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Interview with Vina – an American expat living in Argentina

Updated 7 Feb 2013

Vina is an American expat living in Buenos Aires. She moved there to become an English teacher and liked it so much she stayed! Vina loves the slow pace of the city and the passionate people in it.

Read more about expat life in Argentina in our Expat Arrivals Argentina country guide or read more expat experiences in Argentina.

About Vina

Q: Where are you originally from?
A: I am from Boise, Idaho, by way of Seattle, Washington.

Q: Where are you living now?
A: I live in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in a neighbourhood called Palermo.

Q: When did you move here?
A: I arrived in January 2010.

Q: Did you move with a spouse/children?
A: I came all by myself. It was terrifying.

Q: Why did you move; what do you do?
A: I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do after I graduated from college, so I decided to move abroad and gain some experience as an English teacher. After a year in that field, I changed careers and started working as a recruiter while staying in Buenos Aires.

About Buenos Aires

Q: What do you enjoy most about Buenos Aires, how’s the quality of life?
A: I love the lifestyle that Buenos Aires affords. Things move slightly slower, people take long lunches and stay up late. The quality of life can be expensive now due to the economic instability and inflation, but people live simply, treat each other well and enjoy the sunshine. It’s a great city.

Q: Any negatives? What do you miss most about home?
A: It is very difficult to live so far from home. Navigating a foreign culture, system and language can be an exhausting challenge, but for people who thrive on challenges, it is exhilarating.

Q: Is Buenos Aires safe? Are there any areas expats should avoid?
A: This is a highly debated issue. I have been robbed once on the street, however in general I feel very safe. I think one must take extra precautions to protect oneself in any big city, but I believe most crimes are petty, although perhaps frequent.

Q: How would you rate public transport? What are the different options? Do you need to own a car?
A: The city is very flat which makes it a great city for walking. The local government has also instituted a large initiative to create bike lanes. The traffic can be intense, and the buses and subways are often very crowded, but efficient.

Q: How would you rate the healthcare?
A: Five stars. Insurance is very affordable and the quality of healthcare is high quality.

About living in Buenos Aires

Q: Which are the best places/suburbs to live in Buenos Aires as an expat?
A: I prefer Palermo, Belgrano, Barrio Norte and San Telmo. Villa Crespo and Collegiales are also up-and-coming popular neighbourhoods.

Q: How do you rate the standard of housing in the city?
A: The standards vary greatly in price and quality depending on the neighbourhood and age of the building. Many old mansions in San Telmo are a bit dilapidated but offer classic charm. Newer buildings in Palermo Hollywood and Belgrano have full modern amenities.

Q: What’s the cost of living compared to home? What is cheap or expensive in particular?
A: With the rising inflation, nothing is cheap, however fruits and vegetables, transportation and healthcare are affordable.

Q: What are the locals like; do you mix mainly with other expats?
A: Locals are friendly and welcoming and quick to offer a hand, albeit complex with a reputation for being passionately dramatic. The expat scene is wonderful; there is a large international community.

Q: Was it easy meeting people and making friends?
A: It was extremely easy to meet people and make friends. I found it to be easier to make expat friends than Argentines, but both groups and open and warm.

About working in Buenos Aires

Q: Did you have a problem getting a work visa/permit?
A: I never tried.

Q: What’s the economic climate like in Buenos Aires, is there plenty of work?
A: It is easy to find a job, but it is hard to make any real money while working in the local economy. People who can work for foreign companies while living in Buenos Aires enjoy a higher standard of living and some protection from inflation.

Q: How does the work culture differ from home?
A: The work culture is much more laid back, and hours start and finish later in the day.

Q: Did a relocation company help you with your move?
A: No.

And finally…

Q: Is there any other advice you would like to offer new expat arrivals?
A: Buenos Aires is an amazing city; however the current political and economic situation is complicated.

~ Interviewed February 2013

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