Print
  • Hold down Ctrl key and select the sections you want to print. If using a Mac, hold down the Cmd key.
  • Use Ctrl + A or on Mac, Cmd + A to select all sections (if you are using the Chrome browser).
  • Click "Apply" and the site will customise your print guide in the preview below.
  • Click the "Print" button and a print pop up should appear to print to your printer of choice.

Moving to Argentina

Expats moving to Argentina will find a beautiful and unspoilt land that can, at times, appear virtually untouched by the human hand. The second largest country on the South American continent, Argentina is a destination that continues to pique the interests of expats looking to move abroad.

With an area 11 times the size of the UK but a population of around only 45 million people, the extent of the space and bounds of the natural beauty are only truly appreciated by those who decide to take the plunge and relocate on a more permanent basis.

The expansive country has a diverse climate that ranges from a sub-tropical zone in the north to an Arctic climate in the south; the topography is equally varied. The eastern coastal regions give way from vast grassland plains, or pampas, to dry and unforgiving land, at which point the country butts up against the gargantuan Andes Mountain range on its western border with Chile.

There are 22 semi-autonomous provinces in Argentina, answerable to the government in Buenos Aires where approximately 10 percent of the total population of the country lives. An influx of Spanish, Italian and other European immigrants in the 19th and early 20th centuries has contributed towards a cosmopolitan and culturally rich capital city. Outside of the main urban areas, however, expats will find a sparsity of foreigners and English speakers. 

Despite having one of the highest Gross Domestic Products (GDPs) in the region, corruption and mismanagement have meant that political and economic stability are still largely absent. Expats should be forewarned that although Argentina was once one of the richest nations in the world, its economy descended into a disastrous state in 2001 when the country defaulted on one of the largest foreign debts ever recorded. On the upside, this has opened the way for a buoyant real estate market and the purchase, by foreigners, of large tracts of land. Since then, growth has moved in a generally upward direction.

Though the Argentine economy has recovered considerably, jobs for expats are still scarcer than in other locations. Employment opportunities for expats are limited, outside of being assigned by a large multinational corporation, although there are also growing opportunities for English-language teachers. If expats do consider moving to Argentina, a good working knowledge of Spanish (or a translator) is a must.

Essential Info for Argentina

Full name: Argentine Republic (República Argentina)

Population: Around 45 million

Capital city: Buenos Aires

Other major cities: Córdoba, Rosario, Mendoza

Neighbouring countries: Argentina is bordered by Bolivia and Paraguay to the north, Brazil to the northeast, Uruguay and the Atlantic Ocean to the east, Chile to the west and the Drake Passage to the south.

Geography: Argentina is the second largest country in South America by geographic size. It has a varied landscape ranging from its extended coastline along the Atlantic Ocean, the rain forests in the north, the flat Chaco plain, the grasslands of the Pampas and wastelands of Patagonia, to the Andes Mountains in the west. Aconcagua is the highest point in Argentina, which is also the highest point in the southern and western hemispheres.

Political system: Presidential republic

Main languages: The official language of Argentina is Spanish. English is spoken widely in large cities and tourist centres.

Major religions: The most common religion in Argentina is Roman Catholicism (more than 70 percent), but religious freedom is guaranteed by the country’s constitution and expats will be able to practice their religion in peace.

Time: GMT -3

Electricity: 220 volts, 50Hz. Old buildings use two-pin, round-pronged plugs, whereas newer buildings use three-pin, flat-pronged plugs.

International calling code: +54

Internet domain: .ar

Money: The official currency is the Argentine peso (ARS), which is divided into 100 cents. Most expats do not open bank accounts in Argentina, opting rather for offshore accounts. This is because as confidence in Argentine banks remains low and there is often excessive paperwork. There are many ATMs in and around Argentina’s larger cities.

Emergency numbers: 101 (police), 107 (ambulance), 100 (fire)​​​​​​​

Transport and driving: Argentina has an extensive road network that spans the entire country. Most areas of Argentina are covered by a comprehensive public transport system, particularly in and around the country’s large cities. Vehicles in Argentina drive on the right side of the road.​​​​​​​

Education: Argentina provides free public education for all of its residents, including expats, though this is almost exclusively provided in Spanish. There are numerous private and international schools in Argentina, most notably in Buenos Aires.

Weather in Argentina

Expats living in Argentina are as likely to find themselves swept away by the gale force winds of Patagonia as they are to touch down in the extreme heat of the north. Weather in Argentina is extremely varied and is best sub-divided into four broad climate regions based on geography: east central Argentina (also known as the Pampas), western Argentina, the northeastern interior, and southern Argentina, which includes both the climate-specific Andes as well as Patagonia.

The seasons in Argentina are the same in all four locations. Summer typically starts in December, moving into autumn in April, transitioning into winter in June and finally changing into spring in September. While the south is characterised by cold temperatures and howling wind, the north is sub-tropical and receives heavy rainfall.

The weather in Buenos Aires, Argentina's capital and most popular expat destination, is relatively temperate with distinct seasonal changes. High temperatures and high humidity are a normal part of the city's sultry summers. Spring and autumn are pleasant, whereas winter is cooler, albeit mild. Snow is a rarity in Buenos Aires, though there may be an occasional day where the mercury plunges toward freezing.

Rainfall is heaviest during summer months, but precipitation is present throughout the year.

Expats living in Argentina will find the varied climate makes certain parts of the country more attractive during different times of the year. The Lake District, Mendoza and Córdoba are fantastic in autumn when the leaves begin to change and the crowds begin to thin. Alternatively, Buenos Aires is something special in spring with the jacarandas in bloom and the weariness of winter fading away.

Patagonia and the south are best in summer, whereas the north is most bearable in winter.

Embassy Contacts for Argentina

Argentine Embassies

  • Embassy of Argentina, Washington DC, United States: +1 202 238 6400

  • Embassy of Argentina, London, United Kingdom: +44 207 318 1300

  • Embassy of Argentina, Ottawa, Canada: +1 613 236 2351

  • Embassy of Argentina, Canberra, Australia: +61 2 6273 9111

  • Embassy of Argentina, Pretoria, South Africa: +27 (0)12 430 3524/7

  • Embassy of Argentina, Dublin, Ireland: +353 (0)1 269 1546

  • Embassy of Argentina, Wellington, New Zealand: +64 (0)4 472 8330


Foreign Embassies in Argentina

  • United States Embassy, Buenos Aires: +54 (0)11 5777 4533

  • British Embassy, Buenos Aires: +54 (0)11 4808 2200

  • Canadian Embassy, Buenos Aires: +54 (0)11 4808 1000

  • Australian Embassy, Buenos Aires: +54 (0)11 4779 3500

  • South African Embassy, Buenos Aires: +54 (0)11 4317 2900

  • Irish Embassy, Buenos Aires: +54 (0)11 5787 0801

  • New Zealand Embassy, Buenos Aires: +54 (0)11 5070 0700

Public Holidays in Argentina

 

2018

2019

New Year's Day

1 January

1 January

Carnival

12 February

4 March

Truth and Justice Day

24 March

24 March

Good Friday

30 March

19 April

Veteran's Day

2 April

2 April

Labour Day

1 May

1 May

May Day Revolution Day

25 May

25 May

Martin Miguel de Guemes Day

15 June

17 June

National Flag Day

20 June

20 June

Independence Day

9 July

9 July

San Martín Day

20 August

19 August

Day of Respect for Cultural Diversity

15 October

12 October

Day of National Sovereignty

19 November

18 November

Immaculate Conception Day

8 December

8 December

Christmas Day

25 December

25 December

Working in Argentina

Finding work in Argentina as an expat is probably the biggest hurdle facing those relocating to the country. Expats who are offered a job in Argentina through a foreign corporation should definitely take up the challenge. It is likely that expats will earn a good salary and the company should also sort out all the required visas and work permits. Furthermore, those working for a foreign company may not be confronted with such a glaring language barrier.

Unless expats are employed by a foreign company, they will need to be in possession of a DNI (Documento Nacional de Identidad or National Identity Card). Without this, expats are not legally able to work in Argentina. Expats can apply for this once they have lived in Argentina for at least two years on a temporary residence visa. 


Job market in Argentina

Expats moving to Argentina and planning to look for work once there may run into difficulties. Job opportunities for expats are limited and local wages can be considerably lower than those some foreigners are accustomed to. In Argentina, most of the opportunities for expats are in the big cities, specifically in the banking, IT and oil sectors.

Alternatively, Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) is a popular option, but expats should be mindful of the low rates of pay associated with this occupation; it is usually more suitable for singles travelling for a limited time or for students.


Finding work in Argentina

Getting a job in Argentina is not an easy task. As a general rule, Argentines are very protective of each other in terms of employment and will always offer work to a local before a foreigner. It is also necessary to speak a high level of Spanish in order to qualify for most jobs.


Work permits for Argentina

Argentinians are generally very welcoming and friendly towards foreigners. Nevertheless, local employers are often discouraged from hiring expats if work permit issues are involved; the process is extremely bureaucratic and can take ages to complete.

That said, projects or freelance work can be found with small start-ups or expat entrepreneurs. These employers are often happy to pay cash in return for skills brought by a foreigner. This, however, does not solve the visa situation for a long-term stay in Argentina.

Having a Documento Nacional de Identidad (DNI) allows expats to work in Buenos Aires on equal footing with any other Argentinian, but unless employed by an international company, expats should expect a serious reduction in wages.


Work culture in Argentina

Employment law in Argentina is very strict. The LCT (Ley de Contrato de Trabajoor Law on Contract Employment) regulates all aspects of working life, from employee rights and conditions to wage protection and employee/employer obligations. By law, residents in Argentina must be 18 years of age before they can start working.

The working day in Argentina is eight hours long. Outside of Buenos Aires, the siesta has to be taken into account, so working hours are typically 8:30am to 12:30pm and then 4pm to 8pm. This equals approximately 48 work hours per week. People are not expected to work on Saturday afternoons and Sundays, although most shops are open all day Saturday.

Employees are paid 13 months' salary per year; this is a built-in bonus system that is mandatory according to Argentine labour law. Half the bonus is paid in June, whereas the other half in December. Fourteen days annual leave is the starting norm (once employed for a year), thereafter increasing according to years of service.

Expats are advised to do everything in Argentina legally as Argentines are quite litigious about breaking employment rules.

Doing Business in Argentina

Expats doing business in Argentina will quickly learn that this South American country values personal relationships, respects the senior members of the corporate world and identifies more with its European roots than the Latin American influence in the country.

In economic terms, Argentina is a force to be reckoned with. It is the second largest economy in South America, with its primary industries being agriculture, information and communication technology (ICT) and tourism. 

Argentina is ranked 117th out of 190 countries in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Survey for 2018. The country performed reasonably well in the categories of protecting minority investors (43) and getting credit (77).


Fast facts

Language of business

Spanish is Argentina’s official language, but it is slightly different to the Spanish spoken in Spain. English is widely spoken in large cities like Buenos Aires, but less so in outlying areas. Business is conducted in Spanish and expats who do not have a good grasp of the language will need an interpreter.

Greeting

A simple handshake with eye contact is the preferred business greeting in Argentina, with the oldest or most senior associate greeted first. 

Business hours

Business hours in Argentina are traditionally from 8am to 9pm, with a three- or four-hour siesta in the middle of the day. This schedule, however, is more common for shops in the provinces; the corporate world and shops in the cities tend to stick to the more conventional 8am to 5pm working day.

Business dress

Business attire in Argentina is usually formal and conservative. Men should wear dark business suits and women should wear suits or tasteful dresses. It is important to look stylish and presentable, as appearance is important to Argentinians. 

Gifts

Gifts are not expected in a business setting until a close relationship is formed. Expats should not give expensive gifts, as they may be interpreted as bribes. It is inappropriate for a female to give a male colleague a gift, as it may be seen as a personal gesture. A bottle of imported spirits is a gift that is usually appreciated, as taxes on spirits in Argentina are high. Gifts should be opened immediately when they are received.

Gender equality

Women have equal rights in Argentina and it's not unusual to find women in high-ranking positions within both the political and business spheres.


Business culture in Argentina

Argentinians are generally family-orientated people, which translates into the way they conduct business. Close, personal relationships are valued, respect is given to older associates and more loyalty is shown to individual people than to companies as a whole.

Relationships

It is extremely important for expats to network and build meaningful relationships if they want to succeed in the business world in Argentina. Interestingly, nepotism and name-dropping are not frowned upon and even though it might feel strange at first, expats should feel free to use both these tools to their advantage. 

Honour is incredibly important in Argentina's culture. It is therefore frowned upon to publicly criticise or correct a business associate. Despite this, Argentinians can be quite direct and sometimes blunt, but they still manage to be tactful. 

Communications

Expats will soon realise that Argentinians are passionate and use many gestures to bring their point across. Personal space is virtually non-existent and touching is not uncommon during a conversation. When greeting, a standard handshake is appropriate and eye contact is important. If possible, expats should greet the oldest or most important person in the room first, as a sign of respect. 

Business meetings

When arranging a business meeting in Argentina, it is necessary to make an appointment one or two weeks before the intended meeting. This appointment should be made by email or telephone; however, the actual meeting should always be face to face, as telephonic meetings or written communication is seen as overly impersonal. 

Expats should always be on time for meetings, even though your Argentinian colleagues might not show the same courtesy. It is common for meetings to begin with some small talk to break the ice and jumping right into discussing business may seem impolite. 

It is a good idea to have any documents available in both English and Spanish; the same applies to business cards.


Dos and don’ts of doing business in Argentina

  • Do have business cards printed in both Spanish and English

  • Don’t use one finger to point, but rather use the whole hand

  • Do make an effort to learn Spanish; it will go a long way with Argentine co-workers

  • Do arrive on time for meetings

  • Do use Señor or Señora to address colleagues if their exact title is not known

  • Don’t be afraid to socialise with colleagues; it is common for business associates to be friends outside of the workplace

  • Do respect those in positions of authority

Visas for Argentina

Visa procedures for expats moving to Argentina are relatively simple unless they have arrived and only decide to stay permanently after being in the country.

Expats applying for such long-term visas for Argentina from within the country should be prepared to jump through some hefty hoops.


Visitor visas for Argentina

Nationals on a list of countries with a visa waiver programme with Argentina are able to enter Argentina and get a 90-day tourist visa stamped into their passport upon arrival. These include nationals of Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia and South Africa, among others. Such expats should ensure that they have at least six months before their passport expires and at least one clear page on the visa can be stamped.

All other foreign nationals are required to apply for a tourist visa from their Argentine consulate or embassy before travelling to the country. It is advisable to allow 30 days for this process.

Tourist visas in Argentina last for 90 days, after which it is possible to apply for an extension for a further 90 days, in-country (total of 180 days per tourist visa). To continue to live in Argentina legally, expats will then need to exit the country before the extension lapses and return to obtain a new 90-day tourist visa. It is then possible to get another 90-day in-country extension (total 180 days). However, after this second circuit, expats are no longer allowed to apply for in-country extensions; thus, they will need to exit and return within the first 90-day period.

There is no minimum time period that an expat must be outside Argentina before renewal, so it is often possible to leave the country and return on the same day. People in this situation tend to cross the border into neighbouring Uruguay or Chile.

Alternatively, some people often let their tourist visa expire and pay a fine when they depart. 


Permanent and residence visas for Argentina

Expats intending to reside permanently in Argentina have a number of categories of visa available. Once approved, expats will be issued with a permanent resident’s visa, which is usually valid for one year.

Applying for a visa from within Argentina is a long and arduous process involving much paperwork and numerous trips to the Immigration Department. Although applications can be made locally, expats will be required to turn up at the central Immigration Department in Buenos Aires for an interview regarding their application.

Foreign expat employees of large corporations will have their visas dealt with by their companies, who usually employ a local relocation agent, which makes the process very simple.

Independent expats are bound to experience considerably more headaches. For this reason, many expats remain on tourist visas for some time and even overstay their visas, merely paying a fine on departure from the country. This is not advisable, however, as it can easily create legal complications and even more paperwork than the official route.

A permanent or residence visa is necessary to apply for a credit card (although for most foreigners a passport is sufficient), a phone line, television service or to open a bank account. It also effectively means the holder is entitled to work.

Each family member, including dependent children, need to apply for a separate visa.

Those living in Argentina for longer than 90 days will be eligible to apply for a Documento Nacional de Identidad (DNI) - a national identity card.

*Visa regulations and requirements for work permits are subject to change at short notice and expats should contact their respective embassy or consulate for the latest details.

Cost of Living in Argentina

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.

Local wages have risen considerably, 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 such as 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 March 2018.  

Accommodation

Furnished two-bedroom apartment (monthly)

ARS 15,000

Unfurnished two-bedroom apartment (monthly)

ARS 9,500

Shopping

Milk (1 litre)

ARS 26

Dozen eggs

ARS 40

Loaf of white bread

ARS 49

Chicken breasts (1kg)

ARS 108

Pack of cigarettes (Marlboro)

ARS 55

Eating out

Big Mac Meal

ARS 150

Coca-Cola (500ml)

ARS 32

Cappuccino

ARS 54

Bottle of local beer 

ARS 54

Three-course meal at mid-range restaurant 

ARS 725

Utilities/Household

Mobile call rate (per minute – mobile to mobile)

ARS 5

Internet (Uncapped ADSL or Cable – average per month)

ARS 943

Utilities (water, elec, gas - average per month for standard household)

ARS 2,122

Hourly rate for a domestic cleaner

ARS 92

Transportation 

Taxi rate per km

ARS 14

City centre public transport fare

ARS 7

Petrol (per litre)

ARS 23

Culture Shock in Argentina

Expats will experience a significant degree of culture shock in Argentina. The country is in Latin America and, despite its reputation as the most ‘European’ of South American countries, it is still very much Latin by nature - lively, emotional and family-oriented.

Argentina is huge and the degree of culture shock expats will experience varies considerably from province to province. That said, if expats keep the words ‘mañana’, ‘siesta’, and ‘gringo’ firmly in the back of their mind, they should be fine.


Culture shock in Buenos Aires

In Buenos Aires, Argentina’s capital city, any culture shock expats feel will likely be quite mild. In fact, expats would be forgiven for thinking they’re in Paris, London or Rome. Like every big city, Buenos Aires is a melting pot of nationalities, and its European heritage is prominent. There are no “typical” looking Argentines − expats will find themselves surrounded by blondes, red-heads and everything in between.

The city has a large café culture and there are shopping galleries, tango clubs and schools on every street corner. The city has a vibrant nightlife and locals love to dance.


Culture shock in rural Argentina

Expats interested in living outside of the big cities will probably feel considerably more culture shock in rural Argentina.

One thing a foreigner never really gets used to is the siesta, which involves a four-to-five hour shutdown in the middle of the day − after a big family midday meal − when everyone sleeps. Towns become empty and ghost-like. The shops start shutting at 12pm and rarely reopen before 4.30pm. Nothing seems to be able to interrupt the siesta.

In the evening, people eat late. Restaurants do not open for dinner until 9pm at the earliest, and most people go out to eat at around 10.30pm. Clubs only start filling up after 1am.

Shopping in rural Argentina is a trial and often a test of patience for those who are used to one-stop shopping malls. People never help themselves in a store, as there is a numbered ticket and queuing system. The person that serves customers doesn’t wrap goods or take money; those tasks are done by two other people.

Expats should understand the process of being labelled as ‘gringo’, a term used to refer to all non-Spanish speaking foreigners. This term translates into a mentality that the locals use to shape their interactions with foreigners. Expats should be cautious and should check that they are not being charged more for goods and services than the locals. 


Language barrier in Argentina

Expats should not expect to find the English language spoken anywhere in Argentina outside of its big cities. New arrivals will need to speak and understand some Spanish; anything more complicated than asking for a coffee and a sandwich will require a translator.

Assimilating into Argentina can often result in a considerably larger shock than expected upon arrival. That said, there are many upsides that come with the country’s culture, such as long, languid barbecues, plenty of very good wine and steak, not to mention the fact that foreign currency can go incredibly far.

Accommodation in Argentina

Expats will find it relatively easy to both buy and rent accommodation in Argentina. The country’s economic instability has translated into competitive property prices across the board. There is a wide range of options to choose from, and expats should have little difficulty finding a place to suit their budget and tastes.


Types of accommodation in Argentina

There is an incredibly wide range of accommodation available in Argentina. Gated communities for wealthy Argentinians and corporate expat employees are becoming popular, whereas elsewhere the choices are practically endless. Expats can choose from smart family villas in hilly La Cumbre, to Swiss-style chalets in Bariloche to the south, or even 40-acre vineyards in Mendoza to the west. The range is wide enough to suit both your dreams and your bank balance.


Renting accommodation in Argentina

Renting accommodation in Argentina is not difficult anywhere in the country,  and can be done on either a long-term or short-term basis.                                                                               

Expats will most likely need a guarantor who owns property in Argentina and can take financial responsibility for any damage incurred by the tenant. Expats who don’t know of a feasible candidate need not worry though, as there are many apartment brokers in Argentina who cater exclusively to foreigners looking to rent.

Some landlords in Argentina will accept large deposits in lieu of collateral or a guarantor, though foreigners will generally pay a premium on top of the price that locals would pay in the same situation.


Buying property in Argentina

Foreigners have the right to purchase both property and land in Argentina. Expats should note that the finer details can differ from province to province. In Patagonia, for example, there are restrictions on foreigners buying real estate, particularly on property located close to the Chilean border.

It is not necessary in most areas to have a residence visa in order to purchase land or property; however, expats wishing to move permanently to Argentina with household effects will need to pay a Customs Bond and a yearly ‘guarantee’ on the goods until they have a permanent residence visa.

Argentina’s housing market took a real upturn after 2002 as the economy slowly started to recover from the financial crisis, largely as a result of an influx of foreign dollars. However, the mortgage market remained severely depressed and now most real estate transactions use cash, usually US dollars.

This has largely insulated the market against interest rate changes, so huge rises and drops in property prices are unusual. 

Healthcare in Argentina

Healthcare in Argentina is generally considered to be of the highest standard of all the countries in Latin America, and expats will find its reputation is warranted. 

In Buenos Aires and other sizeable towns and cities, such as Córdoba or Mendoza, the clinics are excellent and the medical staff are well trained. However, elsewhere in the country, healthcare standards vary greatly.


Public healthcare in Argentina

Public healthcare in Argentina is used by around half the population and provides free care for all in-patients and out-patients, although the latter group usually pays for medication. The medical staff are generally well trained, but nursing and aftercare services can be severely lacking. Emergency attention is free for all (including tourists), as are doctor call-outs. In-patient care is variable, as public hospitals are frequently underfunded and staff overworked.

There is no universal GP system in Argentina and general doctors are usually found in the public hospitals. Otherwise, patients need to make appointments with specialists in the private clinics. Charges vary from place to place, with rural areas generally cheaper than urban centres.


Private healthcare in Argentina

Most expats in Argentina use private services because it is assumed private healthcare means an individual will be getting better attention and the waiting time for treatment is less. While the former may not necessarily be true, there's a fair argument for the latter.

Private healthcare in Argentina is generally financed by voluntary insurance schemes. As in other countries, costs vary from provider to provider. Expats can receive medical coverage through a number of international health insurers, otherwise many small, private clinics also have their own schemes. Expats should note that the cost of monthly premiums merely gives a discount off the price of care when it is needed.

Private health insurance cover is highly localised, so if expats leave town, their policy will often no longer be valid.

Expats can also pay premiums directly to a private clinic and bypass health insurance. Expats doing this must simply present their passport when visiting the clinic; no residency visa is needed. An obvious downside to this policy is that expats are limited as to where they can receive treatment.

The quality of in-patient care in private clinics and hospitals in Argentina can vary. Some facilities do not offer overnight nursing care unless it is paid for separately.

Many private medical facilities in Argentina do not provide laundry services on the weekend and patients’ families have to provide their own linen.


Dental care in Argentina

The standard of dental health in Argentina is extremely high, even in small towns. That said, expats are unlikely to find English-speaking dentists outside the main cities. Dental costs in Argentina are considerably cheaper than in the USA and most European countries.

Orthodontic care in Argentina is also of an extremely high standard and is a fraction of the cost of similar treatment in many other Western countries.


Pharmacies in Argentina

Pharmacies are easy to find in Argentinian cities, with many open 24/7.

It is possible to buy many types of medicine over the counter at pharmacies in Argentina without a prescription. The pharmacist can also advise on medication for a number of standard conditions, such as stomach bugs and flu. Female contraceptives (the pill) are also available without a prescription, but they are not free.


Health insurance in Argentina

Social Security or Obras Sociales are obligatory insurance schemes run by the trade unions and are only applicable to Argentinians and permanent residents who are legally employed. Both employer and employee pay contributions towards in-patient and out-patient care. Medication is also covered; although, if contributions are not sufficient to cover the cost of treatment, the employer or employee will have to pay the difference.


Health hazards in Argentina

Argentina is considered a low-risk area for both cholera and malaria, but dengue fever is becoming more of a concern. The most effective way to guard against dengue fever is to avoid mosquito bites, particularly during the day.

Tap water in Argentina is drinkable in the major towns and cities, but expats travelling or relocating beyond these areas should stick to bottled or treated water.


Pre-travel vaccinations for Argentina

The following vaccinations are recommended for expats travelling to Argentina: 

  • Yellow fever - particularly if they plan on travelling within the region and to some of the more remote provinces. The vaccination must be given at least 10 days before leaving for Argentina.

  • Hepatitis A

  • Typhoid

  • Routine vaccinations – if not up to date (measles/mumps/rubella (MMR) vaccine, diphtheria/pertussis/tetanus (DPT) vaccine, poliovirus vaccine, etc.)

The above list is merely a guide. Expats should ensure that all their routine vaccinations are up to date and should consult with a medical professional prior to departure for further information on vaccinations for Argentina.


Emergency services in Argentina

The ambulance service is fairly efficient in most places – some are publicly funded and others are run by the private clinics.

The medical emergency number in Argentina is 107 and can be dialled from any phone, although 911 is also applicable.

Education and Schools in Argentina

Although the government is committed to providing every child with an education and the national literacy rate is high, expats may find that education and schools in Argentina can be trigger points of frustration and stress.

Argentina has an extensive public school system, with private and international schools found in the larger cities. Private religious institutions can also be found in small towns in Argentina.

Expats can take advantage of free education in Argentina, but children attending local schools will be taught in Spanish. English teachers can be a rarity, especially in the more rural areas. There is little in the way of support systems for expats who speak a different language, so parents should carefully consider just how difficult a challenge this will prove for their children.


Public schools in Argentina

Argentina has a system of mandatory education known as Educación General Básica (Basic General Education) and is divided into three stages, called ciclos (cycles).

  • EGB I: Grades 1 to 3

  • EGB II: Grades 4 to 6

  • EGB III: Grades 7 to 9

The starting age for mandatory schooling in Argentina is five.

Secondary education in Argentina is called Polimodal (meaning multiple modes), because students can, to a certain extent, choose their subjects.

Polimodal is usually three years, although some schools require four. This stage of schooling is a requirement if a student wishes to go on to higher education. 

The Argentina education system can be difficult for expats to come to terms with. The teaching style in public schools is largely outdated and cumbersome. Although free schooling is provided for all children, resources are stretched.

Public schools are underfunded and there is no physical education or anything akin to art or drama. To obtain any sort of education in these subjects, expat children would either have to attend a private school or apply for one of the Centro Polivalente de Artes schools.

There is usually one of these in each large town, but again, they are very oversubscribed because they offer art, ceramics, dance and music as well as the main subjects. Furthermore, because they fit in more subjects, the school day is a lot longer - usually 7:30am until 7pm in the evening.

The school year in Argentina starts in early March and finishes in mid-December.


Private schools in Argentina

There are fee-paying private schools in Argentina; these are usually Catholic church-funded institutions. Private schools still follow the Argentinian curriculum, although they do have more flexibility and a number of them offer a bilingual curriculum, teaching in Spanish and English.

In all schools, private or public, books and stationery are not provided. 


International schools in Argentina

There are also a number of international schools in Argentina, particularly in larger cities such as Cordoba and Buenos Aires. These follow an international curriculum, mostly the British, American or International Baccalaureate (IB), but there are also schools that follow German, Japanese and French curricula, among others. 


Homeschooling in Argentina

There are no specific laws pertaining to homeschooling in Argentina, leaving the practice a grey area. Nevertheless, there is a growing community of homeschoolers in the country, particularly in Buenos Aires. However, as the government does not technically recognise homeschool education, parents may have difficulties if wanting to enrol their children back into the Argentina schooling system or when applying for a spot at a university. 


Tertiary education in Argentina

University education in Argentina is free for those attending state universities. Private universities charge tuition fees that vary depending on the institution. Argentine universities have a high percentage of part-time students, as many students need to work to sustain themselves. Foreign students can apply to Argentine universities but will have to pay higher international fees and obtain a student visa.

Transport and Driving in Argentina

As in many countries, driving in Argentina’s large cities can be stressful and parking is expensive and hard to come by. Most people in Argentina’s metropolitan areas, therefore, opt to use public transport almost exclusively.

Public transport in Argentina's large cities, especially in Buenos Aires, is highly effective and expats will find that getting around is no problem at all. Some areas of Argentina, such as Patagonia, have very limited public transport and in these cases driving is the only viable mode of transport.


Public transport in Argentina

Trains 

Argentina’s primary train network is a suburban train line that connects Buenos Aires with outlying areas. This is the main form of transport for commuters who work in the capital. Resistencia, the capital of Chaco Province, also has a suburban train line, and a tram system is operational in Mendoza.

There are not many long-distance train services in Argentina, but those that do exist are often less expensive than long-distance buses. These trains are also slower and less luxurious than some of the buses available, although some trains do offer a first-class option for sleeping and dining facilities. Long-distance trains usually operate between Buenos Aires, Córdoba and Posadas, but there are international services that run to Bolivia, Brazil, Chile and Paraguay. 

Buses 

Buses are the main form of public transport in Argentina and the system is excellent. Urban buses are known as colectivos and cover an extensive route around major cities. Special service buses known as diferenciales are also available. Diferenciales are air-conditioned and luxurious but are also more expensive. 

The reliability of buses can vary according to area and time of day. Buses are run by a number of different companies, so fares can vary. In some cities, bus fares are fixed for the entire city. Most city buses have coin machines and travellers can pay as they board. In Mendoza, however, pre-paid tickets must be bought, and in Córdoba, coupons must be bought before boarding the bus. Tickets and coupons are usually available at kiosks around the cities.

Argentina also has a system of long-distance buses, which is the primary mode of transport used to travel across the country. Some of these buses have interiors similar to that of an airline's business-class cabin and even offer onboard dining.

Underground rail

Buenos Aires is the only city in Argentina with an underground (subte) train network, but plans are in place to build one in Córdoba.

Taxis and ride-sharing services

Expats and foreigners will find that ride-sharing services such as Uber are readily available in most of Argentina's urban areas. These provide non-Spanish speakers with a hassle-free way to get around the cities without the risk of miscommunication with taxi drivers. Hailing a local taxi in Argentina is also easy, but it is recommended that foreigners have a basic level of Spanish to negotiate with and direct drivers. While there have been disagreements and competition between Uber and local taxi drivers, this conflict is unlikely to directly affect passengers of either service.

Trams 

Trams are making a slow comeback in Argentina after being phased out in the 1960s. There is now a tram line in Buenos Aires that feeds the subte system, as well as a light rail system in the northern suburbs of the city. 

Trolleybuses, which are powered by overhead electric wires, operate in Córdoba, Mendoza and Rosario. 


Driving in Argentina

Argentina is a very large country, making a comprehensive network of long-distance roads of the utmost importance. There are large expressways that extend from Buenos Aires to most of the country, but many of the roads beyond this are two-lane roads and most of them are in poor condition or not paved.  

The main driving routes in Argentina are the Panamerican National Route 9, which links Buenos Aires, Córdoba and Rosario; National Route 40, which runs along the Andes mountain range; and National Route 3, which runs from Buenos Aires to Ushuaia.

In order to drive in Argentina, expats must hold an international driving license in addition to a national driving license from their home country. Expats should also ensure that they have their vehicle’s registration, green card (tarjeta verde), tax and insurance documents in the car, as traffic police will request to see these if they pull anyone over. 

Car rentals are relatively expensive in Argentina but can be worthwhile for expats wanting to explore the country. Expats can get a better rate at a locally owned agency than they would at an international one. The minimum age to rent a car in Argentina is 21. Expats living in Argentina long-term may find buying a car to be more financially viable, but the bureaucracy involved with making the purchase will be frustrating. 


Cycling in Argentina

Cycling in Argentina is uncommon in its larger cities. This is mainly because of a lack of bicycle paths, making travelling by bicycle difficult and dangerous. 

Air travel in Argentina

Argentina’s national air carrier is Aerolíneas Argentinas (Austral), which operates most of the domestic flights. However, this airline is notorious for delays and only Argentine residents qualify for the cheapest fares. Other airlines that offer domestic flights include LanChile and Líneas Aéreas del Estado, which is run by the Argentine Air Force. 

There are 19 major airports in Argentina, but the largest are the Ministro Pistarini International Airport and the Aeroparque Jorge Newbery in Buenos Aires.

Expat Blogs in Argentina

Few resources can build a better picture of life in Argentina than the expat blogs maintained by already established foreigners. Whether these writers are recounting great challenges, relaying roll-on-the-floor funny encounters, delivering crucial advice and important tips or reaching out to those around them, their insight affords others a unique and personal glimpse into their new community. 


Best expat blogs in Argentina

Gay American in Argentina

Jorge Juarez is an Argentine-born American who moved back to the country of his birth to find a better life. He now lives in Cordoba Capital and loves the combination of peaceful farm life and busy city life in Cordoba province. This is his blog about his life in Argentina.

Nationality: American

                        

Relocation Companies in Argentina

Relocation businesses offer companies and individuals with a full suite of services including pre-departure orientation, neighbourhood orientation, home-finding services, lease negotiation and utilities hook-ups, as well as school selection, visits and registration assistance. Removals companies, on the other hand, offer a more limited range of services that tend to focus on the transportation of goods. Here are a selection of relocation companies that can make your move to Argentina easier. 

Buenos Aires Relocation Company

BARC gets in touch directly with the expatriate and his family, helping them out in every possible way and relieving the stress that moving implies, making this cultural transition a unique and exciting experience.

Website: www.buenosairesrelo.com.ar

plus_relocation.jpg

Plus Relocation

Plus Relocation is a full-service global relocation management company providing domestic and international relocation, global assignment management and consulting services. Plus Relocation has the experts you can trust to make your move to Argentina easier.

Website: www.plusrelocation.com

 

► See more worldwide relocation companies.

Articles about Argentina

There’s no one-size-fits-all rule for settling into expat life in a new country, but here are a few helpful articles and personal stories that may help make your move to Argentina a little easier.


Learning Spanish in Argentina

Learning the language of your new home country can be difficult but is not impossible, but this advice from a Spanish teacher and her students will make it a little easier to learn to speak Spanish in Argentina


Getting permanent residency in Argentina

After battling with piles of paperwork, one expat lives to tell the tale of dealing with tramites’ in Argentina.

Banking, Money and Taxes in Argentina

Expats will find that the experience of managing money and banking in Argentina is bogged down by oceans of paperwork and epic queues.

For this reason, and as the Argentinian banking system remains unstable, many expats choose to leave their money in bank accounts in their home country.

In another vein, hefty taxes apply when transferring money from an offshore account to a local account; thus expats are advised to think carefully about this action.

Nevertheless, it is possible for expats to open a bank account in Argentina, but they should be prepared to spend a long time unravelling red tape.


Money in Argentina

The official currency in Argentina is the Argentine peso (ARS), commonly referred to simply as the peso. The peso is divided into 100 centavos. 

  • Notes: ARS 2, 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100

  • Coins: ARS 1 and 2 and 5, 10, 25 and 50 centavos


Banking in Argentina

Since Argentina’s economic crisis in 2001, confidence in the banks has been low; middle-class savers hide their money under the mattress or buy new cars and improve their houses. Even rich Argentineans send their money abroad to banks in Uruguay or the Caymans.

Those that do have bank accounts are treated to exorbitant bank charges, government taxes, high loan interest rates and low savings rates.

The largest local bank in Argentina is Banco de La Nación Argentina, although there are many others, including Banco de Cuyo, Banco Patagonia, Banco CrediCoop. Citibank, HSBC and Santander are the biggest foreign banks operating in Argentina.

Banking hours vary from summer (generally 7.30am to 12.30pm) to winter (8am to 1pm). Expats should be prepared to queue whenever they enter a bank’s premises, and should furthermore not expect to find an English speaker.

Opening a bank account

To open a bank account in Argentina, expats will need a variety of documents, including a DNI (Documento Naciónal de Identidad), their passport, a CUIT number (business tax code), CUIL number (personal tax code) and AFIP (social security number), as well as some money to initially deposit. These requirements vary from bank to bank, so expats are advised to consult individual branches for specific details.

Foreigners are usually not eligible to borrow money from banks in Argentina.

Using an offshore bank account

Paying money into an Argentinian account from an offshore source can become incredibly frustrating. Both the banks and the government charge a tax, the exchange rates are generally poor and it can take weeks for the money to actually arrive.

Withdrawing funds from a foreign account using an ATM in Argentina will incur heavy fees. Periodically, the amounts foreigners can withdraw are restricted, sometimes to as little as 300 ARS (50 USD) per day. Expats can usually leave their card in the machine and withdraw the limited amount up to four times; however, four separate transactions will be charged.

Many expats in Argentina prefer using Western Union to transfer money. This is efficient, but there are usually restrictions on the amounts that can be sent and received.

Credit

Almost anything in Argentina can be paid for in cuotas – usually comprising six payments. This includes supermarket food shopping.

Expats can pay in cuotas using credit and debit cards, unless they present a foreign registered card, in which case the payment has to be done immediately and in full. Expats using foreign cards need to produce identification, with a passport usually sufficing.

Argentinians have to present their DNI for all transactions paid for with cards. Very few people have standing orders or direct debits set up on their bank accounts. Most bills are paid in cash, so at certain times of the month, when payments are due, queues at banks, finance houses and Pago Facil (easy payment) outlets are long.

ATMs

ATMs are plentiful in the big cities in Argentina, where they can be found in shopping galleries and the like. This is not the case in the smaller towns, where they are normally only on the bank premises in the centre of town.

ATMs are available 24 hours a day, but on certain days of the week, such as a Thursday or the day preceding a national holiday, expats may find long queues of people and there’s a chance the machine may have run out of money.


Taxes in Argentina

Expats will find that taxes in Argentina are an extensive and complex affair.

This South American country has no inheritance or capital gains tax, but there are high rates attached to everything else – income tax, personal asset taxes, transfer taxes and an exceptionally high VAT (Value Added Tax).

Expats planning on earning money in Argentina are advised to seek the guidance of an accountant with professional experience in the country.

Income tax in Argentina

Employers are responsible for dealing with the relevant paperwork regarding tax for their employees and usually make a single payment at the end of the year.

Self-employed individuals pay their taxes to the local tax office every two months. There are various allowances and deductions that can be taken into account; such as those for dependents, life insurances and funeral expenses.

Many people in Argentina 'work in the black', meaning illegally, in order to avoid paying their taxes. Employment taxes imposed on an employer are crippling, and expats may be surprised to find that it is common for even businessmen to go the ‘black’ route.

A non-resident's income may be subject to a withholding tax of 35 percent, calculated on presumed revenues. Expats should be aware that money paid into an Argentinian bank account from an offshore source may result in this deduction, so it is important to check on this before transferring large sums of foreign currency into the country.

Expat Experiences in Argentina

Angelina Khoo is a Canadian expat in Buenos Aires. She loves the busy and unpredictable nature of life in the Argentinian capital. Read more about her expat experience in Buenos Aires.

Argentina%20Angelina%20Khoo_0.jpg

Kevin is an American expat living in Buenos Aires. He spent a year in the city studying abroad and when he left he realised that his time in Buenos Aires wasn't over. He returned a year later and loves the chaotic charm that the city offers. Read about his expat experience in Buenos Aires.

Jorge Juarez is an Argentinian-born American who moved back to the country of his birth to find a better life. He now lives in Cordoba Capital and loves the combination of peaceful farm life and busy city life in Cordoba province. Read more about his experience in Cordoba.

Dan is an American chef living in Buenos Aires. He loves the European feel of the city but misses the variety of ethnic food available in the United States. Read more about his expat life in Argentina

Vina is an American expat living in Buenos Aires. She moved there to become an English teacher and liked it so much she stayed! Vina loves the slow pace of the city and the passionate people in it. Read about her expat experience in Buenos Aires.

Murphy is an American expat living with his Argentine boyfriend in Buenos Aires. Having initially moved to the city to study, he has been living and working in Buenos Aires for the past six years. He loves the mix of Latin American charm and the European flair of the city, and the friendly nature of the Argentine people. Read more about his expat life in Argentina.

Lea Levy left the southern tip of Africa to set up shop in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Nearly a year into her ambitious endeavour she reports back on life in the South American capital and gives Expat Arrivals some insight into her company Connect-123, a project that looks to give students an experiential learning opportunity in exchange for volunteering their time. Read more about her unique experience of living in Buenos Aires.

Steve T, an American expat living in Argentina, finds life in pastoral Patagonia simple but rich. After eight years of extended visits, he finally bit the bullet and relocated permanently in 2011, and has since settled into a slower, more laid-back way of living. Read what he has to say about moving to South America.

Steve T - An American Expat Living in Patagonia