March 5, 2018 by ingridiswriting
So you decided to move to Buenos AiresSo you decided to move to Buenos Aires Click To Tweet
You definitely won’t see any tango dancers with roses on their teeth, that’s for sure.
I’ve touched on the fact that I lived here for a whopping four years and have written some general details, but here’s a more specific guide for future potential expats.
You can find a SUBE card almost anywhere that has a blue sign on it, and you can charge it at any subte station or many convenience stores. Some places try to charge you an extra peso or two just to do this, but that’s actually illegal and is known as “el plus ilegal.”
Keeping up with dollar values and inflation
I’m from the US and know that expats come from many countries. However, the Argentinian economy is tied to the USA’s economy and any changes in the value of the dollar will affect you directly. La Nación has an online section called “dólar hoy.” The dollar has a buyer and seller value. If you choose to sell your dollars to friends, they will mostly do it for the average of the two prices. This is just fine.
Keeping up with events in the country can be confusing because it seems that TV channels cater to either leftist or more conservative viewers. It’s a good idea to keep up with the news at least a little because unions here often go on strike compared to what you might be used to. This could impact your transportation options or ability to use the banks. The Bubble is an English-language blog that focuses on Argentina and can be a good source of news for you. Plus, they keep a calendar of cool things to do around the city.
Expat Facebook groups can be a great way to get help from others who have been in Buenos Aires longer. Plus, there are many English-speaking Argentinians who have been expats abroad, or who enjoy answering our questions. Even though the news and other sources are an important part of understanding the country, rules and regulations change often. If you arrived in Argentina with few Spanish language skills, you can also ask fellow expats for their opinion on Spanish teachers/institutes, or ask for recommendations for doctors that take cash payments, public hospital appointments, and almost everything else. Just be sure to read their rules.
Here are the ones I used while living in Buenos Aires:
Buenos Aires Expat Hub: to ask general questions about life, find threads that may have answered my questions, or to read other people’s questions so I could help answer them from time to time.
BsAs Girlfriends Group: to meet other women in Buenos Aires, many of whom were expats or were also English-speaking locals. You can organize meet-ups, participate in discussions, and even meet friends!
Buenos Aires Classifieds: you can buy stuff for very cheap since most people sell used things. You can also sell your stuff there.
Buenos Aires Real Estate: this is a great place to look for a room or apartment. Keep in mind that you’ll need to learn about what constitutes average rent for expats in the city since we pay much higher than local Argentinians because we mostly need fully furnished apartments that already include wifi.
BA Expat Jobs: you’ll need to work. Duh. You can also try Craigslist.
Teaching is a true vocation, but it’s true that if you decide you want to stay here and have no other options, this could be one. Those with TEFL or CELTA certificates can earn more money, but people without these certificates can still find work teaching conversation classes. It helps if you brush up on a little grammar or use tutorials in order to make sure you won’t bore your students. Institutes pay less, but they offer steady work, and you can find ways to get your own students. Make sure to keep up with the news so you can stay on top of inflation and adjust your rates accordingly from time to time.
Also, always ask institutes what neighborhood they plan to send you to. Make sure to ask for addresses. I wound up teaching a class that was 1 hour and a half away because the institute lied to me about what neighborhood I’d be teaching in, and eventually I had to quit because it wasn’t worth it.
ATMs vs. bringing actual cash (USD or €)
You can use ATMs if you need to, but not all of them can read the security chips in American and European debit cards. A lot of places in Buenos Aires are also cash only. ATMs do charge a lot of money to withdraw your cash, plus whatever your bank charges.
This is why a lot of people bring dollars or euros to exchange. The USD is probably easier to stay on top of. Some people do buy reais, and this is probably only a good option if you went on vacation to Brazil and withdrew too much cash, but it’s not something I know much about.
Some people also wire themselves money using services such as Xoom and Nubi. I mostly used this to withdraw my cash. Just be mindful of maximum amounts, schedules, and other applicable fees.
Compares to prices in the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Europe, and other countries around the world, Argentinian clothing doesn’t have a good reputation. Clothes here are quite expensive and often doesn’t have the best quality.
If you enjoy running or other sports I suggest bringing running/ sports clothing, and shoes with you. I once took advantage of a trip to Chile to get running shoes because they were so expensive here. I did find one yoga clothing brand I liked and recommend.
Final tip: remember that seasons here are the reverse of that in the Northern Hemisphere, so pack accordingly.
Many places here require a garantía, and as a foreigner, you will most likely not have it. As such, it’s best for you to find someone that will rent you a room dueño directo (direct owner). This will help you avoid commissions from a real estate company.
When looking for a place to live always ask about the expensas (expenses). Most Argentinians are aware that everything is charged separately, but foreigners don’t know this. Expensas often include administration fees paid to the doorman, if your building has one, ABL (garbage collection), cable, wifi, utilities, and other fees charged by the city or building you will live in.
An example: someone will tell you an apartment or room costs X amount of pesos más expensas. Always ask how much the expensas will be, or ask for an estimate since they can vary. Avoid getting taken by surprise!
Uber vs. taxis
People in Argentina do use Uber even though it’s not exactly legal here. You do save some money using Uber and the advantage is that you’ll know the costs ahead of time. I don’t prefer it to taxis, but it’s there. However, just know that some drivers may ask you to sit in front because taxi drivers are known to be hostile to Uber drivers. This isn’t a strange request at all but go with your gut on this one.
Immigration laws are changing
When I arrived in Buenos Aires it was possible to keep doing visa runs every 90 days and be a permatourist. This is starting to become a red flag to Argentinian authorities, so be aware of this. Here’s some information that may help you get a DNI. I can’t speak for other embassies, but the US Embassy had a lot of information to help US citizens obtain their DNI as long as there was a legal way for people to do it. If you overstay there are fines to pay depending on how long you did overstay, and some jobs do offer sponsorship. This usually doesn’t mean they will pay for the cost of obtaining a DNI, but that they will back you legally, which provides a way for you to obtain it.
Where to live
Most expats who speak English choose to live in Palermo, or live there by default because many locals are used to renting to expats and know how to do this (I lived in Palermo for 2+ years). Others live in San Telmo, Las Cañitas, or Recoleta. These neighborhoods are more touristy and can be more expensive.
Other neighborhoods where you can find cheaper rent but stay connected to the city are Villa Crespo, Almagro, Caballito, and Belgrano. If you live near a subway station, you’re golden.
I’m from the US, so everything I’m saying about visas doesn’t apply to people of other countries (sorry! I just don’t want to spread misinformation).
It’s possible to get a Brazilian visa while in Buenos Aires. You can check details online here. During my time in Buenos Aires, Brazil created an e-visa that’s valid for up to two years. It’s cheaper and the process is way easier. The e-visa is for US, Australian, Canadian, and Japanese citizens. Always check before you apply for the Brazilian visa, as they change requirements quite often in my experience.
You can also get a Bolivian visa while living in Buenos Aires. They have visa on arrival, but if you’re from the US it’s important that you check with the Bolivian consulate in Buenos Aires.
If you plan on traveling to a country that requires a yellow fever vaccine you can go to Salud del Viajero. I recommend that you take the 64, 152, 29 or any bus that says it’s going to Caminito (La Boca) and get out on Almirante Brown and 20 de Septiembre. During peak travel season, Salud del Viajero may also make the yellow fever vaccine available in other places.