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Neighbourhoods in Buenos Aires are divided into areas and suburbs known as barrios. Some barrios are more residential than others. Some are busier, more vibrant and culturally diverse, while others are peaceful and leafy. Each barrio has its own culture and energy that reflects the people who live there.
When choosing a suburb in Buenos Aires, expats should ask themselves whether they would like to live in the bustle of the city or if they would prefer a quieter life in the suburbs. Those living in the suburbs will still have easy access to the city via bus and subway.
Below is a list of some of the most popular areas for expats in Buenos Aires.
Family-friendly areas in Buenos Aires
Named for the creator of the Argentinian flag, Belgrano is one of the more peaceful barrios of Buenos Aires. This large barrio has plenty of open green spaces. A strong British influence can be seen in the Victorian-era homes and schools such as the Buenos Aires English High School. Belgrano R is the residential area of the neighbourhood and has large stately homes as well as high-rise apartment buildings to choose from. The sidewalks in Belgrano are lined with restaurants and cafés, particularly in the more commercial areas. There are also plenty of football clubs and tennis courts in the area, making it a very pleasant place to live.
Palermo is the largest barrio in Buenos Aires. It contains a zoo, botanical gardens, a racecourse and many museums. There are also trendy shops and restaurants for those who are less outdoorsy. The barrio is divided into a number of sub-sections, such as Palermo-Viejo and Palermo-Soho.
Palermo is one of the more fashionable places to live in Buenos Aires. However, it is also one of the most expensive. Because of the gardens, zoo and parks, it is a great area for expats with families to settle. There is plenty of accommodation available for rental or purchase in Palermo because of its size, so this is a good place for expats to start their search for accommodation in Buenos Aires.
Caballito is located in the heart of Buenos Aires. As such, expats living in the area will find that most parts of the city are easily accessible. In addition to its central location, the neighbourhood also boasts a number of popular museums and galleries for residents to explore. Some of the city's largest parks and plazas are also located in the area. Therefore, expats living in the surrounding apartments will still be able to get their fill of the great outdoors.
The primary attraction of Caballito is that it’s a whole lot cheaper than places like Palermo, very comfortable, has some character, and yet isn’t too far from the action. It’s great value for money.
Puerto Madero has not always been a very accommodating area of Buenos Aires. In recent years though, the old abandoned warehouses have been converted into trendy apartments. This lead to the whole area undergoing an overhaul. Puerto Madero is now one of the most modern areas in Buenos Aires and is an ideal suburb for expat families. The area is also known to be the most westernised area of the city, with American restaurants and stores dotted around the suburb. This barrio is home to many government buildings, making it a popular place for expats working in this sector to live.
Expats can rent or purchase a high-rise apartment that overlooks the river and can enjoy the beauty of the docks and a nature reserve. Puerto Madero has a selection of great restaurants on the boardwalk. There are even outdoor venues for summer concerts. Residents can stroll along the boardwalk and eat at a café right on the river with some of the best views Buenos Aires has to offer.
Expats who live in Recoleta will see why Buenos Aires is known as the 'Paris of the South'. With its Parisian architecture, cafés and restaurants, expats will feel like they are in Europe rather than South America. Recoleta is one of the most upmarket and expensive barrios in Buenos Aires. It contains many green open spaces, good restaurants and a bustling nightlife.
The accommodation that expats will find in Recoleta is of a high standard, but with high prices to match. There is enough space here for expats to enjoy a house with a garden. There are also plenty of parks for those who choose to live in an apartment. Recoleta is not far from the downtown area of Buenos Aires. This makes it a great place to live if expats prefer a more peaceful lifestyle but still want to be close to the action.
San Isidro is a suburb that is perfect for expats who don't want to live in the city itself. This exclusive barrio is about half an hour’s train journey outside of Buenos Aires. San Isidro is close to the Tigre Delta and has sailing clubs and other upmarket facilities. The area can be very expensive and expats who want to live here should be prepared to budget a significant amount for a large stately home.
Areas for young professional expats in Buenos Aires
For expats who like the quiet by day, busy by night combination, Las Cañitas could be ideal. Its narrow streets remain largely traffic free during the daytime. However, the big attraction here is the nightlife.
Las Cañitas is a sub-division of Palermo and is widely acknowledged as one of the safest areas in Buenos Aires. This is largely due to the military training base that is located there. There are many upmarket shops and antique stores in this area, as well as a good selection of bars and restaurants. There is a large shopping centre that will satisfy anyone's needs. Expats living in Las Cañitas will have plenty of entertainment options.
Plaza San Martín
Plaza San Martín is the “downtown” area of Buenos Aires. While it is not very residential, expats who live in the area will be blown away by its rich history. Many of Buenos Aires' most important historical sites and monuments are in this part of the city. This barrio is also home to Florida Street, a famous pedestrian shopping street in Buenos Aires. The area is very touristy, so prices might be higher than in other parts of the city.
San Telmo is one of the older and more traditional barrios of Buenos Aires and does not have many high-rise apartment buildings. This neighbourhood has a bohemian feel to it and contains plenty of markets and antique shops. Expats should be able to find high-quality accommodation in this area. The cobblestoned streets and colonial-style houses make it a charming place to live.
Over the weekends, San Telmo becomes one of the city's most vibrant nightlife spots. The local bars and tango hotspots are known to draw crowds from all over Buenos Aires. This makes the area an exciting place to call home. However, expats should be aware that this also attracts a significant amount of opportunistic and petty crime.
Villa Crespo is well-known for its bohemian atmosphere and attracts many young expats. It is right on the borders of the Palermo barrio. So, expats living in Villa Crespo are just a short walk or taxi ride away from a number of parks and wooded areas. There are also plenty of bars and restaurants in the suburb for residents to enjoy, as well as some unique galleries and art installations.
►For more on buying or renting housing in the city see Accommodation in Buenos Aires.
"There are many gated communities in the northern suburbs that are nice, which provide more safety and security and appeal to expats." Read about Maggie's expat experiences in Buenos Aires.
"Look for apartments in areas like Palermo (the biggest and most popular area for expats), Recoleta, Almagro or Belgrano." Read Rebecca's Expat Arrivals interview.
Are you an expat living in Buenos Aires?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Buenos Aires. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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