So as to become more familiar with possible places to live, Edy Kizaki and her family have stayed in Pocitos, Buceo and Punta Gorda. Edy also teaches in the Old City, Pocitos, and Carrasco and so has become familiar with those neighborhoods too. Others frequented by expats are Punta Carretas (more upscale) and Centro.
Living in Montevideo – Exploring 3 Neighborhoods by Edy Kizaki
One of my biggest pleasures this first year living here in Montevideo has been riding the bus, because I don’t have to worry about driving and while sitting next to the window I’m always watching as the streets and shops pass by. The buses are slow and local so I can let the sights flow past and each little shop is unique but also there are types of shops like the butcher shop (carnicería), flower shop (tienda de flores), fruit and vegetable shop (tienda de fruta y verdura), furniture stores (muebles), restaurants (restaurantes), coffee houses (cafes), bakery (panadería), etc.
Because condominium buildings, single-family homes and commercial shops are all mixed together along the streets every neighborhood is walkable and has its own character. Living directly along a main street will be noisy due to traffic, but the plentiful trees seem to cushion the streets and provide a peaceful buffer, to a certain extent. Note that across from a park will occasionally be quite noisy since events tend to go late into the night. I prefer a side street when choosing a living place, but it may not be the first consideration.
The first three months that I lived in Montevideo (I arrived here before my family followed me down, because I got a job and I had a time deadline to be here by the middle of April) what I decided to do since I was on my own with our family dog was to live in three different short-term AirBnB rentals which I did. (Actually regarding AirBnB I had some negative as well as positive experiences with it, which will have to be another blog. There seems to be a tendency for the landlord to make claims after you move out, such as something is missing when it isn’t. So use caution. Your main tool is the reviews, which you can only do for a few days after the end of your stay, so you have to be on top of it.)
However living in the three different neighborhoods I believe was a wise move. It got me familiar with neighborhood styles in the city, as well as three unique places to live, so that I got a better sense of the type of environments available here. The neighborhood (barrio) I lived in first is called Buceo and it’s just to the east of Montevideo Shopping which is at the east end of Pocitos neighborhood. Buceo is the next neighborhood over, still on the Rambla and it’s very centrally located and a great neighborhood. It has a small feria which is a street market. I’ve forgotten the day now but I think it was on Saturday mornings and it’s just next to the wall of the British Cemetary off Rivera. There is also the Night Market.
Next, I rented a room in the house of a lady who is Uruguayan. She puts rooms on AirBnB. She’s a psychologist here in Montevideo, a lovely lady with fairly limited English but still good. This was more a regular family house away from the center of the town, in Punta Gorda. She had a pool in the backyard, but because it was winter I didn’t utilize that. It had a green little backyard which the dog appreciated. She also has a huge orange tom cat called Willy Wonka. Punta Gorda was the name of the neighborhood and it’s farther out along Rivera toward Carrasco, so you’ll be taking a bus about 20 minutes more to get downtown. It does still have a small shopping area with a wine shop, a pharmacy, a supermarket, a butcher, a pasta shop, and a bakery, and it has its own feria once a week. However, it’s also quite near Portones shopping mall on Avineda Italia in Carrasco which is very very large and has almost anything you can imagine.
Third, I lived on Avenida Brasil, down a couple blocks from the Rambla and that was a wonderful place to live. Steve and Daniel arrived in Montevideo from the states just after I moved there. We were lucky enough to have a building with a kind of a small gym, pool and spa (which was not mentioned in the blurb about the place) and it had 24 hour concierge so we got familiar with how doormen operate here, which was useful. That neighborhood has excellent shopping, a great many high quality shops and services. Tienda Inglesa is there, a small one, and (it means English shop but basically it’s a supermarket which has a lot of imported foods as well as all the staples. There’s a big one in Montevideo Shopping, and there are large ones elsewhere, one is in Carassco at Portones Shopping) the small one which is over in Avanida Brasil is a good one for daily needs, although without the huge inventory of the larger ones. Some of my Uruguayan friends say that they only trust the fish from Tienda Inglesa or the feria but not most supermarkets.
There’s also one of the nicest cake shops I’ve experienced on Avanida Brasil, and there really are great cake shops here in Montevideo. There are two fantastic butchers, there are several antique shops, there’s a small auction house, there’s a Pilates studio, banks, bike shops, toy shops, stationary shops, casual restaurants and sports bars, and many many many many many other businesses which make it a fantastic neighborhood to live in, and very very walkable.
After those three temporary rentals we did arrange to get a long-term rental apartment. That in and of itself is a subject that I should address because there are certain things you have to know before you attempt to do so, but that will be in a future blog.
In terms of discussing neighborhoods I’ll just say that the fourth location was in Pocitos again, but this time near the intersection of Rivera and Julio Cesar and that it is a one year rental with two bedrooms and two baths on the fifth floor of a new building. It has a relatively large terrace and quite small rooms but still decent, and we’ve been enjoying the location very much. It’s useful to be near so much (being right off Rivera we have access to lots of buses which go direct to all the places we want to go, whereas Avenida Brasil was off the main route so you have to transfer) Now we go shopping very close to home, one to two blocks in either direction leads us to butcher shops, outside vegetable stands, clothing shops, stationary shops, etc. etc., and then Tienda Inglisa is only about four blocks away in Montevideo shopping.
School Note: if you’re planning on sending kids to school, a lot of the major bilingual schools and the British Schools, the Uruguay American School, The New Zealand School, Woodlands School, The Christian Brothers, and the Waldorf School are all in Carrasco, so many families locate there. The German School and the Lycee Francais, Jean Pieget School, are around town. We’ll be trying to
If you are planning to get residency for your children, they are required to be in school and homeschooling them is not accepted for this requirement. Public schools seem to be half day, until noon. More on this later.
(Note: please let me know if you have other school recommendations or experience, we can add it for the resource value.)