Argentina: Best Place to Retire Abroad?

Retirement in Argentina is anything but a snoozer

Argentina makes its appearance onto a lot of ‘best of’ lists and Argentines themselves will tell you the country has the best beef, wine and most beautiful women. It’s not surprising then that the country makes it onto so many ‘Best Places to Retire Abroad’ lists.

The website Global Post placed Argentina on their 2010 low-cost retirement destinations line-up. Alongside Costa Rica it has the lowest costs of living of any country on their six-country list and also ranks the highest on the human development index. Another website, Retiring-Overseas, places Argentina on their list of 11 countries named as the best places to retire abroad.

The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), a US-based non-profit for those over 50, listed Argentina as number one on the ten best places to retire abroad in 2010. The article provides a good basic round-up of what retirees can expect here in terms of cost of living and culture.

The only thing the AARP got wrong was stating that Americans are a minority in the expatriate community. In fact, there are over 60,000 Americans in Argentina (link in Spanish) and they are the country’s fifth largest immigrant population.

The AARP article lead to a flurry of spin-offs such as, ‘The best places to retire outside the U.S.’ on Yahoo’s finance page. The article recaps the AARP findings and inadvertently reveals that the author must have never actually visited Argentina — she ends the article with, ‘Olé!,’ a word never uttered in Argentina.

The Yahoo article just indicates the need to take online retirement advice written by someone behind a desk in New York with the proverbial grain of salt, and do your own homework before taking the plunge.

But it is true that there are many older people still enmeshed in the developed world’s rat race who could liquidate their assets and comfortably live in Argentina sipping Malbec and playing golf for the rest of their lives — as long as the country remains stable. Culture, culinary delights and bargain properties are part of the draw for baby boomers looking to stretch their retirement savings overseas.

For those who can’t yet cash in their retirement funds and run to Argentina, the Los Angeles Times recently ran an article called, ‘Early retirement may be dangerous to your health.’ The article claims that retirement adversely affects physical and cognitive health, but whether that applies to retirees who come to Argentina to learn Spanish and dance tango is debatable.

The Woes of Teaching Abroad

Living and working abroad is a fantastic experiences that anyone, at any age can enjoy. Meeting new people, experiencing a new culture and learning a foreign language truly shape a person positively.

For many English-speaking foreigners, teaching can be a way to make money while abroad. And anyone who is able to live abroad, especially in Argentina, is very lucky.

Having said that, teaching abroad is not always a dream come true. Yes, living in Argentina, experiencing all that Buenos Aires has to offer is great, but — just like for many people in the country — it’s a struggle for teachers to stay afloat.

One way to ease the burden is to come with savings, if possible. The alternative, if you are going to teach English, is filling your day with as many classes as possible. Still, most teachers run into the following three inevitable problems: Unpaid downtime, canceling students and low wages.

• Unpaid Downtime:

Working for an institute can be wonderful as it guarantees weekly classes. Working for an institute can be terrible because they determine your schedule. Classes at 8:30am, 1:00pm and 5:00 p.m. (before work, during the lunch hour and after work) are common.

Unfortunately these times leave teachers with three hours to kill somewhere away from home. While popping into a nearby restaurant or cafe seems like a great idea, what you earn in one hour of teaching can easily be spent on lunch and a much-needed cup of coffee. This produces the dilemma of either spending all day in transit or spending much of the day’s earnings during the downtime.

Possible solution: Sometimes you can arrange to do chores in whatever part of town you find yourself in between classes. If you are studying, take your books, pack a lunch and study in the park or a library during the downtime. Luckily Buenos Aires also has lots of low cost and free activities. You may also consider going to a museum, art gallery or exploring some public buildings.

• Canceling Students:

To preface, most students are fantastic, eager and ready to learn or improve their English. But some students are not. Some cancel at a whim, even when you are already at their house or office. At some institutes teachers do not get that expected 1-2 hour wage that they were counting on, but can’t afford to give up students.

Possible Solution: Setting up a 24-hour cancellation policy is one way to offset this. The longer you are in the business and the more valued you are as a teacher, the more likely you will be able to set your own policies.

• Low wages:

Many jobs in Argentina come with low wages, and the same goes for teachers. Again, while it is great to be able to live in Buenos Aires, it’s expensive! Goodbye boliches (nightclubs), goodbye nice dinners — you’ll need to get your sleep anyway, because teachers need to completely book their schedules to scrape by in this country.

Possible solution: Slowly work toward acquiring private classes, which pay better than working for an institute. If you can create private group classes, even better — you can lower the price for students and make more money.

While there is a high demand for English teachers in Argentina, the lifestyle of a teacher is certainly not carefree. This is especially true in January and February when the entire city goes on vacation. During this period English teachers in Argentina are forced to seek other employment to survive.

Living in Buenos Aires is a great experience, but after doing the teaching mambo for a while, you may realize that the teacher’s delicate daily dance is not the sole way to survive.

— by Nora Leary

Volunteer: Planting in the Ecological Reserve

photo courtesy of the Ecological Reserve

The Costanera Sur Ecological Reserve is soliciting volunteers to help for three hours of vegetation planting this Sunday. Several time per year staff at the Buenos Aires reserve invite the community to join together to plant native species in the city’s largest green space.

Families and children are welcome. A good chance to meet new people, soak up the fall sun and learn some new Spanish plant-life vocabulary.

Come with:

• comfortable clothes
• closed shoes
• a hat or sunblock
• gloves (if possible)
• bug repellent

Reserva Ecológica Costanera Sur
Sunday, April 3
10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
Tel: 0800-444-5343

Meeting Point:
Cabin Viamonte
Near the corner of Av. Int. Giralt & Mariquita Sanches de Thompson (continuation of Cordoba)

*Canceled in case of rain