Cost of Living in Argentina

By - 28 September, 2011

The cost of living in Argentina has risen considerably over the last few years. Since the economic and political chaos which followed the country’s sovereign default in 2002, economic growth has returned to Argentina with the economy growing by over 40% since 2007.

The economy’s output per person (GDP per capita) has grown by a staggering 77% raising the living standard for millions of households. Booming export industries have created new jobs which have raised average incomes and boosted consumer spending. The result has been a rapid rise in prices over the last couple of years and so the cost of living has risen for both tourists and locals alike. Inflation is currently running at an eye-watering 9.7% – compared to say the UK where inflation is 4.5%.

At the time of writing one British pound gets you 6.5 Argentine pesos. In 2006 you would got around 5.90 for the same amount. One US dollar buys you about 4.2 Argentine pesos today; in 2006 you would have got 3.1 for the same amount.

Our comparisons in this article mainly look at the price in Buenos Aires. Generally, once you get outside of Buenos Aires it will be cheaper for many of the basics, such as food, wine, rent and going out, though more expensive for imported goods. Though there are some exceptions; Ushuaia, the southernmost city in South America, and ski resorts such as Bariloche, also have high prices due to the amount of tourism and can often be comparable to Buenos Aires.

Food and Drink

Food and drink is an area which has seen substantial price increases in Argentina. This is highlighted by The Economist’s Big Mac Index, which compares the price of Big Mac’s across the world, rebasing all prices to dollars and therefore making it easy to compare the price of a Big Mac in Argentina (which is $4.84) to say the US ($4.07). In fact, when you account for GDP per capita, Argentina has the third most expensive Big Mac in the World after Brazil and Colombia.

As with the main cities of Brazil, which we featured last week, the price of eating at upmarket restaurants in Buenos Aires is comparable with London or New York prices. However, it is also easy to find decent quality restaurants and bars that will sell steak, chips and wine at very reasonable prices. You will also find that local snacks such as choripan (spiced sausage in a roll), empanadas (fried stuffed bread) and empadas (oven-baked pies) are all very cheap and often the size of a small meal. Pasta and pizza are also commonplace with the price varying depending on the quality of the restaurant. Watch out for the 29th of each month, unofficially known as gnocchi day, where you will be able to get yourself a good portion of gnocchi for very little.

On the whole the price of meat is very reasonable. You can pick up 1kg of ground beef for as little as 20 pesos (about £3 or $4.70) or a whole chicken for around the same price. Grilled meat from the asado (barbecue) is common, with steak and ribs a speciality. A kilogram of pasta will set you back around 5 pesos (£0.75 or $1.20).

Housing and Utilities

Rent is high in Buenos Aires, and is comparative with the big cities of the USA and UK. The cost of a one bedroom furnished apartment could set you back around 2,500 – (£385 / $600) per month, rising to well over 4,000 as you drift into the plusher neighbourhoods of Buenos Aires.

Then the extras like internet connection, cable TV and a new cell phone will also set you back. Internet connection will cost around 85-145 pesos (£15-£23 / $20-$35) per month depending on the speed of the connection and the package that you select. If you are in a flat there may be arrangements in your block with an internet company so it may be worth asking about – this is common in Argentina.

Electricity costs around 60 pesos per month (£10 / $14) but if you have the air-con on constantly then your bills will rocket!

Entertainment / Going Out

The cost of going out will always depend on your tastes and how wild you want to get. You can keep your costs down by staying away from the tourist areas and visiting some local bars. A litre bottle of beer will set you back 5 pesos (£0.75 / $1.20), but in the swankier clubs this could cost as much as 40 pesos. Beer has become increasingly popular over the last few years and consumption now outstrips that of wine. If you are visiting at the right time of the year the “Fiestas de la Cerveza” (Oktoberfest) is highly recommended which is a great way to try out lots of different beers, be entertained for the whole day and is very reasonably priced.

If you’re in the mood for something a bit more relaxed then a trip to the cinema costs around 16 pesos (£2.50 / $3.80) or a meal for two in a nice restaurant with a bottle of wine will cost 150 pesos (£25 / $35), still much cheaper than the UK and US.

Day time entertainment such as museums can be free or in some cases around 25 pesos. Football is still mainly a working class sport in Argentina and is therefore unbelievably cheap. A ticket to see either River Plate or Boca Juniors, the two biggest teams in the country, can be bought for as little as 30 pesos (£5 / $7.40), though the atmosphere is definitely not for the faint-hearted!

Here are a list of various essentials converted to pounds, dollar and euros, to give you an idea of what prices to expect:

Everyday shopping items

Want to find out more about the cost of living in other countries in South America. See our other articles: Cost of Living in Bolivia, Cost of Living in Brazil and Cost of Living in Chile.


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