Selling an Olive Grove in Uruguay

Photo above from June 6, 2015 looks like it was retouched. I am amazed at the number of colors in the sunsets reflected in the sea and clouds. Before getting to Uruguay, if I saw a painting that looked like most of these real-life scenes here in, I would have said “fake” or “garish” in the past. I have seen many such beautiful scenes here since.
Our olive grove is name Gaudium which is Latin for Joy.

Comfortable, move-in-ready house with income opportunity

Unique, premium olive oil IRR major equipment included. No Glyphosate around trees.

Click on the photos below to enlarge. These are the sections: grove, house, galpon & casita…

As of June 2020: Uruguay reduces the real estate investment to gain “tax residency” with just a minimum of 60 days stay in the country each year. Having beat the virus impact with a miniscule toll* compared to most other countries (1/40th the world average, 1/10th of the USA’s), the country is eager to welcome new residents soon. The minimum for residency is based on a local index, UI, or Unidad Indexada which is currently approximately 378,000 US Dollars. Click here for the PDF of the new residency plan date 11JUN2020 effective 01JUL2020. (There is a separate option for starting a business and providing 15 jobs instead which requires a higher investment than the real estate only option.) Click for English translation new real estate for uy. 

Here’s a link to an article that explains the new 10-year tax holiday (and then lower rate after that). This is led to a large increase in inquiries to the government ministries and real estate agencies even before flights were restarted. According to Gateway To South America, Uruguay has “extended the period for tax exemptions on revenue obtained abroad from five to ten years.  …it is no longer mandatory for foreigners to live at least half the year in the country in order to be able to claim tax residence – now only two months are required.”

Move-in ready means all furnishings can be included like appliances, furniture, premium wood stove, tools, tractor and car. Usually in Uruguay, one buys a shell without even light fixtures. And often there’s much expense (as we found out) and years of projects to get everything working, comfortable and inexpensive on a month-to-month basis. Or if you don’t need our car or farm equipment, you can buy just the real estate (which includes the contents, appliances, wood stove etc. in the house).

Gaudium (Latin for Joy) is the name of our olive grove.

Nearing 10 years of living outside the USA, we have decided to return. For the last 6 years, we have planted and lived on an Olive Grove in Uruguay. We have enjoyed it very much, but I must return because of my remote business. One plants, another harvests.

Beyond the cost of all this set-up is the time it took to get to this point. Renovating a house in Uruguay is not a quick process. Likewise, clearing the land (a huge and expensive project even with multiple backhoes), planting olive trees many that may live hundreds of years. And the years we have taken to research all of this.

We are selling all the vehicles, implements, equipment, appliances, great soapstone wood stove. furniture and kitchen utensils. One could move right in. Nearly everything is in good repair (like our rejas were just redone and should last many years) but there will be a few things that you might choose to touch up or take a new direction.

I mention rejas (burglar bars) and I felt very safe here. Completely different than being in the city or coastal towns. But the family who built the house originally kept it as a vacation/weekend place and so they added the rejas for security for when they were not here most of the year. The neighbors have been great and when one had a little cooking fire, we called another neighbor who got here with own homemade “fire truck” before the Soca department did!


Location of Tranquilo close to the Playas

The Rutas 8 & 80 junction is just about a kilometer from our grove. Walking out of our grove, across old route 8 to new route 8 is only about 100 meters away, at Km 69 of new route 8. With the Tres Cruces website, it is very easy to take one of the 29 buses (daily from 5:35 a.m. to 11:54 p.m.) to Soca, Migues, Solis de Mataojo, Minas, Atlantida, Pando, Montevideo.

Likewise, using ComoIr (or its smartphone, Google app or iTunes for Apple) buses within Montevideo are remarkably easy to use.

Being a central location, one is about an hour from Montevideo, Punta Del Este and Minas. 

Inventory of the Land, Buildings etc.

Click for a list of sale items and other details: Info sheet for olive Plantation 2 col.

All is in very well-maintained condition. We recently installed a French Drain around much of the house to channel water away. We added a steel bridge that will take a fully-loaded cement mixer truck. And built a new galpon for the car, tractor and implements. We have only used the casita for storage, but it does have a bathroom and parrilla/sink area so it could readily be finished further.

We are selling about everything but clothing and a very few minor, personal items. Most houses in Uruguay are sold as a shell without light fixtures, appliances etc. So we offer added value so you can move right in. (It took us years to get some things working right and that was based on a house with “good bones”.)


We had this grove planted as an investment but also a mission: feed people, and a healthy food at that. Unlike PUFA  (Poly Unsaturated Fatty Acid) oils, that are bad for you, olive oil is the basis of the healthy Mediterranean diet. And Uruguay still has an Italian and Spanish-influenced Mediterranean lifestyle with long lunches and appreciation for “tranquilo” enjoying the quiet of living in the campo (countryside).

I figured the caloric value of the projected olive oil that we’d produce and figured that we would feed ninety people. Well, it wouldn’t be good for ninety people to just eat olive oil so if you are into corporate-speak: 90-person-equivalents. So would feed many more their olive oil needs.


We are about 12 kilometers from the nearest beach, Cuchilla Alta, and quite close to wonderful beach resorts, like:

  • La Floresta: 17 miles, 27 kilometers, 30 minutes
  • Atlantida: 21 miles, 33 kilometers, 34 minutes
  • Piriapolis: 29 miles, 47 kilometers, 42 minutes
  • Punta del Este: 48 miles, 78 kilometers, 1 hour & 1 minute
  • Montevideo is actually a beach town that’s 50-80 minutes away depending where you want to go on its 14-mile long rambla (beachside road)
  • Uruguay has 410 miles of coastline but I cannot find how much of it beach, I’d be surprised if it were less than 200-300—surprising varied, some flat and others with massive dunes and eccentric trees.

Olive oil

One can sell the fruit directly to the olive mill or press. More often farmers will take it (or have it picked up; one press’ truck can pick up the olives, 1-4 tons for 60 pesos per kilometer) and take it to the press and either:

  • Get a share of the oil “pool” they milled (not your same oil) or
  • If you buy a 10-ton tank, or two, for storage, you get your own oil back. This is important for later in this discussion.

The producers near us (near Minas), one does it the former way and the other the latter. We visited three such mills in our area.

The world market for a ton of olive oil (a metric ton, equal to 1,000 liters). I tracked this for two years and found the following:

  • $3,660.59 minimum month
  • $5,886.21 maximum month
  • $4,449.21 average month

This equates to $3.66-5.88 per liter before wholesale or retail market. From for Olive Oil, extra virgin less than 1% free fatty acid, ex-tanker price U.K., US Dollars per Metric Ton.

You can see the ranking of world suppliers here:

Rank Country Production (1000 MT)
1 EU-27 2,310
2 Tunisia 290
3 Turkey 250
4 Morocco 140
5 Syrian Arab Republic 105
6 Algeria 80
7 Argentina 38
8 Lebanon 25
9 Jordan 24
10 Australia 22
11 Libya 18
12 Chile 17
13 Israel 17
14 United States 16
15 China 5
16 Saudi Arabia 3 

This income per liter is not a lot of money really, so many farmers bottle it (or have the olive mill bottle, cap, label and box it—we have these price lists) and sell it to stores or wholesalers. But how does one differentiate oneself?

One route is through boutique stores that want the actual olive oil. Too many cases of adulterated oil have been reported throughout Europe and the USA so that the oil one buys in many stores may be mostly “PUFA”. Another route is to sell to an ethnic market like the Asian nouveau riche who don’t want to buy their own lesser-quality products but good, healthy items. I have a reference on that.

I did a google search for an “olive oil store” in a given state and found that there was such a store in a small town I was familiar with. So, I went to their website and found that they bottled it (so must be buying in bulk) from Chile and the net retail they get, effectively, ranges from $35.92-82.50 per liter. The lower end of the range for 750ml bottles at $26.95 (which works out to $35.92/liter)and the higher end, a “tester size” of 60ml for $4.95 where the packaging and shipping are a big part of the cost.

Then we realized another opportunity that we really just backed into, without intending to. Premium oil with special characteristics, or in our case without exposure to certain questionable chemicals many people want to avoid…

Early on, we decided to not use glyphosate for weed killer. The more we heard about the stuff it seemed nasty. And while you don’t put it on the trees, all over the world olive groves spray it all around their trees. It’s supposed to break down but how many times have we heard of “dead soil” and researchers are finding it in people’s stomach biology with results that seems like a very bad idea. So, it’s been a challenge for us on how to get rid of the weeds. We’ve mowed, weed-whacked and come to the conclusion that there must be a better way.

Here are top two: spraying super-heated steam or sheep! I think that the sheep sound like a great idea, albeit if it’s someone else’s project to tend them. One does need to enhance the fences so there’s that cost—several thousand dollars. The right number of sheep will trim the grass, without the need of inner fences for paddocks. A breed that is not shy of humans is a good idea. Having seen this in action: it’s beautiful! Looked just like a golf course with your “lawn crew” providing bits of fertilizer at the same time!

I talked to an Australian vendor who is bringing the steam device for the tractor and it’s $20,000. So it’s not cheap. Then once under control you might only use it 4-6 days out of the year. The nature of farm equipment. Maybe one could hire out for others’ needs. We hear how glyphosate is banned in many countries already and we’d like to get ahead of this trend. It supports our olive oil having a premium value.

Want to hear more about a sales analysis with suggested business plan, list of annual expenses and valuation? Click here: Gaudium sales analysis 06302019 …it shows how one could make $66,000 a year while have a comfortable lifestyle.


Uruguay’s beach town do have many mosquitos. When our house was being renovated, we rented a house about three blocks from the beach and every night I swatted 30-50 mosquitos hanging on various walls waiting for us to go to bed. We slept under a mosquito net but most nights one or two I missed managed to slip in with us.

Depending on how you live here in the campo, if others do most of the field work, one year I counted five total! We rarely see one in the house (just one so far in 2020). But then we do have screens on the windows. And we have never used the mosquito net again here in the campo. During periods when it’s dry, one does not see mosquitos much in the fields either. But after a good rain, they can appear everywhere in the fields; though on the windy days in the sun (of which there are many), one doesn’t see them much even then.

Hard work but even I did it.

Our original plan was to have trees managed but the set-up of the grove ended up being so much more expensive than we dreamed. So, we took on the project of keeping the trees alive while young. Fortunately, a friend who is a farmer helped us and that first fall and early winter we had a drought. To irrigate our baby trees, we had to get about six liters of water on them regularly and farmer friend worked out what speed to run the tractor at and I walked along side pouring water from the 800-liter tank, switching from one to the next tree. I had never done much physical work since high school, so I figured it was do or die. But I didn’t die. It was just a 15-kilometer jog over three days, with regular rest periods as we drove back to the tower to get more water (when I’d check my email on my phone). We did this two more times before the heavens opened up and we have not had to irrigate since 2015.

Our water tower has a 4,000-liter tank and we were told that our 35-meter well produced a 1,000 liters per hour—which was more than enough for our purposes. The well house also has a pressure tank to give the house good water pressure.

Each new project on the farm seemed challenging, but as I learned the process I remembered those 3-day, 15-kilometer jogs and figured: I could do it.

The importance of community—we’re all in this together.

I want to mention the various people who came to help at stages, but without names. There are a number of expats and locals who have been invaluable. I came to realize the importance of community through this time and backed off from my gringo “self-reliance”.

Spend less time finding your tools


 A “river” runs through it

Well, a gully actually and dry most of the time. When the deluge came after our initial drought, we took a look at our primitive bridge and asked: how long will this last? Turns out that it did not last another year before the raging stream undercut it and took it down. Before that happened, we decided to build a new, solid bridge. Perhaps it ended up being stronger than strictly necessary, but you build for the extreme need not the average. And so now we have a steel and concrete bridge that will take a fully-loaded cement mixer—perhaps for a new house further into the grove? On the hill looking at the mountains? This was fascinating experience that I got to help with: tying steel and shoveling gravel, that was overseen by a master builder who had built bridges for the state of New Mexico. Again, with the help of nearby friends who had heavy equipment.

Varieties of Olives

Our five varieties of olives. We did not harvest this year because we felt that we just did not have enough to warrant it.  At the northern corner, the Arbequinas has been the greatest early producers. The Leccinos came in second, Coratinas third, Barnea next with Frantoio last.

Our goal was to hire an expert to give us a recommend a good ratio for our varieties and make a unique blend. But it’s premature. Maybe next fall 2021.

Pulling the Google Map telescope out a bit, we can see our immediate area. We are on a section of old route 8 which is accessible from the Route 80 rotonda or the wood balanza entrance at KM 68 after the Route 9 rotonda. Solis de Matojo is the nearest town but Soca (to the left and west) is nearly the same and on the way to Atlantida where one can find bigger stores and more services.

Lluvias, Rainfalls

Rainfall in Uruguay averages around 4″ a month but much of that can early one and late the next! This was not a problem for our trees which we only needed to irrigate from June-July 2015 and not since. But I didn’t take it for granted and started keeping daily records when the rains restarted in late July (I did not keep records for earlier in 2015).


Where on the globe is Uruguay?

Uruguay is located in a moderate weather zone of South America. The equivalent latitude to the Northern Hemisphere’s Santa Barbara, California or Cape Lookout, North Carolina.

Location in South America

Latitude & Longitude: 34°39’02.3″S 55°34’05.9″W (-34.650635, -55.568314)

We are in the Southern Hemisphere, 3881 kilometers (2411 miles) below the equator and 6126 kilometers (3807 miles) above the South pole. These numbers are for Montevideo, the capital city which is 75 minutes southwest of the chacra by the many nice bus lines that pickup on the new Route 8 highway that goes by 100 meters in front of our gate.

Our Latitude equivalents in the Northern Hemisphere are Cape Lookout, North Carolina (between Wilmington and Morehead City, NC) or (ironically) Los Olivos in California (near Vandenburg Air Force Base and Los Alamos, between Santa Barbara and Morro Bay, CA). My understanding is that an Olive Grove here in Uruguay would be more affordable than in California. Taxes are probably lower too. And with zero snow, plus low humidity in summer, it’s pretty nice here. One could be a snowbird and have two summers each year!

A map of Uruguay showing the big city of Buenos Aires, Argentina also. Our chacra is at the green dot labelled “We Are Here”. You can see we are about halfway between Montevideo to the southwest and jet set beach resort, Punta del Este (below the easier to find city of Maldonado), to the southeast. We are just above the more residential beach towns of La Floresta and Cuchilla Alta (latter not shown on the map) and the year-around towns of Atlantida and Piriapolis.

Between Argentina and Brazil, Uruguay is a small country of three million people and twelve million cattle designed as a buffer state between the Argentines and Brazilians. Initially pastoral, the country made its fortune twice through feeding the allies in both World War I and II which was helped by having a good deep-water port, Montevideo. Since then its hundreds of miles of beaches have become a magnet to summer visitors in the adjacent countries along with northerners escaping their frigid hemisphere.

When I drive to the nearest coastline, at Cuchilla Alta (16 miles, 26 kilometers or 30 minutes), I look over the “River” Plate (Rîo de la Plata) and there’s no other shore until Antarctica, 2400 miles further south. Where we are, east of Montevideo, calling it a river is a misnomer, instead “an estuary, a gulf or a marginal sea” is how others describe it according to Wikipedia.

Uruguay Time Zone (UYT)

To further orient you, we are directly south of St John’s, Newfoundland, Canada and so effectively in the Atlantic time zone means that we are an hour ahead of the US EDT time zone. Note Eastern Standard Time; when they “fall back”, we do not—no daylight savings time as of 2016, which is very nice to have to bother with that. In the USA, Daylight Savings is called the most hated government regulation. Anyway, once they “fall back” we are 2 hours ahead of the US EST.

I find it easier to work with Europeans here who typically closed in our mid-day when I was in the central time zone. Officially though we are on UYT (Uruguay Time), UTC/GMT -3 hours. Because our daylight savings time change dates did not correspond with my family and customers up north, we had four different periods when we would be 0-4 hours different depending on the date! Now, part of the year we are on the same time zone as Canada’s Atlantic time zone until they “fall back”.

Our real estate agents (so far) are located in Atlantida (26 kms away), Cuchilla Alta and Punta del Este. All speak Spanish, some also English or Dutch. Let me know of your interest and preferred language and I will put you in touch. We would rather sell through them than to try to “beat out” the real estate commission. We want the process to be as easy and professional as possible.

Different map scales


Passive Solar

Our house was built well to take advantage of the sun’s warmth during winter. The roof extends so that sun comes through most of the windows then. But in summer most windows are shielded by the roof when the sun is at a higher angle. The two rooms that have direct sunlight are the bedroom in the southern corner and the kitchen. Both have side windows. The bedroom has little impact as it just for a short time that the side window gets sun and heat. But the kitchen’s side window gets more of the afternoon and evening sun and so the kitchen gets warmer in summer than the rest of the house. An awning might be a good idea.

Yet, we never considered air conditioning for the few weeks that it was quite hot. Partly the moderate humidity makes the heat here a walk in the park compared to Illinois’ muggy summers. We also theorized that we could get in the car, turn on the air conditioning and drive to coast or the mall. But we never got to that point of need!

Padron Map

Our Padron (register) number is 11224 and size is 11.62 hectares or about 28 acres. The compass rose at lower right indicates that from the back of the house, we look southwest.

Above is the map when we bought the property. You will see other maps of the property below that are online for the sake classifying the soil types.

Panoramic view right after planting


CONEAT Uruguay’s country-wide land rating

All Uruguay is mapped with soil types classified according to their productivity. Productivity is then measured by an index, known as the “CONEAT index”.

Our chacra has 63% better ground (Coneat 88), 37% lesser ground (Coneat 61) with the proportions’ average being 78. The following is from a website called Farmland Uruguay:

“The average index for soils is 100. Thin soils on slopes will have low index, and would, perhaps, be better suited to forestry. Land given a Coneat grade of 80 to 120 is most often grassland, suitable for cattle. Coneat above 120 is usually suitable for intensive cultivation of most crops. Prime farmland for wheat might have an index of 150.

Of course, any one property may have a diversity of soils—generally poorer on uplands and slopes, and better on the lower-ground.” From: And another:

And here’s an even more-detailed page in English…

…that website explains that 100 is average, 200 is maximum [the link below says 263]. IMPORTANT to realized Coneat is regarding beef production: the 100 refers to 100 kilos of meat. But you will read how it has since been used to categorize value also for crops and forestry also.

Here is a link regarding “Coneat” and how to find a parcel’s rating:

  1. will give you a map of South America
  2. Click on Opciones and a menu should pop out from the right
  3. Click on Buscar Padron
  4. Choose the Departmento of Canelones
  5. Enter Numero Padron: 20316
  6. Click on Buscar
  7. You will see the light blue rectangular boundary of Senor Morales’ property, only
  8. Click on Capas and then Padrones Rurales and his number appears
  9. Click on Grupos Coneat and the soil levels (called Coneat here) appear… like us he has two levels, the northern end is the lesser, grey, level and most, southern is better.

There is another site  that shows our property’s average Coneat rating: 78. Real Valor translates as real value of 121 which is related to the services and good roads a few meters away: Ruta 8. There is lots of land that is difficult to access even in dry season which is why we built such a good bridge on property—so we could get across to the other side when our stream fills up with rain.

Our padrone is labelled A-11224 has two coneats 4.2 in grey and 5.02b in green

Coneat is the average of the gray and light green but the labels for those (4.2 & 5.02b) are not ratings but rather categories (detailed below). With this one you have to zoom into the area on route 8, 9 & 80 several times before the Padrone boundaries show… then click on the Magnifying Glass symbol at right (Buscar) to enter the Padron number & Departmento like above. This site is found on which may have other info of interest.

Two Types of Coneat Index

  1. The index of production outcome, based on soil type, fertility and productive capacity.
  2. The real value index, which includes the parametric calculation of factors as distances to towns, accesses to land, road and services.

The second index has changed over time. In the 60’s, the country road infrastructure was much more rudimentary than today and not only their soils influenced the production of a field, but also the access to land and transportation.

The CONEAT index of final productivity determines operating costs in Uruguay. The impact of the CONEAT productivity index over farmland prices in Uruguay is clear since it states the relationship between land productivity and the type of soils present in the Uruguayan land. There is a very good advantage when using this index because it is easily understood by all agents of the agricultural sector. The disadvantage is that it considers exclusively parameters from livestock production, which may be questioned when applied to the comparison of land for other productive uses [like an Olive Grove that does not require the best soil like soy or corn]. Despite of this, the CONEAT index is widely used to value price of farmlands in Uruguay, as well as to compare productivity of rural lands.

While there may be errors in mapping, generally the Coneat sketch with the distribution of soils is very accurate, giving a clear idea of ​​what you’ll find on a tour of the field.   (the following is Google translated from Spanish)

Soil Group 4.2
Coneat 61
It includes the hills located south of the Dpto. of Rocha and Maldonado, occupying an important area in the surroundings of the city of Soca. The relief is strongly undulated with 4-8% slope with convex interfluves and extended slopes with very little rocky outcrops. A salient characteristic of this unit is the presence of abundant carcavas that extend through the concavities of the relief. The dominant soils occupy, within the landscape, the extended slopes and are typical / Abruptic Ochric Subeutric Argisols, of frank, deep textures, of moderately good to imperfect drainage and medium to low fertility (Pardas Parnas maximas). In the strongly convex upper parts, shallower soils and lithosols are developed. The mother material consists of silty clay sediments of little thickness that cover the altered crystalline basement. The vegetation is prairie, predominantly winter, with a dense and somewhat open tapestry. The current use is pastoral and partially agricultural. This group corresponds to the San Carlos unit of the 1: 1,000,000 scale letter (DSF).

Soil group 5.02b
Coneat 88
5.02b It is the most important group, since it occupies more than 80% of the lands of this sub-zone. It exists repeatedly in the Departments. of Florida and in the Department of Flowers (Puntas del San Jose) and in the rest of the region defined for zone 5. The relief is wavy and strong wavy, with modal slopes of 5 to 7%. The geological material corresponds to variable lithologies of predevonian rocks, such as granites, migmatites, metamorphic schist rocks (around Rosario), etc. The soils are moderately deep and superficial Haplicos Sub-eutrophic Brunosoles (moderately deep Brown Prairies and Regosols), to which Inceptisole (Lithosols) sometimes are very superficial. The upper horizon is brown and reddish brown, sometimes yellowish brown, with a frank texture, frank gravillosa or sandy loam with abundant gravel, Fertility is average, sometimes low.The rockiness is moderate and varies between 2 to 10% of the area with outcrops. Across the area there may be narrow lows, associated with minor drainage routes, which contain Glicsoles Luvicos (Gley humicos) and typical Eutric Brunches or Luvicos (Black Meadows and Brown Prairies maximas), hydromorphic, which contain very good summer pastures. The use is pastoral. This group corresponds to the San Gabriel-Guaycuru unit in the 1: 1,000,000 scale letter (DSF). containing Gleysoles Luvicos (Gley humicos) and typical Eutric Brunches or Luvicos (Black Prairies and Brown Prairies maximas), hydromorphic, which contain very good summer pastures. The use is pastoral. This group corresponds to the San Gabriel-Guaycuru unit in the 1: 1,000,000 scale letter (DSF). containing Gleysoles Luvicos (Gley humicos) and typical Eutric Brunches or Luvicos (Black Prairies and Brown Prairies maximas), hydromorphic, which contain very good summer pastures. The use is pastoral. This group corresponds to the San Gabriel-Guaycuru unit in the 1: 1,000,000 scale letter (DSF).

The soil descriptions come from this pdf and translated in Google:


Knowing the values of the portions’ Categories (Grupos de Suelos) and the average (property wide) value, one can use that to calculate the amount of ground in each category. Our chacra has 63% better ground (Coneat 88), 37% lesser ground (Coneat 61) with the proportions’ average being 78.

A big yard

Here you see the main house (green roof) then, in line, the casita and the galpon for parking the car, tractor, and equipment. So how much to mow? A half acre (.52 to be exact or .21 hectare). Included in the sale is a self-drive mower! And a 2.6-meter-wide bush-hog to pull behind the tractor but it doesn’t do as nice a job as the little mower (or sheep would).

A half-acre lawn around the house and the other buildings provides a nice look. Just out of view on the right-hand side is a solar-powered clothes dryer: clothesline to supplement the big electric dryer we include.

After winter, here’s one of  the rainbows that landed in our cistern. We also have a pizza oven built in an even more massive style. And of course, for barbeques, a parrilla in the casita.

Electrical Outlets: 107!

Maybe you are not familiar with how many outlets that Uruguayan houses have: just 1 or 2 single outlets in each room. When we redid the house in 2015, we added lots of double and quad outlets.

  • Kitchen 18
  • Living room 24
  • Bathroom 3
  • Master Bedroom 28
  • Second Bedroom 32
  • Total 107

Most are 3 round hole variety that is most common in Uruguay but occasionally some are of the “Shuco” variety (recessed with 2 big holes).

We also redid several electrical connections: from the property-edge “drop” to the panel, tower by the wall, out to the casita, into the galpon and water tower.


Other Features

Since the 2015 renovation, two rooms have double-glass, thermo-pane windows. All have screens (many houses in Uruguay don’t have screens). What’s really nice is how big the windows are, letting in lots of light. But with the passive-solar positioning and roof pitch, only one room gets a significant amount of sun in the summer. But in winter, all but one room gets free heat due to the passive solar feature.

Flimsy, wavy 1/8th” ceiling paneling were replaced by solid beams and tongue and groove planks. Heritage Wood Stove from Inotal replaced the typically-ineffective fireplace. Hearthstone is Vermont-designed, built in Spain with Brazilian soapstone, costing over $5,000 in 2014. Vents for the ceiling and wall areas (to let out humidity). Completely redone bathroom.

Newly installed in 2020: reworked porch, a French Drain along walls that had bubbled from “rising damp”. All walls with that unsightly bubbling have been replaced with material to block water from coming through.  The entire interior was repainted in March 2020. The rejas (burglar bars) were all properly sanded, Rustoleum primed and painted with two coats in 2019; should last twice as long a with these proper coats.

One may wonder about costs

What does it cost to buy property in Uruguay? About 8-9% for real estate agent & notary fees, deed stamp, registry and property transfer tax. I have a PDF from the top law firm in Uruguay and while it’s 7 years old, I don’t think much has changed:


What does it cost to live here? It does depend of course. Examples, for average aged 68-year-old person: (each, per month based on 41 pesos/US dollar)

  1. Health insurance (called Mutualista) like Asociacion Española U$2161 (U$=pesos) or U$S $52 (U$S=US dollars). Plus I have had a few doctor’s appointments at U$300, U$S7.31 each.
  2. Smartphone data/calls U$810, U$S20.
  3. Wifi U$2600, U$S63.
  4. Bus ride to Montevideo U$340 round trip, U$S8; if you go twice in a month, double that.
  5. Water U$0.00, U$S0.00 (free from the well!)
  6. Electricity U$3,000, U$S73 (less if you use the solar energy clothes dryer). And this a monthly average for the property, not per person! We have no air conditioners but do run the dehumidifier in winter time occasionally or fans in summer.
  7. Firewood, delivered & stacked (from February 2018 when we bought 6 tons and still seem to have over half that left) U$3900/ton average (we bought half each of red and white eucapalyptus)  U$S95 so about U$S190/year not per person but for the house!
  8. Groceries U$8,000-12,000, U$S196-293. Obviously, this is variable by taste & preference. Hot dogs are expensive here so we get the best steak @U$290/kilo (U$S7.07 or $3.21/pound). We don’t really shop around and buy a lot of imported items so you could save a bit or spend a lot more.
  9. Gas, I figured about U$10/kilometer so if you go to the coast or Montevideo a lot this will add up (but not per person of course).
  10. Grass-fed, good steak at a restaurant, local – nicer U$300-500 $7.31-12.20. Empanada U$30, U$S.73 or Pancho (hot dog) U$60, U$S1.46.

The car and eating out makes a big difference. We figure, that together not per person, we might spend only $1,200/month if we keep busy at the grove and go out little, or $2,000 if we go out a lot.

What about taxes as a foreign expat? Tax holiday for the first five years plus year one became a tax resident (defined as living here 183+ days per year). Afterwards: two types of foreign income are taxed: dividends and interest (12%) but we have little of this sort of income. Other income exempted if earned outside Uruguay and tax paid there. But if earned in the country and getting the FEIE deduction off US taxes, may thereafter owe some to Uruguay but I have not found the rates.

Drone View

A very helpful neighbor took some photos with his new drone. in April 2020. Click on each for an enlarged view.

  1. Here the drone pictures on standing in the driveway.
  2. A view from the south of the whole Chacra.
  3. A view from the southwest; the neighbor’s 3 hectares is more prominently noted as very overgrown and virtually a nature preserve.
  4. A closer view from the southwest where you can see our red-painted steel bridge and old route 8 that goes by our Chacra.
  5. A view from high overhead the south end of the Chacra.
  6. A view from the north where our Chacra’s seven shape looks like an “L” that encompasses the neighbor’s 3 hectares.
Here’s a view from the east. The property line is in red and the yellow arrow points at our RAV4.

So why sell?

Perhaps you can tell how much I love it here & Uruguay in general. The natural question then is “why sell?” Because my USA work has changed greatly, and we must return to rebuild that.

Bird Sanctuary?

We have enjoyed the many birds that live here like horneros, the oven bird, for the house they make is shaped like an oven which they added to our galpon.


Here’s a better photo…


The stars of the show are the vocal Southern Lapwings which we have seen as many as 7 of at a time. The most frequent visitors are Poindexter and Muffy. Yes, we named them…


Muffy came up within ten feet of the back door for a glamor shot with my old cell phone.

We also see hummingbirds, herons, hawks, red-headed woodpeckers, tiny birds colored yellow and black and many others. There is always a symphony of tweeting.

House Plan

Click the Download button at bottom for a PDF of this house plan.

Contact, click this headline to call or email Bill Owen

USA phone number shown in Contact webpage above. Uruguay 099 834 544 (English only) 11AM – 7PM UY time (1 hour ahead US Eastern so EST 9AM-5PM). Can do an informal video call “tour” via Skype: TourGroupPro or Facetime via email bill at Please call to see if I am available. We are most of the time and don’t take off much time officially but we do have nice long Uruguayan meals and visits.
Chacra Gaudium
Ruta 8 Vieja Km 68.5 0003 SN
Solis Chico de Migues, Canalones CP91004

34°39’04.2″S 55°34’05.7″W

-34.651164, -55.568253

Click Download button for PDF of house plan:

“The signers of the Declaration of Independence had chutzpah… Be bold. Let the strength of your desire give force and moment to your every step. Move with all of yourself. When you embark on strange places, don’t leave any of yourself safely onshore. They may laugh at you if you don’t discover India. Let them laugh. India’s already there. You’ll come back with a brand new America. Have the nerve to go into unexplored territory. Be brave enough to live life creatively. The creative is the place where no one else has ever been. It is not previously known. You have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition. You can’t get there by bus, only by hard work and risk and by not quite knowing what you’re doing, but what you’ll discover will be wonderful. What you’ll discover will be yourself.”
– Alan Alda, Commencement Speech at Connecticut College, New London, CT, 1980

House, casita & galpon on 11.62 hectares (28 acres) $397,000 US

+ Optional farm equipment $34,000 US

+ Optional Toyota Rav4 $8,000 US

Total package $439,000 US

Click below to download Contents & Equipment included in Gaudium price options below:

You can see one of the tiny trees after planting and the newly-built water tower in January 2015.
The most of “winter” we have seen here are a few mornings with a frosty dawn. No snow.

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