Argentina. The land of Tango, amazing “asado” beef, wine, and endless nature. With good reason, this Latin American paradise is regarded as one of the best places in the world to live for amazing arts and culture, beautiful landscapes, and an easy upgrade to quality of life. However, for many, as a European or American moving to Argentina, the possibility can feel slim if not impossible, picking up and moving halfway around the world.
A view of Ushuaia, Argentina, at the end of the world…
I am here to tell you that this feeling couldn’t be further from the truth. For the average American, moving to Argentina brings a boost in quality of daily life, amazing food, adventures, and an introduction to an intriguing, vibrant, and welcoming culture. Better yet, with the proper planning (and saving) moving to Argentina – even for 6 months or a year – is far easier than you think, and will be far more satisfying.
In this ultimate guide to moving to Argentina, I will share how this move is possible and how International Relocation is easier than you think, how to prepare for the move, what to expect, and how to quickly and easily fall deeply and pleasantly into Argentina as your new home.
Table of Contents
- Is Argentina a good place to live?
- Why move to Argentina
- Who is living in Argentina best for?
- Who is living in Argentine not great for?
- The cons of living in Argentina
- What’s it like living in Argentina?
- The Economic Climate and how it will affect your stay, positively and negatively
- Cost of living in Argentina
- Major cities and best places to live in Argentina
- Finding an apartment in Argentina
- Argentina visas: Which is best for you?
- Health insurance in Argentina: Which is best and how to approach healthcare
- What to Bring with you to Argentina
- Food and Drink: Lots of meat and meals happen late
- How to travel around Argentina: Bus, plane, and train
- Patagonia and the Andes Mountain Range: A highlight of Argentina
- How learning Spanish will improve your stay, and how to learn it fast
The Bottom Line: For expats moving to Argentina with a foreign source of income, that aren’t in a rush, and that go into Argentina knowing what to expect, Argentina is a fantastic place to live.
Argentina is absolutely a great place to live…if you’re the right type of person, have appreciation for the right things, and know what you’re getting into.
Argentina is a vibrant, colorful, beautiful country filled with welcoming, open minded people that blend Latin American culture and heritage of European immigrants – Italian, Spanish, and German – seamlessly to create a place that delivers a one of a kind experience – for travel or living. Between the warmth of the people, food, nature, and love of music and the arts, it is difficult not to love Argentina.
Additionally, the unfortunate economic troubles in Argentina have created a situation wherein foreigners bringing dollars or euros to spend can by far more with their money than many other developed countries in the world.
At the same time, like all things unique, Argentina is absolutely not for everyone – which is the main reason to dig deeply into understanding your potential home before you do permanently make it your home.
With that southern European cultural influence comes notoriously slow bureacracy and a focus on the “enjoyment of life” over efficiency. High customs fees and a “difficult” economy make getting foreign brands difficult. Taxes can be relatively high if you don’t plan your visa/residency/income situation right. Distances between cities – think Buenos Aires to Bariloche in Patagonia – can be massive.
However, if you plan efficiently for the cons of living in Argentina and the pros of living in Argentina are worth its handful of dysfunctional traits, you will likely find Argentina to be your own multi-cultural paradise in South America – as I do.
Over the past decade, with months and months spent in the country over man trips, I have come to love Argentina and am now making it my semi-permanent home even amid its notorious quirks.
- Lovers of southern European and Latin American culture
- Pensioners and retirees with a stable, foreign sourced income
- Digital nomads and remote workers with foreign sourced incomes in dollars or euros
- Nature and outdoor lovers
- Those who are willing to accept a little inefficiency and imperfection in exchange for vibrancy
- Those who expect everything to function perfectly as it would in western Europe or the US
- Those unwilling to learn a new language or work around the language barrier
- Those who don’t have a source of income and may need a job in Argentina
- Anyone expecting highly efficient government with little bureaucracy
- Anyone expecting the pristinely cleaned streets and maintained buildings of Europe or North America
- Anyone who is averse to the stereotypical fiery, passionate, and vocal manner of Italians, Spaniards, and Latin Americans – the stereotype isn’t 100% right, but there is a grain of truth
- Natural Beauty: Argentina is a beautiful country (natural beauty and cities) with beautiful, welcoming people
- Great Weather somewhere throughout the year
- Openness and welcoming warmth: Welcoming destinations for expats and nomads
- Easy visa situation: With free 90 day tourist visa, 6 month nomad visas, and 2 year “Rentista” visas
- Potential for Argentine citizenship and a second passport
- Low cost of living and great value for the dollar
- Rich culture with European influence (Italian, Spanish, and German) and Latin American Vibrance
- 1. Similarities in society structure and orientation with Western countries
- 2. Reflection of European culture in city architecture and lifestyle
- 3. Abundance of European foods and beverages
- Ethnic diversity, oppenness and acceptance of other approaches to life (i.e., LGTBQ)
- Excellent private healthcare that’s very affordable
- Great food and wine and international food scene
- Great access to the arts (Theater, galleries, orchestras, operas) and entertainment (live music)
- 7th best country in the world for nomads, 1st in Latin America for nomads (Source: Nomad List)
- Cities and places to live range from Cosmopolitan, to Outdoorsy (think Denver or Boulder), to Frontier
- Ease of experiencing other amazing Latin American countries a mere bus ride or short flight away
- Safety – Buenos Aires is 2nd safest big city in the Americas, the rest of Argentina is even safer
- Argentina Second-largest country in South America by area and the 8th largest country in the world, filled with diverse nature in every square mile
- Economic situation, inflation, and managing daily life with “the Blue Dollar”
- Notoriously high taxes (applies only to permanent residents and citizens, avoided if not in Argentina more than 330 days in a year)
- Business hours
- No one will ever be on time
- “Night Owl” lifestyle, for those that are “early to bed, early to rise” types
- Inefficient public administration (think – Italian roots here)
The Argentine standard of living is one of the main reasons to move to Argentina. Taken into consideration witht he cost of living, the standard of living, especially in the capital of Buenos Aires is extremely high with modern apartments and housing, walkable neighborhoods and greenspaces, access to the arts and culture, and an amazing food scene. Beyond the capital, in Cordoba, Mendoza, Bariloche, and beyond, the cost of living becomes cheaper, things slow down, and each location offers a top notch experience within a “niche.”
Mendoza delivers food and wine as the Napa valley of South America.
Bariloche delivers Alps and Yosemite level beautiful views and nature as the gateway to Patagonia, with trekking and camping by summer and skiing by winter.
Cordoba delivers the “big small city” experience as a college town filled with thinkers and a youthful vibe.
Throughout Argentina, quality of life, social life, and generally enjoyment are a priority.
In terms of development, infrastructure is “good enough” with roads and buildings built to a North American or European standard, but suffering from a few years of Latin American “lack of proactiveness”, still beautiful but offering a gritty charm.
Healthcare is high quality and affordable.
Though foreign branded electronics and clothing may be difficult to access or highly priced, you will be able to find everything you need in Argentina.
Ultimately, the quality of life in Argentina varies but is high across the board, matching that of southern Europe, Thailand, and topping the list of livable places in Latin America.
Argentina’s economy has been in a very difficult place for roughly the last 10 years, however, though this situation has created a nightmare for Argentinians earning a salary in Argentine pesos, it creates a geoarbitrage situation that allows Americans and Europeans to buy far more with their dollars and euros from abroad than is possible anywhere else in the world.
Inflation is the primary reason the economic situation has become “difficult” for the average Argentine.
In 2013, $1 USD was worth 13 Argentine pesos
In 2018, $1 USD was worth 30 Argentine pesos
In 2023, $1 USD was worth 350 Argentine pesos at the official rate and $1 USD was worth 950 Argentine pesos on the Blue Dollar (black market) exchange rate.
For the average Argentinian, earning their salary and keeping their savings in Argentine pesos, this means every day their money loses value and buying power, with each Argentine Peso buying
However the average American bringing USD has continually increasing buying power, with the same USD buying more each day and the cost of living staying low, as long as they are familiar with how to exchange USD at the Blue Dollar rate.
The dollar Blue: The black market currency exchange rate that is commonly accepted
Though the Argentine government officially manages the international exchange rate, the “Blue Dollar” rate is the black market rate that regular Argentines use to convert USD to Argentine pesos. As you can see above, the blue dollar rate is usually ~3x the official exchange rate.
To exchange money at the blue dollar rate you will do one of the following:
- Visit a black market money exchange kiosk (Arbolitos): This is mildly sketchy but something I’ve done many times. I recommend researching thoroughly how to do this safely and definitely not going alone.
- Wire yourself money (in USD) via Western Union and it will be honored at the Blue Market rate
- Ask a trusted friend for their personal contact to exchange USD to pesos as all expats in Argentina have one
- Bring as much USD as possible and keep as much money as posssible in USD
- Go to Uruguay to withdraw more USD
- Use Western Union to Wire yourself USD honored at the blue market rate
- Use https://bluedollar.net/informal-rate/ to check the current blue dollar rate
Argentina’s recent economic situation has given way to political unrest and dissatisfaction among the population which has led to lots of talk and many protests…which you absolutely do not need to worry about.
Argentina is the safest country in Latin America and over the several times I’ve been there, I have always observed protests, political unrest, and general dissatisfaction expressed. Luckily for you, this political expression in recent decades never results in any violent acts or any hate towards foreigners and is simply a peaceful yet very verbal bit of political expression.
The true religion of most Argentines is politics, thus, they will never be satisfied with their political situation and this is not something you need to worry about, so just sit back and enjoy the show
Due to inflation in recent years and the naturally lower cost of living in Latin America, Argentina is one of the cheapest in the Americas, and in the world, given the quality of the. The cost of living throughout Argentina is far lower than in the US, Canada, and Europe.
On average, the cost of living is ~73%% lower than the US for a single individual, with cost of living in Argentina per month being $1,247** on average and the cost of living in the US being $4,595** per month on average.
Average monthly cost of living in Argentina: $800 to $1100 per month, depending on location and lifestyle
Average monthly rent in Argentina: $300 to $700 per month depending on city, closeness to city center, finish, and furnishing
Within Argentina, the cosmopolitan capital of Buenos Aires is by far the most expensive city, but Argentina’s biggest city (comparable to New York or London) is still very cheap if paying in USD or Euros. $1,000 in Buenos buys the same lifestyle that would cost ~$9,000 in New York.
As you leave Buenos Aires to head further west, toward Rosario, Cordoba, and Mendoza, the price does become even cheaper. However, beware that as you head south into Patagonia, from San Carlos de Bariloche south, costs will increase to the same level as Buenos Aires or higher for the same standard of living, due to the fact these areas are 1) remote and 2) heavily touristed areas in summer
Cost of Living by City
Total Cost of Living (Monthly)
If you live a normal life and most of your purchases are domestic brands life will remain cheap. However, due to import restrictions and customs fees, foreign brands and imported electronics will be very expensive, sometimes 2x to 3x the prices they will be purchased for in the US
Internet will cost ~$15 per month
A nice dinner out for two will cost $25 on the cheap side and ~$50 for a 3 course dinner + wine
A good bottle of wine will cost $7 to $10 throughout the country
On arrival in Argentina you will not be able to open without a hefty amount of paperwork. If you are stubborn enough to open an Argentinian bank account then you will not be able to conduct any online purchases or online transactions (purchasing airline tickets, paying bills, topping up a SIM card), without a DNI (Documento Nacional de Indentidad or Argentinian National ID card) number.
For this and many other reasons, the short answer is do not bother opening a bank account in Argentina until you have your permanent residency or DNI.
At the moment in Argentina, cash is king. Instead of planning to open a bank account, plan how to access cash USD to exchange at the Blue Dollar rate for a smoother stay – either via Western Union, bringing in your funds, or visiting Uruguay.
- Buenos Aires: Big, cosmopolitan, and delivering a New York lifestyle
- Cordoba: A university city that delivers an intellectual crowd, livability, and “big city meets small town”
- La Plata
- Salta: “Salta la Linda” or “Salta the Beautiful”, quiet, charming, and cheap against a red desert landscape
- Rosario: A working class town that delivers low cost of living
- Mendoza: The wine hub of Argentina in close proximity to South America’s tallest mountain delivers wine, food, and outdoor adventures at a slower, quieter pace
- Bariloche: The gateway to Patagonia is beautifully green and mountainous with the charm of a Swiss Alpine village and skiing in the winter
- Mar del Plata:
- Ushuaia: “The End of the World” and “the southernmost city on earth”. The gateway to Antarctica isn’t the best place to live but staying for a while will deliver Patagonian adventures and a cheap trip to antarctica
- El Calafate: In the heart of Patagonia, El Calafate feels mildly like a frontier town with infrastructure and puts you close proximity to the main adventures in Patagonia
What is the cheapest/best place to live in Argentina?
Given that all of the locations in Argentina are so cheap, and so closely priced in cost of living, you have to specific about what you want to get for best value to you.
Salta, more commonly known as “Salta La Linda” or “Salta the Charming” is the cheapest larger city in Argentina, at $1,385 per month cost of living.
Arguably, Mendoza is the cheapest and best place to live in Argentina for those that value food, wine, and nature. Mendoza stays true to a “wine country feel” in terms of infrastructure and you would would expect to find in the city vs. countryside in Napa or Tuscany. Dollar for dollar (or peso for peso) Mendoza is the cheapest place in Argentina given the quality of life, food, and drink you will enjoy. The cost of living per month in Mendoza is $1,609.
The desolately beautiful backroads of Mendoza, the wine country of Argentina
As well, the university town of Cordoba offers a college town feel and is a bit busier and more urban than Mendoza, and comes in at $1,539 per month.
However, I highly recommend starting with Buenos Aires, and keep in mind that every Argentine city has a lower cost of living of living than Buenos Aires, with the exception of the tourist hubs in Patagonia
Starting with Buenos Aires
Transitioning to a new country and new culture can be difficult at best and disastrous at worst. Unless you already speak the language of any new country you move to, Argentine Spanish in this case, and have spent time with people of the culture, there will be a slight learning curve and adjustment. The only thing that offsets the discomfort of the adjustment period is 1) decreasing how much you have to adjust and how quickly and 2) how much healthy and sustainable pleasure your new home brings during the adjustment period.
This is why I highly recommend starting with the capital of Argentina, Buenos Aires.
As the cosmopolitan biggest city in Argentina, the reputed “Paris of South America”, and an eclectic urban city scape that is very much akin to New York, London, or any big city, Buenos Aires will feel just Argentine and Latin American enough, but as a big, international city will feel just familiar enough to ease the transition process. Additionally, you will be able to get around easily with metros and buses, have access to banking and immigration services and immigration lawyers (if you’re applying for a temporary residency visa), apartments and housing will be high standard and cheap, and you will be able to access virtually everything you need. As well, English will be more widely understood, you will be able to hire a Spanish teacher easily if necessary, and several expat and digital nomad meetups will help you adjust and settle in via a fun, social approach.
Contrast starting with Buenos Aires as home, briefly, with going straight to any of the cities on the list, and Spanish will be more important, not everything will be accessible as in Buenos Aires, and simply getting to the destinations by bus or plane may be slightly taxing on arrival.
I highly recommend staying in Buenos Aires at least a week to settle in, but month if you can spare it. This “soft landing”
- Start learning Spanish, either hiring a teacher, or using Pimsleur audio recordings. Duolingo is great, but won’t get you up to speed in a month, the other options will
- Attend one of the many expat and digital nomad meetups to start building a social circle. One of the “make or break” points for expats moving to Argentina is if they have friends and a healthy social life there
- Stay in Buenos Aires for a month, which gives you time to arrive, sort things, and exhale with at least a week left to enjoy the start of your new home
- While in Buenos Aires, wander the major neighborhoods not just to sightsee, but to decide what you want in a home city that Argentina offers – greenery and an active lifestyle, art, nightlife, architecture, food, wine, and countryside – as Argentina has at least one city that does each very well
- Chat with as many Argentines as possible, mentioning the places you’re considering living, asking where they’re from, and asking what they like about it. Take the advice with a grain of salt, but this information may have the best hints and shortcuts for choosing your home in Argentina.
Whether you desire a city center apartment in the heart of Palermo, Buenos Aires, or enstancia in Mendoza, the process of finding a home throughout Argentina is roughly presents the same two hurdles:
- The language barrier will be the most difficult part of discussing and arranging a rental with home and apartment owners
- Most of the available apartments and homes aren’t listed on the sites that come to mind for you, and are likely listed in Spanish.
To get around the major hurdles and make the process of finding and renting a home in Argentina as easy as possible, take these steps.
- Before arriving, book one month in your prospective home city and neighborhood via AirBnB or Booking.com
- Scour the Facebook real estate groups for your prospective city to find potential rentals as well as potential real estate agents
- Use a real estate agent to continue looking for properties available, negotiating a lease, and signing a lease with home/apartment owners that don’t speak English
It is very unlikely that you will be able to find and arrange a good apartment at a great price before arriving in Argentina, and if you you could I would heavily advise against renting before seeing your property. Most of the best deals on housing – affordable price, good location, and comfy all around – will not be available on Facebook, AirBnB, or the like, and if they are they will be heavily overpriced. For the best options you will either need to shop around in person, have an agent find options for you, or use the online apartment searching options in Spanish that still lack many apartments.
Instead of arranging a long term stay before you arrive, simply book long enough via a guaranteed option (like AirBnB) to allow you to feel out if your target neighborhood suits your tastes as you expected and allows for the time it will take to sift through the market on the ground and find a good apartment for you.
For Americans and other foreigners coming from abroad that aren’t fluent in Spanish, the Facebook groups for real estate in each specific city will be your best resource for getting familiar with what apartments are available, understanding the average asking price, and potentially finding a real estate agent to represent you as they frequent these groups sharing listings
Real estate agents for rentals are quite common around Argentina and helpful in finding apartments not available online, navigating the rental process with owners that don’t speak English, and navigating the paperwork. Expect the fee for real estate agents to be equal to roughly one month’s rent
- Buenos Aires Real Estate
- Cordoba Expats (Routinely Posts Apartments)
- Mendoza Expat Community – Great for posting apartment requests
What Type of Visa should you get for Argentina? Start with a tourist visa, and apply for a long term visa after arrival
Planning which visa you will use to enter Argentina initially and keeping in mind which visa you will use to extend your stay later are pivotal steps to the process of moving to Argentina. Though the length of stay available, and how difficult the visa application process will be, depends on your home country, the Argentine government has such an open policy to foreigners and immigration, and a history of acceptance of newcomers that making Argentina your new home will be a far easier process than you think, regardless of your nationality.
Additionally, with one of the easiest processes in the world for achieving permanent residency, Argentine citizenship, and an Argentine passport, Argentina could become not only your new home, but your new country if you choose so.
For U.S. citizens, Canadians, and citizens of EU countries, the visa options are ample and make for an easy stay.
- 90 Day Tourist Visas (free)
- 6 Month Digital Nomad Visa, extendable to 1 year
- 2 Year Retirement visa (Pensionado Visa) – renewable to 3 years
- 1 Year Student visa
- 1 Year Rentista Temporary Residency – renewable to 3 years
- Permanent Residency (available after a continuous 3 year stay on temporary residence permits)
- Investor Visa (for information only, not effectively available)
American citizens visiting Argentina for the first time or those still debating whether Argentina should be a permanent new home will find the tourist visa the easiest, most convenient and appropriate.
The tourist visa requires no advanced paperwork and is completely free on arrival.
If you wish to extend your stay, you may extend for an additional 90 days (but no more than 180 days) by visiting the Argentine Immigration Office, filing the appropriate paperwork, and paying a 600 pesos fee.
You can apply for longer length temporary residence permits – such as Rentista visa, Pensionado visa, and Digital nomad visa – while in the country, so the easiest path may be taking the easiest visa to get to Argentina and settling in from there.
Find more information at the Argentine Ministry of Foreign Affairs Tourist visa extension page
The new digital nomad visa for Argentina is a 6 month temporary residence permit for digital nomads that costs ~$200 and can be fully applied for online. The visa extendable for an additional 6 months without leaving Argentina for an additional $200, potentially allowing a full 1 year stay in Argentina.
The visa is not extendable after the 1 year period.
Those wishing to stay in Argentina on a Retirement Visa, known as a “Pensionado Visa” are eligible for the Pensioner visa so long as they have a monthly pension income paid by a foreign government, international company, or international organization.
Pensioners may remain on the Pensionado visa for up to three years. After three years of continuous renewal of their visa, pensioners become eligible for permanent residency.
This visa is available to all foreigners, including US citizens, EU citizens, and Canadians.
More information visit the Argentine government’s official information page: https://www.argentina.gob.ar/servicio/obtener-una-residencia-temporaria-como-pensionado-no-mercosur
Individuals taking on formal studies at an Argentine university or school may be eligible for a 1 year student visa. The student visa is valid for up to 1 year and requires a consular interview and application via the Argentine consulate or embassy in your home country.
For more information visit the official page
For individuals that receive passive income each month that is equal to $2,000 USD (officially, 5x the Argentine minimum wage) or are willing to transfer $24,000 into Argentina, they may be eligible for the “Rentista visa.”
The Rentista visa is a temporary residence visa, renewable every year. To keep the visa active, you must spend at least 6 months in Argentina.
The Rentista visa is intended for individuals who receive semi-passive income from real estate investments, however, any individual with recurring source of passive income sourced from outside of Argentina, such as dividends payments, annuities, or interest payments, may apply.
Note that active employment income from remote work does not qualify you for the Rentista visa however you would qualify for the digital nomad visa.
For the younger crowd with a second passport that simply wants to show up in Argentina and figure things out, with the possibility of an open work permit, the Argentine government’s Working Holiday Program agreement with several other countries offers a free 9 month stay with the option to take on any employment you can find.
To qualify for the Working Holiday Visa applicants must be under 35 and from Australia, Denmark, France, Ireland, or New Zealand, and each country has an annual quota for a maximum number of permits. If you are eligible, contact the Argentine consulate in your home country for quota and application information.
Official and very informative article on Argentina’s Working Holiday Program
In previous years, the Argentina Investor visa, perfect for entrepreneurs was previously awarded after transferring in a specific amount of capital to be invested in Argentina. The visa was awarded with an authorization to start a business and work within that business unrestricted.
However, after discussing this visa with several immigration lawyers in Buenos Aires I discovered this visa is still listed as available but effectively no longer awarded.
This visa requires approval from the Ministry of Industry who, since the beginning of the economic issues, has simply stopped approving and replying to applications for Argentine Investor visas. So, keep in mind, if you apply for this visa it may simply exist as a zombie, never destined to be approved but can exist for years before a hard denial comes through.
For efficiency’s sake, apply for one of the other long term visas that lead to permanent residency and unrestricted work and investment in Argentina – such as the Rentista visa or Pensioner visa.
The application process for each type of visa and the documents required vary, but count on these basics for each available visa.
Tourist Visa: No process, simply arrive and receive a free 90 day visa, renewable via “visa run”
Digital Nomad Visa: Either apply online if outside of Argentina, or follow the same links for applying in Buenos Aires at the Immigration Office (click here for the application site information)
For the Rentista Visa and Pension Visa, plan on the following process
From the Representing Attorney:
- Power of Attorney granted by the applicant, with sufficient powers to act before this DNM. (original and copy).
- Current Immigration Representative Credential (original and copy).
- Current DNI/CI of the representative (original and copy).
From Visa Applicant: Gather the following documentation with listed information
- Application detailing the reasons for the visa request, containing the following information about the applicant and family members on the same application:
- Names and surnames
- Passport number
- Country of birth
- Civil status
- Level of studies completed
- Country and city where you reside
- Intended period of residence in Argentina
- Consulate where you will submit your valid passport and apply for the visa (Argentine Consulate in the country of origin, or where you legally reside).
- Address in Argentina where the foreigner will reside during the period of stay in Argentina.
- Detail of the planned accommodations and logistics in Argentina (housing, travel expenses, etc.).
- Description of the tasks to be carried out by the foreigner in Argentina and their relationship with the activity of the requesting firm if applicable
- If the applicant previously visited Argentina, indicate the date and reasons.
- Copy of valid and current passport of the applicant.
Documents Required for Rentista Visa:
- Certification issued by the entity obliged to remit the funds, stating that they originate from:
- Investments in foreign banks.
- Remittances from foreign banking or financial institutions.
- Investments in foreign companies.
- Investments in national securities provided that they have been acquired with resources drawn from abroad.
Documents Required for the Pensionado Visa
- Copy of the act by which you were granted the benefit of retirement or pension.
- Copy of the last three salary receipts.
One amazing aspect of moving to Argentina is that if you truly fall in love with the country and want to make the country your permanent home, it is very easy to attain permanent residency or citizenship in Argentina, relative to other countries. This ease of setting up long term is thanks to Argentina’s long history of immigration at the core of its culture, openness to outsiders, and welcoming view towards new people.
For those that are from Non-MERCOSUR countries, permanent residency available after a continuous 3 year stay on temporary residence permits. Note that time on student visas or tourist visa does not count toward this three year minimum.
Once you’ve achieved permanent residency status, you do not need to renew the residency and you may live and work in Argentina indefinitely.
After two years as a permanent resident, you are eligible to apply for Argentine citizenship.
Note that Argentina does allow for dual citizenship and you will not have to renounce the citizenship of your home country. However, once you’ve become an Argentine citizen you can never renounce it.
Considering the tax implications: Permanent resident and those in Argentina over 12 months are liable for taxes on global income
As much of a paradise as Argentina is, taxes are remarkably high on average, and the notorious wealth tax, or “bien personales” tax, is significant. As such, when looking in to visa and residency options, heavily consider what the tax implications will be of permanent residency and citizenship.
For non-residents staying in Argentina less than 12 months, have not applied to become a resident, and have not earned income sourced from within Argentina, you likely will not be liable to pay taxes in Argentina. Non-residents are only taxed on income sourced from within Argentina.
Thus, living in Argentina on tourist visas, digital nomad visas, rentista visa, or any other visa for less than 12 months will not automatically be liable to pay taxes in Argentina.
Residents of Argentina are taxed on global income at a progressive tax rate of 5% to 35% personal income.
You will qualify as a resident if
- You reside in the country for 12 months or more
- You applied for and received permanent residency from Argentina
I recommend reviewing the following two articles to understand the tax implications of moving to Argentina with plans to stay longer than 12 months:
Though Argentina has a robust public medical care system, over half of Argentines rely solely on the public medical system, taxing resources, increasing wait times, and affecting quality accordingly. As an expat, it may be valuable to plan on using the private medical system and hospitals which are quite good and accessible by paying cash or by getting a health insurance policy. With private hospitals making up 70% of the hospitals in Argentina, you are assured not only a high quality of care but also short wait times.
Healthcare insurance is available in international coverage, which is valid globally, or local insurance, which likely covers a cluster of clinics within a city but may not be valid in others. In any case, keep in mind that health insurance in Argentina usually does not full cover treatments but primarily offers a discount. As such, anyone (including tourists and temporary residents) may arrive at a private clinic for treatment and passport and pay cash.
Medical care in Argentina is the best in Latin America, and quite good in the major cities of Buenos Aires, Cordoba, and Mendoza, with well trained staff and well equipped facilities. As most Argentine doctors have been trained abroad, most doctors will be fluent in English.
However, medical care in rural areas may be limited by outdated equipment, so plan accordingly for where you will live and how you will travel.
The Emergency medical care via the public sector medical system is free to everyone (including tourists)
Outpatient treatment in the public system is also free, although you will have to pay for medications
107 is the emergency medical services number in Argentina although 911 works as well.
Many pharmacies in big cities are open 24 hours a day 7 days a week, and pharmacists can recommend and prescribe medications, and pharmacies are generally well stocked.
Frequently Recommended Local Medical Insurance Plans in Argentina:
- OSDE: The premier health insurance company in Argentina
- Swiss Medical
- Hospital Aleman network
- Hospital Italiano network
- Hospital Britanico network
- Luis Pasteur
Dental treatments in Argentina are superb, both in the larger cities and in the rural areas, and available for far cheaper than in the US. However, in rural areas staff may not be able to speak English, so plan accordingly.
Though Argentina is a paradise, one experience that will be downright miserable is purchasing new essentials.
Due to import restrictions and high import taxes, attaining new, brand name items for electronics, clothing, and niche is either difficult, costly, or both. Because of this, do yourself a favor and bring reliable (or new) electronics, clothing, and daily use items that will last for the duration of your trip.
Additionally, due to the economic crisis and the current “Blue Dollar” rate, ensure to bring as much cash USD as possible, and the personal financial tools (bank accounts, debit cards, credit cards) to avoid getting trapped inside the Argentine financial system.
Now, I’ll share a list of the minimum items you should bring for your move to Argentina.
Essentials to bring to Argentina
- US dollars in cash: To trade for Argentine Pesos at the Blue Dollar rate
- Passport with validity for your stay + 6 months: To allow for extending visas or applying for a different visa
- Personal Documents: Maintained at home for emergencies
- Passport copy
- Debit cards (for 2 separate bank accounts): Allowing for a backup if one is lost or stolen
- Credit cards (minimum 2): Allowing for a backup if one is lost or stolen
- Up to Date Mobile phone: Upgrade before arriving if necessary, but plan not to buy one in Argentina
- Up to date laptop: Ensure the quality and performance are sufficient for your entire stay
- Any other electronics: Plan on not being able to buy name brand items of any electronics
- Name brand clothing and everything you need for summer and winter, leaning towards casual: Name brand clothing and quality clothing will be difficult to buy at a reasonable price. Include daily wear shoes, jeans, plenty of performance t-shirts, a rain jacket, and an insulation layer
- Name brand clothing for travel and adventure to Patagonia and around Argentina: Good hiking boots, beanie, hat, sunglasses – plan on not being able these in Argentina
- Apostilled documentation for visa applications: For any visa applications in country
- International Friendly bank accounts (Revolut, WISE): To allow transferring money easily between foreigners
- e-SIM app: To ensure connectivity on arrival in Argentina, before getting a physical SIM, and on arrival when visiting neighboring countries
- Universal Adapter: Allows for charging electronics devices not from South America
- Portable charging pack
- Toiletries and medication for 1 month
- Travel backpack
- Optional: Camping gear – sleeping bag, tent, quality camp stove: Cheaper when purchaed abroad and possibly not available to rent in Argentina
Life in Argentina can be great, with the right visa planning, financial planning, and a little background knowledge to know what to expect, and how to make the most of Argentina’s little secrets. Here, we’ll review the bits and pieces of daily life wherein a little extra knowledge will not only make life easier, but will help you fall more deeply in love with this uniquely vibrant country.
Food and drink are a prime part of the Argentine lifestyle and experience.
Preparing a serving of savory empanadas – a staple snack and midday meal throughout Argentina
Wherever you go, “Asado” or Argentine BBQ consisting of all cuts of lean, Argentine beef slow cooked for hours over heat, will be the best meal you can find, and arguably some of the best steak in the world.
To accompany that protein rich dish, Argentina’s wine region of Mendoza delivers arguably the best wine in South America and is known for its young but delicious Malbecs and Cabernets that can be enjoyed in any restaurant for $5 to $10 per bottle.
Beyond the legendary BBQ scene, Argentine deluctibles and snacks fill the rest of the day like savory empanadas, delicious choripan sandwiches, and dulce de leche rich medialuna dessert cookies.
Within Buenos Aires, count on a robust and world class food scene that boasts not only the best pasta and pizza in South America, thanks to the Italian heritage, but also delivers Japanese, Middle Eastern, fusion cuisine, and any other type of food you can image throughout the city.
Beyond Buenos Aires, in Rosario, Cordoba, and Mendoza, plan on the variety of food scaling back to Argentine food staples, which are delicious and filling:
- Bife de Chorizo (Steak cut): Recognized as the best cut of steak in Argentina
- Matambre: Flavorful grilled flank steak
- Tira de Asado: Cross cut ribs cut from the short loin – cheaper but extremely flavorful
- Cazuela: A hearty stew reminiscent of gaucho culture
- Locro: A thick stew made with corn, beans, and meat
- Choripan: Sausage sandwiches that make a perfect to go or lunchtime snack
- Empanadas: A delicious baked or fried turn over filled with meat and veggie filling
- Medialunas: Argentine croissants, best enjoyed with dulce de leche
- Alfajores: A dessert (or snack) of two tender cookies sandwiching a layer of sweet dulce de leche
- Argentina style pizza: proclaimed to be the best pizza in South America
- Asado: An array of grilled meat cuts, typically beef, slow grilled over fire for hours until tender
- Milanesa: Breaded and fried meat cutlet, usually beef or chicken
- Provoleta: Grilled provolone cheese
- Chimichurri: An especially Argentine sauce for grilled meats made with parsley, garlic, and olive oil, and everyone has a secret family recipe
- Dulce de leche: Caramelized sweet milk
Beware that Argentines dine late and live as night owls and restaurants will open and stay open accordingly. I once took a friends’ recommendation for a delicious Parilla (Argentine Asado restaurant) arriving at 9pm, to find a frustrated restauranter upset that he had to open early for me.
Plan on social gatherings, outings, and nightlife to start late and end later.
One of the most magnificent aspects of Argentina is how vast it is and how varied its landscapes. If you spend any more than one month in Argentina and don’t venture to its far reaches – in Iguazu, Salta, Mendoza, Bariloche, and Patagonia, you are doing yourself a massive disservice.
Unfortunately though, Argentina does not have the cheap budget flight airlines connecting cities as in the US or Europe, or bullet trains connecting as in the US or Japan. Instead, Argentines, and South Americans in general, make ample use of long haul buses.
Though travel between Buenos Aires in north and Ushuaia in the south is common and reasonably cost effective, plan on traveling from Buenos Aires or Ushiaia to anywhere else by bus.
When traveling by bus in Argentina, be sure to book “full cama” seats, that recline all of the way back and allow you to sleep through the ride, as opposed to “semi-cama” seats that partially recline.
To find the best route for your trip, busses available, and quality, use either Rome2Rio.com or https://www.omnilineas.com/, however don’t plan on the timetable listed on that site to be perfectly accurate until you’ve purchased your ticket.
However your best bet will be to visit the “Retiro” or the main bus station, inquire about bus lines between cities, confirm you are getting the best seat possible, and purchase your ticket.
Keep in mind that the adventures between cities can be quite long, so plan accordingly with food, water, and entertainment. I once spent 24 hours riding through the frontier on a bus from Bariloche to Ushuaia..and I highly recommend the adventure.mendo
The final gem of a tip I will leave you with is, if you have any apprciation for nature or the outdoors, make your way to the region of Patagonia, in the areas of southern Argentina and southern Chile. This area, which is the Argentine and Chilean portion of the Andes Mountain Range is one of the most beautiful places in the world I’ve come across, rife with towering mountains, glaciers, rainforests, wild animals, and thousands of lakes. For me, this is the only place in the world that matches the naural beauty of Yosemite and Yellowstone National parks, and I’ve heard it compared to the beauty throughout New Zealand and Iceland.
If for some reason Argentina does not become your permanent home, carve out the time to explore Patagonia and give yourself some permanently perfect memories.
Though Argentina is filled with wonderful, charming, and educated people, this does not by any means imply that you can expect them to speak English. Outside of Buenos Aires and the tourist hubs of Bariloche and other hotspots, little Spanish will be spoken. Your average Argentine will make an effort to use the little English they know – but – learning at least survival and conversational Spanish will greatly enhance your life in Argentina. Even further, if you have no desire to learn Spanish, I’d recommend not living in Argentina permanently as you won’t be able to fall in love with her long term the way most expats do.
If you (like me on my first trip) speak nearly no Spanish, I recommend the following options for learning Spanish:
- Hire a Spanish teacher in Buenos Aires, and spend a month studying intensely: you’ll help someone out who loves what they do, you’ll make a friend, and you’ll have a cultural codec to understand the nuances of life in Argentina
- Purchase the Pimsleur Spanish Audio lessons: This seemingly outdated approach to languages, simply listening to recordings while walking around Buenos Aires, help me go from zero Spanish to survival/conversationally fluent within weeks. Because of the price and convenience, this is an excellent option
- Margarita Madrigal’s Magic Key to Spanish: Another “old school” approach to learning languages via a cool little book illustrated by Andy Worhol takes an interesting shortcut to teaching you understand and communicate in Spanish quickly
- Duolingo: Free and easy, Duolingo is a great option however the process of learning will be much slower than the other options, so start many months early and try to keep a streak of at least 15 minutes per day.
Can a US citizen move to Argentina?
- Yes, US Citizens can move to Argentina easily on a 90 day tourist visa or for 1 to 3 years on pensioner and passive income visas that convert to permanent residency after 3 years.
Is Argentina a good place for Americans to move?
- For Americans that have a stable source of location independent income, Argentina is a great place to move to as it delivers a high quality of life at a 61.1% lower cost of living on average.