Cultural shock - Adjusting to life in Argentina

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    This year marks 10 years in Argentina for me, and sometimes I feel like I have arrived yesterday.

    Some things still manage to get me itchy, and some things I have learned to let go.


    One thing I should learn better is to avoid comparing prices with home too much. First because you can't "drive" home to shop there whenever you feel like, and second, because some things are more expensive and others are dirty cheap.

    Lately, I have been whining about coffee prices (on this forum as well as in the real world), but then it costs 20 USD to fill a 32 liters car tank with gas and a massage is about 10 USD whereas it costs €60 in my small town in Italy.


    Some things are worth spending on, and some are a nice plus but I can totally live without. I think that home comfort and safety are paramount, so when picking a place to rent (long term or just for a vacation), these two items are non-negotiable.


    Looking on a map and having no idea of the actual geography here, one can easily think they are getting scammed with rental prices. I was one of them when we were browsing for a place in Argentina from Italy. My husband told me the name of the city where to look for, and tried (in vain) to explain to me that we should be looking from this road to that road (east to west) and between that other roads (north to south). I couldn't understand why, but once we arrived and went to see the nice blue home that was so cheap on Zonaprop I realized it was next to a villa and what my husband meant by "not a nice area".


    To me, "not a nice area" simply meant a place that is not nice to look at, with old buildings, streets not regularly clean and maybe some bad smell from time to time. What he meant was "run for your life".


    I have let go of appliances prices: there are no bargains, no competition like in Europe, and stuff doesn't get imported easily. If you want regular (by EU standard) appliances, you have to be ready to pay big $$$ for them. And then pray they won't break, because spares may not be available/imported.


    Sometimes it simply means to pick where to spend your money. Right now, I think a day at the beach in Argentina can cost close to a day at the beach in the Mediterranean, so I'd rather save my money for the Med. 8)


    This reflection stemmed from reading too many posts on Facebook between Airbnb hosts who are tired of being pushed to barter away their property as guests complain "hey, this is Argentina, it can't cost that much".

    I have been reluctant to post our STR property on Facebook because there is a nasty trend from trolls to try to make fun and complain about property prices. However, as a owner I am taking into account the cost (and the effort) that goes into fixing/replacing things in Argentina.


    Just for "fun" (if that's my kind of fun on a sunny Sunday afternoon, oh boy!), I have run a comparison between the actual cost of the major appliances we bought for our STR in 2023. For those who have missed it, this is an older post with a recap of prices in March 2023.


    [March 2023] ...A full sized fridge with a sleek modern design (Samsung), 750 USD - we eventually bought it in June 2023 for 262k pesos or 532 USD - NOW 840k pesos or 733 USD

    [May 2023] ..., we bought a 55" Samsung which was on sale for 155,999 ARS (or 342 USD) - In October 2023] we bought a second one for 263k pesos or 271 USD - it was during a pre-PASO spike in the blue - NOW 600.5 k or 524 USD

    [May 2023]...Philips Kettle for 18.590 ARS (40 USD) on Mercadolibre... - NOW 52k or 45 USD

  • Good thread and a subject I've been thinking a lot about recently.


    Firstly, I should say hot summer weather and me just don't get on....I f'ing hate it!! Despite being here for 16 years now I have never adjusted to it hence why at this time of the year I'm usually a grumpy sod. This means I tend to find fault with anything such as items I'm used to buying in the supermarket missing....a more common occurrence now. Has to be said I find the retail industry here a complete joke.

    Then there's the eejit at the YPF petrol station yesterday who after getting his petrol decided to faff about cleaning his windscreen instead of moving to a parking space and doing it to allow us in to fill the car. I do find most road users here an ignorant lot. I could go on and on and on about many other things which annoy me.

    If I'm being honest I still feel an outsider here and suspect I always will.

  • On Friday my husband was expecting a visit from a friend. Planned time was 2-2:30 PM. They needed to work upstairs, where my desk is, so I had to move downstairs with my computer, keyboard, mouse etc.


    Old me would have moved downstairs ahead of time.

    Argie-me said "I won't move unless the friend shows up".


    I am quite proud of myself because my husband left at 10 AM to run errands, telling me about their plans.

    He said before leaving: "She'll come at 2-2:30 PM. However, she said she has no phone so she won't be able to update me. I'll try to catch her halfway (? - she lives in San Telmo, we are in Palermo... there are lots of routes she can take). Anyway, you are warned that she will ring the doorbell". "I'll be on the lookout, then", I replied.


    At 4.30 PM the friend hadn't yet arrived - husband had been back for two hours already. We didn't even know if she was coming at all, at that point. I kept doing my stuff. At 5.20 PM she finally arrived. She brought food gifts, which was very sensitive of her but also meant she spent time to do so (she brought ice cream, bought around the corner).


    In the end, their very productive afternoon lasted 2 hours instead of 5.

    Maybe I am destined to not have local friends. I would have been so pissed if I had been waiting for someone for three hours.

  • Maybe I am destined to not have local friends. I would have been so pissed if I had been waiting for someone for three hours.

    My wife wouldn't have answered the door. Since coming back to live here after our years together in the UK she doesn't have the patience she used to have. She's always comparing how badly things work here as well as people's attitudes to what life is like in Europe as a whole.

    I used to tell her to ignore most of it but I'm now getting as bad as her. ^^

  • UK Man , I’ll bet if you decided to go all in on language proficiency, so you could have more in-depth interactions and conversations, you would be able to get more involved, pursue more interests, and function as a part of the community, as you did in Scotland.


    Perhaps you’ll never get used to poor customer service, unavailability of goods, or “Argentina time” attitudes, but I really think you would lose the feeling of being a perennial outsider?

  • UK Man , I’ll bet if you decided to go all in on language proficiency, so you could have more in-depth interactions and conversations, you would be able to get more involved, pursue more interests, and function as a part of the community, as you did in Scotland.


    Perhaps you’ll never get used to poor customer service, unavailability of goods, or “Argentina time” attitudes, but I really think you would lose the feeling of being a perennial outsider?

    You could well be right however I fear there's more to it than just that. It's not just me, the missus is getting cheesed off with the way things are here as well.


    We'll see how it goes soon as the hot weather buggers off and hopefully the economy settles down.

  • I am with UK Man ! My Spanish is decent enough to handle things myself. However, most of the misunderstandings seems to be culture related. For example, last week I went to cut my hair. I told the hairdresser that I wanted a natural look as opposed to straightened hairs done with a hair straightener. Once he completed the cut, he asked if I wanted my hair “natural or combed” and I said natural. But he meant to ask if I wanted him to blow dry my hair or leave them wet.


    So I went home with wet hair and I had to dry and comb them myself. Very cheap ($5000) but my aim was to see how good a blow dry he could make. 🤷🏼‍♀️


    In Italy it is unheard of to be let go without drying hair. And an Italian friend who is an hairdresser here told me that most people come into his salon with wet hair because they don’t want to pay for shampoo.

    Others will come with dry hair and just ask him to comb/style it. All in the name of saving.


    Very weird, if you ask me.

  • My missus is always changing hairdresser. She finds a new one and raves about how good they are. Then after several visits they start taking her loyalty for granted and mess her about. That doesn't seem to be uncommon here in the service industry sector.

  • I have a couple that I like (for different services) but they are far. Which is why I am looking for a closer one. This one was the closest and I had gone there 6 years ago when we moved here. However, at the time I felt that he overcharged me, although he did a good job.


    I wanted to give him a second chance because it is literally two blocks from here, but I didn't like that he put his fingers on my boobs to ask how much I wanted to cut. WTF?!

  • serafina , you could try the guy on our corner (next to Cafe Pinot, on Salguero side). Also inexpensive, and he finishes with a blow dry. And he won’t manhandle you in the process!


    UK Man , I wasn’t addressing the cultural or societal differences, but just your feeling of being an outsider. Nothing emphasizes that feeling more than language obstacles.