In my little series on practical information for foreigners wanting to live in Buenos Aires, it is now time for the “doesn’t really fit anywhere else but good to know”-section. Random bits of advice for happy living in this city!
- Work from home. Buenos Aires is a wonderful city, but as any large capital there is a lot of traffic. This means that if you can work from home, you will save yourself time and aggravation. I consistently say that public transport is good here, and I really believe that, but it is still nice not to have to be packed together on the Subte every morning.
- If you can’t work from home, live close to work. (Both of these points of course require a somewhat perfect world where you can simply decide what you want to do and where housing prices are of no concern!) This way you can walk to work or rely on a short commute. When I lived in DC, I walked to work, it was 35 minutes and a nice stroll. I think anything up to 40-45 minutes is fine, and a 40-minute walk is much less stressful than a half hour bus ride. My favorite thing with walking is that you know exactly how long it will take – traffic doesn’t slow you down.
- If you can’t work from home or live close to your work, ride your bike! Buenos Aires has quite a lot of bike lanes now and the network keeps expanding. There are also a few helpful rules in place, for instance, parking garages must keep your bicycle for a very low price.
- Avoid the Línea D on the Subte. This is just my personal preference – it seems to be way more packed than any other metro line, and the wagons seem smaller to me. I usually say that rush hour in Buenos Aires is from 15:00 until 20:00 but on the Línea D you might find yourself completely sandwiched in at 11:00 in the morning as well. The reason is of course that it goes through heavily populated areas like Palermo and Belgrano, where there are lots of tall buildings and new ones pop up every day. Sometimes I have taken the Línea D at five or six in the afternoon and once I had to wait until the 3rd train to get on, and this was at the starting point of the line! In the morning, coming into the city, if you live closer in to the city, it is very difficult to get on.
- Shop in your small local stores. For some reason, checking out at the super market in Buenos Aires always seems to take longer than necessary, while at my local verdulería or dietética things always move smoothly. I go to the supermarkets sometimes, to stock up on the basics, but usually limit it to once a week. I do, however, usually avoid the Chinese supermarkets, as the ones close to me have high prices and sometimes expired good.
- Research restaurants. There are lots of fantastic restaurants in Buenos Aires, but there are also a lot of mediocre ones. Of course we will all stop by random places from time to time, but if you want something special, check out a few reviews or ask your friends for recommendations. I do, however, love the big restaurant on the corner, where everyone in the neighborhood goes, but I love it for the atmosphere, not the food! 🙂
- Smile! As in many big cities, people often hurry along and don’t look all that friendly. Shake it up by smiling! All sorts of nice things will come of that.