Often referred to as “The Paris of the South”, the City of Buenos Aires is the capital and largest city of Argentina. With about 4 million residents in the city and 14 million in the entire metro area, Buenos Aires is the second largest metropolitan area of all South American and the 10th largest in the world.
Located on the western shore of the estuary of the Río de la Plata, on the southeastern coast of the South American, the city is divided into 48 barrios (neighborhood) for administrative purposes. This division was originally based on Catholic parroquias (parishes), but has undergone a series of changes since the 1940s. In modern times the city has been divided into 15 comunas (communes) as well.
Buenos Aires offers the refinements and culture normally associated with large historic European cities, combined with the Argentine culture of Tango and rough-riding Gauchos. An afternoon spent chatting with a bunch of spirited Porteños (residents of Buenos Aires) in a café or talking horses with a seasoned Gaucho in Patagonia, will help visitors to appreciate the Argentine’s fascinating culture of which they are justifiably proud.
Language: Spanish is the main language spoken in Argentina. Although quite a number of people speak some English, it is advisable to make an effort to learn the local language as quickly as possible. Preferably start your lessons before you arrive to Argentina. If you have learnt your Spanish in another country, you will notice some differences upon arrival, e.g. the use of vos instead of tu, the way they pronounce the Y or LL and some words might have different meanings. Your local Spanish teacher will explain all about this when you arrive.
Adaptation: Local attitudes towards expatriates are very good. People tend to be quite friendly and helpful with foreigners, whether referring to the work area or socially. A few of the challenges expatriates face when moving to Argentina are the same ones that they face when moving to any other country. – (Learning the language and trying to communicate with different people such as maids, sales persons on a daily basis; finding a good school for their children; making new friends, etc.). Although products the expatriates are used to buying in their country are often available, some products might be missing. But more specific challenges might be getting used to the driving pattern, especially in Bs.As.; coming to terms with the average Argentine not being punctual for social affairs; and realizing that simple things like opening up a bank account or waiting for service people takes more time than what they’re used to!
Customs: It is customary not to arrive on time at most social functions, especially dinner invitations, when the guests often arrive up to one half-hour late after the appointed time. Theatres, concerts, movies, business meetings and diplomatic affairs, however, start on time. It is interesting to note that in most restaurants diners do not arrive until at least 9pm and by about 11pm the place will be bustling and with more customers arriving to eat up until midnight.
Dress in Bs.As. is relatively formal. The styles are European and classic, and tend to be much more body-conscious than many expatriates are used to. Dress in the suburbs is a little more relaxed than downtown. Younger people, especially teenagers, are more informal. Almost all of them wear jeans and a T-shirt.
Security: As in any big city anywhere in the world, you should be cautious and aware of your surroundings. Although Bs.As. is a relatively safe city compared to other big cities in the world, there has been increase in petty crime. The rules to be followed are the same ones as for any other city: don’t be obvious with jewelry in public or on public transportation. Guard your wallet and handbag carefully, especially on the buses and at crowded events, change locks when you move into a new home, etc.
You should be extra careful particularly in touristy areas where foreigners may be targeted for pick pocketing or scams. Be alert and ignore people who try to approach you as they will strike when you are distracted. Be sure to make your visiting relatives and friends aware of this as well. If you have to rely on taxis for transportation, order one by phone or when you have to stop one on the street only use Radio Taxis. Also it is advisable to walk a few blocks before taking a taxi after you have taken money from an ATM. Most buildings have 24-hour security, and in the residential areas in the suburbs there are security services with remote monitoring and neighborhood street watchmen.
Accomodation/Lodging: If you are coming to Buenos Aires, be sure to go here, Hotel Reservation in Buenos Aires, to make reservations.