COST OF LIVING IN ARGENTINA DURING THE PANDEMIC

A few months have passed since I wrote my last article. In it, I shared about my experience being stuck in Argentina during the initial lockdown of the country due to the coronavirus scare.

I initially thought that the cost of living in Argentina during the pandemic would be prohibitive. After all, it used to be one of the most expensive Latin American countries to travel to, according to all the travel blogs I’ve read about it.

Nevertheless, after years of mismanagement and an ever-fluctuating currency, the country has fallen from its glory days, and the pandemic didn’t help either.

Empty streets of San Telmo during the pandemic

Well, I got inspired to write this post after talking to my mom about the cost of foodstuff here. It goes like this “Ma you won’t believe it, here 1kg of cherries just cost 55php/1$, and you can buy 1/2kg salmon for just 120php/2.2$. I then realized that it is more economical to live here than in Manila and other Latin American countries (if you earn $$$).

WHAT IS BLUE DOLLAR/DOLAR BLUE?

Among all the countries I’ve visited, never have I seen a country having so many exchange rates as Argentina. If you check online, you will find at least 6 different forex rates for the Argentinean peso, however, what you need to check out for is the blue dollar. So what is it?

Me, myself, and Mafalda

It is the black market rate of the Argentinean peso, the slightly higher rate that you can get for your US dollars on the streets. This is slightly higher than the official exchange rate, which is the rate that you´ll get when you withdraw money from the ATMs and banks in Argentina.

One way to get the blue dollar rate is to either send your money via Western Union, which will quote the rate closest to it, or go to Microcentro or San Telmo and look for guys shouting “Cambio” on the streets, and exchange with them.


COST OF LIVING IN ARGENTINA DURING THE PANDEMIC

Fast forward to December 2020, I am still stuck here in Buenos Aires since the pandemic started. However, I am already planning to start my travels again, since everything is starting to open up here in Argentina and also its neighboring country. I only planned to stay here for a month, but due to unforeseen events, I was forced to stay and hole up here. Honestly, it was a blessing in disguise; blue dollar prices doubled these past months, and the inflation rate of items didn’t rise as fast as the exchange rate. It was only 80 ARS/USD when I arrived last March, but at one point, it even reached 195 ARS/USD, and since I am earning in USD from one of my clients, everything became cheap/accessible to me.

To give you an idea of how it became affordable it is to live in Argentina this time, here is a list of some day-to-day stuff comparing it with different exchange rates (I will use the average price of 80 ARS for the official rate and 160 for blue dollar). The blue dollar price is what I am spending here.

$2 steak anyone?

CONCLUSION

To sum it up, the cost of living in Argentina during the pandemic is so low, that it is comparable to some of the cheaper countries I’ve visited like Myanmar and India.

In the end, I saved up a significant amount of money for future travels and investment, and I also helped my parents back home, who temporarily lost their jobs during this time.

Say hello to the best model of Palermo, Sr. Ganso!

Experts say that it will take a long time before Argentina can truly recover from this economic disaster. I feel sad for my Argentinean and Venezuelan friends who work here because each day their earnings mean nothing to the ever-fluctuating value of the local money. So as travelers, what we can do to help is to travel to Argentina once everything is back to normal and enjoy the amazing places that this country has to offer. By doing so, we can help the local businesses recover, and maybe help their economy get going.

Your money will be surely well spent here!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *