This living in Buenos Aires Argentina guide was written by Erin Mushaway, an American expat is living in Argentina for 13 years. In this post, Erin shares all her experiences as an American in Buenos Aires.
📬 Hi Trisha! I love all your South America journey! I’ve been following you since you started the long trip to South America in 2012. I particularly followed your adventures in Argentina. I have been dreaming about living in Buenos Aires but I am not sure if it’s the right place for me? Do you have any advice? I know you stayed for a while so please help and give me advice! Thank you!– Cheri Allen, USA
Yes, I did stay in Buenos Aires back in 2014. I really love Argentina and I consider it one of the best years of my life! I have not visited since then so I am afraid my information will not be accurate. However, I called some reinforcements.
Erin has been living in Buenos Aires for a while now and has agreed to share her tips in an article. You can definitely reach out to her if you have any questions as she’s a real pro when it comes to expat living in Argentina.
If you have any additional questions, please feel free to reach out to me via e-mail. I will also leave Erin’s social media details at the end of this post. Good luck!
👋 Meet Erin, an American living in Buenos Aires
Hola! My name is Erin. I came to Buenos Aires on vacation in 2009 and fell in love with the city, quickly making the decision to relocate here.
Just a month later, I had uprooted my life and was settling into Buenos Aires. Four months later, I fell in love with a local, consequentially putting down roots. I’ve been here ever since.
I’m originally from a small town in Texas, but after graduating from university I immediately moved abroad.
Before finally landing in Buenos Aires, I completed a post-graduate degree in Spain and worked at a hotel in the US Virgin Islands. Travel and ex-pat life are my passion.
In the past 13 years, I’ve made it my mission to explore every nook and cranny of the city. I love the vibrant life here.
There is always something to do from live music to the theater, amazing restaurants, some of the world’s best wine available on a shoestring budget (a huge benefit, I’d say!), and some of the most beautiful natural landscapes on a short flight away in every direction.
✅ Living in Buenos Aires: what’s it like?
I moved to Argentina with an already existing group of friends. One of my best friends was already living here and I seamlessly settled into life here with his friends.
I moved into their apartment in the beautiful, colonial neighborhood of San Telmo and got a job based on their recommendation at an American company operating here.
I already spoke Spanish (having studied the language since middle school and spending a year in Spain), but decided to refresh my skills by enrolling in language courses at the University of Buenos Aires.
The UBA is an excellent (affordable) way to study any language in Buenos Aires and an excellent way to make friends with fellow expats. Later, I even enrolled in introductory Portuguese classes.
Since arriving my original friends have all left, one by one, moving on to new experiences abroad. I’m still happily living in Buenos Aires and love to share my experiences to help others do the same.
💲 Cost of living in Buenos Aires Argentina
The major benefit of living in Buenos Aires is the cost of living for those moving here with dollars or euros in their bank account. This is why I strongly recommend moving here with either enough savings to get you through your time here or a remote job that pays in dollars.
I have always worked remotely for jobs based in the United States. This has allowed me to live very comfortably and travel through Argentina. Look for apartments on Facebook classified groups. Facebook as a marketplace is very popular in Buenos Aires.
Another option is to look for an apartment you like on Airbnb and reach out to the owner about the possibility of a long-term rental option.
It’s very common and they often prefer to have their apartment occupied for a solid 6 months by you then take the chance that it will lie empty for half that time.
Palermo, Recoleta, and San Telmo are all very popular neighborhoods to live in for expats. If you want to live near all the action, I recommend finding an apartment in Palermo Soho or Hollywood.
These two neighborhoods are where most expats base themselves and it will be easy to make friends here and be close to the nightlife, best restaurants, and cafes with excellent Wi-Fi for the digital nomad.
San Telmo has a more bohemian vibe and has its own fair share of popular restaurants. Recoleta (and its sub-neighborhood Barrio Norte) is another excellent option for living in Buenos Aires. It’s upscale and very centrally located.
🏘️ The basics of living in Buenos Aires Argentina
Apartments for rent in Buenos Aires
Purchasing a house in Argentina is surprisingly expensive. Ever since the economy crashed in 2001, prices have been tied to the US dollar.
Apartments and houses are sold in dollars and therefore are not cheap. Another thing to keep in mind is that mortgages don’t exist in the same way as they do in the United States.
You’ll need to pay 100% upfront and often with cash in hand (unless you find a rare seller who has a foreign bank account to receive your transfer abroad).
It’s much easier to rent. Apartments are pricier for foreign nationals than for locals because you are obliged to rent a shorter contract and furnished unit, but are still reasonable.
These contracts last for 6 months at a time and are priced in dollars. The benefit is you don’t need a co-signer (garantia in Spanish).
Locals have access to two-year contracts for non-furnished apartments. They’re significantly cheaper because they’re in pesos but the nearly impossible hurdle for a foreigner to jump through is the co-signer.
You need a garantia, or someone that owns property within the city to co-sign for you. This is why it’s best to suck it up and pay for the short-term rentals (which, being furnished, is likely the best situation for you anyway).
Argentina Residency Visa
Another major reason I moved to Argentina was the visa situation. My goal had always been to live in Spain, but I was unable to get a job and thus a visa to live there (thanks to the 2008 recession). Argentina, however, is a bit (lot) laxer in this regard.
Most expats in Argentina, yours truly included, move here without any official visa. It’s common and easiest to enter on a tourist visa and either leave every 90 days or overstay.
If you plan on traveling to neighboring countries already then planning your trips to Uruguay or Chile for your 90-day stamp is easiest.
If you don’t plan on leaving the country often then the best option is to simply overstay your tourist visa. You will not have illegal immigration status but rather an irregular status.
There is a set fine depending on how long you overstayed that you need to pay before exiting the country.
Of course, if you have a job that will sponsor a visa that is ideal but not always feasible. If you’re lucky enough to get one of these unicorn jobs, they will renew your temporary residency on a yearly basis. After three years you are eligible for permanent residency (jackpot).
How to meet fellow foreigners/expats/immigrants in Buenos Aires
There is a large expat community in Buenos Aires and it’s very easy to get plugged into. First, I recommend joining the Buenos Aires Expat Hub group on Facebook.
It’s very active and filled to the brim with helpful information. Before asking your questions, use the search feature (there are so many useful threads for nearly everything a new expat could need to know).
There are sister groups on Facebook as well that are more niche. Buenos Aires Classifieds is great not only for buying and selling, but also for searching for an apartment or room to rent or even a job.
Buenos Aires Grub Hub is the group for all the foodies out there. Looking for a new restaurant or want to get a group together to try that new bar? Grub Hub will help.
If you’d rather keep it off of Facebook, BAexpats is a helpful online forum that’s been around for years and years.
✈️ Living in Buenos Aires Argentina tips
Healthcare in Argentina is affordable
As an American, one of my favorite aspects of living in Buenos Aires is affordable, high-quality healthcare. The private system is extremely affordable.
My monthly premium is just under $100 US and covers everything. Dental is 100% covered (not even a co-pay is required). When I do need to pay a co-pay for consultations and hospital visits it’s always under $10 (varying depending on the exchange rate).
If you plan on spending an extended amount of time in Argentina, I recommend getting a plan with OSDE or Swiss Medical. It’s well worth it.
If you’d rather not get a plan, paying out of pocket is also accessible. Usually, you’ll spend around $20 US for a consult. Hospital Aleman (the German Hospital) is a popular clinic among expats for these sorts of out-of-pocket visits.
There is also a public healthcare system available if you truly can’t afford private healthcare. The doctors are excellent but the infrastructure is strained and, unless you really can’t afford private, it’s best to leave it for the taxpayers who need it (and can’t afford other care).
Transportation in Buenos Aires
I don’t recommend purchasing a car in Buenos Aires or bringing one. The high taxes imposed on importing your own car from home are exorbitant and cancel out any convenience you’d gain. It will be easier and more affordable to simply rent a car when needed.
To navigate the city, I recommend using the excellent and very affordable public transportation system. The buses are the most popular and connect the entire city. There’s also a subway system and trains that connect the city center to the suburbs.
Public transportation in Buenos Aires can be intimidating at first. There are SO many buses, which one to take? Luckily there are very helpful apps to use in Argentina that will map out your bus, walking, or subway route for you. There’s no need to get lost these days with smartphones at our command.
Ridesharing apps like Uber and Cabify are also available and within reach of most budgets. The city is very congested and parking is difficult. Having your own car is an added headache that can be avoided with public transportation.
When to move to Buenos Aires
I recommend taking into account the best time to visit Buenos Aires before planning your move. Remember that the seasons are flipped compared to North America and Europe.
The peak of summer is in January and February and the city practically shuts down during these months when the locals go on vacation.
Personally, I moved here in January and loved the empty city. It felt like an easier introduction before the real hustle and bustle hit in March. But if you’re looking for a job upon arrival, it will be harder in the summer.
The year unofficially begins in March. The school year starts in March and a lot of people will be renting apartments starting from then.
If you’re moving to Buenos Aires to study, plan for that (or consider taking a shorter summer course for the month of January or February).
Learning Spanish in Buenos Aires, Argentina
One last but not least tip is that the Spanish in Argentina is likely very different than the Spanish you studied back home.
Rioplatense Spanish or the Spanish spoken near the Rio de la Plata (Buenos Aires and across the way in Uruguay) has a very unique pronunciation. The Y and LL sounds are pronounced as a “sh” rather than the typical “y” sound, for example.
Argentina is a country of immigrants, mainly from Europe arriving at the beginning of the 20th century. This had a major impact on the language and vocabulary here.
This is why I recommend enrolling in at least a conversation class upon arrival even if you consider yourself a proficient speaker.
Moving to Buenos Aires can be intimidating but I hope this guide has been helpful in reducing any uncertainty about life in Argentina.
It’s a beautiful country filled with stunning landscapes and friendly people. Whether you’re looking to enhance your Spanish skills or simply experience a new culture, Buenos Aires will not disappoint.
⁉️ Living in Buenos Aires FAQ
Is Buenos Aires a good place to live in?
Absolutely! Buenos Aires is the ‘Europe’ of South America. It’s one of the world’s most beautiful cities with vibrant nightlife, great restaurants, and affordable housing options.
Its rich culture, diverse food scene, and relatively affordable cost of living are just a few reasons why many people find the city appealing. The city is home to the world-famous tango dance and music and boasts an active arts scene with numerous theaters, museums, and galleries.
The climate in Buenos Aires is another factor that may attract potential residents. The city experiences a temperate climate, with hot summers and mild winters, making it suitable for those who prefer a warmer environment.
However, it is important to keep in mind that the city can experience high humidity, which may be uncomfortable for some people.
In terms of cost of living, Buenos Aires is generally more affordable than many major cities in North America or Europe, but it can still be expensive depending on the neighborhood and personal lifestyle choices.
Housing, food, and transportation costs can vary greatly within the city, so it is important to research different areas and determine what best suits your budget and preferences.
Is it expensive to live in Buenos Aires?
Living in Buenos Aires can be relatively affordable compared to many major cities in North America or Europe, but expenses can vary depending on factors such as the neighborhood, personal lifestyle choices, and housing preferences.
The cost of living in Buenos Aires is generally lower than in cities like New York or London, but it is still considered one of the more expensive cities in South America. Rent and housing prices can range from very affordable to quite expensive, depending on the location and type of accommodation.
Some neighborhoods, such as Palermo and Recoleta, tend to be more upscale and have higher costs, while other areas like Almagro or Caballito might offer more affordable options.
Food and dining in Buenos Aires can be relatively inexpensive if you take advantage of local markets and cook at home.
The city is famous for its delicious Argentine beef, and there are plenty of opportunities to enjoy quality meals at reasonable prices. However, dining at upscale restaurants or frequenting international establishments can increase your expenses.
Public transportation is quite affordable and extensive in Buenos Aires, with buses, trains, and the subway system available for getting around the city. Taxis and rideshare services are also available, but using these options regularly can add to your living expenses.
In terms of utilities and services, costs may be lower than in some other major cities, but fluctuations in currency exchange rates and inflation can impact these expenses.
Healthcare and education, both private and public, are available in Buenos Aires, but the quality and cost can vary greatly depending on the institution or facility.
In conclusion, living in Buenos Aires can be relatively affordable compared to many other large cities around the world. However, it is essential to consider factors such as housing, transportation, and lifestyle choices when determining the overall cost of living in Buenos Aires Argentina.
Researching different neighborhoods and keeping track of your expenses can help you find a balance between affordability and comfort while living in Buenos Aires.
Can a US citizen live in Argentina?
ABSOLUTELY! I have lived in Argentina as a US citizen for over 10 years, and in this living in Buenos Aires guide, I will share my experiences, costs, and everything you need to know about living in Argentina.
US citizens can live in Argentina, but some certain steps and requirements must be met to reside in the country legally. It is important to plan ahead and understand the different types of visas and residency options available for US citizens looking to move to Argentina.
First, US citizens need to obtain a visa to enter Argentina for any purpose other than tourism. There are various types of visas, such as work visas, student visas, or retirement visas, each with its own specific requirements.
To apply for a visa, you will need to gather the necessary documentation and submit an application to the Argentine consulate or embassy in the United States. The application process and waiting times can vary depending on the type of visa and the volume of applications being processed.
Once you have obtained the appropriate visa and arrived in Argentina, you may want to explore the possibility of obtaining temporary or permanent residency. Temporary residency permits are typically granted for one year and can be renewed.
This type of residency allows you to live and work in Argentina and may be granted based on various grounds, such as employment, family ties, or retirement. To apply for temporary residency, you must apply to the National Immigration Office (Dirección Nacional de Migraciones) in Argentina.
Permanent residency can be obtained after living in Argentina under temporary residency for a certain period, usually two to three years, and meeting specific requirements.
The process for obtaining permanent residency is similar to that of temporary residence, and you will need to apply with the necessary documentation to the National Immigration Office.
In addition to visas and residency permits, US citizens living in Argentina should be aware of other important considerations, such as taxes, healthcare, and social security.
US citizens are required to file taxes in both Argentina and the United States, although tax treaties and foreign tax credits can help avoid double taxation. Access to healthcare and social security benefits will depend on your residency status and any agreements between Argentina and the United States.
In summary, US citizens can live in Argentina, but following the proper legal procedures and understanding the requirements for obtaining visas and residency permits is essential. Planning and familiarizing yourself with the Argentine immigration system will help ensure a smooth transition to life in Argentina.
How much money do you need to live comfortably in Argentina?
The amount of money needed to live comfortably in Argentina depends on various factors, such as the location, lifestyle, and personal preferences. Generally, living in Argentina is more affordable than in many North American or European cities, but costs vary significantly.
Rent or housing expenses can be one of the largest budget items. In Buenos Aires, the capital city, rent for a one-bedroom apartment in a desirable neighborhood might range from $300 to $700 per month, while other cities or more affordable neighborhoods may have lower costs.
Day-to-day expenses, such as groceries, transportation, and utilities, will also impact your budget. Eating out at restaurants and participating in entertainment or leisure activities can be reasonably priced, but costs can increase if you prefer a more luxurious lifestyle.
As a rough estimate, a single person living in Buenos Aires might expect to spend between $1,000 and $1,500 per month to live comfortably, while a couple or family would need a higher budget.
However, this is a general guideline, and individual circumstances may require more or less depending on specific needs and preferences. It’s important to research the cost of living in your desired location and create a personalized budget that accounts for your unique situation.
How much does a one-bedroom apartment cost in Buenos Aires?
In more upscale neighborhoods like Palermo, Recoleta, or Belgrano, a one-bedroom apartment’s rent can range from around $500 to over $1,000 per month. These neighborhoods tend to be more expensive due to their desirable locations, safety, and access to various amenities.
On the other hand, middle-class or more affordable neighborhoods like Almagro, Caballito, or Villa Crespo may offer lower rental prices. In these areas, a one-bedroom apartment could cost between $300 and $600 per month.
Prices in these neighborhoods can vary based on factors such as proximity to public transportation, the condition of the property, and available amenities.
It is important to note that rental prices can be influenced by fluctuations in the local currency and real estate market conditions.
To get an accurate picture of current rental prices, it is advisable to consult local real estate listings, property management companies, or real estate agents familiar with the area in which you are interested.
Is it cheaper to live in Argentina than the US?
In general, it is cheaper to live in Argentina than in the United States, primarily due to differences in the cost of living, including housing, food, and transportation expenses. However, it is important to note that individual experiences may vary depending on factors such as location, lifestyle, and personal preferences.
Housing costs in Argentina, particularly in cities like Buenos Aires, are typically lower than in many major US cities. Rent and real estate prices are more affordable, which can contribute to a lower overall cost of living.
Additionally, food expenses can be lower in Argentina, especially if you opt to buy groceries from local markets and cook at home. Dining out at restaurants can also be more affordable in Argentina compared to the US, although costs can increase if you frequent high-end establishments.
Transportation costs, such as public transit fares and taxi services, are generally lower in Argentina compared to the United States. However, some imported goods, electronics, and vehicles can be more expensive in Argentina due to taxes and import restrictions.
Living in Argentina can be cheaper than living in the United States, but individual experiences will vary. It is essential to research the specific costs in your desired location and create a budget that reflects your lifestyle and needs.
Where do most expats live in Buenos Aires?
In Buenos Aires, many expats choose to live in neighborhoods that offer a combination of safety, amenities, and a vibrant atmosphere. Some of the most popular neighborhoods for expats in Buenos Aires include Palermo, Recoleta, and Belgrano.
Palermo is a large and diverse neighborhood, known for its tree-lined streets, trendy bars, restaurants, and shops.
It is divided into several sub-neighborhoods, each with its own unique characters, such as Palermo Hollywood, Palermo Soho, and Palermo Chico. The area is popular among expats due to its lively atmosphere and range of entertainment options.
Recoleta is an upscale neighborhood, famous for its elegant architecture, historic sites, and cultural attractions, such as the Recoleta Cemetery and the National Museum of Fine Arts.
Expats are drawn to this neighborhood for its safety, central location, and access to high-quality amenities, including shopping centers, parks, and restaurants.
Belgrano is another popular neighborhood among expats, known for its residential feel, green spaces, and a mix of modern and traditional architecture.
The area offers a wide range of housing options, from high-rise apartment buildings to charming townhouses, and has a reputation for being family-friendly.
While these neighborhoods are particularly popular with expats, it is important to consider your preferences, budget, and lifestyle when choosing a place to live in Buenos Aires.
Does Argentina have free healthcare?
Argentina’s public healthcare system provides free medical services to citizens and residents, including primary care, hospital care, and some medications.
The public healthcare system is funded through taxes and is intended to offer universal access to healthcare services regardless of an individual’s ability to pay.
While public healthcare in Argentina is free, the quality and availability of services can vary depending on the location and specific facility.
Public hospitals and clinics in larger cities tend to be better equipped and staffed than those in more remote areas. However, the public healthcare system can sometimes be overwhelmed, leading to long wait times and limited availability of certain treatments or specialized care.
In addition to the public healthcare system, Argentina also has a private healthcare sector, which offers a higher level of service, shorter wait times, and access to a broader range of specialists and treatments.
Private healthcare is not free, and individuals typically pay for services through private health insurance or out-of-pocket expenses. Many middle and upper-class Argentinians, as well as some expats, opt for private healthcare to ensure access to higher-quality services.
Argentina does have a free public healthcare system, but the quality and availability of services can vary. Private healthcare is available for those willing to pay for more comprehensive and timely care.
Do they speak English in Argentina?
The official language in Argentina is Spanish, and it is the primary language used for communication, government, business, and education. While English is not widely spoken as a first language, a growing number of Argentinians, especially younger generations and those in urban areas, have some degree of English proficiency.
In major cities like Buenos Aires, you are more likely to encounter English speakers in the hospitality and tourism sectors, as well as professionals in international businesses. Additionally, expat communities and international schools in larger cities tend to have higher levels of English fluency.
That being said, it is not uncommon to find people who do not speak English or have limited proficiency, particularly in more remote areas or among older generations. Therefore, it is highly recommended for expats or travelers learn at least basic conversational Spanish to navigate daily life more comfortably and interact with locals.
In summary, while some people in Argentina do speak English, it is not as widely spoken as Spanish, and proficiency levels can vary. Learning Spanish will significantly enhance your experience and make it easier to communicate while living or traveling in Argentina.
Do you need a car to live in Buenos Aires?
Owning a car is not essential for living in Buenos Aires, thanks to the city’s extensive public transportation network, which includes buses, trains, and the subway system (known as the Subte). These modes of transportation are generally reliable and affordable, making it possible to get around the city without owning a car.
Additionally, Buenos Aires has a large number of taxis and rideshare services, such as Uber, which provide convenient alternatives to owning a car. The city also has a bike-sharing program, called Ecobici, which offers free access to bicycles for short trips, promoting a more environmentally friendly and active mode of transportation.
However, owning a car in Buenos Aires can provide more flexibility and convenience, especially for those who live in areas with limited access to public transportation or have to commute to places outside the city. It is worth noting that owning a car in Buenos Aires can come with its own set of challenges, such as traffic congestion, limited parking, and the cost of fuel and maintenance.
In summary, it is not necessary to own a car to live in Buenos Aires, as the city offers various public transportation options that can adequately meet the needs of most residents. However, owning a car can provide added convenience and flexibility, depending on individual circumstances and preferences.
How much money do I need to retire in Argentina?
As a rough estimate, a monthly budget of $1,500 to $2,000 may be sufficient for a comfortable retirement in Argentina, assuming moderate living expenses.
This budget would typically cover housing costs, groceries, utilities, healthcare, and entertainment. However, this is a general guideline, and individual circumstances may require more or less depending on specific needs and preferences.
It is important to note that costs can vary significantly depending on the city or region in which you choose to live. Buenos Aires, for example, has higher living expenses compared to smaller cities or rural areas. Your housing choice, whether renting or buying, will also significantly impact your budget.
Other factors to consider when planning your retirement budget in Argentina include healthcare costs, travel expenses, and taxes.
While Argentina has a public healthcare system, many retirees opt for private healthcare insurance to ensure access to high-quality services. It’s crucial to research the specific costs in your desired location and create a personalized budget that accounts for your unique situation and financial goals.
Erin is the Texan traveler and writer behind the successful Argentina travel blog, solsalute.com. She has spent her entire adult life living abroad in Spain, the Caribbean, and finally Argentina, where she’s spent over ten years building a life. Through her blog, she offers practical guides to Buenos Aires, Texas, and everywhere in between.
Friday 17th of December 2021
Great Post!!! I truly believe that there is much more to explore new places. The world has incredible beauty which makes us visit new places for sure.
Tuesday 12th of May 2020
Aha! That was a refreshing article to see life from a different angle in a different place. I am glad you shifted here, found yourself comfortable and have made it home. Also, I like your idea of joining a language course to make friends and pick up a local language too. Some pointers like health care and dental sounds really look.
Sunday 10th of May 2020
Its amazing how you fell in love with a country where you went on a vacation and decided to move here. Good that you already had friendly in BA and knew the local language as well. It definitely helps expats. Being a expat, I did struggle a bit, before learning the local language. Good to know that BA has an excellent healthcare system. Its amazing that even dental is covered 100%! That's just wow!
Saturday 9th of May 2020
Very interesting post! I think it's awesome that you were able to pack up and move like that and that everything worked out great for you! I would love to do this one day when my life is a little less complicated. It sounds like such a great experience. These tips will definetly help with the planning if I ever get the chance. Its great to know about the expenses and recommendations for everyday (such as the car) and will making visiting much easier.
Saturday 9th of May 2020
Thanks for giving us travel and lifestyle tips about Buenos Aires. It seems a very lovely city, with its unique charms, and I would be happy to visit in the future. There is always pros and cons about staying long-term: for some people it wouldn't work (coz they are fuzzy), and glad it does for you!