Saturday, January 22, 2011

Assistance in finding a place to live in Uruguay

  • Where will you live in Montevideo?:
Where will you live once you arrive in Uruguay? What are the alternatives? First of all you have to decide what is the best choice for the period of time you will be staying. For less than three months the best alternatives will be a hotel or hostel, or an apartment rented per day.
Hotels prices (per day):
2 Stars and Hostels: u$s 20 to 60, depending on the zone they are located.
3 Stars: u$s 40 to 100.
4 Stars: u$s 100 to 150.
5 Stars : u$s 150 to 250.
Apartments rented per day: u$s 40 to 100.

For periods longer than three months it will be better, and cheaper, to rent an apartment or house.

Furnished apartments prices per month:
Studio: u$s 300 to 600
One bedroom: u$s 500 to u$s 1000
Two bedrooms: u$s 700 to u$s 1500
Furnished houses prices per month:
U$s 700 to u$s 3000 depending on the zone.

The normal period for renting is one year, but some owners accept shorter periods, three or six months. At the moment of renting a guarantee is requested. The guarantee is usually an amount equal to six month´s rent to be deposited in a bank. This amount will be returned once the rent is finished. This guarantee will be used by the owner to cover unpaid rent or damages to the property.

A contract must be signed and in some cases additional expenses might be generated, like real estate agent fees or notary public charges.

Renting might generate further monthly expenses:
Common expenses: depending on the services provided might vary from u$s 50 to u$s 200.
Taxes: u$s 10 to u$s 100.
Electricity, gas, telephone, internet and cable TV: depending on usage.

All mentioned amounts are estimated and might vary.
  • What can I do for you?:
Once you decide to come to Montevideo, I can help you find a hotel, hostel or apartment. When you arrive I will meet with you to welcome you and give you general information on Uruguay and Montevideo, or the city where you will be staying, and clarify any further doubts or questions that you might have. I will remain available for further assistance as required.
If you decide to stay for a longer period, in Montevideo, I will assist you in finding an apartment.
I will be open and available for any additional requirements and needs.
  • What is included in my service?
We will meet and decide on what living accommodation you require. I will look for the apartment/house, accompany you to visit them and be your interpreter with the owner or real estate agent. Assist you in all negotiations, explaining and translating all the required paperwork, and accompany you to the signature of the contract and deposit of the guarantee in the bank.  I will be at all times available for further queries and assistance. The service will be absolutely personalized at all times.
  • Fees:
-          A fixed charge of u$s 200.
-          A fee equal to a one month rent if an apartment/house is rented for a one year period.
-          A fee equal to half a month rent if an apartment/house is rented for six or three months.

Monday, December 21, 2009


    One thing you will find once you arrive in Uruguay, is that paperwork is almost a habit. It is, sometimes, frustrating but it's part of the culture so you will just have to play along and hope for the best.

    The following is the necessary paperwork to be able to obtain the Residence Permit to live in Uruguay as a foreigner. Once this is finished you will be given a Cedula de Identidad, the official ID Uruguayan document.

    The fist step is to obtain an appointment to begin the procedure at the Dirección Nacional de Migraciones in Misiones 1513, Monday through Friday from 9.15 AM to 2.30 PM. For this it is necessary to present the document that was used to enter the country (Passport or other ID). 

    Once you have been given an appointment you will need the following:

a) A passport photograph.

b) Proof of income:
If you will be working in a Uruguayan company (could be the Uruguayan office of an international company): a certificate signed by a Notary Public certifying the existence of the Uruguayan company, Legal name, validity, legal period of the society, legal address in the country, registration before the BPS and DGI, people authorized to sign on behalf of the company, position, salary or average income in the case of directors. Local Notaries know how to prepare this document.
If you will be working on your own or will live on own income (retirement, etc.), proof of income (at least  u$s 500 per month) certified by a local Notary Public.

c) Health Certificate issued for legal residency. To obtain it it is necessary to have an updated tetanus vaccine certificate. The Health Certificate can be issued by the authorized private health institution and the cost is about U$ 1.500 (u$s 80) per person. The Certificate must state "APTO PARA RADICACION O RESIDENCIA LEGAL EN EL PAIS".

d) Exact date of entry to the country presenting the entrance card.

e) Criminal Record certificate issued by the Federal Police institution (FBI or similar) and authenticated by the Uruguayan Consulate in you country of origin (the consulate located closest to your town) and then by  the Uruguayan Ministry of Foreign Affairs. This document can also be obtained from the Interpol office in Montevideo.
If before coming to Uruguay you have been living for more than 5 years in a different country (not your own) them you must present 2 Certificates, one issuee by this country and another one from you country of origin.

f)  Identity Document that was used to enter the country (passport or ID in the case of Mercosur countries) and a photocopy.

g) In case the spouse is also requesting the residency, then it is necessary to present the Marriage Certificate authenticated by the Uruguayan Consulate in you country of origin (the consulate located closest to your town) and then by the Uruguayan Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and a photocopy.

h) Birth Certificate authenticated by the Uruguayan Consulate in you country of origin and then by the Uruguayan Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and photocopies, of those who are requesting the residency, and of any Minor Children there might be. This document has to be presented in the Dirección Nacional de Registro Civil (Uruguay 933) where you will be given a Uruguayan legal Birth Certificate.

    All documents written in English (or any other language) must be translated into Spanish, signed and stamped by a Certified Public Translator. If you do not speak Spanish then you will have to be accompanied by an interpreter.

    This explanation covers most of the alternatives. For more specific information you can contact me directly.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Bienvenidos al Uruguay

    I’m back:

    Sorry for the delay in posting. I was away on vacations and and have been working on some projects for the future.

    I went to the south of Argentina and Chile. Mountains, glaciers, snow in springtime, long walks in the woods, and losing myself in nature. But I'm not going into that at this moment. Anyone planning to go there and want information, please write to me at

    I met many people from different countries. I noticed that when I told them I lived in Uruguay, many did not know anything about this country. I told them about my blog so they could find more information, but I found that I did not have "basic" information on Uruguay. So, let's get the facts.

    URUGUAY is a country located in the south-east of South America. It's the second smallest country in the subcontinent after Surinam, with a total surface of 176.214 (68037 sq.mi). It has borders on the north and north-east with Brazil and on the West with Argentina. Its coasts are washed on the south by the Rio de la Plata and East by the Atlantic Ocean.

    It has a population of 3.5 million, 88% of European origin, mainly Spanish. The rest are of Native and African origin.

    The official language is Spanish, with the particular intonation of the Rio de la Plata shared by Argentina and Uruguay. According to the United Nations, Uruguay is the country with the highest literacy level of Latin America.

    The official name of the country is Republica Oriental del Uruguay. This refers to the fact that, before its independence, it was an eastern province of the Viceroyalty of the Rio de la Plata. Please refer to my July post on the early history of Uruguay.

    It is a democratic country with a parliamentary political organization, governed by a President elected every 5 years and a General Assembly formed by the Senate (Cámara de Senadores) and the House of Representatives (Cámara de Diputados).

    The country is politically divided into 19 Departamentos. The capital, and biggest city, is Montevideo with 1.7 million people, being the southernmost capital city of the world. Located on the coast of the Rio de la Plata, Montevideo is also a very important port. The seat of the Mercosur organization, international common market formed by Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay, is located in Montevideo.

    Uruguay's landscape is mostly flat with some low hills on the south-east. Its fertile soil has made agriculture and cattle the base of the economy, exporting large quantities of meat and cereals mostly to the United States, Brazil and Argentina.

    Another important source of incomes is tourism. Uruguay has many important beach resorts on the coasts of the Rio de la Plata and the Atlantic Ocean. Atlantida and Piriapolis on the Rio and La Paloma, La Pedrera and Punta del Diablo on the Atlantic, are some of the most important ones. And of course, Punta del Este, with beaches on both, has become one of the most important seaside resorts of South America. Visitors from all over the world, mainly Argentina and Brazil visit the beautiful and warm beaches of Uruguay.

    Music is a very important part of the Uruguayan culture. The main traditional types of music are the Tango (please see my post of August) and the Candombe. The Tango has a mixed European and African origin and developed in Argentina and Uruguay, and the Candombe ia of African origin and became popular mostly in Uruguay. The Folk, Popular and Rock musics are also very important and there is a surprising number of musicians for such a small country. The Candombe music is the base of the very popular celebration of the Carnival, every year in February.

    The most popular sport is football (soccer). Uruguay was the first World Soccer Champion in 1930 and won a second Championship in 1950, in this case beating Brazil in the final match in the Maracana stadium in Rio de Janeiro. The local teams of Nacional and Peñarol have won numerous international tournaments. The Uruguayan national team will take part in the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

    There is a lot more to say about this small but beautiful country. I will go into more details of different aspects in future posts. If there is anything in special you want to know about, just ask. I'll be more than glad to give you the necessary information.

    Thanks, and see you in the next post.

Sunday, August 23, 2009


The Tango is the typical music of the Rio de la Plata region of South America and of the two great cities on the shores of this river - Montevideo and Buenos Aires. Both cities claim its origin but essentially the origin is common to both and as such tango has developed with a certain character in each place.

It is generally accepted that the Tango is originally from three cities - Buenos Aires and Rosario in Argentina and Montevideo in Uruguay. Its distinctive music is played by a typical orchestra or a sextet composed of piano, two bandoneons, two violins and a double bass. The "bandoneon", a type of accordion of German origin, is essential in creating the distinct sound of tango.

The dance begins with an embrace between the man and the woman (although it was originally danced between two men). It is very sensual and the movements of the bodies are very complicated, but there are classes and milongas for all levels.

As a song, the Tango tells stories related to the lives and hardships of everyday man and woman. Its main themes are love - especially unrequited or lost, betrayal, the passage of time, the low down neighbourhood (arrabales) and death. These songs very often use the slang language of Tango called "lunfardo" One of the greatest poets of Tango, Enrique Santos Discepolo, defined it saying that "the Tango is a sad thought that is danced", its passion is also a way of working through grief.

The Tango is an urban music, and it developed together with the cities of its origin. It contains a mixture of African, Latin American and European music. It is closely related to the process of immigration. In the mid 1800´s the "working class" both in Montevideo and in Buenos Aires was made up mainly of three groups -

Black people of African origin who had been brought as slaves and then freed, they had played a very importance role in the war of independence.

The gauchos, who were similar to the North American cowboys - expert horse-riders who lived in the pampas and worked for whoever paid for their services herding cattle. But when the ranches began to be fenced, their freedom was limited and many emigrated to the cities.

The third group were the immigrants. They came mainly from Europe, looking for work and wealth. Many originated from Italy, Spain, England, Portugal, Germany and Syria-Lebanon which created a very ecclectic culture with aspects of the many different nationalities combined.

The people from these three groups went to live mostly in the suburbs, near the riverside, on the slums called arrabales. The tango was born as an expression of their feelings, their hardships and their lives. In this way the Tango can be compared to the Blues in The United States.

The Tango music was commonly played at the brothels. There it began to be heard by people of higher classes, who took it out of the slums and helped it spread. As it became more popular it also became more professional and musicians with more knowledge of music began composing.

In the beginining of the 20th Century the voice and face of Tango, for many still the most important tango singer of all history, was Carlos Gardel. He was born in Tacuarembo, in northern Uruguay, but grew up in Buenos Aires. There he became a well know singer and he travelled to Paris and then New York where he made a number of movies. He died in an air accident in Medellín, Colombia, when he was 48 years old.

The golden age of Tango is considered to be the decade of the 1940´s, with great orchestras like those of Juan D'Arienzo, Carlos Di Sarli, Osvaldo Pugliese and Anibal Troilo and great composers like Julio De Caro, Juan Carlos Cobián and Osvaldo Fresedo. Great lyricist like Enrique Cadicamo, Enrique Santos Discépolo and Homero Manzi and great singers like Roberto "Polaco" Goyeneche and Edmundo Rivero.

In the late 1950's, musicians like Mariano Mores and Anibal Troilo began to experiment with new sounds. But the man who changed Tango music drastically was Astor Piazzola. Piazzola brought to Tango dissonant harmonies and different rythmic bases that were closer to jazz. He also brought influence from classical music. He used different instruments like electronic keyboards, bass guitar, drums and sax. Although his music was claimed not to be Tango by the classicists, his new approach became very popular amongst younger people. He is now internationally considered one of the greatest musicians and composers of the 20th Century.

Tango is still nowadays a very popular music. Singers like Argentina's Adriana Varela or Uruguay's Laura Canoura, Malena Muyala and Francis Andreu have brought new strength and voice to classical tango. Groups like Bajofondo Tango Club, composed of Uruguayan and Argentine musicians, have fused tango with electronic music and rock and recieved excellent reviews. Argentine pianist Adrián Iaies has fused it with jazz.

It has been a long road for Tango. From the slums and whorehouses of Montevideo and Buenos Aires, to the international musical scene. I know that not understanding the lyrics is missing part of the essence of Tango, but there is a lot more that can be enjoyed. From watching two people do the magic and mysterious ballet of the Tango dance, to learning how to dance it yourself. Or just listening to the universal fascination of the music of Astor Piazzola or the warm voice of Carlos Gardel.

Tango is there for all of us to experience, regardless of your nationality or language, it communicates so many emotions that are universally understood.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Dulce de Leche

    Dulce de Leche (Sweet Milk) is the most popular candy in the Rio de la Plata. As with many other things, there is a dispute between Uruguay and Argentina regarding its invention. The important thing is not "who" invented it, but the fact that it was invented and it is here with us to make our lives a lot sweeter.

    Legend has it that an important politician many years ago (I will not give names to avoid nationalities) asked his cook to warm some milk with sugar to accompany the Mate. The cook got distracted (for political reasons that we won´t go into) and the milk started to boil. When she remembered and went back to the kitchen the milk had become something brown and thick. When her boss tasted it he liked it and it became a new sweet to be enjoyed at all times. That's how Dulce de Leche was "invented".

    It is, of course, not exclusive of the Rio de la Plata. With different names it exists throughout Latin America. Manjar in Chile and Ecuador, Manjar Blanco in Perú, Bolivia, Ecuador and Panama, Arequipe in Colombia and Venezuela, Cajeta in Mexico, Fanguito in Cuba, and Dulce de Leche in Argentina, Uruguay, El Salvador, Honduras, Paraguay, Puerto Rico, Republica Dominicana and Costa Rica.

    It is simply a preparation of milk, sugar and vanilla, boiled for a long time until it becomes thick and creamy.

    If you want to try it the hard way:

         Milk: 3 liters
         Sugar: 1 Kilogram
         Sodium bicarbonate: 1/2 spoon
         Vanilla: 1 pod or a small quantity of essence.

    Cook all the ingredients together over low heat, stirring all the time until the milk starts to boil. Lower the heat to the minimum and keep stirring, preferably with a wooden spoon doing an 8 movement, until the mixture begins to thicken and darken. Raise the heat until it starts to boil again. Remove from the heat and let it cool. It is ready to be tasted.

    If you want to do it the easy way just go to the supermarket and buy a jar of Dulce de Leche Lapataia or Conaprole. If this is too easy then do the following:

    Get a can of condensed milk. Put it inside a large pan and cover it with water. Boil for 2 hours. Take it out of the water (very carefully) and let it cool. Open it and you have a can of Dulce de Leche.

    The Dulce de Leche can be used in many different ways. It can be eaten out of the jar, one of the great pleasures in life, or mixed with other things. Some of the great things to eat with Dulce de Leche are bananas, pancakes, flan (creme caramel) or cakes. The Alfajor is a round pastry filled with Dulce de Leche, extremely popular in Uruguay and Argentina. There is a cake called Milhojas (Thousand Leaves) that is made of many thin layers of pastry, each one separated by a thick layer of Dulce de Leche, and covered with meringue. Try it, you won`t regret it.

    If you have a sweet tooth then any or all of this things are highly recommended.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Working in Uruguay

    I think the biggest problem to find a job in Uruguay, for foreigners, is your knowledge of Spanish. Unless you are fluent in Spanish your alternatives are limited. The second big problem, and I don´t want this to be a put down but it is a reality, is that salaries in Uruguay are generally low.

    This being said, here are some alternatives:

    Working as teacher of English or another language:

    Berlitz ( is a good place. The pay is not great but previous teaching experience is not required, they train you, so it might be a good place to start.

Langland Institute ( The pay is better, but previous experience is a plus.

    Most of the other English teaching institutes require some type of English teacher certificate. Some of them are the Anglo (, the Alianza (, London Institute (, Instituto Dickens (, or the Alliance Francaise ( for French speakers.

    Other international companies that hire non Spanish speakers are the Indian company Tata Consultancy Services ( and the American company Sabre Holdings ( That´s where I work, so if you want more information just contact me at

    Of course, there´s always El Gallito, the classified ads of the El Pais newspaper. Look for the section called TRABAJOS. Some of the ads published are in English.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Instrucciones del año XIII

    Patrick, who lives near Colonia, was interested in reading the Instrucciones. Here is my translation. But first a little history.

    On May 25th 1810 the people of the Viceroyalty of the Rio de la Plata had declared in Buenos Aires their intention of becoming independent from the Spanish Crown. In 1813 a General Constituent Assembly was summoned and members of all the Provincias Unidas were invited to attend. The object was to decide the form of the future government, and to create a provisional Constitution. The people of each province were asked to elect representatives for the Assembly, who would carry "instructions" declaring the will of their voters.

    Artigas summoned the people of the Banda Oriental for a Provincial Assembly in which they would chose their representatives to the General Assembly in Buenos Aires. This was called the Congreso de Tres Cruces. In this Assembly the representatives of the Pueblo Oriental were chosen, and "instructions" given to them. This instructions became know as the "Instrucciones del Año XIII".

    The following is the text of these instructions:


    Art. 1 - First of all we will request the total independence of these Colonies, and that they be absolved of all obligation of loyalty to the Spanish Crown and the Bourbon family, and that all political connection between these Colonies and the Spanish State should and must be totally dissolved.

    Art. 2 - We will accept no other system but that of the Confederation for the reciprocal pact with the Provinces that conform our State.

    Art. 3 - We will promote civic and religious freedom throughout all its imaginable extension.

    Art. 4 - As the objective and end of the Government must be to preserve the equality, freedom and safety of the Citizens and the Peoples, each Province will form their own government based on this principle and under that of the Supreme Government of the Nation.

    Art. 5 - This, as well as that, will be divided in legislative, executive and judicial powers.

    Art. 6 - These three resorts will never be united amongst them and will be independent in their faculties.

   Art. 7 - The Supreme Government will attend only to the general business of the State. The rest is particular to the Government of each Province.

    Art. 8 - The territory occupied by these Peoples, from the oriental coast of the Uruguay to the Fortress of Santa Teresa, constitute only one Province called the Provincia Oriental.

    Art. 9 - That the seven Peoples of Misiones, Batovía, Santa Tecla, San Rafael and Tacuarembó, today unjustly occupied by the Portuguese and that in due time will have to be claimed, will at all times be part of this Province.

    Art. 10 - That by this document this Province will enter separately into a firm league of friendship with each one of the others for the mutual and general happiness, with the commitment to assist each one of the others against all violence, or attacks done on one or any one of them for reasons of religion. sovereignty, traffic or any other pretext whatsoever.

    Art. 11 - That this Province retains its sovereignty, freedom and independence, all power, jurisdiction and rights that are not expressly delegated by the Confederation to the United Provinces jointly in Congress.

    Art. 12 - That the port of Maldonado be free to all vessels that concur for the introduction of goods or export of fruits, setting the corresponding Customs in that town, requesting to this effect that the Commander of the Forces of His British Majesty be informed of the opening of this port in order to protect the navigation and commerce of their Nation.

    Art. 13 - That the port of Colonia be also authorized in the terms of the previous article.

    Art. 14 - That no taxes or duties be imposed on articles exported from one province to another, and that no preference be given by any regulation of Commerce or rent to the ports of one Province over that of others, and that no vessels destined from this Province to another be forced to enter and anchor or pay duties in another.

    Art. 15 - Not to allow for Law to be made for this Province over goods of foreigners who die intestate and over fines and confiscations that used to be applied for the King, and over territories belonging to it while it does not create its regulations and determines to what funds they must be applied, as it is the only one who has the Rights to do it for economic reasons within its jurisdiction.

    Art. 16 - That this Province will have its own territorial Constitution, and that it has the Right to sanction the general one for the United Provinces that form the Constituent Assembly.

    Art. 17 - That this Province has the right to raise the Regiments that it might need, to name the Company officers, to regulate its militia for the safety of its freedom and that the rights of its Peoples to keep and carry arms will not be violated.

    Art. 18 - The military Despotism will be annihilated with constitutional barriers that ensure the Sovereignty of the Peoples.

    Art. 19 - That it be needful and indispensable outside of Buenos Aires where the Government of the Provincias Unidas resides.

    Art. 20 - The Constitution guarantees to the Provincias Unidas a republican form of government, and guards each one of them from the domestic violence, usurpation of Rights, freedom and security of its sovereignty that might be attempted by armed forces by one of them to suffocate the declared principles. And it will, as well, render all its attention, honour, faithfulness and religiousness to everything it believes and judges necessary to preserve for this Province the advantages of Freedom and to maintain a free Government, of pity, justice, moderation and industry. For all of which, etc.

    Before Montevideo, April 13th 1813, Gervasio Artigas.

A Friend Away From Home

I too am a foreigner. I have the advantage of coming from a country that is just round the corner. But I spent most of my childhood and adolescence as a foreigner, so I understand very well what it like is to be away from home. We could say that I became an expert in creating a home away from home. In times when there was no Internet and no cell phones, one had to get used pretty fast to life in new, far away places. And it was at those moments when one learned to really appreciate a friendly face, a soothing voice and a warm handshake. One felt that even living in a different culture and hearing a different language, one could find, and one always did find, a friend to make one feel a little less lost and lonely. Uruguay is very similar to Argentina, so it took no effort for me to feel at home here. Specially when the reason that brought me here is a lovely Uruguayan lady. We´ll get into that later on. But it really amazed me to find such a large quantity of foreigners, mostly from countries that are not so close at hand, living in this beautiful country. I have had the opportunity of meeting some of them. And I thought: "wow, even if the weather is great, it must not be so easy living far away from countries like Canada, USA, Switzerland, India or France. But I have been there so I can understand the feeling. And then I thought, what can I do to help them feel less far away? Could I find a way of becoming their friend away from home? I would really like to. I know Uruguay and the Uruguayan culture very well. I speak some of their languages. I understand them. Yes, I think that might work. I´ll try to help them and become their friend. And that is what I want to do. I am here to help you, to understand you and to try to make your stay in this great country as pleasant as possible.
Just ask, we´ll see what we can do.