Buenos Aires, Argentina Report of what it's like to live there - 08/08/11

Personal Experiences from Buenos Aires, Argentina

Buenos Aires, Argentina 08/08/11

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

Paris, Rome, Tel Aviv, Moscow.

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2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

Washington D.C. about 10 hours, plus/minus depending on airlines.

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3. How long have you lived here?

been here 2 + years

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

government

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

We live in the suburbs to be close to the school. The commute into the city is nasty.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Expensive.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

Everything is available, but it is expensive and going up all the time...25% inflation.

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5. What kinds of organic, vegetarian and allergy-friendly foods are available, such as organic produce, gluten-free products, meat substitutes for vegetarians, etc?

Gluten-free products are easily available. However this is a meat-eating country and the vegetables and fruits are an after thought.

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6. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

Lots of mosquitoes in the warm weather.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

Embassy.

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

Easily available and used to be quite inexpensive, but everything is going up.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

Yes, physical appearance is VERY important here.

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4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

We use cc only.

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

Catholic and Christian both available.

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6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

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7. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

It definitely helps to know Spanish, but basic level proficiency is easily acquired.

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8. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

Sidewalks are broken, few ramps, bathrooms not suitable to wheelchairs.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Can't say in general they're all safe. One has to be really careful. Buses and trains are very cheap, taxis are expensive. In the city one has to be very careful where to go and petty theft is common.

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2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

I wouldn't bring a big car because of limited parking and a big minivan shouts "I'M AMERICAN."

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Available, but not dependable.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

Get one.

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Pets:

1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

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2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

Lots of vets - people here LOVE dogs.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

No.

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2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Less casual than in the US.

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

Many. Crime has increased dramatically and at least once a week some crime is reported among the embassy community or the neighborhood in general.

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

Medical care is fine.

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3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

OK.

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4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Very mild, never freezes.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

Lincoln School - high school and middle school are OK, the elementary academic level is sub-par. However, I have the attitude that it will all work out.

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

Lincoln definitely works with kids with special needs, but you need to check with the school in advance to make sure that your particular need can be accommodated.

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3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

You can find everything.

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4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

Yes, but we only patronize the school's programs because my kids are somewhat shy.

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

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2. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

People go out very late here.

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3. Morale among expats:

Some love it here. Some hate it here.

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4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

Good for everyone.

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5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

Yes.

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6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

Not that I know of. That said, it is a Latin American Catholic society.

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7. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

Love Spanish and the steak is great.

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8. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

Walking, having coffee, playing tennis, not too many museums.

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9. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Leather goods.

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10. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

Weather is gorgeous.

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11. Can you save money?

Not if you're a government employee.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Yes.

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2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

American standards and expectations. Bring $ to bribe policemen.

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3. But don't forget your:

Patience. Very important.

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4. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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6. Do you have any other comments?

You can always find things to complain about wherever you go. But most places in the world are not like America or Western Europe. So accept it, don't compare to home and you'll be fine.

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