Montevideo, Uruguay Report of what it's like to live there - 11/07/21
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, this is my seventh tour. My prior tours have been in the Middle East and Asia.
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?
Washington, DC. The pandemic reduced the frequency of flights on American Airlines through Miami. They are now only offered in Uruguay’s summer. Fastest route to DC is MVD to Panama on Copa and then Panama to DC. 14 hours and the MVD to Uruguay plane is nice. There are direct flights to Brazil, Chile, Argentina, and Madrid.
3. What years did you live here?
2020 - present.
4. How long have you lived here?
5. 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?
Embassy housing is split between apartments in Pocitos/Punta Carretas in the City and medium-sized houses in Carrasco (about a 30 minute commute along the riverfront).
2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?
Local produce and meat are excellent and fairly-priced. Imported items are expensive and highly-taxed. Overall prices are similar to DC.
3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?
Uruguayan cuisine can be bland and repetitive (pasta, sausage, steak, fried cutlets called milanesas). Cooks may want to bring spices or ingredients for more adventurous meals.
4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?
Steakhouses, sushi and pizza are widely available. PedidosYa and Rappi are two delivery services that match UY meal times (often meaning late dinners). Many restaurants offer takeout as well.
5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?
In limited cases.
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?
Household help can be difficult to arrange because of strict labor laws and benefit requirements. I've heard there have been legal issues stemming from complaints from domestic staff regarding compensation.
3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?
There is a gym at the embassy. Lots of people walk, run or exercise along the waterfront. There are many small gyms and exercise studios.
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?
Yes, credit cards widely accepted and using a foreign card often gets the VAT refunded. ATMs are somewhat common.
Many vendors and landlords also request payment by Abitab whereby you pay at a branch and the funds are out in the vendors’ account.
5. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?
Having Spanish is really helpful. English is limited. There are many language schools and innumerable opportunities for online Spanish classes.
6. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?
It is better than many places with ramps at many buildings and on street corners but sidewalks can be in disrepair.
1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?
Yes, local buses and Uber and taxi are safe and fairly-priced.
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. The parking spots in apartments and in grocery stores are very narrow.
Phone & Internet:
1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?
Yes, at great speeds and good prices. Streaming video is easy at these speeds.
2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?
Local provider is reputable. WhatsApp is ubiquitous.
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?
Yes, many pet stores and qualified vets. The waterfront is full of people walking their dogs.
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?
There are many unfilled family member positions at the US embassy because a growing number of spouses are teleworking for US firms.
2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?
Fauna Marina - sea animal rescue.
3. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?
Uruguayans dress sensibly. Formal dress only seen at the Marine Ball.
Health & Safety:
1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.
There is some street crime because it is a city. I've heard there have been home break-ins in Carrasco, and security is being increased accordingly.
2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?
Health care from British Hospital is very good but pricey.
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?
Outstanding. Limited industry and strong winds from ocean and river keep air clean.
4. What do people who suffer from environmental or food allergies need to know?
Lots of gluten-free groceries and stores.
5. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?
Mild with often strong winds. It is rarely below 50 F or above 85 F.
Schools & Children:
1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?
UAS in Carrasco is preK through 12. There are also French, German and British schools. Families with Spanish have also chosen parochial schools.
2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?
UAS tries but parents should reach out early to describe needs.
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?
4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?
1. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?
Wine Explorers offers monthly trips to Uruguayan wineries. There are also hiking clubs, soccer teams.
2. Is it easy to make friends with locals here? Are there any prejudices or any ethnic groups who might feel uncomfortable here?
You will need to have Spanish.
3. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?
Yes. Gay marriage has been legal here for some time.
4. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?
Uruguay is a pretty homogeneous country and it can be difficult for people of color.
5. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?
Trips to beach, countryside, wineries. Eating great beef, lamb, peaches...
6. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?
Leather goods, art, wool.
7. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?
Good quality of life. Focus on family time. Beach views and walking on the Rambla.