Uruguay Expat Forum - Moving to Montevideo, Uruguay

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GaryChar
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3/22/2010 21:21    
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Hello all, my wife and I are considering a move to Montevideo, Uruguay form Temecula, California. Of course, we have many questions but what would provide the best help, we think, would be a link to an official website that would provide step-by-step directions for completing the process.

We will not need information regarding employment or schools; however, health insurance, apartment or home purchase, car or no car, are things we need to find out about. Are time frame is to be ready to move by June 2011.

All responses will be greatly appreciated.

Sincerely,

Gary and Char

gypsygirl1925
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3/23/2010 10:25    
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Hello,

I am from California also, Orange County, been living in UY since May 2009 in Atlantida, the biggest beach town between MVD and Piriapolis.

When I was researching UY myself, the best website I found for information from people actually living here was uruguayliving.com. They have a forum that covers every question you may have, just do a search. It's also a good place to make contacts so you will feel like you know people once you arrive.

I don't know of an official website that covers immigration, but the forum discusses the process in detail.

I hope that helps.

Candy

GaryChar
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3/23/2010 14:05    
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Candy:

Thank you for your reply. I will checkout uruguayliving.com. What I meant by official website was Uruguay’s website that put the rules for residency in no uncertain terms.

Gary

Maine1
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3/23/2010 20:49    
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A website and contacts where you should get help with most everything you need (and more):
http://www.totaluruguay.com
A great, welcoming group of expats my husband and i had the pleasure of meeting during our recent scouting trip. Best of luck!

GaryChar
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3/23/2010 23:19    
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Maine1:

Thanks for the response, we found this link today and there is a ton of helpful info.

jean12345
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3/24/2010 01:35    
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Hi, I sent the following to someone here before..you may also want to read it.You wanted an honest opinion, well that is what I did. I just came across these expat chat rooms and as a Uruguayan, I find it sad that people would want to retire here without really knowing what the place is really all about. Really you seem to be really interested to know the truth, most expat do not care until is too late, so for that reason I addressed it to you. People talk easy, but reality on the ground is very different.

You are going to find tons of investment bait no matter where you go, but Uruguay is very special. Real estate agents, lawyers and notaries have made a killing in Uruguay for the last 5 years. They promote all these schemes but the truth is that in the last 5 years prices have gone through the roof for Uruguayans thanks to foreigners buying property. A little "shanty" that may have cost 8000 dollars 5 years ago, has gone up to 10 times. As a matter of fact Uruguay can be far more expensive than Boca Raton, Naples or Miami. A coffee is cheaper a Starbucks than in a cafe in Montevideo. We used to be able to go out and eat extremely well for $20 dollars a head...well that is a thing of the past. We have restaurants that will set you back 240 dollars for lunch for two. A good bottle of wine may be 50 dollars and over.

I can tell you for sure that no matter how much Spanish you know, it will be almost imposible to understand the "nuances" of our spanish. Uruguayans are cinics by nature and we pride ourselves of "la viveza criolla", you have to have a lot of understanding of the culture to navigate that! People will make fun of you constantly and you would think that they are just being nice! Uruguay is very pretty but can be extremely dul as well. Depending where you live you can have a house in front of the ocean from 250,000 and up to 10 million dollars or more. People will tell you about this 28000 dollar cottages, but reality is that your dog would not live there. 5 years ago you might have been able to find a small house within walking distance of a beach for 35000 dollars, but that is not longer the case. A decent house anywhere in Uruguay will cost you 100,000 and up, and they will not be what you are used to.

Once you find the house of your dreams, or so you think, you will prepare yourself to make an offer...only to find out that the owner just raised the price! Owners can have several agents marketing the house and they will advertise it with different prices. Once an owner gets the offer and the realtor tell them you are not from Uruguay the price went up another 10%. This is a game they play, it is part of the culture. They will tell you they have other people interested in it and you need to put 10% down as a deposit. What they do not tell you that if there is something wrong with the papers, and most of the time there is, you will not get your deposit right away...in some cases you need to get a lawyer,or go through years of court.

I will not believe any expat that tells you they pay less that what the property was advertised for, that does not exist in Uruguay. You may need to remodel the home most probably because even in ritzy properties you will see the defects in construction right away. Unless you are paying 1300 dollars a square foot you will need to do repairs. A lot of owners do not have permits for the houses so they are selling them "cheap" say 80000 dollars or so, but when the escribano is gathering the papers he may tell you that what you are buying is the land only because the building does not have permits.

It takes about a year to have a house regularized and tons of money! If you buy it and then you need to sell it you may not be able, because the laws are changing. If you have to remodel or permit the home you will have to deal with the permit department and the architect, who will be ripping you off like you were made out of gold. Although workers earn very little (less than 10 dollars a day), architects who are usually in charge of the whole project, will charge you as much per sq meter as if you were remodeling in Nice. My sister in law just remodeled the kitchen of her home and one of the bedrooms and spent 40,000 dollars...she lives in a small townhouse. The ones that are cheap will take your money and fly.

Then you have the security issues. You may wonder why the women hold the purse on their chest when they are waiting for the bus or why they tell you it is not good to leave your house unattended. 20 years ago we used to pride ourselves or living in peace and quiet but that has changed a lot thanks to misery and widespread drug about. You will need bars in each and every window, because we have "copamientos" everywhere. A group enters your house, jumps over the metal fences, go pass your German sheperds and get into your house in the middle of the day while you are having lunch in the patio...you will never know they were there! People in Uruguay live behind bars! and electric fences and automatic gate openers and have several barking dogs to go with it.

People have lost their lives during copamientos, and you are a prime target. If you live in a house in the coast,like many foreigners do, you may see people going around in bicycles with cell phones on their hands exchanging information on what is going on in the neighborhood. Please do not think that you may not be a target of that, maybe some expats have not gotten it yet, but it is a matter of time. There are two class of expats in Uruguay, those with megatons of resources who do not live there full time and have a large staff to take care of the property, and those with just enough to get them by; if you are on the second group I strongly suggest that you look elsewhere to retire because in the long term is going to be hard.

A lot of expats go there for cheap medical care, but once you hit 55 your premiums go through the roof. There are some very good doctors, but do not expect what you have in Europe or USA. Bureaucracy is king in Uruguay and when you have a problem with them is when you really find out what the people are made of. We have had the left in the government for many years now , this year we have President who used to be a comunist guerrilla fighter and he is not a man that is careful with his words. He absolutely loads Americans and Europeans and he has already said that his government will put a stop at all the foreigners buying the land that belong to Uruguayans. We all agree to tell you the truth; the free market has only brought more misery to the people of Uruguay. A gardener may cost you 2 dollars an hour and so you house cleaner, and while you may brag with your other expat friends about it, the truth is those people are working really hard and cannot
afford to rent, let alone buy a home.

Additionally, Uruguay has huge environmental problems. If you are going to live near the River Uruguay: Colonia, Paysandu, Salto you are not only dealing with severe floods but also we all the environmental problems from the pulp processing plants. Uruguayans do not have a clue what dioxin is, and to make a joke about it they tell you they are not afraid to drink it with their mate!. Look, I wrote a lot and I can go on for longer, but just like realtor in Bulgaria told me recently when I was looking to buy a home there: nothing is what is seems here!. Good luck.


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jean12345
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3/24/2010 01:36    
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I just came across this expat chat rooms and as a Uruguayan, I find it sad that people would want to retire here without really knowing what the place is really all about. Really you seem to be really interested to know the truth, most expat do not care until is too late, so for that reason I addressed it to you. People talk easy, but reality on the ground is very different.

You are going to find tons of investment bait no matter where you go, but Uruguay is very special. Real estate agents, lawyers and notaries have made a killing in Uruguay for the last 5 years. They promote all these schemes but the truth is that in the last 5 years prices have gone through the roof for Uruguayans thanks to foreigners buying property. A little "shanty" that may have cost 8000 dollars 5 years ago, has gone up to 10 times. As a matter of fact Uruguay can be far more expensive than Boca Raton, Naples or Miami. A coffee is cheaper a Starbucks than in a cafe in Montevideo. We used to be able to go out and eat extremely well for $20 dollars a head...well that is a thing of the past. We have restaurants that will set you back 240 dollars for lunch for two. A good bottle of wine may be 50 dollars and over.

I can tell you for sure that no matter how much Spanish you know, it will be almost imposible to understand the "nuances" of our spanish. Uruguayans are cinics by nature and we pride ourselves of "la viveza criolla", you have to have a lot of understanding of the culture to navigate that! People will make fun of you constantly and you would think that they are just being nice! Uruguay is very pretty but can be extremely dul as well. Depending where you live you can have a house in front of the ocean from 250,000 and up to 10 million dollars or more. People will tell you about this 28000 dollar cottages, but reality is that your dog would not live there. 5 years ago you might have been able to find a small house within walking distance of a beach for 35000 dollars, but that is not longer the case. A decent house anywhere in Uruguay will cost you 100,000 and up, and they will not be what you are used to.

Once you find the house of your dreams, or so you think, you will prepare yourself to make an offer...only to find out that the owner just raised the price! Owners can have several agents marketing the house and they will advertise it with different prices. Once an owner gets the offer and the realtor tell them you are not from Uruguay the price went up another 10%. This is a game they play, it is part of the culture. They will tell you they have other people interested in it and you need to put 10% down as a deposit. What they do not tell you that if there is something wrong with the papers, and most of the time there is, you will not get your deposit right away...in some cases you need to get a lawyer,or go through years of court.

I will not believe any expat that tells you they pay less that what the property was advertised for, that does not exist in Uruguay. You may need to remodel the home most probably because even in ritzy properties you will see the defects in construction right away. Unless you are paying 1300 dollars a square foot you will need to do repairs. A lot of owners do not have permits for the houses so they are selling them "cheap" say 80000 dollars or so, but when the escribano is gathering the papers he may tell you that what you are buying is the land only because the building does not have permits.

It takes about a year to have a house regularized and tons of money! If you buy it and then you need to sell it you may not be able, because the laws are changing. If you have to remodel or permit the home you will have to deal with the permit department and the architect, who will be ripping you off like you were made out of gold. Although workers earn very little (less than 10 dollars a day), architects who are usually in charge of the whole project, will charge you as much per sq meter as if you were remodeling in Nice. My sister in law just remodeled the kitchen of her home and one of the bedrooms and spent 40,000 dollars...she lives in a small townhouse. The ones that are cheap will take your money and fly.

Then you have the security issues. You may wonder why the women hold the purse on their chest when they are waiting for the bus or why they tell you it is not good to leave your house unattended. 20 years ago we used to pride ourselves or living in peace and quiet but that has changed a lot thanks to misery and widespread drug about. You will need bars in each and every window, because we have "copamientos" everywhere. A group enters your house, jumps over the metal fences, go pass your German sheperds and get into your house in the middle of the day while you are having lunch in the patio...you will never know they were there! People in Uruguay live behind bars! and electric fences and automatic gate openers and have several barking dogs to go with it.

People have lost their lives during copamientos, and you are a prime target. If you live in a house in the coast,like many foreigners do, you may see people going around in bicycles with cell phones on their hands exchanging information on what is going on in the neighborhood. Please do not think that you may not be a target of that, maybe some expats have not gotten it yet, but it is a matter of time. There are two class of expats in Uruguay, those with megatons of resources who do not live there full time and have a large staff to take care of the property, and those with just enough to get them by; if you are on the second group I strongly suggest that you look elsewhere to retire because in the long term is going to be hard.

A lot of expats go there for cheap medical care, but once you hit 55 your premiums go through the roof. There are some very good doctors, but do not expect what you have in Europe or USA. Bureaucracy is king in Uruguay and when you have a problem with them is when you really find out what the people are made of. We have had the left in the government for many years now , this year we have President who used to be a comunist guerrilla fighter and he is not a man that is careful with his words. He absolutely loads Americans and Europeans and he has already said that his government will put a stop at all the foreigners buying the land that belong to Uruguayans. We all agree to tell you the truth; the free market has only brought more misery to the people of Uruguay. A gardener may cost you 2 dollars an hour and so you house cleaner, and while you may brag with your other expat friends about it, the truth is those people are working really hard and cannot
afford to rent, let alone buy a home.

Additionally, Uruguay has huge environmental problems. If you are going to live near the River Uruguay: Colonia, Paysandu, Salto you are not only dealing with severe floods but also we all the environmental problems from the pulp processing plants. Uruguayans do not have a clue what dioxin is, and to make a joke about it they tell you they are not afraid to drink it with their mate!. Look, I wrote a lot and I can go on for longer, but just like realtor in Bulgaria told me recently when I was looking to buy a home there: nothing is what is seems here!. Good luck.


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GaryChar
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3/24/2010 09:56    
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Jean12345:

Thank you for your insightful response. You are correct when you advise not thinking about living in a place before knowing anything about it. Of course, this is why I have joined social networks such as, this one. I hope to gather, as much information about the area as I can before moving on to the next step of visiting the location.

Please understand that not all Americans are the same. When you state, “People will make fun of you constantly and you would think that they are just being nice!” you imply that this is a harsh thing. What you do not know is if you were a Black American, as I am, you would have been treated this way most, if not, all of your life. You also imply that Americans are looking for investment opportunities. My wife and I are not looking to invest in anything period!

Your information regarding construction and cost per square foot is wasted on us. I never have and never will employ a contractor or builder. This is not to imply that I have skills in this trade, I do not even own a screwdriver. The point, at this time of our lives, is to have a low maintenance existence.

Security issues are of great concern. I do not know what, "copamientos" means but it seems to equal gang activity. With our simple low maintenance lifestyle, which equals “NO FLASH”, if a group of these "copamientos" were to enter our home here in Temecula, California, I am sure that they would leave a donation for us when they leave. This may seem silly but I still have a 23 year-old television. The only things that I would think to be of interest to any thief are my two year-old iMac and my Nikon D90.

I do not wish to appear to be sarcastic and I am genuinely appreciative of your response as until now I received only glowing reviews of Montevideo.

Thank you for your honest opinion,

Gary

palanca40
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3/26/2010 15:40    
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I agree with Jean in that any move to new country must be investigated. Having lived in several third world countries in Africa and loving it, even after having been given very bad comments by some people, I must say that moving to any country will always depend on why you are leaving your own, and what you are looking for where you are going. No country is perfect and you must have left Uruguay for your own reasons as I did my country South Africa.
Gary I would suggest that you go to Uruguay and see for yourself, as my family and I intend doing , I have written to quiet a few expats in Uruguay and they really love it there.

GaryChar
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3/26/2010 17:53    
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We will be there in August.

lasoria
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From: Uruguay
5/4/2010 21:25    
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I take my hat off to the Uruguayan gentleman who has had the gumption and the honesty to call it like it is in Uruguay today.
"Copamientos" are "home invasions" and where before they would just break in to homes to steal saleable valuables quickly for their drug fixes... now they are getting bolder and there have been reports of deaths happening and the newest "fad" are express kidnappings - just like in Mexico.
I don't know what you mean by "living a low maintenance existence" but I can tell you that if lack of everything you've been used to being able to get at the drop of a hat at affordable prices is a big part of it, then Uruguay is the place to be. Montevideo is considered one of the most INexpensive cities in the world to live... that is if you don't care to have decent health insurance (or care for that matter - forget "state-of-the art" anything no matter if you go to the best hospital and the medical "system" here is like nothing you've ever experienced - I call it M.A.S.H); don't have home insurance - which you really have to have plus a good alarm system and they don't come cheap... the monitoring costs are exorbitant by US standards... and I hope you're ready to drive in what can only be called "chaos" and taking your life in your hands every time you venture out into the "asphalt jungle" because if you drive like you do in CA you'll be eaten alive... you can use public transportation but it's not anything like you've ever known in the US.
A recommendation from a 4-year resident of Uruguay (Punta del Este) by way of California (and yearning to go "home"... someday): by all means PLEASE come and stay in Montevideo for a couple of months before making your final decision. Everyone is different and Uruguay is not for everyone. There are those who love it and those who don't.
Look for guidelines for residency requirements through the Uruguay consulate in Los Angeles - they may have them on their site - if not call them and have them email you the most recent rules and regulations - but let me warn you, in Uruguay, the left hand doesn't know what the right hand does - there is no "book" to go by, and everyone you talk to will give you different stories... at every level - especially the government.

luriel63
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8/8/2011 14:09    
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Hello Gary & Char,
I am uruguayan and have lived in the US east coast for 28 years. My husband and I are moving to Uruguay around 4/2012.
I would take the advise provided by Jean12345 with a grain of salt. In general Uruguayans are honest friendly people who foreingners.
In terms of security, there are increasing concerns but really no more than what we have here. The big question for me as we get closer to the moving date is how my husband (who is american) will adapt to cultural differences and the language barrier. He has been there several times and loves the place and the people. We've had nothing but pleasant experiences with strangers willing to help expecting nothing in return. One summer we drove the car into a sand bank at a diserted beach and could not get out. A group of neighbors came over and worked hard to get us out. Later they invited us over to their house for a cold drink.
As far as the cost of housing, there are substantial differences in prices depending on many factors the most important being if your are buying cash.
In all, we are looking forward to life in Uruguay.

Best wishes in your future move,

Gloria and BobTinney.

herrery
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9/19/2011 12:39    
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I have read with great interest the recent posts regarding relocating to Uruguay. As a Ecuadorian American I have to add that growing up in New York City sounded more dangerous than Uruguay. Try waiting for the bus in the south Bronx and see if the crack heads don't hunt you down. There is crime everywhere. My cousin just got robbed entering her home in Quito and got everything taken from her. I do think it is good advice to live wherever you decide to relocate and get to know the people, the history, the government, the not so obvious "rules" of a place. North Americans are always looking for a bargain no matter where they go and Latin Americans make many assumptions about North Americans. One assumption is that they are all weathy and that they are all white and privileged. We have to work and struggle just like everyone else. We just live in a country where the dollar has higher value (for now). Retirees and ex-patriots are just trying to find safe havens where their money can go farther after working hard all of their lives. Perhaps if developers and realtors weren't so greedy in foreign countries the prices would not go up so much. All the reading I have done indicates that immigrants add to the economy of a country and the country benefits. Do you not think that ex-patriots would also share their wealth of infomation, money and experience to benefit Uruguay or any other country they want to live in? Do you not think that retirees with experience in every aspect of US life would not be a boost to a foreign economy? Everyone can win. Not just a few. My family cme to the US to get a better life. My Dad was a German refugee and my Mom was an Guayaquil Ecuadorian whose family lost all their property through their own greed and stupidity. I received my education in the US and I am eternally grateful for that. However, I maintained my connection to my family in Quito and I made sure my daughter maintained her ties to Ecuador. If I return to Ecuador as a retiree you can be sure I will add to the country of my birth. Not take anything away. And if I decide to retire in Uruguay I will live there and talk to lots of locals, investigate, inquire and be a pain in the ass for several years before I plunk my hard earned cash down on anything permanent.

CabraVoladera
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10/23/2011 08:47    
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Dear GaryChar -

Please don't be discouraged by the previous opinions re Uruguay. I enjoyed reading how you are into LOW MAINTENANCE a/k/a more natural lifestyle...

My husband and I have been here since 4/2011 - NOT in the South of the country (PDE, Piriapolis, Atlantida, MVD) - but up North near the frontier with Brasil...

We had no dramas buying a car. Roadworthy, transferred ownership the same day, papers same day, taxes paid, insurance bought for $100/year. 1968 VW Beetle - all original - 2nd owners - cost $3500 USD.

We had only a week's delay in closing on our property here... We have bought a "solare" out of a "manzana" (a slice of the apple) in this sleepy little tourist town of 1,000 full-time residents. Not on the beach, but well within walking distance & located in the eucalyptus forest. We paid $9k USD CASH, went to Rocha with our attorney to arrange to pay back taxes (you do NOT need to pay more than 10 years' back taxes, by UY law, so be sure & get an attorney to represent you. What the escribano puts down on paper IS the LAW & must be accepted here. For the price of 500 pesos ($25), he was WELL worth the price of his services - and a delightful man, to boot!).

When I first went to the Intendencia to arrange for payment of the back taxes, I was told I would have to pay them ALL... back to 1996! This amounted to about an extra $3,600, which was insupportable for us. So we called our escribano (recommended by our WONDERFUL landlord) and all was remedied. We even came out $300 better on the deal.

I speak Spanish (Tex/Mex) & have been training my ears for the Castellano (pure Castilian, as in Spain) which is spoken here... In the South Coast, they speak Rio de la Platanesa, which can be very difficult, but up here they speak slowly & distinctly, altho they tend to "swallow" the last few letters of a word... It all flows together. You will make your way, no worries. I am Native American but very pale at this time due to extended illness over the Gulf issues, as we used to be Alabama residents. Getting stronger with every day now...

I have NEVER felt as if I were being made fun of up here on the frontier, altho this did happen in MVD, most notably at Hotel Iberia, which I would never recommend to anyone... Hotel Palacio is half the price, IMMACULATELY CLEAN, and the staff are outgoing & friendly... For $45, we received a nice clean room, a bit crowded with 1920s marble-topped dresser & end tables, etc., but with tempurpedic-style mattresses & real comfort - even in the dead of winter... The bath was the same size as the bedroom, with tub, shower, and even a bidet... Best was the 20' x 30' terrace we had on the 6th floor. Tiny view of the River, but excellent views of the architecture of MVD.

When we bought our land, the price was never raised. Rather, other lots are selling at $15k and, because our landlord had bought 3 lots at $9k, he called & made sure we got the same price from the owners... No prob.

We did have to travel to MVD to close, which because of our bus driver, we were late for the meeting... However, greetings were exchanged, money changed hands, we signed ONE paper (instead of the volumes one must execute for purchases in the US) after the reading of the document (by our escribano) was satisfactory for all parties. Papers are in the hands of our attorney and, after being recorded with the authorities of UY & the Dept. of Rocha, he will hand-deliver the finalized documents to us... :D (We gave him a nice bottle of tannat liqueur as a "thank you" for his services. It is a truly excellent liqueur and only $9/bottle.)

Yesterday, with chainsaw, tape measure, twine, bow saw & limb loppers, we went to our property (which does not even have a street cleared yet) and cut trees, limbed them up, and sank the first 3 posts for our new home... In about an hour's time, we head to work again & hope to get at least 6 more posts up & ready... (By the way, we are both age 50 & have grown soft, but are intent on doing this work ourselves...)

Our income level? Less than $1200/mo. We spend about $50/week on food, drink, wine, etc. We sold all our possessions before coming down & came down with 7 suitcases... We paid $100 each for these, which to my view was way cheaper than trying to ship them down.

At the moment, we are still on tourist visa status. We renewed the 2nd time last week, in Chuy. We went to the Brasiliero Consulate, bought visas for $175 each, were photographed, 1st 2 digits of each hand electronically printed, then had a nice lunch while we waited for our passports to be updated. When we got back, the chief in charge came out to the sidewalk with our finished passports, saying he was leaving for his lunch & we had made him hungry thinking about the rotisserie chicken & pork at Walter's Buffet on the Brasil side of Chui. All that was necessary was for us to drive 3km to the Brasil aduana, get stamped "IN" and "OUT" of Brasil, then back to the Chuy aduana on the UY side to get stamped "IN" again... Homeward bound, no issues.

We have had very little crime in our area. I have found all of the locals to be genuinely good people, especially the lady who runs our post office & a restaurant (out of her home). People have gone out of their way to show us properties for sale, etc., and we have NEVER dealt with an "inmobiliaria" (real estate agent) at all. Boots on the ground, driving/walking & talking to locals is how you find property here on the frontier.

As far as crime, almost no one has bars on their windows up here... Locals or tourists. We did have an incident where some other Americans came down & got robbed in the cabana where they spent the night... BUT they were "Ugly Americans" who showed up in a flashy rental car, flashing a wad of money almost as big as my head, with a HUGE gold chain & double-eagle gold medallion around the neck of one of them, talking loud, acting big shots, spending big money on wine, etc... Basically, full of crap people... (You might say, based on their behavior, that they deserved it.) People consider it bad style to throw money around up here.

We have very little abject poverty up North. Everyone works. I have seen boys as young as 9 or 10 with their own pony cart delivery service in Chuy.

As far as public transportation, altho we own a car, we still prefer to travel to MVD (when we must) on the bus. Buses in UY FAR outshine anything you've ever experienced in the US. CLEANER by far, with better, on-time, more regular service than Greyhound or Continental ever FANTASIZED about, they are our preferred mode of transport when going any great distance. In fact, the first 2 months, we either walked or took the bus wherever we went... Even to Chuy to buy groceries (as things are more expensive in our little village).

I recommend that you not limit yourself to the expat communities on the South Coast or Gold Coast... Visit, look, then move on. That's the area the young lady was warning you about.

Move on up North, to the frontier & you will find a safe haven. The home we are building will be a log home, as it is legal to cut timber from any UNUSED, IDLE land, and our building cost will be approximately $5/square foot - that is NOT a typo. However, we are NOT buying all new lumber... We are cutting our own trees & setting our own piers. We will have a wood floor with a concrete "skin" overlaid with terracotta tiles for a floor, complete ceramic shower & bath, concrete countertops, gas cooktop, outdoor earth oven for pizza, bread, suckling pig, etc., and of course, the obligatory parilla...

HOW on Earth do we get that price? Our home will be 20' x 20', have a deck around it (approx. 18" above land level), and will be 1/2-moon timbers 1/2-way up, with lapped boards above that, and a corrugated concrete composite roof... We have bought used toilets, sinks, and etc. for very cheap.

Up here, one can buy a 6" wide board 6 meters long (20 ft) and 1/2" thick for only $1.00 USD.

IF you decide to build in brick, you will pay a substantial tax on bricks, mortar, etc., plus you will be required to use an architect. Wood homes are not so regulated. I also prefer the vibration of wood to the stone-like feel of concrete.

Our lot size is 510 square meters. When we move into this house, it will be temporary. We will live in it while we take our time constructing our "dream home" which will likewise be of very simple but elegant construction. Then, learning from the locals, especially my excellent UYo landlord, we will rent the original house out during the tourist season for approximately $2500/mo. During the peak months of December/January, that will be the price... Discounts for "shoulder" months of high season and the "temporada baja" or low season if we decide to bother with it... Basically, here people earn in 2 months what they need to live on the rest of the year... And then they relax for the next 10 months.

At the same time, we plan to keep 3 milk goats, some chickens, rabbits, & a couple of pigs so we can provide our own food...

I might mention that beef here is excellent - we routinely buy 1-1/2" thick prime rib steaks from the butcher in Chuy. FOUR of these beauties cost us the equivalent of $5.50 total.

If you have not already arrived or if you have & are interested in looking at other areas and options, please feel free to contact me at CabraVoladera@privacyharbor.com.

Regardless, one thing I can assure you is this - you will NOT be the object of discrimination down here unless you make an ass of yourself. UY is a multicolored country and I have never seen any racism here at all. The earlier writer, Jean, certainly never has experienced any of the treatment Native Americans and Blacks are subjected to up in the States. I am Native American/Scottish & suffered racism on both sides - by NDNs and by whites. My partner is Filipino/German, so we are a true interracial couple. YOU GUYS are welcome at our parilla anytime... :D

Best of luck in your venture!

Cheers,

CabraVoladera
aka Flying Goat

thiago
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11/14/2011 23:25    
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Jean12345 is one hundred percent correct! Anyone who says otherwise is either in the honeymoon phase after moving to Uruguay OR they have not spent enough time here recently OR haven't fully grasped the culture. I am also a native from Uruguay. It is impressive all the glorification that exists on these forums about my country. Yes, there are many beautiful things here. But to move here from the US (where I lived for two decades, working and going to school) to Uruguay would be very difficult. Even many Uruguayans have returned after decades away only to leave again because it is not the country they remember. It would not be a simple, low-key life. It would be a life with many struggles, frustrations, and hardships. I'm glad people like Jean12345 have the morality to tell the truth, rather than try to sell a fantasy lifestyle, which I see much too often these days. Don't fall prey to that. Please, spend a year (at least) here to see first hand. But, when you do, remember to hide your wallet and don't carry a purse! :) And, yes, get used to a view behind window bars.

ftm6899
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11/16/2011 00:46    
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Hello. Just wanted to thank you for your thoughtful reply to Jean.

greentree
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11/21/2011 12:48    
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To Jean 12345

Thank you for your honesty on Uruguay. Where do you believe is a safe worthwhile place to move to to live ?

hawkswingfarm
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12/5/2011 13:45    
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thank you for your description of living up north, thats just what my instinct said to do, go north. i, too have SS at 1250 month, I am an organic farmer in the northeast now and want to bring my skills to chuy area plus i started and ran restaurants and bars , something told me Chuy was the best area to live. another friend of mine is moving to the lakes area in a few months. he's the one who told me about Uruguay, he was reluctant, he doesnt want a bunch of americans living there like the ones who got robbed. i look forward to being your neighbor some day . i built my own home here and will try and bring my tools in a small shipping container. a small vw bug is perfect. I know how to work on the old ones- i owned them in my hippie days :) thank you again for your honest positive ecperiences. i will be contacting you by your email address... billy

TravisTeel
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12/15/2011 23:45    
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Thank you GaryChar for starting this thread almost 21 months ago. You, Jean12345, CabraVoladera and the other respondents, make this one of the most honest discussions of this topic that I have read concerning any country.

I am considering a move to Uruguay for 2013. I am a native of the United States. I will visit in 2012. I wish to create companies to manufacture and sell products worldwide. I have been studying a list of countries for the past 5 years and Uruguay is impressive.

If I were visiting another country and was asked by a native of that country my opinion on moving to the United States, I would not run out of crime stories. Every day, black, brown, red, white and yellow Americans and immigrants, steal from each other, rape each other and murder each other, for every reason you can think of. We call each other every derogatory name in the book. We hurt the young and the old; able bodied, wheelchair bound and bed ridden; hetero and homo sexual; yet thousands of people cross the U.S. borders everyday by all possible means, to find a better life, with all of this violence being international public knowledge. Do Americans have anything to say about immigrants that do not speak English?

With all of that being said, I feel very safe in my Midwestern U.S. city of 110,000. Every skin color, religion, multiple languages. I understand all of the nuances. If I move to another country, I will have to learn their nuances. That is part of the adventure. I also believe that if I present myself in a positive manor, people will respond in a positive manor.

All that Jean12345 said about Uruguay might be said about the U.S. Some people everywhere "suck". Drugs and all of the negative that goes with them is nothing new. But most crime is caused by poverty, whichever nation you speak of. People with gainful employment use drugs less than people without. I am looking at the politics in Uruguay also and I can tell you that the U.S. has some "active" criminals in office, not "ex.".

My point is that so much of life is perspective, degrees and points-of-view; which equals socialization. Changing the ones that you are used to, will allow you to enjoy more that the world has to offer. People move every year to nations farther down any quality-of-life list than Uruguay. It is all about opportunity. It is all about perspective.

Everyone that wants to immigrate has their reasons. Most do not hate the country that they are native to. They just wish to enjoy personal and economic opportunities that they feel they are not getting at the moment. They want a short list of basics to make sense; the rest they will adapt to. It takes good people to make a good neighborhood or nation. Yes, some people are only trying to make money for themselves. But some are trying to provide accurate information and good service; in the U.S. and abroad.

I will enjoy my adventure. I hope all of you will enjoy yours.

NETTYSUE123
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1/1/2012 23:03    
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My hubby and I also live in Temyear ecula, Ca and are looking at Uruguay to retire. We hope to visit in 2012, but may have to wait until 2013. I am wondering if you and your wife have made the move yet, as your original post is over 1 year old. I'd love to know if you have , in fact, made a visit there yet and what your thoughts are on the country.....

kimbo47
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4/24/2012 10:18    
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Thank you Jean12345 I appreciate your honesty and it has answered some of my main questions with reality not by biased opinions.
To some others that have found UY to be their place I congratulate them but would warn others to read carefully that these folks are people that are willing to live modestly, in small towns and willing and able to build their own homes, farm the land and have found this efforts to be worthwhile because UY has satisfied their reasons for moving.

But I would venture to say that a large majority of the people wanting to move to UY do not fit that mold and are retirees or near retirement that are looking for a country where the cost of living is lower than in the US, good medical and a safe and quiet place to live where they can rent or buy at a lower cost.
Wether you agree with Jean or not its evident that the cost of living is high and that would be a main impediment for most.

Make sure that your reasons for migrating to UY are satisfied and that you are willing to go through a culture schock, similar cost of living and a new language to fulfill them. And if the answer is yes then visit and live there for a year before you burn the bridge and move with all your belongings.

davidUR
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4/24/2012 12:30    
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Living in Uruguay is NOT like living in the US or Canada in another country. If you think it can be like that you WILL be disappointed. However if you want to open yourself up to a new culture and live something different, it can be a wonderful experience.

patf12
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9/25/2013 17:11    
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I am a US citizen who retired to Panama 8 years ago. I could really relate to a lot of what was said about Uruguay.We have some of this in Panama also, but on balance, things sound much, much worse in Uruguay. I would not want to move there. People in the US have no idea how frustrating it can be to get the normal business of life done in foreign countries - NO IDEA. We have been through a lot of it. FOLKS, visit for at least a year before moving to any foreign country. It is not like the US. Take my word for it.

carlitos
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9/25/2013 17:47    
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I agree, but also I think people need to be able to adapt or die in the process. jajjajajja Only the few first world countries are like the US the rest is some sort of staging to hell.

Morell
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10/8/2013 08:45    
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We have been here two years and are happy it is not like the US.
Yes we have an alarm system and a dog and we know of break ins in our neighbourhood.
Other than that we are happy here. Do not think of it as cheap though - many from the US say it is more expensive than back home.
Have a look on numbeo.com and compare prices.

Ulaanbataar
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10/8/2013 10:32    
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Do you live in Montevideo? When others say it is more expensive that the US, do you know what in particular they are referring to or just everything?

AllieM
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10/8/2013 10:45    
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Cost of living is first-world expensive! Food costs comparable to US, fuel costs more so, my electricity bill in the Winter for one month, in a beach house with no insulation, using space heaters and a fireplace regularly, was $300.00.

However, somehow, home repairs have generally been very inexpensive. The most surprisingly high repair we are seeing, is $5,000. for a new thatched roof. We are still looking :-)

The people here, however, are 'priceless'.

frassinetti
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From: Argentina
10/8/2013 11:11    
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Most emerging Market Countries, Like Uruguay and Argentina, suffer a "roller coaster" effect, with its ups and downs and crazy steep turns, monetary exchange rates change from Government to Government or even from crises to cries, so, a Country today can be expensive and then turn cheap over night, .... I have seen Uruguay * and many other Latin American Countries, go up and down, at excerpting rates, in my adult live spam so many times! ............. its the way things work down here, its an experience also called "priceless"!

* Uruguay, when I first moved there I was able to live with 3 US $s a day, ...... Talk about Lonely Planet South America Guide Book, on a short string!

Morell
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10/9/2013 08:22    
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$5,000 US for a quincho roof sounds cheap to me. We had ours done about two years ago and it was $8,000.US It took 4 guys six weeks working four days a week from 7.30 to 5.00. We got quotes up to $12,000. The fellow we picked had put the original roof on this house and showed us the original figures in his book.

It included our parilla. They did a great ob and we still get waves and Hellos when we see them working on other roofs around town.

If you are anywhere near Atlantida we recommend him. Gervasio Donatte.

Freddikins
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10/9/2013 10:48    
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We are about 60 km East, in Punta Colorada. How long are you finding a roof lasts? Have you been doing repairs on it along the way? About how big is your house - just trying to ompare roof sizes :-)

I truly appreciate your info. I had no idea so much time, energy, and manpower was required.

Allison

Morell
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10/14/2013 19:04    
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Our house was built in 1998 and we put a new roof on in 2011 so it lasted about average here - 13 years.
Nothing was done as far as we know during its lifetime.
Our house is about 150 sq mts but is a two storey. We also had the parilla done which is about the same as half the house roof. Our house upstairs has three bedrooms, a fair size bathroom with a whirlpool tub and a small office space to give you an idea.

carlitos
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10/14/2013 19:25    
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My roof was finished in 1970 and was never rebuilt since. No leaks BTW.

Morell
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10/17/2013 17:36    
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A quincho from 1970??

carlitos
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10/17/2013 19:47    
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jejejejej, of course not. my roof is made out of bricks, do u know the Atlantidas' church?

Morell
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10/20/2013 15:21    
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I thought so, I was talking about a quincho ( thatch )

Yes, i have visited the church you mentioned. It is world famous and worth a visit.

Ticagringo
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11/21/2013 02:14    
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Hello
We are a costarrican-american couple moving to Uruguay this coming month never been there I been reading about thats how I got here , we will need some friends specially from couples about renting a place etc .
Thanks

carlitos
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11/21/2013 09:33    
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Hi, so you are moving in here and never been here? did I get it right? can you be more specific on you needs? I highly recommend you join the facebook group uruguay expat.

take care

horatiotrobinson
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12/16/2013 23:46    
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Hey there Gary.
I'm in Montevideo and I can tell you that I've never felt insecure in the street the way some people seem to perceive it.
Of course, just like in any city of the world there are bad neighbourhoods, criminality exists and we also have news media trying to manipulate perceptions just like everywhere else in the world. That's their job, that's fine. Whether we decide to believe that, that's another story.

Here's a book by R David Finzer (who has unfortunately passed away).
Even if it's somewhat outdated, it's more or less accurate in the things that don't change too often

http://books.google.com.uy/books?id=Z9Up1rOz8mQC&pg=PA51&lpg=PA51&dq=uruguay+caller+id&source=bl&ots=R1HZLShalR&sig=BL4eHtd1FL0BmuTTrLgKqZaFd9Y&hl=en&sa=X&ei=KWWvUrqnFMLnsASbyoG4BQ&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q=uruguay%20caller%20id&f=false

It was written in 2006, and since then the parts that have changed are mostly those that have to do with Internet access and the prices.
Inflation is a latent problem and you have to account for about 10% yearly, so that's a big difference 7 years later.

The good news is that Internet-wise things have changed for good.
There are more options available than we had in 2006 and better quality, including high speed fibre access in certain neighbourhoods.

As for race relations, which I've seen highlighted in other posts here, I rarely feel that race is given the same importance in every day life that it has in other places.
For example, state documents, census and other such things rarely describe persons in terms of their race, only when that's helpful in identifying a person in case she's lost, or there's a criminal case involved.
That being said, because black people are a minority and the waves of mass immigration we had were from Europe 70 or more years ago, and we don't have a strong indigenous heritage, it is true that most uruguayans are quite vanilla and not very diverse compared to most other places.
That being said, it's absolutely not true that all people in Uruguay are all white, I think a better way to describe it is that there's a smooth continuum of people from different origins, of predominantly spanish ancestry. (not what people would call "hispanic" in the US)
It's true that there's a faction of people of black ancestry that have become more vocal in recent years, but it seems to me that it's mostly politically motivated and I see little in the street to inform me that's a creeping problem in our society.
That's not to say racism doesn't exist. One has to expect that patrician families of super conservative backgrounds may have some degree of animosity about race, but when that happens it's generally in their private lives.
It's just not acceptable in Uruguay to make any sort of racially charged of inflammatory commentary in the media or in public in any way. (unlike the ways I've seen in other parts of Latin America)

In sum, not the best, not the worst.

Hope that helps. Feel free to ask if you need help with anything.
Cheers,

H

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