- Purchase the complete Expat Arrivals Buenos Aires Guide (PDF)
Living in Buenos Aires has its upsides and downsides. The city is renowned for its lively atmosphere, offering endless entertainment options and activities to suit all tastes. There is plenty to see and do, including live music, tango shows, outdoor festivals and world-class museums and art galleries. Moreover, the city has a rich cultural heritage and a thriving gastronomic scene featuring delicious local and international cuisines. However, living in Buenos Aires can also be challenging due to its high population density, which often results in crowded streets, busy public transport and noise pollution. Additionally, the city has a reputation for being somewhat unsafe, with instances of pickpocketing and theft being quite common.
Below are some more of the positives and negatives that expats may experience when moving to Buenos Aires.
Lifestyle in Buenos Aires
+ PRO: Endless activities
Buenos Aires is a huge city and offers a million and one things to do, from attending events and festivals to visiting museums or nature reserves. Expats can spend months in Buenos Aires and still not take advantage of everything it offers. More traditional activities like tango classes are also on offer. There are also many great museums, tours, sights and cultural centres to visit. These are great places to take part in active, social or academic activities.
- CON: Loud and urban
As a big city, there is a lot of noise pollution from people and cars in Buenos Aires. Some areas and suburbs are more residential, but the streets of downtown Buenos Aires bustle with people going about their business every day. Although there are a few green areas in the neighbourhood of Palermo or near Puerto Madero, for the most part, Buenos Aires is not a green city. If expats are used to many tree-lined streets, they won't be found here. That said, a day trip to the nearby town of Tigre is great for a fix of fresh air.
Nightlife in Buenos Aires
+ PRO: Vibrant nightlife
It’s said that Buenos Aires has the best nightlife of any city in South America. There are so many options that anyone – young or old, straight or gay – can find their niche. There are also incredible restaurants and bars that offer exquisite food and drinks. Clubs, or boliches, are open late, and anyone can dance the night away. Milongas, or tango dance halls, are also running all night long and are great for those who want a more cultural night out.
- CON: Late nights
Argentines start their Saturday night around 1am, when other cities usually are winding down. It's great for those who like staying out until late, but not everyone wants to be out until 8am on a Sunday.
+ PRO: Buenos Aires is HUGE
There is a large expat community in Buenos Aires. There are people of all ages from all over the world, and each is in Buenos Aires for a variety of reasons. Some are just out of college, others moved for work, and many retire in Buenos Aires.
- CON: May be difficult to integrate into the local community
For those looking for a city with few foreigners, Buenos Aires is not it. Although English is not spoken in most places, there are still many expats and even more tourists in most parts of the city. Just walking down any high street, one will hear other languages, especially English and Portuguese.
Safety in Buenos Aires
+ PRO: Safe neighbourhoods
Buenos Aires has certain safe neighbourhoods, especially just outside the city in Zona Norte or areas like Recoleta.
- CON: Petty crime
The economic instability has led to increased thefts and robberies in Buenos Aires. Always stay in the safer barrios. Don't carry large amounts of money or all your credit cards and important documents like passports when unnecessary. Pickpocketing is common on busy streets. Expats should therefore avoid wearing backpacks with visible and easily accessible zippers.
Cost of living in Buenos Aires
+ PRO: Cheap public transport
Public transport in Buenos Aires is extremely cheap for buses and the subway. This makes getting around relatively inexpensive. Other specialised services, such as spa or beauty treatments, are also cheaper than in most cities.
- CON: Expensive real estate
Real estate in Buenos Aires is quite expensive, especially for those who cannot sign a two-year lease, meaning that any foreigner looking for a short-term rental may pay more than they might expect.
The Argentinean economy
+ PRO: Good exchange rate
The Argentinian peso is weaker than the dollar or euro, making foreign savings and salaries go further.
- CON: Frequently fluctuating economy
The economic situation in Argentina is constantly changing, meaning there is a high inflation rate and prices fluctuate from one month to the next. It does not affect those with foreign earnings as much, but if an expat is working in Buenos Aires and being paid in the Argentine peso, the buying power of their salary will change constantly. This makes it hard to save money and do financial planning. Argentinians are used to this and save their money in US dollars to keep it from devaluing.
Healthcare in Buenos Aires
+ PRO: High-quality private healthcare
Private hospitals and insurance companies in Buenos Aires are of excellent quality and readily available. They are also more affordable compared to those in other countries such as the US. Companies must provide health insurance for their workers, and most policies cover everything from hospital visits to various prescription drugs. Buenos Aires is also an increasingly popular destination for medical tourism, with many foreigners travelling to the city for plastic surgery.
- CON: Crowded public hospitals and long waiting lists
Although public hospitals are free, they tend to be quite busy, and most people have to wait hours to be seen by a doctor. In addition, not all public hospitals have access to modern technology.