Argentina is a captivating country that is both Latin American and European in culture and lifestyle, where the new and the old worlds blend harmoniously.
A destination that has welcomed immigrants and expats since the mid-1800s, much of the population in Argentina claims Italian or Spanish heritage or both. The connections are clear when you walk the streets of Buenos Aires. Everywhere are pasta and pizza shops, and Spanish is spoken with a noticeable Italian inflection.
However, to know Argentina’s economy is to know one of the world’s biggest dramas. The country is up and then it is down, with flashes of stability bridging the time between the last rise and next big tumble. In Late 2001, the Argentines removed the peg between their peso and the U.S. dollar, and the crisis situation opened a window of opportunity during which savvy investors, led by our editors, bought primo Buenos Aires apartments for a fraction of the former value…
In 2015 Argentina is facing another crisis, and we see similar opportunities arising once more.
Perhaps no other city in the world is as beguiling as Buenos Aires, Argentina’s capital city, which is home to over 40% of the population. One the most bewitching things about Buenos Aires is how the New World and Old World blend so harmoniously. Grand dame Art Noveau apartment buildings, dating back centuries with the original crown molding preserved, coexist in the “Paris of South America” with contemporary, shiny new skyscrapers, and it all works together. The city is fast-paced and trendsetting in art, design, and style, but at the same time the cobbler on the corner and the neighborhood’s beloved tailor are toiling away in the same location where they have been for decades. Argentines themselves are much like what the city shows, too. They have a deep respect and admiration for the past, yet they are always energetically innovating and looking forward.
If life among the vines appeals then head west from Buenos Aires to the famous wine-growing region of Mendoza in the shadow of the Andes. Expats looking for an outdoor lifestyle will find everything from horse-riding and mountain climbing to skiing and rafting.
Cost Of Living In Argentina
Live and Invest Overseas offers monthly cost of living budgets for a couple of our favorite destinations in Argentina:
Infrastructure In Argentina
Infrastructure in Argentina is good, but some areas and regions are in need of improvements and upgrades.
For the most part, Argentina enjoys reliable internet services. More than two thirds of the population are connected, and mobile internet usage is growing rapidly. Cell communication is also good here. Highway systems crisscross the country, but many are unpaved and in need of renovation.
Within Buenos Aires, public transit is accessible, convenient, and cheap. While many locals choose to have cars, it is easy enough to get to and from any corner of the city at any hour on public transit. Buenos Aires’ subway system runs from 5 a.m. to 11 p.m. (the final hour is dependent on the line) every day of the week.
Buenos Aires also has an efficient bus system that runs 24/7. The buses are called colectivos, and, no matter where you are or where you want to go, you can find at least a couple bus lines that will take you there. There is an online map system that specifies subway, bus, and even bike routes throughout the city.
Argentina is served by a large number of regional and international airports. In Buenos Aires, Ezeiza Ministro Pistarini International Airport (EZE) sees more than 8.5 million passengers per year.
Climate In Argentina
Most of Argentina enjoys a moderate climate and four genuine, distinct seasons.
The temperature in all areas of Argentina typically ranges between 45°F and 85°F throughout the year. Average annual humidity is around 70%. Mountainous regions and any area above sea level experience cooler temperatures and lower humidity.
Argentina is a large country and home to a variety of climates. Northern Argentina is characterized by hot, humid summers and mild winters. Central Argentina has hot summers with tornadoes and thunderstorms (with, famously, some of the world’s largest hailstones), and cool winters. Southern Argentina has warm summers and cold winters with heavy snowfall, especially in mountainous zones. Rainfall across the regions varies significantly, with an annual average of 39 inches in Buenos Aires, but only 9 inches in dry Mendoza.
As in any country, weather depends on your region, but generally Argentina enjoys a very comfortable climate.
Argentinian Summer: December to February
Argentinian Spring: September to November
Argentinian Winter: June to August
Argentinian Fall: March to May
Residency In Argentina
U.S. citizens may enter Argentina without a visa and remain in the country as a tourist for a maximum of 90 days per trip. However, Argentine law requires that, prior to arrival in Argentina at any entry point, U.S. citizen tourist and business travelers pay reciprocity fee by credit card online and present the receipt upon entry.
Some expats choose to bridge from a tourist visa to official (temporary) residency. To renew a tourist visa, you simply have to leave the country and then reenter (known as a border run). Under that arrangement many people stay for years in Argentina, just making sure to leave before their tourist visa is up and then returning. By obtaining temporary residency, you would not have to worry about having to leave within a certain time frame. The other benefits to being a resident include the ability to open up a local bank account, and discounts on national airlines.
Obtaining residency as a foreigner in Argentina undoubtedly requires some help from professionals, as the process involves a lot of specifics that often are not detailed outright online or in official documents. The fee for legal services to assist with this usually comes out to about US$2,000. That essentially is the price you would pay to obtain temporary residency, which would need to be renewed annually for the first couple years until obtaining permanent residency. Some see that price as worth it, others as not.
Argentina offers a handful of visa options for those looking to reside in the country and conduct business. There are sponsored work visas, visas for contracted personnel, journalists and correspondents, retired persons, and financiers.
Should you plan to apply for residency once in Argentina, you will want to work to obtain some documents before leaving your home country, including a background check and official birth certificate, both with apostilles. Retirees have the option of applying for either a retiree visa or a steady-income visa. For the retiree visa, you must have proof of retiree status as well as monthly pension. The steady-income visa requires you to show proof of a minimum monthly income. (The number changes but it is usually around US$2,000.) Other visas that are available include university student visas and work visas, the latter of which requires a local employer to sponsor you.
The financier (or rentista) visa is considered the most flexible of the visa options because all it requires is a guaranteed minimum of whatever type of income, and that it can be transferred to an Argentine bank.
There is a minimum residency requirement that individuals must meet in order to maintain temporary residency. Once temporary residency has been renewed twice (so someone has been temporarily residing in Argentina for three years), that individual can apply for permanent residency. After two years as a permanent resident, you are eligible to apply for citizenship. It is important to note that you must physically be in Argentina for the majority of that time.
Residency in Argentina can lead to a second passport and dual citizenship in this country.
Health Care In Argentina
With Argentina’s universal health care system, everyone is guaranteed access to public health care, regardless of residency status. Still, most people who utilize the public health care system are lower-income. Those who can, or those who have the money, choose to get their care through private health-insurance providers. Public hospitals often are overwhelmed and have lines that wrap around the block, while obtaining private care is usually much faster.
You also can choose to purchase health insurance through any of the private providers in Argentina, an affordable option when compared with somewhere like the United States. You are not required to be a resident or have a particular visa; all you have to do is head in with some form of identification, pick a plan that works for you, and then pay the monthly cost.
Foreigners are often in awe of how much health care is covered and provided in Argentina, from dental fillings, extensive prenatal care, surgeries, and hospital stays. Most private plans will even cover you seeing professional such as therapists and nutritionists at little to no extra cost to you beyond what you pay monthly—even if you are on only a basic plan. Quality health care extends to mental health, which is not at all a taboo subject in Argentina. Most Argentines have regular sessions with their psychologist and openly talk with friends about going to their sessions. Argentina actually has more psychologists per capita than anywhere else in the world, and more than half are in Buenos Aires.
You’ll easily find doctors across all disciplines who are bilingual and practice in English—and some even have third or fourth languages they also work in.
Real Estate In Argentina
Little is required of people looking to invest in real estate in Argentina, and anyone can purchase property. What is required to do so is money. That might not come as much surprise, but, in Argentina, financing options and mortgages are almost nonexistent, and they certainly are not an option for foreigners. People need to be able to pay for a property in its entirety at purchase, whether that requires some large money transfers or a big chunk of the payment in cash.
With the country’s July 2014 default, locals are not in a position to make big purchases, and, for the time being, prices have been slashed on properties throughout the country, most notably on the most expensive and luxurious options. Now is the best time in recent history to invest in Argentina.
It’s no secret that Argentina is in a precarious place economically and politically. The headlines out of the country over the last five or so years have been overwhelmingly negative, each spelling one step closer to doomsday: currency controls, import restrictions, and, finally, default. Added into the malicious mix most recently was the shocking “suicide”—widely considered either to have been forced or an assassination tied to the government—of one of the country’s most well-known prosecutors, Alberto Nisman.
It all likely sounds pretty scary to an outsider, giving the impression that the country is to be avoided. The current government, however, is on the way out. No one can predict what is going to happen when elections take place in October 2015, but what is certain is that 2015 is a year of change for Argentina.
For many reasons, the best opportunities to cash in on this current crisis is in agricultural investment, mining, cattle, and soy are some of the most profitable options right now.
While little is needed to purchase here—no particular visa or time spent in the country, for example—the purchasing process is still detailed and can trip people up. One major difference to purchasing property in Argentina as opposed to elsewhere is that the escribano (the public notary), is a key player in the process. In fact, any person looking to purchase property in the country is best advised to find an escribano to personally tend to them through the process, as well as a lawyer well versed in the process. It is possible for people to navigate alone; however, to maintain consistency and streamline a process where many resources are unclear if they are even possible, a notary and lawyer will help immensely.
It is important to repeat, however, that while it is easy to bring money into Argentina at present, it is challenging to get it out of the country. With inflation jumping during the past years and the current existence of the parallel blue market versus the official rate, investing in real estate with hopes of selling or turning a profit quickly or in the near future is unlikely. A more advisable approach would be for someone to purchase property to have as a second home or rental property for the time being, and then look to profit with the idea of selling further down the line. When currency controls are more relaxed and in a moment when the economy is more stable—remember, there always are more bullish periods here, too—that would be the moment to sell and profit.
It is wisest for foreign real estate investors in the current climate to protect themselves and their money by only looking to sell or purchase from those who have bank accounts outside the country (in an economy more stable than the present one). This prevents against fluctuations and differences resulting in financial loss when dealing with the country’s official exchange rate, which is what all official business and purchases are conducted in. Payments can be made for property purchased in Argentina between foreign accounts as long as the process is verified and declared and all necessary taxes in Argentina are paid.
Rural land owned by foreigners is limited to comprising no more than 15% of the state/municipality in which the property is located, and a single foreign entity cannot own more than 1,000 hectares. The amount of land that foreign owners of the same country of origin can own in a specific area is capped. Additional paperwork and ministerial approval is required of a foreign buyer who wants to acquire land near a foreign border, and the process can take longer.