Apartment Hunting in Buenos Aires – First hand account from Stephanie of Twenty-Something Travel
Stephanie answers our short-stay apartment rental questions about finding an apartment in Buenos Aires.
1. Please tell us about your apartment, the location, when and how long you rented it for?
My fiance and I rented a 1 bedroom apartment in Buenos Aires for 3 months in early 2012. We had been backpacking around South America for 3 months and really wanted to stop and rest and catch up on work. My fiance’s family is from Buenos Aires so that was an added incentive.
We found a place in the Monserrate neighborhood of Buenos Aires, near the city center. It had a large bedroom and bathroom, a small kitchen and an enclosed patio dining room with a tiny outdoor balcony. It was on the ninth floor, with a great view nearly to the river. Best of all, it had AC which is an absolute must during the scorching Argentine summer.
2. How did you find your apartment rental?
Although my fiance speaks Spanish, almost all of the furnished apartments in BA are catered to foreign visitors on websites like Roomorama and AirBNB. We ended up finding our place on Air BNB, but when we went to look at it the realtor suggested we go around the website to avoid their fees, which we ultimately did.
3. How much did you pay and did you negotiate (price or terms)? What are your negotiating strategies when renting short-term apartments?
Most of our negotiation was centered around the utilities and who would be in charge of them, as well as how we would deal with the deposit. There can be some shady “misunderstandings” in BA real estate, so we wanted to make sure we spelled out and understood everything in our spanish language contract.
4. Did you try any strategies for finding a rental that didn’t work e.g., you tried airbnb but the prices were too high.
We had hoped we would be able to get a lower price by asking around in Spanish but, in the end it was much easier to just go through a website.
Most apartments catering to foreigners list their apartment prices in US dollars, which can lead to some misunderstandings as you will most likely be paying in pesos. The first apartment we were interested in was beautiful, but the owners insisted on an inflated exchange rate which made the rent much higher than first advertised. We had to pass.
5. Did you experience any unanticipated problems, either with your rental or the location?
Our apartment flooded once during a freak rainstorm, which was surprising! Our biggest issue (which we anticipated) came as we were leaving. Our landlady started to make up problems in an attempt to keep our deposit. We knew this was a big issue in this city, so we had documented everything and argued our case. We ended up paying her just $40 our of our $500 deposit.
6. Now that you’ve done your rental, what would you do differently? What would you do the same? Would you recommend where you went as a good place to spend a month?
We enjoyed our time in Buenos Aires, but I think many people do not realize that it is a very expensive city to live in these days. Our expenses were just as much, if not more, than they would have been in the United States.
After we left BA we visited the smaller city of Rosario and I found myself wishing we’d rented there instead. It was much less expensive and prettier.
7. What advice would you give to other travelers looking for a reasonably priced apartment in the same location?
Ask any contacts or friends you might know in the city and consider apartments outside of just the Palermo area, which is popular with travelers but pricey.
Don’t expect to find a cheap apartment in Buenos Aires though, the rental market for temporary foreigners is very pricey right now due to inflation. Often you can bring the rental price down a bit if you agree to pay in US dollars (which are impossible to get within the country, you will need to carry them with you).
8. Other than the rental we’ve focused on, if you’ve done apartment rentals in other places, what were some of the best ones? e.g., one month in the X neighborhood of X city for X price.
We have done many rentals in other cities, but usually just for a week or so. We’ve used nearly every apartment booking engine out there (Roomorama, Wimdu, Go with Oh etc) and they all seem mostly comparable to me.
For destinations like Buenos Aires where you might arrive to problems if you book an apartment over the internet, I recommend staying in a hotel or hostel and signing up for an apartment only after you had a chance to see it in person. You can use the local version of http://www.expedia.com.ar/Buenos-Aires-Hoteles.d178242.Guia-de-Hoteles to get a convenient overview of the two main hotel districts in Buenos Aires (and to test out your Spanish since it’s in Spanish :)) Do substantial research before you go, so that you can minimize the time you spend looking but in the case of Buenos Aires, it’s best not to push the button until you get there. For other locations like NYC, I’m comfortable making apartment arrangements based on a Skype tour of the apartment.