Argentina is a destination that continues to pique the interests of expats looking to move abroad. Here are five things you should know before moving to this beautiful South American country.
#1 Argentine Spanish is nothing like the Spanish you learned at school
According to the Argentines themselves, the Spanish they speak is not español but should be called castellano. This actually refers to the old Spanish dialect from the Castillo region in Spain. However, these two things don’t really have much to do with each other nowadays. The Spanish that the Argentines speak is rather some sort of “español argentino”.
In Argentinian Spanish, there are many words that are completely different from other Spanish-speaking countries and definitely also different from what you learned at school. For example, fresa (strawberry) is called frutilla in Argentina. Also, the pronoun “you”, is not “tú” as you were taught but instead “vos”. This also means many verbs' conjugation are different.
There are many expressions and new verbs that you will have to get used to in Spanish when you move to Argentina.
#2 The exchange rate is a good topic for small talk
In an awkward situation at a dinner party and don’t know what to talk about with the person next to you? In most circumstances, dropping a line about the country’s currency might not be the first thing on your list. However, in Argentina, you are perfectly fine to do so, and you are very likely to get a lively conversation started.
The Argentine economy is very unstable, and has been so for decades. Lately, this has resulted in the Argentine peso being extremely volatile when compared to the American dollar. Over the last year, the peso went from about 37 ARS per 1 USD in the beginning of 2019 to now been around 60 ARS per 1 USD (October 2019).
The exchange rate’s unpredictability and its effect on the Argentine economy is something that is often on the Argentine news. Argentines are generally well-informed about their currency’s latest movements. It’s therefore a perfectly normal topic for small talk both with people you know well and people you’ve just met. If you don’t know what to talk about with someone, the current rate of the peso is always a winning topic.
Read more about how to understand the Argentine exchange rate.
#3 You’ll frequently be asked where you’re from
As a foreigner in Argentina, you’ll frequently be asked where you are from and what you are doing in Argentina. The Argentines are generally curious about people from other countries – especially those from Europe or North America.
Additionally, most Argentines have some kind of European heritage due to the large amount of immigrants who arrived in the country in the 1880s and 1930s. Though many might be generally interested in where you come from, most conversations tend to end up being a story about their own different European heritage.
#4 Changing prices are part of everyday life
Inflation is a real issue in Argentina. With a monthly inflation rate of around three to four percent, inflation is something that you will quickly become familiar with if you move to Argentina long-term.
As mentioned, the Argentine economy is extremely volatile. In the late 1990s, the government tried taming the economy with a Currency Board. This led to the exchange rate being locked at a rate of 1 ARS to 1 USD. However, it only lasted until the economy imploded during the enormous economic crisis of 2001. Ever since, changing governments have tried to control the ever-increasing inflation without much luck.
#5 You need to understand football
I have to admit that I really didn’t know anything about football (soccer). Thus, living in Argentina, I had to develop a bit of knowledge and understanding on the topic. Football culture is simply H-U-G-E here.
So, if you’re planning on moving to Argentina, do yourself a favour and familiarizing yourself with “la Boca”, “River Plate”, “Superclásico”, “La Bombonera” (among others) – you will need this knowledge to relate to the people around you.