Montevideo, Uruguay Report of what it's like to live there - 06/25/17
Personal Experiences from Montevideo, Uruguay
1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?
No. I have previously lived in Greece, Italy, and Qatar.
2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?
Minnesota. 9 hours from Montevideo to Miami plus another 3 hours to Minnesota.
3. How long have you lived here?
4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?
Housing, Groceries & Food:
1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?
I lived in a 3 bedroom, 4.5 bathroom apartment in the Punta Carreras neighborhood. The apartment was very large, with more than enough storage space. Overall size was around 1500 square feet. Location was perfect because everything we needed was within 5-10 minutes walking distance - beaches, parks, shopping, restaurants, movies, grocery stores, markets, and the Embassy. On foot, the walk to the Embassy was about 15 minutes. The neighborhood was relatively quiet as was the apartment complex.
2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?
Local equivalents of most everything needed could be found, with the exception of peanut butter and maple syrup. Local grocery stores are very similar to those in the United States, just a bit smaller. Prices were generally higher than in the United States for most things with the exception of meat and produce. Boxed foods generally ran 2-3 times more and ice cream was around $5 USD per quart.
3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?
Maple syrup, marshmallows, chocolate chips.
4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?
PedidosYa is a popular food delivery app that many local restaurants use. Almost anything can be delivered, including groceries from the grocery store.
5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?
1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?
2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?
I did not use household help but be aware that local labor laws can be challenging if choosing to go this route.
3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?
There are many gyms around town, to include several CrossFit gyms. Prices range between $50-$100 USD per month depending on the facility.
4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?
Credit cards are accepted by many restaurants, but cash is still widely used and many restaurants remain cash only. ATMs are widely available and safe to use.
5. What English-language religious services are available locally?
6. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?
Many Uruguayans speak English but having a general working knowledge of Spanish is necessary to navigate the city, use hospitals, etc. There are many private language tutors and schools available but I am unsure of the cost.
7. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?
Commuting on the street may be difficult for someone in a wheelchair as most of the sidewalks are not handicapped accessible.
1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?
Public transportation is safe and reliable, both bus and taxi. Buses are the cheapest form of public transportation at about $1 USD to get you anywhere in the city. Uber is also new to the country and becoming much more popular because it is significantly cheaper than taxi service.
2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?
Small SUVs are adequate within the city and outside of the city where road conditions are not as good. Anything larger than a RAV4 size SUV should be avoided due to parking issues in the city. Chevrolet, Toyota, Ford, Volkswagen and Kia are all popular and have dealers in the city.
Phone & Internet:
1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?
ADSL is available via ANTEL and I never had any issues with speed or connectivity. Speeds were fast enough to stream TV and movies. Installation is fast, within 1-2 days after the request is made.
2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?
I used the local provider Movistar on a prepaid plan. Monthly plans are also available and either option is relatively cheap, less than plans in the U.S.
1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?
Veterinarians can be found on nearly every corner due to the large pet population in the city. Quality is good and there are many who speak English. Dogs and cats do not need to be quarantined upon arrival, however a small entry fee needs to be paid at the airport.
Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:
1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?
2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?
3. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?
Business casual (suit, no tie) is common among the professional working community. Formal dress is rarely required. Sportswear is common on the weekends and accceptable in most restaurants.
Health & Safety:
1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.
Crime is a growing problem but the city is currently no different than any other major city in the United States in terms of crime.
2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?
No major heath issues. There are several hospitals in the city that are Level I Trauma equivalent and capable of handling almost any case. Most westerners tend to use the British Hospital, which has English speaking doctors and nurses.
3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?
Air quality is good.
4. What do people who suffer from environmental or food allergies need to know?
Most restaurants will cook food to order if requested and are cognizant of people who have food allergies.
5. Are there any particular mental health issues that tend to crop up at post, such as Seasonal Affective Disorder (winter blues)?
6. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?
Winter (June - August) is cold (50's) and very windy with rain. Summer (December - March) is very hot (90-100) and usually humid.
Schools & Children:
1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?
There are several international schools - Uruguayan American School, British School, New Zealand School, and the French School. I did not have kids attending but most people tend to use the Uruguayan American School.
2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?
3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?
Local pre-schools and daycares are available but I did not use them.
4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?
There are several community sports leagues available, mostly soccer, but I did not use them.
1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?
2. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?
3. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?
The city is better for families than singles as it is a very family-oriented society. There are some bars and clubs, but not very many which may make it difficult for singles.
4. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?
5. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?
6. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?
The food is good and the overall tranquility of the city.
7. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?
Running is very popular among Uruguayans. There are 5Ks almost every weekend and several marathons throughout the year in Montevideo and other cities. Most people spend their free time at the beach during the summer and parks during the fall and spring. Colonia and Punta del Este are about 3 hours to the east and west and can be good weekend trips.
8. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?
Not much shopping available but there are some interesting markets every weekend and many antique stores.
9. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?
Quiet and peaceful.
Words of Wisdom:
1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?
2. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?
3. If you move here, you can leave behind your:
4. But don't forget your: