City Structure Guide
The city of Buenos Aires (abbreviated BsAs) is a port city situated on the Rio de la Plata. It is commonly referred to as Capital Federal or the Ciudad Autónoma de Buenos Aires (CABA) as it is a separate municipality, distinct from the Province of Buenos Aires, which surrounds it. Residents of the city are known affectionately as porteños.
The city is sectioned into barrios, or neighborhoods. Buenos Aires barrios vary and many residents tend to stay in their own neighborhoods, never straying far from home. Those who do usually head downtown to work. The business center, known as the Microcentro, is very crowded during the day, but empties out at night and on weekends. With the exception of luxurious Puerto Madero, which lies immediately to the east, all of the residential barrios are located to the west and south of the Microcentro.
Many expats gravitate to the barrios north of Avenida Rivadavia, particularly around Avenida Santa Fe, which becomes Avenida Cabildo as it runs northwest. These barrios include Palermo (a cosmopolitan section with numerous restaurants, bars, shopping, and wonderful parks), Recoleta (historically considered the wealthiest and most exclusive barrio), and Belgrano (upscale, but more residential and a bit less touristy). Some of the quieter, family-friendly neighborhoods on the outskirts include Nuñez, Saavedra, Villa Urquiza and Coghlan, where the expat presence is far smaller.
Closer to Rivadavia and considerably less exclusive, you’ll find Congreso and Tribunales (where the federal buildings are located), Once (known for its textiles and bargain shopping), Almagro (very porteño and in the city’s geographic center) and Villa Crespo (growing in trendiness because of its proximity to Palermo). Last and certainly not least, there’s San Telmo, the historic barrio immediately south of the Microcentro, a popular tourist spot because of its antique architecture and bohemian vibes.
Encompassing the city, the Province of Buenos Aires includes dozens of smaller cities and local governments. The city’s border with the province is marked by the General Paz Expressway to the north, west and southwest, and by the Riachuelo, a narrow river, to the south. Very few expats take up residence in the province, at least upon first arriving. The province tends to be more rural and less expensive, but on the whole it’s less developed and secure, especially to the south of Capital. There are, however, notable exceptions in the cities to the northwest, such as Olivos and San Isidro, featuring large, gated homes and even block-sized mansions.