Work Abroad but earn in USD

Monday, July 28, 2008

Living in Argentina vs. China

It's interesting that I found so many similarities between China and Argentina. I'm sure many nationals from both countries would be appalled by my saying that. But it's true. Both Argentina and China have very homogeneous populations. I'm not sure the percentages in China vs. Argentina but walking down the street in China you see--guess what--Chinese people!! And in Argentina, pretty much everyone looks Southern European (unless we are talking about the Northwest near Bolivia). Cost of living is very similar. In the big cities in China you can get great dinners with multiple dishes for less that 5 US per person--same in Argentina. Wages are about 5000 RMB per month for a middle income person which is about 850 dollars. That will pay your 300-400 dollar rent per month plus food and transportation. Now transportation is interesting. I have been to MANY cities all over the world and never found one cheaper than Buenos Aires for public transportation. Rio, Santiago, Lima, La Paz, Beijing, Shanghai are all at least double the cost for subways and buses. One of the drawbacks to China, though, and one of the dissimilarities is the westernization/Americanization of the big cities in China. Many districts exist in both Shanghai and Beijing where all you can find is brand name American clothing, accessories and luxury goods. This exists in Argentina too, but in my estimate, the majority of the country's retail is mom and pop shops. Of course, in China you have the infamous fake markets where you can get a "Gucci" bag for 10% of what it retails for in the US. Everyone kept saying "you want LV? LV? LV?", and me being rather label ignorant, I kept thinking: "What is El V?" Yikes.

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Blogger Robert Evans said...

5 US per person for a meal? This is certainly possible if you are not eating in the nicer places and you order pasta but I would not say its not the norm.

I find a good meal with wine to cost about three times that amount. Then again, I live in Recoleta and hang out in Palermo Soho.

Looking at the out dated prices list for San Telmo also leads me to believe that your prices are a little low.


7/30/2008 07:06:00 PM  
Blogger Jon Y. Harada said...

Very interesting Post Daniel.

I'm no China expert, but did live in Shanghai for 3-4 months in 2003 and traveled a little.

The comparison of populations took me by surprise. I can see why one would be tempted to say they are similar. And I would go further to say that ethnically, China's Northwest province (on the border with Kazakhstan) is equally dissimilar to the rest of China making the comparison you made even stronger. However, once you get into economically diverse areas, the similarities break down. Here in Buenos Aires, just cruise through Once or if daring through one of the many villas..and your not dealing with mostly decedents of Southern Europe anymore. Do the same thing in different neighborhoods in urban China, and I'm pretty sure the first noticeable differences will be the clothes, and the personal hygiene.

As for great dinners for $5 USD...not impossible like Rob said, but struck me as being a little low as well.


7/31/2008 03:04:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The cheapest public transportation in the world is probably in Phnom Penh. You can get from anywhere to anywhere in the city on a motodup (motorcycle taxi) for $0.25-$1.

8/01/2008 04:46:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ok, being an Argentinian, I think I can tell you this...

1 + We are NOT ethnically similar. At least not as Chinese people I think. We have two main etnics here. The grand grand sons and doughters of Native Indians and the ones from the European ( specially from Spain and Italy ) that came here running from their countries.

2 + Short distance bus : 0.35 cts. of dollar. Mid distance 0.8, Long distance ( 7 hs. on the bus lets say, if you double the hours more or less same with price ) $ 14 dollars.

3 + Meals, for 5 dollars you can eat in a cheap parrilla a pice of meat, some salad and a glass of very cheap wine or a pop soda. Por 10 dollars you can eat in an all you can eat place and its quite ok. But for 20 dollars you can eat a gourmet meal with good bread, main and first course, desert and some average wine.

4 + This is all possible because we are selling a lot of " Soja Forrajera " to China and a lot of Petrol to the world while with the use of a very aggressive taxing campaign, we keep internal prices for petrol, grain, vegetables and meat, at a very low international price.

Hope it helped. If you have any questions don't hesitate to mail me at

Martin Levy ►

8/04/2008 11:19:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I completely agree with what you said about Argentines being so homogeneous. Most of the population here looks the same(either mediterranean or mestizo), which can be quite a shock to those of us who are accustomed to ethnical diversity. What I don't understand is why Argentines claim to be such a diverse nation, when the opposite is true. Every time I hear them say that I wonder: Have any of these people ever seen TRUE diversity?

8/10/2008 07:34:00 PM  
Blogger d7d said...

the chinese population is not very homogeneous you just are not knowledgeable enough to notice the difference most americans couldnt tell the difference between someone from japan, korea, thailand or china much less the extreme differences which are much more sublte in china itself

11/06/2008 10:55:00 AM  
Blogger Julien Bertrand said...

Interesting. I just left China where I lived for 4 years. RMB 5,000 as an average income seems to me a little high -- more like 3 to 4,000. A cab driver in Shanghai can earn from 2 to 4,000, more on good months but that is exceptional. Most young Chinese people earn no more than 2,500.
I am moving to Buenos Aires soon so this post was very instructive. I was reading somewhere else in this blog about someone saying that a lot of things in Argentina were "unreliable" or that they shouldn't be taken for granted. Same impression you get when you arrive in China. But complex things become simple and simple things become complex, it's just a shift of values. In France (where I'm from), getting a taxi is a struggle and costs a fortune. You have to think differently to travel from one place to another. In Shanghai, even if the traffic is bad, you never really worry about getting a taxi, a bus, or the ever-improving subway. Only if it rains.
Looks like parts of my new life will be similar to the one I was living in China! Puzzling!

11/30/2008 02:01:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hola soy Argentina!
Estoy viajando a China (Beijing-shangai-Guilin) en agosto si tienen recomendaciones por favor pasenmelas. Y qué onda que viaje una mujer sola en china??¿?
Gracias! Saludos

5/25/2010 01:21:00 PM  

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