En español | Scenic, sophisticated Argentina has been on the retiree radar screen since an economic meltdown in 2002 drove down the cost of living and real estate. Argentina's economy is on the mend, and prices are ticking upwards, but the land of gauchos, the tango, and Malbec still beckons to those seeking rich culture and European ambience at a bargain.
Although there are cheaper places to settle—Mendoza to the west and Bariloche to the south—Buenos Aires is the main draw. A graceful capital city, it boasts splendid cathedrals, opera houses, and broad avenues where residents can be seen strolling until the early hours. Dinner in Buenos Aires frequently starts at 11:00 p.m. or midnight, and restaurants stay open until 7:00 a.m. And there is a world-renowned resort and beach area, Punta del Este, just a short drive over the border in Uruguay. Yes, spiraling inflation and maddening government bureaucracy are among the downsides of life in Buenos Aires, but most expats consider these trade-offs for an affordable, urbane lifestyle.
Buenos Aires has a number of neighborhoods (barrios) hospitable to expats, among them Belgrano, Palermo, Puerto Madero, San Telmo, and Retiro (apt name!). Palermo is a super-chic neighborhood of cafés and movie houses; Hollywood uses it as a location, and it’s home to TV and movie companies. Rents in these neighborhoods can start at $700 a month and up, with spacious furnished apartments going for $2,000 a month. Though houses in these districts can be among the most expensive in Buenos Aires, you can still find bargains for $120,000.
New Yorkers Bert and Lisa Hirsch, 62 and 61, bought a two-bedroom condo in Palermo in 2004 for $70,000, then sold it in 2007 for $100,000 before moving to a brand-new, $300,000, higher-end condo with magnificent views in Puerto Madero. They haven’t settled here full-time yet, but feel completely at home in Buenos Aires. "In many ways it feels familiar," says Bert. "It’s a world-class city, and people are quite cosmopolitan."
What to Expect in
(Remember, the seasons are reversed here. January is summer, July is winter.) Spring and fall—temperate and pleasant; summer—hot and humid; winter—cool and often rainy.
No exact figures available, but a growing international mix, with Americans a minority.
Cost of Living
Roller-coaster inflation rates here can be unnerving, but expats report that $2,000 a month should provide a nice standard of living. Dinner for two: $30 (with some terrific local wine).
In the desirable barrios, purchase prices range from bargains at $120,000 on up—way up. Rentals: $500 to $2,000 per month.
Generally good care overall and excellent emergency care is available in Buenos Aires, but that can change if you travel into the country. Expats often purchase an international insurance plan, which can be quite reasonable, to keep costs down.
Culture and Leisure
Known for the tango, Buenos Aires boasts all the cultural and leisure attractions of a first-rate city. It has been called the “Paris of South America.”
Access to the U.S.
Good. Nonstop flights are available from Buenos Aires to many major U.S. cities.