Five months ago I was signing a 2 year lease on the apartment that I’m currently in, after months of looking and weeks of suffering over the pros and cons. It was not a decision that I entered into lightly, and I thought of so many possible outcomes and other options. This would be my first time living alone in addition to jumping up my rent considerably, about more than half. It’s not like I suddenly hit the jackpot, but I had been living rather cheaply and was looking to finally feel comfortable at home.
After host families in Ecuador, a bad initial burn on arriving to Argentina, and then disappointment after 4 months in the Microcentro, I was looking for a place to call my own where no one would be on my case or make me feel unwelcome. I also wanted to be close to a park so that I could run, go for walks, and just do something other than work and come home to the computer. I knew that I was spending way too much on rent, but rationalized that being happy at home would greatly improve my life here. I also thought that I could get by on the bare minimum of things like food and money for going out on the weekends.
Man, was I wrong. It’s not that I was totally way off. After initially feeling a bit awkward in my new found freedom alone, I soon grew to love having a place to myself, though admittedly it gets lonely and boring at times, especially the weekends. The main problem came down to money. I have to pay my rent 6 months in advance, and coming up with that kind of cash is very difficult. Add to that the fact that the initial budget of rent rose unexpectedly (apparently that’s normal) and the cost of cable and Internet was not originally factored in to my budget. Lastly, inflation has hit me hard, and things that used to be 2 pesos are now 4-5. I might not seem like much, but it adds up quickly.
I would recommend always, always, always err on the side of safety. Don’t assume that you can scrimp all the time because it gets old very fast, and sometimes you just want to have a nice meal or go out without having to count coins. People get annoyed easily when you keep mentioning you’re not sure if you can afford it. One week I had friends in town, and just a couple of days out with them put me in a serious bind. I didn’t eat too well for the second half of March. It’s not fun to live like that. It would be one thing if I was a lazy bum and didn’t work much. But I work too hard to be ghetto-chic, making a normal Argentine salary but starving.
So in the end I decided to cut my losses. I will lose my month deposit (as I knew I always would from leaving early) and the owners have actually offered to give me back a months’ rent for leaving a month before the contract ends in July. That gives me two weeks to get out, which is pretty sudden. They’re already showing the place to new people. On Friday I was talking to a co-worker about my situation and she later told me that her family rents out rooms to exchange students and could offer me a room. The apartment, in Recoleta, is shared by her brother and is next to their family apartment.
I went tonight to check it out and though it’s a small room, there is a common living room and kitchen. It’s a good neighborhood right next to a park, and I can even walk to work again, which will save me some money on the Subte and buses in the long run. I won’t have total privacy anymore, but I’ll also have some roommates near my own age, and can take solace in the fact that I’m not getting screwed over because I know the owner through work. They seem to be a host family, so it might even be a good experience in the end, as I still get my independence but can mingle when I want to.
I don’t want to keep moving around town, and this apartment here was supposed to be my last. Now I hope again that the move to Recoleta will be my last. Otherwise my subconscious keeps willing me to pick up and move after a few months. Now I need to make the most of my remaining time living alone, because who knows how long it will be before that ever happens again. (Burps, scratches stomach, changes channel).