5 Things You Should Know Before Relocating to Buenos Aires, Argentina
1. Things You Should Consider While Negotiating a Job Offer
If you have a job offer or you are applying for jobs in Buenos Aires as an ex-pat, you should be aware of their currency crisis and inflation. I will give you a real-life example. A guy started negotiating for a job offer in November 2015 and finalized his salary in pesos (local currency) based on the market situation there in November–December 2015. By the time he reached Argentina and actually received his first salary slip, it was already February 2016. By the time he received his salary, the currency had already depreciated by 35% to 40%.
So the important lesson to be learned here is that always try to negotiate the contract in a stable international currency. I would recommend you to negotiate your contract in terms of dollars. If this is not an option, you are taking a huge financial risk by accepting a job offer in an economically volatile country.
Another option you can consider is to ask for part of your salary in dollars, which will ensure that your saving is not impacted, and part of it in local currency (Argentine pesos) to cover your local expenses. Also, you should have an explicit clause mentioned in the salary contract about salary revision of all your salary components. Most people in Argentina get a salary revision every 6 months if the contract is in local currency.
Most international medical insurance is not very useful in Argentina. So you should make sure you get a local Argentina medical insurance which is cashless and much easier to use.
2. Visa & Work Permit Processing: Recommended Option
If you have already accepted a job offer and are planning to start visa processing, you have two options for this:
- The first option is to process your visa as well as work permit in your country of origin which is usually a long process and may take up to 3–4 months.
- An easier way is to come to Argentina on a tourist visa, and do in-country visa processing. This is the most preferred and fastest option for most ex-pats. If all goes well you will have a temporary work permit within 15 days. You will get a DNI (official identification document from the government) and CUIL (this is your tax identity without which your salary cannot be processed) within 30–45 days if you apply for it while staying as a tourist in Argentina. Most companies prefer this option as it is the fastest way to get you on board. The immigration process is cheap. If you take help from some third party, they would charge anything between USD 500 to USD 650 for end-to-end visa and work permit processing.
3. Kids' Education
- If you are relocating with a family from an English speaking or a non-Spanish country, you may want to enroll your kids in an English medium school. This will be much costlier as compared to other countries because public schools in Argentina hardly teach any English. Also when it comes to private schools as well, the quality of education is not on par with other Western countries. So you will have to spend extra money for enrolling your kids in international schools and you need to consider this factor as well while negotiating the salary package.
- Some recommended schools include Lincoln School and Buenos Aires International Christian Academy, among others.
Challenges With Apartment Rentals
- Apartment rental is another big challenge in Argentina, especially in Buenos Aires. If you are looking for a long-term rental for 2 or more years, the apartment owners ask you for a guarantee (garantía in Spanish). A guarantee can be provided by another apartment owner in Argentina or by a bank. A bank will ask you for a huge deposit amount as security in return for providing the guarantee for your leased apartment. If you have a local friend in Argentina who is ready to give this guarantee then its the best option, but in my experience no individual would provide this guarantee. A third option is for your employer to provide you a letter of guarantee stating they would take responsibility for any damage or issues that may occur from your side while staying in the rented apartment. So negotiate this part as well in detail with your company and opt for a company lease policy if you have the option to do so. Never do a rental contract in US dollars. Even if it's a short term rental of 5 to 6 months, ensure that you make it in local currency which is the Argentine peso. This is because of the crazy Argentine inflation, you may end up paying 30 to 40 percent more in terms of local currency in a span of just 2 to 3 months. So keep this in mind whenever you are giving money in Argentina: make all the contracts in local currency. For short term rentals, you will usually get fully furnished apartments and your electricity, water, gas bills would be included in the rent itself. The rental costs vary by location.
- Considering your job location, kid's education, and safety, I would recommend you stay in safe neighborhoods like Palermo, Recoleta, and Belgarano which are very central, safe and highly developed. But these are the most expensive neighborhoods as well. You can look at locations 3 to 4 kilometers around these areas if you want something cheaper with little compromise on security.
- For searching apartments, you can join Buenos Aires Real Estate groups on Facebook or simply search for similar groups to find the best deals. The trick here is to take help from your local friends who are fluent in Spanish, or else be ready to pay handsome amount to brokers. Alternatively, you can use options like Airbnb as well, which are costly but without brokerage, and good for short term rentals.
4. Medical Insurance and Hospitals
Buenos Aires has some excellent hospitals and very good medical facilities but at the same time, there are challenges as well. If you have international ex-pat insurance and the hospital does not recognize it then you will have to pay money upfront for the treatment and later reimburse it from your insurance provider. But this approach works only for outpatient treatments and routine health checkups which may not be so expensive.
In case of a medical emergency, if the hospital has to admit you, they will not honor your international insurance if it is not connected with the hospital, even if you offer to pay the money upfront. So be very careful about this factor while relocating to Argentina. I would recommend that you should opt for local insurance which will be cheaper and widely recognized in almost all the hospitals in Argentina. Even for outpatient treatment, everything happens cashless and pre-approved without having to pay anything in advance.
Some of the best hospitals include Hospital Italiano, Hospital Aleman, Hospital Britanico, Clinica y Maternidad Suizo, Fleni, Swiss Medical among others. Hospital Britanico has many English speaking doctors and is a recommended option for ex-pats. Although many paid sites recommend you opt for Aetna or Max Bupa Global ex-pat insurance, in my personal experience, the best option is local Argentine insurance. Argentina is an exception in Latin America where local insurance is better than traditional ex-pat insurance.
5. Food: Some Would Love It While Others Would Hate It
For People from the Indian Subcontinent:
If you come from the Indian subcontinent, be ready for a big disappointment when it comes to food. Most Indian spices are not available in Argentina. It is difficult to find even green chili in local grocery shops. So the recommendation is to bring your stock of spices for the next year at least or be prepared to adapt to local food which may be hard on your taste buds.
Argentina is a beef-loving country and for someone from India where a cow is considered holy, it can be a big turnoff seeing cow meat served almost in every restaurant. If you are a vegetarian, be ready to eat raw salads without much taste to them.
One good thing is that the pizza and cheese quality is good so you can survive eating pizzas and vegetable empanadas ( like a samosa in India) without spices.
If you love Indian chapati or roti, be prepared for another disappointment, you don't get the wheat flour suitable for preparing chapatis in Argentina. You will have to settle for the flour used for making empenadas or other local dishes which are not so healthy.
If you like eating chicken then there is some good news here. You have options like KFC and McDonald's where you can grab some food. Also if you love cooking at home then you can buy chicken from local stores and the quality is much better as compared to what you get in India.
You have Indian restaurants in Buenos Aires but they are best for visiting only occasionally as most of them are expensive. Also, there are Thai restaurants where the food is expensive but very close to the Indian taste.
For People From the West, the Rest of Asia, and Africa:
They say Argentine steak is the best in the world. So if you like steak you will certainly enjoy the food here. Argentina is famous for the "asado" which is a social event of attending a barbecue in various South American countries. You will enjoy it for sure during chilly winters in Buenos Aires. If you are a vegetarian you will get similar food to that in your home country without much to worry about. But if you like spicy food like the Indians, then be ready to be disappointed or come prepared with a bag full of spices.
Don't forget, the people in Argentina are warm and welcoming. You won't find it difficult to make friends here. So if the other factors mentioned in this article are covered, then Buenos Aires is one of the best places to live in the world! Wishing you a happy relocation.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2019 Shrikant Jadhav