Which things should I bring when I move from the US?


Aug 13, 2009
Hello everyone!

I'm moving to BA from the United States in a couple of weeks. (yay!) I'm beginning to pack and I want to do it wisely because I'm only bringing a suitcase or two. What sorts of things will be hard to find or expensive in BA and what will be easy or cheap? What should I be sure to bring with me and what should I leave behind?

I expect to stay in a hostel the first 10 days or so until I find a room in a shared apartment. I will be doing freelance work over the internet once I'm there.

Any advice you can give me about how to best use my limited suitcase space will be appreciated!


I just moved here a few weeks ago. Dress here is pretty casual during the day - jeans, a shirt, sweater and jacket in the winter, and city shoes (not a lot of people wear flip flops down here - but you do see it occasionally).

Definitely bring a messenger type bag WITH a zipper... something that you won't put down and isn't easy to get into - there's a lot of pickpocketing here. I just got my phone and camera stolen over the weekend from what I thought was a pretty protective bag.

As for other things, you can buy a hairdryer down here. I've heard States hairdryers fry when you plug them in. In the pharmacies, you can find most things from the States - good shampoos and conditioners and also razorblades etc. I'd recommend bringing any type of over-the-counter meds down with you though. They have different names here and usually different side effects.

And don't forget Peanut Butter.

Hope this helped.
hepdoll said:
Any advice you can give me about how to best use my limited suitcase space will be appreciated!
thanks, Liz
Electricity is 230V AC
Ipods in Argentina cost around double what they do in the USA.
Same thing with laptops, or small digital cameras.

Everybody is different, in terms of what they like, what they cant live without, and their tastes.

I never eat peanut butter, so the lack of it in BA doesnt bother me at all.

But I am a big fan of Good Earth sweet and spicy tea, and always bring down a couple of boxes when I come, as the local tea selection is very limited.
I bring a bottle of good whisky or bourbon with me- again, argentine selection is limited, and expensive.
I could not find a good small grater in BA to save my life- and I use one all the time for zesting, grating ginger, and fine grating cheese into omelettes. So I brought a $3 model from the USA.
I bring down CD's of american music, as imported CD's here can be very pricey- and trade them with argentinian friends for local bands, which sell their CDs for ten bucks or so. Lots of great local music here.

I dont have any particular fetishes about brands of personal grooming products, so I am fine with local production- but if you do, bring it.

In general, global mass market goods are USUALLY, but not always available. But at a higher price. For most products, be they food, cosmetics, or hardware, the local stuff is cheaper in price, about ten years behind in trendyness, and and lower in quality. So if you are a stickler for a certain brand of lipstick or shampoo, stock up.

However, I find it quite interesting to live locally, where ever I go. Nope, you cant get Barq's root beer, or Jones Soda in Buenos Aires. So I drink Terma- local, not very sweet, herbal soft drinks that really hit the spot, with a bit of ice, on hot argentine days. You cant get a decent donut, or a bagel. The tacos they sell are pathetic. But if you eat the local food, you find all kinds of interesting stuff that they dont have in the USA. Roquefort and corn empanadas, Bondiola sandwiches, french fries with onions and garlic, alfajores, pumpkin tartas, fuggazetta y faina, pastel de papas- there are all kinds of great discoveries to be made.

Same thing with shoes, or clothes. Nike shoes are very expensive here- but you can get a really cool pair of Carpincho leather loafers for a quarter the price of imported Nikes. Local designers make interesting stuff, cheap, or you can buy imported euro styles for triple what you are used to paying. Leather goods in general are higher quality, and can be reasonable if you shop around. Virtually all leather in the USA today, coats to sofas, is chinese pigskin. Argentine cow leather is much nicer, and cheaper.
The shoe industry in Argentina is a gem. Small designers can actually get a dozen pairs of shoes made, in a custom design. This small scale is unheard of in the USA, or in europe for less than 500 Euros or so. But all over BA, you find small boutiques who have womens shoes for 200 to 400 pesos that are totally unique to that store. We have had probably ten different US women friends down- none has left with less than 3 to 5 pairs of new shoes.

A lot of the best deals here are antiques. My wife bought a pair of art deco, 80 year old, 1/4 carat diamond earrings at the San Telmo flea market last year, generally considered to be the most expensive flea market- for around a hundred bucks. Got em appraised in the USA later, they said probably $400 to $600 there. Vintage clothes are rarer, but old watches, jewelry, books, fur coats, knickknacks and fountain pens, advertising novelties, furniture and seltzer bottles- all kinds of real things made the old fashioned way are for sale here for a fraction of US antique store prices.
I have an apartment, so I can buy furniture- and the furniture pickings are marvelous- amazing stuff, very cheap.

My advice is bring empty bags. Thats what I always need, when I am returning to the USA, as I have bought so much stuff.
Technology, technology and technology and technology accessories. There is a (completely ridiculous) technology tax here so laptops, MP3 players, camera, phones, etc, whatever you use are much more expensive here than in the US. If you play music, strings, instruments and things are much more expensive here too. Anytime I go through Europe or the US I send an email around to friends here asking for requests and I always get loads of replies. You have great advice from Ries. Good luck with the move!
Good walking shoes, 2 pair so you can trade off. There's lots of walking and discovering to do in BA, and someone said people don't wear flipflops, but I found that both myself and my husband wear them a lot in the summer, it's really hot and humid.
I would say that you need to have an unlocked cell phone that is compatible here. You can pick them up on EBay for $30.00. (Motorola V195 or V197)

I bought 2 the last time I was in the USA after having one take a bath here. It was the cleanest unusable cell phone that I ever owned. But for the price of replacing the cell phone here I could buy 2 in the USA and have money left over for a couple of trips to Starbucks.

This Expat can not live without his This Expat can not live without his Ipod Touch here as it allows him to access his email accounts, internet, podcasts and ebooks where ever he can get free WIFI. It is small enough to keep safe from the pickpockets.

If you have a prescription for glasses or medication you should bring a copy of those as it will save you from having to be examined down here.

On a personal level...woman to woman...if you don't like OB tampons....or pads that are basically panty liners....stock up on your favorite brand. OB owns the market here...once in a great while you can find kotex tampax...once in 3 years for me :(

If you like spicy food ...bring your own hot spices....favorite tea brands....good cotton anything is hard to find here...and in the Summer you will want cotton!!

I could go on..but with limited space as you mentioned...better stop!

Safe journey!
Bring as much cash in dollars as possible, or as much as you are comfortable to carry. It comes in very handy for putting down deposits for apartments and paying rent. Wish I'd brought more me'self....

g'luck! :)