Expat Argentina Life

100 Skeleton Keys – The Story of Looking for an Apartment

A few years back my wife and I started looking for apartments that we wanted to buy in C贸rdoba, Argentina.

I found one online that looked rather promising in a brand new building and arranged a visit.

I showed up to the apartment building and to my surprise there was the real estate agent already waiting.

We chat outside for a bit before the conversation dies down.

Entramo’? – Should we go in, I ask.

Ah, no we need to wait for the building maintenance guy.

In about 20 minutes the maintenance guy shows up and it’s this tiny dude who is really in a hurry.

His demeanor is really funny accenuated by his tiny stature. I’m not a tall guy but still had a good 6 inches on this guy.

We head up to the apartment on the top floor.

The Keys

First of all, if you’ve never been to Argentina the keys are much different than stateside.

As I mentioned in my 11 things you see in Cordoba but not in the US post, the keys here are the “skeleton” key style.

When we reach the apartment door, the mini maintenance man pulls out a ring of those keys. One for each unit in the building so probably around 100 of those keys on a large key ring.

He starts trying them in the door, one by one.

Nooo, c贸mo no est谩n marcados? The real estate echoed my exact thoughts – how are they not marked?

The maintenance man seemed unfazed and he tried key after key. He got into a rhythm and I thought pretty soon that door that was going to pop open.

He’s about 75% through all the keys on the ring and the real estate guy and myself exchange a nervous look.

He gets down to the final 3 keys and we still haven’t found the magical one to open up this apartment door.

Key 3 – nothing.

Key 2 – nothing.

Last key – moment of truth.



The real estate guy was pretty pissed but he gathered himself and said he had another apartment available for sale on a lower floor. He asked if I wanted to check that one out.

Why not? I’m already here.

We head down a few floors and the maintenance man sets up shop again. In the brief time that elapsed while taking the elevator down a few stories I somehow forgot that the keys were not marked and we’d have to go through this dance once more.

The mini maintenance man get into his flow. Trying key after key.

This time about half way through the key ring – pop – the door opens!

The little maintenance man goes in first, then the real estate agent signals for me to go in.

As I walk into the apartment, I remember thinking that’s odd that this brand new apartment is already furnished.

All of sudden the diminutive maintenance man yell whispers in a scared tone – che! est谩 ocupado! – Dude! There’s someone here!

He then proceeds to exit in the same style as George Costanza when he noticed the apartment fire at the birthday party –

All 3 of us get outside the apartment and head back downstairs.

So we’ll be in touch says the real estate guy.


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