Saturday, October 31, 2009

Homes in Uruguay

Homes in Uruguay, South America

When we first arrived in Uruguay we decided that we wouldn't even *think* about buying a home until we'd lived in Montevideo for at least a year. After living in the capitol city for some time, I'm glad we made that decision. There are plenty of other options besides the default of settling in the largest city for the new emigre to consider.

It's different here. It's a completely different environment from what you've become accustomed to you in your hometown -- where ever you're from -- unless you hail from Buenos Aires :)

For the gringos reading this post in English, we can safely assume the majority of you weren't born in south america, or at a minimum that Montevideo, Uruguay is not your birthplace.

A brand new country can take some time to get used to -- kick it in the new digs for a minute and get a feel for your new hometown.

Obviously, finding shelter is pretty low on maslov's pyramid. You will be instictually driven to look for a home you will feel comfortable in when you land in Uruguay. This is when you should slow down and take a deep breath and answer a few questions if you haven't already.

Why your are relocating your household to Uruguay?
Do you plan to "snowbird" or hangout only in summer months?

Do you have a family? Or, do you just need a crash pad or hole in
the wall while you're traveling in South America?

Do you want to live fulltime with your family in Uruguay? If so, how big is your family? Do you need an attached yard for pets or kids with your dwelling? How many rooms and baths are necessary? (keep in mind many bigger homes and apartments in Uruguay come with separate service entrances, bedrooms and baths.

In what kind of dwelling will you live in Uruguay?

I list some of the choices available for expats choosing a home in Uruguay below along with some pros, cons, and a couple of 'got

Farms in Uruguay

Quite a few people I've met fantasize about moving to Uruguay with a dream of getting a big spread -- a farm or ranch land and to start homesteading. For most, it's something they've always wanted to do but couldn't afford to in their homeland.

The "gentleman" farmer and gaucho rancher are attractive lifestyles to some...sprawling haciendas with a large country estate or stately manor is one reason people move to Uruguay.

For us, a ranch was out of the question. A farm or homestead just sounded like a bunch of work to me. Anything with that much real estate will demand a lot of maintenance -- probably necessitating hiring ranch hands or caseros to live on site and building separate living quarters, or a dormitory or flop house for them to sleep in.

While Uruguay's property taxes for agricultural land are lower than Uruguay's residential properties, I don't like any taxes! :)


An apartments in Uruguay made a lot more sense for us -- although we initially wound up in a duplex, or flat. In the neighborhoods we were attracted to it was the least expensive way to find comfortable Uruguay real estate . Since we were unsure how we'd like it, we rented, of course.

For a home with a pricey address in Punta del Este, Colonia del Sacramento, or a more toney neighborhood in the capitol, a flat or apartment will probably be the most economical choice.

For those the plan to only occupy their Uruguay home part of the year, buying or renting an apartment will probably be the safest, most sensible solution for your South American household.

I don't recommend *buying* your home when you first land, but apartments are bought and sold in Uruguay. If you're not from a large city, this might seem strange.

Here, the owners of the individual uruguayan apartments are liable for joint costs with the rest of the building. This is similar to a homeowners association, co-op, or condominium. Keep this in mind when budgeting living expenses -- whether you buy or rent you home. The common fees as passed on directly to the tenants.

Houses in Uruguay

Uruguayan houses aren't constructed with the same materials and standards that many gringos will be used to. Quality of construction materials and amenities in the kitchens and baths can vary depending on where you home is. Homes in Colonia or Montevideo have small yards, with almost no surrounding property. Uruguay homes outside of the densely populated city neighborhoods have more land usually

Summer Homes and Cabins

Cabins and bungalows in Uruguay's resort areas will feel like heaven on earth -- half the year.
A bungalow, summer cabin, beach hut or cottage will be like a palace in summer. A throw back to the beach communities in the US from the early 60's. Tourists will infuse your beach haven into what appears to be a real town as the Uruguayans, Brazilians and Argentinians make your new Uruguay hometown their stomping ground.

As the cold damp air replaces the long summer nights, your pleasant abode starts to feel like a
dank cave. You'll cling to your wood stove or hearth, as you sit fireside trying to shake a cold humid winter day. Cute little summer homes are comfortable living quarters in the summer, but typically don't have enough insulation to shelter you from the cold and damp during winter months.

A summer cottage in Uruguay will feel like a shanty in South America.

A few of these homes could be mansions, but many are not up to the standards you've become accustomed to in you home country.

Uruguay Homes Summary

It's natural for many when they land in Uruguay to decide on a home in Uruguay too quickly. You can wind up in in a bad area -- either loud, dirty, or even dangerous. As I wrote earlier it's also hard to gauge the true habitability of a place until you've lived there year around.

Real estate agents work differently here, and it's important to be very cautious when selecting an Uruguayan real estate agent. But, when navigating unfamiliar territory, it's can be wise to get advice from a local Uruguayan Realtor before settling into a permanent living arrangement.

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