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Argentina offers weak currency to attract ‘digital nomads’

Buenos Aires has a unique offer for potential remote workers: bring your foreign currency and get more than your money would buy elsewhere, much more.

A city campaign to attract people who are paid in dollars, pounds and other currencies for extended stays announces that Argentina has “the most competitive exchange rate in the region” and that “we are a very affordable city! ”.

It’s part of a marketing message that includes a possible 12-month visa for remote workers, along with the benefits of Buenos Aires: warm weather, bucolic boulevards, good food, and relative safety compared to other Latin American cities.

According to today’s unofficial exchange rates, US $ 1 will give you more than 200 pesos, up from 20 pesos just three years ago, as a result of a recession, 50% inflation and a web of failed efforts to stabilize. the Argentine currency. That means a chorizo ​​steak at Don Julio, ranked the thirteenth best restaurant in the world, only costs 3,950 pesos, or about $ 18 at the unofficial exchange rate. A latte in a fancy café costs around 220 pesos, or US $ 1.

It may be cheaper to attract remote workers individually than to entire companies, and their stays are longer than those of tourists. Buenos Aires is one of many cities globally that is trying to encourage these so-called digital nomads to move, at least temporarily, and spend.

In the United States, places like Tulsa, Oklahoma, and Topeka, Kansas, have used a combination of cash incentives and the promise of a lower cost of living to attract more permanent newcomers; Small towns in Italy have responded to an organic migration of young people weary of the pandemic by modernizing infrastructure and funding technological innovation projects to keep them there.

Digital nomads

For remote workers like Matthew Bowles, who spoke last week at the city’s government conference on digital nomads, the plight of the peso offers clear advantages. Officially, US $ 1 is about 100 pesos. But Bowles went to a Western Union branch upon arriving in Buenos Aires for the conference and received 212 pesos to the dollar at one of the unofficial exchange rates, often referred to as the “blue dollar” by visitors.

“The cost of living for an American, for example, who makes dollars and receives the blue dollar, is incredibly advantageous,” said Bowles, a partner at real estate brokerage Maverick Investor Group, at the conference. With more purchasing power, “we will buy the most expensive bottle of Malbec because it costs half, right?”

Even at the national level, the government is encouraging visitors to take advantage of the devaluation of the peso. The central bank is allowing foreign travelers to create temporary bank accounts and sell dollars for pesos at the most lucrative parallel exchange rate.

In Buenos Aires, city officials are coordinating with national authorities to implement a 12-month visa for remote workers with foreign income who want to live in Argentina beyond the 90 days allowed by a standard tourist visa. They expect the visa, which would be the first of its kind in Latin America, to be ready by next year, and the government’s goal is to attract 22,000 nomads by 2023.

Workers with this visa would not have to pay local income taxes or be on the payroll of a company. In fact, the city expects many of the applicants to be self-employed youth, according to Francisco Resnicoff, undersecretary for International and Institutional Relations for the city government. Buenos Aires needs remote workers to help restart the city’s tourism industry, which accounts for 10% of its gross domestic product, Resnicoff says. Foreign tourists spent $ 1.8 billion in the city in 2019.

“We are in a different game than we played before and the competition for urban destinations to attract tourists is going to be very strong,” said Resnicoff. “The city that best understands what new habits, new demands, new interests new visitors have, will be the one that best fares.”


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