Working in Buenos Aires

Expats working in Buenos Aires will find themselves in a bustling cosmopolitan metropolis home to the highest population density in the country.

Though years of economic struggle and social turmoil attribute a slight roughness and edge to the city, this “Paris of the South” retains a fair amount of elegance and European influence. This is a characteristic that makes living and working in Buenos Aires unlike any other destination in the world.

Job market in Buenos Aires

Despite Argentina's abundance of natural resources and its highly literate population, a devastating economic crisis in 2001 nearly eradicated the nation's middle class and caused unemployment rates to skyrocket. In recent years, there's been an improvement in the situation of the poorer sectors and a rebound of the middle class, but unemployment is still rife and social struggle and political frustration are highly visible.

Expat positions in large multinationals, such as the banking industry, oil and gas, consumer goods and agriculture, are well established in Buenos Aires. Otherwise, many expats teach English and offer services such as business translations, web business management and design. Anything that includes the internet and a laptop seems to be the bread and butter of many foreigners vying for a place under the Argentine sun.

Additionally, due to relatively low local salaries, Buenos Aires seems to be an outsourcing hub. If an expat can speak another foreign language (and of course add a knowledge of native English), the call centre industry presents opportunities, but expats will be competing with well-versed Argentinians.

Lastly, as an entrepreneur or businessperson, expats could consider Buenos Aires as a low-capital start-up location. Labour is widely available and not as expensive as in Europe or the US. There are opportunities everywhere, but working around bureaucracy and general “system failure” can be crippling. Buenos Aires is definitely not for the fainthearted.

Finding a job in Buenos Aires

For expats, being fluent or near fluent in Spanish will determine the kind of opportunities available when looking for work in Buenos Aires. With no knowledge of Spanish, options will be hard to find and daily survival in Buenos Aires fairly difficult. That said, there are still jobs and companies that cater specifically to foreigners.

Expats trying to find a job in Buenos Aires are advised to visit the city before relocating to determine if it is indeed a place they could enjoy living long-term. Research and networking should start early on through expat groups, forums and book clubs, playgroups and family days, which are great places to make new friends in similar circumstances.

Work culture in Buenos Aires

Formal or first-time meetings start with a handshake for both women and men. Friends or colleagues usually greet each individual in the room with a kiss on the cheek.

The pace of business in Argentina feels slower than in the US or Europe and email response rates follow suit. Expats should be punctual for business appointments, but be prepared to wait 30 minutes or so for associates.

Argentinian women are generally very elegant and well-dressed, whereas men who work in less formal environments prefer not to wear ties. Men with long hairstyles are also common.

Typical business hours in Buenos Aires are Monday to Friday, 9am to 6pm. Executives may work very long hours, occasionally as late as 10pm. Siestas don’t really feature in Buenos Aires as they do in rural Argentina. In general, conducting business in Buenos Aires is similar to any large European city.

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