Thinks s/he gets paid by the post
Feb 16, 2004
I would like to plan a trip to Argentina with my family and will be doing some research as I usually do.

This will be my first time in Argentina. Any tips on what to do or not to do?
Even if you're planning a more rural trip, absolutely spend some time in Buenos Aires. It has a unique, quasi-European atmosphere. My favorite memories from Argentina are visiting La Recoleta Cemetary and the Teatro de Colon.

If you eat meat, have a parrilla meal--the never-ending cuts of meat are surprisingly cheap and far superior to imitators in the States.

Pretty basic, I'm sure others can offer more off-the-beaten-path advice. :)
Argentina, El Pais Linda!

My DW and I spent two weeks in Argentina several years back. We went in November, their spring. Spent a week total in the BA area, four days at the Clarridge downtown, and three nights in Recoleta. BA is a wonderfully European city, with a true cafe culture, great Parilladas, and lots to do. From BA we took the hyrofoil over to Colonia in Uruguay.

We used Aerolinas Argentinas to fly out to Mendoza to see the Andes and the wine region (3 days). Then we flew up to Iguazu for the falls, and side trip into Brazil. A fab trip all around. One advantage, I spook good Spanish back then, it made everything very easy. I also hired a local guide in BA, a wonderful woman who introduced the city to us.

Oh, and this a destination where the US $ still goes FAR!:cool:
We took in a tango dinner show. It was pretty entertaining. Watched a riot unfold in front of the pink house. It was a little disturbing. Iguazu is great, Colonia not so much. Eat Italian in Buenos Aires along with your local meat grill!
Buenos Aires is a nice city. I have spent 9 months there in the last few years. It's very easy to rent an apartment for your time there so your family can feel really comfortable with more space then a hotel. Most have high speed cable modems in case you take your laptops.

What to do?
Tango Shows, Recoleta Cometary, Weekend Markets, Watch a Polo Match, watch the horse races, go to the suburban town Tigre (just north of the city for a quick day tour of the delta), travel to Ururguay, go to an Estancia (large ranch bed and breakfast) where you can ride horses, visit Patagonia, see penguins, going snow skiing, go hiking, drink lots of wine (for cheap), eat very well (for cheap), visit the parks, see the museums, go to the zoo, visit the gardens, see a movie (they are in English), shopping on Calle Florida, etc.

I thought the food in Buenos Aires was great and very affordable. Unfortunately I gained some weight while there.

A great neighborhood to visit (or even stay in a posh apartment) is Las Canitas. Its right next to the Polo fields and has lots of shopping and dining. I also lived in Recoleta, Palermo Hollywood and Palermo Viejo. Getting around is very easy with the 20,000 taxis always around. Stay safe by only using those that are marked as Radio Taxi. Really I don't think the others are that bad but the people that pay the extra to be part of the Radio Taxi system are less likely to be scammers then some guy who painted his car to look like a Taxi, so that's why it's safer. I took both Radio Taxi and none Radio Taxi cabs as longs as it was a new vehicle and my quick review of the driver and interior of the cab looked ok. I did not drive with scummy people regardless if they were Radio Taxi or not.

If you need any details, please feel free to post here.
hey andy, a few question: this april i start beginner's conversational spanish class but i don't hold out much hope for myself. (though probably better than trying to learn thai.) just wondering how i'd get along in argentina without much spanish. also, i understand there is huge beef industry there; how well will a vegetarian fare? what sort of rents can i expect to pay if i stay in a place for 3 or 6 months (or longer if i like it) at a stretch? i see some online prices of about us$600-800 &, of course, higher, but i'm wondering if those prices aren't jacked up and maybe local prices might be better. since i will not have my own car, what should i expect to budget (monthly or yearly) for local travel there or other overseas places, generally? i'm figuring electric & communications (phone & internet) will average about the same as i pay here in the u.s.a., is that about right?

I speak pretty fluent Spanish, so I don't know first hand but I had a friend who could barely speak Spanish and he got along fine. You will be surprised at how many people speak English. If they don't body language will get you quite far. Just start slow by slowly going further from your place and you will be fine. The first week is fun IMO because you feel like a fish out of water so it's all new and your brain is constantly trying to adapt to the situation. I love getting to somewhere new and listing to the people and thinking to myself "they are communicating"! Thailand was certainly that way as well as Holland and Denmark. I find it fun to try and figure things out and my stress level goes way down because my expectations are way down. Heck, when I got to Johannesburg Airport in January I went to the KFC and tried to order a Chick Strips Combo Meal. I ended up getting a frozen yogurt with mints on top and we were supposedly speaking the same language! Take Spanish classes there, it will be a good way to meet people.

Rents are inflated for Gringos. Renting locally usually takes a 12-36 month lease and you have to get local references to cosign for you. It's very complex because eviction law are tough. Depending on how pimp you want the place I think $600-$800 is a good budget but demand is high for the short term places and prices are going up fast. If you can work with a real estate person well in advance of going (say 6 months) then you should be able to find something open. You can get things on a shorter basis if needed but selection gets picked through. Most all of the places will include all utilities in the price and many will already have high speed internet. I would recommend trying to get a place that has a cable modem vs DSL. I had both and the cable modem was flawless and the DSL was variable. Vonage also worked better with the cable modem as it's Ethernet based. DSL was via USB modem.

Here is a good place to look at the apartments and see what you get. It's more of a locals company vs one in English that strictly caters to tourists.
Departamentos en Alquiler Temporario en Buenos Aires | Alquileres temporarios en Palermo, Las Cañitas y Belgrano | Maure Inmobiliaria

This site has amazing apartments but they are generally more expensive as they are marketed to tourists (almost all have cable modems).
Home - Rent apartments in Buenos Aires

Getting around is very easy. Taxis are cheap but can add up if you are moving around a lot. My lifestyle was pretty much going to the local gym, local bakery, local fresh pasta maker, and other things that were done by walking. Trips across town at night for dinner where all by taxi. Even all the way across town is usually just $3-$5. The subway is quite nice and very fast during rush hour. It's a nice if you can live near that, it's a great way to get around. I think it's around $.33 each ride. The buses look intimidating, the drivers are crazy but at the very end of my trip I started getting used to them. They are about $.20 and can be an effective way to get around if you know the route. They sell Bus guide books in the subway and they can help you learn the routes. They are all independently operated, each line is a different company and the primary way people move around BsAs. I only used the buses when I knew it was a strait shot to where I was going, they can get really crowded though.

Regarding vegetarian fare, there are plenty of options. It is indeed a big meat place but there are also lots of vegetarian places and most that are not can accommodate you. Here is a list of places that might suit your needs:
Comida Natural en Buenos Aires :: Guía Oleo :: Guía de Restaurantes de Buenos Aires
Book mark this site, it's a great resource to navigate 2,800 dining options. If you go with the places that are voted highest with plenty of votes you are probably going to enjoy your meal.
quick response, thanx so much andy. ah, i see you in "room". you must be hanging out at the internet cafe in capetown this afternoon (or whatever time it is there).

love the fish out of water reference as with family history i worry a bit about alzheimer's and so i really do want to set up my life where i am often challenged so as to build a better brain.

definitely not stopping at beginner's spanish. my local high school offers three or four levels in their adult ed classes. otherwise, according to your post, i could wind up eating peppermint giblets. yikes.

good info on the apts, thanx. i could see myself exploring an area for six months at least to get to know a place. a year might even make more sense. i was thinking three to six months due to visa constraints but i suppose i should incorporate visa/border runs into my planning? is it smart to sign a 12-month lease if a border run would be required to stay that long?

my current local transportation budget is a stupid $400/month (that on a paid-for car--insanity, really) before even counting depreciation so even two taxi rides at $10/day and i'm ahead of the game. wow. buses & subway costs, wow squared.

thanx very much for the referenced pages. will review.

one other question based on your response. how much am i budgeting for the gym (i pay $34/month now). also, if you noticed, are there lap pools available to the public?
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Actually I am on the other side of the Cape now in the Garden Route. The city is called Knysna and it's really a nice place. I have a phone that has a 3G connection and I am tethered using the prepaid data plan. It's the first place I have used this type of technology, the portability is great but the connection speed is variable.

Gyms are available with nice lap pools. just keep your $34/month budget for that. Rates can be cheaper if you prepay for 6 longer periods but just leave it budgeted that way and hopefully you can find a better deal. Here is one that I went to for a while, they are very nice:
Red de clubes

Don't even go through the hassle of trying to get a place on contract for 12 months at first. I had a friend from Mexico who had trouble with that and he had lots of local friends. If you want to lower your apartment expense just get a less posh place in a more bohemian neighborhood. San Telmo is a good example of a neighborhood that you can get better prices on places. It's just a little less post then the more high end neighborhoods but has its own feel. You have to be street smart there in all neighborhoods but it's not scary and don't be a fool and walk down an alley at 2:00 am with people following you kind of thing.

Here is a big property management company with a range of places in many neighborhoods:
Reynolds Propiedades Argentina | Página de Inicio

I personally like Las Canitas (next to the polo fields). I found it to be an amazing neighborhood with everything you need in walking distance. The only downside is the subway is not nearby.

As for visa requirements. Just take a day trip to Uruguay. It's very easy and cheap if you take the slow boat. Colonia is a nice little quite town and good for a few hour walk. Then back on the boat to Buenos Aires. It's very easy and can be done over and over, there is no limit.

One other good thing about Argentina, the dollar is holding steady with their peso. Unlike Brazil where it's dropped 25% in the last couple of years. If your goal is good living on as little as possible you can learn from the locals and really cut your expenses down. I did a little of both (living large for cheap) and cooking at home (for really cheap). My cost of living was 40% less then it was in Dallas, that's why I moved there.

If you are going for 6 months, make sure and get there for summer. If you want to be in the States for the Holidays then go down there in January. I like flying on New Years Eve as flights are always much cheaper then other days in that peak travel period. Jauary and February are great, the locals are all gone on vacation, the cities population is about 25% less then normal, it's nice and quite. The weather is nice and the outdoor cafes are everywhere and in full effect. You will meet plenty of expats (if you want to), they are everywhere.
checked out prop mgmt site. thanx. good info. looks like units renting on short term basis from us$550 to 850/monthly in areas of palermo, recoleta & others. looks nice from the pictures & descripts.

a boat ride to uruguay to refresh a visa? now that's the kind of roughing it i can handle. it sounds wonderful. though i take it that no one worries about getting back into the country to honor the remainder of a lease or pick up your things? or do you bring everything with you just in case yer not allowed back?

my travel schedule might not coincide with season. rather anti-season. one of my options is to get myself a cheaper place in northern florida in which case i'd want to travel during our summers. so argentina would be ideal for me as i'd be there in their cooler weather.

that's amazing news on cost of living. just checked out bankrate which shows dallas 19.34% cheaper than fort lauderdale. take another 40% off that, put me on a ranch and call me the gay gringo gaucho.
Great information. DH and I are headed for Argentina and Uruguay this coming Monday. We will stay for two weeks. We are taking a tour this time around but if we like it we may rent a condo down there for a longer stay. I'll let you all know how it went when we get back.
that's amazing news on cost of living. just checked out bankrate which shows dallas 19.34% cheaper than fort lauderdale. take another 40% off that, put me on a ranch and call me the gay gringo gaucho.
Haha, that's funny. You should enjoy Buenos Aires. I am not homophobic but I don't like to get grinded (so I never went) but there is a place called Club Americas that is popular. I must say I have seen some of the craziest nightlife ever in Buenos Aires, they take it a different level. One night we went to a famous club called Club 69 where break dancers battle in circles (like you see on TV, they are really good), there were trannys dancing in cages, a short chubby girls with pig nose on and an apple in her mouth (it was the funnies thing I have ever seen in my life). It's famous there an had to be the most unique experience I have seen in a club anywhere in my life. If you get a chance and can stay up late to see it sometime, it's the ultimate freak show. There is also lots of normal nightlife including the most amazing clubs. They have one called Museo that was designed by the architect Eiffel (same guy from the Eiffel Tower) that is just amazing. There is a lot of night life there. The good thing is that it's also very cheap.
that just sounds so fun. can't wait.

if you liked CLUB 69 and you ever get to new york, make sure you check out Welcome to Lucky Cheng's of NYC, a pan-asian restaurant with transvestite cabaret during dinners set up, mostly, for bachelorette parties. after the show, the bachelorettes compete for prizes and you should see what these proper girls do on stage just for a round of drinks for their table. so funny. what a great time we had while i was visiting friends last autumn. before the evening's end i'd find myself lifted four feet off the floor by a bisexual dominatrix half my size & dressed in a nurses outfit. just hysterical.
Thanks for the great info guys - especially Andy. Argentina is looking more and more attractive and I liked the travel tip to go on New Year's Eve which should work out perfectly for me.

Anyone have any thoughts on Why go to/live in Argentina instead of Central American options closer to home?

Good question Bree. For me (in 2005) an important factor was internet connectivity. I need a fast connection to w*rk and at that time the places I researched in Central America (mostly Costa Rica) did not have many places to rent that already had high speed internet installed. I had already been to many places in Mexico and wanted to experience something different. Buenos Aires happen to be the perfect fit at the time.

If I were going to more there for retirement, having shorter a shorter more affordable flight back to the States sure would be nice. It depends on how often you plan to come back. If it's only once a year (or maybe less) then I don't see an issue in being far away. If you plan to go back and forth then it could add up.

I used the American Airlines Challenge to get my Platinum status in their frequent flier program. This means I earn double miles on my flights. So each round trip I get about 18,000 miles and it takes 40,000 to earn a free flight. So that's nearly fly two get one free. With the cost of a ticket at around $1000-$1,100 that means they average out to be $750 each. You have to game the system a little to get this status and keep it though.

I think there are some excellent choices in Mexico also. Panama also looks like an interesting choice.

Buenos Aires is like a laid back New York City. It's huge, dense, big parks, amenities 24 hours a day but not quite as nice or as much glam. So if it's big city living, then Buenos Aires is a great choice. I really really enjoy it there.

Have fun on your New Years trip, if you have any questions or need info just post them here. Also, I have some Buenos Aires travel guides sitting on a shelf, I'd be happy to mail them to anyone who needs them. No need in getting dusty when someone can put them to use.
WSJ: The Dollar Rules in Argentina

This was in last weekend's WSJ.

In the past year, while the dollar has plummeted in Europe, Japan and almost everywhere else, it has risen in value in South Africa -- and in at least six other places. Some of them, including Iceland and South Korea, have such a high cost of living that a tourist won't notice any bargains. But three countries -- South Africa, Argentina and Indonesia -- allow Americans to revisit the days of the dollar's glory.

Argentina has been hit by inflation, which cuts down on how great some of the deals are, but with a devalued peso there are still some deals to be had.

In Argentina, before an economic crisis hit at the end of 2001, the peso was trading one-to-one with the dollar. Today, a dollar buys more than three pesos. In a land known for superb beef, a steak at a nice restaurant costs about $12, and it is less than $10 at more-modest places. A subway ride is 25 cents and a 20-minute taxi ride is about $5.

Link to article: Where the Dollar Rules -
Argentina has been hit by inflation, which cuts down on how great some of the deals are, but with a devalued peso there are still some deals to be had.
I got a discount ticket down to Florianopolis, Brazil on (great site) and my flight was Dallas >> Buenos Aires >> Porto Allegre >> Florinaopolis. Unfortunately my flight from Dallas was late (usually it's early) and the flight to Porto Allegre was on time (rarely happens in S. America) so I missed my flight and I got to spend the day in Buenos Aires. I checked into a hotel and went to visit my favorite restaurants. Prices are definitely up and tourism is booming. I am sure the restaurants I visited increased their prices faster then the standard "local" places and I'd say the average increase on a main entry dish (fillet mignon) was 20%-25% over 2006 prices. Ice creams were up from 5 Pesos to 7 Pesos. So now you know I wandered town eating steak and ice cream! It's a good thing the Peso sucks worse the US Dollar these days!

I am now in Brazil and it's painful. The Real has dropped from R$2.25 to $1 USD in 2006 to R$1.6 to $1 USD now. Things here have also increased in price with strong inflation so it's a double whammy. I actually saw some shaving cream in the store yesterday that was $15 USD (it was the Gillette gel type). I opted for some other cheapo stuff and to shave less often. I did observe that other things are pretty expensive and the quality is often lower then what we have grown to expect in the States. Rent is still cheap here (I am in a nice 2 bedroom apartment with highspeed internet 200 meters to the beach for $650/month all bills included) but food seems expensive and the restaurants, I am not going this trip.

Maybe I just enjoyed the good old days too much or this darn week Dollar is a signal for me to haul my butt back to the States and wait out this next cycle?
That is an interesting article. I spent 10 weeks in Cape Town/Western Cape earlier this year and it was nice but the cost of "good stuff" at the grocery store is all pretty pricey (most of it is imported). Overall my cost of living there for the 10 weeks was about 15% more then it used to be when I was in Dallas (flight included). So it was worth it to me. I could have stayed a couple more months, it was quite nice. Blaauwberg, a northern suburb of the city was a nice option since we were there at the tail end of peak season and the city was crowded (which means rents were more expensive).

Indonesia looks like a good place to make my next destination. I have been wanting to go there and that article hits the right not for a value seeking nomad like me.
Thanks Andy, I enjoyed reading that.

You seem to have great experiences in your travels and I wanted to ask you about street crime in BA. There seems to be a real dichotomy on this issue with half of the postings I've read in travel forums saying BA is safer than many other cities, and the other half saying that thieves are brazen and no neighborhood is safe. Pickpockets, scammers and snatch-and-grab thieves I would expect any place where tourists go, but the muggers and other more threatening types concern me since I will be traveling with my sons. Can you share your opinion?
Maybe I just enjoyed the good old days too much or this darn week Dollar is a signal for me to haul my butt back to the States and wait out this next cycle?

Dunno, but I would hazard a guess that its a mixture of both. I don't harbor any illusions that I will be going back to Malta and getting 5 star hotels for $80 USD a night, watching the sun set over the harbor in Gozo and drinking Cisk and Hopleaf at Gleneagles for maybe 50 cents a bottle, and getting a roundtrip flight there from the states for under $400. But some day I would like to go back anyway.
I wanted to ask you about street crime in BA. There seems to be a real dichotomy on this issue with half of the postings I've read in travel forums saying BA is safer than many other cities, and the other half saying that thieves are brazen and no neighborhood is safe. Pickpockets, scammers and snatch-and-grab thieves I would expect any place where tourists go, but the muggers and other more threatening types concern me since I will be traveling with my sons. Can you share your opinion?
Well I have never felt unsafe. You need to have some street smarts and do a little planning. Even though I have always felt safe, I still only go out with what I need. I keep a small wallet in my front pocket (I was pick pocketed in Barcelona once) and just take enough cash for the day, a credit card and my drivers license (for ID, I leave the passport back home). If you take a purse, just take what you need and leave the rest at home.

Regarding petty crimes, there are lots of sneaky pick pocket type people around. You don't ever see them but I hear the bus station is full of them. I knew one guy who looked away for a split second and his small backpack was taken. My girlfriend was in one of the major shopping centers (but it was one close to a bad area where I have never been, I don't think a typical tourist would be there) and she was looking at jackets. She had her purse laying on the counter with her jacket laying over it (to cover it) and she looked away for a second and they snagged her purse. So I think the thing to do is never just look away for a second if you are carrying things with you.

I have heard about one mugging where they used a knife. I am from Dallas and a friend had a guy pull a gun and rob him in a nice part of town so that could happen anywhere. I would not be afraid to go because of getting mugged. Stay in the nicer areas and take Radio Taxis. I always felt safe on the Metro, the Bus, walking around, etc. but it probably helps that I am a big guy and the Argentines in general are small people.

Puerto Madero is very secure, Recoleta is nice and safe, really most of the places a tourist will go are safe. When you go see a Tango show in San Telmo take a taxi there and back. They will be waiting. Also make your reservations early, these places were booking up back in 2005, I can just imagine how full they are now.
...going back to Malta and getting 5 star hotels for $80 USD a night, watching the sun set over the harbor in Gozo and drinking Cisk and Hopleaf at Gleneagles for maybe 50 cents a bottle....
Wow, that sounds nice...
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