A new country, a new dream

IMGP6949 I never thought that buying a home in Argentina would be easy. I was right. The past weeks have tested my commitment and drive to achieve this new part of my dream, to the limit. Maybe one day some of you will want to follow in my footsteps and own a tiny piece of Buenos Aires. If you do perhaps my story will help you to have the smoothest possible ride.

Here is the first installment:

 Part 1. Finding the perfect pad

This part involved a lot of walking.

I chose several barrios that I thought I might like to live in. My criteria were: affordable, all the useful amenities within a few blocks, safe, close to good transport links (Subway line D or Subway line B and buses), relatively close to Ariel’s classes. Initially I considered Villa Crespo, Abasto and Almagro (cheaper and closer to Subway line B), and Barrio Norte, Las Canitas, and Belgrano going out to the end of the Subway line D at Congreso de Tucuman (more expensive, though cheaper the farther out you get). In case you are wondering, I simply couldn’t afford Recoleta where I live now or many parts of Palermo.

I started with the Clarin newspaper and website: www.clarin.com.ar to find apartments that I could afford (up to US$60000). I wanted new because I hope that it will require less maintenance than an older place. This hiked the price, and narrowed the search. Yes, there is a huge amount of building happening in BA right now, but I discovered that many places will not be completed until summer 2008 and this is too late for me. I want to start saving rent now. I made a list of all the possibilities and marked their locations on my trusty tango map. Then I started walking.

At first the experience was depressing. I had to cross off the subway line B barrios. Basically I found that I didn’t like the locations of the available apartments. Often too, I discovered the apartments were in a very early stage of build and would never be ready in the stated time frame. I decided I couldn’t buy something I couldn’t actually see completed. I wanted to know what the finish would be like, touch the view with my own eyes, feel the space. One day I walked in Villa Crespo to view the location of a gorgeous looking finished studio apartment at the attractive price of US$47500. I thought it was a bit too good to be true. It was one new ‘designer’ building in amongst streets and streets of car workshops. All I could hear was grinding and all I could smell were petrol fumes and rubber. There wasn’t a single cafe or ‘panaderia’ in sight, and it was a VERY long walk from the centre of Villa Crespo. Exploratory walks like this took hours, and left me too tired to tango. But I always learned something, even if it was that I wouldn’t be going back.

Then things started to look up. I noticed that if I went to look at a particular address, my walk often took me past many other ‘For Sale’ boards and many apartment blocks that I didn’t know about. I started taking photographs of every one I saw that I liked. When I got home I enlarged the photo to read the agent’s name, and searched for the agent on the internet to see if I could afford the place and if it was available.

I started exploring the barrios on the subway line D. Barrio Norte – too expensive. Congreso de Tucuman – affordable new apartment builds, plenty available now, quiet streets but maybe too quiet, and maybe a bit far out. Central Belgrano – anything new, out of my price range. Las Canitas – ah Las Canitas, well this is where I started smiling. I went to visit a new build in Las Canitas, that I had found on the internet. Apparently it would be attended for viewings between 2 and 5pm. At 3.30pm when I arrived there was nobody in attendance. The door was locked. But I am not one to waste a journey. I walked the area. I liked it. I took a few photos other apartment blocks. When I got home and researched on the web, I found details of one possible: a studio on the fourth floor, US$54000. An email or two later I had an appointment to view on the coming Saturday.

I took Carlos with me. He works in the building trade so has a useful eye, asks the right questions and of course he speaks all the castellano that I don’t. Essential. The only studio left by the day I got there was on a higher floor (better) and was priced at US$60000 (worse), but I LOVED it. It had an amazing view over the city. When I walked in all I noticed was light flooding in and the sky beyond the big glass doors onto the balcony. I imagined waking up to that sky every day and my heart was set. It was that easy. Then we looked in more detail: good kitchen, quality bathroom – with a bath/shower (gotta take a bath before dancing), great water pressure, gas powered heating, gorgeous wooden floor – perfect for the occasional tango. The sun terrace and small swimming pool on the roof, both with fantastic views, were a bonus… A possible price of US$57000 was discussed with the agent accompanying us and I agreed to call the next day with my decision.

Then we walked around the corner to the block of apartments I hadn’t managed to get in to before. They were attended this time. We viewed for comparison. OK they were bigger, but still only studios. Carlos didn’t like the heating system which was basically a big air conditioning unit that could blow hot or cold. The views were into the noisy street, or into other apartments. And worst of all, the prices were between US$75000 and US$85000 – totally unaffordable. As we walked back to the subway we bumped into the agent who we had left earlier – fate. 

Thirty minutes later on 8th July, for better or for worse, I had reserved the apartment with an agreement to pay the US$500 deposit on the Monday. I had walked enough, seen enough, thought enough. I am the same with whatever I decide to buy: tango shoes, pink shoe laces, an apartment. I see it. I know if I like it in seconds. And I liked this place very much. All I had to do was make the whole thing happen…


2 Responses

  1. Hey congrats on the place!!! This is great news… we are all waiting, of course, for the house-warming milonga 😉


  2. Hey Sally! Its Lottie! Hellloooooo is argentina good? I Just found your card you gave me ages ago and it said your blog address on so i thought i’d just check it out!! See you when you buy a house hopefully haha…

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