Cost of Living in Argentina

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Argentina is often cited as a good place to retire as it enjoys (arguably) first world status and offers expats a low cost of living. There is certainly some truth in this, and if your income is from an offshore source your money can go a long way.

cost of living in ArgentinaThat 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 a 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 food costs in ArgentinaEurope and the States – the ‘two for the price of one’ type offers. If you have the time to shop around, particularly for fruit and vegetables, which are much cheaper from the roadside stalls, you can bring your 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 transport costs in Argentina50 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 you 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, tax free, for eight months, but after this period of time, you must take it out of the country again or you will be liable for import tax. You can re-enter the country the same day (although the next day is wiser) for another eight months, and so on. As of early 2013 petrol (gas) was currently running at 6.25 ARS per litre, or thereabouts.

Accommodation and utility costs in Argentina

Electricity is cheap as most is provided by hydroelectric means (0.30 ARS/ kWh); you will also have a government subsidy on your bill of around 40 percent. An cost of utilities in Argentinaaverage bill for a large property supporting a caretaker’s house, and a swimming pool will be around 140 ARS for two months. The cost of water varies from province to province, but in the Mendoza area, for the above property, a monthly bill will be in the region of 65 ARS per month.

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 a foreigner, you will pay more than a local and if you wish to rent, will be required to provide a deposit and several months of rent in advance as well as a guarantor.

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Our Argentina Expert

GillyRich's picture
Gilly Rich
the United Kingdom
Gilly Rich is a writer and editor who has travelled and lived abroad for most of her life. Currently living in Argentina...

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