Pros/cons of areas to live?


Apr 9, 2008
Hello all,
I am moving down to B.A. for a few months in a few weeks and have been perusing message boards, travel books, etc. to learn more about expectations. One thing which doesn't seem so clear is the pros and cons of where to live, esp. based on basic profiles of people and what fits them best. Was wondering if I could get anyone's thoughts on this -
As far as I can tell -
Palermo (Soho, Viejo) & Recoleta are the upscale nice areas. Seems like this is attracting mid-career professionals who want some quiet, families, retirees. Palermo is much more like an American suburb, Recoleta could be more noisy (annoyingly noisy?)
San Telmo: A bit more dodgy in the evenings (how much more dodgy?) Cheaper, more central - could be a bit more noisy. Attracting more young single people in their 20s, artists, students, etc.

Is this a fair characterization? Any advice on a reasonable area to live for a single guy in late 20s coming to learn Spanish and take a break from his career? Sounds like San Telmo is more right for someone like me... Palermo seemed the obvious choice but seems a bit too... patrician? sedate?
It does sound like you might like San Telmo.
Recoleta is kinda like downtown Beverly Hills, or MonteNapoliano in Milan, in some areas, but it can change in a block. It does have a lot of fancy womens clothes stores, and polo suppliers.
There are a lot of Palermo's- but none of them bear any resemblance to any American Suburb I have ever seen.
I live in what I call Palermo Sweatervest- where, once off the busy main drag of Sante Fe, with its shoe stores, lingerie stores and Mall, you see old guys in sweatervests. 5 to 10 story buildings, lots of kids, dogs, and little stores selling essentials. I can go all day without hearing english and its fine with me.
Palermo Soho is lowrise, art deco houses, trendy nightclubs, fancy stores, and beautiful jetsetters, exotic cocktails, up to the minute graffiti, good, expensive food.
Palermo Hollywood is more money, less street presence, with new 25 story condos with pools on the roof, TV studios, fancy restaurants, but still lots of seemingly empty, yet to be flipped houses and stores. Rumor I heard is that is where Coppola bought. Of course, just past the expensive mid century modern antique store is the actual flea market. Its never far from the gutter to the stars in BsAs- thats one of its charms.
And in between, and all around, are much more interesting average BsAs neighborhoods. Villa Crespo,Collegiales, Barracas, Boedo, lots of the Microcento, Once, Caballito, parts of Belgrano- all would be fun and interesting to live in. But if you want to live around other expats, its probably San Telmo or Palermo Soho- those are kinda the "hip" places to be.

I would recommend soaking it up for a week, wandering and staying in a hotel, before commiting.
I totally agree with Ries. Come down and take at least a couple of weeks to figure out what suits what you're looking for. That's what I've done. Actually, for a couple of months, you won't spend that much more if you live one month in one area and the next in another. Then you'll really get a feel for each.

To add to the discussion:

Palermo has all the hip spots to eat and drink, all the shops, etc. I wouldn't call it a suburb, I'd call it more like Soho or The Village in NYC. And loaded with restaurants.

San Telmo is definitely a little more "rougher". Not quite as polished up (with the exception of the numerous antique shops). Kind of think like Lower East Side or Williamsburg in NYC. However, it's south of the city and farther away from the other nicer neighborhoods, which tend to be to the north.

Hope that helps.
Recoleta is not particularly noisy. It all depends on the street. Avenues Santa Fe and La Herras have the most traffic and its wise to stay north of Ave Santa Fe. The back side of the cemetery Recoleta is home to a few strip club/escort service/sex hotels that are open until 5 AM, but the "heart of Recpolets is relatively quiet. Palermo Soho is trendy, but offers fewer rentals as there are few high rise apartments. It also a bit distant form the subway. Just about every other street in BA is a bus route and the buses ARE noisy. Also, you can find a place on a beautiful tree lined boulevard (such as Charcas in Palermo), but the boulevards attract lot of dog walkers. This results in noise (starting early in the morning) and odor (the vast majority do not clean up after the dogs...and this is universally true of the professional dog walkers).San Telmo, in a word, is Bohemian...and more. It might prove interesting for a place to start, and its fine for a day-trip, but the Palermos and Recoleta offer more services (and grocery stores) and safer environs. I have witnessed several daytime robberies in the streets and inside one restaurant in San Telmo. A San Telmo store owner who is a friend of mine was robbed in the (one) grocery store at 5 in the afternoon.

If you rent a "contrafrente" (back) apartment you can expect it to be quiet, but no matter where you rent, there is always the possibility of a noisy neighbor, either above or below,,,or even in an adjoining building.
Dude, if I were a single guy in my late 20s, I'd head straight to Palermo.
As big and varied as Palermo is, I would suggest you check it out before making any long term commitment. Stay close to Av Santa Fe and "below" the Botanico and you'll be well positioned to enjoy the city. Just about any area to the north of Av Santa Fe is OK. Palermo Soho is to the south of Santa Fe, but its certainly worth considering.
I live in Avellaneda, yes this is one of those places where I'm probably the ONLY American (native English speaker anyways) living in this city of 326,000. I really like it here and the people are very friendly and helpful. I've been traveling back & forth between the States and Argentina since 2005, just moved here for good to be with my finance this January. Here are my outtakes on the area that I'm living in. Pros: It is a 10 minute's drive to 9 de Julio in Capital Federal. Very quiet, the neighborhood reminds me a lot of Brooklyn. Surprisingly, Pavon Ave is only 2 blocks away and it is one of the busiest streets.Down to earth people, more friendly, and less snobby than the porteños, help is there when I need it. Avellaneda is not dangerous at all, the streets may be dark at some parts of the city but people here are hanging out at the coffe shops and restaurants on Mitre Ave. as well as Alsina Square. I was walking home through my neighborhood on the dark streets after a photo shoot (full of equipment with me) and made it home without a hassle after getting off the colectivo. Today I was walking through Avellaneda Cemetery, which was supposed to be a "scary" area, so they say... I see nothing dangerous about it and absolutely nothing happened to me while I was walking through there.
Food is more down home and prices are more down to earth compared to what's offered at Capital, which is prepared for tourism. I've eaten REALLY good Argentinian food for a lot less than I normally would in Capital.
Not a tourist trap. San Telmo is shady for a good reason, they know that many tourists would be out there, so it is a haven for thieves and pickpockets. I've never been mistaken for a tourist since I've been here in 2005. I've become more assimilated just from the exposure to the people living here, plus I'm becoming quite popular with the people in my neighborhood since moving to Avellaneda from Hollywood, CA earlier this year.
ConsNo English spoken here. You have to learn Castellano FAST!!! I've studied Spanish for 4 years and I thought that this would be a walk in the park... Boy was I wrong, it takes a while to get used to the dialect here and I'm still learning and trying to get used to it. The rate of speech plus the dialect makes it that much difficult to comprehend. I've had easier time understanding Mexicans than Argentinians.
Not as modern as Capital, then again, not as noisy either. Where I'm living in is at par with most of the neighborhoods in Capital minus the inflated costs and the VERY upscale neighborhoods, like say... San Isidro, Belgrano, Recoleta, etc...
Several areas of this city observes the "siesta" hours, as opposed to Capital, where things are constantly going on throughout the afternoon and evening.You have to travel to Capital to buy certain things. I blew the power supply for my 15 minute battery charger and had to travel to Barrio Norte to find an alternative source for a fix. Overall I am content with where I am. I have most of the modern things here with me, I'm just praying that none of the things i have here breaks since some of the electronics that I have here, like my professional camera equipments, are too new and if it ever breaks, and god forbids, I will be without it for a month or two until the parts arrive. FYI, I've learned it the hard way by breaking the hot shoe of my 580ex II while shooting a melee at Plaza de Mayo during the farmer's strike 2 weeks ago. I had to order the parts from the US and have my family send it to me when it arrives.
I'm starting to blend in with the people here and starting to do the things that they do and think like them. Heck, I'm starting to drink mate on a regular basis and my dinner time has shifted from 6:00 PM to 9:00 or 10:00 PM, these are just a couple of examples. I'm STILL looking for a Catholic church that offers English services... anyone with that info would help. Anyone that would like to be in touch with me may also do so, or if you want to see Avellaneda for yourself.
Thanks, MikeAdding to the pros: You can smoke anywhere, even inside the malls & restaurants, you can't do that in Capital and of course inside all government owned buildings, provincial government buildings are not exceptions.I am a walking distance from 2 major soccer stadiums, Independiente and Racing. At the moment, Independiende is renovating their stadium so they are playing at Racing Stadium for now.
There are trains that run all night from Contitucion to the other parts of the outskirts of Capital.ConsNo connection to Contitucion from the Subte after 10ish PM, not a big deal, I can always call for a remis to come for me.
Mike, if you ever find that Catholic Church with English services, please let me know I have been searching for one for the longest time. Travel is not going to be a problem for me.Thanks,G.
Hi Mate, like you, i'm also looking to spend a little time in BA before finally committing. I spent a few days there back in Feb / March and have always felt Sth America to be spiritual home. It would appear that we share the same challenges/issues as far as location and language are concerned.
It would be good to maybe talk it over with someone of the same mindset. I've just joined here, and as i check my email far more regularly, if you feel comfotable, please feel free to email me directly: [email protected]
Today i've been checking the availability of flights around the end of April from the UK.
Ps. a note to all: Does anyone have experience / knowledge of the medical service provided in the city (should the unforeseeable happen)?
"adeben" said:
Ps. a note to all: Does anyone have experience / knowledge of the medical service provided in the city (should the unforeseeable happen)?
I've been here for a while and I have just joined up too. Medicine is socialized here, but if you want better, you can get your own medical insurance. I have Vittal, which covers me throughout Argentina. You can get information at