Friday, September 26, 2008

Uruguay cost of life updated 9/2008

Uruguayan moneyLong time no see, here I come again with an updated list of what's the cost of life in Uruguay these days, when the american dollar is cheaper and cheaper, and uruguayan peso stronger. I've recently moved,..again, still with my girlfriend, and making plans to get married this summer, so my budget is in crisis...again (it's been almost three years already since the cost of life post... im getting old). It turned out that the info about how much does it cost to live in Uruguay did seem to help, and it even got mentioned in a book, or so I've been told.

 Let's start by the beginning, right now the exchange rate is about 20 pesos for 1 american dollar, and rates are expressed per month. So without further ado, here is the table:

Item Peso UY USD Comment
Lunch at restaurant from 100 to 200 from 5 to 10 Places where you sit, and there's a waiter
Dinner for two in a fancy restaurant from around 500 to 1200 from around 25 to 60 appetizer, main course, dessert, good wine for both
Lunch at Mac Donald's 120 6 MD is not considered a cheap meal
Movie Theatre/Cinema from 50 to 105 from 2.5 to 5 105 weekend price
Theater around 300 around 15 expensive
20km taxi drive in Montevideo around 350 around 15 from carrasco to ciudad vieja
Urban bus ticket 13.5 0.675 government is making it cheaper
1 lt of gasoline 32 1.6 got a car now
Renting a one bedroom apartment in a fancy neighborhood from around 6000 to 8000 plus common expenses from around 300 to 400 neighborhood being pocitos or punta carretas
Renting a two bedroom apartment in a fancy neighborhood from around 7000 to 12000 plus common expenses from around 350 to 600 for some reason real state bubble hasnt burst here, again this is per month.
Electricity bill around 1000 around 50
Phone bill from around 1500 to 3000 from around 75 to 150 five person house, one teenager
Water bill around 300 around 15
cable tv bill around 600 around 30
internet broadband (256k download) from 200 to 600 from 10 to 30 at least some things are less expensive
Kilo of Potatoes around 20 around 1
Kilo of apples around 30 aroundaround 1.5
Kilo of bananas around 25 around 1.25
1 lettucearound 12 around 0.6
Kilo of fatless grinded meataround 138 around 6.9
Kilo of beef loinsaround 170 around 8.5
1 lt milk 18 0.9
1 loaf of bread 18 0.9

As you can appreciate everything is much more expensive than 3 years ago, specially if you rely on dollars (which I dont). The perspective of moving to Uruguay might not seem as cost effective as it used to be, at least not to americans.

I don't have the mean income info, but if i have to guess it, i'd say for 70% of the population it's below 1000 usd/month.
SmartUnits unit convertor, exchange currency calculator

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Sunday, March 23, 2008

Hillwalking in Uruguay, Pan de Azucar

There’s a hill in Maldonado, Uruguay, called Pan de Azucar (sugar loaf), that you can easily spot if you drive by, it’s the one with a cross on top. This place hosts a national park, suitable for picnics, a zoo with typical Uruguayan fauna reservation, and of course the hill. Not being a particular animal lover, I find the hill itself to be the main attraction, since it makes for a very enjoyable hillwalking tour.

I went last Friday, and it was like the fourth time I climbed it in my life. I did it a couple of times with my parents, as a kid, and about five years ago with my girlfriend, and it’s remarkable how it mirrors aging for this time was the first time I really felt the exercise.

The hill is 423 meters high, and is actually the third highest in Uruguay. It’s a two to three hour trip, to get to the top and return. It’s not difficult but it’s not trivial either, some parts of the trail are pretty steep to be done walking, and you have to help yourself with your hands to make sure you don’t slip.

On top of the hill there’s a concrete 35 meter high cross. It has a staircase and you can climb to the arms of the cross and enjoy a panoramic view of the coast of Maldonado, including piriapolis and punta del este.


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Thursday, December 27, 2007

Bajofondo electronic meets Tango, Uruguayan-Argentinean sounds

If you like Tango, you may like what groups like Bajo Fondo, and Gotan Project are doing by fusioning styles, and creating something new, with a strong taste of this region of the world. I'll let the music do the talking.

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Friday, December 21, 2007

Uruguay + One Laptop Per Child = CEIBAL

One Laptop Per Child Uruguay Ceibal One Laptop per Child or OLPC is a program aimed to provide one mobile personal computer to every child in the world (as the name implies). Ceibal is the code name of the implementation project in Uruguay. It's an acronym for "Basic informatic educative conectivity for on-line learning" in spanish.

This program started to run in Uruguay this year, as one of the firsts countries in the world to adopt it, if not the first. In 2007 the scope of the adoption was reduced to one city, Cardal, in the Florida department, as a pilot project. It is expected to go national by 2008 & 2009, meaning one laptop for every uruguayan kid.

Right now universities, and companies willing to collaborate are studying ways to contribute to this. In this month I've heard about volunteering posibilites from three different sources, the truth is, there are a lot of aspects required to push this thing that go far beyond the machine. For instance you need conectivity, technical support, training for teachers and parents. All costs that are not included in the 100$ per laptop original budget (which has increased to almost 200).

I am motivated to participate in some way in this project and give my two cents worth. I'm in the process of understanding the project and consuming as much information about it as I can (I've also came into contact with the OLPC laptops last week).

The Ceibal project for me is one of the boldest moves this government has made. I've come to learn that is much more controversial than I had thought of. Some sectors in the Uruguayan public education system are openly against the whole project, arguing that the goals of the project are unclear, that there's no evidence that one laptop will necessarily help six year old children learn more, or better, that the pilot project should last five years, not one, etc.

Some of the arguments are sound and valid, but others are just hiding fears related to loss of power from some sectors (teachers for instance), or concerns related to the true nature of the drivers behind this project. I've participated in discussions with people with a more radical point of view that say this project is not so much about reducing the digial gap in the third world, but more about creating One Consumer per Child, one consumer per uruguayan kid, for an imperialistic machinery which has nothing to do with our benefit. This being the more paranoic bell of the left wing.

For me the word in this case is... faith. This is a project I have faith in, a project I believe in. Providing the kids with access to information and knowledge, and the means to generate content is a good thing, of critical importance, in an information era society. There are the obvious risks like porn, theft, internet addiction, but I believe the outcome will be very positive, I think Uruguay has certain conditions that make it a good candidate for fully adopting the OLPC program.

You can find more information about the project in the following links:

By the way merry xmas everybody!!!!!...

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Sunday, September 30, 2007

Camping in Santa Teresa

I came across this video about Santa Teresa in youtube, which looks like it was created by brazilian surfers and I couldn´t help posting it. It pretty much resembles some of my own memories.If you are into surf & camping and happen to be in Uruguay in summer don´t miss it. ...

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Saturday, September 29, 2007

Abortion and Sexual Diversity

Yesterday night there was a demonstration in Montevideo to support sexual diversity and to help make abortion legal.

Many women die in Uruguay as well as in other countries because abortion is illegal and women can't get proper medical attention. There is big concern about this now, you can hear ads on the radio that say that 60% of Uruguay's population supports making abortion legal and that the government should hear their citizens. This demonstration was intended to make a statement in this sense. Many people were holding the orange hands that read "Voto a Favor" (I vote in favor of this).

Dj Paola Dalto was playing happy music to make the demonstration more fun. There was a bus with music and many transvestites dancing to the rhythm of it.

The other cause that these people were supporting was sexual diversity. Transvestites and gays want discrimination to stop and they wore costumes and had a lot of fun during the walk.

The demonstration started in Plaza Independencia and ended in Plaza Cagancha with a show by Dani Umpi and many speeches about the law and sexual discrimination. There were many many people there which is quite unusual for a conservative country like Uruguay. It looks like we are changing fortunately :)


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Sunday, August 26, 2007

Uruguay, Religion and Taxes

Uruguay, Iglesia Univeral del Reino de Dios, ex Trocadero

Right after the economic crisis of 2002 a Brazilian Pentecostal church, called Iglesia Universal del Reino de Dios, spread all over the country, like a virus. They launched a very aggressive mediatic campaign including one hour spots in Uruguay air channels on a daily basis. Their slogan is Pare de Sufrir (stop suffering).

They are highly criticized for their methods, even among other Christian groups, since they grant special powers to physical objects, and they sell them. For example they launch campaigns like: "Buy the blessed candle" (and you will have God's blessing) or "Touch the mantle of discharge", of course only after you "donate" a reasonable fee.

They operate as a multinational corporation, they are huge in Brazil, and they have presence all over South American countries, including Argentina, Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, and of course Brazil.

In Uruguay they usually took for temples what used to be cinemas. Probably the most popular case, is what used to be "El Cine Trocadero", a beautiful building in the middle of 18 de Julio, where now stands a branch of this church. This was yet another sad consequence of the economic crisis of 2002, another change in the urban landscape, where we traded cinemas & culture, for sects. It's the perfect business since religious activities are exempt of certain taxes in this country.

Under the new law, started in July 2007, the new IRPF tax, where do religious group's activities stand? Nobody was certain, until the first days of this month when all the religious groups received with surprise an increased bill (now they have to pay aportes patronales).

Catholic, Protestant, and Hebrew religious groups are planning to sue the government. They claim to be exempt and this taxing could be called unconstitutional, depending on the interpretation of the new law.

Now, I wonder, if I were the government, how could I do to tax sects like the Iglesia Universal del Reino de Dios which are clearly profit based and leave other true non profit organizations alone?


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