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Moving to Buenos Aires

Affectionately referred to as the 'Paris of the South', Buenos Aires is Argentina’s largest metropolitan area. Expats moving here will find it to be one of the most developed cities in South America. Nearly 3 million residents, locally known as Porteños, call this city home.

Expats will find non-stop action in the urban centre while being surrounded by people from various backgrounds and stunning European architecture. Buenos Aires is not only the birthplace of the sultry and sensual tango but is also Latin America’s polo capital.

Living in Buenos Aries as an expat

New arrivals used to civic services normally found in Western Europe or the United States will be pleasantly surprised with the standard of services in Buenos Aires. This includes an efficient and easy-to-use public transportation system and free healthcare for everyone, regardless of whether they are a resident or visitors. 

The only real downside to moving to Buenos Aires is how hard it is for expats to find well-paid jobs. Argentina’s economy has been in flux for years. This has led to high inflation, high taxes and wages that are low compared to more developed countries. Many expats either work for multinational companies or are self-employed, often working remotely.

Buenos Aires is the perfect city for night owls. Social life here is geared towards it's vibrant nightlife, with dinner commonly eaten after 10pm. Theatre performances usually start around 9pm, and the last movie screening of the day typically begins after midnight. The locals love to party, but alcohol does not necessarily play a vital role in nightlife.

Cost of living in Buenos Aires

While the cost of living is lower than other major world capitals, the wages are also lower and the fluctuating economy means high inflation rates. For expats earning in foreign currency, however, Buenos Aires may seem rather cheap. Accommodation in the city can be expensive, but everyday expenses are reasonable. With free public schooling and healthcare on offer, Buenos Aires can look rather inviting to expat families.  

Expat families and children

There are plenty of schools in Buenos Aires that expat parents can choose between. While public schooling is free, classes are taught in Spanish. That said, this could be a good option for young children, as they will pick up the language quickly and assimilate into the culture. For parents looking for English-medium schools, however, there are a number of excellent international schools in the city that teach international curricula.  

There is plenty for expat parents and children to do in the city. Visiting the wild animal park, Temaiken Bioparque, is one such activity for the whole family to enjoy. There are also plenty of museums, restaurants, shopping centres, and theatres to visit, as well as annual culture events to attend. 

Climate in Buenos Aires

With its tropical climate, Buenos Aires experiences hot, humid weather and plenty of rainfall in summer, while winter is cooler, but mild. Snow is rare in the city, although expats may find a day or two in winter where temperatures drop below freezing. 

Buenos Aires offers a high standard of living, a multitude of activities, a vibrant nightlife and excellent housing options in a wide variety of neighbourhoods (barrios). All of this is available at a great value for those arriving with dollars, euros or pounds. An effort to learn the language and culture will assist expats in feeling welcome in the city but, with all that's available to them, it's no wonder Buenos Aires has become an acclaimed expat hot spot. 

Pros and cons of moving to Buenos Aires

As with any large city, there are pros and cons to living in Buenos Aires. It’s a vibrant city that offers many entertainment options and has so much to see and do, but it’s also crowded and noisy.

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 has to offer. If looking for something more traditional, like tango classes, this is the place to be. 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. There are some areas which are more residential, but the streets of downtown Buenos Aires are bustling with people going about their business everyday. 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 fresh air fix.


Nightlife in Buenos Aires

+ PRO: Vibrant nightlife

It’s been 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 so anyone can dance the night away. Milongas, or tango dance halls, are also open 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, which is usually when other cities are winding down. It's great for those who like staying out late, but not everyone wants to be out until 8am on a Sunday morning.


Expat community

+ 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 are even retiring in Buenos Aires.

- CON: Buenos Aires is HUGE

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 main street one will hear other languages, especially English and Portuguese.


Safety in Buenos Aires

+ PRO: Safe neighbourhoods 

Buenos Aires has certain neighbourhoods that are safe, especially just outside the city in Zona Norte or in areas like Recoleta.

- CON: Petty crime

The economic instability has led to an increase in thefts and robberies in Buenos Aires. Always stay in the safer barrios. Don't carry large amounts of money or carry all your credit cards and important documents like passports when not needed. 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 transportation

Public transportation in Buenos Aires is extremely cheap for both buses and the subway. This makes getting around rather inexpensive. Other specialised services, such as spa or beauty treatments, are also cheaper than most cities. 

- CON: Expensive real estate 

Real-estate in Buenos Aires is quite expensive, especially for those who cannot sign a two-year lease. This means that any foreigner who is looking for a short-term rental is going to pay more than they might expect. 


The Argentinean economy

+ PRO: Good exchange rate

The Argentinian peso is weak in comparison to the USD or EUR, making money go further.

- CON: Frequently fluctuating economy 

The economic situation in Argentina is constantly changing, meaning there is a high inflation rate and prices change from one month to the next. It does not affect those who have foreign earnings as much, but if an expat is working in Buenos Aires and being paid in ARS 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 USD to keep it from devaluing.


Healthcare in Buenos Aires

+ PRO: High-quality private healthcare 

Private hospitals and insurance companies in Buenos Aires are of an extremely high quality and readily available. They are also cheap compared to those in other countries like the US. All companies are required to provide health insurance for their workers and most policies cover everything from hospital visits to a variety of prescription drugs. Buenos Aires is also an increasingly popular destination for medical tourism, with many foreigners travelling to the city to get 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 for hours to be seen by a doctor. In addition, not all public hospitals have access to modern technology.

Working in Buenos Aires

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. 

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.


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. 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 a knowledge of native 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 fainthearted.


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 hard to find and daily survival in Buenos Aires 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 work place. 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. Expats should be punctual for business appointments, but be prepared to wait 30 minutes or so for associates.

Dressing well is important in Argentina. Argentinian women are generally elegant and well-dressed, whereas men who work in less formal environments 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 don’t really feature in Buenos Aires as they do in rural Argentina. In general, conducting business in Buenos Aires is similar to any large European city.

Cost of Living in Buenos Aires

The cost of living in Buenos Aires is relatively expensive
The cost of living in Buenos Aires is above average compared to most large cities. However, the Argentinian economy does have a tendency to fluctuate and inflation is very unstable.
 
Buenos Aires ranked 41st out of 207 cities in the 2016 Mercer Cost of Living Survey, placing it as more expensive than Sydney and Paris, but cheaper than London and New York City.
 

Cost of accommodation and utilities in Buenos Aires


Accommodation in Buenos Aires can be very expensive when compared to other cities. 
 
Expats should be aware that if they choose to rent in Argentina they will pay much more than what a local would. Expats will be required to provide a few months’ rent in advance and will also need a guarantor. New arrivals can expect to budget about 20 percent of their income for accommodation. 
 
Electricity is relatively inexpensive and the government subsidises it by 40 percent. 
 

Transport costs in Buenos Aires


Argentina no longer has its own automobile industry, making cars very expensive in the country as import tax is 50 percent. Expats, however, will find that there are good quality second-hand cars available. 
 
Buenos Aires also has an extensive and affordable public transport system that offers a good way to travel around the city.
 

Cost of schooling in Buenos Aires


Public education in Buenos Aires is inexpensive compared to other large cities. However, international schools, the option most expats choose, can be very expensive.
 

Cost of food and clothing in Buenos Aires


The price of supermarket food in Buenos Aires is comparable to the UK, although many items (for example, meat) are less expensive. The one thing expats won’t find in Buenos Aires is many 'two for one' deals or specials in the supermarkets. 
 
Clothing is very expensive in Buenos Aires, as are electronics, appliances and furniture. 
 

Cost of health insurance in Buenos Aires


Many expats find health insurance in Argentina to be inexpensive. General healthcare costs for things like visits to the doctor, hospital stays and non-prescription medicines are very low. 

Food and clothing costs in Argentina


Supermarket prices for certain items are the same as in the UK and in many cases higher, as it is rare to find the sort of economy of scale deals that one would get in Europe and the States – the ‘two for the price of one’ type offers. If you have the time to shop around, particularly for fruit and vegetables, which are much cheaper from the roadside stalls, you can bring your grocery bill down; but this can be time-consuming and expats tend to follow the ‘one shop a week’ pattern rather than the daily food shop that the locals are used to.

Clothes are cheaper in Buenos Aires, but note that there is much more of a variety in the city than in the rural areas to the west of the capital.

Cost of living in Buenos Aires chart

Prices may vary depending on location and service provider. The table below is based on average prices for September 2016.  
Accommodation
Furnished two-bedroom house ARS 45,000
Unfurnished two-bedroom house ARS 25,000
Furnished two-bedroom apartment ARS 15,000
Unfurnished two-bedroom apartment ARS 9,500
Shopping
Milk (1 litre) ARS 16
Dozen eggs ARS 29
Loaf of white bread ARS 26
Chicken breasts (1kg) ARS 94
Pack of cigarettes (Marlboro) ARS 31
Eating out
Big Mac Meal ARS 110
Coca-Cola (500ml) ARS 21
Cappuccino ARS 40
Bottle of local beer  ARS 38
Three-course meal at mid-range restaurant  ARS 560
Utilities/Household
Mobile call rate (per minute – mobile to mobile) ARS 5.11
Internet (Uncapped ADSL or Cable – average per month) ARS 540
Utilities (water, elec, gas - average per month for standard household) ARS 1,600
Hourly rate for a domestic cleaner ARS 56
Transportation 
Taxi rate/km ARS 20.92
City centre public transport fare ARS 5.91
Petrol (per litre) ARS 16.90

Cost of Living in Buenos Aires

Expats moving to Buenos Aires will encounter an economy which has an unstable inflation rate and a tendency to fluctuate without warning. As a result of this, the cost of living in Buenos Aires tends to fluctuate a lot too. On the whole, though, life in Buenos Aires is generally affordable.

In 2020, Buenos Aires ranked 133rd out of 209 cities in the Mercer Cost of Living Survey. This places it as more expensive than Rio de Janeiro and Budapest, but cheaper than Madrid and Jakarta.


Cost of accommodation in Buenos Aires

Accommodation in Buenos Aires can take up a large part of an expat's monthly budget. However, it tends to be cheaper than in other major capital cities.

Expats should be aware that if they choose to rent in Argentina, they will likely pay much more than what a local would. Expats will be required to provide a few months’ rent in advance and in some cases will also need a guarantor.


Cost of transport in Buenos Aires

Argentina no longer has its own automobile industry. This makes cars very expensive in the country as import tax is very high. Expats, however, will find that there are good quality second-hand cars available.  

Public transport in Argentina is exceptionally cheap.


Cost of schooling in Buenos Aires

Public education in Buenos Aires is inexpensive. However, international schools, the option most expats choose, can be very expensive. Annual tuition fees are high – some are all inclusive but most don't include additional costs for uniforms, bus services, school lunches and excursions.


Cost of food and clothing in Buenos Aires

The price of supermarket food in Buenos Aires is comparable to what one would expect to pay in Western countries. However, there are items (for example, meat) that are less expensive. Clothing is expensive in Buenos Aires, as are electronics, appliances and furniture. 


Cost of healthcare in Buenos Aires

Many expats find health insurance in Argentina to be inexpensive. General healthcare costs for things like doctor’s visits, hospital stays and non-prescription medicines are very low. 


Cost of living in Buenos Aires chart

Prices may vary depending on location and service provider. The table below is based on average prices in Buenos Aires for February 2021.  

Accommodation (monthly)

Three-bedroom apartment in city centre

ARS 45,000

Three-bedroom apartment outside of city centre

ARS 35,000

One-bedroom apartment in city centre

ARS 28,000

One-bedroom apartment outside of city centre

ARS 23,000

Shopping

Milk (1 litre)

ARS 65

Dozen eggs

ARS 150

Loaf of white bread

ARS 120

Chicken breasts (1kg)

ARS 340

Pack of cigarettes (Marlboro)

ARS 200

Eating out

Big Mac Meal

ARS 500

Coca-Cola (330ml)

ARS 90

Cappuccino

ARS 180

Bottle of local beer 

ARS 150

Three-course meal for two people at mid-range restaurant 

ARS 2,400

Utilities/household

Mobile call rate (per minute – mobile to mobile)

ARS 13

Internet (uncapped ADSL or cable – average per month)

ARS 1,800

Utilities (average per month for standard household)

ARS 4,500

Transportation 

Taxi rate per km

ARS 40

City centre public transport fare

ARS 27

Petrol (per litre)

ARS 70

Accommodation in Buenos Aires

Accommodation in Buenos Aires is plentiful, ranging from serviced apartments and short-term rentals, to villas available for purchase. Most expats who move to Buenos Aires prefer to rent accommodation closer to the city centre. Expats who are in Argentina for longer, however, often decide to buy property.

Most expats choose to live in the upmarket, more expensive areas of Buenos Aires. So, those wanting to live near other expats may have to come to terms with high rental prices. The most popular suburbs of Buenos Aires for expats are Palermo, Recoleta, Belgrano and San Telmo.


Types of accommodation in Buenos Aires

There are many options for accommodation in Buenos Aires. Expats should be able to find something to suit their taste and budget without much of a problem. There are luxurious apartments and economical studios, shared apartments, villas in gated communities, and even grand estates on the outskirts of the city. 

The type of accommodation an expat chooses will depend on the location they want to live in, their family's requirements and, most importantly, their budget. Generally, the further one moves from the city centre the more affordable properties will become. 


Finding accommodation in Buenos Aires

Expats should do some research on accommodation before moving to Buenos Aires. Finding accommodation in the city can be easy thanks to the availability of online resources, newspaper classifieds and real-estate agents, but expats should put in the time and effort to do their own research and stay vigilant of scams.

Airbnb has become a popular website for short-term rentals. Other good sources for listings are La Nacion and Clarin, both of which are daily newspapers in Argentina.

Despite these resources, the best way for expats to find long-term accommodation in Buenos Aires is often through an estate agent. Estate agents have access to the best listings and can help expats through the process of securing accommodation, whether to purchase or rent. For expats who do not speak Spanish, having the assistance of an estate agent can also be very useful. 


Renting property in Buenos Aires 

Leases

There are two options when looking to rent: long-term or short-term. Short-term renting requires much less paperwork and is a good initial option for newly arrived expats looking for longer term accommodation.

The easiest way for expats to rent property in Buenos Aires is through an agency that specialises in working with foreigners. These agencies can help secure short-term rentals for expats without the need for a cosigner or additional paperwork.

Long-term rentals

If an expat has a Documento Nacional de Identidad (DNI), a guarantor (an Argentinian who acts as cosignatory on the contract), and a large initial injection of cash, they may be able to get their hands on a long-term rental contract. These contracts usually last two years.

Long-term rental contracts are usually less expensive than short-term rentals. That said, there are many roadblocks for foreigners. To avoid these challenges, expats living in Buenos Aires often try to convert short-term furnished rentals into long-term leases. This is usually easier than wading through the copious amount of paperwork needed for a traditional long-term lease. It is important to note that a long-term rental is typically unfurnished. This means the property won’t come equipped with major appliances such as refrigerators, heaters or ovens. 

Short-term rentals

Foreigners in Argentina who don’t have a DNI card or a guarantor will find it easier to rent with a short-term lease. These kinds of leases don’t have as many hoops to jump through as a long-term contract. These properties are also normally furnished and advertised online. 

Costs, fees and deposits 

When working through a real-estate agency, one often has to pay commission to a realtor. Other costs to factor in are a one-time administration fee and a security deposit.  

Negotiating payment is important. Because of Argentina’s fluctuating economy, property owners will often ask for rent to be paid in cash and in US dollars. If an expat doesn’t have dollars readily available, they can negotiate to pay using Argentinian pesos. It is important to agree on a steady rate regardless of what is happening with the economy. Expats should also try to pay their rent in monthly instalments. This will ensure they don’t lose money if they have to terminate the contract unexpectedly.

Utilities

Utilities are generally not included in rent. Expats will therefore need to pay for their own water, electricity, gas, telephone and internet usage. 


Buying property in Buenos Aires

Expats have the right to buy property in Argentina. In most cases, they are not required to first have a residence visa. That said, if expats want to move to Argentina permanently and bring their household items with them they will have to pay a customs bond and a yearly guarantee on the items until they have a permanent residence visa.

Expats tend to pay considerably more for property than locals. This applies in many other situations, such as buying a car or even just hiring a plumber or electrician. Unfortunately, unless expats have connections in Argentina it is difficult to negotiate a 'local' price.

The housing market has seen a degree of improvement over recent years. While the mortgage market remains sluggish, the fact that most transactions are carried out in US dollars has helped maintain some level of stability. 

Areas and suburbs in Buenos Aires

The best places to live in Buenos Aires

Buenos Aires is divided into areas and suburbs known as barrios. Some barrios are more residential than others. Some are busier, more vibrant and culturally diverse, while others are peaceful and leafy. Each barrio has its own culture and energy that reflects the people who live there. 

When choosing a suburb in Buenos Aires, expats should ask themselves whether they would like to live in the bustle of the city or if they would prefer a quieter life in the suburbs. Those living in the suburbs will still have easy access to the city via bus and subway.

Below is a list of some of the most popular areas for expats in Buenos Aires.


Family-friendly areas in Buenos Aires

Family-friendly areas in Buenos Aires

Belgrano

Named for the creator of the Argentinian flag, Belgrano is one of the more peaceful barrios of Buenos Aires. This large barrio has plenty of open green spaces. A strong British influence can be seen in the Victorian-era homes and schools such as the Buenos Aires English High School. Belgrano R is the residential area of the neighbourhood and has large stately homes as well as high-rise apartment buildings to choose from. The sidewalks in Belgrano are lined with restaurants and cafes, particularly in the more commercial areas. There are also plenty of football clubs and tennis courts in the area.

Palermo 

Palermo is the largest barrio in Buenos Aires. It contains botanical gardens, a racecourse and many museums. There are also trendy shops and restaurants for those who are less outdoorsy. The barrio is divided into a number of sub-sections, such as Palermo-Viejo and Palermo-Soho. 

Palermo is one of the more fashionable places to live in Buenos Aires, but it's also one of the most expensive. Because of the gardens and parks, it is a great area for expats with families to settle in. There is plenty of accommodation available for rental or purchase in Palermo because of its size, so this is a good place for expats to start their search for accommodation in Buenos Aires.

Caballito

Caballito is located in the heart of Buenos Aires. As such, expats living in the area will find that most parts of the city are easily accessible. In addition to its central location, the neighbourhood also boasts a number of popular museums and galleries for residents to explore. Some of the city's largest parks and plazas are also located in the area, and expats living in the surrounding apartments will therefore still be able to get their fill of the great outdoors.

The primary attraction of Caballito is that it’s a whole lot cheaper than places such as Palermo, it's full of character, and isn’t too far from the action. All in all, it’s great value for money.  

Puerto Madero

Puerto Madero has not always been a very accommodating area of Buenos Aires. Once a port, the old abandoned warehouses have been converted into trendy apartments. This led to the whole area undergoing an overhaul. Puerto Madero is now one of the most modern areas in Buenos Aires and is an ideal suburb for expat families. The area is also known to be the most Westernised area of the city, with American restaurants and stores dotted around the suburb. This barrio is home to many government buildings, making it a popular place to live for expats working in this sector. 

Expats can rent or purchase a high-rise apartment that overlooks the river and can enjoy the beauty of the docks and a nature reserve. Puerto Madero has a selection of great restaurants on the boardwalk. There are even outdoor venues for summer concerts. Residents can stroll along the boardwalk and eat at a cafe right on the river with some of the best views Buenos Aires has to offer.

Recoleta

Expats who live in Recoleta will see why Buenos Aires is known as the 'Paris of the South'. With its Parisian architecture, cafes and restaurants, expats will feel like they are in Europe rather than South America. Recoleta is one of the most upmarket and expensive barrios in Buenos Aires. It contains many green open spaces, good restaurants and a bustling nightlife. 

The accommodation that expats will find in Recoleta is of a high standard, but with high prices to match. There is enough space here for expats to enjoy a house with a garden. There are also plenty of parks for those who choose to live in an apartment. Recoleta is not far from the downtown area of Buenos Aires. This makes it a great place to live if expats prefer a more peaceful lifestyle but still want to be close to the action.

San Isidro

San Isidro is a suburb that is perfect for expats who don't want to live in the city itself. This exclusive barrio is about half an hour’s train journey outside of Buenos Aires. San Isidro is close to the Tigre Delta and has sailing clubs and other upmarket facilities. The area can be expensive and expats who want to live here should be prepared to budget a significant amount for a large stately home. 


Areas for young professional expats in Buenos Aires

Areas for young professional expats in Buenos Aires

Las Cañitas

For expats who like the quiet by day, busy by night combination, Las Cañitas could be ideal. Its narrow streets remain largely traffic free during the daytime, but the big attraction here is the nightlife. 

Las Cañitas is a sub-division of Palermo and is widely acknowledged as one of the safest areas in Buenos Aires. This is largely due to the military training base that is located there. There are many upmarket shops and antique stores in this area, as well as a good selection of bars and restaurants. There is also a large shopping centre that will satisfy anyone's needs. Expats living in Las Cañitas will have plenty of entertainment options.

Plaza San Martín

Plaza San Martín is the 'downtown' area of Buenos Aires. While it is not very residential, expats who choose to live in the area will be blown away by its rich history. Many of Buenos Aires' most important historical sites and monuments are in this part of the city. This barrio is also home to Florida Street, a famous pedestrian shopping street in Buenos Aires. The area is touristy, so prices might be higher than in other parts of the city.

San Telmo

San Telmo is one of the older and more traditional barrios of Buenos Aires and does not have many high-rise apartment buildings. This neighbourhood has a bohemian feel to it and contains plenty of markets and antique shops. Expats should be able to find high-quality accommodation in this area. The cobblestoned streets and colonial-style houses make it a charming place to live.

Over the weekends, San Telmo becomes one of the city's most vibrant nightlife spots. The local bars and tango hotspots are known to draw crowds from all over Buenos Aires. This makes the area an exciting place to call home, but expats should be aware that this also attracts a significant amount of opportunistic and petty crime.

Villa Crespo

Villa Crespo is well known for its bohemian atmosphere and attracts many young expats. It is right on the border of the Palermo barrio, and expats living in Villa Crespo are just a short walk or taxi ride away from a number of parks and wooded areas. There are also plenty of bars and restaurants in the suburb for residents to enjoy, as well as some unique galleries and art installations.

Healthcare in Buenos Aires

Healthcare in Buenos Aires is of an exceptionally high standard. Public hospitals are open 24 hours a day and are free of charge, even for foreigners. Expats in Buenos Aires will have access to a wide range of excellent medical facilities. Even when choosing a private hospital, most find the prices considerably cheaper than those back home.

Public healthcare in Buenos Aires is widely accessible to locals and expats alike. Doctors at public hospitals tend to be well trained, though waiting times tend to be long. Emergency care is generally free, even for tourists and expats.

There are numerous excellent private clinics in Buenos Aires and many of the doctors have trained abroad, so most speak English or at least have some basic English skills. There are German and British hospitals (the British Hospital offers various healthcare plans) in the city as well.

Buenos Aires is an increasingly popular destination for cosmetic surgery. Procedures are done professionally at the fraction of the price one would pay in the USA or most of Europe.


Hospitals in Buenos Aires

Below are some of the most popular hospitals in Buenos Aires for expats:

 

British Hospital

Pedriel 74, 1280AEB

www.hospitalbritanico.org.ar

 

Hospital Alemán

Av Pueyrredon 1640, C1118AAT 

www.hospitalaleman.org.ar

 

Hospital General de Agudos Dr. Teodoro Alvarez

Dr. Juan Felipe Aranguren 2701, C1406FWYCABA 

www.hospitalalvarez.org

 

Hospital Italiano

Juan D. Perón 4190, C1199ABH

Education and Schools in Buenos Aires

There are many schools in Buenos Aires and in the surrounding suburbs. Newcomers will have a wide range of options when it comes to their children's education. Nevertheless, expats usually choose to send their children to private or international schools in Buenos Aires. This is mainly because of the language barriers in public schools.


Public schools in Buenos Aires

Although free schooling is provided for all children attending public school, resources are stretched. The system of public education in Buenos Aires is underfunded and the quality of schooling has decreased. 

Although expats can take advantage of free education in Buenos Aires, children attending local schools will also have to learn to speak Spanish, as English-speaking teachers are rare. That said, this may assist children in assimilating into the culture and language. 


Private schools in Buenos Aires

Many private schools in Buenos Aires provide an excellent bilingual curriculum and cater to expat students. That said, expat parents should note that a bilingual curriculum could lead to a longer school day as classes are typically done in Spanish in the mornings and English in the afternoons.

Most private schools are affiliated with the Catholic church and charge high fees. These schools do not provide extras such as books and stationery, which would be an extra cost parents need to foot. It’s important to note that competition for a place at a private school can be high. 


International schools in Buenos Aires

There are also a number of well-respected international schools in Buenos Aires that follow European or American curricula. Some of these also offer the International Baccalaureate (IB) diploma.

Space can be limited at international schools in Buenos Aires and expat parents need to plan well ahead if wanting a place for their child at the school of their choice. Fees can also be prohibitively expensive. Those moving to the city as part of a corporate relocation should factor this into any contract negotiations before committing to the move.


Special-needs education in Buenos Aires

By federal law, all schools must accept children with disabilities. There’s a new push for inclusion programmes in many schools, trying to incorporate children with all different types of abilities. Unfortunately, many public schools aren’t receptive to accepting children with special needs.

Parents of children with special needs should therefore consider international or private schools, and it's advisable to contact the schools to find out what options are available.


Tutoring in Buenos Aires

Expats can find private home or online tutors for their children through registered online tutor companies. Apprentus and TeacherOn are two such companies. These tutors can help children adjust to the new curriculum, to learning in Spanish, or offer school support for students struggling in any of their classes.

International Schools in Buenos Aires

Since public schools in Buenos Aires use Spanish as the language of tuition, most expat parents will choose to send their children to an international school instead. These schools follow a variety of curricula from various nations. This means parents are bound to find a school that fits their needs.

Below are some of the most popular international schools in Buenos Aires.


International schools in Buenos Aires

Buenos Aires International Christian Academy (BAICA)

Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: Argentinian and American
Ages: 3 to 18
Website: www.baica.com

Goethe Schule

Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: German
Ages: 2 to 18
Website: www.goethe.edu.ar

Lincoln School

Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: American, Argentinian and International Baccalaureate
Ages: 4 to 18
Website: www.lincoln.edu.ar

Lycée Franco-Argentin Jean Mermoz

Gender: Co-educational
Ages: 3 to 18
Curriculum: French and Argentinian
Website: www.lyceemermoz.edu.ar

Northlands

Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: International Baccalaureate and Cambridge IGCSE
Ages: 2 to 18
Website: www.northlands.org.ar

St Andrew’s Scots School

Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: Argentinian, Cambridge IGCSE and International Baccalaureate 
Ages: 3 to 18
Website: www.sanandres.esc.edu.ar

St George’s College

Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: Argentinian, Cambridge IGCSE and International Baccalaureate
Ages: 3 to 18
Website: www.stgeorges.edu.ar

Lifestyle in Buenos Aires

Argentina is famous for having the best steak, tango and leather in the world, and Buenos Aires is no exception. Areas such as Palermo and Puerto Madero have incredible restaurants, shopping and nightlife. Expats will have no problem finding a restaurant to suit their taste and a shop to suit their budget.

The large expat population in Buenos Aires is mostly concentrated in Palermo, which is Buenos Aires’ largest and most expensive barrio, and the shops and restaurants in the area reflect that. It's also encouraged to break away from expat life in Buenos Aires, and one can easily branch out and mingle with the locals in various quirky bars and cafes around the city.

Keep in mind that everything happens a bit later in Buenos Aires. Locals will rarely have dinner before 10pm and most clubs don’t open until 1am. Expats should be prepared to be out until the early hours of the morning.


Shopping in Buenos Aires

Buenos Aires’ most famous shopping districts are Palermo Soho and Recoleta. This is where expats will find many trendy cafes, designer stores and outdoor markets.

For those who prefer shopping malls, there are a number of options. Alto Palermo Shopping Mall is one of the largest malls. It offers hundreds of shops and restaurants as well as a cinema. Galerías Pacífico is another popular shopping mall in Buenos Aires.

Most shopping malls and supermarkets in Buenos Aires are open every day of the week. Smaller stores outside of shopping malls may close earlier and are often not open on Sundays. Buenos Aires also has plenty of 24-hour convenience stores.

Outlet shopping

Outlet shopping is another option for expats in Buenos Aires. The main outlet stores can be found on Avenue Córdoba and in the Aguirre district of Villa Crespo. These stores are known to offer international designer brands at discounted prices.

Speciality shopping districts

When looking for something more specific it is good to know that Buenos Aires is divided up into areas where certain items are sold. For example, there is an area where expats can find leather, another for electronics and another for imported foods.

China Town in Belgrano is the best place for expats to find exotic foods and spices. This is also where expats can get their hands on peanut butter, something that is not readily available in Buenos Aires. 

There are also some great flea markets in Buenos Aires, with Mercado de San Telmo being one of the largest. The market has an eclectic mix of goods. Expats who have the patience to browse will be able to find some amazing deals there. 

For leather, expats should visit Calle Murillo in Villa Crespo. This is the main leather district of Buenos Aires, and expats who visit it will be amazed by the quality and variety of leather items available. 


Eating out in Buenos Aires

It will not take long for expats to realise that having dinner at 10pm or later is the norm in Buenos Aires. Eating this late can cause some culture shock at first, but new arrivals will be relieved to know that there is no shortage of excellent restaurants in Buenos Aires that will make dinner well worth the wait.

The most popular area for good restaurants in Buenos Aires is Palermo, specifically Palermo Soho. There is also a wide range of international dining options available, such as Korean, Chinese, Thai and American. And though Argentinian cuisine is mainly focused on meat, expats with a vegetarian diet will be happy to hear that the city has seen a boom in vegetarian and plant-based restaurants.


Nightlife in Buenos Aires

Buenos Aires has a bustling nightlife scene. Porteños (Buenos Aires locals) like to stay out late, and clubs are usually open until the sun rises. Clubs in Buenos Aires are known as boliches and are busy from around 2am to 7am every night of the week. Interestingly, Buenos Aires does not have a big drinking culture so things tend to remain civilized. 

Expats who like to go out dancing should join their favourite clubs’ mailing lists. This will allow them free entry and other special discounts. 

For those not interested in staying out until the wee hours, there is no need to fret. Expats wanting to start socialising a bit earlier in the evening will find a number of Irish bars and pubs in Reconquista. This is where many people go for a drink after work.


Sports and outdoor activities in Buenos Aires

Expats in Buenos Aires will be able to enjoy a diverse selection of outdoor activities. As it is a coastal city, water sports such as sailing, fishing and kayaking are popular among locals and foreigners alike. Horse riding is also popular and there are many riding trails in the areas around the city. The Argentina Polo Day is a popular annual event which attracts tourists from around the world.

Nature enthusiasts moving to Buenos Aires will have access to the unspoilt natural landscapes of the many national parks and pristine botanical gardens in and around the city. Expats can also make use of the extensive network of running paths and circuits within Buenos Aires' many parks. Beaches, golf courses and public swimming pools are all easily accessible. All of these options offer a brief but welcome escape from the bustle of the city.

Argentinians are a sports-loving people. Buenos Aires contains world-class sports stadiums for local and international sports fixtures and events. Porteños also take great pride in their local soccer and rugby teams. As such, going to a local game is a must for anyone looking for an authentic Argentinian experience.

See and Do in Buenos Aires

Expats arriving in Buenos Aires will immediately notice its European flavour. The city was founded by European immigrants and many locals still define themselves by those European roots. This makes for an interesting cultural experience.

There is no shortage of things to see and do in Buenos Aires. From shopping and museums to soccer games and tango shows, there is something for everyone.


Popular attractions in Buenos Aires

From the historical significance of Casa Rosada, to the chaotic devotion of the fans at La Bombonera, a day out sightseeing in Buenos Aires will never be a dull experience. 

Casa Rosada

Also known as the Pink House, this is a must-see attraction in Buenos Aires. This palatial mansion is where Argentina’s presidential offices are located. It is also home to the famous balcony that former first lady Eva Perón stood on as she gave her famous speech. This moment has since been immortalised by the musical Evita.

Floralis Generica

Floralis Generica is a large stainless-steel sculpture on the Plaza de las Naciones Unidas (United Nations Square) in Recoleta, Buenos Aires. It was created by Argentinian architect Eduardo Catalano who gifted it to the city. This sculpture is an enormous flower. Its six petals open at 8am each morning, and close at sunset. The petals also closed in high winds in order to protect the sculpture. 

Temaiken Bioparque

Temaiken Bioparque is a wild animal park just outside of Buenos Aires, and is a great activity for children and adults alike. The park has an aquarium and plenty of exotic animals who live in enclosures that mimic their natural habitats. The park works to conserve endangered species and ecosystems, as well as running an education programme for conservation that provides 15,000 scholarships per year. The park also attempts to teach its visitors ways that they can get involved in protecting the environment and its animal life. It's only about a 40-minute taxi ride from the city, and it's also possible to get there by bus.  

Braga Menendez Arte Contemporaneo

This is one of Buenos Aires’ major contemporary art galleries. Expats can view many different mediums of art here from photography to paintings and sculpture. Other galleries in Buenos Aires include Ruth Benzacar and Galería Mar Dulce.

La Boca

La Boca is a colourful and lively barrio (neighbourhood) in Buenos Aires. The colourful houses and the vibrant Caminito Street give it its charm. Expats who walk down Caminito Street will see the unmistakable influence of the tango. One can often find dancers performing right on the sidewalks. The arts and crafts market is definitely worth a visit, especially for affordable leather goods. As exciting as this area is during the day, it is best avoided at night.

San Telmo

Barrio de San Telmo is the oldest neighbourhood in Buenos Aires and is a popular tourist site. It is home to tango dancers and flea markets. Expats can visit the Plaza Dorrego to watch some tango dancing and enjoy a cup of coffee.

Boca Juniors soccer game

Anyone living in Buenos Aires needs to experience the chaos that is a Boca Juniors soccer game at least once before they leave. The games are held at the Estadio Alberto J. Armando stadium, more commonly known as La Bombonera. Expats will find that the enthusiasm of the fans puts other spectator sports to shame. The best Boca Juniors game to watch is the Superclasico when they play their arch rivals, River Plate. The atmosphere is energetic and intense – heaven for any soccer fan.

What's On in Buenos Aires

Expats moving to Buenos Aires will find that there is no shortage of events throughout the year. Of these, cultural and sporting events are the most common. Adults and children alike are sure to discover something they enjoy in this vibrant city.

Below we've listed some of the best annual events in Buenos Aires that expats shouldn't miss out on. 


Annual events in Buenos Aires

Lollapalooza Argentina (March)

Lollapalooza is an international music festival that takes place every year in the San Isidro barrio of Buenos Aires. It attracts music artists and fans from all over the world. This certainly is one of the biggest events of the year for many young people in Buenos Aires.

The Buenos Aires Independent International Film Festival (April)

This exciting event showcases international independent films. It also presents the work of Argentine filmmakers to an international audience. The festival is ten days long and attracts many big names in the film industry.

ArteBA (May)

ArteBA is a week-long art fair in Buenos Aires. This is one of the most popular cultural events in Latin America. The festival features the work of artists from all over the world. It attracts thousands of artists, collectors, galleries and punters.

Aniversario de la Revolución de Mayo (May)

This is the celebration of the 1810 revolution in Argentina. The festivities begin at midnight on 24 May when crowds gather in front of the Cabildo (a museum commemorating the revolution). People gather again on the evening of the 25th for another patriotic rendition of the Argentinian anthem.

Exposición Rural (July/August)

Exposición Rural is an important two-week farm fair in Buenos Aires that any animal lover will enjoy. The main attractions are the bulls, but lambs, pigs and other animals also feature. Expats can enjoy the gaucho stunts that are performed and join in on the folklore nights with some genuine Argentinian cowboys.

Buenos Aires Tango Festival (August)

This is the world’s most important tango festival. It’s therefore no surprise that it is held in Buenos Aires, the birthplace of the tango. The festival is nine days long, giving expats plenty of time to take in all there is to see. There are tango shows, free dancing lessons, exhibitions, a dance-off on Avenida Corrientes and plenty of other sights and sounds to enjoy. 

Maratón de Buenos Aires (September)

The marathon takes place in the city centre, where competitors will run through some of the city's most emblematic, historic and symbolic sites. These include the Obelisk, the Cabildo, the Teatro Colón, the Plaza de Mayo, the Casa Rosada, the Tres de Febrero park, and the barrios of La Boca and Puerto Madero. This is a great way for active expats to get involved and experience another side of Buenos Aires. For the less athletically inclined, there is a fun run. There is also a 2.5 mile (4km) race for children.

Spring Wine Tour Urbano (October)

Expats can walk along Armenia and Honduras streets in Palermo and browse the shops while enjoying a glass of excellent Argentinian wine. Every boutique represents a different national winery. Expats should not miss out on trying red wine made from Malbec grapes, a truly Argentinian experience.

Gran Premio Nacional (November)

This event is Argentina’s most important annual horse race. It is the perfect opportunity for expats who enjoyed going to the races in their home countries to have some fun. The event dates back to 1884. When looking for a good excuse to dress up and rub shoulders with Argentina’s rich and famous, one doesn't need to look further than this event.

Buenos Aires International Jazz Festival (November)

Expats who enjoy a bit of culture shouldn’t miss the Buenos Aires International Jazz Festival. Both international and local musicians take part in the festival at various theatres and venues throughout the city. Some of the main venues include the Recoleta Cultural Centre, the Coliseo Theatre, the National Library and various jazz clubs in Buenos Aires.

LGBT Pride Week and Parade (November)

As one of the most gay-friendly Latin American cities, Buenos Aires hosts its biggest celebration of diversity each year in November. Events take place at various venues, culminating in the parade that runs every year. The parade runs along one of the city's most important avenues, Avenida de Mayo. Starting from the Casa Rosada, or 'pink house', parade goers then march to the National Congress building. The event continues outside the Congress with speeches, music and dancing. The festivities tend to last into the evening, and then continues afterwards in buses, trains, bars and nightclubs.

Argentinine Open Polo Tournament (November/ December)

Polo is a huge part of Argentinian culture. This has led to the country producing some of the world’s best polo players and horses. The Argentinian Open Polo Tournament dates back to 1893. It is the fifth oldest polo tournament in the world. It is held at the massive Campo Argentino de Polo in Palermo. Here expats can sit outside, take advantage of the summer weather and enjoy the glamorous sporting event. To get the full experience, one can even attend one of the many parties held afterwards.

Getting Around in Buenos Aires

Expats will find that getting around Buenos Aires and navigating the city is incredibly simple. Public transport in Buenos Aires is excellent and inexpensive. The city boasts the oldest subway system in South America but, although the buses and the subway (subte) are efficient, they can be overcrowded during rush hour.

Buenos Aires uses a grid system. This means the city is divided into blocks that are numbered, and most streets are one-way with a parallel street going in the opposite direction. This makes giving a taxi driver instructions quite easy. Expats just have to provide the names of the two intersecting streets closest to their desired destination. 


Public transport in Buenos Aires

As the city no longer takes cash payments for buses, trains and the subway, it is important that expats get a prepaid card called a SUBE. This can be bought at subway stations, Tourist Assistance Centers and at many kioskos (corner stores), and can be charged with credit and swiped when getting onto a bus, train or the subway. The card is able to run a limited deficit before it must be recharged, which comes in handy at night or on Sundays when most kioskos are closed.

Buses

Buenos Aires has an extensive system of bus routes that go everywhere in the city. Buses are known locally as colectivos and run throughout the city and into the suburbs. The Metrobus is a rapid-transit bus that uses dedicated bus lanes on several of the city's main arteries to cut journey times. Several Metrobus stops have free WiFi access.

Buses run 24 hours a day, seven days a week. This makes the bus one of the best options for travellers, especially late at night. 

When expats board buses in Buenos Aires, they should tell the driver their destination and the driver will work out the fare. Expats who know the correct fare can just tell the bus driver how much they are going to pay when they board the bus. After the driver punches the amount into the machine, they can then swipe their SUBE card.

There are buses that travel into the suburbs surrounding Buenos Aires, but the fares are slightly higher and they don’t run as often as the city buses.

Trains

The train is a good option when it comes to reaching neighbourhoods further from the centre, or to visit destinations in Buenos Aires Province. There are several suburban commuter train lines that run from the city centre to the suburbs and nearby provinces. 

The primary railway stations in Buenos Aires are Retiro, Constitucion, Once and Frederico Lacroze. Trains are an economical option when travelling. Tickets can be purchased at the stations by using the SUBE card and expats can take the subway or a bus into the city centre from any of these stations. 

Subway

The subway (subte) is an efficient and inexpensive way to get around Buenos Aires. That said, it does get crowded and chaotic during peak traffic hours. It has five lines, which are labelled ‘A’ to ‘E’, and the sixth line is ‘H’.

Trains generally run frequently so commuters don't have to wait long but operational hours can vary, with the subway running for shorter hours on Sundays and public holidays. Expats can also use the SUBE card to pay for subway fares.

The subte website has a detailed map of the network. Stations have free WiFi access, which also works while you're riding the subway. 


Taxis in Buenos Aires

There are thousands of taxis in Buenos Aires. The most common taxis are black with yellow roofs. They can be flagged down directly when standing on the right-hand side of the street. When the libre (free) sign is lit up in the windscreen, it means the taxi is available.

It's possible to hail a taxi off the street or ask someone at a hotel or restaurant to call one. BA Taxi, an app rolled out by the government, can also be used to order a regular taxi. Expats should always insist that the driver turn on the meter to avoid being overcharged, and the driver’s information should be clearly displayed in the back of the taxi. Expats should also try and have the exact change with them when travelling in a taxi, as drivers often don’t have change or may be tempted to short-change when handed a large bill.

Private-hire taxis called remises can be booked in advance through agencies. They are slightly more expensive than taxis but are usually safer.

Ride-sharing services such as Uber are also readily available in Buenos Aires. Expats who cannot speak Spanish will likely find that this is the easiest way to get around the city. With this option, there is limited room for miscommunication with drivers and no need to read Spanish street signs or maps.


Driving in Buenos Aires

Driving in Buenos Aires can be chaotic. The traffic is heavy and frustrating for inexperienced expats. Those living in the city with access to the public transport network are advised to avoid driving altogether. Expats who can’t avoid driving should do so defensively as local driving behaviour can be quite erratic and aggressive. 

Large expressways extend from Buenos Aires out to most of the country and are well maintained, but expats may find unpaved roads beyond this. That said, most of the roads in Argentina are paved and in rather good condition. Many of the major highways out of Buenos Aires have been extended and now link to most of Argentina’s major cities.

To drive in Argentina, expats must possess an International Driving Permit in addition to a national driver's license from their home country. Expats should also ensure that they have their vehicle’s registration, green card (tarjeta verde), and tax and insurance documents in the car, as traffic police will request to see these if they pull anyone over. 


Cycling in Buenos Aires

For years, the Argentinian government has been prioritising cycling in the city, and it has recently paid off as Buenos Aires is now amongst the 20 most bike-friendly cities in the world. The city has a great network of bike lanes and a completely free public-bicycle system.

Buenos Aires has more than 186 miles (300km) of cycle lanes covering 30 neighbourhoods. There are more than 3,000 bicycles available through the city bike-share scheme, known as BA Ecobici. This system is available to residents and visitors alike. 


Walking in Buenos Aires

Walking is a good way to get around in Buenos Aires during the day, but it might be better to avoid walking in certain areas of the city after dark. Expats who walk around Buenos Aires will find it difficult to get lost because of the grid-like layout of the streets. Walking is also an excellent way to avoid the frustrations of traffic and public transport during peak hours.

There is plenty to see and do while walking around Buenos Aires, as many of the streets are lined with shops and cafes. There are also pedestrian walkways such as Calle Florida, which runs from Plaza San Martín to Plaza de Mayo. Expats walking along here will cross another pedestrian walkway called Lavalle, which will take them to Plaza de la República and the Obelisk.