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Whether you’re looking for a vacation rental, or long term housing, it can all feel a bit overwhelming. In Argentina especially, it can feel extra complicated, with factors like inflation and getting a garantia. If you’re unsure about Argentina’s money issues, first check out this blog post so you’ll understand the difference between the red (official) exchange rate and the dolar blue (unofficial). I’m hoping I can simplify things in this blog post for you, to make housing in Buenos Aires feel a bit less overwhelming. Keep in mind, what you’ll find in this post was from my personal experience of renting an apartment in Buenos Aires. Because this is Argentina, there are several experiences people may have had with getting an apartment, as not everyone follows laws precisely here.
WHERE TO LOOK FOR APARTMENTS IN ARGENTINA
Usually Airbnb is my go-to housing search. In Argentina however, things are a bit more complicated due to inflation. If you’re comfortable paying with your credit card (and receiving the red rate) and you’re willing to pay a little extra for convenience, then you should have no problem at all with Airbnb. Continue on with your search!
Some properties are listed for rent by owner (dueño directo), or by a property management company (Inmobiliaria or Buenas Raices).
COST OF APARTMENTS IN ARGENTINA
If you’re curious about the general cost of living in Argentina, check out this blog post where I lay it all out. In Buenos Aires, I paid $400 USD/month for a one bedroom apartment in the Balvanera neighborhood. In Cordoba Capital, I paid about $250 USD/month in the Alberdi neighborhood. In the major cities of Argentina like Cordoba and Buenos Aires, you can find prices anywhere between $200-$1500/month. Finding a great apartment at an affordable price is not impossible, it will just take a little more effort than using Airbnb.
When I first rented my apartment in Cordoba, I paid 46,000 pesos. When I rented the same apartment again a few months later, the price went up to 50,000 pesos. But the peso had increased against the dollar, so it was actually more affordable for me, since I exchanged at a good rate. Because of inflation and the fluctuation of the peso/dollar, prices will change. That is pretty normal. Even if you sign a 3-year contract at a certain price, you can expect that after one year the price will increase. You will not be paying the exact same peso amount by year 3 as you did in year 1 of the contract.
Prices will differ for apartments depending on the neighborhood. If you’re looking in a more upscale neighborhood like Belgrano or Palermo, prices will of course reflect that accordingly. Prices will be lower in other neighborhoods like San Telmo, Monserrat, Almagro, etc. Prices will always be higher on Airbnb. I’ve seen nice apartments in Belgrano rent for $400/week, with a 2-week maximum stay. Many apartments you find on Airbnb will be in the $700-$1000/range.
You will always find more affordable prices off Airbnb, and on the more local sites listed above. For example, a one bedroom apartment with 24-hour security, a rooftop swimming pool, gym, laundry room, etc. can be found for around $400/mo on Mercado Libre or Zonaprop. You just have to be willing to put in the extra effort of organizing visits, gathering the documents, paying in cash, possibly paying several months in advance, etc.
KEY WORDS TO KNOW
Alquiler– The Rent
Alquiler Temporal – Seasonal Rent
Venta – Sell
Ubicacion – Location
Buscar – Search
Barrio – Neighborhood
Expensas – Expenses
Vendedor – Seller (or renter)
Inmobiliaria/Buenas Raices – Property Management Company
Dueño Directo – Owner (work directly with owner)
Departamento – Apartment
Ambiente – Room (literally atmosphere)
Monoambiente – A studio apartment
Dos ambientes – An apartment with a living room and one bedroom
Tres ambientes – An apartment with a living room and two bedrooms
Pileta – Swimming Pool
Terraza – Terrace
Amenities – Amenities, but usually this would include swimming pool, gym, etc.
Inmuebles – Structure (like any building)
Heladera – Refrigerator
Lavaropa – Washing Machine (laundry)
THE RENTING LAWS IN ARGENTINA
If you’re looking for a long-term housing situation, you can count on these official rules and requirements:
- Tenants are required to sign a 3-year contract with their landlords.
- The tenant will be required to provide their DNI (national tax ID number), and proof of income.
- The tenant is required to find a garantia (someone who owns property in Buenos Aires, and is willing to vouch for you. Basically if you don’t pay your rent, the landlord can go after the property of your guarantor).
- Generally, you’ll need to pay 2 month’s rent in advance (deposit, first month’s rent)
That said, this is Argentina after all, and rules don’t always apply. Technically, it’s law that an owner or an intermediary cannot charge a commission to the renter (the owner should be paying this), though you will sometimes find this to not be true. We have been asked to pay an additional month’s rent for commission while on our search for apartments. If this happens, then you may need to come up with 3-months of rent before moving in (first month, deposit, commission).
It is also technically the law that the renter should not be paying the “informes,” which are the documents that need to be signed (garantia, proof of income, etc.), however sometimes you might be asked to pay them. The average price should be about 1500 pesos per page, though we have been asked to pay up to 6500 per page.
The ‘informes we needed to gather were:
1. Recibo de sueldo (Receipt of salary)
2. Photocopy of the DNI
3. Guarantia inmobiliaria (guarantor)
For #3, the guarantor needs to provide an Informe de dominio del inmueble (Proof of ownership of the property). Also, if there are multiple owners of the property, each person on the title needs to provide an
informe de inhibicion (inhibition report- basically stating they are willing to be your guarantor).
While the ‘garantia’ is also technically a law, you can often get around this by paying several months in advance. The garantia is basically just to prove that the owner won’t get screwed out of payment. So if you offer to pay 6 months-1 year in advance, they might take you up on that and waive the garantia.
I should note here also, that as a foreigner they did not ask to see any of my documents. I do not have a DNI, and I did not have to sign the contract. This is because my boyfriend is an Argentine citizen, and they were fine to accept only his income and DNI. If it were just me, a lone foreigner, my best bet would be to get the garantia and various extra documents waived by offering to pay several months in advance.
Search online at the above websites. You can use the filters to search for exactly what you want (price, location, rooms, etc.). The websites usually list the specific address (unlike Airbnb), and the phone number or whatsapp number of the contact person.
It is common practice in Argentina to communicate via whatsapp, so feel free to send over a message to the owner/intermediary and set up an appointment. Once you have made your appointment, head on over to meet them and see the place. Try to be on time, but don’t be surprised if they’re running late.
Remember to take photos and videos of each place you look at as they might start to get mixed up, if you’re looking at several.
Don’t take it personally if you feel the landlord doesn’t trust you. In Argentina, the economy is so unstable that nobody ever fully trusts that anyone will pay what they owe.
If you’re just looking to rent short term, you will probably not be required to do a ton of extra document gathering and meetings. Rather it will be just a quick meeting to hand over the money, and get the keys.
If you’re looking to rent long term, there will most likely be quite a bit of back and forth with the owner/intermediary while you gather documents. Once you have all your documents together, you’ll arrange a time to meet at the apartment. Both parties will sign the documents, you’ll pay and get the keys.
In our situation, we received the keys to our new apartment about 5 days before the start of our first month. Because we had paid everything, taken care of all the tasks, and signed all the documents, they allowed us to move in early.
AFTER YOU MOVE IN
Buying Furniture in Buenos Aires:
Now you’re all moved in, and you’re going to want to furnish your place, right? The place in the city to find furniture is all along Avenida Belgrano in the Balvanera neighborhood. There are blocks and blocks of furniture store for all different types of budgets. There are specialty shops for babies, for sofa beds, for chairs. Give yourself a Saturday afternoon to peruse as many shops as possible to get a good idea of prices and items.
Just keep in mind that ordering furniture can take up to several days or weeks. We bought a beautiful dark green sofa off the floor from Cirik Muebles (we loved working with them), so we were able to get it delivered the following weekend (it could have been same day if we wanted). We had originally considered ordering a couch in Mustard yellow at first. Because it was going to take 40 days to arrive, we decided against it. The plus side, is that we could have chosen both the color and fabric type that we wanted.
There are a ton of antique shops around the San Telmo area if you’re looking for more antique or vintage styles to furnish your apartment and add some unique details. However, they do tend to come with a much higher price tag.
There is a flea market (mercado de las pulgas) in Colegiales where you can pass through a massive covered market with tons of old furniture. You will have to dig. Plan on spending a lot of time there.
Our favorite second hand furniture shop is on the northwest corner of Rincon and Moreno in the Balvanera neighborhood (can’t find the name for it). You can find actual deals on antiques here. We got old antique lamps for about $10 each.
In the United States, the Salvation Army is a place where you can find used goods at a very reasonable price. Here in Buenos Aires, the Ejército de Salvación is a huge rip off. We found several items here to be the same price, or near the same price as brand new furniture in Balvanera. It’s a bit far from the center and I would recommend against taking the time to head out there.
Get your furniture made in Buenos Aires:
One more furniture option, is to buy furniture from a wood shop (maderera) if you don’t mind painting it yourself. We went to several to check out the goods.
At Fierro (exactly on the corner of Av. Belgrano and Combate de los Pozos in Balvanera) they will even make furniture for you with custom measurements. We bought a 1m wide round table for 23,000 pesos. That is half the price of new tables we found. We just have to paint and varnish it ourselves.
Andre’s Calidad (Av. Independencia 1534) has several pre-made pieces, but does not do custom orders. However, we found the best prices here for night stands, stools, and shelves.
Maderera San Juan (Av. San Juan 3020) does do custom orders, though slightly more expensive than at Fierro. However, they don’t do round tables. They have several varnish and acrylic paint as well. This is also the place to buy tiny furniture for your doll house.
Articen (Av La Plata 757) is another wood shop that has several pre-made pieces but does not do custom orders.
Buying Home Goods in Buenos Aires:
If you’re looking for home goods including dishes, sheets, rugs, etc. I actually found Coto to be the best resource. There are a few very large Coto’s that have two levels. I found the Coto in Barracas (Gaspar Melchor de Jovellanos 151, Buenos Aires) to have a great variety of products at very affordable prices.
If you have a DNI, or an Argentine friend who can help you out, Mercado Libre is a great resource. It’s the Amazon of South America, but unfortunately can only be used with a DNI. You can find a wide varity of products with great prices and a fast delivery.
Arredo is a chain store around the city with home goods as well, but they do tend to have a bit of a higher price point. There are a couple Arredo Factory locations that are more of an outlet store, and you can get discount prices if you don’t mind a stain, or some other mistake (from minor to major) in the manufacturing process.
Colombraro is another chain store that specializes in plastics. It’s a great place to buy hangers, trash cans, organizing bins, etc. It does tend to be a bit more expensive than other places, but you can find a lot of things all at once. It’s like Target if Target was full of nothing but plastic.
I hate describing these shops as this, but Argentine’s call them “Chinos,” as they are primarily Chinese owned. They are variety stores that have everything. I love walking into these shops to have a look around. They are full of a ton of items from candles to notebooks to picture frames to socks. You’re bound to find something you need in here at a great price. They can be found all over the city.
Of course you’ll want wifi once you move in. Unfortunately in Argentina, it’s a process the can sometimes take a bit of time. Try to research in advance the companies that service the area you want to live in. Not all companies serve all areas of the city. If possible, try to schedule your installation as soon as possible.
When we were trying to get our wifi installed, the answer we kept getting was “we’ll call you.” That didn’t sound very promising. Ultimately it took us about 10 days to finally have wifi once we moved in, using Alpha2000.