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Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Leaving Argentina

We knew that living in Argentina was not to last forever, and we knew the end was near for a solid six months. There are many things that you can do to prepare for a large international move, and I recommend doing as many of them as possible - because even in the most prepared state possible, the move is a chaotic blur. When you are moving, here are a list of things that you should do as far in advance of the move as possible:
  • Sell everything that you think you might want to sell. This includes anything that you can live without for 4 months (while the sea shipment arrives), anything you can sell for the same amount as buying a new one in the US and everything that you don't want to fit into your new life. That weird end table that you don't really like, sell it. The swing your child will grow out of in a few months, sell it. Argentina makes it very difficult to get anything into the country, so generally, things have a much better resale value there than they would at home. AND you don't have to add the risk of moving/breaking/damaging the item if you sell before you move.
  • Close out all of your accounts as soon as possible. Argentinean pesos hold NO value outside of the country (as of 2014, many countries including the US don't even accept them as currency) so you want to leave with zero pesos. This includes, gym, school, bank, any sort of service should be paid in cash ahead of time if possible. 
  • Sell your car. HUGE hassle.
  • Plan your luggage strategy. Navigate the complex luggage policy of whatever airline you're on and know that you'll need to pack for 3-4 months. Pack clothes (and larger clothes for the fast-growing little ones) but remember to pack towels, basic kitchen needs, sheets and other daily items that you don't want to re-buy. I learned the hard way that you need a can opener, corkscrew and cutting board (all items we own multiple of that I was hoping not to repurchase). Note: I should have sold all of these things because now we own duplicates anyways.
  • Have your "art" evaluated. The moving company coordinated this for us so I'm not sure exactly how to do it, but make sure that it happens FAR in advance of your move (at least 4-6 weeks before packing). They send an appraiser to look at any original art that you own. We are not big art collectors, but that fingerpainting that we gave Daddy for his birthday - yeah, that's art. The photograph that a friend gave me and I had framed, it's art. The $5.00 print we purchased at an outdoor weekend market, art. A representative comes out to take photos of your art and provides copies to the moving company to use while they pack. At the end of the day, everything that is considered art will have a print out photograph taped to the outside of the box. The idea is that customs officials will then be able to recognize if we are attempting to move national treasures out of the country - this all started after one of the national art museums had a large robbery - though it seems laborious and ineffective to me. 
Art evaluation: Check
  • Visit your favorite places one last time. This was especially hard, there are so many places that we loved, including trips that we would have loved to re-visit (SaltaMendozaBariloche) but there just wasn't the time. We were able to get back to these local places:
The Calesita Park:

The Four Seasons pool:

The Abasto Children's Museum:

Vicente Lopez Park:

Puerto Madero:

  • Schedule the good bye parties for a week or two before you go. The night before a move sounds like a great time to bid farewell to your friends... three weeks beforehand. During the actual move you are tired, spent, and constantly running behind schedule. You don't want to have to cancel a despedida last minute or fall asleep in the middle of one.

Remember to have a little bit of fun. These weeks/months will fly by and I have to remind myself to take time to sit and relax with the kids. This is the first time that we have moved with kids of our own, and both Jon and I wanted to keep it as positive an experience as possible, in line with how our parents made moves for us. As a kid a move consists of eating out, sleeping in cool hotel beds and adventure. As an adult, it is a stressful, expensive and exhausting experience - and it is important to us that our kids feel as little of that as possible. Things that helped:

Lay around a little bit. If every second of every day is dedicated to the move, you will drive yourself crazy.
Look at this pre-cut hair! Such a moptop!
 Let them play. We "decorated" boxes with stickers, crayons and built cool forts while the packers worked around us. The packers thought it was great fun.
Caution: Precious Cargo
Watching iPad in a box fort = best afternoon ever
And on the landing end, picking out appliances is boring, but playing in a real play kitchen is superfun. Notice that ALL of the soap dispensers are in the microwave and cabinets. The salesman making commission on our appliance purchases was more than happy to put this all away.

Don't get me wrong, the move is still a chaotic blur, but if you can get organized before leaving, you may have enough sanity left to have time for fun while the chaos goes on around you. I'll let you know how we fare at the end of it all, the chaos is still swirling for now. 


  1. I think it's always good advice that, regardless of what is going on in life, taking time to stop and have a little fun can do wonders for us all!

  2. Hi Dawn, I was so glad to see an update! Sounds like things are moving along. The kids are getting so big!!

    I hope Houston is treating you well.

  3. Hi, I'm curious to know if you had to pay lots of TAX when leaving the country for any items you shipped back.
    I've lived in BA for almost 8 years and will be moving back to Europe. I'd like to know if I should sell everything.