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Expats Living in Argentina Urge Caution Before Moving to Argentina

By Betsy Burlingame

Summary: Argentina's inflation rate is one of the highest in the world at an estimated 25%. With the election of President Mauricio Macri there is hope that the economy will turn around, but expats in Argentina urge caution for people considering moving to Argentina. Expats discuss the high cost of living in Argentina and how it has impacted their lifestyles.

Living in Argentina  - Expats Urge Caution Before Moving to Argentina

People wanting to move to South America often dream about moving to Argentina. One expat warned the dreamers, "If you have not yet visited Argentina, I urge you to do so, before you cut all your USA ties, and burn your bridges behind you... the romantic views of the country being full of the tango, the gaucho, and lots of good beef-eating, are quickly dulled when you face the reality of daily strikes, and seemingly everyone wanting to get something for nothing... over 40% of the population are now receiving some form of government dole in one form or another. While in the USA this is a growing trend, I don't believe we have reached these levels yet."

Inflation in Argentina

Argentina's economy was crippled under the corrupt Fernandez de Kirchner reign. With the election of President Mauricio Macri, there is hope that Argentina's economy will begin to recover. In 2015, private economists estimated inflation to be over 25% despite the government officially reporting inflation at 15%. With one of the hightest inflation rates in the world, expats in Argentina are optimistic that the new president will turn things around and help make Argentina an attractive place to live, retire and buy property.

Is Moving to Argentina a good idea?

"As I've said before...I enjoy visiting Argentina, but having worked in the country and traveled to all 23 provinces... there are really NOT a lot of good reasons to move there permanently. Perhaps 3 - 4 months a year during the summer (the USA winter months), but otherwise, I believe it's pretty much a losing proposition... housing values are terrible, nobody has $$ to buy, prices are high now and with inflation at 25% or more, they are going higher... and selection of goods from the USA are very limited... as the current government has pushed nationalism (everything has to be made in Argentina) to an extreme and it hurts the average Argentine... but they are a VERY proud (and arrogant) people, so they accept this situation. As a famous Nobel Prize author recently said: The Argentines have a pecuilar knack of persisting in error and enjoying it! (my paraphrase)," advised one member just prior to the election of Macri.

Cost of Living in Argentina

Many expats on our Argentina Forum regularly discourage people considering a move to Argentina from making the move without truly understanding the current state of the economy and how difficult that can be for expats. A frequent traveler to Argentina stated, "My heart is with you but why would you choose Argentina if your savings are limited and you have no job or steady income like a pension? Over the last eight years Argentina has been ravaged by run away inflation (30%+ a year) and it now costs for a loaf of bread, a liter of milk or a kilo of meat the same price as the USA. Also, if you don't have a car but need a job to pay rent you'll need to be in the center of a city that offers regular buses."

"I don't know what your wage expectations are but Argentine wages are low, about US Dollars $600 - $800 monthly. You might want to rethink what you are doing and either choose another country that is in fact cheaper or stay where you are and save a few thousand dollars before you leave. I have been visiting Argentina for the past 10 years, as I have a close relationship I want to continue to foster, but I would NEVER think of moving here on a permanent basis. Five years ago and more, the prices for most everything was much less than the US, now the only thing that is less is the price of wine, and most items are higher than what I pay in Connecticut (which is a high cost of living state). Inflation is a sad reality --every month prices go up 5%, even wine. In January my wine cost 33 pesos (in a small Chinese supermercado), now the price is 40 pesos. That's more than 20% in less than 4 months. To find a job (as a foreigner) which would pay you sufficiently to live like someone with $30K in the US, is nigh unto impossible -- unless you have some specialized skills and the job is waiting for you," he continued.

"The documentation and steps to gain permanent residency and the legal right to work legally are absurdly limitless, and they are not cheap. Don't come to Argentina because of some romantic idea that everyone is a tango dancer, and wants to welcome with open arms a new citizen... especially not from the USA. Even if you have rudimentary language skills, you are thought of as an outsider. I can share a lot more, but I agree with Tom -- look elsewhere for an inexpensive location and if you want a warm place, Buenos Aires has 3 to 4 months of cool and wet days, like November or March in New York City. I don't know where you are moving from (your present location) but I would suggest the Philippines, or some places in Mexico, or perhaps the Dominican Republic, for warmth and inexpensive living. As far as I can tell, there is NO country in S.A. where you will enjoy the same personal and property rights that U.S. citizens take for granted. Bottom line -- perhaps in 2 - 3 years, there might be a turnaround with the new President, but right now, I'd cross Argentina off the list," he added.

High Cost of Cars in Argentina

Due to a 2014 car tax introduced to pay off foreign debt, car prices have soared. According to a New Yorker article, Argentina's Car Troubles, dealers now pay 30-50% tax on many car models. An expat in Mendoza discussed car prices in Argentina saying, "Regarding a car, prepare for sticker shock, the most modest new Chevy compact will cost you US$18,000 - US$20,000. Does financing exist, yeah with 50% down and the balance at 19% interest. Car insurance is available but not cheap, and obviously depends on the make and year and age. Our brand new Chevy compact ran about US$1,200 a year for liability, fire/theft and collision. Don't even think about buying a luxury car like a BMW. It will cost three times more than stateside because of draconian import tariffs. Also, as a foreigner I wouldn't want to be driving around in an ostentatious expensive car while locals cannot afford food. Used cars, e.g. 10- 15 years-old, command huge prices, maybe US$5,000 or more. Here's what I learned in my 5 years of living in Mendoza and San Rafael, check with your local Ex-pat Club. Often someone in that club had thrown in the towel and is leaving Argentina and has an auto he/she must sell cheaply before departing. I remember a contact that paid US$33,000 for a brand new fully loaded Nissan Sentra, yes a Sentra. With less than 5,000 miles on it and less than a year old they went back to the USA and dumped the car in Argentina for US $14,000."

Need more information on living in Argentina?

Login or Register and visit our Argentina Forum. Talk with other expats who can offer you insight and tips about living in Argentina.

About the Author

Betsy Burlingame Betsy Burlingame is the Founder of Expat Exchange. She launched Expat Exchange in 1997 as her Master's thesis project at NYU. She graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University with a BA in International Business and German.

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Comments about this Article

Aug 8, 2016 11:00

Thank You!, I currently live in Brasil. I'm retired from the USA and my pension and savings are OK. I am soooo tired of people spending 2 weeks in Rio and then planning to move here. When they ask my advice and I tell them the same things you have in these articles, they think I'm lying to them. S.A. is a region that one day will equal the life found in developed countries, right now a person interested in moving here must get a realistic perspective. I will send this link to those people who asked for my advice and tell them to swap Brasil with Argentina.

Aug 30, 2016 18:49

I have 3 reasons why not to go to Argentina... 1. Argentines are very arrogant, self centered and pretentious. 2. Argentines don't like foreigners and many don't like themselves. 3. Argentina is very very very far! Monthly shopping trips to Miami not an option. Move to COLOMBIA! Terrific all around and has a buffet of climates to offer. Plus only 3 hrs from USA;-)

First Published: Aug 03, 2016

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