Tango dancers in La Boca
Despite the fact that my wife and I love to travel and would give anything to be back on the road right now, there aren't many places in the world that we'd like to actually call home. Buenos Aires is one of the few exceptions, and it would make a fantastic destination for any expat for a variety of reasons. The culture is unique and easy to fall in love with. The food and wine is amazing, especially if you're a fan of the color red. The different barrios give the city a unique feel, as though there are several cities melded into one. Add in the parks, the markets, the nightlife, and the travel options around the country, and you have a city that most anyone would love to call home.
One of the most exciting parts about living in a new city and country is the differences in culture. It's exciting to see how other people live and do things, and the uniqueness of the Argentine culture is no different. While there are plenty of other countries which offer a completely different view of life, there is just that something about Argentina - the people and the way they live - that is just fascinating.
Argentina is pretty westernized, which is good for those living away from their home country for the first time. While there are plenty of similarities to other westernized nations, there are also a plethora of differences. Eating dinner at 10pm, or 11pm, or even later on the weekends takes a little getting used to. If you plan on moving to Buenos Aires (or anywhere in Argentina for that matter), then get used to midnight dinners and 4am arrivals at the clubs. And it isn't just the young crowd that does this. It's not uncommon to see entire families with three or more generations eating at a restaurant at midnight on a Saturday night.
Families are of the utmost importance in Argentina, and the focus on family meals and spending time together is one of the coolest parts of their culture. Teenagers don't think twice about hopping on the dance floor with Mom at a restaurant or bar, showing no signs of embarrassment. Holidays like New Year's Eve are spent with family, eating and drinking and shooting off fireworks around midnight before the younger crowd heads out for the evening (well after ringing in the New Year with their family). The pace of life is just different, even in a massive city like Buenos Aires. Dinners take longer, people aren't in as much of a hurry, and everything just seems to move slower and is more relaxed.
Living in Buenos Aires means plenty of options. Where you decide to set your roots down makes all the difference in the world as the differences in barrios is astounding. If you're looking for chic, modern, and bustling, then head to Palermo. If you're looking for a laid back hippie vibe, then San Telmo is the spot for you. Retiro is a great place to go if you have a bit higher budget, and Recoleta is home to several museums, the famous cemetery, and some of the best restaurants in the city (though great food is easy to find most anywhere).
Living in a big city like Buenos Aires can be problematic for those who like plenty of green space. Luckily Buenos Aires has plenty of green amidst the concrete jungle. Parque 3 de Febrero is a massive park in Palermo that houses a Rose Garden, Zoo, Botanical Garden, and Japanese Garden, amongst a myriad of other activities like walking, biking, and boat rentals. It's a great respite from the urban chaos of the city. The Costanera Sur Wildlife Reserve is another place to unwind and get away from the hustle and bustle of the city. This free wildlife reserve near Puerto Madero is great for bike riding, walking, and just hanging out for the day.
If you're a fan of markets and the tango, then look no further than Plaza Dorrego's weekly flea market. This massive Sunday market in San Telmo has all types of local arts and crafts and is great just for people watching. Free tango shows are held in the streets and plaza, and entertainment is around every corner. If tango is what you enjoy, then a trip to the nearby barrio of La Boca is a must as well. For football (soccer) fans, La Boca is also home to the famous Boca Juniors, and taking in a game at La Bombonera is an experience that you'll never forget.
Most people who choose to study or work abroad like to choose a region where travel is easy, efficient, and has lots of variety. Expats living in Buenos Aires have all that and then some. The country is huge, so getting around, especially overland, can take some time. But the buses are amongst the best and most comfortable in the world, and they are plenty affordable. Cheap flights can be found around the country as well, as famous sites like Iguazu Falls are just a few hours away by plane.
If you're into hiking and trekking, then heading down south to Patagonia during some time off will give you all your heart desires. El Chalten is a hiking mecca, offering stunning panoramas around every turn. El Calafate is near the famous Perito Moreno Glacier, one of the only glaciers in the world that is still expanding. If you're looking for great skiing in the winter and fantastic hiking and climbing in the summer, then head west to Bariloche. The food and chocolate options are also second to none.
Living in a city like Buenos Aires gives people a perfect mix of Latin American and European cultures. The city is certainly unique, offering a European flair in South America (and at half the cost of its European counterparts). As you can see there are plenty of things to do in Buenos Aires. The variety of options assures that it will be impossible to become bored, and if you're thinking about moving to another country, I can't think of a better option that Buenos Aires.
* Explore opportunities to teach, study, or volunteer abroad in Argentina
* Read a related article about 10 Ways to Feel at Home as an Expat
* Read a related article about 5 More Tips to Help You Conquer Culture Shock