Moving abroad brings a certain amount of uncertainty and adventure. Here are some commonly asked questions about moving to Buenos Aires.
1. How did you find an apartment?
Short Answer: Craigslist.
Long Answer: Finding an apartment in Buenos Aires as a foreigner comes with a unique set of challenges. Rental agencies take advantage of the exchange rate, and short term rentals can be very expensive. To get a long term rental at local prices you need a garantia which is a type of legal endorsement to ensure protection of the property owner. This is very difficult to obtain, especially as a foreigner. If you are studying with a language school or TEFL course, they usually can arrange a short term apartment rental or home stay. I highly recommend doing this for the first few weeks of your stay. This will give you more time to learn the city and decide which part of it you prefer. Your BA lifestyle could vary greatly depending on the neighborhood.
Like everything in Buenos Aires, personal connections are a great way to find anything. There are also good online resources to find apartments.
I found my last two living situations on Craigslist, one of which was a shared house, the other a solitary apartment. For the house I lived month to month with no contract in a furnished room, expenses included and no deposit required. For the apartment I have a six month contract in a furnished apartment, I paid a deposit and I pay expenses. On Craigslist you can find a number of different options and situations, although searching for them is often a frustrating experience.
- Craigslist – Rentals, shared rooms of all varieties
- CompartoDepto – Rooms to rent in shared apartment
- AirBnB – Network of travelers and renters
2. Did you buy health insurance?
Short answer: No.
Long answer: I didn’t purchase any sort of health insurance when I came to Buenos Aires, and in retrospect I wish I would have, because I got sick far too often my first year here. Now I purchase insurance from Swiss Medical. They have hospitals and clinics all around the city. Some study abroad companies offer insurance options, which could be a good investment. Should you be unfortunate enough to end up in a hospital, prices are extremely reasonable compared to the USA, and you can pay with cash or credit card.
3. Is there a book of bus lines/subway information that you recommend?
Initially the bus system might be intimidating. I didn’t use the bus for a several months out of fear of ending up lost in a random neighborhood. Kiosks sell GuiaTs, which are small books that list all bus routes across the city. You can pick one up for a few pesos. The subway system is very easy to use and accesses most of the city. There are a few local websites that map out bus routes.
- GuiaT – A very useful book to travel with at all times, lists all bus routes
- ComoViajo – Online version of the GuiaT
- Mapa Interactivo de Buenos Aires – The Google Maps of Buenos Aires
4. How do you manage the cell phone situation?
I purchased a cheap cell phone from a local cell company Personal along with a prepaid chip. With this chip you can purchase cell phone minutes at any kiosk. This is a good short term option, but it is extremely inconvenient if you actually need to make calls on a regular basis. If you can get a local to set up a cell phone contract for you, you can use a cell phone as you would normally back home, but you have to sign a contract for at least two years.
5. Do I need a TEFL certificate? Can I make enough money teaching English to justify it?
Short answer: No and no.
Long answer: If you already feel comfortable teaching your native language, possess impeccable grammatical skills and have no moral qualms about lying on your resume, then you do not need a TEFL certificate. Personally I found the TEFL course provided me with a wealth of knowledge and experience that prepared me for the experience of teaching abroad, and for that reason, I recommend it. That being said, teaching English in Buenos Aires does not pay enough money to survive, so if money is an issue, try studying and teaching in a country like South Korea or China.
Thanks to reader Lauren S for the great questions!