Gated Communites in Uruguay
Currently, there is no official data on how many gated communities exist in Uruguay, but at least there are 20 gated communities in Maldonado, seven in Canelones, seven in Rocha, one in Soriano and two more in Rio Negro. The most developed ones are La Tahona, Lomas de Carrasco, Altos de la Tahona, Carmel that have grown in recent years at a steady pace. It has taken 20 years for La Tahona to become fully developed with already 70% of the plots sold. Lomas, just across La Tahona, is the most popular gated community, with about 1100 people living there and more than 250 homes in a land of 120 hectares. Meanwhile, the Altos de la Tahona is a newer venture. It has 45 hectares with a total of 217 plots.
All of them have large parks, gymnasiums, nurseries, swimming pools, sauna, soccer fields, tennis and basketball courts and a golf court surrounding the houses.
Why gated communities?
The search for security, tranquility, nature and a better quality of life are the main reasons for those who decide to buy in a gated community. Gated communities, started in Latin America in the early nineties and its growth could be interpreted as the need to take refuge in a private environment but it is largely influenced by the development of gated communities in Argentine. In fact 30% of foreigners who choose to live in gated communities in Uruguay are Argentinians. Many others, have lived in gated communities in their countries of origin. Uruguay has the lowest crime rate in all of Latin America, but the perception of insecurity is the highest in the region.
An ideal place for young families.
On weekends kids are out on the streets, they go biking or running. Cars´ speed is less than 30 miles per hour, the maximum allowed. Children can move around freely. It seems an ideal world for them and maybe that’s the explanation that 41.4 % of those living in Lomas and La Tahona are under 15, while the national average is 21.9 %, according to preliminary figures from the Census 2012. During the summer, sports centers are the meeting place and in winter the fireplaces overlooking green landscapes, with small streams are present at every home.
Neighbours have the control
The areas surrounding gated communities have largely improved thanks to neighbours. Decision making on roads, sewage, waste collection, electricity network and neighborhood regulations is reviewed jointly. Decisions are made at meetings of co-owners and resolutions are by majority. If the streets are kept unpaved, if lights are off at certain hours, so stars can be seen or any other matters can be part of debates among residents. Meetings are held with a barbecue at a neighbor’s home. Children also join.
Is distance an issue ?
In a country where everything is just around the corner, distance can become an issue to consider when moving into a gated community and more if you have small children, since schools and services are quite far away. When you get home from work, you are too lazy to get in the car to run an errand or to go to the movies, thirty minutes away. Maybe the option of a delivery needs be abandoned and replaced by frozen pizza but maybe this implies the challenge of living a more orderly life. The gated communities are in many cases far from the big cities, but in some cases close to places of work like the case of Zonamérica for people living in La Tahona. It is only 15 minutes from work.
Montevideo a special case
In Montevideo there are four open neighborhoods, which share much of the model of gated communities but the closing of streets are not allowed in the capital city. Almost three years ago, the City Council refused to build a gated community near Zonamerica, in the northeast of the city. While the resolution was applied to a particular case, the decision was part of an administration policy to avoid the creation of “ghettos” with the spirit of promoting social integration in the territory. In Montevideo people still recall that the best city was the one that existed 30 years ago when in the same neighborhood rich and poor grew up together, sharing the same space and the same public schools. But that has evidently changed and people have the right to seek different lifestyles. Growth is constant and gated communities remain a way of life for thousands of Uruguayans who, by choice search for new options.
A house in La Tahona of 1,000 square meters of land with 260 m2 built on two floors, with a living room, kitchen, three bedrooms, can cost about US$ 465 000. In the Carmel neighborhood, a house of 1,300 square meters of land, 280 built, reached almost US$ 600 000. The prices per square meter in these gated communities range between US $ 1,000 and $ 3,000, depending on the location.
More and more gated communities around Punta Del Este
There are more and more gated communities in the Punta Del Este area like El Quijote, Laguna Escondida, Nuevo Mangrullos, Pinar Del Faro, and towards La Paloma in Rocha you find Las Garzas and Las Carcavas. For more information on how to obtain more info about gated communites or to buy a house in one in Uruguay please contact us. By Mary Ann Thompson