R David Finzer
August 15 2006
-Where were you born?
United States of America
-In which country and city are you living now?
-Are you living alone or with your family?
-How long have you been living in Uruguay?
Six months. But I have lived outside the US for the last nine years in the Caribbean, Montenegro in Europe, Costa Rica and here.
-What is your age?
-When did you come up with the idea of living in another country and what factors helped your decision?
It was in 1998 -- at that time, a totally business drive.
-Was it hard to get a visa or a working permit?
-How do you make your living in Uruguay? Do you have any type of income generated?
I work for my own company, which I brought with me.
-Do you speak Spanish and do you think it's important to speak the local language?
I speak some Spanish and I am learning more daily. It is very important for expats to speak the local language here. It is less important to observe local customs than to RESPECT them. Anytime a foreigner, particularly an American, shows respect for the local language, history and customs, it is noted and appreciated.
-Do you miss home and family sometimes?
No. I have a VoIP phone service and maintain a local phone number through it in my home town, so I can talk on the phone to my friends and family whenever I want and it is a local call for them as well.
-Do you have other plans for the future?
In addition to my business I am writing a book about living in Uruguay, which is based on my blog.
-What about housing, have you bought, or are you renting a home? How much do you pay for it?
I am renting a house right now in Carrasco, which is a very upscale area at the east end of Montevideo. It is half a block from the beach, has a garage and walled garden, has three bedrooms and 2.5 baths on two floors. It costs US$850/month furnished.
-What is the cost of living in Uruguay?
It's inexpensive, much less than Costa Rica. I can only think of three things more expensive here than in the US: cars, consumer electronics (excluding computers which are only slightly more than the US), and the Internet. Food costs are lower, housing is significantly less, as is household help and other labor. Medical care without local insurance is cheaper than US insurance co-payments.
-What do you think about the Uruguayan people?
Uruguayans are very friendly and the culture here seems to frown on "gouging" expats, unlike in other places I have been.
-What are the positive and negative aspects of living in Uruguay?
I would say the biggest single negative is the cost and quality of Internet service. In this, Uruguay certainly lags behind its neighbors. Secondarily, I wish there were more things in English, but it really is up to me to learn Spanish.
The positives vastly outnumber the negatives: good quality of life, excellent medical care, good public transport, and great food and wine, all at really inexpensive prices. The people are well educated and friendly and don't try to gouge gringos like in other places I have been.
-Do you have any tips for our readers about living in Uruguay?
You must either be able to speak conversational Spanish or be able to afford a bilingual assistant to function well here. The level of English is certainly increasing here, but still remains relatively low, especially as compared to Costa Rica or Panama.
There are very few US brands in stores here, and those that are tend to be more expensive. I have found the local brands to be excellent and have almost entirely adapted to local offerings. This is the first country I have been in where local potato chips are as good as those from the US.
Coca-Cola and other soft drinks are made locally under license and taste just like the one back home.
-Do you have any favorite Web sites or blogs about Uruguay?
http://www.uruguayliving.com/ - This is my own site in which I have tried to detail moving and living here. I have tried to be thorough but remain humorous. Through it I have met a lot of people who are moving to Uruguay and many more who are thinking about it.
From Uruguay - A really good blog about Uruguay by a local.
MAPRED - If you want to find an address within Montevideo, or the best route to go between two points in Montevideo, you have to try this interactive map. It will even tell you how far it is by road between two points.