Montevideo, Uruguay Report of what it's like to live there - 08/15/22
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?
First post for my family.
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. At least 14 hours but usually 17-24 hrs. Not very well connected to the rest of LATAM or the US.
3. What years did you live here?
4. How long have you lived here?
5. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, military, teaching, retirement, etc.)?
Housing, Groceries & Food:
1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?
Housing is great, especially in the city in the Pocitos and Punta Carretas neighborhoods. Lots to do, near the beaches and the Rambla. Most apartments are spacious and have amazing views. Things seems a little less safe in Carrasco and I have heard people complain about the apartments and houses there.
2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?
Cost of groceries is high for LATAM especially in the major grocery stores. Expect to pay DC prices for most things. Beef is abundant and very affordable. Selection is great and there is a surprisingly good selection of foreign foods. The exception is dairy products. It's very limited imported cheeses and the local cheeses just don't compare. Also no Greek yogurt to be found anywhere. People complain about quality of TP, paper towels, and trash bags.
Ferias are abundant and you can find tons of amazing produce for much better prices. There is an amazing organic feria where you can get dairy product and produce for great prices. Also lots of options for grocery delivery to your home and very reasonable prices.
3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?
Personal care/toiletry/make-up items because they are cheaper. Food wise: dog food, spices, ramen, baking soda. Household: Trash bags, TP, Paper towels, sponges, dishwasher tabs
4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?
There is great dining here, but unfortunately not a ton of diversity in the types of food you can get. Lots of good quality options for Uruguayan food, both sit down, food hall, and delivery (through PedidosYa and Rappi). Very few international options. There are a few Chinese, Indian, Korean, Lebanese, Salvadorian, Mexican options and they are not at the level you might be used to. This is the thing I miss the most about the US.
Be aware that Uruguayans usually eat dinner at 9pm or later and most restaurants don't open until 8pm or later. This can limit your options quite a bit if you're dining on a different schedule.
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?
Yes, they are more than adequate. Even large packages arrive. Everything seems to take about 2 weeks.
2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?
There are plenty of options: nanny, house cleaners, dog walkers, etc. all at rates that are much lower than in the US. Hiring is not as much of a challenge as people make it out to be. If you don't want to deal with the paperwork and government processing, you can outsource the process to local service providers for a reasonable fee.
3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?
Lots of gym options and tons of opportunity to work out outside. The Rambla is the worlds longest sidewalk, all along beautiful beaches and it is 100% free. :)
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 widely used and there is a nice discount at restaurants and hotels for foreign credit cards. I haven't used an ATM, but never heard about any problems.
5. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?
Lots of people speak English in Punta Carretas and Pocitos and Academia Uruguay is great for those who want to improve their Spanish.
6. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?
I am not sure. I have trouble navigating the sidewalks with a stroller but with patience I am able to get everywhere I need. They are wide, and plentiful in Punta Carretas and Pocitos, but often have potholes or are lacking ramps (or covered in dog poo). That being said, I have been impressed that parks and beaches all seem to be accessible with nice ramps, and some newer playgrounds have accessible equipment.
1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?
Yes, safe and affordable.
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?
Regular car is fine but you will want to park in a garage for safety. Nothing too big because spots are small.
Phone & Internet:
1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?
Yes, it was already set up for us when we arrived.
2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?
We use a local plan and it works well.
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?
This is an amazing city for dogs. Lots of great inexpensive dog hotels, lots of vets, and dog walkers. Lots of dogs everywhere and they are welcome in many establishments. Unfortunately people are not good at cleaning up after their dogs which is a problem. Also dogs are generally off leash so that could be a problem if you have an aggressive dog. But overall is a wonderful place for dogs to live.
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 personally telework for a US-based company. Given the timezone and connectivity it is easy to find remote options and work from home.
2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?
Very casual, very similar to the US
Health & Safety:
1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.
Crime is supposed to be an issue but I honestly feel safer here than I did living in Washington, DC. There are instance of theft or robbery, but there was far worse violent crime in DC.
2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?
Amazing medical care, great hospital. No concerns.
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?
Very good air quality.
4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?
There are seasons, but the winter is quite mild. Lots of a wind and some rain, but never too cold. The rest of the year is very nice (from what I have seen). In the summer the sun is very strong due to the hole in the ozone so you must wear sunscreen all the time.
Schools & Children:
1. 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?
Great day care options in Punta Carretas and Pocitos, but they do fill up so contact early (Mafalda, Snoopy). Very affordable. They only have half-day options for children under 3. We supplement with a nanny in the afternoon and it is quite affordable. Day care + nanny is cheaper than daycare alone in DC.
2. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?
Lots: swimming, dancing, soccer, horseback riding, you name it
1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?
I don't think it is huge, but its a nice friendly community. Morale seems high. Everyone feels lucky to be here as it is such a great post.
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?
Lots of embassy events, school events, Academia Uruguay organized outings, Wine Explorers outings, some people are members of gold clubs.
3. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?
I think this is a great spot for everyone. I can't speak to the dating scene, but there is lots to do: beaches, wine, nature, etc. If you want a vibrant city life, maybe you will find it lacking, but I like things more quiet.
4. Is it easy to make friends with locals here? Are there any prejudices or any ethnic groups who might feel uncomfortable here?
It seems easy to make friends with locals. There is a notable lack of diversity and I have read about instances of racism and discrimination.
5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?
Not sure, but it seems very progressive.
Words of Wisdom:
1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?
That it is beautiful, highly livable, and crime is not that serious.
2. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?
3. If you move here, you can leave behind your:
Your SUV, parking spots are teeny.
4. But don't forget your:
Jogging stroller, bike, roller blades, etc for enjoying the Rambla. And SPF. The sun is no joke here.
5. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?