Job postings on the internet were scarce and it is strange to see http://buenosaires.craigslist.com postings, usually an informal way for people to connect cheaply, adapted to fit the US tourist/expat market abroad.
For example, under the FOR SALE catagory:
Are you a female that wants to become an american citizen. If you are this is your chance. Is it worth 5000 to become an american citizen. If it is Email me
The housing market is little different, the standard advertisements for apartments are at a weekly rate and about five times what is paid by Argentineans.
The jobs were almost all for e-commuting webdesign jobs. Argentineans are well educated, have access to technology and will work for cheap. Freelance outsourcing is the rule here. One job stuck out a bit more than the others. It was for a project manager with web design experience. I responded and it turned out to be a freelance curriculum development company based in Buenos Aires. Why are they in Argentina? I quote their website: “And the significant cost savings made possible by our Buenos Aires production facilities makes our solutions affordable.”
I got an interview and I waver over how much to ask for. I have calculated my expenses at $800 a month. This gives me leeway. If I were living as a porteño I would only be spending about $400 but it would be difficult to find housing that cheaply without a guarantia and also I want to get out and do more things than the average person who grew up here would want to do.
The interview goes great. The owner, Mark, was very helpful and offered to assist in the apartment hunt whether or not I got the job. Getting an apartment in the city is a little difficult since Buenos Aires has a fairly archaic system of rental laws. For this, the landlords demand a “guarantia”, which is essentially a guarantee from a friend of the renters who owns land, guaranteeing that rent will be paid or their property will be forfeit. This is partly due to archaic rent laws which state that once in an apartment it is near impossible to remove a bad tenant who refuses to pay. It is also partly due to a feudal class system of excluding those who lack land (or a friend who does) from living in the city. There are apparently ways for foreigners to get around this, all of which involve paying a bit more.
He said he was not getting many applicants. He had advertised on craigslist and got replies from people in the USA asking to be flown out. He thought not.
Half the interview questions were about why I was in Argentina. This I found difficult to answer. To be assured I wasn’t going to say I just wanted a job cause it suited me. So I said that I had traveled here specifically for that, which was more or less true. Why Buenos Aires? I like it here. Bad answer. I should have said: “cause I’ve always wanted to let my dog shit on the sidewalk.”
The best I could come up with was “when I return to the states and live in San Francisco I don’t know what I’ll say at the interview there.” Then I countered by asking why it was an important question and he told me he didn’t want travelers. And I assured him by telling him that I was not a traveler and I was here to work. It was a lie but it was nice to get all that out in the open. I doubt he was totally convinced but I didn’t care. I fit the job profile better than anyone else he’s looking for: I’m young, eager, cheap, smart, and have experience in everything the job asks for. If I didn’t get it, he’d have made a hiring mistake.
The next day I checked my email even though they told me they’d be calling back only next week. I somehow hoped the next interviewee would not show and they’d just give me the job by default. That seems to be how I get most of my jobs. But I’m good on an interview and I enjoy talking to people.
Over the next few days I became worried about staying too long in Buenos Aires and things not working out. People would ask me what I was doing and what my plans were. Every time that I answered that I was going to live here I would build up my failure if things did not work out. I almost decided to leave the city so I wouldn’t have to worry about hearing back from the job.
In the meantime the freelance jobs I had applied for were not responding. The only one I heard from was a person wanting a web design project done in Flash. I have no experience in Flash but I want to learn. I realized that I didn’t even have my laptop. There was no way at all that I could learn how to use this complicated software using internet kiosks.