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Getting a Local Argentine Phone Number (with Vonage)

vonage Getting a Local Argentine Phone Number (with Vonage)We’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.

 

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Renting in Argentina

buenos aires lease agreement 300x198 Renting in ArgentinaWe 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 at the end of the lease term provided no damages have occurred.

Garantia
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.

Expensas
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.

Utilities
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.

Commission
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.
  • ZonaProp.com .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.

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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.

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Using Skymiles To Get To Buenos Aires On Aerolineas Argentinas

I still have a few hundred thousand Delta Skymiles from a promotion that they ran in 2011 where you could effectively buy miles for 1.06 cents each. This has meant that low-mileage (60,000 mile) coach tickets from the US to Buenos Aires have been costing me U$S 636 and low-mileage (100,000 mile) business class tickets only U$S 1060. As a business class ticket is typically U$S 3700 or more, this is quite a deal.

aerolineas argentinas eze jfk skymiles 300x199 Using Skymiles To Get To Buenos Aires On Aerolineas ArgentinasThe problem, of course, is that Delta is notorious for not having much low-mileage availability. Things are so bad that Skymiles are often referred to as Skypesos. Still, by being very flexible and checking the Delta website frequently, I have been able to book three Delta business class flights, one Aeromexico business class flight and a Delta coach flight with these miles.

Sometimes though it can be impossible to find any low-level space, even with being flexible, as I recently found when looking for a trip back to the States in the April/May timeframe. Delta was showing nothing at all. Nada. Zilch.

Luckily, I remembered that Aerolineas Argentinas was also a Skyteam member (as of August 2012) and had recently added a new Buenos Aires (EZE) to New York (JFK) direct flight as of December 2013. Of course, the Delta website does not show any of this award space.

aerolineas argentinas award space 300x276 Using Skymiles To Get To Buenos Aires On Aerolineas Argentinas

Lots of Buenos Aires to New York award space

That meant it was time to head over to the Air France website and search with their award booking tool. (Just sign up as a free Flying Blue member and you’ll get access to the site.) It worked great! Aerolineas Argentinas had a lot of low level award business space available. Plus they’re flying new Airbus A330-200 planes with lie-flat seats in Club Condor.

As they had a lot of availability, my next step was to see what low-level mileage options Delta had from New York to Boston (my ultimate destination). For this I went back to the Delta site and looked at First Class award availability from JFK-BOS in that same time frame. Luckily, a couple of options came back and I then compared those with the Aerolineas Argentinas availability to find flights that worked. I wrote all of the flight numbers down and then called Delta to book this itinerary as it could not be booked online.

Luckily, the Delta rep that I got was pretty good and while he had never booked Aerolineas Argentinas before, when I fed him the flight segments with flight numbers (EZE to JFK, JFK to BOS, BOS to JFK, and JFK to EZE) he found the same availability and the trip priced out to 100,000 miles plus U$S 107.32. There’s a $25 phone booking fee that can not be avoided.

He was able to book my seats for the Delta flights from New York to Boston, but could not assign seats for Buenos Aires to New York. He gave me a Aerolineas Argentinas record locator and with that I was able to call them directly and get my seats assigned. All set!

Of course, Aerolineas is notorious for their poor performance and customer service, so we’ll have to see how it goes. I’ll be sure and post a review of the flight afterwards.

Some things to know if you want to use Skymiles to get to Buenos Aires on Aerolineas Argentinas:

  • I only touched lightly on how to look for these award tickets. You can also read the Rapid Travel Chai blog on how to book Aerolineas tickets with Skymiles for some extra details.
  • Delta just recently devalued their award chart. After June 1, 2014, low-level award flights from the US to Buenos Aires will cost 125,000 miles. icon sad Using Skymiles To Get To Buenos Aires On Aerolineas Argentinas
  • If you’re not in New York, you can also search Aerolineas availability to Miami as they also have a lot of low level space. The biggest issue is getting to JFK or MIA if you are not in those cities.
  • If you’re coming from the US to Buenos Aires, you may be able to add on a stopover in Buenos Aires and continue on to another city as well for the same number of miles. For example, New York -> Buenos Aires (4 day stopover) -> Mendoza -> Buenos Aires -> New York.

If you need to get Skymiles, there’s a few good ways:

  • The Chase Sapphire Preferred card is one of the best all-around travel cards. Points earned here can be transferred to numerous hotel and airline partners. They currently have a 40,000 point signup offer.
  • The Delta Amex cards (personal and business) offer 30,000 miles at signup.
  • American Express Membership rewards points can be transferred to Delta.
  • The Starwood Preferred Guest Amex cards offer 25,000 points at signup and can be transferred to airlines. For every 20,000 miles you transfer to Delta, you’ll get 25,000 Delta miles.

Anyone have any experience on Aerolineas Argentinas to the States?

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