07 August 2012

Short Term Apartment Rental in Buenos Aires

Renting an apartment in Buenos Aires as a foreigner is a difficult and expensive thing. Sandro and I decided we would rent an apartment online for our first month and a half in the city while looking for a more long term, hopefully less expensive situation once we arrive. My experience in nailing down a roof for my head remotely has been tricky, so let me tell you how it worked out and what some of the options are.

First, here's some real talk. The lovely homeowners of Buenos Aires know you are a tourista. They know that if you have money to get to Argentina, you have money to rent their apartment. And they know that you're probably willing to pay at least what you paid back home. So don't expect cheap rent, at least not in your search for a short term apartment (read: less than two years).
Buenos Aires homeowners require a DNI (Documento Nacional de Identidad) for long term, local rate rentals. DNIs are bestowed upon Argentine citizens at birth and those expats willing to wade through a sea of fees and bureaucracy. Those of us entering the country on a tourist visa are subject to higher rates without the opportunity to sign a two year lease.

Hostels, room shares, and CouchSurfing are all ways to avoid these high rates. Sandro and I are willing to kick in the extra funds for privacy and space for our first few months, so we did not explore these options. However, they are inexpensive ($10 USD per night!?), get great reviews, and seem like a super fun way to meet people right off the bat. I'd love to hear about other people's experiences with these living situations!

There are many local rental agencies in Buenos Aires for those looking for a private apartment. These organizations work with homeowners to find renters for their vacant apartments in every neighborhood in the city. Most of their websites include a section for entering the dates of your stay, the number of guests, and any amenities you can't live without (WiFi, a full stove, security box, etc.). You may also search for apartments based on the neighborhood or price range that works for you. There are loads of apartments listed on many different sites, so search thoroughly before sending an inquiry or making a reservation. Also, be aware: Just because a great apartment is listed does not mean you will actually get to stay there. I ran into obstacles in every step of this process. The agency might not have updated the availability calendar and the place you like might already be booked for your dates. The agency might not be able to contact the homeowner to confirm your reservation. The price listed might be the off-season price and you might be arriving in the middle of summer (high-season = higher rates). The homeowner may ask you to wire money to another country completely, or to show up on check in day with $1600 USD in cash, and you may not feel comfortable with that. Needless to say, we decided to go a different route. However, I believe that given the right set of circumstances, there are some decent apartments to be had. Here are some of the agencies that I was in contact with. Please let me know if any of these have worked out for you!

o For Rent Argentina
o Alojargentina
o MySpaceBA

Another option in the Buenos Aires-short-term-apartment-rental-for-expats hunt is a global agency. I have used both VRBO and AirBnB in my travels elsewhere. These services are similar to the ones above in that they are the middleman between the homeowner and the renter. A search for a shared or private room in a hostel or a home, or an entire private apartment in Buenos Aires yields tons of results on both sites. The downside of these sites is that they are expensive. The advantage of using them is that they put you in direct contact with the homeowner and accept payment via credit card or PayPal. They both offer customer support via email or phone should anything go awry in the booking process.
After a couple of months of searching and contacting and dead ends, we went with an apartment from AirBnB. We are paying more than we pay for our apartment in Philly and are getting less space. We are banking on the fact that the photos of the apartment are somewhat accurate and that the owner is indeed a reliable, honest 24 year old native law student. Who knows? But I find confidence in the fact that we were able to pay a deposit via PayPal and can cancel (for a fee) should we arrive and find the digs not up to snuff.
The reality is, we will arrive and have a home base. We will get to put our clothes in a closet and put our feet up on a couch. We have bought ourselves time to make some connections and hopefully get some word-of-mouth wisdom on a less expensive, in person, long term living arrangement. And for this, I am grateful.

Feel free to leave stories, recommendations, or other apartment hunting advice. All tips are helpful!


  1. Hi Amber! I've been in BsAs for three months now, and I used an agency (bastay.com) to pre-arrange find my apartments here. So far, so good. All of the things you say above are true, but I found the process of finding a temporary apartment here to be MUCH easier than at home (Canada).

    As for expenses, my experience has been that everything is included in the rent (heat, hot water, WIFI, etc)... so for me, it is cheaper than at home, plus you don't have the headaches of trying to deal with utility companies in a foreign country (and in a foreign language).

    Good luck with your move, your website is impressive and a great resource.

  2. Michelle, Thanks for the info! Are you still in the apartment you found via BAStay? Either way, have you been able to find more affordable housing than what is typically offered on these sites? You are so right about the utilities...how convenient that they are included in the rent!

    I must say, your blog is quite impressive! I hadn't heard of the Gran Chaco until I read your blog...the book sounds pretty dense!
    Thanks so much for reading, and I hope to stay in touch!

  3. I also believe that staying in a temporary apartment is a lot cheaper and more convenient than living in your own home as what Michelle has said. In a temporary apartment rental, the corporate housing provider or the landlord is the one who will be taking the responsibility on what you need during your stay so that means the hassles are being taken off of your shoulders ;)

  4. Margaret, Thanks for the response! You're right, it's so nice to not have to worry about paying the bills, managing the apartment, etc. We're in a temporary rental in Palermo Hollywood now and though we pay a little more than we would say back in Philadelphia, it's totally hassle free.
    Take care!