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The best places to live in Buenos Aires
Buenos Aires is a city with a unique character and atmosphere that is reflected in its various areas and suburbs, known as barrios. Each barrio is shaped by its history, culture and community. For instance, Recoleta is known for its elegant architecture and affluent residents, while San Telmo is renowned for its vibrant street life, tango culture and antique markets. Palermo, on the other hand, is a popular barrio for its trendy restaurants, bars and nightlife, as well as its parks and green spaces. Meanwhile, Belgrano is a residential barrio that is popular among families and retirees for its quiet streets, tree-lined avenues and proximity to public transport.
When considering where to live in Buenos Aires, expats should take into account their lifestyle preferences, budget and proximity to work, schools and amenities. Living in the city centre may be more convenient for those who work in the financial or commercial districts, but it can also be more expensive and noisy. On the other hand, living in the suburbs may offer a more relaxed and affordable lifestyle, with access to parks, shops and schools. Furthermore, the city's efficient public transport system, which includes buses, subways and trains, makes it easy to commute to different parts of the city even from the suburbs.
Below is a list of some of the most popular areas for expats in Buenos Aires.
Family-friendly areas in Buenos Aires
Named after Manuel Belgrano, the creator of the Argentinian flag, Belgrano is a tranquil oasis in the heart of bustling Buenos Aires. This large barrio is home to several lush green parks and gardens, including the peaceful Barrancas de Belgrano and the sprawling Parque de la Ciudad. Belgrano also boasts a strong British influence, with many Victorian-era homes and schools such as the Buenos Aires English High School. In addition to its peaceful surroundings, the barrio is also known for its vibrant restaurant and café scene, particularly in the commercial areas of Belgrano C and Belgrano R. The sidewalks in Belgrano are lined with restaurants and cafés, particularly in the more commercial areas. There are also plenty of football clubs and tennis courts in the area.
The largest barrio in Buenos Aires, Palermo is a vibrant and fashionable area with something for everyone. From the tranquil Japanese Garden to the lively Palermo Soho and Palermo Hollywood districts, there is always something to see and do in Palermo. The barrio is also home to several world-class museums and galleries, including the Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires (MALBA) and the Museo Nacional de Arte Decorativo.
While Palermo is one of the more expensive barrios in Buenos Aires, its beautiful parks and gardens make it a popular choice for expats with families. There is plenty of accommodation available for rental or purchase in Palermo because of its size, so this is a good place for expats to start their search for accommodation in Buenos Aires.
Located in the heart of Buenos Aires, Caballito is a vibrant and affordable barrio with plenty of character. Expats living in the area will find that most parts of the city are easily accessible. The primary attraction of Caballito is that it’s a lot cheaper than places such as Palermo, it's full of character, and isn’t too far from the action. All in all, it’s great value for money.
The barrio also boasts some of the city's most popular museums and galleries, including the historic Museo Argentino de Ciencias Naturales and the Museo de Arte Contemporaneo de Buenos Aires (MACBA). Caballito is also known for its beautiful parks and plazas, including the expansive Parque Centenario and the picturesque Plaza Irlanda. Expats living in the surrounding apartments will therefore still be able to get their fill of the great outdoors.
Once a port, Puerto Madero wasn't always a desirable area of Buenos Aires. However, after the old warehouses were revamped into trendy apartments, the entire district underwent a significant change. Nowadays, Puerto Madero is one of the most modern and sought-after areas in Buenos Aires, making it a perfect place for expat families. The area is also known to be the most Westernised area of the city, with American restaurants and shops dotted around the suburb. Many government buildings are located here, making it an attractive place to live for expats working in the public sector.
Expats can rent or purchase a high-rise apartment overlooking the river and enjoy the beauty of the docks and nature reserve. Puerto Madero has a selection of outdoor venues for summer concerts. Residents can walk along the boardwalk and enjoy cafés right on the river with the best views Buenos Aires has to offer.
Expats who live in Recoleta will see why Buenos Aires is known as the 'Paris of the South'. With its Parisian architecture, cafés and restaurants, expats might think they're in Europe rather than South America. Recoleta is one of the most upscale and pricey barrios in Buenos Aires, boasting plenty of green open spaces, high-end restaurants and buzzing nightlife.
Expats will find high-standard accommodation in Recoleta, but it comes at a cost. With plenty of space in the barrio, those who prefer a garden can opt for a house, while apartments with nearby parks are available for others. Recoleta is not too far from the downtown area of Buenos Aires, making it a perfect spot for expats who prefer a more peaceful lifestyle while still being close to the action.
San Isidro is an ideal suburb for expats who desire a serene living environment outside the city. Located about half an hour away by train from Buenos Aires, this exclusive barrio boasts proximity to the Tigre Delta and various upmarket amenities, such as sailing clubs. That said, the area's exclusivity comes at a high cost, and expats who choose to reside here should budget accordingly for a large stately home.
Areas for young professional expats in Buenos Aires
If expats are looking for a quiet daytime atmosphere that transforms into a lively nightlife, Las Cañitas could be the perfect place for them. During the day, its narrow streets are mostly traffic-free, but at night, the area comes to life with a wide variety of entertainment options.
As a subdivision of Palermo, Las Cañitas is known for being one of the safest areas in Buenos Aires, thanks in part to the military training base located there. There are many upmarket and antique shops in this area, as well as a diverse selection of bars and restaurants. There is also a large shopping centre that caters for every need. Expats living in Las Cañitas will have plenty of options for entertainment and leisure.
Plaza San Martín
Plaza San Martín is the 'downtown' area of Buenos Aires. While it may not be the most residential barrio, expats who choose to live here will be fascinated by its rich history. Many of Buenos Aires' most significant historical sites and monuments are located in this part of the city. This barrio is also home to Florida Street, a famous pedestrian shopping street in Buenos Aires. Owing to its popularity as a tourist destination, prices in this area may be higher than in other parts of the city.
San Telmo, one of the older and more traditional barrios of Buenos Aires, is characterised by its Bohemian atmosphere and the abundance of markets and antique shops. Although high-rise apartments are scarce in the area, expats can still find quality accommodation in colonial-style houses along the cobblestoned streets.
Over the weekends, San Telmo becomes one of the city's most vibrant nightlife spots. The local bars and tango hotspots are known to draw crowds from all over Buenos Aires. This makes the area an exciting place to call home, but expats should be aware that this also attracts a significant amount of opportunistic and petty crime.
Villa Crespo is also well known for its Bohemian atmosphere and attracts many young expats. It is right on the border of the Palermo barrio, and expats living in Villa Crespo are just a short walk or taxi ride away from several parks and wooded areas. There are also plenty of bars and restaurants in the suburb for residents to enjoy, as well as some unique galleries and art installations.
►For more on buying or renting housing in the city, see Accommodation in Buenos Aires
"There are many gated communities in the northern suburbs that are nice, which provide more safety and security and appeal to expats." Read about Maggie's expat experiences in Buenos Aires.
"Look for apartments in areas like Palermo (the biggest and most popular area for expats), Recoleta, Almagro or Belgrano." Read Rebecca's Expat Arrivals interview.
Photo credits: Recoleta Cemetery by Camila Ferrari, San Trelmo by Sam Andreatta, both from Unsplash.
Are you an expat living in Buenos Aires?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Buenos Aires. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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