The International Living Podcast

Episode 43: Living in "The Paris of South America” for $1,000 a Month

September 20, 2023 International Living
Episode 43: Living in "The Paris of South America” for $1,000 a Month
The International Living Podcast
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The International Living Podcast
Episode 43: Living in "The Paris of South America” for $1,000 a Month
Sep 20, 2023
International Living

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This week, we're talking to International Living contributor, Greyson Ferguson, about his decision to expand his options and life experience with a move to Buenos Aires, the capital city of Argentina.

Like many others, the COVID pandemic and travel lockdown prompted Greyson to evaluate his life, take a look around, and make the push to live in a way he truly wanted, rather than settle for what simply fell into his lap. Greyson’s first move was to renovate a 1960s camper and set out across the United States in search of adventure and enlightenment.

With him came his dogs, and although they were a responsibility, the company and companionship they brought was more than enough to make up for any inconvenience. So much so, that when Greyson decided that it was time to look outside of the United States for the continuation of his adventures, he didn’t hesitate to bring them along.

Getting the dogs to South America was a story in itself. Stressful at times, and involving a mountain of paperwork, it didn’t help that one of Greyson’s dogs was an ageing pitbull. Ageing, and gentle, but nevertheless, a breed that’s banned from many countries. It narrowed the options a little, but after a stint in Peru, Greyson and the dogs now find themselves in Argentina, enjoying the sophisticated, European-style life of Buenos Aires—sometimes called the "Paris of South America."

With stylish cafés, vast outdoor markets, and with a huge range of international cuisine, life in Buenos Aires is as sophisticated as any European city. Using a currency-conversion hack known as the ‘blue dollar’ though, makes it much, much more affordable. Living large on $1,000 a month? It’s easy when you have blue dollars. In this episode, Greyson explains all.

Join host, Jim Santos, as he meets Greyson Ferguson in the latest episode of Bigger Better World.

Read Greyson's full article in the March issue of the International Living Magazine: "Blue Dollar" Delivers Bargain Lifestyle in Buenos Aires.

If you’re enjoying the podcast, we would really appreciate it if you could leave us a review on your favorite podcast platform: https://lovethepodcast.com/internationalliving.

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Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Send us a Text Message.

This week, we're talking to International Living contributor, Greyson Ferguson, about his decision to expand his options and life experience with a move to Buenos Aires, the capital city of Argentina.

Like many others, the COVID pandemic and travel lockdown prompted Greyson to evaluate his life, take a look around, and make the push to live in a way he truly wanted, rather than settle for what simply fell into his lap. Greyson’s first move was to renovate a 1960s camper and set out across the United States in search of adventure and enlightenment.

With him came his dogs, and although they were a responsibility, the company and companionship they brought was more than enough to make up for any inconvenience. So much so, that when Greyson decided that it was time to look outside of the United States for the continuation of his adventures, he didn’t hesitate to bring them along.

Getting the dogs to South America was a story in itself. Stressful at times, and involving a mountain of paperwork, it didn’t help that one of Greyson’s dogs was an ageing pitbull. Ageing, and gentle, but nevertheless, a breed that’s banned from many countries. It narrowed the options a little, but after a stint in Peru, Greyson and the dogs now find themselves in Argentina, enjoying the sophisticated, European-style life of Buenos Aires—sometimes called the "Paris of South America."

With stylish cafés, vast outdoor markets, and with a huge range of international cuisine, life in Buenos Aires is as sophisticated as any European city. Using a currency-conversion hack known as the ‘blue dollar’ though, makes it much, much more affordable. Living large on $1,000 a month? It’s easy when you have blue dollars. In this episode, Greyson explains all.

Join host, Jim Santos, as he meets Greyson Ferguson in the latest episode of Bigger Better World.

Read Greyson's full article in the March issue of the International Living Magazine: "Blue Dollar" Delivers Bargain Lifestyle in Buenos Aires.

If you’re enjoying the podcast, we would really appreciate it if you could leave us a review on your favorite podcast platform: https://lovethepodcast.com/internationalliving.

Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | YouTube

Jim Santos 00:09 
Hello, everybody, and welcome once again to Bigger, Better World. As we record this episode, I've just returned from the Ultimate Go Overseas Bootcamp that International Living held in Denver, Colorado. What a conference. The biggest ever. And I met a lot of wonderful people there. As I talked about the podcast, our life in Ecuador and our future travel plans and hawked my books and audiobooks available at Jimsantos.net, I met a lot of fans of the podcast at the conference, and I want to give a special shout out to some people who did video testimonials for the show. Tiana, Roy, Julie, Sean, and Dave, I hope you're listening, and thanks for your support. 

Now, today's show is very special for me as our topic is Buenos Aires, Argentina. Rita and I spent a fantastic weekend there, and we would love to go back and spend a month or two in this beautiful South American city.

Here to talk with us about his article in the March 2023 issue of International Living magazine entitled ‘Blue Dollar Delivers Bargain Lifestyles in Buenos Aires’, is IL contributor and the host of his own podcast, The Last Call Express, Mr Greyson Ferguson. Greyson, welcome to Bigger, Better World, and thanks for joining us today.

Greyson Ferguson 01:53 
Awesome. Thank you for having me. I'm really excited.

Jim Santos 01:56 
I'm excited to talk to you, too. My wife and I visited Buenos Aires and really loved it. Definitely want to go back sometime. So I was curious about where you came from and how you ended up in Argentina.

Greyson Ferguson 02:07 
Oh, that's a good question. So, originally, I'm born and raised from state of Michigan, and I've kind of lived all over the place. And then during COVID Pandemic hit, I'm not good at sitting still, right? And so I actually renovated an old 1960s camper and just kind of drove around the United States visiting national parks at the time. 

And I realized I just wanted to kind of keep going once I could, and so decided to just kind of leave the United States, and that's kind of how it went. And I ended up in Argentina because I had two dogs at the time, and I needed a place where it would be both affordable and I could easily bring the dogs to, and Argentina was perfect for that. One of my dogs is a pit bull, and some countries have very specific rules of you can't bring pit bulls in. And Argentina allowed everything, so it's like, all right, affordable. I'd been here before, and I loved it. And they allowed the dogs, so it just kind of checked all the boxes.

Jim Santos 03:14 
Now your article was about what you call the blue dollar of South America. Now we noticed during our trip this was, I guess, about six years ago, that you at least got a significant discount if you offered to pay in US dollars cash rather than charging it or using the local money. But this is something different from that.

Greyson Ferguson 03:34 
They call it a parallel dollar. Basically the inflation is so rampant here in Argentina that people can't spend their money fast enough because by next month it's going to be worth a considerable less amount. And so locals like to exchange their pesos for a stronger currency and the dollar is just easier to come by. And so oftentimes the blue dollar is about twice the value of what the exchange rate would be. 

Just to give you an idea for how inflation has been, I came here about 15,16 months ago and at that point the blue dollar rate was about 200 pesos for $1.02. Days ago I went to exchange some money and $1 was equal to about 750 pesos. So it's kind of exploding like that.

Jim Santos 04:39 
So this is an actual form of….

Greyson Ferguson 04:42 
I mean, people sometimes refer to it as a black market dollar, but it's perfectly legal. You can get it from Western Union. And like if you Western Union yourself US dollars to convert to pesos, that'll be the rate that you're getting—the blue dollar. It's a reference to an exchange rate that is different from the official exchange rate, if that makes any sense.

Jim Santos 05:10 
Okay, but this is something that you can go and get into banks or any place where you would exchange money.

Greyson Ferguson 05:16 
Yeah, you would not get it at a bank. If you went to a bank, you'd get the official rate, which I believe is about 300 some odd pesos right now. If you wanted to take advantage of the blue rate, you'd either have to transfer your money to yourself via Western Union. There are money kind of exchange people here that you do it with or they recently changed it for if you use a foreign credit card, you get something very similar to the blue dollar rate. So it's not quite as high of an exchange rate. But if you're visiting for a week and you don't feel like dealing with Western Union or going to a money lender or exchanger, you can use credit cards. But a lot of people do give you a discount if you pay in cash. But don't go to a bank and don't withdraw from an ATM, you're going to get the official rate and that'll cut your money in half, basically.

Jim Santos 06:14 
Well, that's interesting. It explains something to me. When we were in Ecuador, we bought a small investment apartment from an Argentinian and they insisted that we pay them in cash so that they could carry it back to Argentina themselves and convert it there. So I imagine they were doing something like that to get a little bit more bang for their buck.

Greyson Ferguson 06:35 
Absolutely. And a lot of larger purchases here you have to do in US. Dollars, which is kind of interesting. Like, if you want to buy an apartment, it has to be in US. Dollars because if they list the price in pesos, it'll be a different value tomorrow.

Jim Santos 06:52 
Right.

Greyson Ferguson 06:52 
And so they want you to pay in US dollars. And if you go to just a store and you're going to purchase something, you can do it with the credit card. But because of interest rates are so high on the credit card for these stores, they really want you just to pay cash.

Jim Santos 07:09 
Right.

Greyson Ferguson 07:10 
It's just easier. And then they can exchange it for a stronger currency faster.

Jim Santos 07:16 
Well, with the economy so volatile in that area right now, and I believe there's presidential elections coming up there soon.

Greyson Ferguson 07:24 
Yes.

Jim Santos 07:25 
Is this an issue in the elections? Do you think that the results of the elections might affect the way the blue dollar is being handled?

Greyson Ferguson 07:32 
Yes, absolutely. There is one individual, I'm drawing a blank on his name. He's kind of an outsider, but he's getting a lot of attention, and he wants to just scrap the peso altogether and put Argentina on the dollar. A lot of people around here, they are just kind of so sick of the two major parties that have been kind of running the show for so long that they are kind of like, what could we lose? It can't get any worse right now. 

So they recently had their primary elections, which all, I guess you'd call it, three parties run at the same time. And this outsider actually got more votes than anybody else. And so it's really looking like he very well could become the next Argentine president. And of course, you can't just switch a currency overnight. But if he won and enough people in the Senate supported this, then he really wants to push just scrapping the peso going to the dollar. And then there would be no more blue dollar or anything like that. It would just be all official at that point in time.

Jim Santos 08:44 
Right. That's something like what Ecuador did at one point. Just scrapped their own currency and went to the dollar.

Greyson Ferguson 08:49 
Exactly. It'd just be on a much larger scale, I guess.

Jim Santos 08:53 
Now, you mentioned that things are pretty affordable in Buenos Aires there, in spite of the inflation. Which kind of things are more affected by the inflation that are more expensive?

Greyson Ferguson 09:04 
If you're a local, everything is expensive. You'll go to the grocery store and everything will change prices weekly, almost. When I first got here, it was maybe once a month, you notice a little bit of changes, but now it's just every week something basic necessities are getting more expensive. But if you are coming here and you have US currency, everything is very affordable. Like, just for myself, I rent out an apartment that's fully furnished, has all the utilities, bills, everything's covered, plus all of my extra monthly expenses, going out to eat, doing activities. There's a lot of very affordable medical services. My monthly expenses are about $1,000 to $1,100 a month. And I'm not like pinching pennies or anything, it's just everything is cheap for me because I have US currency dollars. 

But if you're earning pesos…because just knowing people that work around here, they don't get raises or increases maybe once a year, and when the inflation is at 130% six months in, things are getting really hard. I hate to say it that it's good for me, but bad for them. But I guess that's just kind of the reality of it.

Jim Santos 10:27 
Is there any resentment that you feel for this?

Greyson Ferguson 10:31 
Surprisingly, no. A lot of people, they actually really want other people to come inside. I mean, to come and visit and just to bring their money and to spend money. Because for a lot of local shops and businesses, it's really the people that are visiting that have the disposable income, that are kind of keeping them afloat because locals don't have that extra money to spend. And so I was actually very surprised that there isn't more resentment. 

But Argentinians are very proud people, but they're tired of the government and they have completely accepted the inflation issue. And so they accept everyone tells me, tell your friends, tell everyone to come, please come. So, surprisingly, no. At least I have not experienced any resentment towards myself here.

Jim Santos 11:26 
Well, that's good to hear, because when we were there, that was the same impression that we had that their faces just lit up if you asked if you could pay in American dollars. So they were completely happy to have that put into their economy?

Greyson Ferguson 11:37 
Oh, yes, absolutely. I mean, normally I pay my rent in pesos, but if I have to go back to the States for visit family, I will come back with US dollars. And they're always so excited to be paid. It's like a few extra steps they don't have to take. And so they're just like, oh, thank you. It's like, hey, no problem.

Jim Santos 11:57 
Now, in the article you said you have a fully furnished apartment for $350 a month. In the Palmero neighborhood, which as I recall, is actually a pretty nice neighborhood.

Greyson Ferguson 12:07 
Yeah, it's very large, so there's some spots that are nicer than others. But yeah, it's not the most upscale neighborhood, but it's nice. Everything you need is right here.

Jim Santos 12:18 
I understand you had some difficulty at first finding an apartment.

Greyson Ferguson 12:22 
Yes, that was a nightmare, especially because I had pets, and so that made it even more of a challenge. But you have to go through a real estate agent to get an apartment. You can't just go to somebody, renting it out and ask if you could check it out. You have to go through like a Remax or something like that. And that was the biggest headache because it felt like I was kind of chasing… it's like trying to keep the attention of goldfish. You'd have to keep on reminding them, like, hey, I tell somebody, okay, I'm looking for an apartment that is pet friendly. And maybe a day later I'd get some reply. I mean, like some listings sent back to me and I'd be like, okay, I like this one. Does it accept pets? And they'd say, no, okay, I need one that accepts pets. And they'd say, okay, and send me new ones. 

And then it would just go back and forth for so long and then they know you were an outsider. They know you have money. So some places might try to take advantage of that. One place tried to get me to pay triple the security deposit and I just walked away from that.

But it was a massive headache, which is why I'm riding it out in this apartment for as long as I can. I do not feel like dealing with that because that was the biggest hurdle of just kind of settling down here, was just finding an apartment. Of course, if you don't have pets, I'm sure it'll be easier, but it's still something to consider.

Jim Santos 13:51 
Something else you mentioned in the article that I found interesting, because I've run into this in other countries as well, is that you had problems getting people to reply to email. But if you use the WhatsApp app on your phone, you get quicker responses. It seems to be interesting that that WhatsApp program has become like the number one international communication.

Greyson Ferguson 14:14 
Oh, absolutely. When I first got here, I sent some emails and then a couple of locals said, no, don't do that. You will never hear back from them. So yeah, WhatsApp is the way to go? Even the friends I've made here, it's all WhatsApp? You don't send texts. You don't use Facebook Messenger or anything like that. It's all just, I don't know, I guess how it is around.

Jim Santos 14:40 
I guess it's because you can use it anywhere you have WiFi. Yeah, but that's true of other apps too. I don't know what it is about it that just really caught on. But I noticed know making Airbnb reservations in other countries, they all want to know your WhatsApp.

Greyson Ferguson 14:55 
Whenever somebody says, I'm going to go overseas, I just tell them, make sure you download WhatsApp. Because they're not going to message you on anything else. So you got to have that.

Jim Santos 15:05 
So do you have a residency visa there?

Greyson Ferguson 15:08 
No. You're allowed to stay for 90 days. And basically it's almost the old school border run situation. You leave and you come back. So you have Uruguay a ferry ride away. It's about an hour if you want to do that. I've had immigration lawyers recommend not doing just a day run every 90 days. Because eventually immigration is going to look at your passport and just not like that.

Jim Santos 15:41 
Right.

Greyson Ferguson 15:41 
So I take the opportunity to just kind of visit neighboring countries for a week or two just to kind of grow my experience. Some of the residency and other visas are kind of difficult to obtain. It's just the bureaucratic paperwork gets bogged down. I know a lot of people that just have problems with that. 

However, for whatever reason, overstaying your visa or whatever is not illegal here. You can stay as long as you want and as long as you pay a fine when you leave, everything's fine. And the fine doesn't accumulate day by day. It's just a one flat fee. That's it. I think it equates to, like, $60. So I know people around here, they've overstayed for years, and then they leave, they pay $60, and then everything's good. 

So I think that's one reason why the area I'm in is kind of popular just with expats, not just from the United States, but from Europe. I have a friend that watches my dog. She's from Brazil, and she just does that. And it's actually cheaper for Brazilians that come to live in Argentina than to stay in Brazil.

Jim Santos 16:53 
Yeah, I was going to say, as someone who has gone through the whole residency procedure to get a valid legal residency in a foreign country, the idea of just paying $60 when you leave sounds really attractive.

Greyson Ferguson 17:06 
Yeah, I guess they just really want people to come and so, yeah, $60 is pretty nice. And yeah, like I said, it's so difficult to get some of these visas. And I think they have a digital nomad visa, but everyone I've talked to that's attempted to apply for has just kind of given up and gone the route of the either 60 day border run or just paying the 90 day border runs or paying the $60. They just said forget it. This is just easier, and it's less of a headache.

Jim Santos 17:42 
Right. No red tape.

Greyson Ferguson 17:43 
Yeah.

Jim Santos 17:44 
Now, for those who haven't been to Buenos Aires before, it's known as the Paris of South America, and it's a pretty large city, a lot of different neighborhoods, and each one seems to have its own flavor. Did you do much exploration of the city itself before you settled on Palermo?

Greyson Ferguson 18:02 
I walked a decent amount. I mean, I'm a walker. I'll walk anywhere. If it's pretty much under 2 hours, I'll just walk. So I like to just take it all in. And there were other areas of town I had my eyes set on that I really wanted to be in, but it really came down to who let me move in with the dogs. It was taking so long for an apartment, and I had an Airbnb that I only had a couple of days left on, so it's okay. When this place called me back and I just kind of walked through it five minutes, said, okay, let's just do it because I'm not having any other luck. 

So I've walked around, I mean, quite a bit in the last 16 months and visited different neighborhoods. But realistically, I kind of got stuck here just because it's where I was able to put the dogs.

Jim Santos 18:53 
Yeah, it's amazing how your pets can end up controlling your lives.

Greyson Ferguson 18:56 
Yeah, they dictate a lot. A little too much, I think, sometimes. But what are you going to do?

Jim Santos 19:02 
I did find it to be an extremely walkable city with a lot of coffee shops and things like that. Anytime you want to take a break, it seemed like it was no problem at all.

Greyson Ferguson 19:11 
Yeah, you're going to find a café just about every corner. So if you're into Lattes or Espresso, this is a fantastic spot. Every corner. I love walking. Although public transportation here, despite the financial problems, is exceptional, it's probably some of the best in the Western Hemisphere, and I'm including the United States in that it has a very excellent metro system. The busses all run on time, and it's extremely affordable. Even for locals, it's affordable. So if you're not a walker, you can still get around the city very easily.

 19:54.10 Jim Santos
Now, in your article, you brought up that the city has more bookstores per capita than any other city. I was also very impressed with the number of parks in the city.

Greyson Ferguson 20:04 
Oh, yeah. Parks everywhere. And some of them are massive parks. It's very green, which is one of the things that kind of drew me to the city. Besides the European-style architecture, it's just very green. A lot of the parks, they'll have little Ferris wheels for kids to ride on. There's dog parks. There's a little kind of park for everybody around here and some just in the middle of the city. You'll just be walking and oh… park. Okay. Which is nice, especially when it's hot. And I mean, it gets hot and sticky during the summertime, so it's nice to just sit down and try to cool off for a second.

Jim Santos 20:45 
What is the climate like throughout the year?

Greyson Ferguson 20:47 
So I lived in Savannah, Georgia, for a couple of years. I went to college in Savannah, and the weather, I feel, is very similar. The wintertime, it can get down into the upper 30s, low 40s, so it does get a little chilly. But the summertime, you're getting close to 100 degrees and very humid. Most people will say, don't visit Argentina in January because it's brutal, especially when my air conditioning wasn't working. So if you've been to maybe Jacksonville area, that kind of part of the United States, it's very similar to that kind of yearly weather.

Jim Santos 21:34 
So fairly mild winters, but it can get warm in the summertime. So I understand you have a podcast. The Last Call Express. Is that about living in Argentina or what's the subject of your podcast?

Greyson Ferguson 21:49 
No, it's more about just kind of the food and beverages you experience on travels along the way. Not necessarily your final destination, but just things as you're traveling through the local flavors that you might experience. Like, I just had a couple of guests on. I had a Brazilian barista. We just kind of chatted about coffee, which is I love coffee, so that was fascinating. 

I had an indigenous Bolivian woman talk about just kind of what food she likes, which was very interesting. You usually don't hear people talking about the delicacy of bull testicles and how much they like that. It's more kind of along those lines of just food and drink and try to cover stuff that you might not have access to back home. I like talking to just people from around the world and get their takes on different things. I'll be talking with somebody like a sake expert, and so I know nothing about sake other than I get it at a sushi restaurant.

Jim Santos 23:00 
Right.

Greyson Ferguson 23:01 
So it's kind of along those lines, basically.

Jim Santos 23:04 
Yeah. I think I'd be remiss if I didn't bring up beef.

Greyson Ferguson 23:07 
Ah, yes, fantastic. And very inexpensive.

Jim Santos 23:12 
Yeah. Some of the best beef I've ever had was in Uruguay and Argentina. It would really spoil you quickly if you're a beef lover.

Greyson Ferguson 23:20 
Yes. There's interesting thing that I've learned over the last month or two, but beef from Uruguay, in order to stand out from Argentinian beef, all of the cattle there is they don't get any of the hormone shots or it's all grass fed. It's all very pretty much as organic as you can get. That's Uruguay. So that's like their way to stand out from Argentina because they'd never be able to do it through volume or price.

Jim Santos 23:53 
Right.

Greyson Ferguson 23:54 
Fantastic beef. I mean, the Argentine beef is fantastic. I mean, I can get I think last I checked, a kilo of beef. So a little over two pounds, would be… I think it was like $3 a pound or something like that for excellent, excellent beef.

Jim Santos 24:10 
Right.

Greyson Ferguson 24:11 
Yeah.

Jim Santos 24:12 
Not just the price, it's the quality.

Greyson Ferguson 24:14 
Yeah. There's a restaurant, Don Julio's. It's probably the most famous steak restaurant, and it's still affordable, but you can find local places for a fraction of the price, and it's just as good. And so I don't know. Excellent beef anyway. And the wine, if you're a fan of malbecs, that's their style of wine that they produce here. So, yeah, wine and beef. That's the thing.

Jim Santos 24:46 
Now, how long have you been in Buenos Aires?

Greyson Ferguson 24:48 
Been about 18 months now.

Jim Santos 24:53 
18 months, yeah. Have you had a chance to do any traveling around other parts of the country?

Greyson Ferguson 24:57 
Not too much recently. I had some dog health issues that we were dealing with for a while. So I haven't been able to really get around too much outside of Buenos Aires. So I'm hoping once the weather, since it's wintertime right now, I'm hoping once the weather picks up because I do want to get down to Patagonia and take that all in. But currently, sadly no, just Buenos Aires.

Jim Santos 25:27 
Yeah, it's always back to the dogs, isn't it?

Greyson Ferguson 25:31 
Ahh, it's funny, I'm able to get somebody to watch them if I'm going to be gone for a couple of weeks, but if I'm going to be gone for two days, it's more of a challenge. The pet sitting services people don't want to come for two days to watch the dogs.

Jim Santos 25:45 
Are there any resources online that you can recommend for people who might be considering even just an exploratory trip to Buenos Aires?

Greyson Ferguson 25:53 
What I have found the most helpful is there's a Facebook expat group. It's Argentine Facebook expats. They are very great for answering any questions. They have entire sections on currency exchange, what to do, the best places to go. If you're going to do Western Union, there might be a discount code that you can use. They have information on finding apartments. It's really kind of a helpful just community. You can post a question and generally speaking you'll get an answer. But that has been the most helpful of everything because everyone that's in the group is living in Argentina, so they can give you a direct answer for all of that. I can actually look up that group. Buenos Aires Expat Hub, it’s called on Facebook.

That is by far the most helpful I have found. And they have an associated foodie thing too. So for anybody that wants to come try out the culinary style, they have excellent restaurant options for that as well. But I found that to be more helpful than most of the other resource websites out there. I always find myself returning back to Buenos Aires Expat Hub.

Jim Santos 27:07 
Excuse me, you really need to talk to people who are actually there, which is why we get so much good information from the show because we're talking to people who are actually living the life, not just looking it up and talking about it.

Greyson Ferguson 27:21 
Yeah, I mean, I tried to look up stuff through other portals and it just either it'd be outdated or it just wouldn't give you that nitty gritty that you really need to kind of get in and figure out what you're doing. Like to ride the Metro, you have to get something called a Subay card. It's spelled sube. And all the other websites just say, oh, get it. You can get it from one of the kiosks anywhere. Of course you arrive and none of the kiosks actually sell it. 

Trying to find a card that I could get on the Metro with was nearly impossible until I got onto the expat hub and they'd say, no, this is the exact spot you have to go to, or buy it from the airport. That's the easiest. And so they have the little tips that you're just not going to get from somebody that maybe hasn't been here in a while.

Jim Santos 28:13 
Now the official language is Spanish. Right? With kind of a smattering of Portuguese in there.

Greyson Ferguson 28:20 
The Spanish is odd. It's a challenge to kind of pick up. If you speak Spanish, you'll probably be able to get I have I might go out with a Venezuelan friend or a friend from Colombia, and an Argentinian person will speak to us, and I'll look to them for the translation and they'll just…I don't know. I don't know what they said. So it's great. But yeah, they have a very interesting dialect and they speak it with that Italian flair. So sometimes you just listen, you're like, Wait, are they speaking Italian or is it Spanish? And I get lost a lot of the times. 

But yeah, if you want a Spanish challenge—Argentina. Absolutely. I would recommend, if you're thinking of coming here, to use one of the local Spanish tutors because they'll be able to teach you the dialect and some of the different nuances that just don't exist in any other Spanish. And that's probably the most helpful.

Jim Santos 29:30 
Yeah, really, the Spanish differs sometimes just within the single country. The people in the city might speak a little differently from the people in the country, but yeah, Buenos Aires is kind of an extreme example of that.

Greyson Ferguson 29:42 
Yeah, but you're right. Once you get out of Buenos Aires, it's not as much of that Italian influence. So it's a little more laid back. You might be able to understand it a little better. But good luck.

Jim Santos 29:56 
Now, if you're looking at coming to Buenos Aires and you don't have pets that you have to worry about, is there any particular neighborhood that stands out as like an expat community?

Greyson Ferguson 30:08 
Let's see. You referenced Palermo. That's probably the largest neighborhood in Buenos Aires. And there's a lot of subsections, so you can go real niche. There is Palermo Soho, which is you got a lot of boutique, shops, restaurants, coffee places. That's probably one of the big expat communities. And Recoleta is if you feel like if you're okay with spending a little more money, that's probably the most attractive neighborhood. I'd say if you really like that wide avenues, grand European architecture, that's probably where you want to go. Again, it's a little more pricey, but it's kind of relative pricey. Might be get a two bedroom for $1,200 or something like that. Probably even less than that. But those are the two main expat neighborhoods. 

But if you want that bohemian kind of vibe, which some people love, that there's a neighborhood called San Telmo, which is very kind of festive. I enjoy it. There's a used English bookstore that I go to every couple of weeks, and that's my go to spot for the books because I know there's going to be English. And then there's a British pub right around the corner. So if you want to watch rugby or you just want a pint of Guinness or something, it's right there.

But San Telmo is much. More affordable. It's a little grittier FYI, but it's got a nice, cool, unique vibe to it as well. And like I said, much more affordable than Palermo or Recoleta.

Jim Santos 31:55 
Yeah. San Telmo is where the old market is, right? 

Greyson Ferguson 31:59 
The big market, yes. They have a massive street fair every Sunday, and it starts at the Pink House, which is their version of the White House, Casa Rosada. And then it just stretches for miles and it ends in this antique shops and there's lots of little kind of restaurants and everything. Even if I don't feel like buying anything, sometimes I'll just wander down there and it's fun just to see what people know, showing off down there.

Jim Santos 32:30 
Yeah, we visited the Sunday market and it was really something. Tango demonstrations out in the street…matter of fact, we found probably the best Indian food I've ever had so far was in San Telmo.

Greyson Ferguson 32:42 
Really? Okay, I'm going to have to take notes from you.

Jim Santos 32:45 
What you have to look for is right across from the market, the main entrance to the market. But yeah, maybe that's where it gets this Paris of Buenos Aires description, because it did seem like there were a lot of different cultures all around and each neighborhood seemed to have its own little flavor.

Greyson Ferguson 33:01 
Yeah, that's one of the nice things where I'd recommend just coming, getting an Airbnb for a little while and just kind of exploring the different neighborhoods, because everyone has their own unique taste for what they like, and chances are they'll probably find it in Buenos Aires. So it just takes a little exploring to figure out what you really want, I guess.

Jim Santos 33:24 
Well, what do you like best about living in Buenos Aires?

Greyson Ferguson 33:27 
Maybe it sounds strange, but just the city itself. I love to walk the city in the morning before everyone comes out. Granted, it's a later crowd, so people really won't start coming out till nine or ten. I like walking the city, just taking in this grand French architecture and just walking to the parks when it's not too crowded yet. And it makes you feel like you're in both Europe and South America at the same time, which is really what kind of drew me to it because I love architecture and I love that kind of Latin vibe that you get in South America. 

So being able to kind of just kind of wander the streets early and taking it all in. I mean, I've been here for going on two years and there's so much to see and just kind of wander and take it all in, and that's just something I love. And being able to sit and enjoy a coffee while everyone wakes up. Yeah, I guess that's my favorite thing. It's small, but I don't know, you feel at peace with it? I feel at peace with it, and so that's what keeps me waking up in the morning.

Jim Santos 34:41 
It's a big city, but the neighborhoods give it kind of a small neighborhood feel.

Greyson Ferguson 34:46 
Yeah, it almost feels like a bunch of little cities kind of just cobbled together in a way. And so you can kind of just take your time exploring the different neighborhoods and, yeah, it's really fascinating to see. Okay, this was the German neighborhood or yeah, this is where these immigrants came in, and it's very interesting, and there's always something new to explore. I feel like no matter how long you've been here.

Jim Santos 35:11 
Well, we've been talking about the other Big Apple, Buenos Aires, with Greyson Ferguson. He wrote ‘Blue Dollar Delivers Bargain Lifestyle in Buenos Aires’ for the March 2023 edition of International Living magazine. He also has his own podcast called The Last Call Express that you might want to check out. 

And if you want more info about Buenos Aires, do a search on the International Living website or check out my own short story on the weekend that Rita and I spent in BA called First Tango in Buenos Aires, which you can find at Jimsantos.net. Greyson, thanks for joining us on Bigger, Better World.

Greyson Ferguson 35:42 
Thanks for having me. It's been a pleasure.

Jim Santos 35:54 
The Bigger, Better World podcast is a production of International Living. If you enjoyed this episode and you'd like to help support the podcast, please share it with others, post about it on social media, or leave a rating and review. If you have an idea for an episode or a question you'd like us to answer, email us at mailbag@internationalliving.com. And don't forget to put podcast in the subject line of your email. That's mailbag@internationalliving.com. 

We created Bigger, Better World to help showcase the ideas we explore at International Living each month and grow our community of travel lovers, expats, and experts who believe, as we do, that the world is full of opportunity to create a more interesting, more international life. You don't have to be rich or famous to do that. You just need to know the secrets. And that's what we bring you at International Living. If you haven't become a member yet, you can do it today with a special discount offer for podcast listeners. You'll receive our monthly magazine, plus a bundle of special extras. You'll find the link in our show notes, or you can go to intliving.com/podcast. That's intliving.com/podcast.

Just a reminder bigger, Better World is going on the road. That's right. We practice what we podcast here. Rita and I are embarking on a nine-week tour of at least nine different European destinations, so be sure to follow our adventures on social media. 

Next week, I'm pleased to welcome back IL senior editor Susan Haskins, who will go over the ins and outs of what to do with your stuff when moving overseas. Until then, this is Jim Santos for International Living, reminding you there's a bigger, better World out there just waiting for you.


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