1 August 2016

Mike Yanqui - Expat in Buenos Aires, Argentina

Mike Yanqui - Expat in Buenos Aires, Argentina

Mike Yanqui is a 57-year-old Cattle Rancher who lives in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Mr. Yanqui is originally from the city of Chicago in the United States of America, but relocated to Argentina due to the economic state of the U.S. and his feelings of dissatisfaction with U.S. consumer culture. He has also been blogging since 2006 about all things Buenos Aires. At present, he has been living in Argentina for 11 years with his Argentinian wife.

Mr. Yanqui noted that his most difficult experience as an expat in his host country involved the language, as he said that he did not speak any Spanish upon arrival. “I immediately enrolled in a Spanish for Foreigners program at the University of Buenos Aires and started hitting the books right away,” he said. He also noted that some of the positives of living the country involved a beautiful culture and people. He also noted that one challenging aspect of living in Argentina included the unavailability of some imported goods.

Expats like Mr. Yanqui who are studying a foreign language may want to talk to the locals in order to practice the native tongue. One way to meet people abroad is by joining clubs and associations. These clubs are a great way to find expats who share similar hobbies and interests and practice speaking a foreign language. Additionally, expats who are interested in enrolling in any universities or school overseas may want to avail of international school advisory services for assistance. 

Find out more about Mr. Yanqui’s experiences in Argentina in his full interview below.

Q: Where are you originally from?

A: Chicago

Q: What made you move out of your home country?

A: There's never any one thing that make you emigrate from your birth-land. In my case, I would say that economic wherewithal and opportunity came first. A general dissatisfaction with U.S. consumer culture was a close second. Post 9-11 political and social climate filled out the rest of the bill.

Q: Where are you living now?

A: Buenos Aires Capital and our cattle ranch which is about 200 miles away. We split our time about equally between the two places but it's very seasonal.

Q: How did you come to choose this new country of residence?

A: If I had not married a woman from Argentina, I'm almost sure that I would never have ended up living here.


Q: How long have you been living in Argentina?

A: 11 years come Halloween 2014.

Q: What was the most difficult experience you had when you were new in your host country?

A: I can't imagine a country that would be easier for a North American or European to adapt to. I did, however, not speak Spanish upon arrival. I immediately enrolled in a Spanish for Foreigners program at the University of Buenos Aires and started hitting the books right away.


Q: Would you say that formalities like getting visas or work permits and international health insurance were particularly difficult in Argentina? What was your experience with these?

A: Not for me. Having married a national, visas and work permits were almost automatic. National health care covered me from the moment of arrival and we purchased additional health care coverage right away very easily. Undocumented foreigners can do the same with the same ease.

Q: What was your experience with these?

A: My personal experience has been wonderful. The care here is different from the U.S. but perhaps better. That has been the case with other Unitedstatesians I've talked to, as well.  I'm met more than one couple who swear they would never have a baby in any other country. Doctors here spend an extraordinary time with their patients compared to the U.S. Sometimes I feel it's too much! But you really feel cared for here.

Q: Are you living alone or with your family?

A: I live with my wife. Neither of us have any children.

Q: How did they adjust to the Expat Lifestyle?

A: My wife is a national with extended family here.

Q: Was it easy making friends and meeting people? Do you mainly socialize with other expats in Argentina? How did you manage to find a social circle in Argentina?

A: I've always found it very easy to make Argentine friends. It was very easy to make expat friends in 2003 when there were very few expats here. Now that there are so many expats here, it's a little different.

Q: What are the best things to do in Argentina? Anything to recommend to future expats?

A: The famous Argentine beef is almost extinct as almost all production has gone to U.S. style feedlot beef ...the beef here used to be worth the plane ticket. Still, the sacrament of the asado, or barbeque, is still amazing. Wine and the wine country to the far west is world-class. The famous falls at Iguazú is one of the great natural wonders of the planet. The olives and olive oil here will impress the connoisseur. The mountains of the Andes including some of the world's tallest are impressive. Patagonia's whale-watching, penguins, and the "end of the world" at Tierra del Fuego can hardly be equaled. However, it's necessary to keep in mind that this country is one of the largest. Most people are impressed by the distances required to visit all of the above.


Q: How does the cost of living in your host country compared to your home?

A: In U.S. dollar terms, this is one of the cheapest countries on earth ...and one with the least amenity-shock. For example, India is wonderfully more exotic and more affordable but overwhelming to many foreigners no matter how much they enjoyed every moment.

For a cup of coffee, today, I had a double espresso with a bit of whipped cream in a lovely downtown sidewalk café for about $2.15USD. For meals in an inexpensive restaurant, a nice steak dinner for two with wine and salad and vegetable can probably be had in Buenos Aires City for $70USD, cheaper in the provinces and more expensive in resort areas. A dinner of fresh pastas or vegetarian items could be less.

For meals in an expensive restaurant in Buenos Aires City, as well as resort areas, there is no limit as to how much you could spend depending on how expensive you would like to make it. Sticking to local delicacies, however, you would be hard-pressed to exceed $200USD each, no matter what the locale. A nice bottle of wine from a wineshop, would average less than $10USD. In restaurants, of course, there is no reason regarding prices charges ...like everywhere in the world! A pack of cigarettes currently costs $1USD ...and they are the equal of the US in quality.

Q: What do you think about the locals?

A: The local culture and people are the biggest reason to visit, splendid people and a deep complex culture.

Q: What do you think are the positive and negative sides of living in Argentina?

A: Positive: extraordinarily large, rich, and varied land with wonderful, beautiful people and culture. First-world amenities and best 4-season climate on earth. Affordable in the extreme, in terms of hard currencies. Respect for law and property-rights, within liberal interpretation.

Negative: stagnating economy, political unpredictability, high-inflation, imported goods sometimes unavailable.

Q: Did you miss home and family sometimes?

A: No, not personally. In Buenos Aires City, internet connectivity probably exceeds most of the U.S. That makes contact with friends and family very easy.

Q: How did you cope with homesickness?

A: I really don't feel much homesickness.

Q: Do you have plans to move to a different country in the future?

A: This question could have legal ramifications and I suggest that you somehow re-word it for the future. For a U.S. citizen to declare that they have no intent to ever return to the U.S. could cause them difficulties.

Q: What were the hardest aspects of your expat experience?

A: Truthfully, I can't think of anything that has been particularly "hard." Being a "Northerner," I miss snow. I admit to missing certain ethnic and fast foods, and I miss African-Americans in this amazingly "white" country. (Full-disclosure: I am Caucasian.)

Q: What tips can you give other expats living in Argentina?

A: Nothing more than the usual tips for expats everywhere.

Q: Do you have favourite websites or blogs about your host country?

A: Yes! The Bubble.