Montevideo, Uruguay Report of what it's like to live there - 04/13/19

Personal Experiences from Montevideo, Uruguay

Montevideo, Uruguay 04/13/19

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

We've also lived in several places in Latin America.

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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?

The American Airlines flight to post always seems to be the oldest airplane. There is no entertainment, it's very uncomfortable, very noisy, and there always seem to be delays due to technical issues. The flight seems to run about 10 hours from Miami.

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3. How long have you lived here?

Two years.

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

Embassy.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

The houses in Carrasco are not ideal; they are older, and seem to be complicated with more problems. Some do have pools, but they have to be maintained all year round, regardless of cooler weather, which can run USD 200/month for maintenance.
There are also gardens, but they also tend to be difficult to maintain. Electric fences appear to be necessary, and a gardener is necessary to keep the fence from being ruined. Gardeners can run USD 2-400 per month.

Insect and small animals (rats, possums, tarantulas) always seem to be present. Crime and break-ins also seem to be on the rise. As some neighborhoods are further out, a family might require two cars. While our neighborhood is closer to the school, the kids tend to spend more time on the bus (so many kids in the neighborhood equal more stops).

The apartments in Punta Carretas/Pocitos seem to be more modern, and some of them have beautiful views from Rambla. I feel they are more secure as they have doormen 24-7. One would also not likely need a car as much as people in Carrasco, as it's closer to the embassy. They also have stores, malls, restaurants, the beach; everything is close.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Everything seems to be expensive here, and we do not get VAT back.

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3. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

In Carrasco there are very few food delivery options and mostly after 7 PM. Very few restaurants around
punta Carretas-Pocitos have more options. The restaurants are expensive and not good but there doesn't seem to be much else to do. There seems to be a lot of pasta, pizza, Chivitos (Uruguayan hamburger), and meat, meat and more meat.

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4. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

Mosquitos, cockroaches, rats, possums, rats, mice, and small tarantulas.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

DPO.

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

I wish I had known this ahead of time. Help here seems very expensive. A full-time housekeeper/nanny runs about USD 1000/month. There is a government fee (monthly) for household help and it runs about 350 USD per month (insurance, retirement, and health insurance). One also must pay 20 days of vacation, plus one extra month of salary a year, and roughly $1000 USD severance when you leave.

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3. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

You definitely need Spanish. There do seem to be some cultural issue here, and there is some discontent that seems apparent with expats.

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Transportation:

1. 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?

The smallest car possible, as parking spots are small! We know people who have to pay extra parking because their vehicle doesn't fit in their parking space.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

The Embassy takes care of this prior your arrival.

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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?

I've seen EFMs job in the embassy.

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

Air is very humid, so for asthmatic people, this is not good.

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

Try to avoid the ER of the British hospital, is really, really expensive!

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3. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Nice warm short summer, rainy windy winter.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

This is the red flag for families! Bullying in elementary school seems common, at the point thatI heard a family left post early because of this issue. The school does not seem to follow the rules in elementary, and this has caused more issues.

It is the American school, but with very few students from the US. I was not impressed with the academic level at all. High school and middle school are okay.

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2. 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?

It's very expensive; the American school charges more than 1000 USD per month for preschool.

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3. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

The American school has soccer, volleyball, basketball, gymnastics, karate, and swimming as after school activities

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Expat Life:

1. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

I think is a city for singles; families can have a tough time, because of the school, the cost of living, the cost of nannies, and there doesn't seem to be a lot for the kids.

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2. Is it easy to make friends with locals here? Are there any prejudices or any ethnic groups who might feel uncomfortable here?

I think Americans can feel harassed, and there seems to be anti-American sentiment even in the schools. I believe racism is also present towards African-Americans.

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3. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

Yes?

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4. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

Honestly, the best part is been close to Argentina, Brazil and Chile.

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5. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

Going to Buenos Aires in Buque Bus is about 200 USD per person, but it's worth it. Take an airplane from BA to Iguazu, Bariloche and Mendoza; go to Rio!

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Words of Wisdom:

1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?

About the cost of living, cost of nannies, and the issues with the school.

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2. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

No. It's a sleepy country, there doesn't seem to be a lot to do, and it's very expensive. While our colleagues in Buenos Aires have COLA and R&R, we have to go there for shopping.

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3. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

Expectations of the "Latino American Switzerland", as that how Uruguayans call their country.

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4. Do you have any other comments?

If you want a South American experience go to BA, Brasil or Chile.

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