If you are an expat or hopeful expat looking toward Argentina, it is important to know what Argentina elder care and long-term care services looking like there. This research is one of the steps you should if you want to become an expat in your senior years. You may not need these services now (or maybe ever), but it is valuable information to have in your consideration of possible retirement or expat destinations.
In addition to Colombia and Uruguay, Argentina is yet another South American country that you might consider as a senior ex-pat. Buenos Aires is the largest metropolitan area, and approximately ⅓ of the total population lives there. About 17 percent of the inhabitants are over the age of 65. Although you might be tempted to relocate to the land of the tango, there are some drawbacks to moving to Argentina.
Argentinian Expat Lifestyle
Argentina is flavored by its Italian immigrant past. Its language, its food, and its culture are more European than other South American countries by far. If you are a bookworm, you’ll have plenty of pals to hang out with. Argentina is known for its plethora of writers and poets, and its people are quite literate. Theater, dance (remember the tango), music, and art are also welcome diversions.
The country is immense and diverse when it comes to climate and weather. Buenos Aires has four seasons. In other areas, the weather is consistently pleasant year-round. The country’s size means that some areas are near arctic conditions, while others are tropical jungles. There are miles of coastlines for beach living, and the Andes provide extreme mountain conditions for winter fun.
Argentina has at least 60,000 U.S. ex-pats, most living in or near Buenos Aires. Spanish is the official language, but most Argentineans speak at least some English. The political situation has become extremely volatile in recent years, which has affected the economy drastically.
Machismo is alive and well in Argentina. Sexual commentary, wolf-whistles, and invasion of your personal space are all part of the culture. Despite these antiquated customs, Argentina was the first Latin American country to recognize same-sex marriages in 2010.
Approximately 65 percent of the country is Catholic, which is only to be expected with the influence of the Spanish and Italians that settled there over the years. Surprisingly, Argentina also has the largest Jewish and Muslim populations in Latin America.
Cost of Living
Compared to the United States, living in Argentina can cost you about 50 percent less overall, although much of that savings depends on your lifestyle choices and location. Rural areas are about ⅓ less expensive than urban areas. Frugal ex-pats can live quite comfortably on less than $1500 per month.
Apartment rentals are about 75 percent less than comparable U.S. cities. The internet is about half of what you might pay in the U.S. However, many areas might not have the best signal. Utilities average about $90 per month. Again, even in urban areas, you might need to be accustomed to brown-outs or fluctuating service. Electronic household goods can be expensive. If you can do without a washer or decent TV, you’ll save money. Clothing is also mostly imported and costly as well.
The bus system runs throughout the country. The rail system isn’t as extensive but does run between major cities. Fares are reasonable, and the accommodations are comfortable. Colectivos (local buses) can transport you around the city for about 50 cents. Taxis cost about $1.
On the other hand, Argentina is far from everywhere. It is located at the southernmost tip of South America. Flights are long and can be expensive.
Argentina offers a pensioner visa (Pensionado). To apply, you must demonstrate that you have a pension of at least 30,000 ARS ($820 USD) per month. This visa is valid for one year and can be renewed for an additional 3 years. After that, you can apply for permanent residency.
Healthcare Services in Argentina
Except for the cities of Buenos Aires, Córdoba, and Mendoza, the quality of the national healthcare is poor. The system itself is administered at the municipal level. This means that primary health care is managed separately by each city. The lack of continuity may mean some services are not available in all locations.
However, both citizens and foreigners are eligible for medical, hospital, dental, and palliative care free of charge. Prescriptions have a 30 percent cost participation for chronic conditions and 60 percent for other types of medication. Some medications for chronic conditions, such as insulin, are provided without charge.
Programa de Atención Médica Integral (PAMI) is the state-funded program for senior citizens and the disabled. About 65 percent of the nearly 4 million elderly are serviced through PAMI. Unfortunately, the economic crisis of 2001 severely impacted funding and the availability of services has greatly diminished, especially for long-term care and rehabilitation services.
Long wait times for services mean many Argentinians use private health facilities. Rates for appointments and procedures vary by region and tend to be more expensive in the urban areas. Prices have risen exponentially as the COVID-19 restrictions in 2020 closed businesses, increased unemployment, and raised inflation.
On average, there are 265 medical doctors and 77 nurses per 100,00 residents, indicating a severe shortage of medical personnel. Volunteers, doctors-in-training, social workers, and relatives often step in to provide care when qualified medics are not available.
Elder Care and Assisted Living
Expats looking to retire here should know what Argentina elder care looks like. In a few words – not much.
Because of the lack of reliable infrastructure, less than 2 percent of the senior population is cared for in an institutional setting such as a nursing home or assisted living facilities. On the other hand, the National Program of In-Home Care endeavors to provide support for the elderly and their caretakers in a home setting. Thus, if you have the resources (money) for it, Argentina elder care services can be purchased privately, but once you need assisted living or other long-term care services, you need a support network in place.
The large Jewish, Muslim, and Catholic communities found throughout Argentina are extremely family-oriented. Therefore, elderly parents, grandparents, and even great-grandparents are often cared for by relatives. This speaks to family commitments and conventions when it comes to serving seniors in Argentina, but it does not help expats living there without this type of familial support network.
Further Reading and Conclusion
Of course, there is a lot more to choosing the right expat destination than just elder care, and that is no different for Argentina. If you want to get a better understanding of the country and the lifestyle there, consider these highly-rated books on the subject:
- Argentina, 1516-1987: From Spanish Colonization to Alfonsin (University of California Press)
- Argentina Reader: History, Culture, Politics (Duke University Press)
- Lonely Planet Argentina (Lonely Planet)
- Rough Guide to Argentina (Rough Guides)
Although life in Argentina is affordable if you have U.S. dollars to rely on, this lovely South American country’s economic conditions are far from ideal. With the deflated Argentine peso and rising inflation, necessities could cost you more than you bargained for.
Most ex-pats seem to congregate near the cities. Although you’ll receive better health care in a metropolis such as Buenos Aires, you’ll also have to contend with traffic, noise, and air pollution that comes with city living. Expat areas are also quite a bit more expensive than other areas to live in.
Despite these drawbacks, Argentina is a fascinating country to spend your golden years. You might find, picking up your feet and tangoing is the best decision you’ve ever made.