The Reality of Finding Work in Buenos Aires

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3506304112_349c78d128_bIf you’ve fallen in love with the colonial style architecture, the welcoming Portenos and the abundance of steak it is not impossible to find work as a backpacker in order to extend your romance with Buenos Aires.

There are many options but bear in mind that you will be living on a third world wage and more often than not will be charged the price of a extranjero for your accommodation. Thus trying to make ends meet and let alone save for your future travels will be a challenge.

Living and working in a foreign country is one of the best ways to learn a language and to really get to know the people and the culture. However, choosing to stay put for a while does require an investment on your part, in terms of time, energy and finance.

Purchasing a mobile phone is essential so that prospective employers can contact you. However, depending on your level of Spanish answering the phone could be problematic as without seeing the lip movements and the crazy hand gestures you might not even realize you are being invited for an interview. It is also invaluable if you start teaching English so your students can contact you directly if they have to cancel on the same day so you do not make a wasted journey.

Searching for a job takes time and patience along with the added frustration of finding your way to interview locations whilst getting to grips with the local transport system.

Furthermore, depending on where and for how long you have been traveling you may not have appropriate clothing or footwear for an interview. With nothing but flip flops and hiking boots to choose from and an assortment of strappy numbers and frayed jeans you hardly look like a model candidate. Even worse you’ve arrived in Buenos Aires just as the seasons are changing and no matter how pretty your toes look, sandals are a definite no no in the winter months. It may be necessary to make a few bargain purchases.

In true backpacker style you could find yourself working as a receptionist or barman at one of Buenos Aires´ many youth hostels. This may not always be paid but be in exchange for board. Living at work with your guests may not be everyone’s cup of tea and you may be landed with the graveyard shift on weekend nights but your are in no position to argue.

If you’ve managed to bag the job with a minimum level of Spanish the next hurdle is to hold onto it. In the comfort of your own language this would normally be a piece of cake. It is fine if most of your guests are English speaking traveling Europeans but when they are mainly Latino couples or local university students who are living in hostel dormitories, Spanish is a must. You quickly remember important yet basic words such as toalla and manta through awkward sign language. Some of your guests might be sympathetic and find it amusing to play this game of charades and curious as to why a foreigner wants to work in Argentina. Others may not be so patient.

One is spoilt for choice for English Language Schools in Buenos Aires and with a bit of persistence and elaboration you could soon find yourself preparing classes for wealthy business men and screaming toddlers all in the same day.  You will soon discover that Buenos Aires is a city without rules, not only should you never trust the green man when crossing the road but when applying for jobs, diplomas, certificates and work visas are not as imperative as they might be in your own country. Anything is possible.

However, once you have convinced your interviewer that you are competent you then need to convince your students on a daily basis that you are worth parting their hard earned cash for.

With imagination and creativity there are several ways of earning your steak and wine in Buenos Aires. However, after a while the novelty of working in a foreign country wears off and despite the rewards of immersing oneself in a new culture, the cost of living might be too high for some.  Vacation, though, is a separate matter.


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Spanish Classes on July 16, 09

Talking on the phone is always harder in a foreign language as you said. Trying to go in person always gives you an advantage because they get to see and meet you first hand instead of being just a name on a resume.

Rita on November 9, 09

To pleasant description a bit far away from reality… This is the city of broken dreams, lost oportunities, having the evidence of it in every corner…
It seems that civilization, development did not had a chance to reach B.As.
The only positive thing of living in B.As. is that almost imediately you start to apreciate and value your own country. The best example of miserable being, brakes you down to tears once you see something european like a beautiful, clean shower…Really, I never thought that in my life I will shed so many tears seeing a normal (back home) shower..
Of course, if you a very rich person it does not affect you at all.
However, all happens for a reason, and I guess that my reason is to become gratefull that my country is doing better than this…
Also, the local people contributed to my dislike of B.As. as well, by saing all negative things out loud…I thought, please give me a break man, I already having a difficulty to adopt myself walking in broken streets and paying attention not to break my leggs…
Really, never would advise anyone to move for good to Argentina (unless you have an extraordinary work preposition)…

Mark on November 11, 09

civilization has not reached bsas yet? That is a little bit exaggerating isn’t it. broken streets are common here yes but to be honest I don’t notice them anymore, I’ve lived here now for 6 months. It is all about seeing the positive things, I consider bsas one of the best cities in the world, such a warm culture, great food and lots to do. Off course making a living is not as easy as in developed countries but isn’t that the challenge!

Stacey on October 14, 10

I’ve been living in Buenos Aires for 2 years now. I moved here in 2008 to teach English, and I was lucky enough to find a company that would sponsor me for a work visa and keep me legal. But then I just got so tired of it.

First of all, you don’t make any money teaching English. In 2008, it wasn’t so bad. However, with inflation and stagnant wages, it’s become almost impossible to live here on the salary of an English teacher.

So, in 2009, I decided to look for other jobs. The only way to survive here if you don’t know a whole lot of Spanish (as the article points out as being problematic) is if you telecommute or work for an American company.

I eventually found a job telecommuting for an education company as a course writer and instructor. It pays $9 USD an hour, and I work nearly fulltime. So, the point is, if you want to live and make it here, find yourself a job that allows you to work remotely. Don’t work here in Buenos Aires. You’ll be miserable.

FYI, I found my job on, but I also used and … all three websites have a lot of work-from-home opportunities. Newtelecommute is the only one that actually makes an attempt to verify the postings.. or so they say. 😛

Good luck!

Cesar Gonzalez on October 28, 10

Stacey, thanks so much for your insights.

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