The dollar might still be on the rise, but that’s no reason to overspend while on vacation, studying abroad or living in Buenos Aires. Money saving tips that work in the U.S. are not necessarily going to fly in Buenos Aires, so here are some suggestions to help you make that fat dollar last just a little bit longer.
Tips on grocery shopping:
1. Those shopping at the big chains such as Disco, Carrefour and Jumbo are spending almost double the amount they could spend at the little local smaller market aka “Chinos”. The most economical supermarket is Dia. It is open when everything else is closed on holidays and during the siesta hours. The stores are ugly and the employees hate their jobs, but the food is very well-priced. They don’t have a meat counter, but they do have fresh fruit and veggies. You can ask for a “tarjeta Dia” which will offer you extra savings.
2. Canned food is very expensive and can be twice the price of the real deal. A can of corn sells for about $10 pesos and for that amount you can usually buy 3 or 4 ears of fresh corn.
3. Corner fruit and veggie markets generally offer lower prices than the big super markets and can be found every few blocks. Check sidewalk chalkboards for special promotions or sale items.
Tips for eating out:
1. My favorite coffee in the city is sold by the vendors walking the city. You can spot them by their metal cart with steel thermoses and paper bags of sweets. From these vendors, you can order coffee (with or without milk and sugar) and you will be promptly provided with a piping hot cup of joe. Ojo! Many serve very sweet coffee if you ask for sugar. This is also a great chance to try out your Spanish if you’re a beginner. Really, you only need to say a few words, “Quiero un café” (I want a coffee) and be able to understand the price when the vendor replies. They might ask, “con leche” (with milk) or “con azucar” (with sugar), to which you can respond with a simple “sí” or “no.”
2. Sidewalk parillas (grills) are the best deal in town. Are they safe to eat at? If you can see the meat being cooked, it’s safe. No self-respecting porteño would ever cook or sell bad meat.
3. Hot dog huts are hot in Buenos Aires and offer a cheap snack. They are little hole-in-the-wall restaurants that usually have a high counter to sit and eat. Panchos, as they are commonly known, are offered with a variety of salsas, such as four cheese and mayo with various chucks of veggies or ham. These panchos and super panchos are not exactly Hebrew National, but they are safe and quick to eat on the run. This does not go for the sidewalk pancho stands. There was recently a police raid where many strolling vendors were detained for not having changed the cooking water in weeks or months.
4. Pizza joints are a dime a dozen. Getting cheap deals for pizza in Buenos Airestarget, some for less than $30 pesos is indeed possible. Check out Fabrica de Pizza, Zapi’s and Ugi’s for some inexpensive pizza deals.
Tips for buying furniture and appliances:
1. I would like to thank Craigslist.org for basically setting up my life in Buenos Aires. Aside from helping me find my first few shared houses, it has also been helpful in terms of finding well-priced furniture and appliances. Check out their “For Sale” section and you’ll find lots of foreigners selling everything they’ve accumulated during their stint in the big Buenos Aires. Many posts are online moving sales and the sellers want to get rid of their stuff and quick. They are occasionally open to negotiations and will certainly let you go take a look at the item before buying.
2. You may notice furniture and appliances on the sidewalk of your neighborhood. If it’s on the sidewalk, it’s yours for the taking. Make sure there are no cucarachas (cockroaches) in any wood items.
1. Taking advantage of Buenos Aires’s public transportation is the best way to see more of the city and spend less money. Taxis get caught in traffic and you can’t get anywhere without dishing out at least $20 pesos – unless you are in a cab because you are too lazy to walk a few blocks. Riding on the Buenos Aires’ buses will, no doubt, lead you to explore new neighborhoods and learn more about your surroundings.
2. To properly take advantage of the bus system you will need to get your mitts on a SUBE card. It is a hard plastic, long term card that can be charged up with pesos at a lot of kiosks and all the subway stations. What many travelers do not realize is that SUBE card holders are paying almost half on buses. (Without the SUBE card you have to pay in coins on the buses and they charge 70% more)
3. Take taxis at night – waiting for a bus after 12 pm is not worth the $30 pesos you could save if someone is going to take your entire purse. Buenos Aires is not an especially dangerous place, but the best money I’ve spent has been on late night taxis.
Any comments? How do YOU save or spend in Buenos Aires?
Parents coming to town? Madi Lang is an independent Buenos Aires travel concierge that helps plan family trips, special needs (handicapped, babies, toddlers, large groups, etc.)