ESL Teacher & Son Thinking of Moving to Argentina


Feb 9, 2012
Hi There,

I'm thinking of moving to BA for a few months this summer, see how it goes. I'm a well-qualified ESL teacher with 16 years experience; I also train ESL teachers. I am also thinking of making a documentary about ESL while I am there. I have no problem teaching English as that is what I do.

I also have my 8 year old son with me.

I'm wondering how feasible it would be to at first travel around with my son for awhile, and then settle down and work somewhere. Are there schools he could attend? Would it be better to stay in BA or in the provinces. We don't speak Spanish (yet): not much anyway.

Is it safe to stay with a child in BA or in Argentina? Kids don't play on the streets here anymore in Canada and I'd like to live somewhere a little more laid back for awhile.

I suppose health insurance would be a good idea, also.

I am sure plenty of people will have some helpful and constructive responses to your post, try not to take personally the incredulous ones, tough love is often the name of the game on this forum.

If you are looking for more laid back and safe than Canada, I am quite sure Buenos Aires, at least the Capital, is not the place you want. I don't know where you are coming from, but I have friends in Toronto and Vancouver and I would feel infinitely safer in either one of those cities than anywhere in Buenos Aires. There are clubs you can join where your child can play outside and it's relatively safe, Club de Amigos or Club Ciudad de Buenos Aires, and I take my son to many of the playgrounds and parks here, but I don't think anyone with a choice would let their 8 year old play on the streets unsupervised here. Maybe one of the barrios cerrados in the suburbs, but that's not the experience I imagine you would be looking for.

That being said, I have been year for almost a year, and the worst that has happened to us was my son's jacket getting stolen from a playground. I have had numerous people tell me my backpack was open when I am on the bus or subte and people always giving up their seats so my five year old can sit down. The school where we enrolled our son (Jacaranda in Belgrano) turned out to be a wonderful place and we were really welcomed with open arms by the other families. My son is now fully bilingual in Spanish and English (he arrived with almost no Spanish.). I've been welcomed personally into the community where I am studying yoga and feel this has been a terrific experience for our family.

A couple caveats: My husband in Argentinian, and we had family and friends to help us before we even arrived, with things like school recommendations and help finding an apartment. I really can't imagine what it would have been like to come here without that help. That doesn't mean it can't be done, but I think you will find the culture here somewhat more tribal, in the sense that there is intense care and support for friends and family and connections to one's friends and family, and less sense of a global community. If you have some connections, it will be much easier. We also came with the possibility of returning to San Francisco open, and will probably go back in July 2012. Trying to make a living here is a challenge, to say the least. Salaries are low and expenses are high, with many things as expensive or more than in San Francisco (but not rent, thank god!) I'm not at all sorry to have come and it won't be easy to leave, but I am glad we have that option open.

I'm not sure also what you meant by summer--summer in Canada or summer here in Argentina? Summer in Argentina is December, January, February; winter here is June, July, August. In the summer months here you have the possibility of enrolling your son in a colonia (summer camp). It's also much quieter and fewer people, though more tourists. People who teach ESL for institutes go on vacation and you may be able to find substitute work, though keep in mind you'll be taking a sizable pay cut. Health insurance in definitely available and more affordable. There was a Canadian citizen who posted here a while back who got some kind of travel health insurance that seemed ideal, especially if you are here for a few months.

There are lots of other things to think about, of course, and I'm sure others will have things to say. Feel free to PM me if you want to continue the conversation. Good luck!
I think that its perfectly feasible to travel and then settle in the city for a few months but keep in mind that your summer is our winter (not that it is anything like a Canadian winter but will still be cold on occasion).

I agree with all of the above but just wanted to add that wages for ESL teachers are notoriously low. I think it would be very unrealistic to assume that you could rent your own apartment, pay health insurance premiums (around 800/1,000 pesos for you and your son for decent coverage) and school fees for a few months without relying heavily on savings. Most ESL teachers I know rent shared apartments and live very basically.
Travel in Argentina is expensive. The air fare from the US is quite a lot nowadays (an Argentine friend recently paid over $2,000 dollars for his economy class ticket to New York). As the pervious poster said, pay is poor and COL high. An ESL teacher has to share an apartment and live very modestly. You will have to come with quite a lot of money to stay several months in Argentina with a child.