Would you like skip my rambling and just find out how to rent an apartment in BA? You don’t know what you’re missing, but OK. Click here. This is some quality rambling, though. Just sayin’.
I signed the rental contract on my new Buenos Aires apartment yesterday, and then I went to look at it again. To pace out the measurements, shoot photos, and see if there was wifi to
steal borrow (there’s not).
It’s entirely possible that when I originally went to see the place I was so relieved to have not spent an hour on the subte to get there, or be standing in an airless space with no natural light, or have to imagine myself showering while standing on top of the toilet, that the walls actually receded as I stood, giddy and delusional, by the balcony door.
When I got there yesterday (having first spent a good ten minutes trying to open the wrong door, scaring my neighbour and thus getting off to a really good start) it was smaller than I’d remembered. Much smaller.
I’d imagined some kind of day-bed type thing – double, of course – facing the balcony and serving for sleeping and lounging. Yes, I would lounge. I would lounge the hell out of that apartment.
This would leave more than adequate space for a tall bookshelf and a spacious desk by the window where I would sip glasses of chilled white wine while turning out witty articles and insightful blog posts. My gauzy, rich orange drapes would blow gently in the breeze throughout this entire process.
Now I find myself wondering if beds come in a size smaller than “single”, and if the noise of the street would really preclude me from putting the desk on the balcony.
I also don’t have drapes yet. This is a problem, because my apartment is so small it can basically be seen in its entirety from the street.
But hey, its not that bad. See that? That’s my
local park giant back garden. A giant back garden that comes with cute doggy friends for Manu, attractive boys on guitar or playing soccer football for my viewing pleasure, and lots of sunshine and trees. Parque Las Heras justifies at least 50% of my monthly rent.
Apartment Rentals in Buenos Aires
1. Type of Rental
Apartments in BsAs come in alquileres, your stock-standard long-term rentals and alquileres temporales, or temporary rentals. This may be my rental market naïveté, as I can’t remember the last time I actually rented a place in an actual city, but I read “temporary rentals” as being a couple of months, and definitely not what I wanted.
Not so. Rentals in Buenos Aires are, by law, for a contract of two years. Anything less than that is a temporary rental, and is noticeably more expensive. I get the impression the latter is the option most foreigners take. Guarantee (bond) requirements may be looser, and you are way more likely to find a furnished property. If this is the option you choose, your life will be simpler. Flick through the following points, just in case, then cruise on over to the links at the bottom of the article and start looking for your dream home.
I like to make life hard on myself. I also objected to the higher prices for temporary rentals, and decided that really, furniture wasn’t expensive enough to justify paying extra month after month. Goddamnit, I would have a proper rental and decorate it as I saw fit!
This is where I ran up against problems.
Most agencies require ownership of property in Argentina (sometimes it has to be in the capital) to act as guarantee for the rental. Maybe you have a really amazingly trusting friend here to volunteer, but nobody I know in Argentina owes me a favour that enormous. So I spent days calling up about properties, asking if there would be an alternative means – a cash bond of x months rent? – and crossing out address after address. It did save a huge amount of travelling time by cutting my list of potential apartments into about a tenth of its original size.
I’ve put down a 12 month deposit in cash on my new apartment. This is why point 3 is really important.
This is a lot of cash. This is also a long time – two years – to commit to an apartment. That’s quite a long time for me to commit to an entire country, come to think of it.
It is, therefore, hugely important to vet the agency you will be dealing with, as well as the contract you sign with them. Check out their certificates and offices. Ask around. Google them. They should be registered and have a government-issued number. Make sure there is a reasonable exit clause in the contract in case you don’t make it the full two years.
Do not sign the contract without reading it carefully (I shouldn’t really have to tell you that, should I?). I was given mine to review in peace and quiet several days before we actually signed it, which is always for the best. No matter how good your Spanish is, legalese in any language is tricksy, so have a local look it over for you as well, if you can.
4. Assorted money stuff
Like apartments all over the world, you will be responsible for costs, building fees, and so forth. Figure out what these are before you sign, and keep in mind that the government is considering reducing the subsidies on services. Inflation being what it is here your water bill might go up, considerably, in the next few years.
To my surprise, agent fees are paid by the tenant here. Be clear on what these are.
5. Finding a place
I was dying to live alone, plus its a little difficult to rent a room in a shared apartment with a dog in tow.
But if you want to skip all the aforementioned dramas, head over to MercadoLibre or Craigslist Buenos Aires and click on their “share” sections (both also advertise rentals for one person). Both entail the obvious risk of dealing with strangers in an unregulated online marketplace, so be careful. MercadoLibre is in Spanish, Craigslist a mix of Spanish and English. The latter is on the whole oriented to tourists or expats so the prices tend to be in dollars and rather more expensive than you would find elsewhere.
The quality seems to be quite high though, so for a comfortable, short-term rental with all the amenities and in a posh part of town, this may be the best place to look.
ZonaProp have both alquileres and alquileres temporales. Everything is in Spanish and it is a portal used primarily by real estate agencies. I found my apartment here.
Above all, and especially if you’re looking to share, ask around in hostels and restaurants. Some owners rent directly and leave signs up around the neighbourhood. Obviously this brings its own collection of risks and complications, but shouldn’t automatically be discounted. A group of Colombians – friends of a friend – met some guy on the street who rented them an apartment to share for a great price and with a tiny deposit. Lucky sons of bitches.
Provided he doesn’t kick them to the curb in a few months.