I like living near the Port Market (Mercado del Puerto) in Montevideo’s Old City (Ciudad Vieja). It means I’m near the art galleries, markets, shops and cafes in this area…and whenever I want I can enjoy the fresh air and the live tango music coming from the street below.
The Old City was once the entire walled city of Montevideo, Uruguay when it was founded in 1730. Today the walls are gone, but the original plazas and much of the period architecture remains.
This is Montevideo’s main cultural center and financial district.
The revitalization of the Old City is being encouraged by a growing economy and government incentives, like offering special reduced-rate renovation loans. The government is also renovating many of the Old City’s public historic buildings and putting in strategically placed pedestrian-only streets.
The most popular pedestrian-only street in the Old City is a 10-block stretch of Sarandí Street. It is one of the most visited areas of Montevideo, with lots of historic architecture, good restaurants, and the trendiest shops. Sarandí passes on the south side of Plaza Matriz, Montevideo’s oldest plaza, which has a large white marble fountain, park benches, trees, and is fronted by a grand cathedral.
Condos in renovated buildings in the Old City are bought by foreigners who want an urban getaway and appreciate historic architecture. Apartments on the Sarandí pedestrian street and fronting plazas often make good business sense as short-term rentals. Fully-furnished and equipped one-bedroom units in this area rent for between $400 and $1,000 a week, and from $900 to $2,400 per month.
As an example of what you can buy in the Old City for less than $150,000, these three properties are for sale right now.
- There is a condo for sale in a building just four blocks west of Plaza Matriz. The Canadian owners have been using the fifth-floor, 550-square-foot apartment as a short-term rental. The interior is clean and modern with granite countertops, stainless steel appliances, and a flat screen TV. There is a shared-use roof terrace with a large jetted tub and barbecue. The art deco building this apartment is located in does not have a deep historical significance; however, because of its prime location in the Old City, it was purchased and given a thorough renovation that was completed in 2009. It’s being sold completely furnished and equipped: $127,000.
- In a recently renovated historic building just one block north of Plaza Matriz, a 602-square-foot condo is in a building with below-ground parking (unusual in this neighborhood). The building’s interior has been reconfigured for mixed use as offices and apartments. There is a large central skylight bringing natural light down through the three above-ground levels. The floors are made from recycled pine and there is Wi-Fi throughout the building. On the roof there is a terrace with a barbecue area for common use. Price: $129,000.
- There are additional new condos for sale in a freshly renovated historic building on the northwest side of the Old City, bordering the Port Market, (just a block from my apartment). These are studio and one-bedroom units, between 667 and 775 square feet. The common roof area has a barbecue and sun deck. Price: $111,600 to $140,400, depending on size.
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