Imagine a paradise where the finer aspects of life can truly be appreciated…
Envision a place where awe-inspiring landscapes are combined with a rich culture that appreciates the positive aspects of both the Latin and European way of life. A place where gourmet dining is at a fraction of what it costs in Paris, New York or London. Include the epicenter of South American snow sports, Cerro Catedral, playing backdrop to lively surrounding communities. Add an expansive protected park that is accentuated with manicured trails meandering through bamboo forests and 300-year-old Lenga trees, giving access to manned huts situated at the base of glaciated mountains. Where crystal clear rivers are stocked with an abundance of fish…these waterways flowing into numerous turquoise-blue lakes that offer the details needed to be considered by many as some of the best views in the world. This mesmerizing beauty is intensified with giant condors – boasting ten-foot wingspans – putting on a show as they play with the changing wind currents.
Welcome to Bariloche, Argentina located in the Lakes District of Patagonia. A sprawling township of 120,000 full-time residents, this jewel nestled in the northerly region of the true “Last Frontier on Earth” is not only awe-inspiring because of its beauty, but also for what it offers to those that call it home.
Bariloche, considered the gateway city to Patagonia, is a land filled with wonderful opportunities. It is not uncommon to spend your day walking amongst a forest void of others, taking in the setting sun on an empty beach as the sky flows through a rainbow of colors and finishing it off with a delectable seven-course meal that tempts the palate with treasures like empanadas stuffed with Patagonian lamb, hand-made trout filled raviolis in a wild mushroom sauce or crème brulee accompanied with homemade lavender ice cream.
So how does one come to enjoy one of the last true paradises on Earth? Continue reading to find out…
Where to live?
Whether you are thinking of creating a lifestyle change for a few months or many years, Bariloche is a place that can offer a fun transition into a new way of living.
The first part to the puzzle is finding a place to call home.
There are three different aspects to long-term housing in Bariloche: apartments within the city, renting a private house on the outskirts of town, or purchasing your own home.
Although the intense beauty of the area is found outside of Bariloche, for those that like the hustle and bustle of city life, apartments located in el centro may be more suitable. Prices for a room start around US$300 a month. A private studio apartment with a lake view normally begins around US$600 a month to rent, and around $90,000 to purchase.
Long-term rentals outside of town, in what is considered the kilometers, are a price-efficient option for leasing. The quality of housing is also usually higher in this area. The kilometers stretch out along the shores of Lake Nahuel Huapi for approximately 25 kilometers. The main road bordering the lake is Avenida Bustillo. Off of Bustillo there are many different suburban areas that offer stores, restaurants, and comfortable housing choices. One or two bedroom houses go for around US$500 to US$1000 a month in the outer limits of city center.
For those that would like to stay for an indefinite amount of time, or want a place of their own, buying is a great option. As of March, 2009, Resolución 166-2009 has relaxed it requirements for foreigners buying property. Now title is automatically approved so long as the property is under 5,000 square meters of land (or 1.25 acres), located in a suburban or urban area and not used for commercial purposes (rental property is allow). This provides a great opportunity for those looking for real estate prices well below those found in the United States and Europe. For example, an opportunity not to be passed up that is currently on the market is a turn-key, income-producing property with excellent rental history. Located in the exclusive Llao Llao neighborhood on the famous Circuito Chico, this gem includes three houses all boasting exceptional views of Lake Nahuel Huapi, the Andes and the Chilean crest, individual parking and private atmosphere for $379,000.
Where to work?
The best way to make the most amount of money when living in Argentina is to work via computer or a job that offers long distance consulting, while earning a foreign currency. One of the benefits of living in Argentina is the exchange rate, making earning an Argentine wage not as attractive. If working from abroad is not possible, there are some other options.
The easiest position obtainable for a foreigner is teaching English. This is especially true for those that are native United States English speakers, as there a shortage of teachers with the US English dialect. There are various schools around Bariloche that are looking for foreigners, such as the Hudson English Institute, Steps English School, Colegio del Sol and Colegio San Patricio. German is another language that is popular within the Bariloche school system.
As noted earlier, Bariloche is the epicenter of some of the most beautiful natural wonders in the world. Due to this major expanse of wilderness, guiding work is another option if knowledgeable and proficient at particular sports, such as rock climbing, snow skiing, mountain biking, river rafting, fly fishing and hiking. There are various guide businesses throughout the area that are looking for bilingual guides.
Another option in income possibilities is purchasing a rental property or properties. Bariloche is a booming tourist center, growing 23% in influx of foreign and Argentine travelers in 2007. The real estate market offers different options – whether single house or multiple-structure property – that can achieve positive cash flow.
If able to give your time instead of having to earn an income, there are different volunteer efforts around the city. There are interactive school projects, orphanages, a humane society, and programs looking for people to teach English as a foreign language. La Montaña Spanish School, Fundacion Cruzada Patagonica and Patagonia School are different establishments that offer easy ways to become involved with the community.
Where to have fun?
Bariloche is truly the Mecca of outdoor activities.
The Parque Nacional de Nahuel Huapi contains hundreds of hiking trails. The trails are all beautifully maintained single tracks that wander through the dense, green, old-growth forests. Many of the trails are interlinked by huts that are manned by a local resident. Fresh food, drinks and beds are offered in the various refuges. Some of the backcountry lodges offer thirst-quenching home-brewed beer, a nice finish to a long day in the mountains.
Great cycling is also plentiful in Bariloche. There are multiple different excursions ranging in difficulty. One of the best single track trails in the world is located in the Parque Nacional de Arrayanes, outside of nearby Villa La Angostura. This is an amazing single track ride that wanders through thick forests and beautiful meadows. It ends at Lake Nahuel Huapi, amongst a grove of Arrayanes trees (the inspiration for the trees in Disney’s Bambi, this particular area of Patagonia is the only place in the world that the orange and white barked tree grows). Another beautiful paved circuit is the Circuito Chico that follows the shores of Lakes Nahuel Huapi, East Moreno, and West Moreno. It also offers spectacular views of the massive, thickly forested mountains that rise from Lake Nahuel Huapi’s crystal-clear water.
Bariloche is world-famous for its rock climbing. The main center for crack climbing is the spires and solid rock faces surrounding Refugio Frey, near Cerro Catedral. There are hundreds of routes that tower over the rock shelter and its neighboring mountain lake. Other routes can be found at Piedras Blancas, below Cerro Otto, located in the center of town and throughout the kilometers of Bustillo.
Fly fishing is another sport that is extremely popular in the Bariloche area because of the countless healthy rivers. The season is from mid November to mid April.
Besides outdoor activities, Bariloche also has some of the best fine dining in all of Argentina. There are multiple five-star restaurants, the majority located outside city center, especially surrounding the Llao Llao neighborhood. Some that should not be missed include Cassis, the various restaurants of Hotel Llao Llao, Butterfly, Los Timo, and an Italian favorite, Il Gabbiano. In addition to great food, Bariloche is filled with discos and clubs, creating an abundance of opportunity for fun nightlife.
Bariloche is an amazing area that offers a mixture of city life and protected natural beauty. There are not many places in the world that offer such a diverse, enjoyable lifestyle, especially at such reasonable prices.
Living in Bariloche is not just a way to appreciate the finer things in life. It’s a chance to enhance your quality of life.
About the author: Shanie Matthews and her husband have lived full time in Patagonia since 2007. When they are not fine dining, they spend their time outdoors. They have a daily blog, www.LivingInPatagonia.com and are currently selling their majestic property, www.PatagoniaInvestmentProperty.com. They also manage a vacation rental business, www.BarilocheVacationRental.com, and have hosted guests from over 30 countries.