By Adrienne Glenn
They don’t call the dollar “almighty” because the finances of life aren’t important, do they? So, let’s get down to the truth of it.
Money in Argentina
In the last year, since I have been here (March 2018-February 2019), Argentina has experienced massive inflation. As of January 2019 it was registered at a “27-year high of 49.3% in January.”* Now, I am not an economist, and my translation of that inflation into regular people talk probably won’t be great. But, put simply, what that means is that everything became more expensive, the salaries didn’t really rise and the conversion from ARS to USD is terrible! When I arrived last year the rate was $1USD to $22ARS. Today it is $1USD to $38ARS. So, let’s put that into salary talk.
The average pay for a teacher is around $200ARS/hour. When I arrived I was receiving $9/hour, not an amazing salary, but enough to live on fairly comfortably. Today I am making $5.50/hour. This massive difference is all because of the inflation in their currency.
What are schools doing about this?
It depends on who you are working for. As you know, there is no regulation in this industry, and it is very much up to the teacher to demand their value and be knowledgeable about the economy in the region they are working. I will tell you that in the last year, one institute that I am working for raised my salary twice, without me even having to ask. This is normal behavior in this economy, to compensate employees with an increase in salary to account for the inflation and rise in costs.
The other institute that I worked for (notice the past tense) never increased my salary once, and when I asked about it in October of 2018, they told me that they “weren’t doing that for anyone.” Which means not one employee there was getting an increase in salary. Was that true? I am not sure, but all one can do is speculate without fact.
So, the long and short of this is that it very important that you understand the situation of the economy that you are living in and don’t hesitate to be active in your salary and always demand a teacher’s worth. If you aren’t given that, look elsewhere for other opportunities.
How to survive
I am not going to lie and say that it isn’t a challenge, particularly if you are like most of us from the US who come with some sort of USD debt that you are trying to wheedle down. It requires budgeting, forethought and responsibility. But get some… it isn’t a bad thing! I budget my spending money weekly, only dipping into the future budget for extreme necessities. I only buy things with the cash that I have, and I am careful of what I spend my money on. I choose travel over buying things, so I live simply, keep my green footprint small and enjoy parts of South America whenever my purse gets a little heavier.
How to thrive
Now this economic situation is a terrible thing for Argentinians, but if you are a holder of the USD, you are a rich (wo)man! So, what is the best thing to do? Teach online and live here. If you can handle the time difference, find a way to make USD or EUR. The conversion will make life quite simple for you here, not to mention help Argentina out by injecting some capital into their market. Though, in my opinion they really need to figure that part out on their own, as a country. But putting my political opinion aside, you can enjoy the country, work from home and do what we all love, TEACH!
How I am doing it
Because at the moment, I am still figuring out the transition from teaching solely in the traditional way, in the classroom and with private students, to teaching mostly online. I am in a learning curve. I am doing as much research as possible, growing my student base and exploring what is the best platform to work with. So, I do not have much advice there, yet. But I can say this, I like a mix. I am currently teaching at the small institute that pays a good rate, private courses (which I make more money at and can control) and teaching English online. I currently like the balance that this gives me. I get spending money from the institute and private courses, and the rest of what I make can go toward the big bills. For now, in the state of the Argentinian economy, this is my recommendation, because making the average salary stretch in the costs of today is becoming quite hard, and the experts say it will probably worsen before it improves.
Don’t let this deter you from teaching here though. The pros do outweigh the one major con, at least for the time being. And, like I said, if you have some USD to rely on, it will go very far here right now and could even go up in worth! Do not overlook this amazing country, fascinating culture and experience. Money comes, money goes, experiences last a lifetime.
A California girl, born and raised, Adrienne always itched to pack up and leave for France with nothing in her hand but a suitcase. At the age of 38 that dream materialized for her, only in the form of another European country, the Czech Republic, where she began teaching English... and the rest is history. Read more about Adrienne.