How to be a digital nomad in Mendoza
I moved to Mendoza after living in Buenos Aires, and ended up staying for four months. Mendoza is an overlooked destination for digital nomads seeking a more relaxed atmosphere. For me, the best quality of Mendoza is the amount of close outdoor activities, but there are many other benefits besides fun stuff to do.
Mendoza is the fourth largest city in Argentina and the capitol of the province with the same name, which is famous for being the largest wine region in Latin America. Also located at the foot of the Andes mountain range, the city is a hub for outdoor adventurers. Many mountain climbers stay in Mendoza while attempting to summit nearby Aconcagua, the largest peak in South America. Besides mountaineering, there are other activities such as hiking, white water rafting, horseback riding, and skiing during the winter.
Despite these major draws, the city is not a popular destination for digital nomads. Most of the people I met in Buenos Aires mentioned Mendoza as a nice vacation getaway. Nobody suggested it as a place to live and work. Since I was interested in seeing other areas of Argentina besides Buenos Aires, I decided to stay for a month and see what the city had to offer. I loved it so much that one month turned into four. Read further to learn why Mendoza is an excellent location for digital nomads traveling in South America.
On a hike outside Mendoza near a town called Las Vegas
I covered most of the requirements for entering Argentina in my previous post about Buenos Aires. Most of these apply to living in Mendoza as well.
Since I stayed for four months, I needed to do a border run to renew my 90-day visa. Mendoza is close to Chile and its capitol Santiago, making a weekend vacation a simple way to renew your visa. The flight from Mendoza to Santiago is less than an hour and the easiest approach. There’s also a bus route, which provides a scenic trip through the Andes. However, this takes longer, plus several hours to go through immigration at the land border-crossing.
Side note: Chile also sells clothing and other items for much less than in Argentina. I took my trip here as an opportunity to buy a new sleeping bag and down jacket for my upcoming Patagonia trip.
Extra side note: The port city of Valparaiso, about an hour’s bus ride from Santiago, is another fun destination for a few days.
Where to Work
The biggest challenge in Mendoza for a remote worker is finding a good internet connection. The connections in the Airbnbs I stayed in were always hit or miss. Sometimes the internet would be fast and reliable, while other times the connection would be slow or not even work.
There are plenty of cafes around town with good WiFi if the connection at home sucks. My favorite place to work was a café called Bonefide, which had free internet and delicious cappuccinos. There is also a nice Starbucks in the downtown area, near Plaza Independencia.
The most reliable internet I found was at a co-working space called Whale Coworking. I spent a month working there when I arrived due to the very slow connection at my first Airbnb. This is one of the few co-working spaces in town. It’s priced fairly, the space is beautiful, and the owners are very friendly.
Touring a bodega during a wine tasting
Where to Live
During my stay in Mendoza I lived in only one neighborhood, downtown between Plaza Independencia and Parque San Martin. This is a convenient area because it’s within walking distance of all the shops and restaurants. Parque San Martin is huge and a great spot for jogging or hiking. Avenida Aristides is in this neighborhood as well and is the main street with nice bars and restaurants.
Outside the city is a suburb called Chacras, another good option. It has many restaurants, nightlife, and is close to some popular vineyards. Many of the homes there are gorgeous (I had one friend with a swimming pool and large grill area in her backyard), and you can have the feeling of living in the Mendoza countryside while still being close to the city. Airbnbs are available in this neighborhood, just check with your host first about the internet speed!
Right now, Airbnb is the best option for finding temporary housing in Mendoza. I learned that the shortest lease for a home or apartment is usually two years. Craigslist doesn’t exist in Mendoza either. Because of this, Airbnb is exploding right now in Mendoza to meet the demands of tourists. Fortunately, this means there are lots of nice rooms or even full homes available on Airbnb, decently priced.
What to do
Mendoza has so much to offer, which was the main reason I moved there. Here is just a taste:
Drink lots of wine
Argentina is the fifth largest producer of wine in the world, and most of it comes from Mendoza. The countryside is full of beautiful vineyards, which are called bodegas. Many bodegas offer tours and wine tastings. You can book wine excursions in town where they’ll pick you up and bus you around to multiple bodegas. My favorite trip was the Bodega Bike Tour, arranged by Kahuak, which include three bodega tours and a wine tasting at each, a bike ride through the Mendoza countryside between each bodega, and lunch at the final stop. I also recommend their horseback riding trip, with was a half day of riding followed by a wine tasting and then asado for lunch. Which brings me too…
I was first introduced to the art of asado in Buenos Aires, which is like a religion in Argentina. I should probably write a whole article about asado. The gist is that it is a party with friends and family, usually at the host’s home. The host slow cooks meat for several hours while everyone drinks mate and wine. In Mendoza, asado is almost a weekly occurrence.
Since Mendoza is located right next to the Andes Mountain range, there are lots of hiking opportunities. An easy trek to get to, even by bus, is Cerro Arco, which takes about an hour and a half to reach the top and offers a great view of the city. Further away, there is hiking around Lago Potrerillos, and you can also book a day trip to the high mountains and even visit Aconcagua. (Find that tourist site)
Learn more Spanish
To continue practicing Spanish, I joined a language exchange group that meets every Tuesday night at the Buffalo Beer bar on Aristides at 9:30. I found the group through Couchsurfing, and it was a great way to practice as well as make friends. Besides language exchanges, I also found a private tutor and took lessons twice a week. I found my tutor through word of mouth, but if you’re looking for one, here is a good place to start.
Same as in Buenos Aires, a night out in Mendoza begins late and can go until sunrise. For me, this usually started with dinner around 10pm at one of the restaurants on Aristides, followed by visiting a bar or two (some people actually go home and nap after dinner, before waking up to go clubbing around 2am). Some of my favorite bars in town include Believe Irish Pub, Chachingo Craft Beer, and Chachita’s Bar, which has really good cocktails. Between 2 – 3am is then when everyone heads out to one of the clubs in Chacras.
A lot more
Besides hiking, wine, and nightlife, there’s lots of other activities. White water rafting and paragliding are more activities for thrill seekers, and in the wintertime, skiing is very popular.
Aguas del Pizarro is a private pool about 45 minutes outside Mendoza. For a small entrance fee you can lounge and cook asado at nearby parrillas all day
Tips and Tricks
- Getting around is not that easy, especially at night. I was stranded twice in Chacras after leaving a club in the morning to find that there were no taxis. Uber is just starting in Mendoza, but whenever I used it, I never saw any available cars. It is best to have a ride arranged with a taxi service or a friend ahead of time whenever planning to go outside the city late at night.
- Siesta time is strictly enforced here, so don’t expect anything to be open midafternoon other than the Starbucks.
- After siesta, most restaurant kitchens don’t start cooking again until around 8pm. I had to suck it up and adjust my schedule to eat late or cook at home.
- I never had a bad experience, but Mendoza did not feel as safe to me as Buenos Aires. Most of the homes are protected with barbed wire and barred windows, and some even have electric fencing around the perimeter. At night the streets are not well lit. I did my best to not walk around after 12pm and took a cab whenever I could.
I had a great time living in Mendoza, and I think it is an underrated destination for digital nomads living in Argentina. Although the internet is a little spotty, I was always able to get by. The cost of living is reasonable, and it’s amazing to buy a delicious steak and glass of wine at a restaurant for $10. Not to mention all the asado you can handle, and the abundant opportunity for outdoor activities. I would recommend Mendoza to anyone who doesn’t need lightning fast internet for work, loves wine, and would like a more relaxed atmosphere than Buenos Aires with opportunities for outdoor activities.