Tuesday, October 12, 2010


Welcome one and all to the Buenos Aires chapter of The Residual. I plan on living here for a few months and I thought I'd update everyone on my adventure.

To start off, I am going to answer the most common FAQs I encounter when I tell people I am living in Buenos Aires.

1) Why are you living in Buenos Aires?
I'm trying to gain practical fluency in Spanish and teach English simultaneously in a place where the money I've saved up has some extra power. I decided on Buenos Aires in collaboration with two good friends with whom I am living.

2) How long do you plan on staying in BsAs?
Anywhere between 6 and 10 months.

3) Is it safe in Buenos Aires? Isn't Argentina a Third World country or something?
Like all big cities, it depends on where you are. I found a pretty cheap apartment (3 bedroom + guest room @~$1300USD/mo) in arguably the nicest, safest, and most culturally significant part of Buenos Aires (Recoleta). If you leave Buenos Aires, you are pretty much in a Third World country.

4) Who do you teach?
Currently, I am teaching adults at an agrochemical food products company in a suburb of Buenos Aires. My students range from Basic to Highly Advanced. If you are wondering why Highly Advanced English speakers would need a teacher, I actually teach these students specific subject matter relating to their jobs/industry. Although the offices are within the "Greater Buenos Aires Area," it is not in Capital Federal (Buenos Aires proper), and therefore it is kind of a schlep - an hour and a half each way by bus. The commute is certainly worth it for me, as I really enjoy my work and I can study Spanish on the bus ride. I also get to see a side of Buenos Aires not commonly seen by foreigners.

5) By bus? Are you crazy? (typical LA response)
Buses (known as "colectivos"), along with the Subte (subway) are main forms of transportation down here and are necessary to use if you plan on living here without a car. Though cabs are cheap relative to the US, they are not viable on a teacher's salary (except at night, when they're worth every centavo). There are over 400 lineas (lines) that can take you wherever you need to go, all of which are privately owned. More about the colectivo later.

6) So how cheap is BsAs, really?
When it comes to food and drink, it is quite cheap:

You can purchase a filling standard breakfast (2 sweet croissants known as "medialunas"/half-moons and a coffee) at most cafes for 6 pesos/~less than $2USD.

On workdays I eat lunch at an incredible buffet where I can pretty much get whatever I want for maximum (you're really hungry) 24 pesos ($6USD). Lunch at cafes in the area I live in can be pricier (maybe $8USD), but you can always get the staple foods of BsAS - empanadas (mini calzones/the best hot pockets you've ever had) and pizzas - for dirt cheap wherever you are (2-3 pesos per empanada, basically 3 empanadas for less than $2USD and that's a filling lunch).

You can get a nice steak dinner with a bottle of Malbec split between 2 people for around $10 or 12USD. The steak will most likely be one of the best steaks you've ever had, and if you didn't know already, along with soccer, the beef and dairy here are major sources of national pride.

Speaking of dairy, a cone with two scoops of gourmet Argentinian helado (ice cream) sculpted to perfection is around 14 pesos (~$3.50USD). You can certainly find cheaper family stores, but there are gourmet chains that hover around this price.

Sculpted indeed.

A liter of beer can range from 6 pesos (less than $2USD), and you can return the empty bottle at most kioscos (corner stores) for a couple pesos. A bottle of Malbec at the market ranges, but you can get something memorable for around 20 pesos (~$5USD). At a restaurant, a bottle will cost you closer to 40 pesos (~$10USD) depending on the place. Harder stuff like Fernet (our house drink of choice) can be found at markets for around 40 pesos.

Drinks at clubs can range from 10 pesos to 30 pesos depending on the club. No such thing as a $10USD drink at the nightspots here.

Other than food, drink, public transportation and rent, commercial prices are comparable to the United States.

I will try to post something once a week. Thanks for following.


1 comment:

  1. Thanks so much for that info. I travelled to Argentina 10 year ago and now I was thinking of doing another trip. I remember that if you wanted to rent an apartment in buenos aires then, it was really affordable. To me, it is very important to know the status of the prices there!
    Thank youuu