Posts Tagged ‘Working’

Medio Vaga in Buenos Aires

Sunday, October 11th, 2009

I feel like I waste  a lot of time since I started living here.  I spend too much time on Facebook, emails, and hanging out with friends, when I should be working or looking for work.  Before I moved to Buenos Aires I was a classic type A personality.  I worked all the time.  I made every minute count.  I was always looking to be more efficient. Now I don’t care.

My Argentine friends think that I am “muy trabajadora.”  A hard worker.  I rent the rooms in my apartment, I teach English, I translate, and I write.  I took two contract jobs in IT, which was the career I had before I moved here.   It made me realize why I moved here.  They were too stressful and I had less free time.  I was always working.

When I started my search for an apartment to buy I devised a spreadsheet and a system to look at as many apartments as possible.  Real estate agents here are worthless.  They don’t really do much to help you.   I was on a mission.  I had a spreadsheet of all the places I visited.  I could sort it in a any number of ways.

Every weekend I would get the paper and reference all the apartments that had open houses on a copy of a street map.    I would arrange things so I could see 10 – 15 apartments in a day.  I had a separate sheet for comments.  Everything would be transferred to the spreadsheet.  My Argentine friends were in awe.  “You act like this is work!” they would say to me.

When I started to look for things to buy I did the same thing.  I made lists.  I used to be a great one for lists. I would go from store to store comparing prices.  Then I discovered that prices are basically the same everywhere in Buenos Aires. In the US fair competition is the ability to sell things at competitive prices.  Here that does not exist.  Stores sell things at more or less the same price regardless if it is Wal-Mart or a mom and pop.

Since I moved here in 2004 I have stopped making lists and I no longer wear a watch.   When I lived in the US I had a clock in every room.  Even the bathroom.  Now, somehow, I get where I need to go without the time obsession.  I remember what I need to do or buy without lists or spreadsheets.  I still have an agenda but only to keep the appointments I make, not to plan my life months in advance, like before.

I gave up much materially to move to Buenos Aires.  My friends still talk about the “things” that I had. I know that while I gave up many things, I gained a lot more by moving here.  I never saw myself as a laid back person, but compared to how I was, I certainly am now.  I have lost the need to plan every minute of my life.  I take things as they come.  If they don’t get done today, no big deal.  I can always do it tomorrow.  Or next week.

Deby Novitz moved to Buenos Aires in 2004 from California. She has a small bed and breakfast for tango dancers, she writes, does translations, teaches English, and of course dances tango. You can find more about her life in Buenos Aires on her blog  TangoSpam: La Vida Con Deby.

Working While Traveling

Wednesday, August 19th, 2009


I am lucky to be a telecommuter. I can work wherever I am, which is completely awesome. I moved to Buenos Aires, but decided to skip the winter and spend summer in California with my Mom. We drove up to visit my brother and drove back. And I’ve been working the whole time. There are some things I’ve learned about being a digital nomad, as it were:

  • Paper doesn’t need batteries. While traveling from place to place, it’s a good idea to have important phone numbers, confirmation numbers, etc. on paper. I love technology as much as the next person, but while you might feel clever by emailing yourself everything, iphones can go dead, you can forget power cords, and wifi connections can go down. A 3×5 card is super efficient.
  • Remember the plug adapters. Your computer will be rendered useless unless you can plug it in and charge it. So write a big note on your forehead.
  • Have a back-up plan for Internet access. Many hotels say they have wifi online, but don’t when you show up, especially in South America. Have a back-up plan. In Buenos Aires, this isn’t typically a problem, because there are plenty of cafes with wifi and locutorios where you can pay for access by the hour if you are really in a pinch.
  • Have web-accessible email, and email yourself copies of everything. If something goes wrong with your computer, you can salvage a lot of data if you have emailed it to yourself through Google mail, or some other such service. They haven’t lost tons of data yet, and I doubt their data is as vulnerable to emergencies as mine.
  • Be prepared for variables such as heat and noise. If you are used to working in a comfortable quiet environment, don’t take it for granted when you are going to work somewhere else. Bring layered clothing, earplugs, or at least earphones to put on some music.
  • Plan to rest. Don’t assume you will be able to get into a hotel after a long flight and work a full day. Schedule in time off to catch up on your sleep. You are going to be less productive on travel days, so plan for it.

Those are all the important tips I can think of. I would love to hear from others who work and travel as well. What works for you?

Julia Evans wrote this article for where she blogs about her life as an expat.  She also writes a personal blog Evans’ Gate about living as an American expat in Buenos Aires, where she lives with her husband.  Comments on both blogs welcome!

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