Tag Archives: apartments

My Last Night in Recoleta

25 Dec

It seems like only yesterday that I was moving out of my own apartment in Palermo to a shared one in Recoleta. It was the beginning of July and winter was picking up steam. After living alone for six months I was looking forward to having some company again and hopefully getting some more friends out of the experience. It would be slightly cheaper and closer to work, allowing me to walk to work, which is a gift in this giant city. In better weather it would also give me the chance to go running right out of the front door and down a stretch of road perfect for a street runner. The 4th move since arriving less than a year earlier in Buenos Aires, it was supposed to be my last, but now at the end of December I find myself spending the last night in Recoleta before moving back to Palermo tomorrow afternoon.

Again, the choice to move out was made by financial reasons, and as inflation continues to rise, it became necessary to find something more stable. Living hand to mouth while working so hard got too old, and knowingly paying way too much for rent was no longer something I could consciously do. So this is my last night in “the most exclusive neighborhood in Buenos Aires.” I never felt totally comfortable here because in reality it’s just not my kind of place. The upper class-snooty-boutique world makes for a nice pass through occasionally, but it simply wasn’t for me on a day-to-day basis. Of course, the part of Recoleta that I live in is considered the most elite part of the whole neighborhood, so not all of the barrio is like this. You won’t find many small shops or businesses that actually suit your normal needs. This proved difficult to me. Transportation was slim because most people have cars.

Now I’ll be moving back to Palermo, but this time in front of the Botanical Gardens. With more transportation, stores and little cafes that are in my budget, I think I’ll be happier. With the possibility to enjoy myself more comes the improvement of the quality of life. So goodbye Recoleta. I’ll still have some fond memories, but it just didn’t work out.

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To Further Confuse You On Where I Live

21 Dec

The apartment I saw yesterday was nice with an excellent location. It’s right in front of the Botanical Gardens and on the 13th floor, has a panoramic view from the east to the west. It’s not exactly a penthouse with the luxury that might bring out millionaires, but it was just what I was looking for. Still not totally furnished, the guy from Bariloche who studies and plays piano in the house seemed alright and like a good fit for me. It was a musical house, but also a place to relax and feel comfortable. I saw a mate sitting on the table and thought that this could work.

But as he was explaining the details on the place, I got a call from the previous apartment saying that they could let me back in, giving me something else to think about. Something about their new deal just didn’t feel right with me, and though I think it would be a far stretch to say they were trying to scam me, but the trust was definitely gone. It’s not a good way to start off a relationship in the apartment aside from everything else. Today I got an email from the guy at the other apartment saying he liked me and I was welcome to live there and move in on Sunday, the same day that I’d bee preparing to move in originally at the other place.

My friends gave me the same advice, and my mind was pretty much already made. In the end I decided to go with the new place rather than take a risk on a sketchy owner and a situation that could devolve once again. So now, as planned before, yet not according to plan, I’ll be moving to a new apartment on Sunday. This place will be close to where I once lived in Plaza Italia, and I’m interested in seeing how things have changed in the 5 months that I’ve been “gone”.

Otra Vez, Otro Quilombo

18 Dec

I should have known it was too good to be true when I thought I’d be moving into the new place next week with no trouble. This afternoon I got a text out of the blue from the girl who showed me the apartment that I was supposedly moving to in Palermo next week. Though a phone call would have been more appropriate for something like this, she said that they couldn’t rent me the room after all because the owner of the apartment just decided to sell the place. Even though I’d left a deposit already, she said I could come pick it up tomorrow, yet the return of the money doesn’t unscrew my situation. I was set to move next week and had obviously given enough warning to the people in charge of my current apartment.

So basically, that gives me one week to find a new apartment, and since it’s high season for tourism and I’m busy all the time at work while also working on several writing projects, it basically means that I’m with my back against the wall. I have already begun looking for a new place and will go tomorrow to Monserrat to look at an apartment, but the situation is bleak. At this point I’m so disappointed and frustrated with housing in Buenos Aires that I’m ready to just camp out in the street rather than go through it all again. It just seems like a reminder that nothing can go well or well enough for too long before the next disaster rolls along.

Es Un Tema

31 Oct

Those of you who have followed along throughout my time in Argentina know that one main struggle I’ve had is finding stable housing. In a year in Argentina I’ve already moved four times, with various problem in just finding a place which is affordable with sane people, semi-close to work and nice places to go out, with a close enough park to run by. It might seem like a lot, but what it all comes down to in the end is feeling truly comfortable in a home, rather than just like being in transit in a hostel. There have been many sacrifices on these points. First I had a cheap place but in a bad neighborhood, then living in an uncomfortable situation and no where near a park, followed by way over my price range.

Even on the 4th move to Recoleta (admittedly odd considering how expensive the neighborhood is) it was slightly cheaper than what I was previously paying. But with inflation continuing, the problem now becomes that planning ahead is nearly impossible. If I look at my monthly salary and what I need to get by, X, it unfortunately morphs to Y by the end of the month, and now even though I scrimped and saved as much as I could, I still don’t make it easily to the 31st. This is what happens when you live in a country with an unstable economy. For example, on the rare occasion that I don’t bring a small sandwich to work (cheapest option) I buy a couple of empanadas from a bakery around the corner from the office. In one week the prices of the empanadas, which were cheaper than most places for months, went up twice. Now they’re no longer a cheap and delicious option.

So with these things in mind, I’ve been looking for a new apartment yet again. The idea of moving for a 5th time makes me sick, but since paychecks don’t adjust for inflation, I’m left with few choices. It wouldn’t be my own fault if I barely worked, but I work too long and too hard to be so poor, so something’s gotta give, again. I began looking a couple of weeks ago and have seen many apartments already, but with little success. It’s always the same catch. One apartment is well-located but it’s a dump where I could possibly contract cholera. Another is a great apartment, nice location and affordable, but some odd rule like I can never have a friend over and need to be quiet most of the time. I might have a friend over once every two months and I’m quiet anyway, but I like having the option at least. Plus, if I’m paying to live there I want to feel like it’s my apartment as well, and not that I’m just a guest.

I was also burned twice on two other apartments where everything was great, but after talking with the guys they told me they preferred girls, despite the fact that it wasn’t in the ad. No worries, they just wasted my time and enthusiasm. Thanks. Jumping around town looking for the right place by the end of the month drained me and my body fell exhausted all week, and eating something bad on Monday night didn’t help, making me remember the good old days on the Ecuador diet.

But last night I was hanging out with my friend Pablo and a friend of a friend told me about a Web site which is better than Craigslist, the source I’ve been using. Craigslist for apartments in Buenos Aires is more for foreigners, I was told, but another Web site, CompartoDepto is for Argentines. As much as I hate revealing a secret which could then cause the site to be trafficked by too many people, it’s worth noting. These apartments are for sharing with people in the area, mostly students or young professionals, meaning the prices are all in pesos and very reasonable. I’ve only started to go through it today, but already sent out a few messages. I have to wait now to see if they get back to me and if it works out. But either way, I’ll let you know if this process proves to be successful.

First Impressions on the Move to Recoleta

4 Jul

I’ve been in the new apartment in Recoleta now for a few days, which is long enough to formulate the ideas for what I think of it so far. Before living here, Recoleta was an exclusive neighborhood that warranted a special reason to visit. It wasn’t simply a neighborhood that I’d be accidentally passing through. But now I live here and I can see that it’s quite residential, with hardly any useful shops. As Woody Allen said, “I wouldn’t want to be part of any club that would have me as a member.” The mystique is sort of gone now.

Take for example the idea of the shops. There are a couple of supermarkets nearby, but I can’t seem to find any fiambrerías or carnicerías (places for deli, cheese, and meat) which would generally have cheaper prices than a large supermarket chain. They could very well be around but I haven’t found them yet, but of course the farther I have to walk to find them means I’m less likely to go shopping there. I’ve already written about how the price of laundry is exaggeratedly higher here than in Palermo, and the price of food is equally intimidating. I don’t even want to think about going out to eat here. There is a nice looking cafe on the corner that I’ll always walk by and never set foot in. What a waste.

It’s such a beautiful and peaceful area, Recoleta. It really is quite Parisian, with tree-lined streets and belle epoque architecture that doesn’t seem in line with the rest of the city. Even in the middle of winter it has a sense of spring. So I don’t really belong here. I feel like such a sell out that I kind of feel queasy walking through the streets to work. I came to South America looking for something different, and I wound up in the elitist neighborhood. This isn’t what I really came here for, but that doesn’t mean I should feel resentful. However, I continue to walk by a familiar scene that drives me nuts. I keep seeing the maid walking a family dog or doing the food shopping, taking out the garbage, etc. They’re wearing their maid uniform and walking past me like I’m just another person from the neighborhood. But I’m not, and I hate that they have to do these things. It makes me feel awful. Obviously maid service wasn’t invented in Argentina and is a traditional profession throughout the world, but I hate it anywhere I see it. Pick up after yourself. If you want a dog then you can’t just pet it, you have to take care of it too.

To digress, I walk past embassies, five star hotels and the restaurants listed as the best in the city. But I don’t see any dives or corner bars where you can stop to mingle with some locals after work. I don’t see many friendly faces because everyone seems to have a car or taking a taxi. Recoleta is right next to Retiro, the large bus and train station. Yet no subway line runs through Recoleta, making transportation a bit more complicated. I’m not sure, but I get the feeling that this was deliberately done to not only keep other people from getting in, but maintain exclusivity. I find myself embarrassed in telling people where I live now, and don’t want to get the stigma of being some rich kid for living here. I think I’ll just tell people that I live north of the center.

As for the apartment, it’s a nice place to call home, though like with any new surrounding, I’ll need a few more days to adjust and realize that this is my home now. I can’t help shaking the feeling that I’m back in my host family apartment in Sevilla, Spain. Maybe because this is a semi-host family apartment, but it’s also the set up. The signs that people come and go frequently. A single, saggy bed with wire underneath the mattress. A makeshift spot for socks in the form of a plastic cubbie. Placards on the walls explaining the house rules and the lonely feeling it has when no one is around. Yet it’s not all like that. Family photos hang around and comfortable furnishing shows that someone took the time in setting it up for livability rather than to just accommodate someone who will be there briefly.

Considering I still can’t be sure of where all the plates are and which switch turns on which light, I say again these are just basic first impressions, and with time I’ll get the hang of it. But either way, I think I’ll always feel like a bit of a fraud here in Recoleta. We’ll see with time.

Recoleta + 1

30 Jun

Well, I no longer live in Palermo. This morning I took a couple of hours off to pack up the rest of my stuff and head over to Recoleta. It wasn’t totally easy, even though I’d already moved some of my things a few weeks back. I had my giant backpack filled to the top, my smaller laptop backpack on my stomach, and two giant bags in each arm as I awkwardly bumped through the doorframe and into the narrow elevator. Then I waited by the corner for a minute until a cab picked me up.

The cabbie thought I was a backpacker and expected to take me to the airport, so he was surprised when we started talking and I told him where we were headed. Slowly he opened up and told me that he was originally from Córdoba, and once he realized that I too liked the Boca Juniors, it was like we were old friends. I couldn’t have picked a better day to move, with the temperature getting into the 60’s and a bright blue sky, so that as he left me in front of my new home I was starting to sweat under my jacket and baggage.

At the new apartment I could only drop my bags off and look at the mess, wondering where to begin. I could have taken the whole morning to fix it up, but I didn’t want to get to work too late. Even though Argentine law allows two days off for moves, I only asked for and wanted a few hours from one morning. I’d rather not take advantage of the system and hope that one day if I really am sick those days will be there for me without question. With so much clothing and other things I’ve acquired (limited though they are) my new tiny room simply can’t fit it all. I need to find a way to put the rest of my things away in a place where I can easily get to them, which will no doubt take me a few days to do.

I’ve still got that bed bud problem that I just mentioned in the last post, but had done my laundry just before leaving Palermo. I took the remaining “dirty” clothes and prepared them for the Laundromat here. The last thing I want to do is bring the bugs with me. After emptying the big backpack and arranging some things in the kitchen I decided to get to the office and take care of the rest later. Only an hour into my Recoleta life and the first price increase smacked me in the face. I dropped off the laundry, not even a full bag, and they told me it would cost $34 pesos, $17 per load. In the Microcentro I used to pay $18, and in Palermo I paid $20 until recently the price rose to $22. So it’s a huge hike, even without inflation considered. This is just the beginning of these kinds of changes.

With the beautiful day I took advantage of my ability to walk to work again and wove through Recoleta quickly, getting hot under the leather jacket. I made it a short walk, passing by embassies and beautiful Parisian-style architecture, and it really felt like spring. Like a new start, to get cliché for just a moment. So tonight I’ll pick up my laundry, square away the rest of my room, and maybe even buy some food so I can eat dinner. If time permits I’ll try to get to know my new roommates and begin the next chapter in my Buenos Aires experience.

Get Out of My Apartment Now!

28 Jun

Well it’s not nearly that serious, but hey, had to drag you in with a catchy title, right? This morning came the news from my friendly real estate agent, Santiago, that they had found a new renter and I could leave when I wanted. The contract is set to expire on July 11th, but if I leave early the owners would give me back the remaining amount of rent which I already paid. Shortly after confirming with Santiago that I’d be out on the 1st of the month (Thursday) and calling my new apartment owner to make sure I could show up on the 30th, Santiago called back to discuss options.

In place of giving back the 11 days worth of rent (roughly $880 pesos) they were simply going to give back the deposit in full (1 month rent). I don’t feel like spilling how much I pay, but if you have a calculator you could figure it out anyway, so it’d be $2,400 pesos. I went with Door #2. However, this leaves me with little time to pack my life together again and get the hell out of dodge. Though I’ve already moved a good portion of my stuff, I’m not there yet. It’s amazing how much junk you can fit into a backpack and suitcase when you live abroad, and this is the 4th time I’m moving now since living in Argentina alone, not even counting Ecuador.

Though it’s mostly clothing, it takes up space and time. Argentina legally gives you two days off of work when you move houses, but I’m not even sure what my status is here (don’t forget that my citizenship went through a couple of weeks ago). But without papers and getting paid under the table, I’m not going to scream for worker’s rights if they don’t let me get a day off. All I really need is permission to be a couple of hours late anyway. I’m not trying to abuse the system, and I just might be the only shmuck in the whole country, unfortunately.

Tonight I started by finishing off the last of the food I have in the house, making some nice chicken parm cutlets and sauteed onions and red peppers. Next I threw some clothes in my over-sized backpack, hoping to avoid bringing the bed bugs which have been plaguing me for the last few weeks. Yep, I forgot to mentions those guys for a while now. My old arch nemesis from Ecuador seems to have followed me to Buenos Aires, and I have no idea how they got my address seeing as how I’m unlisted. It’s a nightly struggle, waking up to find new bites. I brought the majority of my clothes to the cleaners in the hopes of drowning them away.

I took some time to talk with my friendly old neighbor Ana, who I promised to have coffee with on Friday night after handing over the keys and doing the check-out with the owners. She swears that I’m the best neighbor around, never making a sound and all, and that it’s a shame I’m leaving so soon. But I’ll be back someday. I have to come back because my DNI is going to be sent here in six months to a year or whenever it might arrive. Plus, a package of mine is lost somewhere in the black hole of the Argentine postal service, and maybe that too will someday surface.

So it’s finally come to this. After six months of living in Palermo, taking advantage of the parks during the summer and fall, and the new experience of living alone, I’m on the move again. It’s a shame, but you do what you can, and though it was a failed experiment in living alone, it taught me a lot at the very least. When I arrived I lived in La Boca for one month. I then lived in the Microcentro for four months. Then six months in Palermo. I keep increasing in time stayed. Next is Recoleta, and I’m so sick of moving. Let’s keep our fingers crossed for 11 months.

Delays on Moving Out

7 Jun

Things are never set in stone. Remember that. Word came from my real estate agent that the owners would give me back a portion of the rent if I moved out early, so I began to look, found the new place, and told them well in advance that I’d be out a month early. I gave my new landlord a date of arrival, scheduled for this Friday, and even dropped off a couple of bags on Saturday to make the transition easier. I’ve stopped buying food and things for the apartment I’m currently in to prepare for the switch.

But I couldn’t get confirmation from the real estate guy. I told him I needed to be sure that Friday was the move out day for obvious reasons. Then he said that the owners need to have someone renting in order to give back a month’s rent. Even with that in mind, they aren’t going to give back the deposit, which I would assume should be fair enough if they would willingly return a month’s rent for when I’m not there. After all, that’s the point of paying a month’s rent.

However, it’s not in the contract, and these owners, despite buttering themselves as such generous people, are not willing to help me out a bit. So after asking Vero to help explain what all of the emails meant exactly, I realized that I’m most likely not going to be moving to my new apartment this week. Unless they somehow finalize a deal this week, I’m going to stay until the contract ends or someone moves in. It’s sort of complicated though.

The contract ends on July 11th, so at the very least, that will be the last day I will live in Palermo. But if someone signs a lease before then, I have to move out, and I assume they will give me back a portion of the rent from the month that I’m no longer there. At least I hope so anyway. Yet this could come rather suddenly, even though I’ve been promised that they’ll give me sufficient time to move out, not just a few hours notice.

I called my new landlord to explain the situation and she said that it’s okay, and I can even leave my things there as long as no one comes in to rent the room during the time in between. In the event that someone does show up for a few weeks, I’ll have to come pick my things up. But she understood that there’s no way I could pay for two apartments at the same time when I can’t even afford one. The idea of that is just preposterous.

But this now means that I feel like I’m living out of a suitcase until I get settled again. I’ve already packed away most of my things and will in fact have to go to the new apartment at the end of the week to pick some things up, simply because I sent most of my things along in advance. I can’t buy too many groceries because I don’t want to have too many perishables in the apartment with just a day or two until moving. That means I’ll probably have to a. eat less for a few days or weeks or b. buy out more often, neither of which I’m looking forward to. It’s just aggravating not really knowing when I’m going to be moving out. It leaves too much up in the air, especially as I deal with more burden with the DNI appointments coming up this month. Now that I have my birth certificate and Hague Apostille, I need to get them translated into Spanish, though finding a public translator here is a bit confusing, and I need to get it all done very quickly, as the next turn I have is June 16th. I’m keeping my fingers crossed, but not holding my breath.