Guest Post by Scott Lilly
So you’ve decided to move to Uruguay. You have a residency helper, your paperwork is all ready to go, and you’ve put your house up for sale or given notice that you’re moving out of your apartment.
Now, as you look around your home, you’re wondering what to take with you, and what to leave.
In general, clothes available in Uruguay are not very sturdy. You can get the well known name brands, but they are expensive. I’d especially recommend you bring good shoes with you. The pair I bought in Uruguay had a hole in the sole within a month or two.
What you shouldn’t bring are leather items, like jackets. As a big cattle country, leather products are easily available at reasonable prices in Uruguay. If you want more fashionable clothes, you can always take an inexpensive ride to Buenos Aires on the Buquebus ferry, and get the latest styles at good prices.
For the women, pick up a little bit extra of your favorite makeup. It might take you a while to find something comparable.
Computer and electronics
Electronics are very expensive in Uruguay. You have the choice of either getting low-quality items, or paying very high prices for high-quality electronics. You’ll really notice the 60% import duty when you price computers and cell phones.
If you’re bringing your computer, get everything you think you’ll ever need for it and bring all of that with you. Before you leave for Uruguay, upgrade your memory, get an external hard drive (or two) for backups, and pick up a few USB thumb drives. If you think you might want an ebook reader, like a Kindle or Nook, get it now.
While you’re at it, get a good unlocked quad-band cell phone. You’re supposed to declare it with Customs when you bring it in. If you forget to do that, you may have trouble getting a SIM card with Antel, the government-run phone service. However, you can get service from Claro or Movistar (the competing cell phone services in Uruguay) without any problems.
Pick up the latest digital camera and a few extra memory cards before you leave. If you plan on driving, you might want to get a good GPS unit too.
Food and kitchen
The food in Uruguay is very good, but there isn’t much variety. Many of the items you’re used to from home, just aren’t available, or are very difficult to find.
Some things that many expats in Uruguay mention missing are; Peanut butter, Hot sauce, Asian spices and sauces, and cranberries (dried, so you can get them through Customs).
If you’re a home chef, bring your own pots and pans. Most of what you find in Uruguay is thin and cheap. Bring your good knives and other kitchen tools with you too.
Vitamins are almost treated like medicine in Uruguay. If you run out and ask a friend from back home to mail you vitamins or other supplements, your package may be stopped by Customs and you might be told that you need a prescription to import them.
If you’re applying for permanent residency, you can bring in a container of household items and not pay any duty for it.
Appliances need to be 220 volts, and 50 hz. If you try to use a transformer with 120V/60hz equipment, it will probably wear out faster than normal. You also need to worry about the different plugs. There are four “standard” types of outlets in Uruguay, and who knows what combination you’ll have in your home in Uruguay.
For those who love high thread count sheets, along with down comforters and pillows, bring a couple sets with you.
Bring a few of the latest hot novels with you. Even if you have a Kindle, it’s nice to have a paperback book to take with you to the beach. You’ll also be able to find a home for it with other expats looking for something to read in English.
If you forget anything, don’t worry. You’ll be able to find something in Uruguay that will work, at least temporarily. Buenos Aires is right next door, in case you need to do more serious shopping.
Also, once you get to Uruguay, you’ll probably meet other expats and start to develop an informal network of people who will bring something back from their trips home.
When Scott Lilly arrived in Uruguay, he had to visit the ATM 214 times (no, that’s not a typo) because he didn’t plan ahead properly. He wants to help you avoid the mistakes he made!