those suckers.

We’ve made a coat rack to prevent us from just throwing our sweaters on the bed.

Coat rack

Custom-made coat rack. 8 hooks worth.

View from the kitchen

The bedroom / living room / office / kitchen table.

The bedroom / living room / office

The bedroom / living room / office.

It also helped that we added a few more inside the wardrobe.

View from the "office"

View of the wardrobe closet and kitchen from the office.


An organized wardrobe. 7 hooks worth (3 not in view).

We love to cook, which is good, because for us to make it in Buenos Aires we need to. However, we’re used to a bit more counter and drawer space, so a few well-placed hooks have made all the difference. Now the drawers are tidy and the counter is free from clutter.

The kitchen

The kitchen.

The efficient kitchen

Our efficient kitchen. 8 hooks worth.

Kitchen counter space

Our kitchen work space.

With a bathroom this small…

The reading room.

A very personal reading room.


Shoulder room shower

A daily experience.

Maggie says the four hooks (2 for caddy, 2 for towels) in the bathroom were my best idea.

Counter-less bathroom

Thank you, Judy B., for the awesome handing travel kits!

We still have some nesting to do. Another budget saving tip is to ship the goods you need from the U.S. (many things there are cheaper and of better quality) to your unsuspecting friends or family who have booked the first trip to visit. Mom, Dad, Marcus, you’re the best! See you in December.