living cheaply in BA


Jul 29, 2008
in response to a lot of talk in many threads about the rise in prices in argentina, i wanted to give my 2 pence worth on my initial reaction to life in BA after a week, for what it´s worth....

firstly, yes, i HAVE noticed a steep increase in prices from when i was here visiting in 2005 and most notably a change since the aftermath of the 2001 crash, when i was living here for half a year, six months on from when the peso devalued.

this time around, i notice that there has been an overall increase in all commodities, essential and otherwise, which does obviously elevate cost of living, especially when it comes to food shopping.

there are i think however a number of ways of getting round this.

firstly, shopping around and being resourseful pays dividends. the first day i bought a 1.5 litre bottle of water from a kiosko on cabildo and it cost me 5 pesos (extortionate i thought). near where i live in a kiosko on mendoza i bought a 2 litre bottle for 3.75 pesos. that same evening i went to cotto and bought two 1.5 litre bottles which came with free tea bags for around the 5 pesos mark. strawberries in carrefour according to my cousin were 12 pesos 1/2 kilo. from the chinaman round the corner they were 5 the 1/2 kilo. cheese and ham that can be sliced off the block in the local chinese supermarkets will always be cheaper and often tastier.

eating out: i´ve been eating out for lunch as i´ve needed to work on my laptop with a wi-fi connection. i´ve found the portions are often abundant and too big for me to eat in one go. it is not unusual to ask for a doggie bag in this country and then the food can serve for another meal. i´ve done this twice already in one place and they´ve been extremely accommdating.

yestersday i went to a parilla for lunch with a friend. we ordered a 1/2 bife de chorizo (imo one of, if not the best cuts for texture and flavour) and a salad. the beef cost 18 pesos and we ordered a large mixed salad for 10. plus water the bill came to 38 with bread thrown in. the steak was huge as was the salad, in spite of sharing we were both full and satiated and ended up paying only 20 pesos each for a delicious meal.

clothes: my biggest weakness. i have steered clear of the labels i always used to shop at, mainly because the prices are so expensive, that are now exceeding what i would be happy to pay for mid range clothing in the UK and i know that the quality here is not up to the standard i would be getting for the same money over there. that said, i´ve discovered some new exciting designers, for the prices i was paying a few years back for maria cher, lupe, kukla, who are now firmly established and have got too big for their boots. lucuma is a lovely boutique with stores in las canitas, barrancas and various other locations around the city. most of the pieces are under 100 pesos and the designs are to die for. cuter than cute!

outlets: yesterday i checked out yagmour´s outlet upstairs in their cabildo branch. trousers (pants) for 39 and 49 pesos, t-shirts and singlets for 10 pesos. i also bought from the current range and thought the prices to be very reasonable, a gorgeous t-shirt for 38 pesos, shorts for 35.

caritas/roperitos - charity or second hand clothing: i went to the roperito run by the large church on cabildo going palermo way. there are some cool pieces and accessories and i bought a really cool 80s jean dress for 8 pesos and a vintage ring for 5.

my friend told me about the policy that some nightclubs work - amerika for instance charges 40 pesos for entrance but has a ´barra libre´ so unlimited alcohol consumption all night.

i am having so much fun! living economically and having fun at the same time IS possible........

however, i know it won´t hold out forever and sooner or later i know i will be blowing some serious wadge on some fantasy heels at mishka, ayres or paruolo, i just know it.
believe me, you SO don´t need to remind me about that little issue of the pound dropping in´s been hurting for a while now, not least in the last couple of weeks before coming when there was a massive slump.

alas, the good ol´days of 1:6 are but a dim and distant memory for now...
Yes it's quite painful the drop in the pound value, but i am happy as i have property here in dollars which i got when it was 2 USD to the pound, and now it's 1.48 USD to the pound so made a nice 25% on the currency - at least if i decide to sell amidst a crisis here i have some profit leverage on the currency, of which i currently have no intention of doing.
All the people who are considering moving to Argentina because they heard it was cheap need to realize this was 2 or 3 years ago. It's no longer cheap and if inflation continues even with the modest decline in the peso so far it will be considerably more expensive than most U.S. cities.

If you want to come to Argentina it should be for other reasons than the low cost of living.
my reasons are because i feel i belong here, having always felt l´etranger in london.

the rise in cost of living is a kick in the teeth but doesn´t deter me, frankly, i couldn´t have got much more depressed or poor in london, so the good weather coupled with the warmth and hospitality of the argentines and the yummy food more than make up for having to tighten the purse strings - to a certain extent - in contrast to previous visits and stays. i´m not bitter though. i just want to find contentment and everyone knows that ultimately money does not provide that....

I think you posted some good tips. I would add a few more:

- get your veggies and fruits from a grocery store that just sells that, supermarket veggies and fruits can be 50% more expensive on average.

- do not go for brand clothing, the quality is not what you are used to, even if it is the same brand: got to small boutiques that are not chains, you will find everything is a lot cheaper.

- if you are into the club scene, I can assure you that 80% of the ladies never pay to get in, once you paid once ask for " tarjetas sin cargo " or " tarjetas de descuento " for your next visit.

- do not buy water or sodas cold from kioskos, they charge you more for those.

- get your basic groceries from a chinese supermarket ( they always have better deals ) then, whatever you cannot find there, go and look at the supermarkets ( Coto and Carrefour are cheaper than Disco and Jumbo ) get beef at the supermarkets. Wines are cheaper at the chinese stores.

- get chicken and eggs form a " granja " - poultry store

- if you like to go out to restaurants, for lunch mon/fri they all have " menu ejecutivo " for really good prices ( avg 20 $ ) During the weekends and for dinner they are more expensive.

- On wednesdays the tickets for movies are cheaper at most theatres.

Can´t think of anything else atm, I will surely remember some more =)
...and one of the most wonderous, awesome and valuable things about having a 'documento' is...

getting dos por uno at Freddo's on a monday !!
Fishface said:
...and one of the most wonderous, awesome and valuable things about having a 'documento' is...

getting dos por uno at Freddo's on a monday !!

There is also a discount card from ( newspaper ) that very interesting deals ( I think you pay a small yearly fee ) that if you are into going to the theatre, movies, restaurants, clubs and bars is well worth it ( you need a dni to apply though )You can get it here:
In Cordoba St. (between Medrano and Serrano - Close to Plaza Serrano) there are many "outlets", you can find brands like Levis, Kosiuko, Ayres, Tucci, etc., and also children and baby stuff.

To get the "La Nacion" discount card, you have to suscribe to that journal, or to some magazines, like "Rollingstone", "Lugares", "Living", "Ohlala" and a few others.