FAQ

What is the average size/cost of land near you in Uruguay?

The size is variable — people can buy houses with big lots, or if you’re buying land it is usually at the smallest 1 hectare. The cost is also variable. A house with some property can be around $55,000 USD. Land runs around $15k USD per hectare or so.

 

If I want to buy land or a property near to you, where should I look? 

For land without any houses, look here under Departmento Colonia (under Realizar Busqueda in the top left corner), and find properties that list Nueva Helvecia, Rosario, or Colonia Valdense:

http://www.camposonline.com.uy/ventas/buscamos.php

For houses and land (and a bunch of other things) check out Mercado Libre. It is basically the UY version of Craiglist in America. Click inmeubles on the left side. Then pick Colonia and either look for todas las ciudades or Colonia Valdense/ Valdense, Nueva Helvecia, or Rosario. This site is also useful  to see the cost of things in UY like cars, scooters, etc:

http://www.mercadolibre.com.uy/

Another big seller of land near us is this real estate agent. Search the categories listed above:

http://www.gardiolehijos.com.uy/urbanas.php

Finally, our good friend and the agent that sold us our property is Fernando at Palatina Inmuebles. He sells houses and land in the area. He is the nicest guy, very quick to respond to emails, but only speaks Spanish.  If you do get in touch with him, tell him Ashley and Patrick sent you to him:

http://palatina.com.uy

Check out these recent finds that would be near to us and ideal for starting your own homestead:

http://www.camposonline.com.uy/ventas/ficha.php?ft=3&id=1643

http://www.camposonline.com.uy/ventas/ficha.php?ft=13&id=1832

http://inmueble.mercadolibre.com.uy/MLU-432677209-espectacular-chacra-6-ha-casa-45-m2-gran-oportunidad-_JM


 

What is the legal process of moving to Uruguay like?

The legal process of moving to UY is relatively easy, which is why we picked it. There are a couple of hoops to jump through – you need to get a police report from your home country, and you need to prove you’ll have some set income once you get there. But overall easy and inexpensive. Please see the page Immigration Process to Uruguay for more information.


 

What kind of crops grow best in Uruguay?

We aren’t growing any food yet, we are moving there in December 2016. We have planted an orchard with a bunch of different fruit trees, but we don’t know if they survived. We plan to basically do a homestead with veggies, small livestock, etc. The climate is good for most crops except really tropical ones. It can handle citrus, but not sugar cane, for example.


 

How is global sea level rise going to effect your property?

This was something I looked into when buying the property. I used this map:
and found that sea level would have to rise about 20 meters to reach our property.

Do you plan to make money while you’re there? How much money do you think someone needs to be able to get started there?

We actually have worked quite a while to save up some of that paper money to be able to move. One would need at least a few tens of thousands of USD saved to be able to construct a home and pay for some costs of living while we get to be more self-sufficient. We will have just a few ongoing bills including property taxes and electricity (unless we save enough money to buy solar and go completely off grid).

We are also trying to find location independent/online jobs. I found one job teaching sociology online, and this will help us with that income requirement, which only lasts for the first couple of years. I don’t think we will be able to make much money from the land, as UY food prices are quite low, but Patrick plans to sell orange juice at the beach for fun and for some extra income. You may also find some teaching English in town, but again UY wages are quite low, so don’t expect to make much with this. We are working on the assumption that paper money matters until it doesn’t. That’s why we want to be basically self-sufficient in providing our own food, energy, water in the case that money ceases to matter and/or loses value.


 

What do you envision your community looking like?

We have been open to sharing the land and doing co-housing on the property, and even explored the option with a group of young adults looking to settle in Uruguay. After having explored the option in more detail, we decided that the legalities of all living on the same property were too much for us to want to pursue.
Some of the problems we encountered include: trying to work out a legal structure where everyone would have a stake in the property, but no one person or group of people would have more power than anyone else. We also didn’t want to work out the legal framework for what would happen if one person/group became a problem for the community. Or, if someone bought into the land and decided to leave but then sold their property to someone that wasn’t a good fit for the community. On top of all of this, there is also working out the framework for who does what work/who contributes financially and how much, etc. We also have 2 small children, and were cautious about entering into a community with people we didn’t yet know very well. We thought it was too risky to open up our lives to that extent with people that were, at this point, basically unknown to us.
So, in the meantime, we decided a good solution was to have people buy their own land and settle nearby to us. That solves many of the legal and social problems listed above, but we could still share resources, education, and come together in community. But if people have their own property then we are not in any way in charge of their lives and livelihoods and they are not in charge of ours. I know this sounds very individualistic, but we’ve read many stories of communities that imagine a utopia but then get into very messy legal and social battles because we still live in a world with a legal framework we must adhere to. We felt that this was the best course of action in the beginning, but are open to doing some co-housing on our land with the right people and if we could work out a solution to the problems above.

We are pretty open to a range of ideas of why we are coming to this lifestyle as well as how exactly we live our lives. We envision a community in which we share some communal spaces/resources, but have our own separate properties and independence to do things slightly differently from one another so as to bypass the need to agree on absolutely everything. In an ideal world, we would love a cooperative school as well.


 

Have you done an analysis on the land and water? Is there anyone nearby doing industrial agriculture?

Every piece of land in Uruguay is surveyed for agricultural productivity using something called the Coneat Indice. Our Coneat for our land was 218, the highest we saw for any piece of land we looked at, and this is in a country with already really high ag productivity. We also talked to the neighbor and asked how the soil was for growing. He said you could drop a nail in the ground and sprout a nail tree! It was a joke but told us the soil is of very high quality. We also have a well and the water is clear and tastes clean. We haven’t done a scientific analysis of either soil or water yet, but plan to, so we are not sure about toxins. We do know a little bit about soil remediation and water purification if there are toxins, however.

Industrial ag nearby was a major concern of ours as well. We looked at another property when we bought this land that was planted industrially, and we decided to buy our land instead because most recently it had been left fallow for cow grazing. In Uruguay cow grazing, land is almost completely left alone without any chemicals. However, we have met our neighbor that owns the land on 2 sides of our property and he does use conventional methods including monstanto seeds, some chemicals including pesticides and fertilizers. This of course is not ideal, but we also realize that nearly everywhere in the world with good ag productivity will have conventional production nearby. We are not naive in thinking we could outrun Monstanto. I do think that we could discuss chemical use with the neighbor, and I also think we can plan on our land strategically to mitigate any major contamination. We haven’t seen anyone in UY use crop dusters, so we think/hope that chemical use is relatively localized, even though I know ecosystems are connected.


 

What about internet?

We know we can get internet access. It remains to be seen what type and how much it would cost to get a hard line connection installed. We plan to maintain online employment so internet is vital and we absolutely will have it, we just don’t know the cost or quality yet. Patrick says the current rate is likely to be between $25 and $60 USD per month. Uruguay plans to make the entire country fiber optic and we know that they are currently installing fiber optic along rte 52, the national highway that runs by our property, but it remains to be seen how much it will cost to get it to the middle of our property.


 

What kind of skills do you have? What kind of skills are you looking for people to bring?

Here’s what Patrick knows: basic organic gardening, some carpentry and welding, Spanish (expert), certain passive solar heating set ups, basic composting, basic fruit tree horticulture, basic masonry, basic plumbing, beer and wine making, canning, sewing and mending. Here’s what Ashley knows beyond the above: composting toilets, greywater plumbing systems, fruit tree and vine pruning and maintenance, natural childbirth practices, goat herding, basic chicken care and coop building, what else? sociology and a lot about the history of civilization.

We’d love to have people with expertise in any of the above as well as: medicine (any kind), midwifery, mechanics, small scale engineers, electrician, expert organic farmer, chemist, anyone with homesteading skills, someone who has worked with small livestock, likely more that we’re not thinking of.


 

The entry on ic.org was somewhat ambiguous on what legal status cohabitants would have on the land. It’s okay if that’s not decided, but do you have plans in which direction this will go?

We’ve been talking about this more seriously and think we need to do a lot more research into UY law and what our legal options would be to give others legal status in the country. We want people who come to have legal protection and rights of a permanent resident, but don’t know enough about how to make that happen if we only lease them a spot on the land. Also, there are certain benefits granted to rural landowners that are relinquished if the parcel of land they own is too small. So, before we give up any legal control of part of our land, we would have to make sure that the benefits for everyone outweigh the drawbacks. To be brief, we have to wait and see. Alternatively, our current plan is to encourage people to buy their own nearby parcel of land and still co-operatively farm and live within a community. If you all are interested in this second option while we learn more about UY legal code, please see the resources above for looking for property.


 

Who are you people?

Ashley, B.8-26-1985 in Chicago. Went to a public grade school as a minority white person, lived in a neighborhood of cops and firemen. My dad is a Chicago firefighter. Went to high school at an all girls catholic school. Got a full scholarship to University of Chicago 2003-2007, and I studied abroad in Rome in 2005. I studied film there. From 2007-2010 I traveled to about 30 countries with my then-boyfriend. We just saved money from babysitting and then saw the world, also was a long-haul truck driver during this period, and lived near Yosemite National Park for a while. We worked on several organic farms and began to think about other lifestyles. Met Patrick in 2010, started grad school at Washington State University in 2011, and I’m still in the program. We bought the land in UY in 2012, on our first visit there. Since then it’s been our sole goal to save money vigorously to build and a house and get ourselves set up with a homestead. In the meantime I’m getting my PhD, had our baby Isabel in 2013, and had baby number 2, Vivian, in July 2016! Our move date is planned for December 2016. My interests include photography, gardening, being in nature, eating and cooking, swimming, long conversations, parenting in general but especially sleeping in the same bed as my daughter is something special, and dancing (which I don’t do enough of).

 

Patrick, B. 2-14-1985 in Chicago at home. Dad is a lawyer, mom is now a teacher but mostly been a stay at home mom most of her life. Patrick went to a similar public grade school as me, then went onto a fancy prep school for high school, where he was surrounded by diversity and liberal arts ideas. Then he went to University of Illinois from 2003-2007, where he studied abroad in Chile in 2005. He is a fluent Spanish speaker from his studies. He got his BA in Teaching of Spanish and was a high school spanish teacher in Chicago from 2007-2011. He came with me to WSU from 2012-2015 where he got his MA in Spanish. We came back to Chicago and he taught high school Spanish from 2015- 2016. His interests include playing guitar and singing, playing piano, soccer, basketball, badminton, making and watching movies, collage art, making beer, being outside, welding, doing impressions, and being around our daughter Isa.


How can you stay in Uruguay for longer than 90 days without becoming a permanent resident? (answer from facebook Uruguay Expats group)

At migraciones, in calle missiones (in Montevideo). They charge you something like 700 pesos. The extension is called a prórroga and be sure you do it BEFORE the 90 days is up, not after. What I understand is that you can only do it once. So, let’s say you get the extension at 88 or 89 days. It’s good for 90 more days. At that point, you would need to leave the country or have filed for residency.
There are a lot of different opinions about whether you can leave and come back on the same day or if it has to be at least until the next day. I haven’t tried the same-day thing.
You can also just not do anything and pay the fee when you do leave Uruguay – not sure how much it is, though most people say it’s “not much.” I don’t know what that means or if it’s changed (very likely)…

When you go into the Migraciones office, you want to go to the left side. There’s a column by some waiting chairs with a ticket machine on it – take a number and wait for the screen to show when they’re ready for you. If you can get there early, it will take less time, but even if there are a lot of people waiting, it moves pretty fast. The first time I waited only 5 minutes, the second time (during the summer) I waited an hour.

You’ll need to know the address and phone number of where you’re living – that’s one of the questions they’ll ask.

After you talk to the person (clerk?) they take your passport and the paperwork they’ve just created and that all goes to the cashier… you’ll need to wait somewhere around the central area of the office (it’s a big room) until the woman at the caja calls your name. You pay her and she gives you your passport and the prórroga which is about half a sheet of paper or a little smaller – it’s got a seal on it and you need to keep that with your passport to show when you leave the country (even though they have all this information in the computer system, it’s smoother and easier to give both at the same time).

(from another user): You can do it at any immigration office. I used to use the one in Colonia. You can apply for one extension but after that, you’ll need to leave the ROU and return. I used to find that a day trip to Bs As or a drive across the bridge to Gualeguaychu and back did the business.

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