Learning Uruguay

Every day brings ????

A house or an apartment?

Posted by urufish on April 25, 2007

We lived in a condo (apartment) for the first year we here.  Recently we moved to a house.  We haven’t been in the house long enough to be certain we’ve seen it all, but we’ve seen enough to make a comparison pretty accurate. 

  • Pros for apartments
    Security – if you have a 24 hour dooman, b&e is near to impossible, except for entry via the roof top.. which makes penthouses a little less secure than most higher floor apartments
  • Comfort – if you have radiant heating (central losa), the building is responsible for your heating needs.  Because it heats your ceiling, (and by proximity, a bit of the floor), running it for a few hours in the evening is enough to keep you nice and toasty most of the winter.  The heat is extremely even and if care was taken with your windows, you’ll be comfortable everywhere in the apartment. 
  • Trash – if you are in a one apt per floor building, you’ll have a garbage chute in your kitchen.  if there are more than one, you’ll have the chute near the elevator.  No need to walk to the corner or have a garbage can. 
  • Assistance – if you have 24 hour portero, he will help you with groceries, bring your mail to you and run interference for you with undesirables. 

 Cons for apartments

  • Stuck in the elevator or worse… During a power failure, unless your building has a generator, you’ll be looking for the portero to get you out of the elevator if it breaks or there’s no power.  If you’re in a building with one elevator, and it breaks, you’ll be climbing stairs for at least a few hours. 

Pros of a house

  • More privacy for yourself…  in a house you can get a layout that affords privacy if you’re one of those that need it. 
  • No community rules… you do your own thing
  • Earth…  usually, there’s a pretty nice back yard with a parilla just waiting for you and a load of wood. 
  • Garden…  you can grow what you want, for the whole year if you’re ambitious. 
  • Driveway… u can have parking and a driveway

Cons of a house

  • Beggars…  Poor people knocking on your door or ringing your bell asking for clothes and food.  They’ll take money if you have neither to spare. 
  • Mail.  Unless you custom make you’re own mailbox, you’ll buy a cheapo Chinese plastic mailbox.  When it rains, it leaks.  One day, you’ll come out and find someone took it the night before.  They’re small.  Even No. 10 envelopes get folded.  A mazine wont fit.  It will end up in front of your house, on the ground. 
  • Security…  Not really sure if it’s less secure than an apartment but it would seem so because unless you live in Carrasco with a guardhouse on the corner, you are solely responsible for your own security, which normally starts at your front gate.  My wife feels it’s scarier in a house at night…  If you do NOT wish to be broken into, invest heavily in (or rent one that has) iron bars and multiple, strong and well secured, locks.  It doesn’t have to look like a NYC apartment, but it should be close.  Of course, bars can be bent and cut, but that’s much rarer than smash and grab as much as you can in 5 minutes.  Burglars with ropes and cutting tools are a very small % of criminals in Montevideo. 
  • Maintenance… You’re responsible for not only the house and the grounds, but also the sidewalk.  The law here requires you to maintain the sidewalk, not the city.  So if the pavement cracks, you fix it. 
  • Gawkers… If you’re close to the street, (our bedroom’s sitting room window has a ‘0’ lot line), Urugyans, (being a curious lot), will come right up to your window, press their nose against it, cup there eyes with their hands, and stare for as long as it takes to scan the interior.  On the positive side, everyone will talk to you if you happen to be outside, welcoming you to their community. 

4 Responses to “A house or an apartment?”

  1. Brazzie said

    Great post! Very informative. Cheers.

  2. Shirley said

    It was great meeting you Sunday, and I’m enjoying your blog!

    What is the custom here when beggars ring at your door? In general I make it a point not to reward behavior that I don’t want to get more of (such as interrupting my privacy at home), but are these people genuinely hungry? I want to be a good neighbor. Is door-to-door begging part of the culture here? Is giving to them the normal, neighborly thing to do? On the other hand, if I decline to give, am I asking for trouble from vandals?

  3. Irv-

    Thanks for coming to our site! Outside of Montevideo, Piriapolis is becoming Blog central!

    Please add us to your blogroll and we’ll connect you as well.


    Quick comment on beggars coming too your door. No molesta! This is not OK and the beginning of criminal activity.

    Just say no!

    Best wishes,

    Steve Bowman

  4. urufish said

    People knock on your door in the city for a few reasons…
    to ask if you if you have any cardboard or recyclables to take away…
    to sell you things, like pens, dusters, brooms, washcloths…
    asking for food or clothes or money–beggars.. usually children with handlers hovering close by…
    the first 2 we view as legitimate requests.. we often have cardoard and recyclables sitting in the garage.. waiting for me to get off my arse and carry them to the garbage bin… this saves me the work 🙂
    the 3rd we usually say no to… but that doesn’t mean we’re insensitive…
    all uneaten, leftover food is put in plastic bags and hung on our gate… you can also hang them on the side of the trash bins in the city… cart people and hungry people know what this means and they’re gone within 30 minutes most days… we do the same thing with clothes…

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