Debt-Free and Living Well on $1,100 a Month in Argentina

I learned years ago tapping your computer screen does very little to help improve bank account numbers. Because trust me, I tried. Repetitive tapping… praying… Jedi mind tricks… none of it worked.

So, with student loans to pay, two dogs to look after, a mountain of other debts, and my income dragging far behind my skyrocketing apartment costs… I needed to find a way to make the money I had go further.

Which meant I needed to move somewhere extremely affordable. But I couldn’t find anywhere in the U.S. where I could live both cheaply and well.

That’s when I decided to start looking outside the U.S.

After some searching, I found a city with a European flair, where I knew I could live well and still achieve my financial goal. Plus, it was in a country that was easy to bring my dogs to.

Moving here was the smartest financial decision I could have made.

My expenses are $1,100 a month. Total. For everything. That covers a one-bedroom, fully furnished apartment, with utilities and internet included. It covers my food and the occasional doctor's visit.

The cost of food itself is especially affordable. In general, groceries cost just a small fraction of what I would have paid in the U.S.

Full Guide to the Cost of Living in Argentina here.

The other day I bought two pounds of Argentina porterhouse steak and it cost just $3! (That’s because the country I chose to live in is in fact Argentina—the beautiful European-style capital city of Buenos Aires, to be exact.)

Going out for dinner in Buenos Aires doesn’t cost much either. I can easily find a pub to grab a burger and beer for $3-4, and dinner at Don Julio (the most well-known, albeit overrated steakhouse in the city) for two, including appetizers and wine, costs less than a meal for one at Outback Steakhouse.

Not long ago I needed a Plasma Rich Platelet injection (PRP). If you're not familiar, it’s the process of drawing some blood, having it spun so the plasma separates, before injecting the plasma back into the body to improve healing. In the States, the procedure often costs upwards of $1,100… I paid $30.

With my new low cost of living, I’ve managed to pay off nearly all of my non-student loan debt. I’m halfway through a Master’s Degree (I’m saving enough money elsewhere in my monthly expenses I can pay out-of-pocket for the U.S. university program), and I’m working on putting money aside for a future home.

Whether that’s in the U.S. or another location is still debatable.

Of course, so much of life is a tug-of-war. While I’m saving so much money living here, it can be harder to make local friends here than in other countries I’ve visited.

In Peru, Bolivia, Colombia, and Paraguay, people are often trip-over-their-feet friendly and looking for any way possible to help out. That hasn’t been the case here.

That’s not to say people aren’t friendly in Argentina. Instead, I’ve discovered Argentinians maintain very small, tight-knit social circles. There’s a small circle for family, another for school friends, another for work, and so on. These small circles don’t overlap and they rarely expand.

So, forging a true friendship with locals can prove challenging. I would recommend signing up to expat Facebook groups like Buenos Aires Expat Hub or Foodies Buenos Aires. These are both good groups for connecting with other expats in the city, which could be your best option to build a social circle when you arrive. They often host organized meetups, and the forums on the pages are helpful with general questions you may have.

In the end, Argentina, like most other destinations, is all about what you make it.

I’ve chosen to make it my financial haven. A place I can live comfortably while paying down debt and handling expenses I had no opportunity to pay down while in the United States.

I’m not sure how long I’ll stay in Argentina,, but I do know moving here was the best financial decision I ever made.

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