What is it like to move to and live in Buenos Aires?
In this interview, Erin, who calls Buenos Aires home now, shares her story and a lot of tips for moving to and living in Buenos Aires.
This interview is part of the Ask an Expat series. In this series, I interview people living all over the world but outside of their home country. I try to help paint an honest picture of the ups and downs of life abroad, share tips about moving to the place the expat now calls home, and information about what to see and do here.
Expat Life in Buenos Aires, Argentina
Name: Erin Mushaway
Home town: Brenham, Texas, USA
“I’ve always been obsessed with traveling. I was lucky to go on a few trips every year with my family while growing up so the seed was planted early.
In university, I chose my major (International Studies) mainly because it required a semester abroad. I chose Spain and fell in love with living abroad.
The semester flew by and I wasn’t ready to be done so once back in the US I immediately started looking at ways to get back. Straight after college, I was on a plane back to Andalucía where I studied Hotel Management.
After that I worked at hotels in Barcelona and the US Virgin Islands before finally settling in Buenos Aires, where I’ve been for the past 10 years.”
Why Did You Move to Buenos Aires?
“I always wanted to live in Spain, but with the 2008 financial crisis there were no jobs or visas available, which is why I ended up in the Caribbean.
When I was feeling claustrophobic (island life can start to feel that way!), I booked a trip to visit my best friend who was living in Buenos Aires.
I spent 2 weeks in the city. It felt so good to be in a Spanish speaking country again. I wanted the city life (although looking back, it feels crazy to leave behind a literal Caribbean paradise) and I wanted to practice Spanish.
I left most of my clothes and belongings with my friend as collateral so I couldn’t change my mind and returned to the island to close out my life there.
I was back in Buenos Aires a month later. Since then I’ve gotten married to a local and we’re about to have a baby!”
What Do You Like About Living in Buenos Aires?
“There is always something to do here.
10 years later and I’m still discovering new museums and even visiting neighborhoods for the first time. You’ll never be bored in Buenos Aires.
It’s also been exciting to see the city evolve over the past decade. The restaurant scene has gotten so much better, with a lot more international offerings. Wine bars and artisanal beer have both become very popular.
The people here are also incredibly creative. That means excellent films and even hilarious commercials. There are countless outdoor markets where people sell excellent handmade crafts you actually want to buy. Art exhibits, museums, cultural centers, street art… creativity is everywhere.”
What Do You Dislike About Living in Buenos Aires?
Sometimes the inefficiency is so difficult for me to deal with when I’m such a cliché Type A American.
For example, more than once I’ve had a doctor make a mistake on a prescription (maybe just write a 5 that kind of looks like a 6 on the date), and there’s no way to fix it!
In my hometown in Texas, the pharmacist would just call the doctor and confirm the prescription. In Buenos Aires, the prescription is useless. You have to go back to the doctor for a new one, which can take hours.
That’s one very specific example but it’s close-minded things like that where there is a refusal to think outside the box and find a solution. That can get very frustrating.
Also, punctuality. I’m on time to a fault and have always struggled with when to show up to Argentine get togethers, where the event start time is more of a suggestion.”
Is Buenos Aires Safe as a Place to Live?
“Buenos Aires is just like any large, metropolitan city. You need to exercise the same precautions you would anywhere.
Petty crime can be an issue, with situations like phones or purses being snatched. This can happen anywhere, not just in typical “poor” neighborhoods, since thieves tend to follow the money and target wealthier neighborhoods as well.
That said, you should be extra-alert when in certain neighborhoods like La Boca or Retiro (which is a very wealthy downtown neighborhood sitting next door to the city’s largest slum).
All of that said, living in Buenos Aires is perfectly safe and you shouldn’t be afraid. I’ve never had any issues in all of my years here.”
What Is Your Favorite Thing to Do in Buenos Aires?
“Buenos Aires is less of a city known for its landmarks that you check off a list, and more for its neighborhoods. Each one has its own personality.
My favorite thing to do on a day off is to pick a barrio I’ve never been to and research it, find off the beaten path sorts of things, cool restaurants and bars and then explore it!
I’ve discovered some really unique places this way.”
What Is Your Favorite Place to Hang out in Buenos Aires?
“I love wine and Argentina produces some of the world’s best wines so my favorite thing to do is to visit the wine bars in Palermo.
What Is the Expat / International Community Like in Buenos Aires?
“The expat community in Buenos Aires is very helpful.
There are active Facebook groups for expats in general, women in business, and even parent expats in Buenos Aires.
If you’re looking for support, there’s definitely a community here available.
Buenos Aires attracts all sorts so there are people of all ages. Whether you’re looking for someone to go party with on Friday or you’re a professional looking to network, you’ll be in good company.”
Any Tips for Moving to / Living in Buenos Aires?
“Bring everything you can with you. Imports are expensive here.
Clothing, baby products, electronics, outdoor gear… All of these things can cost 2-3 times what they would in the US or Europe. It will be cheaper to pay for an extra checked suitcase than to buy camping gear or smartphones here in Buenos Aires.
If cooking is important to you, bring the spices. Basic spices and herbs exist here, of course, but if you’re looking for a specialty Indian spice or excellent saffron from Spain, pack it.
For work, I recommend coming with a remote job that you can do from anywhere and earn dollars or euros.
Local salaries are very low and being able to earn dollars will make a huge difference in your quality of life (and ability to enjoy the city).
Websites like Upwork are great resources for online freelance gigs to earn extra dollars.
Also Read: How to Work Remotely From Anywhere
For an apartment, try reaching out to Airbnb hosts and see if they are open to a cheaper, long term rate. It’s a great way to find a place that has been reviewed and will be trustworthy.”
Any Resources You Found Useful During the Process of Moving to And/Or Building a New Life in Buenos Aires?
“There are plenty of websites and online resources to help build a new life in Buenos Aires:
- Buenos Aires Expat Hub – This is a very active Facebook community of expats living in Buenos Aires. Search the group before asking your question because it’s already home to a wealth of information.
- BA Expats – This is an active forum off of Facebook. For those who don’t have a Facebook account it’s a great resource as well.
- This Guide to Living in Buenos Aires – A complete logistical guide with everything you need to know to move to Buenos Aires, from immigration to where to grocery shop.
- Mercado Libre – The Ebay of Latin America. If you’re wondering whether you can find something in particular in Argentina (from food to electronics), search here.”
Is There Something You Just Have to See or Do When You Are in Buenos Aires?
“Buenos Aires is less about its landmarks and more about its neighborhoods, so bring comfortable shoes and hit the pavement!
Whether you’re wandering the parks in Palermo or the colorful streets in La Boca, you’re going to get the best feel for the city by walking as much as you can.
Another must-see is actually outside of the city. Argentina is world-famous for its rural culture and visiting one of the best estancias near Buenos Aires is the best way to experience it. You can see real life gauchos, go horse-back riding, and eat excellent barbeque. It’s also a great way to spend a day when you need a break from the city’s hustle and bustle.
A Texan transplanted into Argentina, Erin Mushaway has spent more than a decade living abroad in Europe, the Caribbean, and South America, but mostly in Argentina.
She has lived in Buenos Aires for the past ten years, perfecting her Spanish, drinking Malbec, and putting down roots.
Follow her adventures on her blog Solsalute.com
About Buenos Aires
Buenos Aires is the capital and largest city of Argentina.
It is one of the largest cities in Latin America, with a lot of cultural offerings.
Inhabitants of Buenos Aires are called porteños, “people from the port”, implying that many of the inhabitants are immigrants in some ways or another.
Buenos Aires is a multicultural city, home to multiple ethnic and religious groups. Several languages are spoken in the city in addition to Spanish. The city, and the country in general, has been a major recipient of immigrants from all over the world, making it a melting pot of cultures.
It’s considered one of the most diverse cities in the Americas.
Buenos Aires’ quality of life was ranked 91st in the world in 2019, being one of the best in Latin America.
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