BA expat predicament: my expat friends always leave

The Revolving Door of Expat Friends

The good, the bad and the ugly of the transience of the expat communities in global cities. 

expat friends leave

The revolving door of expat friends when you live abroad

Most of the participants in my case study of Americans living in Buenos Aires claimed to have more foreign friends than local ones, and in many cases, those friends are English-speaking or American friends. In this context, many commented on the “revolving door” of expat friends in Buenos Aires due to the typically temporary nature of American expatriation to Buenos Aires.

THE GOOD: meeting lots of new people

A couple of the participants saw the positive side of this situation: the revolving door lets people out, but it also lets new people in, and therefore the opportunity to constantly make new friends is always there. Read about the Top 5 ways to meet expats in Buenos Aires.

“I actually started to take a new look at it and yes, it closes doors and it makes you have to put the effort out and you don’t have the stability that you want, but I have such an opportunity to meet new people and make friends… it kind of pulls the rug out from under you at first, but it keeps you active”

THE BAD: constantly losing friends

However, the majority expressed feelings of frustration and disappointment from constantly needing to replace friends and “refresh” social circles. For many, this process is painful and tiresome.

“A lot of times if you’re friends with a foreigner, they end up leaving. So after a while it’s hard to invest in expat friends”

THE UGLY: lonely in Buenos Aires

In some cases (especially for those that stay long-term) it appears that moving away from the expat community and more towards making local friends is vital to their BA social lives in the long run. Maybe by choice (out of frustration), maybe because of circumstance, it seems that the revolving door in many cases eventually starts to turn in only one direction (friends continue to leave, but aren’t replaced).

For those that already have local friends, this is less traumatic, but those that have struggled to integrate with locals find themselves in a lonely situation. I actually met a few Americans in Buenos Aires that after years of building a life in the city, have, sadly, wound up with no friends at all.

“I have a lot of acquaintances I get along with, but they just never passed that point. I don’t make close friendships with porteñas and my close friendships with foreigners dissolved when they left”


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