Expat Argentina

Avid readers of the travel section in almost any newspaper have no doubt seen many articles proclaiming Buenos Aires, Argentina the hottest new destination for expats. Since the financial crisis of 2001, this country that once boasted prices that rivaled those of major cities in the United States and Europe, has become one of the cheapest countries in South America. Although prices and inflation are beginning to rise, Argentina is still drawing visitors, investors, and vacationers in droves. More European than American, Argentina mixes Old Europe with New South America and creates a culture that is dynamic, exciting, sensual, and, at times, exasperating.


Argentina is the eighth largest country in the world and, as such, boasts many different climates. The climate is mostly temperate and never gets too hot or too cold. The northernmost parts of the country experience very hot, humid summers and the winters are dry and mild. In the south, the summers are mild, but the winters are extremely cold and snowy. The Andes are the second highest mountain range in the world. Depending on your location in the Andes, the climate maay be hot or cold. Buenos Aires has warm summers (January is the only month that is usually very hot), and mild winters, (rarely dropping down to freezing). Argentina can be quite windy, and there are many names for the different winds. For example, the Zonda blows from June to November. The Zonda is characterized by hours of hot, dry wind – the result of air coming from the Andes. Zondas have been known to gust up to 75 km/h.


The Argentine government is a federal democratic republic. That is, the president is the head of state as well as the head of government. Argentina has a history of political unrest and has had its share of dictators. From Juan Peron to the military junta of the late 70s and early 80s, Argentina has been ruled by strong-willed, and strong-armed men (and occasionally, women). Those days are now in the past. Although protests are occasionally organized, and the piqueteros (protestors asking for more government jobs and benefits) still block traffic a few times a month, these events are not dangerous, and the average Argentine usually just grumbles about the delay. Corruption in government and the police police force is still a problem. Fortunately, this typically does not affect the expat community.

It is quite easy for Westerners to enter the country as they only need a passport. A tourist visa is good for three months, and can be renewed at the immigration office. Many expats living in Buenos Aires take the ferry to Colonia, Uruguay every three months to extend their visa. Depending on the boat you take, the trip takes 2-4 hours and costs between US$40 and US$60. More information can be found at the Embassy of Argentina in Washington D.C. or the United States Embassy in Buenos Aires.

Tax System

Taxes in Argentina are fairly high, with the highest income and corporate tax brackets at 35%. There is also a value added and wealth tax. You can read more about the economic situation in Argentina in the Index of Economic Freedom: Argentina.

Medical Care

Health services in Argentina are good. In Buenos Aires, many European health clinics staffed with well-trained, qualified individuals are available. Basic health insurance at these clinics can be very cheap and convenient. However, this type of coverage is limited to the clinic you purchase the plan from. Drugs are cheap and pharmacies plentiful. Dental care is quite inexpensive as well. Finding a good quality dentist who studied in North America or Europe is quite easily done in the major cities. A dental exam and cleaning in a modern office from a good dentist only costs US$20.

Real Estate

Luxury apartments were still quite inexpensive after the financial crisis. Real estate is very cheap by Western standards, but prices are rising. In the months following the crisis, a studio apartment in one of the better Buenos Aires neighborhoods would only cost US$30,000. These days, the same apartment might be listed for double, if not more. Sadly, it is common knowledge that it is quite difficult to do business with the Argentines. A foreigner trying to buy an apartment is expected to pay cash for it!  Though foreigners may find it completely absurd, the buyer is expected to show up for a meeting with the cash (no checks, no wire transfers) required to purchase the apartment. The buyer also has to count the money in the presence of several different lawyers, notaries, and agents.

Renting property can also be an arduous task. Renting a furnished, tourist-style apartment is fairly easy, but an unfurnished place will require more absurdities. The renter is often asked to pay the entire/half the balance up front or even to make a huge deposit (usually six months rent)! Rental prices are reasonable, but steadily climbing. A fully furnished 3 bedroom apartment in a good neighborhood with all the amenities starts at around $1200. Nice, well-located, and furnished studio apartments range from $400 up. Shady real estate dealings are prevalent in Argentina (especially Buenos Aires). Therefore,  it is never a good idea to send money to anyone in Argentina, even if  the rental company seems legitimate. Many visitors have been duped by Argentine rental companies. These companies ensure visitors that they have reserved their apartments, but actually do not. The  rental companies neither give visitors another apartment nor refund their money!


Shopping in Argentina is great as there are plenty of bargains. If your passion is clothes, then you are in the right place. Leather goods are cheap, plentiful, and of a high quality. Many expats love the  food at first, but soon grow tired of the lack of diversity. Carnivores will love the local food, but vegetarians will not. Steak is the staple of almost every meal, and many Argentines eat it at least once a day! Dining out is quite reasonable as a meal at a very nice restaurant should not cost more than $20 per person. Argentina is one of the top producers of wine in the world, and the quality is top notch. Bottles of very good wine cost as little as $7 in any supermarket.

The tap water in most parts of Argentina is ostensibly safe to drink, but bottled water is recommended.

Argentina is a great destination for tourists who enjoy the nightlife. Argentines eat dinner at around 10 P.M., and it is quite normal for discos and bars to get started at around 2 A.M.! There are also many tango shows, theatre productions, and art exhibitions that take place nightly.

Cost of Living

The cost of living in Argentina is very affordable, but the prices are rising every year. After the crisis, Argentina went from the most expensive country in South America, to one of the cheapest. Now it is moving towards being in the middle. For a cosmopolitan city, Buenos Aires is still quite inexpensive. Utilities are subsidized by the government, so light, water, and gas are outrageously cheap. The internet is also very cheap because the ISP market is quite competitive. A 1 MB connection can be found for as little as $20 a month! Two people should be able to live very well for $2000 a month or less, with rent being the main cost. Prices significantly decrease once outside of Buenos Aires. So Mendoza, Cordoba, and some of the other secondary cities may be inviting options for expats.

Extradition from Argentina

Argentina entered into an extradition treaty with the United States in 1972.

Map of Argentina