Have you ever thought of retiring to a different country where it is safe, the people are nice and it is cheaper to live? Have you thought about Argentina? In this article we will share with you some of the Pros and Cons to retiring to Argentina.
Here are the Pros and Cons of retiring to Argentina:
- Friendly & Happy People
- Vibrant Lifestyle
- Italian and USA inspired food culture
- Cheap & Fresh Groceries
- Cheap Alcohol
- Cheap Accommodation
- Cheap Transport
- Easy Access to Uruguay
- Access to South America
- Very Safe And Secure
- Good Private Health Care
- Expensive Electronics
- Distance from USA & Europe
- Cold in the Winter
- Bank ATM Fees
- Fluctuating Exchange Rate
So now that you know the big picture Pros and Cons I will explain just why they are in detail and share with you my personal experiences.
Introduction To Argentina
Having travelled to Argentina and spent a fair amount of time there the below list is based on my actual recent experiences. I must say overall apart from a few annoying little things it is a great place to visit and spend time. The test I always do is whether I would let my mother travel there and retire there. In this case the answer is an absolute YES!
This article is based on things you will find across Argentina but at the end I will link you to another of my articles that will talk about each of the major towns to retire and what they are like. For some of the specific examples I will link to ones in Buenos Aires as examples but you will find them all over Argentina.
Argentina has an estimated 45 million people with most of those living in Buenos Aires, which is a port city and the capital. The cost of living is low and there is a vibrant lifestyle that you will never be stuck with for something to do. You will find all the amenities that you are used to in any top of the pyramid country like the USA, UK, Canada or Australia. The language is Spanish and the money is the Argentinian Peso.
Here is a chart of the current exchange rate from USD:
So let’s dig into the Pros and Cons to understand more about the good, the bad and the surprising things about living in Argentina.
What are the Pros of Living in Argentina?
Friendly & Happy People
The people of Argentina much to my surprise are predominately white and while short are a happy and friendly people. When I first arrived there this was a shock to me for two reasons. The first because I thought everyone in South America had darker skin. There is however a growing mix of cultures and peoples from all over South America and indeed the world as people are discovering it as a great place to live.
Even for big cities like Buenos Aires people love getting out of their homes and utilising the parks and going for evening walks. You will see a wide variety of people as you walk around including lots of parents and kids. Every park has people playing soccer or getting out and having picnics meeting up with friends. Due to the low cost of trains and buses as we will talk about later it is not unusual for people to do day trips as well.
Like with most Spanish countries Argentinian people also start work later than the rest of the world and stay up later with a typical dinner out starting at 9pm.
There is always something to do in Argentina with a different major event on most weekends in places like Buenos Aires. Whether you want to learn the Zamba the traditional dance or just explore the city you will find a new experience every time. The shopping centres are much like the rest of the world but if you want a bargain the markets are where you should go.
There is heaps of shopping in Buenos Aires and even if you live in a regional town the train and bus services can get you in to shop until you drop. The café culture is alive and well in Argentina and you will find the familiar Starbucks if that is your preferred outlet.
Soccer as with the rest of Latin America is a huge sport and you will find heaps of stadiums in Buenos Aires. They are always packed and certainly worth experiencing at least once at any age.
The city and country lifestyle is big across Argentina but with limited beaches there is not much of a beach culture to be had. This is a little bit of a let down for me personally as I do like swimming a the beach and walking to relax with the sound of the ocean. There are however, plenty of rivers and council pools all over argentina that you can use if you like to get wet, especially on a hot summers day. Just search “Piscina” on google maps to find them.
Italian and USA inspired food culture
One of the other big surprises for me was the traditional food culture that you find in Argentina has been heavily influenced by the Italian immigrants. By 1940 almost half of the population of Argentina was Italian immigrants which means that they had a huge influence on the food culture. This in conjunction with the returning immigrants to Argentina from the USA and Europe in the 21st century brought with the USA burger culture.
Yeah, yeah, yeah, so what does this mean for the food then. Well you can not go into most restaurants in Argentina without a burger on the menu. They are one of the world’s biggest suppliers of beef so this was a natural fit. You will also find fresh daily paster stores all over Argentina where you can buy your pasta fresh every day. Nothing like buying fresh pasta by the kilo.
Argentina while letting in global chains like McDonalds and KFC have not allowed the big pizza chains like Dominos or Pizza Hut in. This was done so as to not ruin their local pizza culture. I am not a fan of local pizza in Argentina as it is an ancient form of pizza that even Italy has moved on from. You will find limited topics and a heavy hand of oil slathered across it that makes it awful to eat. They seem to love it there though.
When I hear BBQ as an Australian it is what we are renowned for and with Argentinas huge beef supplies you will find Parrilla’s everywhere in Argentina. The upper market ones are like steak houses but using coals to cook. The cheaper ones you will find everywhere are like a cheaper version of the same thing. If you like your meat you will like these.
Here is a very famous one in Argentina you may wish to check out on your way through.
Cheap & Fresh Groceries
There are heaps of grocery stores in Argentina where you will find groceries at a fraction of the price that you will find elsewhere in the world. Your corner stores are just called Mercados with the smaller supermarkets called Supermercados. There are the bulk buy supermarkets as well but the names differ in each town and you need to sign up for a membership much like Costco or Walmart. The supermarket I used the most was the Dia chain as they have a good points card with discounts for members.
You generally don’t buy your fruit and vegetables from the super markets in Argentina as on almost every street is a local green grocer. If you look around where you live you will find the one that has a good turn over and fresher produce. You can also head to the wholesale fruit and veg market or the weekly street markets.
Beer and Spirits are cheap in Argentina with a 2L bottle of name brand vodka costing you about 3 USD. Anything that is imported has a higher tax so if you stick to the local wines and spirits you will get some great bargains. Alcohol is sold at grocery stores and no special license is required it seems as you will find most stores even corner stores selling it.
Mixer wise there are limited diet options with mainly diet coke style varieties or diet lemonade but not much else. They like their sugar it seems. Beer or Cervezas have heaps of varieties that you can have really cheaply anywhere. Local bars will often have tasting plates where you can get a small glass of all the local beers to pick your favorite.
With the Argentinian peso constantly going in the favour of foreigners the prices for real estate are in USD. The peso has gone from 1USD to 14 pesos in 2016 to 1USD to 95 pesos in 2021. Great for us but bad if you are paid locally in peso. The most expensive market is in Buenos Aires where you can get a brand new studio or 1 bed apartment for around 300 to 500 USD per month depending on proximity to the city. If you get an older unit it will be cheaper and if you are in one of the smaller towns then it will be less as well.
Here is an article that discusses each of the towns in Argentina you may wish to retire in with local website links to real estate agents.
Less than 25 cents a trip on the train with a train pass in Argentina and regional trains of over an hour in ride time for 50 cents. It does not get much cheaper than that. Buenos ares has a subway or metro where most of the other towns have about ground rail. There is also a huge bus network that you can use and with each of the towns you can look at the article above for local transport options. There is also uber which while a little more expensive is only a couple of dollars to get anywhere. Recently eScooters have become popular and while cheap are more expensive than other options but will get you quickly directly to your destination.
Easy Access to Uruguay
You may be wondering why I put this in here and that is because things like electronics are expensive in Argentina with import tax. But in just over 2 hours you can go on the ferry to Montevideo, Uruguay and get things you can’t or that are too expensive there. It is also a nice day trip whether you take a car or just walk around.
Access to South America
Argentina has two major international airports with the south american flights leaving from San Fernando and longer flights from Ministro Juan Pistarini. Quick tip: always check your ticket before jumping in your Uber to the airport (aeropuerto).
As well as direct flights to New Zealand and Spain you can also bounce off Panama to get to the USA. There are direct cheap flights to all over South America as well which means plenty of weekend or week trips when you need to spice things up a little.
Very Safe And Secure
The first thing you will notice about Buenos Aires when you get in on your international flight is the amount of police presence everywhere. Throughout the city during the day there are police on most street corners and not a log of major crime.
There is petty crime like pickpockets as there is in any major city including those in the USA and Europe. If you obey the basic rules like not waving your phone around in the air and not pushing into big crowds then you are normally fine. Don’t go walking down dark alleys after midnight flashing wads of cash and expensive jewelry is another no no.
This petty crime is even less when you get to smaller cities of Argentina that is in this article below:
Good Private Health Care
The health care in Argentina is very similar to that of the United States with only a small gap between their rankings globally as per the World Health Organisation rankings. You can see this list below. The major difference is it will cost you a lot less for the similar health care in Argentina and you can check those prices out on the actual health care providers below. It is recommended to not have the public health care and to take out your own private health insurance that puts you at the front of the que and gives you the best services.
Here are some of the biggest national Private Health Care Providers in Argentina:
What are the Cons of living in Argentina?
I have mentioned this a few times about Argentina already but certain items are more expensive in Argentina due to import tax. Electronics is one of them. You can get around this by going for a day trip to Uruguay or buying them on one of your weekend trips to other countries in South America or back home to visit family. Or just factor it into the price and live with it as you have many other savings to make by living in Argentina.
Distance from USA & Europe
A lot of people choose a retirement destination that is a short flight back to their country of birth. If you live in Europe the flight time to Madrid is about 12 hours direct flight and about the same to New Zealand. To Los Angeles it is about 16 hours with a stop normally in Panama. Depending on what your extended family is like this may be a good thing.
Cold in the Winter
For the three coldest months of the year you are looking at temperatures of 3 deg C to 14 deg C or 36 to 57 deg F for the months of June, July and August. It also happens to be the time of year with the highest rainfall so it may be a good time to get cosey and read a book or two. Keeping in mind literally everything can be delivered to your house in Buenos Aires with most buildings having a door many to leave things with.
Alternately use these three months to travel to the other hemisphere or closer to the equator to warmer climates like Brazil, Panama, Costa Rica or Spain..
Bank ATM Fees
This one personally upset me on my first trip to Argentina where you get charged $10 usd per transaction at the ATM and are limited to the amount you can withdraw to small amounts.
Luckily there is an easy way around this and that is to use money transfer services like Western Union where you will only pay a small fee to get the money transferred and the amount you can transfer is not capped. The other advantage is they normally offer better exchange rates than the banks at the atm. So this is a double win.
Alternatively, you can do a transfer to your local bank account in Argentina if you open a local bank account. Or I use Western Union for a better exchange rate and get the money out in cash to avoid the ATM limits and high fees. If you take USD with you there is a huge demand for them locally so you will always get a good exchange rate as well.
TIP: If you are going to transfer cash to yourself to pick up from your foreign bank account and want a larger amount just choose one of the larger offices so they have the cash on hand. Alternately just get smaller transfers that last a week or two and with the exchange rate to the peso constantly working in your favor you get more money each time.
Fluctuating Exchange Rate
This when you look at it may not be a big issue as it has worked in the favor of most other currencies for the last 10 years. As I mentioned above and as you saw from the chart in the introduction it just means your dollar goes further. The problem here is that you should not keep a lot of cash in Argentina Peso and just get it when you need it.
Property and bigger ticket items are generally in USD to combat this inflation. So as long as you don’t transfer all your retirement savings into a local bank account you should be fine. It just means a trip to the money transfer offices where there are heaps in Argentina every week or two like you would visit the atm. You can also use your atm card if you like but won’t get as good an exchange rate as you will with the money transfer offices like Wester Union.
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