I am not working 24 hours a week for the hostel (for a value of $3.70 an hour...)
I will be able to sleep late and stay out late tango dancing!
The minuses: I will have to pay for housing.
The purpose of that trite and slightly bitter personal anecdote is that it quickly got me online looking for housing that was NOT a hostel.
THE GREAT THINGS ABOUT ROOMS/APARTMENTS:
You can opt for fully furnished apartments. Or move in with a family. This means you don't have to buy cooking supplies, sheets, pay for the WiFi, pay the bills, etc.
If you move in with an Argentinian family or find Spanish-speaking roommates, you can practice your Spanish, and you'll be able to fulfill that lifelong dream you've had since you were 3 and a half years old of being fluent in a foreign tongue.
The benefit of getting a room as opposed to splitting the cost of an apartment/house with people is that if they bail, you're not stuck paying their share of the rent/the bills, or forced to move out.
You meet people and have a social life as opposed to living cold and alone.
You are not in a hostel, and can feel like an adult.
And for $300 a month, living in an apartment is cheaper than living in an average hostel's 6 person dorm ($315 a month) with the card discount.
LOOKING FOR AN APARTMENT:
If price is not an issue, there are a gazillion and a half websites for apartments and room shares in Buenos Aires, and many of them are in English. Just google "Apartment, Buenos Aires," or "roomshare, Buenos Aires," or the like, and you will get site after blessed site. (I wasn't able to find much under $450 on the fancy-looking, easy to navigate sites.)
I got the cheapest results from the Buenos Aires Craigslist.
Yes, there is a Craigslist in Buenos Aires! However, it's a little more limited than the US Craigslist. Here, it's pretty much only good for looking at listings for severely underpaid jobs at horrible hours or jobs that require specific experience, getting a good laugh at personal ads, (which mainly features desperate Americans looking for desperate Argentine women to be their wives and those with odd sexual inclinations looking for their soul mates), and searching for housing opportunities: (the diamond in the rough).
On Craigslist, (like many other housing websites,) most of the ads are listed by "rent per week," and in $USD. The monthly price is cheaper, and buried further down the ad.
So I sent out a whole bunch of emails to people asking for more details. I sent inquiries for rented rooms, apartments, houses, basically anything I could find that I might be able to afford. I knew what neighborhoods I wanted to live in, and what my price range was, which helped narrow down the search. That day and the next day, the emails came pouring in, and I set up a couple days to visit the places that looked like they might appeal to me. I found two places I easily could have gone with.
WHAT TO BRING WITH YOU ON A HOUSING SEARCH:
Come with a list of questions to make it seem like you have options:
- Does it have heat?
- Is it in a safe neighborhood?
- What is the noise level/how is the traffic?
- What are the rules on guests (can they sleep over)?
- Is there a curfew (mostly with families)?
- Are there "no-noise" hours?
- Can I have parties?
- How good is the WiFi?
- Can I do my wash in-house?
- Are sheets/towels provided?
- Is there maid service?
- Are water/electricity/other costs included in rent?
- How is the transportation?*
- Is there a reduced price if I pay more than 1 month in advance?**
What you need to go around the city by bus:
- Lots of monedas (coins),
- a Guiat, (bus guide).
- A notebook and pen (with the addresses you're going to listed. It's annoying when you realize you've forgotten the address.)
- A cell phone. (Get the #s of the people you are meeting. You will probably use at least 1/2 of them, because you will be late to appointments.)
- Also, something to do on inevitably really long bus rides. Like a book or a music-playing device.
I'm now living in a very cushy house (pool, air conditioning and heat, a huge kitchen space, a separate room outside for eating/asado, a bar area, and huge tvs, good WiFi, maid service, cable, dance floor space, musical instruments...) all for $300 a month. The family is Argentinian - An older couple and their two grown daughters, plus 7 guests from all over the world. The tiniest catch: I'm sharing a room with one person. This, however doesn't bother me, as I'm 23, the room is big, and I'm not looking for anyone to make out, (etc.) with.
WARNINGS ABOUT RENTING:
Several of my acquaintances have arranged with people to move into an apartment, only to find that when they show up at the door with all their stuff, they are told the room has already been rented. So make sure you speak to the owner, have a contract written up and if you make a deposit, get a receipt. (Sometimes people haven't gotten their deposits back.)
You are going to want an apartment that is near many bus lines and probably by a subway station. Unless you are WAY too poor, and have to live well outside the central city. Or unless you're rich, and can afford the taxis.
The longer you stay, the cheaper you can get the rent. Per week is more expensive than per month. So I figured, why not check to see if they had a "per 3-month price!" With every place I checked with, I asked if I could get a discount if I payed 3 months in advance. Every single place knocked off a significant amount. (Both $300 a month places said that for three months, the rent would be $800 - ($100 off every 3 months.) The $350 a month place knocked off $50 a month.)
I still haven't moved in to the place I rented, so I hope I'm not going to regret living there - otherwise, I'm stuck having paid 3 months!