CONNECT WITH ME ON INSTAGRAM

Written by Kieran Proctor

The Perfect Digital Nomad Destination: Argentina!

As a ‘digital nomad’, who has been living and working from Buenos Aires for the better part of the last ...

As a ‘digital nomad’, who has been living and working from Buenos Aires for the better part of the last 3 years, I thought I should share some of what I’ve learned by being here. Buenos Aires is often overlooked by nomads, who flock to places like Medellin in Colombia.

Yet, Argentina has some surprising benefits for those who choose to move further afield. Sure, it also has some downsides. But the positives of living and working (online) from Argentina outweigh the negatives. Here’s what I’ve learned while living in Airbnb’s in Buenos Aires as a digital nomad.

NordVPN

Digital Nomad Visas For Argentina

The first and most obvious thing that comes to mind, when considering Argentina as a ‘digital nomad‘ destination, is visas. If you’re going to make somewhere like Buenos Aires or even Cordoba or Salta, your home base, you need to know how long you’re going to be able to spend in the country.

Now, Argentina does have a specific ‘digital nomad visa’, yet it’s an absolute pain to try and get one. They’re about $300 (USD) and they have a long winded and bureaucratic application process that requires a ton of paperwork. Which is likely the reason I’ve never actually met anybody who’s bothered applying for one.

As a national of a first world country, you can enter Argentina without a visa. And you’ll be granted 90 days on arrival with a simple stamp in your passport. You can then extend that 90 day tourist visa out to 180 days for a couple of dollars, by simply visiting any Aduana (Customs and Border) office.

Unlike Colombia, which limits visitors to a maximum of 180 days per calendar year, Argentina has no such legislation. So, you can get a new 90 day stamp each and every time you cross the border. And if like me you want to stay more than 180 days a year in Argentina, it’s as simple as taking a weekend getaway in a neighboring country.

Uruguay is only an hour away from Buenos Aires on the ferry (Buquebus). And once every 6 months, I go for a weekend getaway in Uruguay, do some duty free shopping and then come right back to Buenos Aires. I then start the whole process over again, with a new 90 day stamp that can be extended to 180 days.

No digital nomad visa is needed for Argentina. And unlike Colombia, you won’t need to spend 6 months of the year somewhere else.

Graffiti in Palermo Hollywood accurately sums up the Argentine Political System

Long-Term Rental Accommodation In Argentina

Now, if you’re planning to live and work from Argentina like me, accommodation is going to be your biggest expense. Particularly in Buenos Aires. Yet, fear not, Argentina’s rental market is actually much cheaper than Colombia’s.

You are spoiled for choice when it comes to places to stay in Argentina. Sure, there’s conventional hotels and apartment hotels, but if you’re planning to live and work from Argentina, you’re going to want your own place where you have regular facilities like a kitchen. And you’ll want somewhere without daily housekeeping, coming past to disturb you.

Just like everywhere else in the world, Argentina has Airbnb. And the prices are cheaper on a per apartment basis than other locals like Medellin in Colombia. But the apartments in Argentina will be smaller. If you’re single and a solo traveler, smaller is no problem and you’ll have ample space. But, I wouldn’t want to live with a partner in an apartment that’s the average for Buenos Aires.

You can pick up small 30-50 square meter apartments on Airbnb in suburbs like Palermo or Recoleta for monthly rates around $600-$750 USD. And they will be nice apartments with all of the amenities. You won’t need to pay extra for gas, water, electricity or internet. Heck, most even include Netflix.

If you’re wanting to save even more money, lets say you’re just starting to get into the ‘digital nomad’ thing and you’ve got a tight budget, strike a cash deal with your Airbnb landlord once you’ve found a place you like. You’ll find most Argentines want USD cash and they will give you hefty discounts, if you have access to USD $100 bills in pristine condition.

With cash, you can get some great places around BA for about $500 USD per month!

Mobile Apps And Internet Connectivity In Buenos Aires

If you’re working online like me, internet connectivity is one of those thing you can’t live without, literally. Without internet you can’t earn money and without money, well, you can’t pay your rent or buy food. Internet access becomes an absolute necessity, if you’re going to be working online.

Now, parts of Argentina are a little behind the times in terms of speed and internet connectivity. Yet, that’s not the case in major cities. If you’re going to be based in Buenos Aires, Cordoba, Salta or even destinations like Bariloche or Mar del Plata, you won’t have any trouble connecting to the internet.

From my first visit until my most recent stay, I’ve seen huge progress in internet connectivity and locally developed mobile apps available in Argentina. Today, unlimited 100mb/s to 300mb/s broadband is the standard in every home. And most chain stores have their own branded mobile application.

In the capital city, Buenos Aires, internet connectivity is fast, ubiquitous and cheap. The internet connectivity in Buenos Airs is so good that there’s now a mobile app for just about everything. From ordering food and ride-sharing, through to booking a haircut or shave. In Buenos Aires, there’s a mobile app for everything, to make life easier.

The internet connectivity and mobile applications add to the attractiveness of Buenos Aires as a destination for digital nomads and expat foreigners. Well, at least they do for me!

As a digital nomad, you could try and work online from a country with intermittent and slow internet connectivity, like Australia. Or you could work in Buenos Aires with its extremely cheap, fast and ubiquitous wifi and 4G cellular.

I’m an Australian and I’d choose Argentina’s internet over Australia’s internet, every single time. Just be sure to use a VPN in Argentina. But the mobile applications absolutely make Argentina so much better for me as an Australian, when I compare it to my own country.

At home in Australia, if I was working late and I had forgotten to order food, I’d be limited in my choices. After about 8pm there wouldn’t be much available for delivery except Macdonald’s, or maybe a pizza.

But in Buenos Aires I can have a steak, vegetables and papas fritas (fries) delivered to my door with a bottle of good wine or a six pack of beer, almost around the clock. And for about half of what an UberEats Macdonald’s delivery costs at home.

Food In Buenos Aires

In my opinion, the food is one of those things that can make or break a destination. For the ‘foodies’, Buenos Aires is a city that they should definitely visit. Even if they’re vegans.

Despite ‘asado’ (barbecue) being a form of national tradition and pride, there is a huge selection of cuisines from all over the globe. Buenos Aires is a cultural melting pot. And it’s no surprise that its cuisine mimics its diverse population.

The wine in Argentina is plentiful and divine. With a good Mendoza Malbec (red wine) and Fernet (a form of Italian bitters) being two must try beverages while visiting Argentina. There’s even a huge selection of domestic craft beers available and not just from bars, but from every supermarket and kiosk all around the country.

Top shelf wines or a bottle of Fernet can be had in Argentina for less than $5. And a six pack of local craft beers can be had for about the same. When visiting Argentina, you can enjoy an amazing dinner out with drinks for less than $20. And in almost 2 years in Buenos Aires, I’ve never cooked a single meal at home.

During the winter months in Buenos Aires, when you might not necessarily feel like venturing out into the cold, you can have your food delivered to you. If you can crave it in Buenos Aires, you can have it delivered to your door with a mobile app.

You can live every digital nomads dream in Argentina. And you can do it for a fraction of the price you’d pay elsewhere in the world.

Argentina Is Cheap Because The Peso Is Worthless

When I first visited Argentina more than a decade ago, way back in 2007, I got a few pesos for my dollars. When I left Argentina last year to spend time in Cuba and then Colombia, the exchange rate was somewhere around 350 to 1 on the dollar.

Yet, when I returned this year, a week after my arrival back in BA and as I write this, the exchange rate is currently over 800:1 on the dollar. Inflation in Argentina is inexplicably high. And it’s both a blessing and a curse for anyone who earns money in foreign currencies.

It’s a blessing, because it makes Argentina incredibly cheap to visit. But it’s a curse, because you can’t use any form of bank cards or electronic payments if you want to get the dollar blue rates.

If you use electronic money and foreign bank cards, Argentina can become inordinately expensive. But, if you carry huge bricks of cash everywhere you go, Argentina is so cheap to visit that it’s ludicrous.

Shopping for a GoPro with Argentine Peso Cash in Buenos Aires Argentina
Paying with cash is no joke in Argentina. And it often requires cash counting machines.

Cash & Payments In Argentina

As someone who earns money online, I use a Wise digital bank account to receive my funds, but I can’t simply ‘tap and go’ in Argentina with my Wise card. Not unless I want to pay double for every transaction.

You see, Argentina has an ‘official’ exchange rate set by the Government and un-official ‘blue dollar’ exchange rate. Along with 30 or more other different dollar exchange rates. Trust me when I say that you know nothing about currency and exchange rates, until you’ve lived in Argentina. They even have a ‘Cold Play Dollar’ for international concerts and a ‘Qatar Dollar’ for foreign sporting events!

Now, I’ve previously covered in-depth the currency woes of Argentina and what causes them. So, for the sake of brevity, it’s worth noting that as a foreigner working online from Argentina, or as a tourist visiting Argentina, you only need to know 2 exchange rates. Those are the ‘official’ exchange rate and the ‘dollar blue’.

The official exchange rate is what the Argentine Government say’s the peso is worth and the ‘blue dollar’ (dólar blue) is what everyone else say’s the peso is worth. The official rates are what XE.com shows you. And the real exchange rate is what you can check on ‘dolarhoy’.

So, with multiple exchange rates and no easy electronic payment method, what’s a foreigner to do in Argentina? Easy, receive payments into something like Wise and then use Western Union like an ATM to get cash when you need it.

I get all my USD and Euro payments in my Wise account and I send myself money every couple of weeks via Western Union. Western Union pays out cash at the unofficial blue exchange rate. Thereby negating any need for a foreigner to interact with the Argentine banking system, or deal with currency exchange shops.

It really is that simple. And it’s what I’ve been doing for years. Just remember to take a backpack to collect your cash if you send yourself $500 USD or more, via western Union.

Buying Real Estate In Argentina To Stay Longer

Buying an apartment in Buenos Aires would be the only event that would trigger me to get a more permanent visa. And I’m currently investigating the process of buying real estate in Argentina. But it’s a lot more complex than it might seem.

Legislation surrounding the property market in Argentina is some of the best in the world. Argentine legislation provides assurance that a foreigner and local have the same property rights. And you needn’t worry about your property devaluing with the peso, property transactions in Argentina are conducted in USD.

Properties in Buenos Aires hold their value due to the strength of the market and the underlying financial conditions. Argentinians either covert their money into USD and stash it away under a mattress. Or they use it to buy properties, insulating the property market from the slow demise of the peso.

For those who buy properties in Argentina and anybody else who can show sufficient foreign sourced income, permanent residency is easy to get.

The only thing you need to buy a property in Argentina, beyond cash in USD, is a local tax ID. And if all else failed and you wanted to buy a property but couldn’t get a better visa class, you could always be the first to apply for Argentina’s digital nomad visa, which gives you 2 years of residency.

For the Argentine tax ID, you can pay a lawyer a small fee to get it for you. But for getting USD into Argentina to buy a property, you need to be a little more careful. Property transactions are most often in USD cash. So you can’t just wire the money and be done with it.

Getting large sums of money into Argentina can be a headache. And the fees are often in the range of 4%. Because you need to use a bunch of different money guys and well, it’s all a little shady. But, if you were to use a regular Argentine bank, they’d convert your dollars to pesos at the official rate and then you’d need to buy dollars with those pesos at the blue rate, effectively losing half your money in the process.

But getting money into Argentina and buying properties, to rent to other foreigners on Airbnb, can be a highly lucrative business. The rental yields in Buenos Aires run anywhere from 4-12 percent per annum. Plus, if you spend enough on property in Argentina, just like in Colombia, you can get residency through investment.

Argentina actually still has Peso Coins

What In Argentina Is Better Than Colombia?

Beyond the obvious ease of renewing a tourist visa and staying as long as you want per calendar year, there’s the safety and lifestyle aspects. You can walk around Buenos Aires at all hours of the day or night and you don’t need to worry about being robbed at knife (or gun) point. Where you need to be careful in Colombia, you can be carefree in Argentina.

Despite its currency woes and decades long struggle with hyperinflation, Argentina is a wealthy nation with low crime rates. The homicide rates in Buenos Aires, the capital, have been steadily decreasing for decades.

Just compare Buenos Aires 4.6 homicides per 100k residents to Washington DC’s 32.78 murders per 100k residents, or any other major US city and you start to get a feel for just how safe it is. Everyone touting Medellin as ‘safe’ has likely never been to the other nomad and expat destinations like Buenos Aires. Medellin has 15 murders per 100k residents compared to Buenos Aires 4.6.

In BA, you don’t need to worry about Scopolamine. Tinder dates aren’t a high risk activity in Argentina. That is, unless you take account of the high quality surgeons in Buenos Aires and Argentina’s general love of ‘lady boys’.

Adams Apple gif
True for Buenos Aires

What In Colombia Is Better Than Argentina?

The beaches are the first thing that come to mind for me. If you’ve never seen Mar del Plata, just imagine brown sand and brown water. The second thing that immediately comes to mind for me, is the food. I love spicy food, tangy food and all types of odd flavors in between.

Argentines are like overly boring Italian’s when it comes to food. Walk into the condiments isle in any supermarket in Argentina and all you will find is bland mayonnaise, bland ketchup and some bland barbecue sauce. In the chips isle, it’s the same story with only ketchup, ham, cheese or plain unsalted flavored chips.

It actually took me 18 months to find spicy hot chips in Buenos Aires. And in years of being here, I’ve never once managed to find salt and vinegar chips. But boy have I tried hard to score some salt and vinegar goodness, so much so that I’ve even tried to make my own.

The wine, beer, pasta, steak and cheese are fantastic in Argentina. So is the local produce. But getting any type of spicy, hot or intense flavored foods from a restaurant, is nearly impossible. And the pizzas are just a huge bland block of cheese, melted onto some bread.

In Colombia, I can get virtually any type of food I want in every imaginable flavor. In Argentina, everything is always a boring ham, cheese or mayonnaise flavor. Even the coffee is weak in Argentina, when compared to Colombia.

Strong flavors aren’t something Argentines are accustomed to, so it’s a good thing they really do know how to brew beer and make a decent wine. If it wasn’t for the local craft beers and domestic Argentinian wines, I’d need to learn how to cook.

Is Argentina A Digital Nomad Destination?

Is Argentina a viable destination for working online as a digital nomad? The short answer is yes, absolutely!

When I first visited Argentina more than a decade ago, it was love at first sight. The Argentine way of life is infectious. The capital of Argentina, Buenos Aires, is a bustling metropolis with every amenity you could ever want as a digital nomad. And yet, life just moves a little slower here.

The inhabitants of Buenos Aires, or Porteños as they call themselves, do everything a little different to the rest of Latin America. For starters, life here starts a little later in the day and everything from breakfast onwards is pushed back.

In some Latin American countries, it can be difficult to find a restaurant late at night. But in Buenos Aires and Argentina more generally, you shouldn’t be surprised if your intended dinner spot doesn’t open until late. Usually after 8pm.

In Argentina, it’s not uncommon to make plans to meet friends at a bar at midnight. While night clubs are rarely busy before 2am and they don’t shut until the sun comes up. If you’re looking for a big city with a New York style vibe and a slightly European feel, that’s in South America, definitely consider living and working from the Argentine capital, Buenos Aires.

Yet, if you think about the costs associated with food, drink and accommodation and then factor in the ease of getting and maintaining a visa to be in the country, Argentina might just be your perfect destination. For me, being able to wander around where I want at all hours of the day or night, without any risk of armed robbery, also sits high on my own list of considerations when I’m choosing destinations.

I like that I can walk down the street, without needing to keep my head on a swivel to look out for armed robbers, beggars or recyclers. And, I like that each and every night, the contents of all the bins aren’t just emptied out onto the sidewalks.

In Buenos Aires, you can have all of the ‘chaos’ of a Latin American city such as Medellin, without any of the negatives associated with those other destinations.

Where Can I Get More Information About Buenos Aires?

If you’re planning to visit Buenos Aires on your next vacation, or you’re simply interested in Argentina in general, you should read my Buenos Aires City Guide.

My Complete Buenos Aires City Guide is updated regularly. And it seeks to answer all of your questions regarding Buenos Aires and Argentina in one place. Read my Complete Buenos Aires City Guide.

NordVPN