Tuesday, August 23, 2011
Cost of living in Montevideo
Is it really economical for a retired expat to live in Montevideo? I have discovered a fascinating website that makes it easy to compare basic costs of everyday living in a number of places around the globe. It's called Expatistan and once you've tried it you'll be hooked on international comparative studies.
I learned the following facts in one afternoon of research.
The cost of living in Oslo is 113% higher than in Montevideo.
London is 82% higher than Montevideo.
Singapore is 77% higher than Montevideo.
Paris is 65% higher than Montevideo.
Amsterdam is 62% higher than Montevideo.
Hong Kong is 49% higher than Montevideo.
Rome is 37% higher than Montevideo.
The cost of living in Toronto is 49% higher than in Montevideo.
Vancouver is 41% higher than Montevideo.
Halifax is 34% higher than Montevideo.
Edmonton is 30% higher than Montevideo.
Saskatoon is 20% higher than Montevideo.
Montreal is 19% higher than Montevideo.
The cost of living in Charlotte, N.C. and Johannesburg, South Africa are about the same as the cost of living in Montevideo.
Prague is 10% less than Montevideo.
Budapest is 13% less than Montevideo.
Warsaw is 22% less than Montevideo.
Mendoza is 26% less than Montevideo.
Buenos Aire is 27% less than Montevideo.
Lima is 29% less than Montevideo.
Mexico City is 30% less than Montevideo.
Quito is 44% less than Montevideo.
The website compares average prices for food, housing, clothes, transportation, personal care, and entertainment. Visitors to Expatistan can participate and improve the accuracy of statistics by entering current local prices for items such as a tube of toothpaste, a Big Mac, 2 lbs.of potatoes, a litre of gas, movie tickets, a public transit pass, a pair of dress shoes, or four rolls of toilet paper.
From my own experience, I would say that living in Montevideo has become more costly for expats in the past year due to the decline in the value of the U.S. dollar coupled with high inflation (8.5%). When we do our regular grocery shopping at Disco supermarket, we note that prices are sneaking upward from week to week on basic items such as coffee, jam, cereal, rice, bread and butter. Our life in Uruguay is definitely simpler and more spartan than in North America - we do not own a car, a dishwasher, a television, a washer or dryer. Our house does not have the luxury of central heating, which makes the winter months uncomfortable. Utilities are expensive in Montevideo, so I avoid using the electric oven. Baking and roasting have become vague memories from my Canadian culinary past, as it is much less costly to buy pastries from the panaderia and a ready-to-serve slice of beef from the deli counter. Slow food is out of the question.
On the positive side, public transit in Montevideo is reliable and inexpensive. Tickets to concerts, ballet, opera and theatre are affordable and offer a full range of world-class performers. This city may not be a cheap place to live, but it is never boring.
When former left-wing militant Jose (Pepe) Mujica was elected President in 2009, his acceptance speech included the following passage.
"There is no fixed list of things that make us happy. Some think the ideal world is full of shopping centres. I've nothing against that vision, but I simply say that it isn't the only one. I say we can imagine a country where people repair things instead of throwing them away, where they choose a small car instead of a large one, where they put on a sweater instead of turning up the heat."
Clearly, we are living in Mujica's imagined republic.