- It’s possible to live cheaply in Buenos Aires, Argentina despite the country’s high inflation.
- The low cost of living is part of the reason Christine Gilberts has lived there for six years.
- She breaks down how much she spends and her major outgoings from living in the city.
I didn’t move to Buenos Aires from China six years ago for the lower cost of living, but it’s part of why I’ve stayed here for so long.
It’s possible to live here for the equivalent of $1,000, or 141,000 Argentine pesos, or less a month. Many people do, as the average monthly salary here is 52,000 pesos.
My situation is different from that of the locals because I’m from the United States and typically earn my money in US dollars and British pounds from freelance-writing work and teaching yoga online.
If I were to pull money out of an ATM, change cash in an official exchange house, or use my US debit card, I would use the rate of $1 to about 140 pesos. But last week, I sent myself money with Western Union from my US bank account at a rate of $1 to 270 pesos.
This method means I can use the Western Union exchange rate, one of several unofficial rates that have sprung up to help Argentines save in US dollars amid the country’s economic turbulence.
I go to a branch location, wait in line, and take a stack of pesos home.
I pay for everything in cash, but it’s worth it for the better rate
Argentina’s inflation rate is extraordinarily high — about 70%. But because the unofficial rate changes to reflect inflation, I sometimes pay less for things in dollar amounts than I did the month before. For example, I was taking a private circus class for 2,000 pesos.
In June, I got 238 pesos to the dollar, but in July, I got 322 pesos to the dollar when inflation shot up. Since the class stayed the same price, I ended up paying less; in June I paid $8.70 for the class, and in July I paid $6.21.
I only change about $200 to $300 at a time because taking out more would run the risk of the money losing value amid the inflation.
In the last two weeks, I’ve spent the equivalent of $476 and exchanged money two more times when the Western Union rates were 275 and 279 pesos to the dollar. About 30% of that — 38,090 pesos — I used on eating out, which I did for nearly 40% of my meals.
Gilbert lives in the city’s San Telmo neighborhood.
Groceries cost 18,454 …….