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I quit my corporate job in Washington, DC, and moved to Buenos Aires. I make less money, but the cost of living is lower.

Casey Wetherbee   

I quit my corporate job in Washington, DC, and moved to Buenos Aires. I make less money, but the cost of living is lower.
  • I moved from New York to Buenos Aires in 2023 to start a new life as a freelancer.
  • I was feeling burnt out at my corporate job in Washington, DC, and wanted to move abroad.

On a cool evening in the fall of 2023, I boarded a one-way flight from New York to Buenos Aires, with the intention of living there for an undetermined amount of time. I had never been to Argentina before and I didn't have a job lined up.

I felt stagnant at my corporate job and wanted a change of pace, and I wanted to live abroad after living in the same city for my entire adult life. I decided on Buenos Aires after around four months of consideration. I also wanted to try writing for a living, and a lower cost of living would help me be more financially secure in a relatively insecure stint as a freelancer.

I was exposed to Spanish as a kid, both at home and through vacations abroad

From kindergarten to eighth grade, I attended a public school in New York that was around 50% Hispanic, so many of my closest friends spoke Spanish at home and with one another in the classroom.

During this time, I spent a few winter breaks traveling to Latin America with my dad's side of the family. Since they all speak a decent amount of Spanish, on our trips to places like Mexico, Costa Rica, and Ecuador, it was easy to go beyond tourist traps and sanitized resorts.

I started taking Spanish classes in middle school and continued into college. Over a decade later, people here in Argentina are often surprised to learn that I'm a gringo rather than a native speaker because of this intrinsic motivation to perfect my language skills.

I went from 50-hour weeks to a totally flexible schedule

I went to college in Washington, DC. After I graduated in 2021 with an international relations degree, I stayed in the area for graduate school while also starting a full-time job in corporate investigations.

Working and going to school at the same time meant long workdays followed by evening classes, some of which would end at around 9 p.m. Sometimes, I found myself working on the weekend. In short, my work-life balance and sleep schedule were abysmal.

After the dust settled and I finished my master's degree, I was still uninspired by my work, and the corporate grind was getting to me. I liked my coworkers, and I was learning valuable skills, but it wasn't enough.

Even after getting promoted in March 2023, I knew that I would eventually leave that career path. Although I was climbing the ladder, the money and success weren't worth working a job that I didn't love. I'd figured out that my favorite parts of the job were research and writing, so I hoped to use those skills to pivot into journalism.

It would be my first time moving to a new city as an adult, so my motivation was also personal. The professional component was important, but equally significant was my desire to experience a completely new culture and lifestyle away from the DC-based support system I had developed in college, and hopefully learn about myself along the way.

I make much less money, but the cost of living is considerably lower

I picked Buenos Aires for practical reasons: its visa situation is relatively relaxed and the cost of living is low. For these reasons, there is a substantial expat community in the city.

I currently pay $400 a month to rent a studio that is about the same size as the one I paid $1,750 a month for in Washington, DC. Generally speaking, food and everyday necessities are many times cheaper than in US cities.

My salary when I left my job was around $72,000, with a good insurance policy. I started putting aside some of my income for Argentina at the beginning of 2023 since I didn't know how freelancing would go.

Luckily, in the last few months, I've begun working on a contract basis for my old company for $30 an hour, meaning that I only have to work 10 to 15 hours a week to live comfortably, and I can take weeks off if I need to. Aside from my freelance contract work, I also write freelance essays and earn extra income, which goes a long way.

I don't know when — or if — I'll leave Buenos Aires

Sometimes, the nature of freelancing makes it difficult to budget and plan. Every month is different, so instead of making a fixed contribution to a retirement account, I have to decide how much to save each month.

Still, I'm very fortunate to have ample savings and a supportive family. For example, my mom helped pay for my flight back home for Thanksgiving, which was expensive. Given that a one-way flight to New York is more than one month of rent, the support goes a long way.

At the moment, I'm not actively looking for a job and I intend on staying in Buenos Aires at least until the end of this year. I enjoy the lifestyle that I'm able to live here with such a flexible work schedule — it's hard to imagine going back to a much more expensive city.

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