Thursday, September 11, 2008

¡Tengo Donde Vivir!

This phrase literally translates as "I have where to live." After three long weeks of searching, including extending my original temporary apartment by two weeks (which afforded me a full month to live in the lovely neighborhood of Palermo), I have finally found a great place to live. Here are a few highlights of the search.

First, the temporary housing industry in Buenos Aires is booming. Booming, I tell you! This means there are a ton of places available, which is a double-edged sword that involves a lot of picking through the debris to get to the gems. In three weeks I estimate I looked at over 1,000 properties online, and about a dozen in person. I was chained to my computer. Now, Argentina doesn't operate on the same level of efficiency or urgency, and only about 1 out of every 5 e-mail inquiries I sent recieved responses. I finally figured out that making phone calls was much more effective, and even better yet was going into the actual real estate offices. Luckily Palermo has a high concentration of said offices, so I spent all day yesterday on foot. Although at first I tried to find commission-free housing, I finally decided it might be easier if I were willing to pay a finder's fee, and lo and behold, one day after making this decision I have a place to live. Of course, I JUMPED on the apartment when they showed it to me today. I had previous experiences of informally reserving two different places, only to be told they were no longer available when I arrived to pay the deposit. Like I said, the good stuff goes FAST.

I almost died when I saw this place. I've been looking in the $500 price range but was willing to go up to $600 just to find something by the 16th (when I have to be out of this apartment). Now, most of the apartments I saw were just "meh": each one had its set of flaws, including but not limited to being on the ground floor with no light/lots of street noise, poorly or under furnished, no real kitchen to speak of, a sofabed instead of a normal bed, a crappy neighborhood, etc. There were two that were just plain creepy: cement floors, peeling paint, sagging beds, surely rodents in the walls. I decided I could live with the right roommates and that the social aspect might even be welcome, and I did see one shared space with two really cool (presumably gay?) guys that I would have taken if this apartment hadn't presented itself today. (On a side note, by far the most amusing experience was with a seemingly lonely TMI-sharing [too much information for those not in the know] guy who owned his own apartment and made showing it to me date-like; he arrived 15 minutes late because he went out to buy wine and snacks for us, and then proceeded to talk at me for 3 hours straight like every idea he'd ever had was shockingly original, before I was able to escape. I wrote a story about it, if you're interested let me know and I'll send it along.)

Anyway, the apartment. It started with the cab ride. All this looking has admittedly had the benefit of getting me better acquainted with the city and I'm a pro with the subway, several busses, and getting myself to the right place with a map and minimal wrong turns. Today I was running late so I took the subway as close as I could get and then hopped in a short cab ride (when normally I would have walked, and it turns out it's super close to several subways). As we drove through the neighborhood, I noticed it had a lot of what I was looking for: central, with lots of shops and restaurants around, but also neighborhoody, with plenty of trees that will soon be in bloom. Some places in the center clear out on weekends and aren't necessarily safe at night, but this area (Balvanera near Congreso if you're familiar with the city) is always filled with residents. All in all a good vibe. The building itself has kind of a fun address: Bartolomé Mitre 1943. It's a good number since it's a year after my grandparents were married and I like to think of them as war-corresponding newlyweds that ultimately had a great marriage. Anyway, the building itself is sort of oddly big: the entryway is giant, as are the hallways between the elevators and apartments. No problem by me as I only have one neighbor to the left, next to the kitchen and not the bedroom where I will peacefully sleep 11 floors above the street noise. It doesn't have a balcony which was one concession I made, but it has FANTASTIC views and windows in each room, which is rare. Also, one floor up is a rooftap terraza, so I'm not complaining. It has a full, separate kitchen with ample counter space, a stovetop AND an oven, four things you rarely find together in my price range (often the kitchens are incorporated into studios as closets - imagine me trying to cook in one of those). It also has a dining/living room with a big table and this amazingly comfortable chair that turns into a single bed (hint, hint, would be visitors). The bedroom itself is a good size with a comfortable double bed, and it has a great big closet. I especially love that there is no TV suspended above the bed as is common here, since, well, television is addictive and I'd prefer not to get sucked in (though there is one, with cable, in the living room). All in all, YAY! The price is seriously absurd. I have seen tiny studios on the ground floor with a sofabed and a closet kitchen in the same neighborhood for $600. I did have to pay a comission but I am just going to think of rent as $575 a month and still call it a hell of a deal.

It was such a new listing they never even took pictures for their website, so I have none to share (plus I plan on doing a little rearranging) but as soon as I'm in - this Tuesday! - I will snap a few and post them here. I also have another blog half-written about my non-housing-search life here, which I will get posted soon, now that I don't have to dedicate myself to searching for housing. Can I get a booyah?

1 comment:

Renée said...

Booyah! I can't wait to visit!!!
I'm so glad you found your place!!! I'm jealous again!

Now you can concentrate your energy on finding me a hot porteño.