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Expats looking to find work in Buenos Aires can look forward to a relatively fast-paced environment and bustling metropolis. This city is home to the highest population density in the country. There are many opportunities, but expats who only speak English may have a tough go of it – the language of business in Argentina is predominantly Spanish. For employees being relocated by a larger corporation, visas are usually dealt with by their employer. In either case, see Visas for Argentina for more details.
Though years of economic struggle gave a slight roughness and edginess to the city, this 'Paris of the South' retains a fair amount of elegance and European influence. This is a characteristic that makes living and working in Buenos Aires unlike any other destination in the world. The cost of living in Buenos Aires is quite high, but expats who earn a stronger currency will be able to live comfortably.
Job market in Buenos Aires
While there's been an improvement in recent years, Covid-19 has caused further problems for an already fragile economy. Unemployment is rife and social struggle and political frustration are highly visible.
Expat positions in large multinationals, such as the banking industry, oil and gas, and IT, are well established in Buenos Aires. The tourism, agriculture and creative industries have also been thriving in recent years. Many expats teach English and offer services such as business translations, web business management and design. Anything that only requires internet and a laptop seems to be the bread and butter of many foreigners vying for a place under the Argentinian sun.
Additionally, due to relatively low local salaries, Buenos Aires seems to be an outsourcing hub. If an expat can speak another foreign language (and of course add the knowledge of native-level English) the call centre industry presents opportunities. Expats need to be aware, however, that they will be competing with well-versed Argentinians working in this industry.
Lastly, as an entrepreneur or businessperson, expats could consider Buenos Aires as a low-capital start-up location. Labour is widely available and not as expensive as in Europe or the US. There are opportunities everywhere, but working around bureaucracy and general 'system failure' can be crippling. Getting started in Buenos Aires is definitely not for the faint-hearted.
Finding a job in Buenos Aires
For expats, being fluent or near fluent in Spanish will determine the kind of opportunities available when looking for work in Buenos Aires. With no knowledge of Spanish, options will be limited and daily survival in Buenos Aires will be fairly difficult. That said, there are still jobs and companies that cater specifically to foreigners.
The best route to finding a job is by being transferred to the Argentinian branch of one’s current workplace. Another advisable option is applying for jobs at international or multinational companies based in Buenos Aires.
Expats trying to find a job in Buenos Aires are advised to visit the city before relocating to determine if it is indeed a place they could enjoy living in long term. Research and networking should start early on through expat groups, forums, playgroups and family days. These are great places to make new friends in similar circumstances. It is also important to keep in mind that who you know goes a long way in Argentina. Never be afraid to make use of connections to get a job.
Work culture in Buenos Aires
Formal or first-time meetings start with a handshake for both women and men. Friends or colleagues who know each other well usually greet with a kiss on the cheek.
The pace of business in Argentina feels slower than in the US or Europe and email response rates follow suit. For urgent emails, expats can follow up their email with a phone call or in person. Expats should be punctual for business appointments, but be prepared to wait 30 minutes or so for associates. Meetings tend to follow a more relaxed pace, with more time devoted to socialising and building relationships.
Dressing well is important in Argentina, with suits and ties common in more formal industries like finance. Argentinian women are generally elegant and well-dressed, whereas men who work in less formal environments like advertising or design prefer not to wear ties. Men with long hairstyles are also common.
Typical business hours in Buenos Aires are Monday to Friday, 9am to 6pm. Executives may work long hours, occasionally as late as 10pm. Siestas are not much of a feature in Buenos Aires as they are in rural Argentina, although the lunch break may be longer than expats are used to. In general, conducting business in Buenos Aires is similar to any large European city.