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It’s summer

Posted by urufish on February 14, 2008

Today I thought it would  be good to put up a few pictures now that our grass has taken root.

pa150003-medium.jpg  Looking out the front of the house, notice our frequent police guy. 

pa150002-medium.jpg Looking up the side of the house to the fountain which we put back together again after the robbers were unscuessful at removing it this past winter.

pa150001-medium.jpg  Looking out the side of the house from the bedroom.  There’s our friendly dumpster. 

Posted in Daily life, Real Estate | 2 Comments »

House for Rent in Piriapolis (2 of 2)

Posted by urufish on December 20, 2007


Summer’s is here and our friend Cristina asked us to post her 2nd house for rent on this site.  Here it is in pictures.  It’s pretty, clean and closer to San Antonio than the other house, which is closer to the bus terminal. 

pic_0002-medium.jpg  pic_0004-medium.jpg pic_0006-medium.jpg pic_0025-medium.jpg pic_0029-medium.jpg pic_0034-medium.jpg

Posted in Real Estate, Rentals | 5 Comments »

Schleppers of Piria – move over

Posted by urufish on November 25, 2007

Great weather today… Bright sunshine all day.  Not a cloud in the sky.  Windchill put the airtemp around 19 degrees.   A perfect spring day.  So we went to Piria to look at the ‘final’ work on the house.

After we checked out the house, we went down for lunch.  We usually go to one of the fish restaurants around Punta Fria.  Both were too busy for our tastes.   Reminded us of Punta del Este in early December.  So we drove over to the restaurant next to the marina.  Haven’t eaten there for several years. 

We sat outside and I sat down with my back to the ocean, looking at the mountain.   I had one of those ‘ahah’ moments.  I saw San Antonio with tourist’s eyes.  It’s impressive.  That’s the last word in the dictionary I’d have thought ever applied to Piria, but sure enough, it was impressive.  The amount of construction, the type of houses, both old and new, give you the feeling this is a ‘hot’ place.  It’s on its way up–fast. 

I pondered on that a few minutes.  When I think of Piria, I think of the town, from the rambla backwards for a dozen blocks.  Up to the Devoto.. to the soccer field.. to the bus station.  To all the area I’ve been around for over 20 years.  That area is sort of like Maldonado.   It’s where the local townsfolk live.  San Antonio is like a miniature–no–make that a microscopic–Punta.  And if you follow the Rambla out East, towards Punta Ballena, it’s similarly ‘hot’.  Lots of bui9lding going on. 

I dont know if or when the town itself will get a facelift and if so, who will invest the $ to do it, but it’s clear the last few years of economic stability have created, by Piria standards, a mini boom. 

After lunch, we took a walk into the Marina.  Haven’t done that since it opened.  There were sailboats there from France, Switzerland, the US and one other European country, the name escapes me.  At the end, was a stinkpot from Argentina.  We didn’t get to go to the north side of the marina, but I did see 3 or 4, mil+ yachts.  2 were in drydock and one was in the water.  I can tell you with certainty, there was nowhere near this type of clientele there a few years ago.  In the beginning, no one wanted to moor in Piria. 

The drydock facility is pretty good.  They’ve got a huge hauler that takes out some pretty big boats.  That’s how those ultra expensive yachts ended up here.  The drydock is like most warm (relatively speaking) countries.  People actually are living on their boats, while they’re being worked on.  Unlike the US, you dont see any big marine shops here.  It looks like most of the boaters are DIY’ers. 

It looks like the ‘class’ of visitor Piria has gone up significantly since I last looked a few years ago.  We heard (and met) people from several countries… all of them looked well heeled.  Perhaps they were looking for Punta and made a wrong turn.  Or perhaps they were looking for a calmer Punta.  Or perhaps they were simply looking for the peace and pace of Piria. 

Posted in Daily life, Real Estate | Leave a Comment »

Summer Apartment rentals

Posted by urufish on November 21, 2007

Someone asked about renting an apartment for the summer here in Montevideo.  To a semi-local to myself, it’s not something we think much about here.  When we think of summer rentals, we think of the East.  I mentioned it to my wife’s best friend and she said her apartment is free for the summer.  She spends summers in Piria, (where we hope to join her for at least some of this year’s summer 🙂

I created a new section on the website..  It’s called Apartment rentals and it’s a tab on the top.  This is the link   https://urufish.wordpress.com/apartment-rentals/

Posted in Real Estate | 2 Comments »

The ‘doo’ detector

Posted by urufish on June 29, 2007

Somewhere in my 4th decade, someone mentioned to me that I wasn’t a very optimistic person any more.   Somewhere in my 3rd decade I changed from a half-full glass person to a half-empty glass person.  I did some soul searching and decided there was truth to the comment in that my actions would lead one to that conclusion.  But that wasn’t how I felt about life.  The truth was more complicated.  I was showing the effects of several years in the business world, as an entrepeneur which is more often than not, an ‘optimistic’ word for a world of civilized warfare, where you and your competitors fight for the same thing, without end and without quarter.  .    The daily cycle of victim/perp, tends to harden ones outer shell, which after several years, becomes one’s demeanour.  But it doesn’t have to change one’s inherent character. 

I decided to consciously alter my demeanour to present a more accurate reflection of my character.   It was also right around this same time that I became aware of the main principal that was guiding me in the business world (and by proximity, my personal life as well).  I realized my success wasn’t as much the result of what I was doing right as much as it was the result of what I was NOT doing wrong.   I call this ‘using your doo detector’.    ‘If you dont step in dog shit on the way home, you dont waste valuable time washing your shoes later’.  A corollary of that is ‘you dont stink either’. 

Just because a person has a good ‘doo detector’ doesn’t guarantee success, (not stepping in it).  Over the years, I worked with several people who ‘had a feeling’ that such and such was a rip-off, or a con, etc.  Yet, they went ahead and in the end, stepped in it.  I most often saw this when one of my friends got a ‘hot tip’ on a stock.  I’d say something like, ‘you really dont buy that crap do you?’.  They’d usually answer, ‘not really, but I’m not an expert on this stuff.. he (the tipster) is.’    It really did turn out to be ‘crap’.  

I think ‘doo detection and avoidance’ is as valid a talent for success as is doing the right things, making the right choices.  Furthermore, if your ‘do it right’ talent is OK and your ‘doo d/a’ talent is great, you will be successful, in all things these apply to.  Of course, if you’re blessed in both categories, your success will be overwhelmingly successful. 

I saw this ‘doo d/a’ put to good use the other day, right here in Montevideo.  A friend of mine was looking at purchasing a property.  He loved the place.  The price was right.  But he didn’t get good ‘vibes’ from the neighbour.  Most people I know wouldn’t have even considered this is a reason for ‘not’ buying the property.  But this person’s ‘doo d/a’ talent is unqestionably much better developed than most of us.  He made up his mind to look elsewhere.   I’m sure at some point, he’ll find another place he likes just as much and just as important, his ‘doo d/a’ detector wont be flashing a ‘brown’ alert.   

Posted in Attitudes, Moving to Uruguay, Real Estate | Leave a Comment »

How is rent paid? How is rent collected?

Posted by urufish on June 21, 2007


There are several common ways for landlords to collect and for you to pay rent.  This is not an exhaustive list by any means, but it sums up all the ways I’ve paid and collected. 

  • Administration.  You hire/you pay an administrator to collect rent for you.  Most real estate agencies provide this service.  If you own a lot of rental properties, you may go this route.  
  • Owner collects/pays to.  An owner can drop by every month and collect the rent or have it mailed to them.  If picked up, it’s almost always cash.  If mailed, it is by cheque. 
  • Payment in advance.   I’ve seen this done about 30% of the time.  You pay/collect for the whole year or half the year up front.  Usually in cash, but sometimes by cheque. 
  • Autodebit.  This is quite common if the owner has a bank account.  It is one of the most common ways people pay and collect rents in Montevideo.  See the forms attached for an idea how this works. 


  • Abitab/RedPago.  These are the little shops that many Uruguayans pay their bills at.  Before autodebit (see above), these were much busier.  There have been many posts on this kind of business.   That’s probably because we see nothing like it up north.  In the North, the banks took this business on at the beginning, leaving no room for another industry to popup.  Here, banks for some reason didn’t want to do this, so up popped these bill paying shops.  These are often used by the administation agencies, like the reference above.  The administration company sets up an acocunt with RedPago or Abitab (the biggest) and when you get your monthly invoice, (you need an invoice to pay a bill in an Abitab/RedPago), it states which agencies you can use. 

We have 4 rental properties.  One in the boonies, uses an administrator.  The other 3 all use autodebit.  With autodebit, I find it easier to manage things.  If you’re a northerner who is looking to invest your retirement savings in rental properties (instead of stocks or bonds, etc), autodebit is a very simple and painless way to collect the rent. 

Posted in Real Estate | 1 Comment »

This old house

Posted by urufish on June 20, 2007


I’ve never seen this show on TV.  I’ve only heard the title.  The title seems appropriate for this post.  If this content is at odds with the TV show, I’m sorry.

 I wasn’t going to write any more.  My toothache beckons Tylenol extra strenghs, but I just finished reading Mike’s recent post, http://www.amavericko.com/2007/06/house-problems.html and I cant leave the laptop until I comment on it.  I would have commented on his site, but it is so funny… really, really funny, I felt a serious comment would be like disrespectful. 

This is going to be short.. just touching on a few things that Mike mentions, to make sure no one out interprets his ‘rant’ as an argument against buying a property here and to add credibility to what you will think is just his bad luck.. it aint. 

First off, all of the problems he described are because the person who renovated that house, didn’t do it to fix it up.  They did it to make it look cute.  From Mike’s many problems, you can tell the renovation either didn’t address existing problems or it was so poorly thought out, the modern renovation caused dozens of problems by itself.  If Mike (or anyone else) were to buy an old house, his architect would have gone over the place with a fine toothed comb and picked out those problems, and others Mike hasn’t seen yet, lurking behind a wall or under a floor. 

No one buys a house here without having ‘their’ architect check it out first.   Up north, we use home service experts who do this.  In Uruguay, we use architects.  Would you buy an older house without a home inspection?  Of course not.  Would you rent a house without one, of course you would.  As Mike said, better to pay your way out of a lease than get stuck owning a disaster. 

The part about the drain pipe isn’t an isolated instance.  On top of my very expensive condominium building, they drain the entire roof with 3 pipes.  None of them are particularly large.  Each section is separated from the other.  Do you know what happens when debris blows into one of those drains.   One or more light fixtures in the penthouse become showers.  Who’s the moron architect who puts a single point of failure on an upscale apartment building roof?  Well, it’s not in the building code. 

Hey Mike..  you’re not alone buddy with the showers that slope away from the drain.  I have asked this question over and over again…  And to add insult to injury, I have paid my hard earned money for 3 bathroom renovations and none of them slope properly.  In my most recent master renovation, I figured I had it made by putting in a bathtub instead of a shower… guess what they did… they sloped the tiles around the bathtub away from the bathtub… now I have a 2nd story squeegee job.    Gotta hand it to the albanils here, they are consistant.. all of them. 

Most Uruguayans use electric heating in houses.. Gasoil (diesel) in apartment buildings in Montevideo.  Electric in Punta del Este… they dont have natural gas out there in the boonies.  We installed a modern gas boiler to heat the house and provide hot water to the taps.  I was worried about gas too.  Never worried about it back home but here, yes.  Because ours is a central unit, tucked away in a room in the basement, we vented the room to the outside just in case something happens to the pilot light.  

Mike’s complaining about his master circuit breaker popping.  It’s a new service and I’ll bet it’s picking up a leak to ground.  I had that in my apartment.  Changed out the master breaker for one with a much great tolerance.  The downside is if you stick your hand in a socket, you’ll get a nasty buzz before it trips out.  Better that than coming home to a warm refrigerator.  Maybe the owner will fix it for the new renter.  Too late for Mike.  He’s going north for the winter.  Wow..  Never heard that one before.  We’re upside down now. 

The following images are courtesy of Santiago Tezanos, a local architect who wanted to share this information with us.. 

option-1_1-large.jpg  option-2_1-large.jpg  option-3_1-large.jpg

Dear Irv,

Attached please find three self explanatory situations of membrane and surfaces.

option 1: an open air terrace, with a drain, over another terrace. Membrane going “up the wall” on the left, and a “french door” window opening on the right.
option 2: is a rooftop edge (azotea).
option 3: is a typical wall/window situation. Exterior is to the right, interior to the left.
These are not “generic” details but specific details from a project by my office, so some issues might be very particular to the project, therefore solved in specific ways (such as a drain in that position). However, any of this details should be easy to build by any local albañil.

Posted in Real Estate | 26 Comments »

Renting out your apartment

Posted by urufish on June 18, 2007

 dsc00150-large.jpg (View of Santa Claus parade from balcony)

This a short little post, that goes the other way, our experience with renting out our apartment.

We moved from our Rambla apartment a few months ago to a house.. because I needed more space…  Having lived in a house for the past 20+ years, I just couldn’t adapt to an apartment.  Sorry.  We kept the apartment because my wife is letting me have my way temporarily.  But make no mistake about it, she will go back, if she had to drag me behind her.  Maybe I’ll be mentally feeble by that time and wont notice it. 

We would have put the apartment up for rent when we moved out.  But it’s a penthouse and the day after we moved out, the roof sprang a leak.  Cant be renting out your apartment to someone with it raining on their head.  So we stirred up trouble with the building management.  When we found out the roof was 3 years past the time the roof should have been redone, we insisted.  Unfortunately, just after they removed the waterproof cover, it poured rain.  Our kitchen got soaked.  By the time the roof was done and our kitchen dried out, a month had passed.  We had to get it cleaned up and repaired.  The wood cabinets had to dry out and then go into the shop to be repaired.  Anyway, when that was done, we put an ad in the paper and hung a sign on the balcony.  Over the next few weeks, we got a half dozen serious inquiries and last week, the right couple found our place and wanted it. 

Being on the rambla, it’s not unusual to get a diplomatic customer.  In this case, the husband works for an embassy.  In these cases, the embassy, not the person, enters into the rental agreement with the owner.  If the country is a member of the EC (european common market), they wont sign your contract.  They provide you with their own.  Some clauses are unique to them.  For instance, normally a rental agreement here is for a specific term, like a year or two or three.  If you break it, you still have to pay rent.  Their contract has a provision that if the person is recalled, the contract is null and void.  In normal agreements (as described before), property is put up as collateral or a large deposit is made.  Not so with embassies.  No deposit is paid.  Their signature is collateral enough.  Because of the slow devaluation of the US dollar, it’s common for people to put in devaluation clauses in the lease agreement, usually reviewed and adjusted at the end of each year.  No such thing in the diplomatic community’s contract. 

On the positive side, most owners prefer a diplomatic contract because the embassy is a straight customer.. no tricks. 

One other interesting thing about embassy renters.  Before the agreement is made, they send a team of experts to the property to check it out–to make sure their employee isn’t being taken advantage of –or put at risk.  In our case, they were satisfied that it was a good value for the $, but they wanted a security system to protect their staff.  It had to be installed at our expense.  We’ve been meaning to put one in since we renovated it but never got around to it.  So it was OK with us. 

They’re really nice people.   We hope they like living there as much as we did. 

Posted in Real Estate | 2 Comments »

House for rent in Piriapolis (1 of 2)

Posted by urufish on June 8, 2007

 No.  We haven’t gone into the real estate business.  One of the Southron board members wants to spend some time in the countryside later this year.  We mentioned one of our friends has a property in Piriapolis that’s available.  He asked us to send him some pictures.  Lacking the necessary skills to do this practically by way of a private reply, and seeing it may have some value to visitors to this site who may want to know what kind of properties are avaialble, I decided to post it here. 

I’ll add some background too that hopefully, you find interesting.  My wife and I have summered (her longer, me shorter) in Piriapolis since 1985.  We purchased the ‘house on the hill’ and fixed it up 85-87.  In the early 90’s she made a bunch of friends in the town and soon knew a lot about what was going on there.  One of the things she learned (by osmosis) was the summer rental market.. bust and boom and all things inbetween.  Her best friend had a few rental properties and my wife helped her out on occasion.  We’ve been asked many times to rent out our house and have politely declined. 

Beteen New Years and the end of February, is the prime rental season in Piriapolis, as it is in PDE.  It seems that everyone has something for rent.   When Piriapolis is having a good year, many people move out of their homes, into their garages to make extra cash.   We can tell how well the town is doing by asking the Barometrica guy how well he’s doing.  There’s a direct relationship between effluent and seasonal prosperity. 

The property in the pictures is a block from the main supermarket in town, the Devoto.  Seems an odd thing to say, but that makes it extremely convenient to someone vacationing there.  The store has everything possible you could want, including a great cafeteria.  It’s a great place to socialize too.  It’s a 10 minute walk to the bus terminal, which makes it easy to get to MVD or PDE or places North and East.  It’s a 15 minute walk to the beach and the centre of town. 

She has a couple of other rental properties too.  Some are for sale (as is most of Piriapolis :).  If you’re interested in knowing more about the town, here’s an old post…   https://urufish.wordpress.com/tag/history/



Posted in Real Estate | 7 Comments »

Little shops

Posted by urufish on June 6, 2007

  In Brazzie’s most recent post (http://uruguaydreaming.com/2007/06/05/ten-things-i-love-about-montevideo/) he says:

Small shops. Small businesses are sprinkled throughout the city and you can shop for 90% of what you need without needing to walk more than six blocks. The remaining 10%, they deliver, for free. In most other countries, the small shop system has virtually disappeared.

He’s right.  This is a very unusual and very important thing to know (and to experience) about living in Montevideo.  This is true to a degree all over Uruguay, but it’s the big city where it really stands out.  I’ve said so many times you never have to walk more than 4 blocks in Pocitos to find what you want.  His description (above) says 6 blocks, but the point is, no matter what you need, it’s a short walk. 

In honour of Brazzie’s work, here are some of the shops that are within 6 blocks of where I live. 

Within 6 blocks there are (at least) 4 laundries, 2 drycleaners, 4 paper stores, several used childrens clothing/accessories, 6 mini-markets  (notice the Mini-Macro delivery truck below), 2 large supermarkets, (all markets/supermarkets have home delivery.. some have websites to order from), 8 x 5/10 cent stores, 9 drugstores (including one open 24/7), 6 women’s clothing stores, 4 pizza parlors, 5 good restaurants including one of the best steak houses in Montevideo, 2 empanada stores, 2 chiviterias, 3 bars, 2 x 365day/yr ice cream shops, 4 hardware shops, 3 private schools, several trades colleges, 6 banks, (2 with multiple branches), 7 shops to pay bills at (like Abitab/RedPago), 5 real estates, 4 vets, 2 car dealerships (Peugeot y Audi), gymnasiums, karate/taekwando/judo schools, 4 24/7 gas stations with stores, museums, sports stores, bicycle and motorcycle shops, MacDonalds, cambios, 2 synagogues, 1 church, kiosks, jewllery stores, shoe stores, viveria, 3 clinics, 3 retirement homes, 2 home theatre shops, lamps, furniture, mattresses, cybercafes, pc repair/sale, antiques, etc. 


laundry-small.jpg laundry2-small.jpg

Stationery stores

 papeleria2-small.jpg papeleria-small.jpg

Childrens clothing/accessories 

 usedkids-small.jpg usedkidsstore-small.jpg 2ndhand-small.jpg cutekids-small.jpg 

Mini and Supermarkets and delivery.   When I worked at 3003 21 de Setiembre, I would go to the MicroMacro (below) every evening for a Milka Chocolate Bar.. the one with the bubbles – like Aero.  The last picture is my closest minimarket.  There is an iron barred door that the lady closes when it starts to get dark.  You come to the door and tell her what you want and she brings it to you.  She’s the owner.  She works alone. 

cmarket-small.jpg macromicro-small.jpg   market2-small.jpg 

5/10 cent stores.  See the guy in the long coat looing in the store on the left.  I must have shot this picture quickly because just above, you’ll see him coming out of the Micro Macro.  The guy in the next photo is happy to have his picture taken.  I just bought two AA batteries from him for the camera. 

5-10store-small.jpg typical5-10store-small.jpg  

Drugstores.  In Montevideo’s free zone (well it’s not quite in Montevideo), when you want to open a company, you buy one from another company that makes ’empty’ companies for a living.  When I was there at the official transfer, their accountant asked where I lived and I said 21 y la Rambla.  He asked if I knew the farmacia in the first picture.  I said yes.  My wife used to go there to get injections (here, a pharmacist can give you a needle.. yes, it’s true).  Only the owner was trained to do that.  He said that was his father.  Small country isn’t it.  The Trouville (the 2nd one) is where my daughter buys her makeup and we fill most of our prescriptions there.  You get 25-30% discount on all prescription drugs in most pharmacies in Montevideo.  I am amazed at how many promotions the drug companies have here.  In my 18 months, I’ve run into two.  In one, you bring back 2 empty packages of medication and the distributor gives you one for free… That’s on top of the 25-30% discount at the drugstore.  In the 2nd case, you fill out a form, get a card and for the first purchase, you get 75% off.  After that, you get 50% off.  Never saw those deals back home.  Seems like prices are about 20% less here overall than back home for prescription drugs. 


Womens/ladies clothing stores 


Dining/Eateries.  The 2nd restaurant below is the famous ‘Tranquilo’ bar.  It sits directly in front of 3003 21 de Setiembre. That’s the building where Thorn is living now.  We have the floor below him.  The name of the bar is kind of funny because when everyone’s partying outside, it’s not ‘tranquilo’.  The green sign is from a little healthfood place just a few houses to the East of our house.  The restaurant you see for rent below with the Alquila sign is famous.  The owner was sent to jail for repeated and wreckless defiance of the nationwide smoking ban in public places.


Liquor and books.   Immediately below is a liquor store.  The next is a great used book store, cybercafe and movie rental place.  It smells like old books..  Wonderful smell if you like that musty odour of books long stored in someones basement. 


 Hair salons..  Uruguay has a huge service sector.  There are so many shops catering to women’s hair and beauty needs in our 6 blocks, it’s impossible to count them all. 


 Assorted.  Hardware store.  Our dog’s veterinary store.  The lady that sews everything around the corner.  Does a great job on shears and all kinds of drapes. 


Financial.  This is one of many foreign banks in Uruguay.  The majority of banks here are foreign owned.  Next is the Abitab.  That’s where you pay all your bills that you cant or dont want to put on autodebit. 


 Real estate, private course college and private school.  There are many private schools in this area.  Most have English (as in England) or French names.   These are small residential streeets and the traffic is amazing when the kids are coming or going. 


Posted in Real Estate | 4 Comments »