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Is Ria Money Transfer Better Than Xoom For Sending Money To Argentina?

Ria Money TransferUPDATE (1/9/15): Ria has since added a transfer fee for sending from your bank account. Post updated with new rates and details.

We’ve been big fans of using Xoom to transfer money from the United States to Argentina at near the blue rate, but now it looks like competitor Ria Money Transfer may be giving Xoom a run for its money!

We’ve been hearing rumors that Ria pays a higher exchange rate, and looking at the numbers today it appears to be true. While Xoom is paying ARS $11.79, Ria ia paying ARS $12.54. Also, Xoom charges a higher transaction fee than Ria.

Taking a sample transaction of U$S 1000, with Xoom you’d pay $1030 with fees and get an effective rate of $11.45, while with Ria you’d pay $1010 and get an effective rate of $12.42. That’s an extra $750 pesos (U$S 56 at the blue rate).

While Ria works the same as Xoom (send money from a US account to be picked up in Argentina or deposited to an Argentine bank account), there are a couple of tricks to using Ria that you need to be aware of:

  1. You need to connect from the United States to use it (not just have a US account). If you’re in Argentina, you will need a VPN service that spoofs your IP address to make it look like you’re in the US.
  2. You cannot send money to yourself. You’ll need to send from a friend or family member or vice-versa and receive to a friend or family member.

If you’ve been relying on Xoom for getting close to the blue rate in Argentina, Ria may make sense for getting a better rate. If you use our link, you’ll also get a $10 Amazon gift card on your first transfer. (With Xoom, you’ll get a $25 Amazon gift card.)

Let us know how it goes.



Getting a Local Argentine Phone Number (with Vonage)

Vonage Argentina Phone NumberWe’re heading back to the US for a 3-month visit and during this time we need to be able to keep in touch with family and friends in Buenos Aires. Rather than the hassle of the old days where we had to use expensive international dialing and calling cards, now we simply get a local Argentine phone number from Vonage to take with us.

I’ve been a huge fan of Vonage for many years due to their excellent quality and reliability. I use it in Argentina and the call quality is crystal clear, plus I can forward calls to my mobile phone for a low rate when I’m out. (This has proven to be better than any iPhone apps due to the spotty 3G coverage here.)

Their “virtual phone number” feature allows you to get a local number in any of the 21 countries they support. So, for an additional $9.99/month, we’re able to get a local Argentine number that we can give to everyone while we’re away. Convenient and simple. We just take the Vonage router back to the US with us and plug it in there. Plus, we do not have to worry about whether family and friends have a smartphone with the right app – they simply call a local number.

While we’re using this local number for traveling, this could also be an option for those who need a local Argentine number and do not have a DNI. As our local phone bill is only U$S3/month, that’s the better option for us, so we’ll simply cancel this virtual number when we get back to Argentina.



Renting in Argentina

Long Term Leases in Buenos AiresWe just finished negotiating our renewal lease and I’m very happy with the results –  a 23.3% increase for the first year and an additional 24.3% increase for the second year.

With inflation running at between twenty-five and thirty percent that’s a pretty good deal! As we pay building expenses separately, we’ll just have to see how much those increase…

Having just gone through the lease renewal, I thought it would be a good time to explain some of the aspects of long-term rentals in Argentina.

Let me start by saying that most expats are looking for short-term Buenos Aires rental properties. They need something for a short period of time,  need furnishings, need utilities (impossible without a DNI), and do not have a piece of property to put up as a guarantee. They’ll end up paying significantly more for those options. When you’re here for the long term, you’re looking at signing a residential lease agreement.

So, what does a long-term lease in Argentina consist of? Here’s the basics:

2-Year Term
The standard residential lease agreement in Argentina is for two years. At the end of that two years, you’ll need to renegotiate the lease for another two years if the apartment is still available from the landlord.

Security Deposit
Security deposits work pretty much the same they do anywhere else. These are typically one month’s rent and returned 60-days after the end of the lease term provided no damages have occurred.

Argentina has very strong tenant protection laws. For a landlord to legally get someone out of their property it could take several years (seriously). During that time, they would be losing the rental income from that property. To help balance this out, they require a garantia (guarantee). A garantia is basically another piece of property that you own (or a family member owns) that you put down as collateral and guarantees that should they have to sue you, they will have something to claim if they win. Typically landlords in Buenos Aires prefer that this property is in Buenos Aires as well.

This is typically the single biggest obstacle for a foreigner to rent an apartment here as many do not have other property to use for the garantia. Some that are here with big companies get that company to put up the guarantee. Others get around it with paying 1 year+ of rent up front or making a much larger security deposit. There are a few options if you find an owner willing to work with you.

Rent Increases
As lease terms are two years and inflation is more than 25% a year here, you can expect a significant rent increase for the second year of the term. As I mentioned above, we negotiated a 24% increase for the second year which was pretty good. Some landlords try to add increases every 6 months though these are a bit less common. There’s pretty much no way around this.

Expenses are typically extra in a long term lease. These expenses typically include things like building maintenance and staff salaries, ABL (property tax) and water bills. Depending on the size of the building and number of staff, they can be quite expensive. Our expenses are about 65% of our total rent and rise about 25% per year – in ine with inflation.

You’ll also be responsible for utilities including electricity, gas, cable and Internet. To sign up for any of these services, you’ll need a DNI (the Argentine version of a social security number). Not having a DNI will make this impossible.

If you used a real estate agent to find your long-term rental, you’ll pay a commission of one to two months of rent.

Finding A Rental
There are a few different ways to find long-term rental listings:

  • The newspaper – classified listings are still king here. The Saturday paper has the biggest residential listings of the week.
  • .ar – the largest real estate listing site in Argentina
  • Solo Dueños – real estate listings by owner

That’s the basics of long term renting in Argentina. If you have any other questions or info to add, let me know in the comments below.


Slingbox 350 – Great deal today

Amazon has the Slingbox 350 on sale today for only $99. This is the lowest price it has ever been, and a good time to pick one up.

We’ve previously written about the Slingbox and if you have someone in the US with a cable subscription you can use, it’s a great way to get US television in Argentina to your computer or mobile device. Of course, you’ll also need a shipping address in the US to send it to.

We’ll be upgrading our older model for this price and selling the old one on eBay. Ours sees a lot of use during college football season.