Nine months ago, I became an American Expat to Montevideo, Uruguay, and, as spur-of-the-moment as that choice might have been at the time, it’s becoming more and more clear that it was the right one for me. Many retirees soon discover that the important, bottom line choice of which country to retire in, is a very confusing one. Even when a couple has two heads to put together on the subject.
For the past four decades, International Living Magazine has compiled an excellent list of suggested, welcoming countries, where life is good and far less expensive than it has become in The States. Because each recommended possibility is unique and all are very attractive and welcoming, we Gringos frequently stand bewildered before that foreign smorgasbord, wondering which country will be best for us?
Uruguay was much farther from home than the Central or upper South American countries on the list; and it was admitted to be among the more expensive. However, I had visited Colonnia during a trip to Buenos Aires and was very happily impressed. Much more so, than with the vaunted capital of Argentina! Perhaps for that reason alone, I bought my one-way air ticket to Montevideo, the capital of Uruguay. Trust in my own instincts then took over!
Everything that happened to me during my five months in that little-known country, tucked deep down the Atlantic Coastline, between Brazil and Argentina, was simply a delight! I made many new friends among my fellow expats, as well as some family-like relationships with locals. Though I tried a few months of renting my own apartment, I was soon back at
Kurt and Txepi’s beautiful, new hostel, The Hanging Gardens of Babylonia, on the walking boulevard in the Old City and within sight of the waterfront pedestrian Rambla. A stored suitcase now awaits my return to that hostel at the end of this November, so comfortable was I in my tiny private room there
This time around, though, I hope to find a place to rent in upscale Pocitos, where green trees meet across the avenues and the beach is within easy walking distance. Perhaps I can afford an apartment or will find someone to share rent with because this is the section where most of the expat social life takes place. Sunday lunches at Club Banco Republica and weeknight meetups at several great restaurants….which I missed last time due to the necessary evening commute. Of course, my special section of Old Town has a lot of favorite restaurants, too…. El Pallenoul / The Hitching Post, and other cute, outdoor cafes with bright red or yellow umbrellas and strumming musicians.
I wouldn’t have left in April except that the weather turns chilly in a country this low on the southern hemisphere. Many of us snowbirds flew the coop, vowing to reunite when warmth returns in December. I knew that I would miss these New Best Friends, but I wasn’t prepared for just how much. After all, we hadn’t known each other all that long! But, perhaps, being of an international mindset, with the demonstrated will to transplant, put us in a more connected category than we had ever shared with our Stateside neighbors.
All I know is that I can’t wait to hug them hello again! They are now an important part of my family and not forgotten, even though we might not be in touch throughout this long off-season. There’s another reason I had to leave, which will continue to be the case unless I apply for Resident Status, the first step towards attaining a second passport. Without extension paperwork, I may stay in Uruguay for six months a year and then must be out of the country for another six months. That’s the way I’m handling it this time. An extension would be granted if I wish to initiate that Immigration process. When back in the U.S., I plan to obtain the necessary Apostille stamps on my documents in case I wish to do just that. Otherwise, it’s the life of a Snowbird for me.
The Sacred Valley of Peru and now, Cuenca, Ecuador, have been wonderful and are also filled with lovely friends from many countries. In three weeks, I fly for a month to test expat life in Central America, and then will spend a few months with my family in Denver, Colorado for a long-looked-forward-to visit.
But, all the while, this homeless, flittering, ocean-crossing bird awaits her now-annual migration back to Montevideo….a city which has proven that it doesn’t disappoint.
How’s that for an expat decision gone right?