Are you a type-A list maker and considering a move abroad?
If so, I bet you’ve got s few pro/con lists floating around on your phone.
I’m here to add one more list and I hope it helps you decide.
Living in Argentina: Pros and Cons
I’ve lived in Buenos Aires for 11 years now and when it comes to life here I am overflowing with opinions.
There is so much I love! And of course, there are two sides to every coin. A lot about life here really frustrates me.
I hope this post helps give you an idea of what life is like here.
Spoiler alert: in the grand scheme of things, the good outweighs the bad. I love living in Argentina.
MORE ABOUT ARGENTINA EXPAT LIFE:
This post is more opinion than fact. If you want more logistical help to plan your move to Argentina, read these posts:
Moving to Argentina: This post has ALL the information you need to move here.
- Navigating the School System in Buenos Aires
- Things to know before visiting Argentina: this post is geared towards tourists but will still be very helpful.
The Cons of living in Argentina
I’m going to rip off the band-aid and complain first so this post (and my mood) ends on a happier note.
Here is my list of cons to expat life in Argentina.
Things here aren’t very organized and life here can be a struggle for those of us who are Type A.
One example, more than once a doctor has miswritten one number or a date on a prescription and the pharmacy rejected it.
The only solution?
Making another appointment with the doctor and missing half a day of work to travel across town to said appointment (again), all to get a new prescription. Back home the pharmacy would just call the doctor and that would be that.
Some things have gotten better. For example, government websites have gotten 150% better than when I moved here. Forms and information about visa requirements are much more understandable and organized.
But still, plan on working on your patience if you move here.
The economy in Argentina is notoriously volatile.
Inflation averages 30% per year and local salaries don’t always keep up.
Expect to see constant price changes and even have a built-in price adjustment in rental contracts.
The financial situation here swings from years where everything is wildly expensive to years where everything is unbelievably cheap (if you earn dollars).
Research what kind of year it is currently before making your move.
Also, finding a job here “en blanco” (as in, legally with papers) is very difficult for foreigners. Most jobs will be “en negro” or under the table and pay very little.
If you plan on moving to Argentina, I recommend doing so as a digital nomad.
Earning dollars vs. pesos can make or break your lifestyle in Argentina.
Everything and Everyone is Late
I’m punctual to a fault so this is a personal beef of mine with Argentina.
My chronically late friends actually love this about life here so if you’re often tardy you’ll fit right in!
But if you’re like me, make sure to keep your kindle in your purse for when you inevitably spend an hour waiting for your friends at the bar.
Also, the overall schedule of life is very late. Which for me as a morning person is difficult. If you’re a late riser and a night owl, welcome to paradise.
It is very difficult to import things into Argentina.
When Christina Kirchner was president it was impossibly hard with very high taxes, meaning the shelves were rather bare.
Things are better now but not by much.
Products get held up in customs for long periods and the taxes are so high that once they make it to stores they cost double or more than their original price.
Because of this don’t expect a lot of variety in the supermarkets (to put it mildly) or big name brands like Ikea offering cheap home goods. It’s just not here.
Say Goodbye to Care Packages
On a related note to the above-mentioned importation issues, receiving mail is next to impossible here. And when possible, it might cost you a small fortune.
The only exception: I’ve never had any issues receiving letters or small envelopes.
But big care packages or Amazon from abroad? Don’t bother.
Taxes are exorbitant, and they don’t only tax the value of the item but shipping and handling.
USPS and Correos packages will likely get held up in the customs office in Retiro where the joy of an entire day in lines awaits you.
And worse, courier services like FedEx and DHL often get stuck in the customs office at Ezeiza, the international airport an hour or so outside of town.
When I first moved here, I spent an ungodly amount to take a taxi to and from the airport to pick up some winter clothes my mom shipped me.
The amount I spent on the taxi and taxes… I shudder to think of it. I could have bought a new winter wardrobe here.
Argentina is far from just about everything. It is a 10-hour flight to Miami and 12-15 hours to Europe’s major cities.
And once you’re in Argentina, that problem persists.
The distance between local destinations is also vast. Mendoza and Iguazu are over 2 and a half hours by flight, with 3-4 hours to reach Patagonia.
While there is a lot to see in the Buenos Aires province (mainly historic small towns and the Atlantic coastline), the quick weekend getaways you might be used to in Europe aren’t as easy here, and trips back home require savings and effort.
Note: In the past two years, a new budget airline, Flybondi, has established itself here driving flight prices down. As long as they stay in business domestic travel will be reasonable.
Before Flybondi, it cost hundreds of dollars for domestic flights and people took long-distance buses instead, which were far from luxurious.
The Pros of living in Argentina
Ok, shake it off. I’m done complaining (but it was definitely cathartics), let’s get into the good!
Here are my favorite things about my Argentina life.
Relationships are Everything
Relationships are the center of life in Argentina.
Friendships are lifelong. Families get together every single week for a shared meal that lasts for hours.
Even typically debaucherous New Year’s Eve is a family-focused holiday!
And when you have plans with someone in Argentina, you truly have their attention.
Lunch at a friend’s house means they’ve likely blocked out the entire afternoon for the event.
There’s no glancing at their phones to rush off to their next meeting.
You’re not just a tiny fraction of their day, an obligation to meet, you are their day.
This focus on friends and family is one of the main draws to raising a family in Argentina for me. It’s unbeatable.
If you’re looking for culture, you will find it in spades in Buenos Aires.
Attend the ballet or an orchestra at The Teatro Colon Opera House or experience theater in complete darkness at the Teatro Ciego.
Every Monday night the Konex Cultural Center fills to the brim with people from all walks of life packed in shoulder to shoulder to see the Bomba de Tiempo drum troop.
Milongas are open every night of the week into the wee hours of the morning for passionate tango dancers looking to hone their craft.
For the bibliophiles, Buenos Aires is home to the most bookstores per capita than any other city in the world. Related, there is a yearly bookfair that draws thousands of attendees.
So naturally, Porteños are well-read and cultured. And nothing is off the table when it comes to dinner conversation. Friends and family heatedly debate politics and religion then laugh it off over dessert. No harm done.
If you move to Argentina to experience the rich culture you will never be bored.
Messi, Maradona, Yerba Mate, Steak, Wine, Folkloric music, the beautiful street art in Buenos Aires, weekend street fairs, and the street performers that come with them…the list is neverending.
Argentina is Stunningly Beautiful
Argentina is gorgeous and incredibly diverse. You’ll never run out of places to explore here.
After 11 years of living in Argentina, I still feel like I’ve only scratched the surface.
There are jungle and waterfalls in the northeast, canyons and rainbow mountains in the northwest, multiple world-class wine regions, and all that Patagonia has to offer from the Andes to the Atlantic Ocean.
If you love nature, you will LOVE Argentina.
The weather and overall climate in Argentina are fairly mild.
Sure, you’ll have hot, muggy summers in Buenos Aires and extremely cold winters in the deep south of Patagonia but overall it’s pleasant.
And bonus: there are no natural disasters to contend with. You won’t have to worry about hurricanes, monsoons, or tornados in Argentina!
The Food (& Drink) Scene
Foodie expats should train their sights on Buenos Aires.
Eat your weight in sirloin at the best steakhouses in Buenos Aires, taste decadently cheesy pizza on Avenida Corrientes, and eat gnocchi on the 29th of every month.
Argentina is overflowing with gastronomic tradition.
New food markets are opening all over the city. My favorite is Patio de los Lecheros in Caballito, a previously neglected train station turned foodie destination.
Events like Masticar let you try the best of the best from local restaurants’ food trucks while attending lectures by the country’s best chefs.
Closed-door restaurants (puertas cerradas) are another Buenos Aires must-try experience.
In an effort to open new businesses in a notoriously difficult economy, many chefs operate restaurants out of their own homes.
And let’s not forget the drinks. The coffee scene is also burgeoning and competing with the city’s love of wine and artisanal beer.
Healthcare is quite possibly one of the most important things to consider when looking for a new country to call home.
The excellent (and affordable) healthcare in Argentina is one of the main reasons I love living here.
I pay less than $100 US for my monthly premium and it covers just about everything.
I’ve done it all from root canals and dental work to a week-long hospital stay for pneumonia to having a baby here. I can personally attest that the care you receive here is top-notch.
It’s unbelievably freeing not to worry about a medical emergency wiping out my family’s savings and a major pro to living in Argentina.
Note: Public healthcare is free for all but is drastically underfunded. If you have the resources (and if you’re an expat you should), leave the public system for those who truly need it and contract a private plan.
Pros & Cons to Argentina Expat Life
These were my personal list of living in Argentina pros and cons.
There are things to love and hate about everywhere and each person’s lists will be different.
I hope my perspective helps!
If you’ve been here before, do you agree? Let me know what you love or dislike about life here!