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Comments by YACCS
Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Your city is so much fun

Expatriate Games

Travelers Are Heading to Buenos Aires for the Culture -- and Staying for the $250 Rent

By Allen Salkin
Special to The Washington Post
Sunday, April 23, 2006; Page P01

Meghan Curry starts her day with a walk to the river. The former real estate agent from Denver, who is 26, holds hands with her fiance, Patricio de Vasconcellos, 31, a wavy-haired Argentine with dark eyes, as they gaze over the coffee-colored waters of the Rio de la Plata. Around midday, when de Vasconcellos heads to work at the wine shop where the two met a year ago, Curry settles into her two-bedroom apartment to work on her travel memoir and a collection of poetry. Then she might nap or head downtown for café con leche with friends at one of the city's thousands of outdoor cafes. Later, much later, it's time for a slow dinner on Buenos Aires time, where many restaurants don't open until 10 p.m.

"This," said Curry, "I could never do if I had to earn more than $6,000 a year."

Her apartment rents for $250 a month. An espresso costs about 65 cents. A restaurant dinner -- appetizers, thick steaks and wine -- costs about $25 for two. Stylish leather handbags from designer boutiques go for $20. Tickets for first-run American movies are about $3.50.

Sound good? It did to Curry, who came to the city known as B.A. in February 2005, intending to stay for a few months and learn Spanish. Once in Argentina, she fell in love with the low-stress lifestyle and with de Vasconcellos, and now plans to stay indefinitely.

Curry is one of thousands of Americans and others who have given up lives in places like Washington, Los Angeles and London in the last three years -- some permanently, some temporarily. Lured by B.A.'s high culture at low prices, this new crop of expatriates aims to pursue dream versions of themselves in the Argentine capital.

"Prague was the place in the early 1990s," said Margaret Malewski, author of the 2005 guide "GenXpat: The Young Professional's Guide to Making a Successful Life Abroad." "B.A. is the hot spot now

I wonder how people feel about these people. In New York, we call them Eurotrash and hate them.

Argentina isn't cheap because it's fun for young Americans. It's cheap because the country's economy bottomed out so badly that people played on a game show for a job. I know the way that the Eurotrash played at life was extremely irritating while people were begging for jobs.

Eurotrash, btw, is slang for Europeans who come from rich families and seem to live without working.

The Irish and Australians usually work, so they were cool to hang out with. Most of the Brits I knew had jobs as well. Maybe it's me, but there's a certain sort of high handedness with these people which sets off badly against the other immigrants, the people working their asses off all day long.

FWIW, I met a ton of similar American "permanent tourists" in Berlin as well. Most of them had no visible source of income, lived in cheap shares (cost of living in Berlin is relativley lower than NYC, for instance), flouted all labor and immigration laws (ie worked off the books in bars or just did nothing, and never registered with the authorities), never learned much German beyond enough for buying weed and a beer, etc. This was in sharp contrast to the Americans who actually had jobs there.

And once again, because I spoke (crappy) German, knew something about the culture, and didn't make an ass of myself, I had Germans ask me if I had been born in Europe, etc.

However, Americans reap their own punishment for this boorish behavior by NOT being able to get rid of the trustafarians in most of our own cultural centers.

posted by Steve @ 12:07:00 AM

12:07:00 AM

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