Wow, Lots of Moral Relativists Here
After seeing all the comments on my real estate posts, I have to admit that I'm a little shocked. It seems that living here in Argentina for awhile has turned all of you into moral relativists.
New expats tend to spend a lot of time comparing things from home with the new experiences they are having in the host country, that is natural. Be be weary of judging everthing as better, worse right, wrong. You state the US RE paradigm is "right", I would agree that for us it is a lot more explicit and clear how business is done, is it "right", maybe not, its just culturally coming from a different place than Argentina. Is Argentina's wrong? maybe not, just confusing and ambigious and random, difficult for us to navigate but familiar to Argentines.
I hope you dont feel ganged up on, but I have to agree with the other posters...This is what they call cultural shock and changing expections or at least trying to understand how and why things work differently will make your transition more positive. Although everyone has issues and moments when it is beyond comprehension (my trial was buying a used car and accounting for taxes paid by someone else years ago)and difficult to not say the Argentine way is "wrong". Its a big deal doing what you are doing and buying a home is a huge financial and emotional investment. Your frustration with the new culture is natural and will ebb with time.
I totally agree that if you look like a gringo, smell like a gringo, and act like like a gringo, you will be charged as a gringo. Fact of life that you cannot avoid without going through some long term "hazing". Enjoy, becuase it's only money, and frankly, the exchange rate is such that it's certainly not alot of money for a guy like you.
There is such a thing as right and wrong. There is such a thing as better or worse. I'm not talking about "cultural differences" here. A cultural difference is something like the food. I may prefer American food, but I would never say that American food is better than Argentine food. Its just different.
What I'm talking about is a totally different thing. Think about what you are all saying for a minute. Just suppose that we were back in the United States and I had a house for sale, listed at $140,000. In walks a Jewish couple and I tell them the house costs $145,000. After all, they're Jews, they can afford to pay more, right?
Wrong! How is it different for me here? Just think about it for a minute. I think all of you are so used to trying to fit in and trying to avoid becoming that stereotypical whiney expat that always talks about how things are so much better at home that you've lost all common sense. There are certain things that are bad and good, better or worse. We have something called the Fair Housing Act in the United States, which was designed to address the very issue I'm talking about.
Clearly here in Argentina real estate is less regulated and we see the results of that. I gather from your comments that several of you have gone through this process yourselves, so I'm sure you must know what I'm talking about. Like I said earlier, I'm a very patient person and my experiences thus far are not going to deter me. I have no intention of changing my mind and renting, for example. I'm not going to stop talking candidly about my experiences either.
In addition to providing advice and hopefully fostering conversation, this blog is, from time to time, a psychological outlet. So, every once in a while you might see a rant or two as a way for me to release my frustration. Believe me, I'm not spending my whole day stomping around Buenos Aires cursing at real estate agents. I just felt like airing my frustrations in the blog. I really am a pretty easy going person.
That said, as I continue to write about my experiences here, they are of course going to be tainted by my own culture and upbringing. Right now I'm viewing Argentina through the lens of a twenty-something American, so that's my point of reference. Of course, I do have a bias. But I was never one to buy into moral relativism and there are certain things that are right and wrong, good and bad. I do believe there are certain absolutes in life and I can say absolutely that real estate doesn't work as well here than it does in the U.S. I'm not saying the U.S. is the perfect model either, only that real estate there works better than here.
Let's be honest, everyone. Can you really say the real estate system is only different in Argentina when it is near impossible for a middle-class family here to even get a home loan to buy their own place?