Tuesday, August 28, 2007

From Clueless to Property Owner

I've been getting a little anxious lately thinking about purchasing real estate in Buenos Aires. I had a hard of time purchasing our first home here in the US. I just hated not understanding *everything* about the transaction. I wanted to read every document and understand exactly what I was signing and why. I wanted to be in complete control.

Well, that didn't happen. Despite being marched through the process like cattle, in the end, everything was fine and we were terribly happy. I took from that experience the idea that sometimes you just have develop some trust and then jump.

Now, I'm about to make a sizable move and I need some assistance. I need someone in Buenos Aires that can help take me from clueless to property owner.

Michael Koh of apartmentsBa.com seems like a very interesting cat and sounds like just the kind of person I need.

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Boston.com / Travel / Following their dreams down to Buenos Aires US expats remake their lives after 9/11
''Even those with more established roots in American life are giving it all up. Growing bored after eight years as a senior vice president at a health care company, Dallas native Michael Koh, 31, went around the world but kept returning to Buenos Aires.

''Out of all the places I had been around the world, my heart was still in Buenos Aires," Koh writes in an e-mail. Since moving here, he has been working in tourism, studying Spanish, and developing a real estate business aimed at foreigners.

Maria Paz Anzorreguy’s Weblogs » Real Estate. Buenos Aires. Gringo invasion.
THE ECONOMIST 25 May 2006 Gringo invasion.

Looking for lofts in Buenos Aires In 2003, when John Kahoun, a New Yorker, decided to buy an apartment as a rental investment, he was deterred by the cost of property in Manhattan. So for $70,000 he bought a loft in Buenos Aires, the home of his former wife. As Argentina’s economy has recovered from its 2001-02 collapse, so have property prices. Mr Kahoun’s property in Palermo Viejo, a trendy neighbourhood beloved by film-makers and artists, has nearly doubled in value. Foreigners like Mr Kahoun have contributed to a continuing property boom in Buenos Aires. They account for up to a quarter of buyers in some wealthier neighbourhoods. Two years ago, Michael Koh, an American, set up Apartments BA, a firm which buys property for foreign clients and rents it out to foreign tenants—about 15% of whom come to the city for plastic surgery. Mr Koh says his investors, many of whom have never seen their properties, enjoyed a rise in their capital asset of 25% last year on top of rental income worth 10% of their investment.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

About Me

For you folks on the BA NewComers list, here's a bit about me :

  • I'm a 36 year old male living in Capitola, California w/ my wife Julia
  • We're child free w/ no debt sans a small student loan.
  • I work as a Software Architect for Cisco. I'm a telecommuter.
  • As a child, I lived in many places but consider Maine my childhood home.
  • I was in foster care for 6 years (ages 9-15).
  • My politics tend to be libertarian
  • I reject the supernatural
  • I'm an ordained Zen Priest
  • I can't read a book cover to cover -- ADHD anyone?
  • I race bicycles competitively
  • I'm 5' 9'' and once weiged 220 lbs. Now I weigh 165
  • I did my first CrossFit session a couple of days ago and I'm still sore
  • I have an interest in the economic theory of the Chicago and Austrian School
  • I'm an Agile, Lean and ToC geek.
  • We bought and sold a house during the real estate bubble in California
  • I Tivo CSPAN's BookTV most weekends.
  • My favorite musicians/bands include: Frank Zappa, Paco De Luca, Brain Eno, The Clash

Friday, August 24, 2007

A Smart Real Estate Site

I found this very good Buenos Aires real estate site. They have a great search capability and the site is faster than most. They make it really easy to search the barrios.

They also provide feeds and this is what I think really sets them apart. By adding them to my feed aggregator (google reader), I can easily see the price, location and number of rooms. I check my feed reader several times an hour for ebay auctions, craiglist updates and now BA real estate.

Isn't syndicated information grand? Thank you enbuenosaires.com for being smart.

Population Info

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Harshing the Mellow

I'm not endorsing drug use but being a lover of liberty, I have a soft spot for Marijuana activist. I'm not surprised that BA would have a pot culture. given its size you'd expect to. You'll find people pursuing all sorts of interests in the a megacity but I wonder how many pot smokers are in Tokyo. Are they are organized? I wonder if people in China are growing weed. Hrm.

Feature: Cannabis Culture in Buenos Aires -- Alive and Smokin', But With One Eye Peeled for the Police
Last year, the Buenos Aires Million Marijuana March was shut down by police (one that came off without a hassle in the provincial city of Rosario drew 12,000 people), but according to Sam and others, it will be back with a vengeance next year. "The Buenos Aires marches are a grand event," Sam said. "Everybody comes, and we are calling everyone out for the next one in May 2006."

Despite -- or because of -- the repression it faces on a daily basis, the cannabis movement is alive and vibrant in Buenos Aires. And it is learning a lesson Cannabis Nation everywhere needs to learn: It's not just about marijuana. Of course, the movement showed up at the conference, said Sam. "Strength through unity."

I'm happy to see that folks are not afraid to demonstrate publicly. Says something about how the state handles dissent. This bodes well for our move. Dissent is a good thing, me thinks.

Soon we'll have a better drug use data but probably not a better understanding.

USA Today is reporting
that a toxicology team have developed a method for drug testing a
city's water supply, indicating the level at which certain drugs are
being used by the population.
She said that one fairly affluent community scored low for illicit drugs except for cocaine. Cocaine and ecstasy tended to peak on weekends and drop on weekdays, she said, while methamphetamine and prescription drugs were steady throughout the week.

Can there be any doubt that something like this could be installed in a neighborhood or office building? I wonder what the detectors would report if you analyzed the sewage in and around Harvard yard. Would you let something like this be installed in your work place?

Morning Coffee

A Travel+Leisure poll, released in the US on Tuesday, ranked Sydney as the fifth best city in the world. Italy's Florence was voted No. 1, Buenos Aires was second.

Okay it's a great place to visit according to some but I wonder how it ranks as place to live.

Back in the Saddle Again « Discovering Buenos Aires
We met a guy at the wedding in North Carolina who had just returned from Argentina. He was extremely bullish and excited about our new home country… Evidently his business mentor told him, “if I were a young man, I’d move down here immediately”.

Anecdotal evidence to be sure but I concur. I would, however, like to be able to read and understand the economic data. For example, I was looking a chart of the Argentina's M1 money supply the other day but I can't draw any meaning from it.

Thursday, August 23, 2007


I'm checking them out
I'm checking them out
I got it figured out
I got it figured out
There's good points and bad points
Find a city
Find myself a city to live in.
Those are lyrics to one of my favorite Talking Heads songs and it is, in a sense, the soundtrack to a conversation that Julia and I have been having for the last year.We've been talking about Place and the many aspects of it: the place where we keep our stuff, the place we go to earn a living, the places we've been and those we've yet to see. The place we go to buy food. The places of our friends and family. What emerged after a year of talk and research was the understanding that our Place could be found in the Megacity.

A megacity is defined as:
A recognized metropolitan area with a total population in excess of 10 million people.Some definitions also set a minimum level for population density (at least 2,000 persons/square km).
According to wikipedia, there are ~20 megacities. Here's the critera we used to narrow down the choices:
  • Temperate climate
  • Affordable Internet access
  • A lively arts scene
  • Affordable real estate / rentals.
  • Safe
  • A Culture that we have an affinity for.
Once we had a short list, we did some research and came up with Buenos Aires, Argentina and we are now in the process of selling everything we own and learning spanish.

Here are answers to common questions people have asked.

Q: Where will you live?

A: Our plan is to rent an apartment while we search for a place to purchase. We're hoping to find a nice loft in Palermo or Ricoleta? Let's just hope that inflation holds at it current pace.

Q: What are the housing prices like?

A: Nice apartments in the city can be had for USD $150,000 and up. Some folks think the BA real estate market is a bubble and over valued.

Q: What will you do for work?

A: Julia will take time off from work to focus on her studies and my situation is evolving. Either I will [a] continue to work for my current employer as a telecommuter, [b] become a freelancer, [c] find employment in Buenos Aires.

Do you speak spanish?

A: A little but I am actively studying and becoming fluent is my first priority. Julia speaks enough to get us by when we get there, but she is studying as well.

Q: Do you Tango?

A: Nope. But I will fear no milonga.

Q; Isn't this a bit Extreme maybe even reckless?

A: Yep. ;-)

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Big Here, Short Now

I just love Eno and the cosmic bitch slap he wields.

raganwald: Here and Now
Here and Now We can either live in a “small here” (a great apartment in a crappy part of town) or a “big here” (a beautiful city in a great location with perfect weather and amazing vistas), and we can live in a “short now” (my deadline is my life) or a “long now” (how does this project change the company, the industry or the planet?). —Adam Turoff quoting Brian Eno in Rewriting Software

Hrm. Now I'm curious. What's an Information Network?

Paul Kedrosky: Schelling, Kleinberg, and Power of Networks in Investing
Pardon this bit of unabashed fan-boy geeky-ness, but I wish I was at Cornell this Fall. I would love to take Jon Kleinberg's new course "The Structure of Information Networks". (Why can't Cornell do an MIT and put this video online?)

And on a completely different note.

Neo-Tango Music
A DJ's Guide Neo-Tango Recordings

Tit for Tat

While writing an email today, I needed an expression to describe a type of reciprocal relationship. Spinning through the old (and getting older) memory banks, the expression "Tit for Tat" popped up. Even though my pattern matching gray matter signaled a match, it struck me that I really didn't know what this expression meant.

Tit for tat - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Tit for tat is a highly effective strategy in game theory for the iterated prisoner's dilemma. It was first introduced by Anatol Rapoport in Robert Axelrod's two tournaments, held around 1980. Based on the English saying meaning "equivalent retaliation" ("tit for tat"), an agent using this strategy will initially cooperate, then respond in kind to an opponent's previous action. If the opponent previously was cooperative, the agent is cooperative. If not, the agent is not. This is similar to reciprocal altruism in biology.

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Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Are they willing to claim their liberty?

Confiscatory Deflation: The Case of Argentina - Mises Institute
Depositors who held dollar accounts not exceeding $5,000 would be able to withdraw their cash in twelve monthly installments starting one year from now, while those maintaining larger deposits would not be able to begin cashing out until September 2003, and then only in installments spread over two years. Peso deposits, which had already lost one-third of their dollar value since the first freeze had been mandated and faced possible further devaluation, would be treated more liberally. They would be paid out to their owners starting in two months, but this repayment would also proceed in installments. In the meantime, as one observer put it, "bank transactions as simple as cashing a paycheck or paying a credit card bill remained out of reach of ordinary Argentines."[3]

I wonder what effect this has had on Argentinian understanding of liberty?

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Monday, August 20, 2007


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Sunday, August 19, 2007

Science Reporting

Here's some hard hitting "Science" reporting found on netscape.com.

Little People, Imps, Reported in Merlo (Argentina) Tree
Little People, Imps, Reported in Merlo (Argentina) Tree

Science – Residents of Merlo claim having seen imps near a hundred year old eucalyptus tree. The Municipality trimmed the tree because its large branches were jeopardizing motorists traveling along Avenida del Inca. After work, some residents reportedly saw "little men coming out [of the tree] in single file from that location."

I bet those little buggers were headed to a protest!

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Music and Culture

Not strictly from Argentina. A sort of Duran Duran meets Boy George

Locomía - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
...Fan-twirling was an important part of both their stage performance and their music videos.

That was kinda funny. Now have a gander and this. Wow. BajoFondo Tango Club.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Morning Coffee

Google opens Latin American headquarters in Argentina - MarketWatch
The Mountain View, Calif., search engine opened an office in Buenos Aires which will be the headquarters of its Latin American operations, company executives said Thursday.

The article goes on the quote Google's CEO as saying:

"Latin America is ready for a huge Internet explosion," Schimidt said.

The cost of maid service in BA seems to be on a lot of peoples mind lately -- I've seen 2 or three posts on the subject in the last 24 hours.

Cost of a Maid in Buenos Aires « Discovering Buenos Aires
The common price of a maid here is about 6 pesos per hour, or two dollars an hour, plus a tip. That’s for a part-time maid. It would cost less per hour if you were to have some one full-time…

But, alas, we'll need a place to live before we get someone to keep it clean. Maybe San Temo will be the spot for us:

Discovering Buenos Aires
Real estate prices, though lower than the more established barrios of Palermo, Recoleta, Puerto Madera etc, do take into account the interest of expat investors. So it ain’t dirt cheap for BA, as it once was, but certainly cheap by world standards…

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Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Gonna Need a Laptop

Apple - iPhone - Questions and Answers
Can I use my iPhone internationally?

iPhone is a quad-band GSM phone and will work around the world. Before you travel, make sure that international dialing and roaming are enabled through AT&T and that the places you’re going offer GSM coverage. Visit AT&T help for more information.

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The Man with the Briefcase

Nothing like a little corruption to make an election interesting. It sure would be nice to see Mr. Chavez marginalized. Maybe this is the start of his overstepping.

BBC NEWS | Americas | Argentina probes cash-filled case
Argentine authorities have issued an arrest warrant for a Venezuelan man over a cash-stuffed suitcase.

They want to question Guido Antonini Wilson, who tried to bring $800,000 (£400,000) into Argentina as Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez was visiting.

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Banking in Argentina

Starting a Successful Business in Argentina
For Americans, a good option is BankDirect , NetBank and EverBank. They all have been around for years and are FDIC insured. They all offer online banking and allow you to withdraw money with no hassles in Argentina at any ATM machine. Bankdirect and Netbank allow you to withdraw up to u$s 500 equivalent per day. (1,420 pesos at the time of this post).


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Israel and Dubai

Moving to Dubai
There are however many other countries such as Israel, where entry is either prohibited or near impossible. Permanent residency visa are also easier for European nationals to obtain, and while the process includes a medical, and vast quantities of paperwork, the majority will be successful.

Well I guess I won't be headed to Dubai.

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