Vacation Apartments in Rio – What to Expect?

Lately I have been receiving dozens of emails regarding apartment rentals in Rio de Janeiro. People have sent me many questions and concerns, asking what are the average prices of apartments in Rio, their average prices, best locations, best deals, established companies, what should be included in the vacation apartments and so forth. This is when I decided to write a basic guide on renting apartments in Rio, Brazil. Some down to earth tips might save you some monies and avoid headaches.

The first thing you need to know when renting a vacation apartment in Rio is that it’s a legal well established business within the tourist industry in Brazil. Many Brazilians and even foreigners buy apartments in Rio exactly for this purpose. Investors commonly buy used apartments and renovate them to offer the best comfort as beach rentals. Let’s now discuss the main points you should be note when selecting an apartment.

Prices: prices in vacation apartments in Rio can vary significantly. Generally the more luxurious, the more expensive are the apartment prices. Beachfront apartments also carry a premium in their prices. Another rule is obvious, the greater number of rooms, the pricier it gets. If you travel with a group of friends, price per room can decrease substancially. Renting apartments with more than 3 rooms can be a wise option.) Prices are normally charged by number of nights. That is, if an apartment costs US$ 100.00 p/day, 10 nights will be US$ 1000.00. Discounts can be considered above 30 days rentals. Prices per day can decrease for longer periods, since a longer stay will be booked. How much per day? Usually fair apartments can be found starting at US$ 90,00 a day. Two bedrooms apartments in Ipanema, Lagoa and Leblon, all beach neighborhoods can vary from US$ 150 to US$ 300 a night, on average. If the apartments are located in high floors, if they have private pools and/ or hydro massage bath tubs, prices can rise significantly.

Locations/ Neighborhoods: Like any other major city in the world, prices vary by per different neighborhoods and zones. Most expensive apartments are all found on the South Zone (called “Zona Sul” in Portuguese), specifically in the following neighborhoods: Ipanema, Leblon, Lagoa, Copacabana, Flamengo and Botafogo. Barra da Tijuca, once a separate beach neighborhood, also offers some very luxurious flats and residence services, but you need to have a car to drive around since public transportation is limited there. Ipanema, Lagoa and Flamengo have been considered the safest neighborhoods, since prostitution is heavily combated in those areas. Copacabana is a universe on its own, with a many apartments to choose from. Copacabana is one of the most famous neighborhoods in Rio, with night-clubs, beach and lot´s of culture. Need some one liner neighborhood highlights? Here they are: Ipanema: Fashion shops, trendy restaurants, and gorgeous beach. Leblon: upscale shopping mall, excellent restaurants and bookstores. Lagoa: nice park, tranquil night kiosks around lagoon; Copacabana: wide apartment selection, public transport, eclectic environment. Flamengo: family type neighborhood, Flamengo Park, famous street bars. Barra: beautiful beach, Miami hype constructions.

Rental Agencies: The most popular way to find a rental agency is through the web. The are innumerous rental agencies to choose from in the wonderful city. The great majority of vacation rentals in Rio are serious in their business, delivering what they claim. Most of them display a list of apartments they own or represent, either by neighborhoods or by number of rooms. They present up to 10 pictures of the rentals and a small description of the amenities and apartment surroundings, so you can familiarize with the region. When you are choosing the apartment, first try to identify yourself with the neighborhood you are staying in, as well as your budget. This will save you time and help in the selection process. Once you know what where you want to stay and how much you can afford, browse through the apartments list and see if there is anything you like.

Once you see something you like, send an e-mail to the company stating which apartment you have in mind, and a second or third option, case that apartment is taken. (Many rentals offer an on-line bookings calendar view, which may save you time as well.). To find a list of rentals agencies in Rio, type in Google “Vacation Apartment Rio” and check the results. You will find more than 10 agencies only in page 1 of your search.

How are Payments made: Most Rental agencies in Rio take Pay-Pal, money wires, credit cards and cash. A reservation deposit is necessary to secure your apartment reservation. Companies have different reservation deposits policies. These deposits can vary from 30% up to 50% of the total stay amount. After the agency acknowledges the initial payment, the balance due is normally paid on entrance and key delivery of the vacation apartment. Most companies however do not return reservation deposit for Carnival and New Years holidays, due to great demand. Check the cancellation policy in company’s website or via e-mail.

Amenities: Vacation apartments in Rio also vary a lot in terms of their included amenities. Most of them offer by default a complete kitchen, cable TV, Internet access, air conditioner in the rooms and linens/towels. This would be the minimum acceptable. One level above, rentals can provide CD/DVD player, clothing washing machine, coffee machine, and safe. Luxury apartments in Rio and residence service flats additionally can offer hot-tubs, private pools, and even gourmet kitchen utensils.

Do’s and Don’ts: Be very careful during the reservation process since you need to understand all of the apartments requirements. Once you have decided for the rentals agency and the apartment in mind make sure you have all your questions and concerns promptly answered. It is the agency’s obligation to make sure you feel comfortable with your choice. Your rentals contacts should be courteous and receptive. If during the reservation process you are not satisfied or comfortable with your rentals contact, be sure to change your agency. If you have any friend in Rio de Janeiro, ask him/her to visit the apartment. This procedure is pretty common. Another tip would be to try to plan ahead. As soon as you have your travel dates secured, start your “apartment hunting”. Be sure to ask for a contract as well, and read all of the buildings do´s and don’ts.

Apartments for vacationers are numerous but even so, Rio is famous for having the most exotic beached in the world and thousands flock here every year. So it’s wise to remember that the best vacation apartments get filled up very quickly especially in during New Years holidays and Carnival. I truly believe Rio is a city full of wonders and hosts the friendliest people on earth. Buy the latest fashion trend bikinis and flip-flops, but remember that the best vacation apartments in Rio get filled up very quickly especially during New Years and Carnival. So make sure you book well in advance.

Copyright (c) 2008 Andre Skowronski

What Do Apartments in Dallas Check For When They Run Your Application?

Apartments in each state and, even in each city within the same state, have their own different qualification procedures when reviewing the application of a potential new renter. Take the state of Texas as an example. The largest metropolitan areas in this state with the highest concentration of apartment communities are Dallas, San Antonio and Houston. There are thousands of various apartment complexes in each of these cities. You would think they would have the same requirements for approval when running an Application for a new renter since they are all located within the same state of Texas. However, Dallas has very unique requirements that are different from Houston and San Antonio as well as different from other cities and other states.

Apartments in the illustrious city of Dallas check four (4) major areas in order to approve your Application: criminal background, income/job, rental history, and credit. It is the combination of these specific 4 areas that make Dallas requirements unique as a city, as well as how lenient or strict they are within each of the 4 areas.

For instance, In Houston, located only 239 miles away from Dallas, there are some apartments that consider your debt and your debt to income ratios as well as Social Security fraud history, when checking your Application. These are items that are never checked by Dallas apartments when they run your Application. Also, Dallas is more lenient than Houston when doing a criminal background check when it comes to fraud and financial crimes. Several apartments in Dallas will still work with you if you have a misdemeanor or felony in those categories, whereas in Houston these two areas are almost always causes for denial of your application.

As another example of how unique Dallas qualification requirements are, consider how Dallas differs from another major city, San Antonio. In the city of Dallas, apartments do not check how long you have worked at a particular job. The length of your employment history is not a consideration. As long as you HAVE employment and income that can be verified, most apartments will approve your application. In fact, you can have a brand new job, or even be transferring here to Dallas from another location, and all you need is a “Hire Letter” from the new employee showing your start date and your rate of pay. This is different from San Antonio. Most apartments in San Antonio want to see at least 6 months of employment history.

So, as you can see, Dallas has unique requirements that they check for when running an apartment application. Here are the specific requirements that Dallas apartments look for in more detail:

1. The first area that the best Apartments in Dallas check is your income qualifications. They almost always require that you earn three (3) times whatever your rent amount is. Other cities and states may require that you earn 2.5 times, or even 3.5 times the rent amount, but almost all properties across the board in Dallas check to see that you earn 3 times minimum. For example, if your rent is $1000, they want to see proof that you earn at least $3000 a month. You can provide this proof of income in the form of paycheck stubs. If you are self employed, you can provide bank statements and the most recent year’s tax statements. If you are new moving into the Dallas area and have been transferred from your job, or you are just starting a brand new job, you can provide a letter from your employer on company letterhead from the HR department or the hiring manager. The letter should state that you are being relocated and what your income will be.

Many cities, such as Houston and San Antonio, check to see how long you have worked for a particular employer, and therefore will not accept a “New Hire Letter”. Dallas does not do this. As long as you have the Hire Letter, you can be accepted with a brand new job. More than likely, however, the new apartments will call the company and ask for verbal verification of the letter, and it must be signed by someone with authority, such as the Hiring Manager. They may or may not ask for the letter to be notarized.

What kind of income will the Dallas apartments consider? In addition to income from a business you own or from employment, you can also include funds that you receive as child support, disability, retirement, investments, etc. Any and all income that is legal and is provable will be considered.

What if you are retired and do not have income? Some areas would require you to move to a retirement community or senior facility. But most apartments in Dallas are flexible in this regard. They will just require a copy of your bank statements to verify that you have enough funds to cover the cost of the rent for each month of the lease. For example, if your rent is $1000 a month, and you sign a 12 month lease, they will check to see if you at least have $12,000 in savings. They will also consider any Social Security money that you receive as monthly income. And if all else fails, they will accept a co-signer. Because Dallas is flexible in working with retired individuals, many enjoy the freedom and dignity of renting their own apartment without having to move into a retirement home for seniors. Perhaps this is one of the reasons that Money Magazine voted Dallas as one of the best places to retire in 2006 and 2007.

2. The second area that the best apartments in Dallas always check is your past rental history. They want to know if you have ever broken a lease or been evicted. They will check with the current apartments you are living in now, even if they are in another state, to verify that you are leaving on good terms. It may be tempting to try to “stretch the truth” and hide the fact that you owe past apartments money, but resist the urge. The credit check that they pull on you will reveal any debts that you owe to past properties. In Dallas, any past debts to properties that are still unpaid, even if they are many years ago, will mean an automatic denial if it shows up on your credit. The Manager does not have control over making the final decision in this regard. This is because most apartments in Dallas are managed by large Property Management Companies who make all the corporate decisions for their properties. They set the rules, and the rule is always to check for any property debts and automatically deny an application if such a debt appears. Other cities with a higher percentage of privately owned small apartment communities, such as San Antonio or Houston, may be more flexible in this regard since they maintain more control over who they accept or deny and the Manager may be allowed to make the final ruling.

What can you do if you do owe a past apartment community and you are searching for an apartment in the Dallas area? Well, it all depends upon whether or not it shows up on your credit report. If you aren’t sure if it shows up on your credit, you might first pull your own free credit report and look to see if it is there. Make sure to pull the credit from all three reporting agencies since you aren’t sure which one the apartments will use. If the incident is mentioned nowhere on your credit, then you may choose not to bring up the past, especially if you have had good rental history SINCE that occurrence. If it does show up on your credit, then you will not get approved at any apartment complex in Dallas. Your only option is to go back to that prior property that you owe funds to and pay them off. Be sure to receive a receipt or letter that shows your debt is paid in full so you can present this letter to the new Dallas apartments. Even with the receipt or letter, not every property in Dallas will work with you. A skilled Dallas Apartment Locator will be of great assistance in guiding you to the properties that are a little more lenient in this regard.

3. The third area that the Dallas Best Apartments check is your credit. As we mentioned above, they are mainly looking to see if you owe any past apartments money. However, Dallas is unique because they also will check to see if you owe past utility bills, mainly the electric company. The reason they check this is because you will not be able to turn on your electricity at the new apartment if you still owe the utility company money. So you will have to pay off any debts to the electric company prior to filling out the apartment application. In fact, some Dallas apartments even require you to call the power company and schedule the date for them to turn on the electricity to your new apartment, and get a confirmation number to prove it is scheduled, before they will give the final approval to your Application. Apartments in other cities are not as strict in this area as Dallas.

Another item they will look for on your credit, besides just past apartment debts and utility debts are housing debts. Perhaps you use to own your own home, and now you are moving into an apartment. The apartments will check to see your payment history with the mortgage company and will look for property debts and foreclosures. If a foreclosure shows up, then they may not be able to work with you. It depends on how many years ago the incident happened. An Apartment Locator familiar with Dallas apartments will be in the best position to assist you.

4. The last area that apartments in Dallas always check is your criminal background. Although most cities and states run background checks on applicants, each city is different in how they react to the findings. Dallas apartments run a background check that goes back indefinitely. It will show any past misdemeanors or felonies that you have ever received in your entire life. It doesn’t matter if the occurrence happened 30 years ago. It will still show up. Most apartments in Dallas automatically will decline your application if any felony shows up. However, they can be flexible in a few areas where other cities are not.

For example, if the felony or misdemeanor is for something that does not involve harm to another human and does not involve theft, approximately 10% of the Dallas apartments will work with you. Some examples of misdemeanors or felonies that SOME properties may be more flexible with are: check writing fraud, drinking while driving, possession of marijuana, etc. Other cities are not flexible enough to consider any exceptions and will deny an application for any crime, regardless of its nature.

If you have a non-violent glitch on your background criminal record, you need a qualified Apartment Locator in Dallas who has knowledge of second chance properties to assist you in finding the 10% who might work with your situation. If your particular offense is not one that any apartment property in Dallas will accept, then the Locator will let you know. In that case, your best bet is to find a privately owned house that is for rent by the owner. These can be found in the newspaper. Do not apply for a rent house that is represented by a Real Estate Agent, or they will have the same background check that the apartments have, and you will run into the same problem. Only rent houses that are for lease by the owner offer more flexibility.

As you can see, apartments in Dallas have very specific requirements when it comes to their qualifications for approval of your application. Always retain the assistance of a trustworthy and experienced Dallas apartment locator when searching for the best apartments Dallas has to offer. Not only will their free service save you countless hours of blind searching, but they will also make sure that you get the best apartment in Dallas for your particular situation. Visit www.BestApartmentsDFW.com today to get your free apartment search assistance!

How to Find the Perfect Buenos Aires Rental Apartment – And What to Avoid

Luckily, Buenos Aires is a city full of temporary rental apartments. This is great for the tourist because you can rent an apartment for a week for the price of one night at a hotel. Also, apartments have full kitchens so you can save money by cooking your own meals. In addition, the apartments are much larger than hotel rooms, and you have more privacy then staying in a hotel.

However, finding that perfect tourist apartment in Buenos Aires can be challenging. At first you might be saying to yourself, well as long as it had a bed and it is clean what do I care? While that may be true for some people, if you are planning on staying in Buenos Aires for more than a few days you will want to avoid some of the mistakes I have made in the past when renting an apartment there.

After renting several apartment in Buenos Aires I now know what to look for and what to avoid. Below are some tips that will help you find that ideal apartment and make your stay in Buenos Aires more enjoyable.

Neighborhood – Make sure to ask exactly where the apartment is located. This might sound strange but many people renting out their apartments market their apartments as being in the desirable neighborhoods of Recoleta and Palmero when they actually are not. In fact at first glance you might think that those are only the two neighborhoods in Buenos Aires! But this is just real estate agents and apartment brokers tricky efforts to falsely expand the borders of the most desired neighborhoods in Buenos Aires. Recoleta and Barrio Norte (these two neighborhoods are usually used to denote the same area, with Barrio Norte being closer to subway stops) is the best place to stay while in Buenos Aires.

Palermo is also nice with cool new restaurants and hip bars, but for me the barrio still has a way to go before it is as nice and established as Recoleta/Barrio Norte. There is too much graffiti and dog crap (watch your step while walking on Palermo sidewalks!) for me to suggest staying there over Recoleta. While some parts of Palermo can be quite charming it is just too big of a neighborhood to recommend it as a whole. Unless you know the specific location in Palermo is what you are looking for, it is best just to stick to Recoleta.

Noise – I read once that Buenos Aires is the noisiest city in the world. After a night trying to sleep in an apartment on the street side of a busy avenue you will agree. Loud buses and scooters with no mufflers will keep you up at night or annoy you during the day if you aren’t careful about your apartment choice. The most important factor is make sure the apartment is not located on the street side of a building. For more quiet you want an apartment in the back side of the building or “contrafrente” as it is sometimes listed in spanish. Secondly, it is preferable to be on a low traffic street. But, I have stayed in apartments on a busy street before but the building was so large and the apartment was so far in the back it was actually very quiet. Finally the higher up the apartment the better, so look for an apartment on a high floor. However, I stayed in an apartment once that was on the 11th floor but it was still very noisy because it was on the street side. Therefore, the most important factor in having a quiet stay in Buenos Aires is look for an apartment on the back side of the building.

Rooms – In Argentina a one bedroom apartment is called a two room apartment. So don’t be shocked when you arrive and the “two room” apartment you rented is not a two bedroom, but an apartment with a living room and a bedroom. Likewise a studio apartment is called a “one room” apartment or “monoambiente” in spanish. Just make sure you are getting the right number of rooms you want when you rent, or ask for a floor plan before you decide to put down that deposit.

Bed(s) – The eyes can be deceiving is what I learned when I rented what I thought was a perfect apartment. I even went to see the apartment before I decided to rent it. But I was fooled by the queen sized comforter covering up two single beds pushed together. Now some people might prefer this if you are two people traveling together and you want your own tiny bed, however there were queen sheets on the bed so you would have to ask for two sets of single sheets and more blankets to have two beds anyway (which in Argentina may or may not happen). So make sure your check under the covers or ask what the bed arrangement is before you book the apartment because waking up in the crack produced when the two beds push apart in the night is not a fun experience.

Refrigerator – Many Buenos Aires apartments are small and sometimes the kitchen only has space for a small “dorm-style” refrigerator with a “freezer” the size of a text book that takes three days to make ice. This might not be a big deal to some, but I prefer to have a full sized fridge to make ice for drinks, and for longer stays to keep frozen food frozen.

Internet – Many apartments in Buenos Aires offer “high speed” Internet. But what that means to some people may be different to you. I rented an apartment once that claimed to have high speed internet and when I arrived it was slower than dial up. The owner was in Spain and wouldn’t increase the speed so I had to spend many afternoons at Internet cafes just to check email. Be sure to ask what the speed of the Internet is and if you don’t know what is fast and what isn’t usually a connection of 512 Kbps will be fine if you are just checking email occasionally, but if you are planning on downloading files and working online while you are in Argentina, then I would recommend at least a 1.0 Mbps connection or faster.

English – If you don’t speak Spanish, be sure to ask if the representative that will be meeting you at the apartment speaks English. Usually this isn’t a problem, but I have had instances where I had to conduct business in Spanish and while it went OK, if you don’t speak Spanish it might not go as smoothly for you.