With its growing economy, business opportunities and laidback lifestyle, Argentina continues to attract expats from all over the world.
Here’s what you can expect as a new expat in Argentina.
Argentina is known to have far better healthcare services that the other countries in South America. Expats can avail of private and public healthcare. Private healthcare operates through private insurance companies who offer good coverage. Private hospitals are better equipped with amenities and the facilities are superior.Most public hospitals are also staffed with highly qualified healthcare professionals. There is free emergency attention for everyone, including tourists. However, some public hospitals may be underfunded and understaffed. Another part of the healthcare system in Argentina is obras sociales, which consists of health insurance funds for employees and is applicable to local residents and permanent residents that have legal employment.
The Argentine National Council of Education sets the curriculum in public schools and free schooling is available for all children. Expats usually prefer to send their kids to international schools where the teaching language is English. The curriculum also differs and is in accordance with international standards. Most big cities such as Buenos Aires and Cordoba have such schools.
Argentina has an unpredictable economy. The period between 2005 and 2010 witnessed an economic boom, followed by inflation and price rise. Starting a new business may also be a bit difficult here. The World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business 2013 survey ranked Argentina at 154 out of 185. However, the country did do well in the categories of Enforcing Contracts and Getting Credit, ranking at 48th and 70th respectively.
Due to the constant inflation problem, the cost of groceries tends to increase quite rapidly and startlingly.
For most rental properties, the payment is required in US dollars and in cash. To avoid making all rental payments in advance (which can turn out to be quite expensive), you may enter into a long-term rental contract by appointing a garantia. A garantia will guarantee that you will pay for the accommodation until the end of the agreement. This is usually someone who owns property in Argentina.
The afternoon siesta is an important part of Argentinian life. Even in Buenos Aires, stores are closed between 1 and 5 pm. Businesses and restaurants also shut down for 3 to 5 hours every day.
Internal flights can be expensive for non-locals as the prices are different. Reduced rates are only available for those who have a national identification document number called Documento Nacional de Identidad (DNI) or a credit card from an Argentinian bank (this also requires a DNI). Argentina doesn’t have any competition in the domestic air travel sector, there being only two choices, and this accounts for the high prices. But there are high-end buses that travel across the country and these are known to be efficient and affordable.
Argentinian cuisine is rather meat-centric and those who don’t eat it are often met with surprise. Vegetarians need to specify their preference for dishes without carne (red meat), pollo (chicken) or mariscos (seafood). Italian cuisine is popular in the country as it still retains influences of the early 20th century Italian migrants.
The official language is Spanish, but the usages vary considerably. In fact, the local language is called Castellano. Learning some basic Spanish is helpful when communicating with the locals, but be aware of the regional differences.
One of the problems expats face in Argentina is that ATMs do not give you much cash. Irrespective of how much there is in your bank account; there is a small daily limit on how much you can withdraw from an ATM. Many ATMs are also not equipped with cash and you may have to drive around quite a bit to find one that does have cash.
Argentinians are hospitable people and it is quite common to receive an invitation to an asado or barbeque. These usually take place on terraces or backyards where meat is grilled on stone grills. There is also the tradition of drinking mate, a South American caffeinated infused drink. A cup of mate, made from a hollowed out calabash gourd, is passed around and everyone drinks from it through a metal straw.