An Expat's Guide to Living in Buenos Aires
Argentina,  Buenos Aires,  Life Abroad

An Expat’s Survival Guide to Living in Buenos Aires, Argentina

Are you dreaming about living in Buenos Aires, Argentina’s vibrant capital city? But you are not sure where to start?

Then you have come to the right place!

Buenos Aires is one of the top destinations in South America for expats, digital nomads, and other wanders. The city combines rich Argentine culture with the cosmopolitan feeling of a big city.

When it comes to expat life in Buenos Aires, I have tried most. From living in illegally rented apartments, finding the best places to grocery shop, and getting my student visa and permanent residency in Argentina.

Initially, I arrived in Buenos Aires intending to stay only 6 months as part of an exchange semester. But I ended up staying for much longer. When I left Buenos Aires, I did it with two Master’s Degrees from two Argentine universities and several years of experience working in Buenos Aires.

I moved to Buenos Aires in 2016 and I ended up staying until the beginning of 2023. Truth be told, after almost seven years in Buenos Aires, I had also got enough of the unstable economic situation in Argentina. 

In this post, I want to give you a good and realistic insight into moving to and living in this crazy and charming capital city in South America as a long-term expat!

Living in Buenos Aires: An Expat’s Best Tips for Moving to Argentina

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What to Expect from Living in Buenos Aires?

Is it a good idea to move to Buenos Aires? Will living in Buenos Aires be for me?

There are many questions you might be asking yourself before moving abroad. Getting the expectation about what living in Buenos Aires is like is important for a successful experience.

At times, I loved living in Buenos Aires. And at others, I completely hated it. Especially, after I started to work in Buenos Aires, the hard realities of life in Buenos Aires hit me. 

However, I wouldn’t change the years in the city for a thing! Living in Buenos Aires taught me so many things that I’m sure I would not have learned otherwise.

Economic Expectations of Living in Buenos Aires as an Expat

The economic aspect of living in Buenos Aires can seem very complex and confusing. It definitely takes some getting used to.

If you are considering or planning to move to Buenos Aires long-term, you need to consider the economic aspect because it will become part of your everyday life. There is no way of escaping from it! 

And if you are not ready to give up the commodities of living in a country with a stable economic forecast, you should think twice about moving to Buenos Aires.

Inflation in Argentina

When talking about living in Buenos Aires, we have to talk about inflation in Argentina. In most Western Countries, inflation is something that doesn’t go above the average level of 2-3 percent change per year. In Argentina, it’s more common to experience these levels of price increase from from month to the next.

But how does inflation affect your everyday life?

Inflation in Argentina drives up the average cost of living in Buenos Aires each month. Each month the prices on everything from groceries to clothing increase. Consequently, each month your purchasing power goes down. This means that with the same amount of money, you will be able to buy fewer goods and products.

If you earn in foreign currency in Argentina, you might experience a more stable situation. But over time, inflation will also start to affect your purchasing power.

Currency Exchange Rates in Argentina

In Argentina, inflation and currency exchange rates are closely related. When the currency devaluates, the price of it goes up compared to other currencies. So, when the Argentine peso devaluates compared to other currencies, you get more pesos for the same amount of foreign currency. This means that the effect of inflation on your purchasing power is diminished. 

Normally, the U.S. Dollar is the preferred foreign currency in Argentina. However, any other stable foreign currency will do in Argentina.

With an income abroad, you can use Western Union to exchange your foreign income for Argentine pesos. And if you get an Argentine bank account, you can transfer directly into the bank account. If not, you can choose to pick up cash in one of the many Western Union offices in Buenos Aires. Read more about how to exchange money in Buenos Aires.

After a while, the inflation will balance out the devaluation of the Argentine peso, and the purchasing power of your foreign income will decrease again.

With an income in Argentine pesos, your purchasing power decreases with inflation and decreases with devaluation. With a devaluation of the pesos imported goods and products become more expensive in Argentina.

Language Expectations of Living in Buenos Aires as an Expat

Do They Speak English in Buenos Aires?

Many locals working in shops, supermarkets, and markets do not speak English fluently. So, learning some basic Spanish will improve your experience of living in Buenos Aires.

Younger people and people working in multinational jobs generally speak better levels of English. Many of them are also keen to practice their English.

Locals are generally friendly and understanding towards foreigners trying to communicate in Spanish.

Should You Learn Spanish Before Moving to Buenos Aires?

The Spanish accent and vocabulary used in Buenos Aires are very unique. Before moving to Buenos Aires, you should be aware of some of these differences.

In Spanish in Argentina, they use “vos” instead of “tú” (you) and pronounce “ll” and “y” as a sh-sound. This sets Argentine Spanish apart from most of their neighboring countries and, properly, any Spanish you learned in school.

In addition, you will also find numerous words in Argentine Spanish that differ from those used in other Spanish-speaking countries. The local slang in Argentina, known as Lunfardo, adds richness (and confusion) to living in Buenos Aires.

It can be challenging to master Argentine vocabulary and distinct Spanish dialects. But starting with basic Spanish is a great foundation. Using resources like Italki to learn Spanish before arrival can be helpful. 

How to Make Friends as an Expat in Buenos Aires

People in Buenos Aires, often referred to as porteños, are generally very social people. They like hanging out with their friends, chitchatting with their neighbors, and cooking asado (Argentine BBQ) with their family.

If you are open-minded and embrace the Argentine culture of showing up late, spontaneous meet-ups, asados, and learning some Spanish, you should be fine living in Buenos Aires.

In my experience, it is not difficult to integrate and build a circle of friendships in Buenos Aires. Especially, if you know and show interest in learning Spanish.

In Buenos Aires, there is also a large expat community where it is easy to make international friends. During my years in Buenos Aires, I used InterNations to make international connections and local acquaintances outside of work and university.  

To connect with fellow expats, consider joining one of the many expat-focused Facebook groups. Among the most active expat community on Facebook is Buenos Aires Expat Hub.

Living in Buenos Aires: An Expat's Best Tips for Moving to Argentina's Capital City

Cost of Living in Buenos Aires

How Much Money Do You Need to Live Comfortably in Buenos Aires?

Inflation constantly changes the average cost of living in Buenos Aires. And it can be difficult to determine what you need to live comfortably in the city.

The average cost of living also depends a lot on the lifestyle you want to live in Buenos Aires.

If you want to live in a more expensive area of the city and eat out every other day, you would need more than if you want to stay in and enjoy a home-cooked meal.

Everything between 600 USD to 2,000 USD per month should be enough to live a relatively comfortable life in Buenos Aires

The Measure for Basic Shopping Needs, Canasta Básica

One way to understand the cost of living in Buenos Aires is to look at what the locals consider a necessary amount to buy basic essential products.

The Argentine authorities estimate the average cost of a selection of the bare minimum of food and non-food products each month for one family. This estimate is called Canasta Básica or translated as “Basic Basket”. 

As inflation goes up, the prices in the Ganasto Basico are adjusted to reflect the new prices. There is also a lot of discussion in the Argentina media about the accuracy of the estimates for the Canasta Básica.

The Canasta Básica is a bare minimum for products and not a reflection of the average cost of living in Buenos Aires. However, it is still an interesting measure to help you understand the situation in Argentina

In November 2023, the total Canasta Básica (including food, transport, etc.) was $345,295.45 ARG (apr. USD) for 1 adult citizen.

Living in Buenos Aires: An Expat's Best Tips for Moving to Argentina's Capital City

Visa Requirements to Live Long-term in Buenos Aires

The most common ways for expats and digital nomads to stay long-term in Buenos Aires are:

  • Student Visa
  • Work Visa
  • Digital Nomad Visa
  • Rentier Visa (Rentista)
  • Permanent Residency for Family Members of an Argentine Citizen
  • Visa Overstays & Visa Runs

The first 5 options are legal visa forms. For these types, you need to present the following documentation together with the specific documents for each visa type:

  • A valid passport
  • An Argentine background check (antecedentes penales argentinos)
  • A background check from any country where you have been resident for more than one year over the last three years.
  • Address Certificate (Acreditación de Domicilio)

For the Digital Nomad Visa, it is unclear whether you get a local Argentina ID card. But for the other legal residencies, after you have completed the application stage and got approved by the Immigration Office, you will get a local Argentine ID number and an ID card. The ID card is called Documento Nacional de Identidad or simply DNI.

The visa overstay and visa runs are more legally grey areas. However, in Argentina, the law enforcement on immigration law and illegal immigrants is very loose. Many people stay for a long time in irregular situations without any issues.

Student Visa

The student visa is one of the easiest long-term visas in Argentina. It does require that you are enrolled in a long-term education in Argentina. Whether that education is High School or University.

Once you are enrolled in an educational program, you will need to bring the enrollment receipt and your documents to the Immigration Office in Buenos Aires.

The student visa is granted for one year at a time. Even if you are attending a two-year program, you will still only be granted one year.

After the first year, you need to present a renewal with documentation from your school. The documentation needs to prove that you have attended and passed your classes.

With a student visa, you are also able to legally work in Argentina.

Read my full guide on how to get and extend a student visa in Argentina. Always check the Immigration Office for the full requirements for the student visa.

Work Visa

To obtain a work visa in Argentina, you need to have a local company willing to sponsor your visa.

The sponsoring company must be registered at the immigration office as an entity authorized to provide sponsor work visas.

Argentine companies are not automatically able to legally hire foreigners. Some companies simply don’t want to spend time on the hassle of dealing with the Argentine immigration authorities, and will therefore not be able to hire you. 

I have worked for small local start-up companies that were able to sponsor work visas for some expat colleagues. So, it’s not so much the company’s size that determines whether or not they are registered to provide sponsorships for work visas.

It can be very challenging to identify the right company to sponsor your work visa. But it is indeed possible. 

Check out the Immigration Office for the full requirements for the work visa.

Digital Nomad Visa

The Digital Nomad Visa is a new short-term visa for foreigners who wish to work remotely from Argentina. The visa is valid for a total of 180 days with the possibility of an extension.

I don’t know anybody who has tried applying for the Digital Nomad Visa. So, if you are planning to use the Digital Nomad Visa, you might want to query Facebook groups or expat forums for updated information.

The Argentine Government has also created a program aiming to promote and support Digital Nomads in Buenos Aires.

Through an online application, you need to present the following documentation:

  • Personal information (name, surname, passport number, occupational activity, etc.)
  • A Curriculum Vitae (CV) summarizing the activities you are going to perform while in Argentina and any past experiences.
  • Documentation regarding the work you are performing (contract with a company, receipts for past work for a company, or other ways for documenting your source of income).
  • A photo of yourself

Check out the Immigration Office for the full requirements for the Digital Nomad Visa.

Rentista Visa

The rentier visa, or residencia temporaria como rentista in Spanish, is for foreigners who can show enough assets to support their stay in Argentina.

The assets can either be through savings or from benefits coming from real estate rentals or shares from companies abroad.

You need to present documentation for your assets and their origin to apply for the rentista visa.

The Rentista visa is given for one year with the possibility of an extension. Check out the Immigration Office for the full requirements for the rentista visa.

Permanent Residency for Family Members of an Argentine Citizen

Spouses, parents, or children under eighteen years old are considered direct family in Argentina. If you are the direct family of an Argentine citizen or a permanent resident in Argentina, you can apply for permanent residency without having to go through the first years of temporary residency.

The following documentation is required together with the standard personal documentation (mentioned above):

  • Legalized birth or marriage certificate (partida de nacimiento o matrimonio)

Check out the Immigration Office for the full requirements for permanent residency for family members.

Visa Overstays & Visa Runs

Expats and digital nomads often overstay their tourist visas or do visa runs to extend their stay in Buenos Aires.

Overstaying involves staying past the visa expiration and paying a penalty upon leaving. Check out the official description on the Immigration Office’s website.

With visa runs, you leave and re-enter the country every three months to get the 90-day visa-on-arrival renewed. Many expats take day or weekend trips to Uruguay, Brazil, Chile, or Paraguay to take advantage of the visa-run method.

Both of these methods prevent legal registration in Argentina. If you don’t obtain the DNI (the Argentine ID number), you are not able to open a bank account or access certain public services such as healthcare.

Recent rumors suggest increased careful examination by immigration officers when they suspect that foreigners are doing visa runs. 

Permanent & Temporary Residencies

A permanent resident permit in Argentina can be granted after two to three years depending on your nationality.

For MERCOSUR nationals, you can get permanent residency in Argentina after two years consecutive with a temporary residency.

For nationals from countries outside MERCOSUR (all European countries, the U.S., Canada, etc.), you can apply for permanent residency in Argentina after three years of temporary residency.


How to Find an Apartment to Live Long-term in Buenos Aires

Rental Agreements & Contracts in Buenos Aires

To rent an apartment in Buenos Aires is one of the first things you need to figure out when moving to Buenos Aires

In Buenos Aires, there are two types of legal rental contracts:

  • Short-term temporary rental contracts
  • Long-term 3-year rental contracts 

It can be a bit of a jungle to find proper housing in Buenos Aires, and many scams are trying to fool unknowing foreigners.

In Buenos Aires, the rental prices for legal contracts can only be adjusted for inflation every six months. There is local legislation restricting landlords from more frequent rental price increases. However, it does mean that, at least, every six months, you should expect the price of your apartment to increase.

Many foreigners will experience that they can’t get their hands on local legal rental contracts. Mostly, foreigners will need to rent on a short-term basis, where you might be subject to more frequent increases in rental prices.

Short-term Temporary Rental in Buenos Aires

Short-term rental temporary rental contracts in Buenos Aires are any contract that lasts three months or less. In Argentina, these contracts are called alquiler temporal in Spanish.

On temporary rentals, the monthly rental prices tend to be higher than on the standard long-term rental contracts. However, the benefit for foreigners is that short-term contracts have fewer requirements. Typically, these rentals offer fully or partly furnished apartments.

The standard requirements for temporary rentals include:

  • one month’s rent
  • a deposit (refundable upon moving out)
  • a photocopy of your passport (or Argentine ID card)
  • and real estate office fees if applicable.

The owner may also request proof of ongoing studies or any income. If you wish to stay longer than three months in a short-term rental, in most cases, you can discuss an extension with your landlord or the real estate office. 

Read more about short-term temporary rentals in Buenos Aires.

Long-term Rentals in Buenos Aires

Long-term rental contracts in Buenos Aires are the prevalent type of rental in Buenos Aires among locals.

In Argentina, these contracts are called contrato de alquiler de 3 años in Spanish. They are more affordable 3-year rental contracts with some additional requirements.

The standard requirements for long-term rental contracts include:

  • one month’s rent
  • a refundable deposit equivalent to one month’s rent
  • real estate office fees (honorarios de inmobiliaria) if rented through an office
  • proof of income,
  • a property guarantee (garantia de propiedad) or surety insurance (seguro de caución).

The challenging aspect for expats in Buenos Aires often revolves around providing a accepted proof of income and a property guarantee or surety insurance.

Some real estate offices and landlords can be very picky about what type of proof of income they accept. Most will only accept local Argentine payslips, and not proof of income from abroad.

In Buenos Aires, the property guarantee is typically to put a family member’s or a close relative’s property within the city of Buenos Aires as a guarantee, in case of non-compliance with the contract. 

If you lack a property guarantee, many landlords and real estate offices also accept surety insurance (seguro de caución.) This insurance, offered by specific government-regulated companies, assures the landlord that, in the event of non-compliance, the insurance will cover the losses. Surety insurance typically costs one to two months of rent. 

Read more about long-term rentals in Buenos Aires.

Where to Look for Long-term Apartment in Buenos Aires

Some of the most popular websites to look for a long-term apartment are:

  • ZonaProps
  • ArgenProps
  • Inmuebles Clarin
  • Mercado Libre
  • Local Facebook groups for dueño directo – Many people are offering apartment rentals through Facebook groups. Look for the groups and posting stating dueño directo (directly with the owner). These are rental offers directly with the owner and you avoid paying the many real estate fees.
  • Airbnb – It is a great option to get a short-term apartment without having to deal with the local rental requirements. Sometimes, the owners are willing to rent their Airbnb apartments long-term for a better rental price.

When looking for an apartment in Buenos Aires, you need to be careful around scams and illegal rentals. Read my full guide to long-term rental in Buenos Aires.

Where to Live in Buenos Aires?

Finding the best neighborhood for you in Buenos Aires also depends a lot on your situation and what you are looking for in your new home.

Are you looking to be close to bars and nightlife? Or are you moving to Buenos Aires with your family and kids?

The Best Neighborhoods in Buenos Aires for Expats

These are some of the best and most popular neighborhoods for Expats in Buenos Aires:

  • Palermo
  • Recoleta
  • Villa Crespo
  • Almagro
  • Belgrano
  • Villa Urquiza & Nuñez

Let’s take a look at them one by one!

Palermo

Palermo is the absolute most popular neighborhood in Buenos Aires among expats and digital nomads. It is the largest neighborhood in Buenos Aires and divides into several sub-neighborhoods:

  • Palermo Soho
  • Palermo Viejo
  • Palermo Botanico
  • Palermo Hollywood
  • Palermo Chico

The division of where one Palermo stops and the next starts is not very clear. Generally speaking, Palermo Soho and Palermo Hollywood are the hip part of Palermo with tall modern-looking buildings and chic coffee shops on every other corner.

While Palermo Viejo as the name indicates, Old Palermo, is the more historical part of Palermo. And Palermo Botanico is the part of Palermo located around Buenos Aires’ Botanic Garden.

Villa Crespo

Villa Crespo is located in the Northeastern corner of Palermo. The area has started to receive some of the hip vibes from Palermo, while still maintaining its more traditional and local residential spirit.

Villa Crespo is a perfect choice if you want to be close to most things in Buenos Aires, but want to avoid the noise and traffic of Palermo.

Almagro

Almagro is located South of Palermo and offers a more local spirit to it. The area is an old working-class neighborhood and in certain places, it has a more bohemian feel to it than Palermo and Villa Crespo.

Almagro is also well-known for its tango-inspired area with shops for tango equipment and tango dance halls, called milongas.

I lived for almost a year in Almagro and enjoyed the more local feel. Even though, at night, you sometimes have to watch out where it is safe to walk and where it is not.

Recoleta

Recoleta is one of the oldest neighborhoods in Buenos Aires and is located close to downtown Buenos Aires.

There are some very beautiful old buildings in Recoleta, and it is definitely a benefit that it is close to most main attractions in Buenos Aires. However, I would personally opt for a more local neighborhood.

Belgrano

Belgrano is a neighborhood located in the Northern part of Buenos Aires. It is also mostly a residential area with certain commercial hotspots around Avenida Cabildo.

Belgrano bordes with Villa Urquiza and Nuñez. The area offers a good option for some old-fashioned high-end apartment buildings and gorgeous tree-covered streets.

I studied at the Universidad de Belgrano, which, as the name indicates is located in Belgrano, so I have spent a lot of time in this area. I always enjoyed walking the beautiful streets of Belgrano.

Villa Urquiza & Nuñez

Villa Urquiza and Nuñez are great if you are moving to Buenos Aires with kids. These neighborhoods are more quiet residential areas. They offer plenty of green spaces and parks to enjoy in the afternoons or on weekends.

In Villa Urquiza and Nuñez, you are also in better luck if you are looking to rent a house instead of an apartment.

Both neighborhoods are located on the northern outskirts of Buenos Aires, bordering the highway General Paz. General Paz separates the autonomous city of Buenos Aires from the province of Buenos Aires.

Living in Buenos Aires: An Expat's Best Tips for Moving to Argentina's Capital City

Healthcare and Health Insurance in Buenos Aires

Public Healthcare in Buenos Aires

Health Insurance in Buenos Aires is a tricky part of moving to Argentina.

Argentina offers free public healthcare to all its citizens, and there is very limited control over who can be attended at the public hospital. This has sparked an increase in medical tourism to Buenos Aires from neighboring countries.

In Buenos Aires, you can often find that public hospitals are crowded with long waiting lists. Most expats and locals working legally in a local company, also get private health insurance.

Private Health Insurance in Buenos Aires

Most locals working on legal contracts in Buenos Aires get health insurance through their employers.

Some health insurance providers in Argentina, called obra sociales, are closely related to trade unions. Your position will determine what Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) you belong to, and in many cases, this determines the obra social you get assigned.

My first position in Buenos Aires was primarily a commercial position. I was hired under a Collective Bargaining Agreement from the primary commercial trade union. As a consequence, the obra social I was assigned was the one belonging to the commercial trade union, called OSECAC (Obra Social de Empleados de Comercio).

Most local companies also offer to upgrade your health insurance to private health insurance. Private health insurance tend to provide better service and less waiting time to get medical appointments.

Even though you don’t work for a local Argentine company, you can still sign up for private health insurance. These types of private health insurance are called prepaga (pre-paid) in Argentina. You can sign up directly on their websites or by calling them.

Which Private Health Insurance to Choose?

There are several options when it comes to health insurance to choose from. Some of the most popular private health Insurance in Buenos Aires are:

Through my last employment in Buenos Aires, I had Galeno. It was a decent service and some of the doctors were very good and professional. Whereas others, not so much.


Getting Around in Buenos Aires

Public Transportation

Buenos Aires has an efficient public transport system, including the subway, buses, and trains. The SUBE card is essential for all public transit and can be purchased at convenience stores. The subway, known as el Subte, connects the city center with major neighborhoods.

The buses cover most of Buenos Aires. When using the buses, keep in mind that the queuing culture at the bus stops is very strong and you should always ask who is the last person. To stop the bus you need to signal to the driver by raising your hand.

The local trains connect the central areas of Buenos Aires with the suburbs. The trains can also be used for day trips to locations like the Tigre Delta or La Plata.

Taxis & Car-Sharing Services

Uber and Cabify are popular ride-sharing options in Buenos Aires. They provide a convenient and cheap alternative to traveling in the city. Download the app, and you can easily order a car throughout the city.

There might be issues with foreign cards in the Uber or Cabify apps. A general rule of thumb in Buenos Aires is always to have some cash on hand since it is a lot more cash-based economy than other countries.

Taxis are also extensively available throughout the city. Simply flag one down on the street and tell the. driver your destination. Many taxi drivers may only speak Spanish and prefer cash payments.

Living in Buenos Aires: An Expat's Best Tips for Moving to Argentina's Capital City

Grocery Shopping in Buenos Aires: The Best Places to Go

Grocery shopping in supermarkets in Buenos Aires can be quite a disappointment with a limited selection of products and questionable quality. 

To get a good experience out of shopping in Buenos Aires, you need to look for good quality products and experiment with the products available in your local neighborhood stores.

Shop Like A Local In Buenos Aires

Here is an overview of some of the local neighborhood stores and markets you should keep in mind for grocery shopping in Buenos Aires:

Feria de la Ciudad

A local farmers’ market with fresh vegetables, eggs, chicken, meat, etc. Normally, they also offer very good prices on their products.

Feria de la Ciudad is by far my favorite place to shop for fresh vegetables. I used to go every single week to buy my vegetables at my local market.

These markets pop up around the city on specific days and times. So, you need a little organization and planning to make sure you remember when and where the Ferias are happening. Check the schedule and map on the Buenos Aires City Government’s website.

Carnicería (Butcher shops)

Each neighborhood in Buenos Aires has its own butcher shop, or carnicería in Spanish. The quality of the meat in these shops can vary a lot.

The main butchershop chain in Buenos Aires is Res. They have stores throughout the city.

If you are in Palermo, I recommend you stop by and try the meat from Estancia Don Ramon (Jerónimo Salguero 1836)

Verdulerías (Greengrocers)

If you missed the local farmers’ market, Feria de la Cuidad, then you can also head to your local verdulería (greengrocer) for fresh vegetables and fruits.

The quality of the products can vary a lot from one greengrocer to another. Some places aren’t too clean and the products seem old and almost rotten.

Explore your neighborhood until you discover a place that fits you.

Fiambrerías (charcuterie shops)

Fiambrerías are local charcuterie shops with an impressive amount and variety of cold meats and cheese.

In most places, you ask the shop owner for the amount (in grams) that you would like of a specific product and they cut it for you right on the spot. 

Vacalín (Cheese and Dairy Shop)

For cheese and dairy lovers, you should try the cheese, ice cream, and dulce de leche from the local Argentine brand, Vacalín.

You can also find Vacalín stores around Buenos Aires (there is one near the Botanic Garden) where they only sell Vacalín products. 

Casas de Pasta (fresh pasta shops)

For the best quality fresh pasta, look for the neighborhood casa de pasta.

These small shops offer fresh and mostly homemade pasta in the best Italian way.

Local Supermarket Chains

There are a couple of bigger supermarket chains in Buenos Aires such as Día, Carrefour, Coto, and Jumbo. We used to primarily shop in Coto and Jumbo.

You can find some pretty good discounts in Coto and some days they have additional discounts if you pay with either a local debit or credit card.

Jumbo tends to be more expensive but they have a larger selection of imported goods and speciality products.

Chino Supermarkets

Chino supermarkets are small local shops that are a mix between a supermarket and a convenience store. They have a limited selection of products and brands.

The Chino supermarkets are open until late in the evening and on public holidays when most other stores are closed.


How to Open a Bank Account in Buenos Aires

To open a bank account in Buenos Aires, most local banks require an Argentine ID card, DNI (Documento Nacional de Identidad).

If you have a DNI, you can go to the bank closest to your apartment and ask for a bank account. For most of the time, I lived in Buenos Aires I had Banco Galicia and was very happy with them. Before Banco Galicia, I had Banco Santander Río and wasn’t too happy with them.

When opening a bank account in Argentina, it is very common to get both an account in Argentine pesos and one in USD

The benefit of having a bank account in Argentina is that you can withdraw pesos from local ATMs without having to pay the crazy fees put on international cards.

Another benefit is that local transfers inside Argentina and paying your bills in Buenos Aires will be a lot easier.

Special Bank Account for Foreigners in Buenos Aires

The Argentine government has started to promote a special bank account for foreigners, called cuenta para migrantes in Spanish.

With this new special bank account, you should be able to open a bank account in Argentine pesos only with the preliminary resident visa (precaria). However, it is unclear which banks are included in the initiative. You can read more about the bank account for foreigners here (link in Spanish).

Study Buenos Aires, a local Buenos Aires government agency, also mentions that it should also be possible for foreigners to open a local bank account in two specific branches of Banco Ciudad. The only pre-condition to get this account is registering with the local tax authority, AFIP, and getting a tax number Identification Code (CDI). Read more about the bank account for foreigners here.

I haven’t tried any of these options of bank accounts for foreigners, so it might or might not work.


Pets in Buenos Aires

Porteños love their pets! You will see many dogs on the streets and cats in the windows. So, if you are planning on moving to Buenos Aires with your pet, you are going to be among fellow animal lovers.

Many porteños also hire dog walkers for their dogs. During the morning and afternoons, you can see dog walkers with a dozen dogs wandering around the streets of Buenos Aires. 

Despite the locals’ affection for dogs, the city itself is not very dog-friendly. Many restaurants and shops do not allow dogs indoors.

Public transportation in Buenos Aires has strict rules regarding dogs and cats. On the subway, they are only allowed at specific times. And on local buses, they are completely prohibited. Read my complete guide to dog-friendly Buenos Aires for more tips on living with a dog in Buenos Aires.

For traveling to Buenos Aires with your pet, you need to make sure that you get the correct paperwork and vaccines in order before traveling. 

Adopting a Pet in Buenos Aires

There are many different options if you are looking to adopt a pet in Buenos Aires. Buenos Aires’ local city government organizes adoption events for citizens to be matched up with homeless cats and dogs.

Apart from the official events, several civic rescue organizations in Buenos Aires provide connections between citizens and homeless pets.


Working in Buenos Aires

Jobs & Work Requirements in Buenos Aires

To work legally in Argentina, you need to have a valid residency or a company willing to sponsor a work visa for you.

When you work legally for a local company in Argentina, it is often referred to as trabajo en blanco in Spanish. Translated it becomes “working in white”. Whereas, if you work illegally, it is called trabajo en negro, or translated as “working in black”.

In Buenos Aires, a significant portion of the labor market operates informally. Informal jobs are widely used throughout all sectors of the labor market. Companies often resort to this informal structure to sidestep the high costs associated with employment in Argentina.

Informal employment arrangement deprives workers of essential benefits such as the 13th month salary (aguinaldo), health care insurance, and guaranteed vacation days, among other rights.

Before accepting a job en negro, you should wait for the benefits and risks of such employment.

Some companies might also be able to offer you a hybrid employment model. Here some part of your salary is paid en blanco (aka in Argentine pesos) to, for example, assist you with visa sponsorship, and the rest is paid en negro, preferably in a foreign currency. These kinds of arrangements are more common than you might think!

How to Find a Job in Buenos Aires

Local and international companies in Buenos Aires use extensively LinkedIn to announce job openings.

Over the years of living in Buenos Aires, LinkedIn was my primary source for job hunting. So, I recommend actively monitoring LinkedIn if you are looking for a job in Buenos Aires

Many companies in Buenos Aires also actively leverage the social connections of their current employees to recruit new hires. Many medium to large companies have referral programs for employees to recommend friends for open positions.

So, don’t hesitate to let your friends know you’re on the job hunt! One of them might be able to refer you to their company. This could be the opportunity you are looking for to secure a job in Buenos Aires.

Salaries in Buenos Aires

Salaries in Buenos Aires don’t break the bank. Most local jobs in Buenos Aires come with a modest paycheck and are paid out in Argentine pesos.

Naturally, the compensation you will receive varies depending on the type of position and the number of years of professional experience you have. However, when you compare the Argentine salaries against those in Europe and the US, salaries in Argentina still fall on the very low side.

In 2022, the average salary in Argentina was just 630 USD.

The devaluation of the Argentine peso and the inflation mean that a paycheck in Argentine pesos loses value and purchasing power in Argentina and abroad

Many expats and digital nomads opt for working freelance for international companies charging in foreign stable currencies such as USD or Euro, while living in Buenos Aires.

Read my complete guide to working in Buenos Aires!

Aguinaldo

In Argentina, employees are entitled to a 13th-month salary bonus called aguinaldo. This bonus is paid twice a year, in June and December.

The amount is equal to 50% of the highest monthly salary from the past six months. It’s important to note that employers are legally obligated to pay aguinaldo to all employees working legally in their company.

If you work in a non-legal (en negro) position, your employer might or might not pay this bonus to you.


Studying in Buenos Aires

What to Expect from Studying in Buenos Aires?

When studying in Buenos Aires, you should expect all classes to be in Spanish. You should keep in mind that whole degrees in English are uncommon in Argentina.

At universities in Buenos Aires, all classes and course materials are primarily in Spanish. Some university teachers might show flexibility if you struggle with Spanish, and they may allow you to write your assignments in English.

Enrollment in a university program in Argentina assumes a certain proficiency in Spanish. Some universities may even require a Spanish proficiency test as part of the admission process.

You should also expect that the academic levels vary a lot between universities in Buenos Aires. Some universities may have academic standards lower than what you’re accustomed to, while others may offer a comparable level. 

If you are struggling with your Spanish or don’t feel too comfortable speaking Spanish, it might be an idea to choose a less demanding university. 

How to Study an Exchange Semester in Buenos Aires

Many people come to Buenos Aires to study for an exchange semester as part of their studies in their home country.

The benefits of studying an exchange semester in Buenos Aires are that your home university and the host university in Buenos Aires will help you with a lot of the necessary paperwork.

Normally, you continue paying tuition fees to your home university and don’t have to pay anything to the university in Buenos Aires, except materials and books for your courses.

You can ask at your university which universities in Buenos Aires they have exchange agreements and what that requirements are. Some universities in Buenos Aires require proof of a certain level of Spanish.

How to Study a University Degree in Buenos Aires

To study a whole university degree in Buenos Aires means that you enroll directly at a university in Buenos Aires.

You will pay tuition fees on the same terms as Argentine students, meet the same requirements as Argentine students, and follow the courses for the full duration of the degree.

Many universities in Buenos Aires might require some sort of proof of your Spanish skills. Either through past education in Spanish or a certification of your level.

In Buenos Aires, there is a huge difference between the requirements for public and private universities. Private universities tend to have easier enrollment criteria and less paperwork compared to public universities.

Read my complete guide to study a university degree in Buenos Aires.


An Expat’s Personal Recommendations for Living in Buenos Aires

Over the years in Buenos Aires, I have collected a list of preferred places to go for all kinds of different things. I have gathered them

The Best Pain Release Treatments in Buenos Aires

Are you struggling with back pain, keen pain, or some other pain that could use a good pain-release treatment? Here are my favorite pain releases and

  • Adios Dolor – Dr. Luciano Juri is a local Argentine traumatologist. He offers all kinds of pain-release treatments. He takes his time to get to know you and assess what is the best treatment for your situation. The consultation is located centrally in Palermo on Avenida Santa 1955. I had a very good experience with Dr. Juri and can’t recommend him enough!
  • KYEB by Martin Lasiar – Martin Lasiar is a local Argentine kinesiologist and former professional dancer with consultation in Almagro. Martin is an amazing professional who also speaks English. He offers personalized pain-release treatments and online courses.
  • MT Sport – A small local kinesiologist and sports center located in the neighborhood of Once in Buenos Aires. The center doesn’t look like much but the treatment and service I receive from Lic. Rosi was outstanding. MT Sport also has agreements with most of the popular private health insurance in Buenos Aires, so you might get it covered by your health insurance.

Where to Buy Eyewear in Buenos Aires?

The best place to get affordable eyewear in Buenos Aires is at Galería del Óptico on Avenida Corrientes 1246 in central Buenos Aires.

Galería del Óptico is a small shopping arcade with opticians and eyewear shops. Here you can find eyewear with lower prices than many of the local optician shops around the city sell them. Some of the shops in the arcade can even do new eyewear without a prescription from a local doctor if only you bring your old glasses with you.

Hair Dressers for Expats in Buenos Aires

It can be a bit of a challenge to find a good hairdresser in Buenos Aires, especially when you have blond hair like me. I have been through some terrible experiences with Argentine hairdressers not knowing how to cut my hair.

My go-to hairdresser, Salon Amsterdam in Belgrano, has, unfortunately, closed. Over the last years in Buenos Aires, I started going to Sicodelica Hair Art in Palermo, which also did a very decent job with my blond hair.

Another hair salon that is very popular among expats in Buenos Aires is a Swedish hair stylist, who has Salon Linda in the center of Buenos Aires.

Charity in Buenos Aires: Where to Donate Old Clothes in Buenos Aires

A lot of people in and around Buenos Aires are living with very few resources. So, don’t just throw out your old clothes, shoes, and household items that you don’t not using anymore. Instead, give them to some of the many charities in Buenos Aires!

Here are some of the charities where you can donate clothes in Buenos Aires:

  • At Your Local Church

Why Did We Move From Buenos Aires?

Now I’ve talked a lot about what you should know before planning to move to Buenos Aires. But the truth is that Buenos Aires is a chapter that has ended in my life.

I had seven exciting, interesting but also hard and stressful years in Buenos Aires. So, why did I choose to move from Buenos Aires?

The primary reason why my husband and I decided to leave Buenos Aires was because of the economic situation. The feeling that, despite earning in a foreign currency, every month all the prices increased and you never knew what was coming next

For me, I also started to feel that no matter how hard I worked, I would never be able to get to a good position in a local company. My effort and the money I could receive for this effort would never add up.

Another downside to the economic situation in Argentina is reflected in the society in Buenos Aires. For me, strangers you meet on the street have been more and more aggressive and short-tempered. People in service functions such as cashiers, waiters, and public administration have been more and more indifferent about giving good customer service. Or even the bare minimum of customer service.

While this might seem like trivial small things, I have to be completely honest with you and say that exactly this was one of the things that in the end was driving me crazy by living in Buenos Aires.


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