Montevideo, Uruguay Report of what it's like to live there

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

Yes?

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3. 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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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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Montevideo, Uruguay 08/08/18

Background:

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

No. We have also lived in Caracas, Belgrade, Pretoria, Paris, and Washington, DC.

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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?

United States. Currently the only direct flight from Montevideo to the U.S. is to Miami, which takes about 9 hours and is with American Airlines. There are other flights to the U.S. but this involves a connection through Buenos Aires, Santiago, Rio, or Sao Paolo on Latam or other international carriers.

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3. How long have you lived here?

We lived in Montevideo for three years (Aug. 2015 - June 2018).

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

Diplomatic posting.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

We lived in the suburban neighborhood of Carrasco, which is close to the majority of international schools. Carrasco is mostly single family homes, interspersed with some small buildings for apartments. Houses have small to medium-sized yards and the streets are nice for walking and biking. Commuting to downtown takes about 30-45 minutes. The airport is only about 15 minutes' commute.



Other neighborhoods are closer to downtown and embassies but are for high-rise apartment living. The apartments can be large and many are directly facing the River Plate and famous 'rambla', which has its plusses and minuses.

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

Groceries and household supplies are generally more expensive in Montevideo than in the U.S. Food-wise, there are now more options for spices and ethnic or trendy foods (kale, for example), but you might have to shop around or be creative and find substitutes. Household supplies are mostly very low quality for a high price - this has been one of the downsides of Uruguay for us. Best to come prepared for this reality.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

Nice towels and sheets, toys/birthday gifts, electronics, Indian spices, chili powder, kids' snacks, and school supplies.

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

Lots of meat-the-grill restaurants of all price ranges, pizza/pasta places, and some upscale 'international cuisine' is what comes to mind when I think of restaurants. There are well-organized food delivery services that many people use, and many mid-range restaurants have takeout options.

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

No.

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Daily Life:

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

Plenty of maids and nannies are available but because of labor laws, hiring them, even part-time, can be a financial strain. The government requires lots for domestic employees, including mandatory social security, paid vacations, thirteenth month salary, bonus for showing up to work every day, etc. Most nannies or maids are local Uruguayans and speak little to no English. Pool guys and gardeners are also easy to find and hire; I'm not sure how expensive they are.

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2. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

The gyms I'm familiar with are not very exciting or modern, except for the ulta-expensive Lawn Tennis Club in Carrasco. There are numerous other clubs around the city, some have indoor swimming pools and sports activities for the whole family; the prices seem reasonable. I've also seen small gyms just for exercise classes such as zumba or step. Many Uruguayans exercise outdoors: jogging on the rambla, playing soccer in empty fields, etc.

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3. 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 were becoming more accepted during my time there; always a good idea to have some cash on hand just in case. ATMs are common and are safe to use.

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

Spanish is absolutely a necessity. This is a big make or break issue for many expats' morale at post. There are local language classes and this is a great post to learn Spanish because you will definitely get to practice what you're learning if you step out of your house.

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5. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

I think Uruguayans are helpful and kind and would be willing to lend a hand to anyone with physical disabilities if they can; living downtown would be difficult but not impossible.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

There is no metro, train or tram service but local buses and taxis are safe and affordable. Uber now works well, too.

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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 cars are better if you want to easily get around, especially downtown. Parking spaces are usually very narrow and city parking is limited. Almost no risk at this time of burglary/carjacking but there has been a sharp increase in windows being broken and things stolen out of cars, so you can't leave anything visible in cars anymore.

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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?

Yes, internet works well. The embassy did a great job of having it installed and ready to go when we moved in; hopefully they're still offering that service!

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Pets:

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?

No quarantine was necessary for our cat and we found qualified vets for him but we only needed routine care. Uruguayans love their dogs and many let the dogs run free without leashes. There are no laws about cleaning up after pets, so watch where you step.

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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?

Local salaries are very low compared to the U.S. and Spanish fluency is really necessary. Most expat spouses/partners either work at the embassy or find a way to telecommute somehow.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Uruguay is a relatively homogenous middle-class society with strong support from the government on social problems. There are limited opportunities to volunteer in my experience.

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3. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Dress at work is similar to the US. Women seem to prefer to wear loose, flowing clothes rather than tight ones, and white and off-white are very popular colors.

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Health & Safety:

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

Uruguay is becoming increasingly dangerous, with more store robberies, personal robberies, smash and grabs, and shootings. It's not the same safe, laid-back place it was 15-20 years ago when people would still leave their doors unlocked at night.

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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?

Medical care is good for routine things; I'd go elsewhere for anything serious, though. Braces are cheaper than the U.S. No health concerns in particular.

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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; people suffer with seasonal allergies though.

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4. What do people who suffer from environmental or food allergies need to know?

Uruguayans aren't very careful about food allergies; they'll promise you a dish has no dairy but serve it with sprinkled cheese on top. I'd be wary of going out to eat and trusting a restaurant to give you honest answers about what's in the food. They're not dishonest, just careless. Seasonal allergies are real, but no worse than in other places we've lived.

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5. Are there any particular mental health issues that tend to crop up at post, such as Seasonal Affective Disorder (winter blues)?

Expats often complain of boredom and frustration with not being able to communicate since most locals don't speak English. It's expensive to travel within Uruguay and it's easy to feel isolated and really remote. Winter (June-August) is cold, damp and windy and most expats leave the country for the season, so it's best to have a plan and be prepared for being alone and indoors for those months if you stay behind.

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

Four seasons, lots of wind coming off the River Plate throughout the year. The nice thing about the weather is that there is lots of sun, so even in the winter, there can be lovely days of blue skies.

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Schools & Children:

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

For truly international schools, there's really only one: the Uruguayan American School. There is a large British School that is almost entirely Uruguayan students (and they tend to discourage foreigners at the admissions office!); there are French, German, and Italian schools and numerous bilingual schools, but these are also mostly local students and the curriculum is very Uruguayan.

We had three children at the Uruguayan American School in both primary and secondary and we were very happy with both sections. Our kids loved the school and were happy to go there. It's small and everyone knows everyone, which can be a blessing and a curse, depending on how you see it.

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

We had two children in the secondary school that required an aide and accommodations. UAS did a fantastic job working with us and helping our children be successful in the classroom. The teachers were very understanding and the overall attitude at the school is accommodating and friendly, so our kids really felt good about being there. The primary school has more experience with special-needs issues and most parents are happy with their accommodations. If you have a child with special needs, reach out to the school with honesty and transparency; I believe the UAS administration really want to help but will also tell you if they don't feel they can.

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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?

There are many affordable preschools in Spanish; I don't have experience with them but friends who do seem to be happy with them.

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

There are plenty of local sports teams/classes but it would be very hard to find one that is not in Spanish.

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

The expat community isn't terribly large and morale seems to be medium. Many people complain about how expensive everything is, how far away Uruguay seems from the rest of the world, and how 'bored' they are sometimes. It depends on what you're looking for; Uruguay is not the most 'exciting' culture, but if you want a place to spend lots of time with your family, relax, and enjoy a back-to-basics lifestyle, you'll enjoy it. It's a great place to learn to slow down and appreciate the non-material things in life.

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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 socializing at friends' homes. There are a few expat clubs, too.

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

This is a great city for all types.

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

Yes. Uruguay is very liberal for Latin America.

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5. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

No problems with religious prejudice but Uruguay is a very homogenous country culturally. I've heard Asians and anyone that doesn't look like most Uruguayans can feel uncomfortable. No big issues with gender equality.

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

Our favorite trips/experiences have been traveling in the countryside of Uruguay, to Salto del Penitente, or the beaches in Rocha. Montevideo provides a high quality of life on a daily basis; it's a cross between Western Europe and Latin America but it feels more like the former than the latter. For us, it was great to be in a walkable city, watching people pulling out lawn chairs at the boardwalk to see the sunset, and learning to slow down and appreciate friends and family. The people, food, and country in general are unpretentious and refreshing.

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

Montevideo has lots to offer but it's not easy to access information about what's available. The architecture of the old buildings is really charming; it's worth the time to take some walking tours and get to know the older neighborhoods. Learn how to grill meats the Uruguayan way, try to tango, and drink lots of local wine. The ballet, symphony and theatre are top notch and incredibly affordable; this was a wonderful treat in Montevideo.

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8. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Not much to buy here. There are some European antiques that were made in Uruguay by European immigrants and supposedly cost much less than in Europe even though the craftwork is similar. Uruguay's best products are consumables: meat, wine, dulce de leche.

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9. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

We love that it's one of the few capital cities in the world that are still small, relatively safe, with good air quality and low traffic congestion. Uruguayans all seem to be connected somehow - for example, either they went to school together, have cousins that are married, or were neighbors at some time. It's charming.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

I wish I knew how expensive it is to travel within Uruguay and to neighboring countries. And even though there's a large coastine, the fish is disappointing.

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

Yes, we really enjoyed our time in Montevideo.

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

Plans to save money, pretentious attitude, need to be 'wowed' by innovation and creativity.

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4. But don't forget your:

Comfortable lawn chair, corkscrew, sunscreen, and zen mindset.

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5. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

Alive!: the movie about the 1970s Andes plane crash.

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Montevideo, Uruguay 06/25/17

Background:

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.

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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?

Minnesota. 9 hours from Montevideo to Miami plus another 3 hours to Minnesota.

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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.)?

Diplomatic assignment

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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.

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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.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

Maple syrup, marshmallows, chocolate chips.

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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.

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

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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 did not use household help but be aware that local labor laws can be challenging if choosing to go this route.

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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.

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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.

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

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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.

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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.

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Transportation:

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.

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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.

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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?

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.

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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.

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Pets:

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.

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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?

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

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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.

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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.

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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?

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.

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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.

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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.

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5. Are there any particular mental health issues that tend to crop up at post, such as Seasonal Affective Disorder (winter blues)?

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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.

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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.

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

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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.

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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.

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

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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?

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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.

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

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5. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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9. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

Quiet and peaceful.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

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

Yes.

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

Car.

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4. But don't forget your:

Sunscreen

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5. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

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Montevideo, Uruguay 10/30/16

Background:

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

We have been in several places in Latin America and to Madrid, Spain.

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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?

This is a good reason not to live here. The only direct fly to the US is American Airlines To Miami, horrible! The worst airplanes I've ever been on in my life: no TVs, very old, narrow space and history of delays. To this you have to add that frequently the airport workers have strikes and don't work here in Montevideo.

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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.)?

Diplomatic mission.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

I've seen beautiful modern homes and old horrible ones, same with the apartments. If you have a house, you should check before how much you are going to pay a gardener and the guy who maintains the pool if you have one. If you have a pool, you can only use it a few days per year because the water is so cold, but you have to pay the maintenance all year round.

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

This is an expensive place, and we don't have a cost of living allowance (COLA). Everything is more expensive than in the States.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

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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?

Nannies are expensive, in my opinion.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

They have gyms, but they are expensive. We use the Marines' gym in the embassy, it is pretty good. There is a Pilates class as well.

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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?

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

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

You need Spanish definitely, people here don't speaks English.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Yes, but expensive. Some people use Uber.

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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?

Bring a small car: parking is an issue, and gasoline is much more expensive than in the US.

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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?

Pretty good, not excellent.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

Our local phone costs about 200 USD per month.

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Pets:

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.

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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?

There are very few positions for EFMs in the embassy.

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Health & Safety:

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

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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?

Bad health care, in my experience. Don't come if you have a health problem.

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3. What do people who suffer from environmental or food allergies need to know?

This is a rainy place, it rains all year, and it's windy. People with allergies have trouble here.

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4. Are there any particular mental health issues that tend to crop up at post, such as Seasonal Affective Disorder (winter blues)?

No, just boredom.

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

Rainy all the year, cold and windy in the winter, hot in the super-short summer.

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Schools & Children:

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

The American school is OK, but people with preschoolers complain that it is more expensive than Europe.

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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?

They are, but super expensive.

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

The American school has some mediocre after-school activities, soccer, basketball, volleyball ball, gymnastic, art, Scottish dance one hour per week, some activities two hours per week.

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

A few of them.

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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?

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

Not for families, there are no activities for kids, and you cannot save, no COLA, no R&R, no return VAT.

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

Good place, but boring, nothing to do.

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5. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

Yes, Uruguayans are very racist.

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

Getting out from here, go to Argentina or Brazil, here it is too sleepy. But then you spend all your money, because there is not R&R.

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

Nothing to do here, no kidding, walking in la ramble is what people do.

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8. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

No way, and expensive.

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9. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

None! Spending all your money. Again they put this place in the same condition as Europe, and no way! This is very third world, expensive and boring.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

The cost of life, that it is difficult to have a nanny, the rainy weather, the boring place that it is, the lack of places for kids, the lack of jobs for EFMs, and how difficult is to save money here.

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

Not in a thousand years!

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

Idea that this is like living in Europe, it is more like you live in an old small town in Latin America. Save money, no COLA, no R&R, no vat no anything, just spend money for have a nanny, a house, a pool, for everything.

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4. But don't forget your:

Everything: there is nothing here.

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Montevideo, Uruguay 08/23/16

Background:

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

We've had numerous expat experiences before this and have lived in Western Europe, the Balkans, Southern Africa, and other South American cities before coming to Montevideo.

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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?

Our home country is the United States. There are several routes; the one direct flight to the U.S. lands in Miami, through American Airlines, but this is the worst option if you can avoid it - the airplanes are so old they still have ashtrays in the seats and no entertainment, and the flights are notoriously cancelled or delayed. My opinion of the best route (and I've tried many) is through Santiago, Chile. Any way you go, it's a long trip - Montevideo is situated right beside Buenos Aires, so a direct flight to Miami is around 9 hours or more.

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3. How long have you lived here?

I've been here for one year.

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

We're here as diplomats.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

There are options to live downtown, 'mid-town', and out in the suburbs. Both downtown and midtown housing is almost exclusively high-rise apartments, many of which have lovely views of the water and the Rambla (boardwalk.) The apartments can be large but there are complaints about small parking garages and little storage. The suburbs are between 20-40 minutes' drive from downtown; the houses are nice, with good sized yards. If you're in one of the older neighborhoods where many of the expats and most of the international schools are, the houses are architecturally interesting and the trees are large and well established. There are many newer suburbs where the houses are larger and more modern; but these tend to be either ridiculously expensive or quite far from downtown.

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

Everything is more expensive here than in the United States - even local produce!

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

There aren't a lot of spices and 'ethnic' foods, but this is slowly changing. Also, if you like to bake, you'll have a hard time finding molasses, maple syrup, brown sugar, real vanilla, chocolate chips, etc. For electronics, toys, clothing, and just about anything else, you will find better quality in other countries.

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

There is a delivery service called PedidosYa that people are happy with but I personally have never used them. They will deliver items from hundreds of restaurants around town. There are plenty of restaurants serving typical Uruguayan meats (asados), or their country's national sandwich, the 'chivito', which is like a hamburger loaded with everything you can imagine and more. There isn't a great deal of variety among restaurants and menus; if you want something 'haute' or creative, you can find it, but people that go out a lot run through the handful of places pretty quickly. And for ethnic restaurants such as Thai, Indian, or Vietnamese - you'll have to leave Uruguay to find!

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

We haven't had any problems out of the ordinary.

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Daily Life:

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

We use our diplomatic post office which works very well. I have not needed to use local facilities yet.

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

There is plenty of availability, but cost can be crazy expensive because of the high taxes, bonuses, and complicated local labor laws. For any household help, starting with one hour a week, you must pay more than twenty percent above the agreed salary to the authorities. We pay a small fee to an accountant to make sure we comply with labor laws. There is the 'bonus month', the 'perfect attendance bonus', the governmental across the board raises, medical and retirement, and severance payments. The worker is well protected here by the government and you feel it.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

There are gyms here, mostly muscle-guy 'Rocky' types rather than modern and glamorous. Prices are higher than what you can find in the U.S. but not prohibitively bad. There are also athletic clubs that you can join - these are family oriented and offer a wide variety of sports activities and often have great pools and 'summer camps' for the kids. People here do exercise a lot, however, much of the exercise is team oriented and social - soccer teams, running clubs, even personal trainers in groups. The Rambla is full of people walking, jogging, biking. There are races almost every weekend.

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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, but there are many places, such as doctors' offices that still only accept cash (!?!?). Some places will offer you a discount for using a credit card; others will charge you more. ATMs are common and can be safe to use; like in all places, though, be cautious of your surroundings and be aware of scams.

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

There is an English language non-denominational 'Christian' church in Carrasco and I imagine there are other options as well.

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

It would be very hard to be out and about here without some Spanish. There are local classes that are affordable, and people here are very nice about trying to communicate however they can.

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7. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

It wouldn't be the hardest city to get around in with physical disabilities but it's not up to U.S. standards.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Some people warn that buses can be dangerous, and taxis are a bit on the expensive side, but overall I think both are fine. Uber opened up here recently; taxi unions had a fit, but things are settling down and now Uber is more accepted and works well.

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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 cars are much better if you live closer into the city; parking spaces and streets can be tight. Four wheel drives may be handy because of the dirt roads once you get outside of Montevideo, but it's not a necessity at all. Drivers don't usually stay in their lanes and minor dings and scrapes are inevitable. We are advised not to leave anything in a locked car on the street or you run the risk of getting your window smashed and being robbed. Carjackings are not a major risk. If you plan to buy a car locally, be aware that cars here often come with fewer airbags and features than what is standard in other countries, so be sure and ask specifically what you are getting.

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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?

Yes, the internet is good and fast here and can be installed quickly.

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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 provider. WhatsApp is a preferred method to communicate for many people here.

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Pets:

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 a good place to have a pet; many people have dogs here and there are plenty of places to take the dogs for walks or play. We've been happy with the vet services for our cat. Animals do not need to be quarantined.

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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?

There are job opportunities, both part and full-time at the embassy and at the international schools. Local salaries are much, much lower than in the U.S. even though the cost of living is higher. I'm not sure how people manage on local salaries only here.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

There are some, but not an abundance - Uruguay is quite developed for Latin American standards.

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3. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Uruguayans dress very casually almost all the time. Even at elegant restaurants, you'll find the majority of men in jeans. In offices, men wear suits and ties and women wear dresses or slacks. I can't imagine a reason to stock up on formal clothes here; you might feel very overdressed if this is your style.

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Health & Safety:

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

There has been a rise of petty theft and burglaries. Like any city, you need to be aware of your surroundings, don't flash your goods, and stay away from certain neighborhoods. However, within Latin America, Montevideo and Uruguay are among the safest places to be.

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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?

There are no particular health concerns and the quality of medical care is good for day to day things. If I were to have major surgery, I would chose Buenos Aires or Santiago over Montevideo, though.

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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?

The air quality is very good here thanks to a constant breeze from the Plate River. It's a small city with a small population so there isn't a big problem with pollution.

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4. What do people who suffer from environmental or food allergies need to know?

I am told that people with allergies tend to see their allergies worsen here. If you have food allergies, just be sure you know and trust any restaurant you go to as waitstaff aren't always clear as to what they are serving. My friend once asked for a vegetarian option in a restaurant and was told the pasta was vegetarian, but it turned out to be ravioli filled with meat.

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

Montevideo has a nice, temperate climate. There are four seasons, but the winter isn't too cold and the summer isn't too hot. It can be quite humid for a lot of the year. Spring and Fall are lovely. Remember, though, that this is the Southern Hemisphere so the seasons are reversed if you're used to living up north.

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Schools & Children:

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

There is an abundance of bilingual Spanish/English schools and several other international schools, including French, German, Italian, and even New Zealand. My children attend the American school, which has been wonderful. It's a small school, but the atmosphere is very welcoming, the staff is top-notch, and the facilities are very nice. (A new wing was just finished last month.) I only have great things to say about the American school, however, if you are looking for a highly competitive academic or sports environment, you will be disappointed. The British School here is enormous and more academically rigorous but it has a poor reputation among expats as it is hard for an outsider to feel accepted.

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

We have two special needs kids at the American school and we are extremely pleased with how they have been accommodated. It says a great deal about the faculty and administration that such a small school is willing and able to take on special needs kids where other larger international schools say they won't or can't. The social environment is very accepting to special needs kids.

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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?

I don't have experience with preschools here but I have not heard any negative comments about them and they are a great place for your toddler to learn Spanish quickly. The American school offers after school activities and a late bus that leaves the school at 4:45.

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

There are tons of local sports classes and activities for kids in Spanish. In English - probably next to nothing. That being said, if your kid doesn't speak Spanish but is adventurous, people here are friendly and patient and they will find a way to communicate.

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

There is a medium size expat community here. I think overall morale is very high. Most everyone agrees that although Montevideo can be boring, the quality of life here is pretty awesome. There is a general feeling of contentment that you sense from locals, too. If you are able to do some shopping outside of Uruguay (Amazon.com, Buenos Aires, etc.), and get out a bit to see more of the neighborhood, this is a great place to spend a few years.

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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?

The weekend asado (meat grill) is the thing to do here. Otherwise, going to restaurants with friends or hanging out on the Rambla are also popular. There are a couple of expat clubs such as InterNations that are fairly active.

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

I think this a best for families since it's a great post to have quality family time. For couples it could be good if you like to get out on the weekends and travel; for singles, just beware that if you fall in love with a Uruguayan, they will probably convince you to live in Uruguay rather than leave with you when you're time is up here.

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

Uruguay has some of the most liberal LGBT laws in South America, including legalized gay marriage. However, I don't know how much of this was mandated by the government versus what the people truly are in favor of.

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5. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

Not that I am aware of. Uruguay is the most secular country in Latin America and it's fairly homogenous as the vast majority of the population is of European descent.

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

For me, the highlight of Uruguay is the people and the laid-back lifestyle they embrace. Locals are really warm and friendly and they really value family ties and long-term relationships (which is important in a country this small!) This isn't the most beautiful country I've been to, nor are the tourist opportunities very memorable, but for day to day living, it's a great place to be. My favorite trips have been to neighboring Argentina and Chile.

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

Walking around the Ciudad Vieja (Old City), Pocitos, and along the Rambla are all great ways to spend a day. There are great antique shops and lots of hole-in-the-wall spots. There are numerous wineries to visit all within a couple hours' drive of the city. Most of what Montevideo has to offer is not going to pop out at you - the best tip is to get advice from locals about where to go and what to do.

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8. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

There isn't much to buy here except perhaps a cow skin rug or some rustic wood antiques.

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9. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

The Rambla runs along the entire length of the city - 22 kilometers of uninterrupted, paved sidewalk along the water. It's great for getting exercise, people watching, drinking mate tea, and hanging out with friends. You can swim in the beaches in the middle of town. There is very little traffic or pollution compared to any other Latin American city. Life is predictable and easy-going; crime is only a small undercurrent, and beef and wine are delicious here.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

I have had a great year so far in Montevideo, and I'm pretty sure I'll enjoy the rest of my time here as well. I would definitely still move to this city knowing what I now know. That being said, I can see how some people would be anxious to leave after a couple of years as life does move slowly here. But if you know this coming into the experience, and you set your expectations as such, it's a great place.

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

Ideas about saving money. It's expensive to live here and there are many travel opportunities outside of Uruguay that are worth spending money on.

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3. But don't forget your:

Plans to start to write that book, learn to play piano, plant a vegetable garden, earn another degree...any of those long term projects you've always wanted to do but never had time for until now!

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Montevideo, Uruguay 03/11/14

Background:

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

This is our third posting; we did two years in Lima, Peru and two years in Kinshasa, DRC.

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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?

Arizona. 24 hours +/-. American Airlines to Miami, then routed to AZ. AA has one flight to and from daily. It is the only American flagged carrier here so choices are limited. Flight to and from is always full or over-sold, older aircrafts are being used, and the flight has a 'history' of delays leaving from Miami. You can go to Rio or Buenos Aires and get on United or Delta for flights somewhere other than Miami.

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3. How long have you lived here?

Have been here 15 months.

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

Trailing spouse of U.S. government employee.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Nice apartments for those with school age kids; houses for families and higher ranking employees. Houses are in the suburbs near the schools. 10 minute drive and 25 minutes from the houses.

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

Not bad choices, there are a few big chain stores that have everything you need. Or there is a little store on just about every corner. Every store delivers. You will find there are farmer's markets all over the city on different days. Some are just farmer's markets and some have arts/crafts, household needs, clothes, etc. Cost on everything is high and the cost of living allowance doesn't make up the difference.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

Anything you can't live without - spices, salsa, liquor, paper products, sports equipment, clothes. Remember the high cost of things here because of the high import tax.

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

McDonald's and Burger King are the American fast food choices. Nothing here is really fast food. There are a lot of good places to eat here, but beef is the main thing. You can find other stuff, but you need to just look around. Local food is very bland, even the salt and pepper seem a bit bland.

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

There is the yearly hatch of moths and after it rains, there will be mosquito hatching. But, over all, it's not bad at all.

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Daily Life:

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

DPO and pouch. Not the best delivery record, a few to several days will go by without mail coming in. For whatever reason, it is not regularly loaded onto the daily flight from Miami.

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

Yes, but can be expensive because of the requirements of the government - paid leave, mandatory pay raises, contributions into medical fund, etc.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

I am sure there are facilities, I don't use them and cannot speak about them. The Embassy has one in the basement. A walk on the Rambla is a very nice thing.

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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?

Visa seems to be the card of choice, followed by MasterCard. We have not had any problems using credit or debit cards. But, there is a 22% VAT added to everything. The card company may refunded that amount, our Visa card does.

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

We attend the local church and service is in Spanish.

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

The more, the better. But, a lot of the local people speak some English. It is taught in the public schools.

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7. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

Yes, yes, yes. None of the public transportation is equipped to assist - taxi or bus. Some of the newer buildings might have some work done to assist. The older buildings, none to little. Sidewalks are terrible - if there are sidewalks. The Rambla and the newer areas are the exception.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Yes and yes. There is a very limited train service but buses go everywhere in the country and are affordable. Taxis are small and cramped (added security stuff). There is only one taxi company that will bring you into town from the airport and is a bit expensive. Going to the airport, you can take a bus or taxi.

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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 and something you don't mind getting bumped. What parking is here is terrible - small and tight and hard to get into. Parking in our apartment is a 6-8 point turn when the other spaces are taken up. Any car will do, the roads are in pretty good shape, it is the drivers that cause the problems. If you bring a car with you and choose to sale it here, you can get what you paid for it. Again, a very high import tax is placed on cars bought here. I have never heard of a car-jacking here, just some smash and grabs. Fuel prices at any gas station is set by the government.

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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?

Yes, cost about US$100/month. It has been ok but expect to not have service for some unknown reason for short periods of time. Internet and phone service is a government monopoly and they are installing fiber-optics slowly, but surely.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

Embassy provides phones to employees and a SIM card to EFM. Seems like all the locals have at least two phones. You can also get a SIM from any of the service providers

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Pets:

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?

Not that I am aware of. They like their pets here and there is plenty of pet care available. Haven't seen this many professionals dog walkers since San Francisco. But, there is a stray dog problem here, as there is in most cities. Depending where you are, the sidewalks can full of dog crap. A lot of the parks or green areas have been taken over by the dog walkers to run the dogs. Some of the areas are just nasty.

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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?

No. Unless you bring something with you - telecommute, work for an international company, speak Spanish like a local. Then, there is the usual work permit issues, as is everywhere.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Yes, of course. There is always the chance to donate your time, money and labor.

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3. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Usual business dress code at work, more relaxed in public. Much more relaxed around the Rambla.

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Health & Safety:

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

Yes, Uruguay is a left leaning country. Crimes done by kids are usually not charged or they are released soon leading to an increase in purse grabs, smash and grabs from cars (usually a car with a single woman in it), some muggings, and drug related crimes. Uruguay has just recently made marijuana use legal. There are hopes that doing so will decrease the amount of crime.

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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?

No, not really. Some of the usual stuff; hay fever, colds, flu and the like. Very good medical care at many clinics or hospitals.

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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. There are special articles about how clean the air is here because of the constant breeze from the ocean or river. There is not much industry here to pollute, but there is enough. Uruguay is a rural country with Montevideo being the largest city.

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

Winters are cool; summers are very warm to hot. There are seasonal rains during the summer months; this year has had more rain than usual.

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Schools & Children:

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

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

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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?

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

Yes, soccer is king! Most of the golf courses have some kind of programs to start the kids in golf.

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Fair sized and morale seems to be good. There are a lot of worse places to be posted. Generally, everyone is pretty happy. But, having said that, there is always someone who is just not going to be happy about anything.

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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?

Asado is the thing. A lot of the social life is based around an all day asado. But, there are movies, plays, dancing (Tango), etc. Uruguay has the longest Carnival season in the world. Dinners start late, most places don't open until 8:30PM or later.

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

Yes for all. Lots of things to do to keep everyone as busy as they wish to be. Sports, the beach, movies, travel, etc.

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

Uruguay has made legal civil union for gay/lesbian. But, this is a very Catholic country.

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5. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

Not as much as I would have expected. But, the history of the country is that the local population was assimilated into the Spanish, British, Italian people has they took over the country.

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

Uruguay is a peaceful and laid-back country. There is a lot of history that can be searched out. But the neighboring countries get all the attention - Brazil and Argentina.

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

Explore, travel, wine tours, search out something new and different. Uruguay is a small country and you can do day drives everywhere.

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8. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Stuff for the asado, mate, antiques, gaucho related things. There really isn't much local arts and craft, some, just not a lot.

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9. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

Very mild, slow paced (driving is another subject), beach loving, asado loving, friendly people, wine tours, stays on working ranches, trips to Buenos Aires, Punta del Este.

Save money? You really have to watch it; this is an expensive place to live: gas prices are double that of prices in the States, most things are imported and a very high import tax is added. Cars are priced out of sight here.

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10. Can you save money?

You can and if you try. But, this is always a tough answer. A lot depends on how much you are earning - one income or two, kids or no kids, travel a lot or not, eat out a lot or not.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

With the amount of information on the internet, we were pretty aware of what we were getting into. Plus, the Embassy was great at keeping us informed.

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

Yes - after we started finding out where things were and how things were done.

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

Coldest winter stuff, expectations of Latin America (Uruguay is the Switzerland of South America).

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4. But don't forget your:

Sunscreen and sun protection, the sun here is just brutal (there is a hole in the ozone layer over the country). Patience, advanced driving skills, taste for good wine.

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:


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6. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

Internet will get you everything you need.

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7. Do you have any other comments?

Any post will be what you make of it. We have enjoyed it very much and would come back. There is a small group of expats who have retired here for the lifestyle.

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Montevideo, Uruguay 05/27/13

Background:

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

One of several expat experiences.

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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?

D.C., a day-trip via Miami.

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3. How long have you lived here?

Currently there for over a year.

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

Associated with the U.S. 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 apartments in Pocitos and Punta Carretas are a few minutes by car; the houses in Carrasco are within a half hour. The drive can be nerve-wracking, however, since many of the Uruguayans don't respect right-of-way and routinely merge into your lane without signaling. An embassy employee on a motorcycle was killed recently, and there have been many other accidents.

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

Groceries are around 50% more than in the D.C. area. The COLA is not high enough for the cost of living, so you will need to buy many things by mail order. The local product selection is mediocre, also.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

Spices (Uruguayans like bland food; even pepper is often not available in restaurants). Paper goods. Liquids and other items that don't travel well via mail.

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

McDonald's and Burger King are here, although expensive. Figure on dropping around $50 per couple to eat out at a decent restaurant. Also note that the Uruguayans are obsessed with beef/BBQ, so your options will be limited.

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

No significant insect problems.

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Daily Life:

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

The post has both a DPO (preferred) and pouch.

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

Available but expensive, and complicated to hire due to regulations imposed by the government, including mandatory raises.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

The gym at the embassy is mediocre. Some of the apartments have gyms, and (somewhat-expensive) ones are also available commercially.

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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?

Visa and Mastercard are accepted at some establishments and are given a small discount at the better restaurants.

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

A few English-language services are available, especially in Carrasco.

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6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

Direct TV has a few English-language channels, but service is spotty and costs are high. Use VPN and Netflix, Hulu, etc.

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

Survival Spanish is a must here.

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8. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

Many, since the infrastructure (sidewalks, etc.) is poorly maintained. There is also a lot of dog excrement on the sidewalks.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Buses are safe and inexpensive. Taxis are expensive (especially from the airport) and are unreliable. If it's raining, they are sometimes impossible to get.

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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 cars only, due to the ridiculous parking situation and high cost of gasoline. Plan on selling it here at cost when you leave -- embassy employees are exempt from the high taxes the locals pay on imported vehicles, which tends to inflate the prices. Even cars that have been in significant accidents can be sold at cost.

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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?

Speeds are so-so, and service is spotty, with frequent problems/disconnects. Costs are fairly high, as well (around $50/month for basic ADSL).

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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?

No, the local job market is poor due to government over-regulation.

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2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Typical embassy attire. The Uruguayans are more informal dressers than their neighbors in Latin America.

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Health & Safety:

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

Yes -- this is perhaps the biggest concern here. Crime has been increasing under the current left-wing government, which is soft on criminals, especially minors (even murderers are quickly released if underage). The embassy has resorted to pulling some of the families out of crime-ridden Carrasco, where there have recently been many break-ins and even shoot-outs at embassy residences. Even in "safer" Pocitos/Punta Carretas, where most of the apartments are, there have still been many incidents, including hold-ups of embassy employees. Since the housing office invariably assigns apartments with inadequate parking (even small cars barely fit), count on your car either being damaged while parking or being trashed by the many thieves/vandals on the streets, who seem to target cars with diplomatic plates.

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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?

Everyone here goes to the British Hospital. The somewhat-cheaper Fertilab can be used for lab work.

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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?

The air is fairly clean, although some people have problems with allergies.

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

Mild climate: pleasant summers and cool, wet winters. There are some severe winter storms with lots of rain and wind.

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Schools & Children:

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

The American School is located in Carrasco, so many families live there.

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Mid-sized.

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2. Morale among expats:

Relatively good. Most of the complaints are about parking, traffic, and crime.

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3. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

There are relatively few embassy events other than parties at the Marine House, and some events, such as the Independence Day event this year, are for VIPs/Uruguayans only. There are some local entertainment options if you speak Spanish. Many American movies are shown in English with Spanish subtitles.

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

This post is best for couples without children. Families with school-aged children have either to live in dangerous Carrasco or send their kids on a long bus ride there. Most singles find the city too quiet.

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5. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

Yes -- Uruguay is perhaps the whitest country in South America. People of African descent are particularly discriminated against, and the local Native Americans have been almost completely wiped out.

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

Day trips to Colonia and Punta del Este.

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

Trips to B.A., Colonia, or Punta del Este.

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8. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Asado.

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9. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

The Rambla in Montevideo is good for walking. Asado (South American BBQ) is popular. The weather is mild, similar to San Francisco's. Buenos Aires (B.A.) is just across the river.

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10. Can you save money?

No, the COLA is not enough for the cost of living here.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Yes, but I think a year would be long enough to see everything.

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

dreams of a true South American experience -- this is more like Southern Europe.

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3. But don't forget your:

cold-weather clothing.

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4. Do you have any other comments?

Uruguay is known as the Switzerland of Latin America, due to its small size and relative stability. However, the use of drugs, especially marijuana, is rampant, marring otherwise pleasant walks on the Rambla and making Montevideo seem more like Amsterdam. The leftist government is even toying with the idea of legalizing and selling drugs, supposedly to fight crime while enhancing tax revenues. Police, even traffic police, are rarely seen, and laws are routinely ignored. Cars are double-parked everywhere and rarely towed, making the streets difficult to navigate.

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Montevideo, Uruguay 03/18/12

Background:

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

I have also lived in Berlin and Stuttgart.

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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?

Colorado, direct flight to Miami (9 hours), then Miami to Denver (4 hours).

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3. How long have you lived here?

1 year.

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

Work for the U.S. 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?

Embassy couples and singles (and some families) live in apartments in the Punta Carretas or Pocitos neighborhoods, many with great views of the water. Commutes range from a 25 mintue walk to the embassy or a 5-10 minute drive. Families typically live in single-family homes in the Carrasco suburb, close to the American school where they often have a pool and a "quincho" - a small pool house with a large grill. The drive to the Embassy from there is about 25 minutes depending on traffic. Apartments and houses are all large from my experience.

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

Grocery stores are fairly modern and well supplied, but they don't carry many American products, and when they do they are quite expensive. There is not a huge selection of pre-packaged or "convenience" foods, but you'll be able to buy the basics. There are tons of places to buy homemade pasta.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

Spices, tortilla chips, ingredients for ethnic foods, American style Kleenex, small 220 volt appliances (like hair dryers, irons), which are very expensive here.

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

Fast food is limited to McDonalds and Burger King. There are lots of pizza and empanada restaurants. Most Uruguayan restaurants serve steak and potatoes. The grilled meats are great, but restaurants lack variety and spice (they don't even put black pepper on the tables). You will miss any kind of ethnic foods. Prices at restaurants are higher than I would have expected, but steak is a relative bargain. Go to Buenos Aires for the weekend if you want more variety.

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5. What kinds of organic, vegetarian and allergy-friendly foods are available, such as organic produce, gluten-free products, meat substitutes for vegetarians, etc?

Major grocery stores have small sections of gluten free foods. Most meat here is free-range, and grass fed. There are great farmers markets in the parks and plazas at varying days throughout the week.

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

If you go into the interior or to some of the beach communities mosquitos can be an issue.

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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?

Many people have domestic help and I believe it is relatively affordable, but you must pay into the social security fund and follow the local labor rules regarding paid vacations, etc.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

There are a number of private gyms and sports clubs throughout the city.

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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?

I have never had any problems using credit cards or ATM cards.

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

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6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

DirecTV has many English language channels and costs about $65/month (with HBO/Cinemax). Diplomats can choose to get DirecTV Puerto Rico with all of the U.S. networks and channels.

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

At least some Spanish would be essential. English is not widely spoken.

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8. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

Sidewalks are often broken up, poorly maintaned. Many older buildings don't have elevators.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Buses and taxis are safe and affordable. If you want to go into the interior of the country or up the coast to the beaches it is better to have your own car.

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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?

Smaller cars are easier to park in the city, but generally anything that's not really huge would be fine. Common models here include Volkswagon, Suzuki, Chevy, Honda, Toyota, Peugeot and Citroen. Diplomats can easily buy a car here tax-free and re-sell it for the price they paid because that will still be a bargain for Uruguayans who would have to pay the price with tax at a dealer.

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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?

Yes, internet speeds aren't the fastest ever but we have been able to stream movies, use Skype, etc. Cost is about $40/month, depending on the speed you choose.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

There are many cell phone shops available here. The embassy provides staff with cell phones.

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Pets:

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?

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2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

Pets are very common here but I have no experience with this.

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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 don't know that there is a lot on the local economy, though there may be some opportunities to teach or to find a job in ZonAmerica or with one of the American companies (at lower wages than in the U.S.) Most spouses who want to work find jobs at the Embassy.

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2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

At work it's suits or business attire. In public, Uruguay is pretty casual (jeans, shorts, t-shirts, etc.)

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Health & Safety:

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

We have had no security issues. There are issues with pickpockets or purse snatchers occasionally. I understand that there have been break-ins in the single family houses.

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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?

No major health concerns, no vaccines needed. Water is safe to drink from the tap, no real food safety issues. Good medical care is available at the British Hospital, and there are a variety of English speaking doctors and dentists.

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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 generally very good, as this is a small city without a lot of traffic. There is no smoking allowed in public places. Sometimes there is an evening haze from everyone lighting their wood grills.

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

Summers are hot and sunny, with temeratures reaching the high 80s. Winters are cool and rainy, with temperatures dipping into the 40s or 50s. There is no snow. It is fairly windy here.

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Schools & Children:

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

There are American, British, French and German schools, as well as a variety of other private schools (including a Waldorf school). I have no experience with them.

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

No experience with this.

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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?

There are several families with young children who have used day care centers, but I have no experience with this.

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

No experience with this, but I know there's a YMCA branch here.

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Relatively small.

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2. Morale among expats:

Pretty good, though some people complain that it's boring here and they are tired of the bland food.

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3. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

There are movie theaters with English language movies. There is a theater and ballet. There are numerous restaurants (just with limited variety in the menu). Dinner is very late here (9 or 10 p.m. for locals), and restaurants don't open until 8 or 8:30. Many people have parties, barbecues, game nights at homes.

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

This is a good city for anyone who doesn't need a lot of nightclubs or a cosmopolitan big city. Families seem happy here, and I know some singles, both men and women, have been relatively successful dating here.

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

Uruguay was the first Latin American country to allow civil unions for same-sex couples, so I don't think discrimination is a huge issue.

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6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

There is some discrimination against the small Afro-Uruguayan population here. Otherwise the population is quite homogeneous - all people of European-descent (mostly Spanish and Italian), so it is just not a very diverse place.

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

Wineries and beaches, travel to Argentina, Chile and Brazil. The asados (grilled meats, mostly beef) are great.

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

The Rambla is great for walking/biking/jogging. There are beaches all through the city and better beaches all along the coast. In the interior you can go to "estancias" - like dude ranches" - to ride horses. Carnival season provides a month of special performances at open-air theaters. Golf at public courses is free on Mondays. If you're into bird watching, apparently it is a great country for that.

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9. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

There are not a lot of crafts here. You could buy wine, dulce de leche/alfajores (cookies with dulce de leche), leather goods.

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10. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

It is right on the water, with a wonderful "Rambla" walkway stretching miles that is great for jogging or biking. There are wonderful beaches and lovely wineries surrounding Montevideo. It is also a 45 minute flight or 3 hour ferry ride to Buenos Aires.

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11. Can you save money?

We have saved money by going out less, but things are not as cheap here as you might expect

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Sure!

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

...I was going to say skis, but you could always go skiing in Argentina or Chile...

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3. But don't forget your:

sunscreen (sun is intense here!), beach chairs, bikes, spices

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4. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

The Invisible Mountain, by Carolina de Robertis

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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6. Do you have any other comments?

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Montevideo, Uruguay 01/20/09

Background:

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

No, I've lived in Asia.

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2. How long have you lived here?

1+ year.

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

Government.

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4. Travel time and best routes to this city from Europe or the US:

American Airlines from Miami, 10 hours.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

For people associated with the U.S. Embassy, either an apt. in town or house on the outskirts near the airport.

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

Expensive, given the 22% tax on everthing which diplomats are not excluded from.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

Spices (Uruguayans don't use), toilet paper, cleaning supplies (especially a Swiffer or good mop! Try to find a mop here!), Puffs kleenex, makeup, SUNSCREEN!!! -- at least 50+ SPF! And a wide brimmed hat.

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

McDonald's and 1 Burger King. Limited. You will NOT find a Starbucks, TGIFridays, Pizza Hut or anything of that sort in Uruguay. You'd have to go to B.A. or better Santiago, Chile if that's what you want. Few decent restaurants and almost NO ethnic food. They pretty much just like their parilla = unseasoned beef as tough as leather. Oh, and mate! They cradle those mate thermoses like babies.

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

None that I know of.

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Daily Life:

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

APO.

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

Cheap.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

Limited equipment at post, some people attend a local gym for cheap.

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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?

You can use them, but I'd be wary of visiting any ATM here given the high crime.

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

Not sure.

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6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

No newspapers, satellite available from Puerto Rico (with ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX etc) or Argentina.

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

A LOT! Uruguayans don't speak English.

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8. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

Difficult. The city is not well kept. Sidewalks are very poor.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Taxis seem to be ok. I wouldn't take a city bus. I've heard decent things about long haul buses to Punta or Colonia though.

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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?

Something you don't mind banging up. There are no lanes here! But on the plus side, you can probably sell your vehicle here for what you paid in the States and the end of your tour.

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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?

Yes, various price options but average is $45 or so.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

Embassy provides.

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Pets:

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?

Don't know.

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2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

Some.

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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?

No.

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2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Business casual. You won't see anyone wearing bright colors here. Black and grey. Nothing too happy!

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Health & Safety:

1. Pollution index (Good, Moderate, Unhealthy, or Very Unhealthy)?

Good.

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2. What immunizations are required each year?

Few.

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

Rated high for crime. Minors are not prosecuted and thus can commit any kind of crime, from petty to violent, without consequence. There have been some robberies in houses and purse muggings in nice areas, for example. You definitely have to be on guard at all times.

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

Skin cancer is a real concern not to mention premature aging due to the sun. It's not uncommon to see women look 10+ older with leathery faces. But you can get plastic surgery cheap, and many do here. Personally I'd think twice before going under the knife here. It's not horrible but some have reported doctors cutting corners on routine check ups.

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

Hot in summer, cool in winter (winter coat required). Seasons are reversed since it is in the southern hemisphere.

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Schools & Children:

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

Uruguayan American School. Mostly Uruguayans attend. I have heard varying stories. Some people have sent their kids back to the States because they didn't feel it was adequate, but there are some that think it's ok.

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

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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?

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

I've heard of some at the Uruguyan American School.

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

SMALL! No real socializing among diplomats.

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2. Morale among expats:

Depends on who you talk to, but I'd say fair to low. A few like it, but I know many more who don't. It's not unheard of for people to curtail. Anybody who tells you it's a "garden post" is WRONG! Most people are disillusioned to discover that Uruguay is not tropical, has terrible bland food, and the people are cold, aloof and unfriendly as a whole. There's really NOTHING to do here.

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3. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

I've pretty much said it -- very limited.

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

Families tend to like it although I know some who don't and the kids are bored. BUT DON'T COME HERE IF YOU'RE SINGLE! You've been warned. The locals are not too friendly and there are very few, if any, singles at post.

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

Not sure.

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6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

I have heard some prejudice against people ofAfrican descent and other races. Uruguayans are proud to be "European." Although they certainly don't act European, unless you mean Eastern Europe! They are a pretty depressed people.

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

Not much. Punta del Este is 1-2 hours away, but VERY expensive and not much to see other than the beach. And the sun is SO strong here because of the hole in the ozone that most find it uncomfortable to be outdoors for great lengths of time. Colonia, near Argentina, is nice but you can see it in 1 day. Otherwise, take the 3 hour boat to Buenos Aires as often as possible.

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8. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Mate, but I wouldn't recommend it!

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9. Can you save money?

If you don't make any trips out of the country. But you'll need it for your mental health.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

NO, NO AND NO!

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

Ideas of South America. Think Eastern Europe!

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3. But don't forget your:

Sunscreen and spices.

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4. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

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5. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

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6. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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7. Do you have any other comments?

Bad for singles, some families like.

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Montevideo, Uruguay 08/27/08

Background:

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

I have lived in Madrid, Budapest, and Manila.

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2. How long have you lived here?

2 years.

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

Spouse at the Embassy.

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4. Travel time and best routes to this city from Europe or the US:

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

View All Answers


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

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

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

View All Answers


Daily Life:

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

View All Answers


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

View All Answers


3. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

View All Answers


4. What English-language religious services are available locally?

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5. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

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

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7. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

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Transportation:

1. Do you drive on the right hand side of the road or the left?

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2. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

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3. 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?

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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?

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

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3. What is the best way to make phone calls back home?

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Pets:

1. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

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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?

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2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

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Health & Safety:

1. Pollution index (Good, Moderate, Unhealthy, or Very Unhealthy)?

Excellent.

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

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

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

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Schools & Children:

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

We had three children at UAS in Middle and High School. UAS has the highest level of English of any school in Montevideo and is the most open to newcomers and transients. The first year was a bit of an adjustment for our family especially for my academic 11th grader because itis such a small Post and school. However we all came to love the school and the atmosphere. The new director has made a tremendous effort to tighten academic standards and offer more advanced courses. Now there are a range of AP classes offered and usually only about 10 students per class! The admisnistration works hard to be flexible and design the right program for each child,My daughter was able to take several advanced classes online while being supervised during the school day. Uruguay has a very democratic, friendly and informal culture and UAS tends to reflect that. This is a school where every student can get into the course or activity they are interested in. The receptionist in the front hall oftenrecognizes the parent bringing the forgotten lunch box and might even know exatly where to find your child. Inevitably in such a small school everybody knows eveyone and hears about every problem or bit of bad behavior. So it might seem to inexperienced parents that the problems are greater in Montevideo and at UAS than elsewhere. Let me assure you, as the mother of 4, that this is not the case. Teenagers behave stupidly all around the world. In our experience there is less alcohol and drug abuse by the high schoolers at UAS than in other International schools in Latin America and Europe. We have many Uruguayan friends with children at the British School. It has the reputation as the old premier bilingulal school. It would not be an easy place to be a newcomer with limited Spanish.

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

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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?

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

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2. Morale among expats:

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3. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

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

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

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6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

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

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8. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

View All Answers


9. Can you save money?

View All Answers


Words of Wisdom:

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

View All Answers


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

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3. But don't forget your:

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4. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

View All Answers


5. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

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6. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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7. Do you have any other comments?

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