Whether you plan to stay for a couple weeks or a few months, many travelers opt to rent a Buenos Aires apartment instead of staying in a hotel. Yet, without help finding a nice place and dealing with all of the Argentine idiosyncrasies, it can be a bit daunting.
Now, it is true that when I am not moonlighting as “The American Girl in Buenos Aires” I am running my own real estate business here, but I speak from experience on the subject of finding a Buenos Aires apartment. I must have spent a week straight in December of last year visiting websites, constantly responding to ads on Craigslist and emailing agencies, just to find a vacation rental for two weeks! I experienced many unanswered requests, misleading listings and irrelevant emails from agencies. It was this precise experience that led me to set up my own agency, and so the advice offered here is from the heart.
In the seven months I have lived and worked here I can tell you without bias that there are many things you need to take into account when selecting a Buenos Aires apartment. Here are some of the most important factors to consider…
Tip 1: Choosing the Right Neighborhood
Before you talk to an agent or start searching listings, make sure you know what you want and ask for it. If you do not know the neighborhoods then describe what type of experience you would like to have in Buenos Aires and your real estate agent will likely steer you in the right direction.
For example, if you want a more Bohemian artsy neighborhood you may choose San Telmo; if want trendy shops and fun nightlife then you likely will prefer Palermo; and if you want to experience the “Paris of South America” and live near upscale shops and beautiful streets Recoleta is probably your place.
Tip 2: Getting Value for Money
It is understandable to look at the exchange rate and want a bargain, but whether you are traveling on a tourist visa and/or a residing expat unless you have your DNI (Documento Nacional de Identidad) your “residency” you are a essentially a tourist here and are paying tourist rates. For those of us who live here we find ways to best live like a “porteño”, but even we have our limits.
Compare the rates of the local hotels then compare what you will be paying per day for an apartment. Chances are you are getting a VERY good deal compared to staying in a hotel, so be thankful. If you want accommodations like the Four Seasons then expect to pay similar rates for an upscale apartment or house. Don’t rent a nice apartment for the equivalent of $30-$50(USD)/day and complain when the linens are not 800 thread-count or the kitchen does not have “all-clad” pots/pans. If you want to live in a high-rise with all of the swanky amenities then keep in mind that these will be costing the owner around $250-$300(USD) a month plus utilities.
Most of these apartments also include weekly maid service, so while the cost of a maid is definitely less expensive here think about how much your housekeeper at home costs and count your blessings.
Tip 3: Finding a Good Agent
There is no central real estate system for sales or rentals in Buenos Aires so, although I recommend it, it is less common to choose one real estate agent to represent you. As a result, the process can be not only exhausting, but also very time consuming. Many agencies will send you multiple options that do not meet your needs, some will not return your call or email promptly and others seem so nonchalant about the whole process you will think they are not commission driven!
Fear not though, because while many agents and agencies are not as apt to the service most of us are used to in our own countries there are also many who “get it” and are fantastic! The key is to find a couple really attentive agents and stick with them before exhausting yourself on craigslist and scouring countless websites!
There are many fabulous agencies here to help you settle into a Buenos Aires apartment. Founded in 2005, My Place Real Estate is a boutique firm established by a well-traveled Argentine who understood the general needs of the traveler. They offer apartments in all prices, but average about $800-1800/month.
For the South American traveler seeking upscale accommodations Oasis Collections deal in not only Buenos Aires apartments, but other countries too, and is a great choice. Established by three guys from the USA who primarily work with newly renovated luxurious places the rates for their properties range generally from $2500-$10,000+.
And of course my own shameless plug, my company, Jensen Properties International generally focusing on the $1000-$3500 market. After 15 years in the San Francisco real estate market I immediately saw a need in the Buenos Aires apartment market for someone to not only represent their own inventory, but also to really search and find what the client wants… “If I do not have in my inventory the perfect place for you I will keep searching until I find one.”
Tip 4: Remember, This is Argentina
While many apartments look very nice and are well-cared for, if your internet or air conditioning goes out do not be surprised if you have to wait a few days for it to be fixed. Often this is beyond the control of the owner or agent…things just generally move at slower pace here.
Tell Us About YOUR Buenos Aires Apartment
While renting a Buenos Aires apartment can have its quirks I highly recommend it as an option to anyone looking for a more authentic Argentina travel experience. We’d love to hear from anyone with their own experiences – positive or negative – of renting a Buenos Aires apartment as a tourist or ex-pat – do share your own tips here on the blog, or via our Twitter or Facebook profiles.
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