I have spent about 9 months in Argentina (Buenos Aires) in the last 2 years. I am not FIREd but came here for many of the same reasons someone who is FIREd would (cost of living vs quality of living). I decided to come to Buenos Aires in spring of 2005. I went online and found that renting nice furnished apartments (with high speed internet and utilities included) was about 35% less then Dallas. So I factored in the $900 flight and came down for 4 months.
Buenos Aires is very urban (12 million people) with a great range of dining options. I think the food and wine is the best feature of the city. With so many people there are thousands of restaurants for every genre of food. The site I like most to find new places to eat is Guia Oleo
where you can sort by neighborhood or type (Steak house, Thai, Mexican, etc). There are a few excellent (yet touristy) super high end steak houses where a huge filet mingon will run you $20 but for the most part main entrees at very nice restaurants are around $10. The way I see it, it's like eating at Chili's but instead you are in a very nice posh restaurant with waiters attending to your every need (tipping is typically 10%). Wine at restaurants starts around $5 per bottle and unless you are at a very chic place tops out around $20 per bottle. I happen to like Malbec
but there are so many wonderful wines here and the prices are just amazing. They also have wonderful ice cream here (like italian gelato).
Other then dining the other things that are very nice here is getting fit. I am not the lean mean machine I should be (too much computer time) but here I have a personal trainer 3 times per week (total cost = $10 per session including gym fees) and a tennis instructor that costs the same ($10 per hour including cort fees). In January (before going to Brazil for 3 months) I was going to a different gym and there I was getting the best massages of my life twice a week (deep tissue / get the knots out) for $12/hour.
I got my girl friend a facial and massage for the version of Valentines Day here and it was $40 for the 1/2 day treatments.
Other things I like are the parks. Even though the city is huge, you will likely end up in a few main neighborhoods which will be near the many city parks. I have lived in 4 different neighborhoods and my favorite is an area called Las Canitas which is near the Polo Fields, Horse Race Tracks and many restaurants, bars, shops, etc. If someone were coming to stay for a while this is the neighborhood that I would recommend but it is a bit pricey because it's a small neighborhood and it's very popular right now. It's great.
I don't drive. There are 40,000 taxis and they are cheap. Just recently I got brave to ride the bus and man it was easy and cheap $.25). The Subway is plenty safe, decently clean and effective way to cross town when the evening rush hour is in effect. Overall, I think taxis are the way to go and don't be scared of the horror stories you hear, I have not had a single problem or met one person who has.
Speaking of crime, heres the deal. It's no more dangerous then a big metropolitan city in the US. I grew up in a high end neighborhood in Dallas and I know people were held up with guns there. From what I hear, the crimes that happen here are some petty theft. I know one German friend who was at the major bus station and got his handbag stolen by some scam where the people distract you and within 2 seconds your bag is gone. Unfortunately it had his camera, passport, etc in it. Don't ever have that stuff in bags that you put down, keep it in a back pack that you can feel on your back or strapped to you. There are bad neighborhoods but I don't go there. You need to be aware of your surroundings but for the most part I have not felt unsafe here at all. If you are worried about this, plan to come and stay in a very safe area like Puerto Madero (super safe) or Las Canitas. Then slowly get acclimated and start to venture out to the more typical neighborhoods.
I have looked at apartments to buy and prices are all in Dollars and have been rising well since the crisis. There is new construction everywhere and some local friends have warned me that they think the market might have more supply then demand soon. There is a trend of people moving out of the city to more suburban neighborhoods.
I can see a huge increase in Americans (and other foreigners) here since I got here in 2005. I think the news that you are not going to get kidnapped is getting back to the States and people are not so scared to come down.
I know there is a lot more I could post but I HAVE to get back to work now. Please ask any questions and I will be glad to answer as much as possible.