COST OF LIVING IN ARGENTINA: 2021 EDITION

A few months have passed since I wrote my last article, where I shared my experience of being stuck in Argentina during the country’s initial lockdown 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. 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 six different forex rates for the Argentinean peso; however, you need to check the blue dollar. So what is it?

Me, myself, and Mafalda

The Argentinean peso’s black market rate (blue dollar) is the slightly higher rate that you can get for your US dollars on the streets. It is higher than the official exchange rate, which is the one 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 2021 – BUENOS AIRES

Fast forward to Q1 2021; I am still here in Buenos Aires since the pandemic started. However, I plan to start my travels again since everything is starting to open up in Latin America. I only intended to be here for a month, but I needed to stay and hole up due to unforeseen events. Honestly, it was a blessing in disguise; blue dollar rate 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 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 the blue dollar). The blue dollar price is what I am spending here.

COST OF EVERYDAY GROCERY ITEMS IN BUENOS AIRES

ITEMARGENTINE PESOPHILIPPINE PESO (OFFICIAL RATE)PHILIPPINE PESO (BLUE DOLLAR)USD (OFFICIAL RATE)USD (BLUE DOLLAR RATE)
1kg Chicken fillet310.00182.3599.203.782.07
3kg chicken thigh and legs360.00211.76115.204.392.40
1kg beef for stewing400.00235.29128.004.882.67
2pcs beef steak cut300.00176.4796.003.662.00
1kg pork for braising400.00235.29128.004.882.67
500g salmon400.00235.29128.004.882.67
100g strawberries500.00294.12160.006.103.33
1kg cherries200.00117.2564.002.441.33
4 small boxes blueberries200.00117.2564.002.441.33
bottle of wine (Malbec)300.00176.4796.003.662.00
1L milk54.0031.7617.280.660.36
500g cheese150.0088.2448.001.831.00
Cost of grocery items in Buenos Aires



COST OF TRANSPORTATION IN ARGENTINA

If we will use the blue dollar comparison, then we can conclude that the cost of transportation in Argentina is very affordable. Argentina has an extensive bus system that connects many places within the country, and also internationally. In Buenos Aires, commuters will regularly use the subway and the intricate bus system, both efficient ways to get you to where you need to go. You can also hail a taxi easily, and people also widely use Uber and Cabify.

Here’s the average price of transportation cost within Buenos Aires:

ITEMARGENTINE PESOPHILIPPINE PESO (OFFICIAL RATE)PHILIPPINE PESO (BLUE DOLLAR)USD (OFFICIAL RATE)USD (BLUE DOLLAR RATE)
1 Buenos Aires Subway/Bus ride21.0012.356.720.260.14
Uber/Cabify average ride300.00176.4796.003.662.00
Cost of transportation in Buenos Aires



COST OF ACCOMMODATION IN ARGENTINA

The monthly rent in Argentina has been affordable for me, thanks to Blue Dollar. The monthly average for a shared apartment in Buenos Aires is around 25,000 to 15,000 ARS, which averages around 120$ monthly. If you plan to stay short-term, then the average daily hostel rate is around 700 – 900 ARS (around 350 php or 7$), while a private room costs 2,000 ARS.

WHAT ABOUT THE COST OF LIVING IN OTHER CITIES OF ARGENTINA?

The cost of living in other Argentinean cities varies. I visited several places here, namely Mendoza, Cordoba, El Calafate, and El Chalten. Both El Calafate and El Chalten are in Patagonia, one of the country’s most expensive regions, so prices here are higher than Buenos Aires by around 20%. Meanwhile, both Mendoza and Cordoba are considerably cheaper cities to live in, around 20% to 30% cheaper than the capital.

For a more thorough breakdown of my expenses in those cities, you can follow the links below:

Mendoza and Cordoba.

El Calafate and El Chalten.


CONCLUSION

To sum it up, If you will be using the Blue Dollar, then the cost of living in Argentina during the pandemic in 2021 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 investments, 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 their earnings equal to nothing. So as travelers, what we can do to help is to travel to Argentina once everything is back to normal and enjoy the unique places that this country has to offer. By doing so, we can help the local businesses recover and maybe help their economy get going.

Leave a Reply

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