sábado, 7 de noviembre de 2009

Uruguay Housing

While getting real data on the economy and home prices is difficult in many parts of the world, especially if you demand accuracy in your numbers, Uruguay can be especially challenging.

Recently, I read a really interesting story from el pais, the country's paper about real estate prices, credit creation, and real estate getting potentially overheated.

Analysts are openly speculating about the existence of a nascent Uruguay housing bubble growing out of the last 7+ years of economic expansion on the back of the argentine and uruguayan financial crisis of 2002.

Uruguay real estate has been screaming higher in regions such as punta del este, the vacation hot spot along Uruguay's coast in Maldonado. A lot of the recent price advances have come about from foreign money pouring into Uruguay in search of a safe haven. As such, the slowdown in credit creation (that which was being analyzed by el pais) hasn't had any affect on property prices yet -- although it has slowed down transactions slightly.

Whether or not the slowdown in transactions will lead to a decline in prices will depend in large part on political considerations in neighboring Argentina -- where cash is extracted and 'hidden' in Uruguay. For that reason, the decline in credit creation hasn't brought prices back down to earth yet.

miércoles, 5 de septiembre de 2007

Taxi Drivers in Uruguay

I'm goin to be making a series of posts that I intend to later clean up and put on a separate site for newbies to Montevideo. Most of these things will seem like common sense I'm sure, but I'm going to write about them anyways to give newbies a sense of confidence when arriving in Montevideo. Arriving anywhere new can be intimidating, especially if you don't speak the language all that well.

Taking Taxis in Montevideo is one thing I can write pretty intelligently about.

When I arrived in Uruguay, I made up my mind not to worry about buying a car. I would take public transportation, walk, or take taxis around.

Well, although I still walk a little, I seldom take the buses around town. This is partially due to my girlfriend being very susceptible to having severe motion sickness. We believe she may have meniere's disease but we haven't had a licensed physician verify that for us yet.

If you happen to be near a major arterial it's pretty easy to flag one down. They have small signs in their front windshields that say "libre" (free/available) that makes it easier to see during nightime hours. During the day, you are forced to wander out on the curb and wave at passing taxis as the driver snickers slightly at you because he already has a fare in his back seat.

A better option, and one that I'm not aware of in the US) is to pick up any LAND LINE and dial 141.

This will immediately connect you with an automated/computerized voice that will guide you through the process of calling a taxi to your location. Based on the assumption that your Spanish is worse than mine, I will give you a rough approximation of what you should hear/expect with my rough translation.

After several rings, a recorded voice should pick up:

"Bienvenidos a Ciento Cuarenta y Cuatro El Servicio Radio Taxi "
Welcome to 141 Radio Taxi Service
"Segun Nuestros datos, Usted se encuentra en 123 Blvd Artigas"
According to our data, you are located (found) in 123 Blvd Artigas (a fictional address for the purposes of this example. In the real example, they will either have your land line mapped or someone will get on the phone and ask where you are)
"Si desea un movil en este direccion ahora en efectivo marque uno, si el contrario marque dos"
If you would like a cab at this address right now, press one. If something to the contrary, press two.
"Estamos buscando el movil mas cercano a su ubicacion...."
"....le confirmaremos en breves instantes, aguarde en linea, por favor"

we are looking for the mobil (cab) closest to your dwelling (location).....we will confirm in a brief minute....hang on the line please.

Once they've radio'ed out to thei fleet and gotten someone to come pick you up, the disembodied female Spanish voice will come back on the line and announce,

"El movil 121 pasara por usted in tres minutos con zero fichas"

The cab number 121 (or whatever number is coming) will pass (be there to pick you up) in three minutes (or whatever estimate he gives.....almost always 3 mintues in the city) with no (extra) charges.

If you live way out of the way, there could be some fichas, and on a very rainy day or an out of the way neighborhood, you could hear 6 minutes or more.

When the cab arrives, if you're coming from the northern hemisphere (especially the west) you'll notice that the cabs are comparitively small. A while back, due to some violence being perpetrated on cab drivers, they placed bullet proof plastic between drivers and riders. Actually, "my voice proof" is a more apt description. I mumble as it is, and coupled with my accent that means I usually have to repeat everything I say at least twice. Don't worry about it.

When you get in the cab, get in, great him as best as your Spanish can, and give him the address you are going to. If you have to, get it written down.

Instead of a number/street combo, he will expect that you give him a corner usually -- meaning he will expect you to say wall and broad street, or more likely something like, "golfarini y tomas basanez". You can further clarify by giving the neighborhood if you happen to know it, though it isn't frequently necessary.

Depending on the place you are going, he might ask how you'd like to go from one place to the other.....Some routes are cheaper (less distance). Some are probably smoother or more scenic.

All cabs (legit ones) will run the meter, unless you've agreed upond some price for the trip. Be aware that trips outside of the city limits (like to/from the airport) and to Geant (a big walmart like store) will have extra charges that are disporportionate to the extra travel incurred. Once you arrive he will go to a chart that is hanging in every cab and find the number on the meter and show that 40 "fichas" equals 84 pesos (or whatever).

The cab drivers will use different charts (clearly marked) depending on whether it is weekday, night time or a weekend (Sunday only, I believe)

Most rides will be well under 10 bucks (at 24 pesos/dollar) and indeed lots will be under 100 pesos (4 ish dollars).

He will usually ask for the money by pushing open a small drawer on the side of the bullet proofing facing you. Drop the money in there and wait for your change, or get out and hand it through his window (obviously).

A 10 percent tip or less is probably plenty. At times they might offer, or you, to do some rounding to make the processing of change easier. I've tipped a lot more and it doesn't always win you any favor with the cabbie....Almost like he feels insulted or something. Better to just leave them to their customs in this regard.