Buenos Aires, Argentina Report of what it's like to live there - 06/09/15

Personal Experiences from Buenos Aires, Argentina

Buenos Aires, Argentina 06/09/15

Background:

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

4th.

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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 DC. There are direct flights from Miami, Houston, Atlanta and New York.

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3. How long have you lived here?

1 year

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

U.S. 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?

Most people live in big apartments close to the Embassy. Most are in modern buildings with garage parking. People with kids live close to the Lincoln school in the suburbs. The biggest complaint is the length of time to commute from the suburbs it can take anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours. Traffic is a huge problem here and add to that protesters are allowed to block many of the highways to get into the city.

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

Some things are cheaper than in the U.S. like meat and chicken but due to import restrictions by the current government, most things are made in Argentina. This just means that cheese is only provolone. Argentines don't like spicy so food tends to be bland. Make sure you bring spices with you because they are not here because there is no demand for them.

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

Spices and hot sauce, brown sugar, baking soda (unless you want to get from the pharmacy).

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

McDonald's, Wendys, KFC and Burger King are here. There are many dining options from cafes to fine dining. Eating out is cheaper than the U.S. for sure. You can get anything delivered here - Burger King even delivers. You can also order over the internet if your Spanish isn't great.

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

None. Very few mosquitoes in the city.

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Daily Life:

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

DPO.

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

It is less then in the U.S. but more than other Latin American countries.

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

Yes but gyms here are very expensive. Most apartment buildings have pools and gyms.

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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?

Widely used and accepted. Cashiers don't like to make change so sometimes it is easier to use a credit card.

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

None that I know of.

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

Some. Many Argetines speak some level of English. One thing is that Argentine Spanish is much different. So even if you know Spanish it will take some adjusting.

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

Yes and no. There are many elevators and the sidewalks have ramps for wheelchairs. However the sidewalks are made from paving stones that are often loose, missing or bulging upward. I would imagine that this would make travel difficult but not impossible for someone in a wheelchair.

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Transportation:

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

Yes trains and buses are very affordable and taxis are pretty cheap as well.

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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?

Small is better for parking but if you plan on driving outside the city a lot then a high clearance will make the trip easier. Small cars can make the trip though, it is just a little rough.

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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?

We have cable/internet combined and it is less than in the U.S. We don't have the biggest package. If you want more bandwidth you can pay a lot more.

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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?

If you don't have a DNI you can't get a monthly plan at most providers. This is changing however. If you want to use an iphone bring it with you, they are not available here unless you want to pay a lot for them.

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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?

I am not sure of quarantine but Argentina has more dogs than I have seen anywhere else. I have seen dogwalkers with as many as 20 dogs. There are a lot of vets and many even make house calls.

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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?

I don't know of anyone who works on the local economy.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Most volunteer opportunities I have come across involve paying a service to find you volunteer opportunites.

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

Casual, similar to the U.S.

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Health & Safety:

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

Typical of a city of this size. Violent crime is on the rise though.

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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?

Health care is good, prompt ambulances are not. You would be better off taking a taxi to the hospital.

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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?

Good. We are next to Rio de la Plata so there are a lot of breezes. It can get very humid in the summer though.

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4. What do people who suffer from environmental or food allergies need to know?

I have found that people who normally don't have seasonal allergies will have them here.

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

Four seasons with a mild winter.

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Schools & Children:

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

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

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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?

Most people have nannies, the cost is less then the U.S. but more then other Latin America countries from what I understand.

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

Yes. Although soccer reigns supreme, tennis is also very popular.

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Expat Life:

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

It is big but also isolated due to the fact that there is a lot to see and do.

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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?

Cafe culture. One thing to keep in mind is that Argentines eat really late 10pm or 11pm is the usual time to get to the restaurant so eating isn't usually done until 1am or 2 am which means most clubs don't open until at least that late.

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

Yes. The city has something for everyone.

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

Yes. Gay Marriage has been legal here for a few years now and I have seen many same-sex couples holding hands in public.

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

Weekend trips to the ranches just outside of town. Trips around the country. It is beautifully diverse.

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

There is something for anyone. Tons of recreational activities throughout the city. The city is also very walkable and has bike lanes on many big roads.

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

Provoleteras, chimichurri, closed door restaurants.

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

The weather here is similar to Atlanta. There are 4 seasons but winter is not too cold. Also being in the southern hemisphere means that the seasons are inverted. So summer is from December to March. There is a lot to explore in Argentina. Wines in Mendoza and Salta. The lake district in Bariloche. Whale and penguin watching in Puerto Madryn. You can also take a cruise to Antartica. Buenos Aires is a very cosmopolitan city with a lot of restaurants and cafes.

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9. Can you save money?

Yes if you don't leave Buenos Aires.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?

That the Italian food was so good. It is better than at some of the places I have eaten in Italy.

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

Yes.

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

Need for being on time. Your desire for spicy or even spices, Argentines like things bland. Expectations for Latin America. This is more of a European then Latin American country.

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4. But don't forget your:

Spices.

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