According to the 27 Americans living in Buenos Aires that I interviewed, it’s hard making porteño friends. In fact, most have very few (if any!). Read more about why that is here: BA expat predicament: I have no porteño friends.
The grand majority of the Americans interviewed admitted to having more foreign friends than local ones, and they believe that a large contributing factor to this situation is that there are simply more ways to meet “expats” than there are to meet locals. If you compare this post on meeting locals to my post on the top 5 ways to meet expats in Buenos Aires you’ll notice one glaring factor that makes all the difference: the internet. While this is the preferred method of many for meeting other foreigners in Buenos Aires, very few mentioned this as the way they met their local friends.
So how did they meet their few precious porteño friends? Here are the top 5 ways these Americans made local amigos in Buenos Aires.
DATE OR MARRY ONE
That’s right, the quickest and surest way into the “inner circles” of porteño families and friends is through a significant other.
“To me the only way that you can penetrate is having a boyfriend or girlfriend. Then, somehow, you’re accepted as a member”
Of course, this isn’t necessarily the most ideal way to integrate as your new “friends” are really your partner’s friends, and therefore their loyalties will always lie with him/her. In fact, a couple of the Americans interviewed confirmed this- they had lost these types of “friends” after a breakup.
“The only time I was friends with an Argentine was when I was dating an Argentine and I was friends with his friends. But I don’t talk to them now”
WHERE YOU WORK
Several of the Americans interviewed claimed they had made local friends at work. Actually, this was one of the ways they met their expat friends as well, so for expats that work with both locals and foreigners, your job can open up many doors to new friendships in Buenos Aires.
“The majority of my Argentine friends are as a result of my work, so my last job at the advertising agency or my current job”
WHERE YOU LIVE
A few of the Americans interviewed claimed that their local porteño friends were current or former roommates and/or neighbors.
ACTIVITIES, CLUBS, COURSES
They also met local friends through clubs, teams, courses and activities related to sports (running teams, fútbol leagues, classes at the gym), the arts (theater groups, photography classes, dance classes) and academics (university courses). In several of these cases, the internet may have played a role in how they connected with these groups and clubs.
“Outside of work my only local friends are through doing activities, like a night class somewhere”
Finally, a great way to meet locals, according to these Americans, is through language-related activities. These could be work-related (some English teachers ended up becoming friends with their students) or activity-related (some became friends with their Spanish teachers, others met locals through a one-to-one language exchange, and a few made contacts at organized language exchange socials and meet ups). Mundo Lingo, Spanglish, Conversation Night are language exchange events where you can meet locals over a few drinks.
The internet often played a role in these language exchange connections as many found out about activities online, or connected with people through a website (meetup.com or conversationexchange.com, for example).