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Montevideo - Uruguay - the undiscovered gem of South America
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Caractacus



Joined: 16 Jul 2009
Posts: 16
Location: Montevideo

PostPosted: Tue Sep 15, 2009 5:57 pm    Post subject: Montevideo - Uruguay - the undiscovered gem of South America Reply with quote

Hello, since as far as I can see there's not an entry about Uruguay (let alone a whole country section!) I thought I would add my experience since Uruguay and Montevideo are both hidden gems and in my opinion well-worth coming to - and pretty straightforward as far as English-teaching goes, after the usual due-paying that seems to be the norm in South America.

I arrived in Montevideo in March 2009 after doing a CELTA in Buenos Aires and finding it impossible to get work over the summer. Not only that, a few mates who did manage to find some said that all the institutes wanted people with a legal work permit which is basically impossible to organize from within Argentina.

So, after getting fed-up with the hectic-ness of Buenos Aires and the lousy work situation, I made it over to M'vid to visit some friends and immediately loved it. It's small enough to get around easily (walking, bike or bus), faded-charming, but still enough of a city to have bars, restaurants, great cinema and theatre scenes and enough going on to keep you busy.

After several hours on Google, I'd sent my CV to about 25 English-language institutes and immediately started working for the London Institute (the International House affiliate here). I quit there eventually since I felt they were taking advantage of me and the organization was just terrible. But by then I'd found 4 or 5 other institutes all of whom have work for me either permanent or now-and-then. The reputable ones I would recommend approaching are:

Focus InglÚs Empresarial (in-company stuff)
Eureka (a small institute owned and well-run by a great English guy who pays well)
Widd Professional (a small, new institute, again family owned-and-run and really friendly)
The Langland Institute (a very well-run and professional institute that does in-company as well)
The other big ones are the Anglo (an Anglo-Uruguayan cultural institute) and the Alianza (a US-Uruguayan venture) which never responded to my approaches.

Because I turned-up right at the start of the academic year (beginning of March) a lot of places had already organized teachers for their classes for the entire year, so arriving beginning of February might be a better bet to get in on the ground floor with the bigger institutes.

As far as work visas are concerned, a couple of places asked me to become legal - but I've been working for them no problem in the meantime. As a Brit, I've had to get a police check from the UK, get that and my birth certificate legalized by the UK Foreign Office (which is the stage I'm at now), after that I have to get them both legalized by the Uruguayan embassy in London, then sent here, translated, legalized AGAIN by the Ministry of Immigration here, and then along with a local police check and medical certificate I can get a year's work permit. It's a long process and to be honest I'm not sure if I'll get to the end of it before I leave Uruguay (at the moment, December). But it's worth doing if you're planning on staying longer than a year and it allows you to get free medical treatment here.

The pay rate is good, after about 3 months sorting myself out and getting to know the right people, I'm up to a full timetable of 25 hours teaching a week which is more than enough to pay my way and save some too. I was lucky enough to be able to stay even when the work wasn't coming in, but now it is I should be able to recoup the money I spent during the fallow period. Foreigners are definitely more of a rarity in Montevideo than in Buenos Aires, so the novelty-factor (and native-speaker thing) goes a long way. People are definitely Anglophiles here, but I don't think that would affect getting work. And no-one's asked to see my CELTA certificate, even though I do have one!

Apart from that; renting a place has been no problem - sharing is pretty rare for young people since everyone lives with their parents til they're married, and students are normally in dorms (foreigners can live there too, but they're pretty student-y and at least 4 people to a bedroom). I managed to find a shared apartment with my own bedroom from a classified in the newspaper so they do exist. Renting an apartment by yourself is possible with just a passport as proof of identity, but the estate agents ask for 6 months' rent as deposit.

I can't think of much else but if you're thinking of coming to Uruguay - do! And contact me if you have questions.
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Chancellor



Joined: 31 Oct 2005
Posts: 1335
Location: Zibo, China - if you're willing to send me cigars, I accept donations :)

PostPosted: Tue Sep 15, 2009 6:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I wonder how many people refer to the capital city as Monty Video.
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gungediana



Joined: 06 Apr 2009
Posts: 82

PostPosted: Tue Sep 15, 2009 10:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

thanks for that mate

I've never considered going to Uruguay myself. But from what you say Montevideo sounds amazing. I'd like to check it out sometime. I've heard good things about Punta Este too.

Cheers
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Pyrite



Joined: 14 Dec 2004
Posts: 3

PostPosted: Wed Sep 23, 2009 3:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hey, you've really got me interested in moving down there. I know it's probably not a great hiring time, but I've got a CELTA, a few years experience, and an ok amount of Spanish... hopefully I can survive!

I've got a few questions that other people might be interested in as well:

What's the typical hourly rate for English teachers?
Are split shifts common? Traveling around the city to different classes? I know this is the standard in Latin American, but a man can hope...
What's the general English level of the population? I've lived in other capitals where most people know a little - how would you say it compares?

Thanks in advance!
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Florida



Joined: 26 Jul 2009
Posts: 1
Location: Toronto, Canada

PostPosted: Sat Oct 03, 2009 4:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

To the OP: Thanks for posting. I have always wondered about Montevideo and never knew where to start looking for info.
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misterbrownpants



Joined: 04 Apr 2004
Posts: 70

PostPosted: Mon Oct 05, 2009 11:45 pm    Post subject: I live here too -- FUN :) Reply with quote

I've been living in Uruguay for the past almost 5 years now.. its great.. although i hate Montevideo.. too many ppl.. the coastal towns are where its at..
there are many options down here.. its a great place to live and rock out.

its funny that they are making you get a visa.. most places are ok with just a passport and you can get the socidad free still...
but its only like $50/month.. and honestly if you calculate all of the costs for translations and legalizations it may not be worth it so much..

if you need a translator let me know i have a great one who is fairly cheap and close to the migracions office. on missiones.
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Sean1962



Joined: 04 Jan 2010
Posts: 2

PostPosted: Tue Jan 05, 2010 11:52 pm    Post subject: Newly arrived in Montevideo Reply with quote

Great posting ty.

I have just arrived in Montevideo after coming through BA. At first I wanted to go straight back there but like you say, I am really warming to the country and would like to work here.

I am just sorting out some accomodation but would like to buy you a beer and get an update post september.

thanks agin for taking the time.

Sean
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naturegirl321



Joined: 04 May 2003
Posts: 9005
Location: home sweet home

PostPosted: Wed Jan 06, 2010 1:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

What's the pay like there?
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Caractacus



Joined: 16 Jul 2009
Posts: 16
Location: Montevideo

PostPosted: Thu Jan 07, 2010 1:14 pm    Post subject: Montevideo Reply with quote

Hi, sorry I haven't been able to reply to anyone or the user harmonica who sent me a private message which I accidentally deleted and can't get back...I was locked out of my account for a few weeks but now it's working again.
So, in true super-model fashion I don't get out of bed for less than 200 pesos/hour, which seems about average (I pay that for my one-to-one Spanish lessons). Some of the companies (ie. Eureka) and the private unis pay much more which means I could save $4000USD in 6 months so the scope for saving is pretty high as long as you luck out with what work you can pick up.
In my opinion, it's just a matter of arriving in Uruguay and making some connections since it's a very networky place and institutes don't really want to know until you're on the ground and available. Also, the situation can change really quickly so if you think you're not getting anywhere don't give up.
Also, that 200 pesos/hour is for in-company, in institutes which is the only place to teach kids the pay is less, so it's really a matter of what you want to do versus what you can bring yourself to do.
For the person who asked about split-shifts, yes that's what I did all last year. I started at 8 or 8:30 for 1.5 hours 4 days a week, then taught at lunchtimes twice a week, then evenings twice a week. I don't think it's possible to NOT work split shifts unless you only have one employer and teach on-site which is quite unlikely. Having said that, MVD is small and easy to get around so it's not as much of a ball-ache as Buenos Aires would be.
And to whoever said they'd buy me a beer - get in touch! Very Happy I'm back in Montevideo in mid-March.
Cheers, Patla
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Manaus



Joined: 15 Apr 2008
Posts: 52
Location: Orlando, FL

PostPosted: Tue Jan 12, 2010 6:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I volunteered at Alianza back in 2002 while I was studying abroad at the Catolica (university) and really liked my experience there.
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naturegirl321



Joined: 04 May 2003
Posts: 9005
Location: home sweet home

PostPosted: Tue Jan 12, 2010 8:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

YOu saved 4K in 6 months? How? What was your living situation like? I mean, did you hae a room, apartment, etc?

And do you mind not being legal?
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Caractacus



Joined: 16 Jul 2009
Posts: 16
Location: Montevideo

PostPosted: Thu Jan 14, 2010 1:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

No, not being legal isn't a hassle at all. I started the process to make things legal but never finished it, I might this year.
I had house-mates, but this time I'm going to live alone - a bit more expensive but still doable in my opinion.
As for saving, I lucked-out with my pay, but it also took some self-control!
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JonnyBravo



Joined: 30 Oct 2006
Posts: 80
Location: Bogota, Colombia

PostPosted: Mon Jan 25, 2010 2:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Caractacus,

Thanks for sharing. Can you explain a little more about your pay versus your lifestyle? Im just trying to do the math and not figuring out how you saved $4000 in 6 months. I got the impression from most ESL teachers in South America that saving thousands of dollars is very hard, if not impossible, especially for a new arrival working illegally. Your story seems to go against everything I think I've read, but I'd really like to learn more.

Thanks,

Jon
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timalex



Joined: 02 Sep 2006
Posts: 10

PostPosted: Wed Jan 27, 2010 9:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Uruguay is a gem, I had a brilliant time when I traveled there 7 years ago. Someday I may return on a more permanent basis.
Thank you for the info!
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Caractacus



Joined: 16 Jul 2009
Posts: 16
Location: Montevideo

PostPosted: Thu Feb 04, 2010 4:45 am    Post subject: Saving money Reply with quote

Hi Jon
No, my experience probably isn't typical, but I just wanted to let people know that it's possible. Having saved that much in 6 months isn't to say that you could save $8000 in 12 months; there's a big 3 months of no work during the summer holidays (Dec-Mar).
I also was lucky to get work with a private university which was extremely well paid; around 700 pesos/hour whereas I normally earn 200 (minimum). They paid quite sporadically too, so basically what happened is that I lived off what I earned the rest of the time and just changed the university pay straight into traveller's cheques - kind of an enforced savings account!
I don't think more uni work will be coming my way this year, but from the 20 hours/week that I do have confirmed I will be earning around 5000 pesos/week, or 20,000/month. I expect my rent to be around 8000/month (that's a lot but I want to live alone), and 2000/week living expenses. Given a saving of 4,000 pesos/month over 9 months, that's almost 2000USD. However, if you wanted to work harder (I don't!) you could definitely find more hours.
The biggest tip I would give to newbies arriving is DON'T SELL YOURSELF SHORT! Sure, Berlitz and International House here will give you hours and hours and no money, if you start with them and then jump ship or just hold tight and give 200 pesos/hour as an absolute minimum to potential employers you'll gradually find yourself being paid more than that. At least that's what happened to me.
Good luck!
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