Finding a place to live in a foreign country is definitely not easy. When I studied in Spain and Ecuador, I had a homestay arranged for me and I didn’t have to worry about anything. No bills, no rent, no contracts, no landlord negotiations, and definitely no real estate agents.
Here it’s been a little different. I found three different apartments (departamentos) that I had to decide between. Although I submitted information to be on House Hunters International, they never got back to me. So although my good friend Matt pointed out that I had the perfect scenario to be on the show, I will not be. So here is my own version of House Hunters International.
Salta, located in northwestern Argentina, is home to some of the greatest landscapes the country has to offer. The city of Salta, with a population of just over 500,000, is where Nicole Thompson will be calling home for the next year as she gets her master’s degree abroad.
House #1: The Shared Space. Pink: Entre Ríos y Bolivar: This was the first apartment Nicole saw in Salta. Lauren, an American who has been living here and working at a non-profit for the past year, was renting one bedroom in this 2-bedroom apartment for the last year. Sandra, who is from Salta, has lived in the apartment for 11 years. There’s a small living room, a decent sized kitchen, a small bathroom, a small terrace that is enclosed, and then 2 bedrooms in the back of the apartment. It cost 1,100 pesos per month and that would include cable, internet, water, electricity, and gas, making it move-in ready. Lauren went back to the states, so it would be available right away, when Nicole needs it. After seeing the apartment, Nicole told Sandra that she liked it, but as soon as she left, she had this weird feeling in her gut that it wasn’t the right place for her. It’s closest to school out of all 3 apartments she looked at, and it’s also the cheapest. But there was almost no natural light in the bedroom and she commented that she’s not sure she could adjust to that. It’s also on Entre Ríos, a street that’s busy with traffic and close to grocery stores, but far from the center/main plaza (marked with the green arrow and the star on the map).
House #2: Studio in the Center. Purple: Belgrano y 20 de Febrero: Nicole had been talking to a real estate agent, Fernanda Morteo, for quite some time via e-mail. She found Nicole an apartment that was 2,500 pesos per month and did not include any expenses (cable, internet, gas, electricity, etc.). It recently became available and is a studio with a large kitchen and an okay bathroom. There’s also a tiny terrace with enough room for a drying rack for laundry, and that’s about it. It was much nicer than House #1 and in a prime location. If you look at a map, it’s only about 4 blocks from the main plaza. Nicole and Fernanda sat down after she took a look around the apartment and Fernanda explained everything. Because Nicole isn’t Argentinean and doesn’t have an ID card, everything becomes more difficult. Nicole would owe a security deposit, first month’s rent, last month’s rent, and her commission (1 month rent) up front. She would also have to get her own cable and internet service and sign up to have gas and electric in her name. It would also be a 2 year lease but she would need a clause to let her leave after a year. The location was ideal, and it’s a little farther from school but so close to the center.
House #3: Great View: Green: Santa Fe & Alvarado. Nicole is in Salta on a scholarship from Rotary International, and after attending the first meeting, a Rotarian said she was looking to rent her apartment. She described it as beautiful, nicely furnished, and in a great location. The exterior of the building was gorgeous and well-maintained, and the entryway was equally as impressive. The apartment had granite countertops and an open floor plan. There was a good-sized bedroom and a lovely bathroom with a large vanity which is fairly hard to find here. The apartment building had washers and dryers, a fitness center, and a large terrace with a jacuzzi and an excellent view of the Argentinian countryside. However, the apartment was at the very high end of Nicole’s budget, at 3,500 pesos per month. This included everything like cable, internet, gas, electricity and air conditioning! The location was farthest from school and would be the longest commute by bus. But it is also located just 4 blocks from the center of town and on a lovely tree-lined street. Nicole would also just rent the apartment directly from the Rotarian and not worry about leases, real estate agents, deposits, or securing internet or cable on her own.
*Decision-making music and shots of all 3 apartments*
House #3! Great view!
Nicole is moving in on Thursday or Friday and can’t wait to get settled in her new place! More pictures to come.