US Expats In Buenos Aires - Expat Interview With Amber

Published: 30 Nov at 1 PM
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Filed: Interviews,Argentina
Amber and Sandro decided it was time to stop talking about traveling and start doing it. They spent a year in their hometown, Philadelphia, PA, researching a move to Buenos Aires, saving money, selling off all their stuff, and practicing Spanish. They landed in Argentina in October 2012 and haven't looked back. They spend their time swapping new-comer stories with other expats, relaxing in the park, co-working with freelancers, and drinking Fernet. Amber blogs att Buenos Aires or Bust! (see listing here) where she offers travel tips, up-to-date local information, restaurant and event reviews, and personal reflections.

Buenos Aires or Bust!

Here's the interview with Amber...

Where are you originally from?
I was born and raised in Ventura, California, a beach town an hour north of LA. I lived in Philadelphia for the past ten years, so that feels like home too.

In which country and city are you living now?
Now I'm in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

How long have you lived here and how long are you planning to stay?
I've lived here for a month now. I came intending to stay for a year, but I think I'll head out in March to explore more of South and Central America.

Why did you move and what do you do?
I am a freelance writer, so I can do my job from anywhere with an internet connection. I moved because I had finally given myself this kind of freedom. Inspired by Latin American studies in school, a love of language learning, and my boyfriend's Spanish teacher/world traveler parents, we chose Buenos Aires for it's buena onda.

Buenos Aires or Bust!Did you bring family with you?met
My boyfriend and I are here together. Unfortunately, the cat stayed in the States!

How did you find the transition to living in a foreign country?
It's been really fun and really hard. Every day things change in Argentina; prices rise on everything, transportation union workers strike, fruits and vegetables appear and disappear from the shops, it's sunshine and rain. But there is always something to do; a street fair, a picnic, a wine tour, a futbol match, I could go on and on. It's a challenge but a worthy one.

Was it easy making friends and meeting people; do you mainly socialise with other expats?
Making friends in BA is so easy. There are so many great people here who want the opportunity to share their stories. I've met fellow expat bloggers out for coffee, barflies out for a hometown game and a pint, and local friends of expat friends at asados at 3 am. They are what make the transition to living here so much smoother.

Buenos Aires or Bust!What are the best things to do in the area; anything to recommend to future expats?
The best thing about BA is the Bosques de Palermo, the mini-Central Park. It's blocks and blocks of grass, trees, a lake, a rose garden, and a track. Go on a Sunday if you like mingling with hundreds of locals, sipping mate in the shade, and people watching. During the week there will be more space for a jog around the track, renting bikes or rollerblades, or enjoying the seasonal flower blooms.

What do you enjoy most about living here?
I love that most shops are boutique style. There are grocery stores, but you'll find a butcher, a baker, and a candlestick maker on every block! These small, specialty stores are generally less expensive than the grocery and offer a wider variety. We'll get cured meats and cheeses at the fiambreria, fresh seasonal produce at the verduleria, and empanadas hot out of the brick oven at the tienda on the corner.

How does the cost of living compare to home?
By the time you read this, my answer will be outdated! The inflation rate in Argentina is through the roof. I visited a year ago for ten days and the prices were an average of 15% cheaper than Philly. This year, it's at least that much more expensive. I'd say the apartment rentals still rival Philly ($800-1200 USD for a decent 1 bedroom), but everything else is closer to New York prices ($3 for a bottle of water).

Buenos Aires or Bust!What negatives, if any, are there to living here?
The inflation, obviously. It makes living here long term seem difficult.

If you could pick one piece of advice to anyone moving here, what would it be?
Be up for a challenge. BA is a huge, cosmopolitan city with great people and first world luxuries. But municipal and social systems don't always work the way you might expect them too (most places don't take credit/debit, you can't get high end electronics or decent peanut butter, the event you go to may have been cancelled without notice). So be open to slowing down and the fact that all plans are tentative. Since I have accepted this, I have been able to enjoy the change of pace and excitement of uncertainty.

What has been the hardest aspect to your expat experience so far?
These very challenges. Otherwise, it's been awesome.

Buenos Aires or Bust!What are your top 5 expat tips for anyone following in your footsteps?
  1. Bloggers can be more helpful than the travel sites in offering first hand, honest information. Get in touch and ask questions.
  2. Learning the language goes a long way in smoothing out day to day interactions. Do the best you can and the locals will appreciate it.
  3. Save money so that when unexpected expenses come up, and they will, you'll be prepared.
  4. Make friends who are in the same boat by attending expat events or striking up conversation with same-language speaking people you see out. As much as you'd like to immerse yourself in the culture by meeting locals, these people will offer a dose of familiarity when you need it.
  5. Enjoy it. If you can live and travel and learn abroad, you're lucky and you deserve to have a really great time.

Tell us a bit about your own expat blog.
I started Buenos Aires or Bust over a year ago when we decided to move to BA. I write to offer an honest, current account of what it has been like for us to make this move. My blog chronicles a year of preparations and research and a month so far of practical how-tos, restaurant and event reviews, and personal reflections. Other BA blogs were so helpful in providing information for my move that I hope to do the same for people who come after me.

How can you be contacted for further advice to future expats coming to your area?
Email me at ambernatashareeves{at}gmail{dot}com or follow me on Twitter @holaesambre.

Amber blogs at which we recommend a quick visit if you haven't been already. Buenos Aires or Bust! has an listing here so add a review if you like! If you appreciated this interview with Amber, please also drop her a quick comment below.
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