Buenos Aires is one of South America’s most popular destinations for tourists. After living here for a while, I can vouch for its charm. However, if you want to try your luck as a digital nomad or settle down to work remotely here, there are a lot of things you need to know beyond which tourist hot spots to visit.
If this isn’t your first time working from a different country, then you probably have a list of all the things you need to find out. That includes where you can work from, how to exchange currency, and more.
In this article, I’ll walk you through everything you need to know to work as a freelancer in Buenos Aires as a foreigner. Keep in mind, though – this is not a tourist guide. Don’t go asking me where to eat the best ‘choripanes’ in town. With that in mind, let’s help you get settled in and start working!
A Quick Introduction to Buenos Aires
As I mentioned a minute ago, this isn’t a tourist guide. There are plenty of tho just a quick search away, and I can’t compete with Trip Advisor for restaurant recommendations.
That being said, here’s a quick rundown of some basic things you will want to know if you’re planning on staying in Argentina for a while:
- Barbecues (or ‘asados’, as they call them) and soccer are the local religion and people will ask you if you’re a Boca or River fan.
- You share a cup while drinking mate. Don’t worry, it won’t kill you!
- Locals love to talk about politics and aren’t shy about sharing their opinions with strangers.
- For some reason, Argentinians insist that ‘medialunas’ (think small, sweet croissants) make for an acceptable breakfast. They do not, but if you want to be polite, eat one or two!
- Do yourself a favor and try as many local wines as you can (but not so much that you can’t get any work done)
How Much it Costs to Work/Live in Buenos Aires
If you’re a digital nomad, then what you really want to know is “How much will it cost me to stay in Buenos Aires?”. Right off the bat, I can tell you that renting a single room through AirBnB will set you back around $400 (at the least) for a month pretty much anywhere within the city:
Some areas, of course, are cheaper than others. However, here are the zones you should focus your search on:
- Palermo and Recoleta. The two most common hot spots for tourists are filled with bars, restaurants, and plenty of co-working options.
- Belgrano and Almagro. If you want to stay somewhere less touristy, these are the areas where you should be looking. Out of the two, Almagro is the best option for a more ‘local’ experience.
As far as South America goes, accommodations in Buenos Aires are pretty darn expensive. However, if you have access to foreign currency, other costs won’t hit you as hard.
The Argentinian peso has been wildly unstable. That’s terrible news for locals, but it also means that costs such as buying food or eating out, transportation, and other services shouldn’t hit your pocket that much.
A decent budget for a month if you want to have fun and go out regularly, would be around $1000 (including rent). Keep in mind, though – clothes and electronics tend to be a lot more expensive in Argentina, so avoid buying those locally.
Finally, it’s important you know that foreign cards sometimes have problems going through local Points of Sale (PoS). To avoid headaches, I recommend always having pesos in hand, which you can exchange in banks.
If for some reason, you can’t reach a bank, almost any local will be able to point you to someplace where they’ll exchange your hard currency under the table.
As for ATMs, they will charge you insane fees for withdrawing pesos with foreign cards, so avoid those unless it’s an emergency!
How to Get Around Safely in Buenos Aires
Getting around the city is quite simple and you can buy a SUBE card that you can use on buses and the subway. For buses, you need to indicate where you’re getting off, which may be a bit difficult if you don’t speak the language. Drivers are used to foreigners, though, so that shouldn’t stop you.
In any case, you can also use Uber within Buenos Aires, albeit they sometimes will try to get you to pay in cash due to local restrictions. Personally, I recommend a local alternative called Cabify, which is much easier to deal with.
Finally, there’s the matter of safety. South America has several cities where you have to keep your guard up at all times to avoid being a victim of crime. Having lived in the most dangerous city in the world, I can tell you Buenos Aires is pretty darn safe.
You should be okay just walking around the city, even with your phone out. As a rule of thumb, though, the more you move south, the dicier things get.
Personally, I wouldn’t walk around at night south of Rivadavia avenue…
… or around Microcentro (the downtown area of the city).
In my experience, locals will tell you to be way more careful than you need to. However, you should be fine with a little common sense.
Where to Work in Buenos Aires (Coworking Spaces and Free Alternatives)
Coworking spaces are nothing new to this city. However, during the past couple of years, it feels like there’s a new co-working space or artisanal pub on every corner. I’m an expert in both, but let’s focus on the former:
- Origen Cowork. My favorite co-working space by far – it’s not that big, it has a cozy little garden, a fat cat, and the coffee’s pretty good.
- Urban Station. This space has three hubs around the city and basic membership enables you to use any of them, which makes it perfect if you like to jump around.
- WeWork. If you want the ‘full’ co-working experience with tons of networking events and massive office spaces, WeWork has a couple of hubs in Buenos Aires.
- Barrio de Flores Museum. My favorite budget co-working is located inside a museum in the Flores neighborhood. It’s far away from where most tourists wander and it only opens until 1 PM, which makes it perfect if you’re an early bird.
- Coworking Itinerante. If you don’t like staying in one place, the Coworking Itinerante is a group of freelancers that meets up once a week in different places around the city. You get to meet tons of new people and try out new coffee, which is about as good as it gets in my book.
When it comes to budgets, it’s hard to translate prices to USD because the peso fluctuates so much. Every co-working space on this list charges in ARS. On average, a full monthly pass will cost you anywhere between 3000-4500 ARS. That’s anywhere between $53-80 at the time of this writing, but once again, the Argentinian peso is not what you call a stable currency, so those figures can (and will) vary.
Every co-working space on that list also offers daily passes and some enable you to pay by the hour. Usually, an hour will cost you a maximum of 100 ARS, which is pretty darn cheap when you convert it to USD.
After more than a year living in Argentina, I’m still not a full porteño. I can’t dance tango to save my life and the mysteries of brewing the perfect cup of mate elude me. However, I’ve adapted pretty well to being a remote worker in Buenos Aires.
On average, renting a room for one within the city will set you back around $400 per month. If this is your first time in the city, I recommend staying around Palermo or Recoleta. Both are tourist-friendly neighborhoods with plenty of co-working options. However, you will want to venture out of those areas if you want to really get to know the city!
Do you have any questions about traveling and working in Buenos Aires? Let’s talk about them in the comments section below!
Image credit: Pixabay.