Mexico Connect
Forums  > General > Living, Working, Retiring


agathawords1

Jul 10, 2005, 11:42 AM

Post #1 of 15 (4851 views)

Shortcut

Newcomer to with questions

Can't Post | Private Reply
Hi Guanajuato/SMA Forum!

Shew! After two years of hemming and hawing, I'm finally only about 3 weeks away from my move to Queretaro from North Carolina. The private school where I'm teaching (and will issue me my FM3) has been wonderful at giving me answers about this area, but I feel lucky to have stumbled upon MexConnect as well: the book club, places to buy bed bases, tax information... this is crucial stuff!

A little background on me: I grew up in NC, went to school in Connecticut, lived there writing for an alternative weekly for a while, and returned home to be closer to my family. I've taught ESL in the public schools for a few years now and have fallen in love with my Mexican students, their language and culture. I'm an avid reader and am hoping this move will allow me to get some writing done too. I've also lived in the French West Indies. I speak French and though my Spanish is good, I know I need to live in Mexico to improve it.

If I could impose a few more general questions on those of you familiar wtih Queretaro, I'd sure appreciate it.

1. THE PAY ISSUE. The school has quoted me a salary of 11,000 pesos a month and has offered an apartment near the school that a past teacher had rented and the director owns for 320P/month. I'm single, used to living fairly cheaply, and have a sense of adventure about shopping as much as possible in markets when possible. I'd like to have cable too if possible (out of pure curiousity-- what American programs are there? Are they dubbed or subtitled?) On this salary, is my idea of a fairly comfortable life reasonable?

2. MY DOG. I'm now officially terrified of checking him on my USAirways flight into D.F. after horror stories of mistreatment and even death. I have a 19lb. beagle who's smaller than many cats, so I'd initially thought I'd try to carry him on. After perusing the travel kennels at PetSmart that meet the dimension requirements (21" by 16" by 10" for soft-sided), I'm discouraged and think I might have to check him. (USAirways doesn't seem to have the restriction on not transporting animals in the summer that other airlines have...) Tips for keeping him safe?

3. THE CAR ISSUE. I have a Mazda, which the school advised me not to bring since the brand is not common in Mexico. The address of the school is "Calle Asteroides, Rancho San Antonio." Is it feasible to walk into el centro from here? Are there other conveniences nearby? What other inconveniences do I run into immediately if I don't bring a car?

4. THE FURNISHING ISSUE. I'll arrive to a house with a complete kitchen and that's about it. I'm planning to bring sentimental items and things I can't live without. I'm going to have to buy basic furnishings (bed, couch, kitchen table set) fairly soon after I arrive. Without a car, can Sears/Costco/etc. deliver these items? Are there less expensive place sto buy used furniture than these big outlets? I've heard there are no "thrift stores" in Queretaro where one can buy used furniture, but do you savvy posters know of other sources-- shops, newspaper classifieds, online forums? When Mexicans want used furniture, where do they go?

5. HEALTH INSURANCE. I've read various opinions in this forum on the issue. The school has told me that as a Mexican worker, I will have access to the public Mexican health care system, that many students' parents are doctors and can write me a script for whatever I may need. I'm suspicious. Do I need supplementary health insurance (I'm 27 and in good health)-- e.g. what would happen if I came down with a serious/long-term illness with no insurance in the U.S. or Mexico? Also, I need to have two prescriptions filled every month of fairly common drugs-- how are prescriptions priced at the farmacia?

I'll stop at five and pause to take a breath. I'd love to know who else is in Queretaro and what they're doing... thanks in advance for all your ideas and advice.

Erin



Bear

Jul 10, 2005, 12:15 PM

Post #2 of 15 (4835 views)

Shortcut

Re: [agathawords1] Newcomer to with questions

Can't Post | Private Reply
There are several folks on this forum from Queretaro
area, zoeq1000, thetruenortherner, and me. There was another guy frank fundaro, but he now haunts
mexonline forum. Give us some time and we will start sending you some answers.
I can tell you that you will have a very long walk to Centro from your school. It is located in the Northeast part of town near the Airport. You will have to drive in your Mazda or get a cab.


(This post was edited by Bear on Jul 10, 2005, 12:26 PM)


Bear

Jul 10, 2005, 1:10 PM

Post #3 of 15 (4816 views)

Shortcut

Re: [Bear] Newcomer to with questions

Can't Post | Private Reply
My wife and I have sent you a private message.


gpk

Jul 10, 2005, 4:33 PM

Post #4 of 15 (4766 views)

Shortcut

Re: [agathawords1] Newcomer to with questions

Can't Post | Private Reply
I hope that salary is guaranteed--it is very high for a teacher. Do you know how many hours you are expected to work for that? I have a Mexican friend who works like a dog at two different ubniversities teaching math and physics and he barely gets that much.


Adrian

Jul 10, 2005, 5:54 PM

Post #5 of 15 (4746 views)

Shortcut

Re: [gpk] Newcomer to with questions

Can't Post | Private Reply

In Reply To
I hope that salary is guaranteed--it is very high for a teacher. Do you know how many hours you are expected to work for that? I have a Mexican friend who works like a dog at two different ubniversities teaching math and physics and he barely gets that much.

Hmmm...the Tec de Monterrey pays its language teachers here on the Tampico campus the hourly rate of MN$90 - in theory, a 30 odd hour week could give almost MN$11,000 at that rate. Of course, that's the highest rate in town - only the American School pays more.

Adrian


agathawords1

Jul 10, 2005, 8:27 PM

Post #6 of 15 (4699 views)

Shortcut

Re: [Adrian] Newcomer to with questions

Can't Post | Private Reply
Thanks to all who responded! Yes, I will sign a contract before I move. It is great news to know that is in the high range.

Any ideas on the other issues-- e.g. traveling with dog, medical insurance, etc.? These things have the ability to frazzle your nerves...

Do your friends who are teachers enjoy it? Is a master's or Ph.D. required to teach at the University?


Carol Schmidt


Jul 10, 2005, 10:36 PM

Post #7 of 15 (4686 views)

Shortcut

Re: [agathawords1] Newcomer to with questions

Can't Post | Private Reply
I'll take a stab at some of your questions:

>I'd like to have cable too if possible (out of pure curiousity-- what American programs are there? Are they dubbed or subtitled?) On this salary, is my idea of a fairly comfortable life reasonable? >

Over in San Miguel, both cable and satellite TV have the full range of US networks and a choice of specialty channels available for various prices. They're the regular US shows, in our case of DISH TV braodcast out of New York. We get the Comedy Channel and all the news channels and C-SPAN, among others, and we dropped our costly five HBO channels because we never watched them except for the few Bill Maher and Six Feet Under new shows a year, and we have too much to do to watch much TV here anyway.

The Mexican government fixes the amount of provable income a retiree must have to get an FM3 to live in Mexico, and it's about $1,200 a month for most areas, and that amount is very doable for a single person to live on, if you could live on around $2,000 a month back in the States. That's my estimate of what $1,200 a month here equals, depending on your area--you can't live like a rich gringo, but you can live decently and have a great time if you're careful. Learn to love fresh veggies and fruit, if you don't already.

Your dog--I don't know what to tell you. I'd hate to put my own dog into baggage, since there are many airline deaths a year to pets, but the vast majority do fly safely.

> What other inconveniences do I run into immediately if I don't bring a car? >

In San Miguel at least, you can survive just fine without a car, and actually you'd have more inconveniences right away with a car, finding parking. Taxis and buses are plentiful and cheap in Mexican cities. If you're not a walker now, I bet you learn to love it. Queretaro is a very large sprawling city, but still, taxis are great, and you'll learn the bus lines.

>Without a car, can Sears/Costco/etc. deliver these items? Are there less expensive places to buy used furniture than these big outlets? I've heard there are no "thrift stores" in Queretaro where one can buy used furniture>

I only know San Miguel, but I bet you can find most of your major purchases from garage sales and local classifieds there, too. And yes, Sears and Costco deliver.

>The school has told me that as a Mexican worker, I will have access to the public Mexican health care system, that many students' parents are doctors and can write me a script for whatever I may need. I'm suspicious. Do I need supplementary health insurance (I'm 27 and in good health)-- e.g. what would happen if I came down with a serious/long-term illness with no insurance in the U.S. or Mexico? Also, I need to have two prescriptions filled every month of fairly common drugs-- how are prescriptions priced at the farmacia?>

If you've read past threads on health care in Mexico, you can see the issue is complex. IMSS is pretty good for young healthy people, from most people's experiences, though it can be difficult to maneuver and not as efficient as you hope. Sometimes it is, sometimes you have problems just like wtih US health care.

Few drugs require prescriptions here--you just go into a farmacia and hand in your previous bottle and the clerk will probably be able to find the equivalent name in Spanish from a reference book and hand you a refill, no prescription needed. Ask around and see if there is a particular farmacia where there is someone with some expertise on staff to find out the equivalent for you. Often you can find that out in a google search yourself. Remember to check the actual chemical ingredients to get the exact same drug, not something "similar."

The only drugs that do require local prescriptions seem to be tranquilizers and heavy duty pain meds, far as I've heard, though some people have written that they have a particular drug need that is not available and then they have to work at getting it. In San Miguel to have prescription drugs sent from the US to here, they have to arrive through the U.S. consulate's office, with arrangements made ahead of time. I don't know what the situation will be where you are going.

Hope this helps,

Carol Schmidt


gpk

Jul 11, 2005, 5:56 AM

Post #8 of 15 (4659 views)

Shortcut

Re: [Adrian] Newcomer to with questions

Can't Post | Private Reply
I know about Tec de M--the class time is what you get paid for but the out-of-class time needed is uncompensated. To carry 30 hours of class time a teacher would need to spend a lot more hours in preparation. The friend I referred to works at Tec de M--he barely has a minute to eat and he doesn't sleep much. He's been doing this for several years.


agathawords1

Jul 11, 2005, 8:59 AM

Post #9 of 15 (4623 views)

Shortcut

Re: [gpk] Newcomer to with questions

Can't Post | Private Reply
Thanks Carol and Adrian for your helpful replies.

What does IMSS stand for?

Does your friend have other options-- could he work at the American school in Qto., for example, and get paid more with less prep?

Seems like there's a large population of ESL teachers of all shapes and sizes in Qto., business English and regular primaria-university level. Do you think as a group they are happy?


Carron

Jul 11, 2005, 9:18 AM

Post #10 of 15 (4609 views)

Shortcut

Re: [agathawords1] Newcomer to with questions

Can't Post | Private Reply
As a teacher who moved to Mexico to teach several years ago, I would be very suspicious about that salary. It is way out of line!When I first went to work at a private language school in Chiapas, foreign teachers were offered the world to come on down from Canada or the US or come on over from England. This transportation was, of course, at our own expense. Then when we got there, things often changed. For example, weekly classroom hours were cut prior to the opening of the term, we were often moved into very expensive apartments and rooms of the director's friends, etc. since at first most of us could not find housing for ourselves and families. Took a while to realize we were all being taken. (And I was taken by more than one private language school before I learned better.) Turn over among instructors was high, but there was always such a supply of eager, enthusiastic foreign teachers available to replace those of us who opted out.

Some Mexican laws (state? federal?) limit foreign teachers to no more than 19 hours classroom time per week per employer. That brings us an hour short of full time pay and benefits. Also native Mexican teachers are often paid for 8-hour days even though they only log half in actual classroom hours. The rest of paid preparation time. If you indeed teach 30 hours a week, that probably means 6 different classes per day (and 6 different preperations) over each 5-day period. A daunting task for any teacher!

Many foreign teachers work 19 hours per week at each of two different institutions for a total of 38 hours, which is allowed, although again no benefits other than health care accrue because the work at each place is still part-time, under the magic 20 hours for full time status. Such a schedule usually requires several early morning classes, for adults before work, and several hours of late afternoon/early evening classes (think babysitting) for wealthy school aged students. A brutal schedule which breaks up your day unnaturally and allows for very little in the way of free time to enjoy the pleasures of living in Mexico!

Again, figure each classroom hour as a totally separate class requiring totally separate lesson plans and papers to grade. And Migracion won't permit you to do private tutoring on your own.


agathawords1

Jul 14, 2005, 11:54 AM

Post #11 of 15 (4444 views)

Shortcut

Re: [Carron] Newcomer to with questions

Can't Post | Private Reply
Hello all,

Carron, I can't thank you enough for the heads-up. I am putting all of my expectations (including 11,000P/month salary) in a contract and having it signed before I come. I know this won't guarantee me protection, but I'm going to try to stay as vigilant as I can. Do you have any ideas for other practical things I can do to ensure the conditions I've been promised will be fulfilled?

The school is a private bilingual K-8 school run by an American woman and her extended (Mexican) family. One point of integrity is that they put me in touch with two other teachers who are currently employed there to ask any questions. I'm lost on why, in fact, they would pay me so much more. I did go down to interview at my own expense (though I was on vacation), I am a certified ESL teacher, and I have an Ivy League undergraduate degree. Maybe that's a prestige point for the school, and/or they think it's a good connection? Who knows.

I'll be sure to post a follow-up to my experience here in the next few months.
Thank you all-- any other comments that come up, I'll keep checking.


Carron

Jul 14, 2005, 4:57 PM

Post #12 of 15 (4388 views)

Shortcut

Re: [agathawords1] Newcomer to with questions

Can't Post | Private Reply
And I am an experienced ESL teacher with a Masters Degree. Will your contract be written in Spanish?? If not, it won't be valid in Mexico. Buena suerte on your job and keep us posted on what happens.


gpk

Jul 14, 2005, 6:06 PM

Post #13 of 15 (4364 views)

Shortcut

Will your contract be written in Spanish?? If not, it won't be valid in Mexico.

Can't Post | Private Reply
"Will your contract be written in Spanish?? If not, it won't be valid in Mexico."

I see this mentioned a lot here. I am not a Mexican lawyer, but I am a US lawyer and I work for a Mexican notario. While all of the international contracts prepared by the notario are in both English and Spanish, many of them specifically state that the English version will be controlling. I haven't asked him directly--I will if I remember to do so--but my understanding has been that an English contract would be valid but in case of a dispute it would have to be translated by an OFFICIAL translator. Different types of contracts may have different rules, also--e.g. consumer contracts, employment contracts, etc. Anyone know for sure?


zoeq1000


Jul 15, 2005, 2:38 AM

Post #14 of 15 (4319 views)

Shortcut

Re: [agathawords1] Newcomer to with questions

Can't Post | Private Reply
Hi, Sounds like you're in for a great adventure! I'm replying to some practical questions you asked. Regarding healthcare, through Mexconnect we found help at a the clinic of Dr. "Kitty" Delano who is a GP along with her brother Michael Delano as well as the famous orthopedic surgeon around here, Dr. Schmidt. Dr. Kitty uses homeopathics as well as she trained in Germany where she met her husband, Dr. Schmidt. I've met Americans in the waiting room. They are also supposed to have a good dentist there but we haven't yet tried him though he helped our architect with a wisdom tooth in one visit. He was happy. The visits are about $40 US to see Dr. Kitty. Phone number is 213-46 83.

For furniture, Sam's Club has Selther mattresses which are reasonable. They do have box springs here but a wooden bed frame is used a lot here. You can find a truck near Sam's Club or Costco out front to move what you buy for about $10 US, maybe a little more. There's cheap furniture in a town where it is made, about 1/2 hour away in Apaseo del Alto (not sure of spelling of first word).

As for getting around, take taxis for $2 to $4 anywhere you want to go in QRO.

If you expect the unexpected and roll with the punches AND have back-up money, you will do just fine. Good luck.


Carron

Jul 15, 2005, 8:19 AM

Post #15 of 15 (4290 views)

Shortcut

Re: [zoeq1000] Newcomer to with questions

Can't Post | Private Reply
Back up money is the key here! Glad you pointed that out.

I had a friend from England who moved "permanently" with her 10-year old son to Chiapas to teach in a very exclusive, expensive private language school. She had been told that she could live in the director's house for free. When she arrived, however, having paid her own way over from England, she was not installed in the director's house at all but placed into the spacious upstairs of one of the director's personal friends. A gorgeous two-bedroom apartment with a view, private bath, and sitting room on the stair landing plus two meals a day cooked by the maid sounded like a dream.

Two BIG problems: (1) they couldn't stand the food cooked by the maid, never having been exposed to Mexican foods before; and (2) although the furnished apartment with meals, utilities and maid service was a bargain in anyone's mind at only 2800 pesos per month (less than $280 US for everything) the teacher was told at the last minute that she would only teach three classes in the early morning hours for a total of 1900 pesos per month. The rest of her meals/lodging she would have to make up from her own pocket. She lasted two weeks and went back home to England on a last minute plane ticket that cost a bundle. I don't think her son had eaten a bite since they arrived in Mexico! An expensive job offer, no matter how ideal it had seemed when she accepted the offer.

One summer I was offered 3600 pesos to teach English to young adults (my favorite students) for 4 weeks at what was called "The American School". Nothing American about it except the wealthy Mexican owner spoke fair English and had visited the US on several occasions as a tourist. When the summer term actually started the owner went on vacation to an undisclosed location and I ended up with one class of 4-year olds who still needed potty training and a small group of younger teenagers who were mostly the badly behaved children of the owner. They were so bad the swimming teacher suspended them from school for a week! I was eternally grateful to him! At the end of two weeks I was paid only 1200 pesos when I was expecting 1800, because the owner sent word she hadn't attracted enough students to pay me more. I did not return.

The following semester another experienced teacher from England accepted an offer to teach at the same "American School". By that time I was teaching at the University. His students were so badly behaved (probably some of them the owner's kids), he actually slapped the hell out of one of them!!!
Acceptible in England, but certainly not in Mexico. He had to go home muy rapido, with the loss of his job, dormitory housing, and the enouragement of Migracion. And he was happy to do so. Said he just couldn't understand the total lack of discipline permitted among the students. Another cultural difference you will learn while teaching in Mexico--you can't discipline students whose parents are paying big bucks for you to babysit them in ESL classes.

Again, have back up money, especially if the housing you have has been arranged by your employer. If your job doesn't work out, neither will your place to stay.
 
 
Search for (advanced search) Powered by Gossamer Forum v.1.2.4