Cost of Living in Argentina

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Argentina is often cited as a desirable place to retire as it offers expats a good quality, yet affordable lifestyle. There is certainly some truth in this, and if one's income is from an offshore source, their money can go a long way.

That said, foreigners looking to find a promised land should be wary of the yo-yo nature of the country’s economy – one minute booming, the next crashing. Between 2005 and 2010 there was a rise in economic fortunes, but this brought with it a dramatic increase in prices and inflation (currently in double figures, though denied by the government).

Local wages have been hiked up to around 25 percent, and as a result employers are finding it too expensive to employ their workers legally. Consequently they either make do without too many helping hands, or employ workers in the ‘black’; the end result being tax evasion.

The cost of living in Argentina's rural areas is probably a third lower than a metropolitan area like Buenos Aires, where prices are generally on par with many European cities.

Food and clothing costs in Argentina

Supermarket prices for certain items are the same as in the UK, and in many cases higher, as it is rare to find the sort of economy of scale deals that one would get in Europe and the United States – the ‘two for the price of one’ type offers. If expats have the time to shop around, particularly for fruit and vegetables, which are much cheaper from the roadside stalls, they can bring their grocery bill down; but this can be time-consuming and expats tend to follow the ‘one shop a week’ pattern rather than the daily food shop that the locals are used to.

Clothes are cheaper in Buenos Aires, but note that there is much more of a variety in the city than in the rural areas to the west of the capital.

Transport costs in Argentina

Vehicles are a very expensive commodity in Argentina; the country no longer has an industry of its own and import taxes on cars and motorbikes are in the region of 50 percent. Strangely though, second-hand cars hold their value, and it is not unusual to buy a car, use it for several years and then sell it at the same price or even more than one paid for it.

Given the exorbitant cost of purchasing vehicles locally, it is tempting to bring in an automobile from elsewhere, tax free, on a tourist registration. If this is an attractive proposition, do so via Chile and drive the vehicle over the border. The car can remain in the country without tax for eight months, but after this period of time, expats must take it out of the country again or they will be liable for import tax.

Accommodation and utility costs in Argentina

It is almost impossible to give average prices for either property purchase or rental as it really does vary hugely from province to province; urban prices are higher than rural prices. As foreigners, expats will pay more than locals and if they wish to rent, they will be required to provide a deposit and several months of rent in advance as well as a guarantor.

Cost of living in Argentina chart

Prices may vary depending on location and service provider. The table below is based on average prices in Buenos Aires for September 2016.  
Furnished two-bedroom house ARS 45,000
Unfurnished two-bedroom house ARS 25,000
Furnished two-bedroom apartment ARS 15,000
Unfurnished two-bedroom apartment ARS 9,500
Milk (1 litre) ARS 16
Dozen eggs ARS 29
Loaf of white bread ARS 26
Chicken breasts (1kg) ARS 94
Pack of cigarettes (Marlboro) ARS 31
Eating out
Big Mac Meal ARS 110
Coca-Cola (500ml) ARS 21
Cappuccino ARS 40
Bottle of local beer  ARS 38
Three-course meal at mid-range restaurant  ARS 560
Mobile call rate (per minute – mobile to mobile) ARS 5.11
Internet (Uncapped ADSL or Cable – average per month) ARS 540
Utilities (water, elec, gas - average per month for standard household) ARS 1,600
Hourly rate for a domestic cleaner ARS 56
Taxi rate per km ARS 20.92
City centre public transport fare ARS 5.91
Petrol (per litre) ARS 16.90

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