Change of standard of living?

  • It seems that most of the ‘regulars’ on this forum either earn in pesos, but with business significantly increased in 2020, or earn in foreign currency with resulting increased buying power in 2020.

    Have you found that your standard of living has increased during the past 6 months? If so, how? Have you started purchasing higher-priced grocery items? Better wine? Appliances or furniture? Because of the quarantine, of course you haven’t been dining out, but as the country opens back up, will you do so?

  • I earn in dollars @Blue, or thereabouts, and it's a different world. Under Macri, it was becoming expensive. It is worth noting I am from a small town (3,000) people 20 miles from Cardiff, Wales. My comparisons for affordable/expensive don't come from London. So, yeah, Argentina was starting to get expensive.

    Now, it is so affordable that sometimes I am embarrassed. My rent is just over $200. Ok, in November the contract renewal is up (I am moving anyway) so it would probably go up to around $400 again. However, you asked about this year and yeah, I have been paying around $200 for rent. Unheard of in just about any town/city in a western country, let along a capital city. Expenses in my building are around $75. Then medical - Galeno's equivalant of OSDE's 310 that I forget the name of - for me and my wife is just over 18,000 pesos, so another $150.

    Cable, mobile phone contract for two, gas, and power is another around another $80-90 bucks.

    So, all in for my "bills" each month I am paying just over 500 dollars. That's crazy really and if I extend the rent another $2-250 it still comes in under $800 per month. Even having a remote job that gets you the minimum wage in the UK or US would give a solid life here.

    Products and services are the same story. Availability is much more of a problem than affordability. Furniture is relatively cheap, appliances less so. Sellers of electronics seem to keep pace with the outside market.

    One of the more interesting things for me is I am earing less per month this year than I did last, but my economic life is much better.

    That's obviously one side of the coin from someone who earns from outside. I can't see how it is better for those who earn in pesos unless they just do more work.

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    During the quarantine, we have averaged 400 USD per month to support ourselves.

    We own, so this accounts for building expenses, utilities, groceries, and health insurance. There weren't many items to file under 'travel' and 'leisure' for months. The treats we had were maybe ordering Indian food or empanadas or buying Arabic food from one of the Armenian stores nearby. No massage, no beauty services, no eating out, no travels.

    This all makes it even harder to decide whether to leave Argentina or not, because the level of carefree spending we can afford here cannot be replicated anywhere else with the same standard of living. Of course, everyone has a different relationship with money: my parents spent all they earned and slept just fine. I can't. So when we consider where else we could live, we take into account how much we make, how much it would cost to live there, and how much we would be able to save... And saving in Argentina may simply mean to exchange money three days later.

    We didn't buy any electronics ourselves, although I have expressed the desire to buy a new fridge with a sleeker design. We still have the one we bought when we just arrived, which is a big white block and it looks cheap in our current home. However, we have also noticed that used goods are not as easy to sell as they used to, so it is not that big of a save if we can't sell well the old unit.

    We had ordered new kitchen cabinets and a new wardrobe in February, and received them three weeks ago. Of course, we were quoted in February, gave 50% deposit in February with the dollar at 90 and we paid the remaining 50% in September with the dollar at 130.

    We were able to sell one of the old wardrobe, a simple Easy piece, but we started at 5,500 and closed at 3,000. The other one, the nicer one, started at 7,000, it's now 5,000 and still no one is interested. Argentinians are short on money.

  • Semigoodlooking , you mentioned something that I meant to ask about. but forgot to do so: the embarrassment factor. Over the years, every time the dollar exchange has become worse for Argentines, we have felt wretched for our Argentime friends, even as they have had the generosity to genuinely applaud our good fortune in the situation.

    Most of you on this forum have Argentine family and/or close friends who are really suffering through the economic shutdown, job losses, and continuing inflation. Has your newfound economic advantage caused strains in these relationships? If so, how are you reacting?

  • Not all stromg currency earners have been able to keep those deals. Many people I know have lost part or all of their earnings.

    I lost a big chunk of mine but I have partially replaced that but am still down on USD/GBP earnings.

    The new rates via people like Western Union have partially made up for the loss of earnings.

  • Rice most of the family do not know and I don't have friends, is the honest answer. My wife has friends, but some of them are actually rich, some are actually poor, and most are in-betwee. They don't know how much I earn (which if I was in the UK would honestly just be normal anyway), and they don't know I get close to Mr. Blue for payments. That said, I know my wife's brother, sister, and parents well enough to know they would be nothing but ok with it. The only reason they don't know the finer details is it has never come up other than they know we are not struggling.

    It's not like we are flaunting it around anyway. However, it is looking increasingly likely that when we move into my wife's owned house next year, we will have a lot of spare money over each month. For example, we will probably be able to rennovate the whole house in a few months, something that is mostly unheard of for the average person here who has the same bathroom/kitchen for the last 20 years. My point is, next year it will probably become more obvious what our situation is compared to the average.

    Again, I am not talking as a rich man here. In my home country I would be just Ok.

  • Family ? We have a big extended family but we havent seen them for more than 200 days!

    living 60km north of the capital means we havent seen any of our close friends either.

  • Good points, though not seeing family doesn’t mean that communication is cut off. And people do tend to know if their relatives and friends earn in pesos or not. Since everyone is well aware of the enormous change in the dollar/blue dollar in recent months, it must be safe to assume they know that earners in foreign currencies aren’t suffering economically in the same way peso earners are?

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    For large purchases such as cars, you still have to prove where the money came from, so that's worth bearing in mind.

    Someone in the family is buying a new car, had dollars under the bed, changed them at the blue rate but still has to justify the expense to the authorities.

    But there are ways around it like putting half the value in the son's name etc etc etc.

    You have to be imaginative in this country.

  • We earn in pesos, although I have a few things on the side which pay in US$. However, we have to work twice as hard to keep up, bearing in mind inflation and devaluation.

    As Semigoodlooking says, it works both ways and if we were being remunerated in US$, I'm sure we'd be a lot better off.

    Yes, you definitely would be much better off if you earned in dollars, so in that sense you are experiencing the worst part of devaluation-inflation-shutdown. Does working twice as hard to keep up mean that you are approaching 80 work hours per week, to maintain the income formerly afforded in a more or less 40 hour week?

  • For sanity’s sake, I’d rather increase prices by 30% (and yes, I know, justify to customers) than work 30% more. Though having enough new business to be working 30% more would actually thrill me if previously I’d been working less than full time.

    Does anyone have predictions about where this will all go, and when?