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Moving to Uruguay: 7 Things to Know Before Moving to Uruguay

By Joshua Wood

Summary: Expats who move to Uruguay offer a lot of advice about moving there. There are several aspects of living in Uruguay that need to be taken into consideration: health care, cost of living, transportation and types of housing are just a few of the areas to investigate. Going to Uruguay to visit first is critical!

Moving to Uruguay - 7 Things to Know Before Moving to Uruguay

Expats that move to Uruguay live in a South American country that borders Argentina and Brazil, and Uruguay is regarded as one of the most stable countries on the continent. Some expats who live in Uruguay believe it is an amazing place to live, while others will recommend other countries to people who have never lived in Central or South America before. You'll need to research Uruguay extensively on your own to make an informed decision.

Uruguay Visas and Citizenship For Expats

According to the U.S. Department of State, "You do not need a visa for a visit of less than 90 days if you are traveling on a regular passport. You must have a valid visa if you are traveling on a diplomatic or official passport."

An expat discussing residency for expats in uruguay advised, "the only real benefit I see is that being a resident will save you from the hassle of having to cross the border and stay there for at least 24 hours."

As far as obtaining Uruguayan citizenship, an expat wrote that "you need to be able to answer questions from the court in Spanish, have several Uruguayans attend with you to vouch for you and be able to demonstrate that you are integrated into the society by belonging to local organizations etc. There is quite a bit of paperwork needed similar to residency but different and of course there are costs."

An expat that moved to Uruguay wrote: "Apply for residency and hire a lawyer to help you through the process. Once you have your residency - - should take about 8 months to a year, you can ship your household goods. If you are a couple, file for residency seperately. That way, you can ship a container of household goods, live for a while, find out what else you need and then send another container with the missing 'stuff'."

Cars For Expats Moving to Uruguay

An expat described their recent vehicle purchase in Uruguay:

"We just bought a "zero kilometer" Subaru Forester, which we absolutely love. It is all wheel drive, which we need on the Chacra and has good ground clearance of 8" and 18" wheels. The bad part is that this vehicle cost double what we would have paid for it in the US! We love Uruguay, but it is a very pricey place to live.

"In terms of vehicle size, we feel smaller is better as many roads and parking spaces are tight.

"Used vehicles are extremely expensive too. It is as if one should pay extra to sit in a butt-worn seat! I will never understand this pricing mentality. The high cost of used vehicles is why we we decided to get a new vehicle with fewer potential maintenance issues. As we did not get a pick-up, we are now looking for a trailer to haul materials in."

Expat Housing in Uruguay

An expat that moved to Uruguay advised, "we searched Punta del Este from one side to the other. We decided that we wanted to live in Punta for 6 months a year or longer and that meant a house versus an apartment since many of the apartment buildings are unoccupied 8 months of the year. We also decided that we would build a house as opposed to finding one. We wanted bigger rooms, more bathrooms and fewer bedrooms than is conventional. The difference being that we were not looking to rent the house."

Cost of Living in Uruguay

An expat who lives in Punta Del Este wrote that "The cost of all utilities is higher than in the United States. Real estate taxes are much less. Buying a car is much much more expensive because of the import tax but the import tax seems to stay with the car so the retained value is high. Gasoline is the same as in Europe which is high compared to the U.S. And Punta in general is not cheap."

Where to Move in Uruguay

An expat who asked where to move in Uruguay was advised:

"It sounds as if you have not decided prematurely that you are moving here forever if you are coming for a three to four month stay. In that time you will get a good taste of Uruguay and presumably you are traveling light, so if you find that you do not care for Uruguay, it will not be a big deal for you to move on after a few months. Hopefully you know that Uruguay is the most expensive country in Latin America in which to live. Rentals are expensive, usually are for long term, and you tend to be on the hook for dealing with repairs, so do more research on that. The Spanish accent here is specific to this part of Latin America, aside from that and some particular vocabulary, you will learn the Spanish that is spoken everywhere. The people are friendly and appreciate foreigners who want to learn their language. If you speak enough Spanish to get by, it will be a good place to practice, and learn while experiencing another culture first hand. Montevideo, being by far the largest city in Uy, has the most options and is a good place to start for a few months. You can explore the rest of the country from there. Enjoy your exploration!"

Banking in Uruguay

Expats often recommend BROU: I have a BROU account and had been transferring funds from the states to my account here. Like Morel says, you have to provide documentation to prove the funds are legal. Recently, BROU sent an announcement that any funds deposited to your BROU account from the states in excess of $350,000 UY will get hit with a hefty fee. I never got an announcement that was rescinded but maybe someone reading this will know and correct that. As far as Bank of America, you need to talk to them and see if they will transfer funds. I know Charles Schwab charges only $25.00 per transfer no matter how much you send. If your were born here, you can get an account at a different bank and avoid the BROU fees.

Expat Health Care in Uruguay

One expat who moved to Uruguay offered the following description of the health care system in Uruguay:

Quick summary: The healthcare system consists of three tiers.

1) The basic healthcare system run by ASSE is meant to serve people with very low income and is totally free.

2) The Mutualistas. Mutualistas are groups of healthcare institutions spread across the country (Hospitals, clinics, etc.) that provide all necessary healthcare needs.

3) The British Hospital (not a Mutualista and a bit more expensive) and the American type insurance companies. (Blue Cross, etc)

Expats in Uruguay interested in expat health insurance should take a minute to get a quote from our trusted expat health insurance partner, CIGNA.

Need more information on living in Uruguay?

Login or Register and visit our Uruguay Forum. Talk with other expats who can offer you insight and tips about living in Uruguay.

About the Author

Joshua Wood Joshua Wood joined Expat Exchange in 2000. His areas of responsibility include creative aspects of the community, research, sales and business development. Joshua received his Master's Degree in Clinical and Counseling Psychology from Fairleigh Dickinson University and graduated from Syracuse University with a BA in English Textual Studies.

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Comments about this Article

Jun 5, 2017 08:03

"Hopefully you know that Uruguay is the most expensive country in Latin America" Is this really true or was it assumed the costs in Punta del Este represent the rest of the country. While PdE is relatively expensive, I found other locations such as Carmelo and Fray Bentos to be less expensive. PdE is a very unique location in Uruguay and does not represent the characteristics of the rest of the country.

First Published: May 31, 2017

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