Gone are the days when Buenos Aires was considered a budget destination. Sadly the economic instability has led to consistently high inflation rates and rising living costs. However don’t let that deter you from studying Spanish in Buenos Aires, you can still live a great student existence in this vibrant city and make the most of everything it has to offer (which includes a surprising number of free activities). Just follow our tips to living in BA on a budget.

Hit up the Happy Hours

Happy hours in Buenos Aires — © Beatrice Murch / Flickr.
Happy hours in Buenos Aires — © Beatrice Murch / Flickr.

Happy hours and After Office deals in Buenos Aires are a great way to enjoy the city’s buzzing nightlife without breaking the bank. Every cervecería in town (of which there are many) has a daily happy hour with two-for-one deals or discounted beers on tap. On some days, they throw a deal on food in there too so, if you time it right, you can eat dinner and get merry on the cheap before heading out for the rest of the night. You’ll also find that happy hours run later into the night in Buenos Aires than many other cities, with some going until 9pm, or even later. With a bit of research, you should be able to line yourself up a happy hour bar crawl.

Previa it up before you go out

This is the porteño way of starting the night off right. If you’re not already aware, the previa is the equivalent of the pregame or pre party and it’s usually held at someone’s house. Everyone brings a little something to drink from the local supermercado. After a few Fernet and cokes, you’ll be feeling pretty loose and hopefully won’t spend as much money when you do hit up the bars, where one cocktail will cost you the same amount as a couple of bottles of vino or a full bottle of Fernet at the supermarket.

Look for special offers in supermarkets

Those little local supermarkets that you find on every other block always have great special offers on different food products and wine so check out what deals are running each week and take full advantage. Prices vary wildly from supermarket to supermarket too so shop around and compare the cost for your onions and butter. It’s more time consuming but it’ll help you save a few pesos.

Ask for student discounts wherever you go

If you have any type of student card then be sure to flash it in hostels, cinemas, galleries, museums and any other cultural venue, as a lot of places in Buenos Aires offer student discounts. It’s always worth asking.

Find the free activities

Street musicians in Buenos Aires — © David Stanley / Flickr.
Street musicians in Buenos Aires — © David Stanley / Flickr.

Buenos Aires has hundreds of free activities and festivals every weekend, especially during the spring and summertime. Check out DisfrutemosBA for a list of upcoming activities, from gallery and museum exhibitions or events to cinema screenings, dance shows, concerts and more, where you don’t need to spend a peso to enjoy them. You’ll find there’s something to do pretty much every day of the week. The impressive Centro Cultural Kirchner also hosts some great free activities, including art shows and live performances. It’s worth a visit just to see the amazing architecture of the building but, for events, be sure to reserve your tickets via their website in advance as, like us, everyone loves a free event.

And if you’re new to Buenos Aires, there are a number of free themed tours of the city to help you get your bearings, such as Free Walking Tours, and for soccer fans, free tours of Buenos Aires’ beloved Boca Juniors team stadium. Some of the city’s other main attractions are also free, including the Recoleta Cemetery and the famous San Telmo Market on Sunday, not forgetting the vast green Palermo parks, where people love to hang out on the weekend with a ball or a mate.

Take the bus over Uber

Public bus in Buenos Aires — © Tim Adams / Flickr.
Public bus in Buenos Aires — © Tim Adams / Flickr.

While Uber rides are relatively cheap in Buenos Aires, they add up, particularly if you’re riding alone. While it’s all too easy to order a car at a click when you’re feeling lazy, think of the money you’ll save if you take the bus instead. Buenos Aires’ bus system takes some navigating but with the help of the Como Llego iOS or Android app, you’ll be riding the colectivo like a porteño in no time. Also check out the city’s free bike system Ecobici.

Eat in hole-in-the-wall spots

Choripán — street food in Buenos Aires — © Protoplasma K / Flickr.
Choripán — street food in Buenos Aires — © Protoplasma K / Flickr.

It’s true that the price of a steak in a restaurant or eating out in general ain’t what it used to be there are still a few cheap restaurants and hole-in-the-wall spots around Buenos Aires where you can eat well for cheap. Go to Don Niceto (Niceto Vega 5255, Palermo Soho) for a big juicy strip of entrana steak and a glass of Malbec, La Conga (La Rioja 39, Once) for a mountain of ceviche and other Peruvian delights and the Costanera Sur (outside the Nature Reserve) for a dirty choripán doused in chimichurri sauce from one of the numerous smoky food stands.

Got any other tips for living on a student budget in Buenos Aires? Tell our readers in the comments section below.

Originally published on Ailola by Sophie Lloyd on November 20, 2018.