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Positive Review of Uruguay

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 Sasha from Uruguay provides a positive review of his country. Roberto

Dear Roberto, I'm sorry for the rudeness some people from my country have commented with, it's a shame that having the opportunity to make our people look good, they decide to act so rude and insulting.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 23 October 2012 14:07

Punta del Este, Uruguay

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Sparkling Beaches, Excellent Infrastructure and a Reasonable Cost of Living Greet Expatriate Retirees in Posh, Foreigner-Friendly Punta del Este, Uruguay

Cost of Living:  Meets the U.S. National Average  (all prices below are in U.S. dollars)

Punta del Este, Uruguay


Along the southern tip of Uruguay, the vibrant resort city of Punta del Este boasts twenty miles of pristine beaches, excellent infrastructure, 5-star hotels and is the place to vacation in this beautiful South American country.  The cost of living meets the U.S. national average; the country is stable and safe, and residency is easy to establish, all reasons that more expat retirees are settling in this seaside locale.


U.S. citizens do not need a visa to stay in Uruguay for fewer than 90 days.  When it comes to retirement, any foreign visitor can apply for a residency visa.  Generally, the requirements include owning property in the country, having a bank account with adequate funds, having a clean police record and having proof of income, such as Social Security, of $6,000 a year or more.   The government encourages foreigners to settle in Uruguay so obtaining residency is fairly easy (as is obtaining a Uruguayan passport and dual citizenship). 

A nice perk of residency here is that all foreign-sourced income, such as Social Security, U.S. stock dividends, etc., is tax-free.   Any income earned in Uruguay, including rental income, bank interest, etc., however, is taxed.



Medicare is not accepted outside of the U.S., and so health care, and paying for it, is always a concern when thinking about retirement abroad.  As in many Latin American countries, medical care costs much less in Uruguay than it does in the U.S.  Low income foreigners and nationals are entitled to free medical care in public hospitals, but this is not recommended.  Instead, most people buy a membership at a hospital for around $50 to $75 a month, and this covers their care (an interview, blood tests, etc. are required to buy a membership).   English-speaking expatriates favor membership at Hospital Britanico (British Hospital) in Montevideo, 90 minutes away by car.  This modern facility is staffed with doctors trained in the U.S., Canada and Britain and caters to the expatriate population.   Purchasing international health insurance is another option when living in Uruguay. 

The quality of the care, depending on where it is received, is fairly good.  According to a 2000 World Health Organization study (which was somewhat controversial), the country ranked 65th out of 181 countries when it came to the quality of its medical care (the U.S. ranked 37th).  Uruguay ranked slightly behind Mexico, a place where thousands of Americans travel each year for health care and cosmetic surgery.  Retirement in Uruguay has some drawbacks (although not many).  Once here, getting back to the U.S. is a 13 hour flight.   Spanish is the official language, and even though a little British English is spoken here and there, it really is necessary to speak some of the native language.   Culture shock is always a possibility.  To help ease the transition to life in Punta del Este, though, there is an English-speaking expatriate group that maintains a blog, meets regularly for lunches and potlucks and welcomes new members.   So, really, what excuse is there not to retire in this lovely, lively city by the sea?


Uruguay is a small country (population 3.3 million) tucked along the southeastern coast of South America, and Punta del Este (population 10,000) is a chic, seaside resort located on the country's southern edge.  Renowned throughout Latin America for its top notch restaurants, exclusive high rises, wide boulevards, manicured lawns, 5-star hotels, sparkling nightlife and twenty miles of pristine beaches, this upscale locale is where wealthy European, Argentine and Brazilian tourists come for the summer (January and February).   Infrastructure and amenities are first-rate, and more U.S. expatriates and retirees are discovering Punta del Este's charms.  

The Spanish first came to the Punta del Este area in the early 16th-century, but colonization did not start for nearly another 300 years.  Today, Uruguay is a constitutional democracy with an educated, prosperous middle class and a stable, growing economy.   The country is safe, although there is crime in the capital city of Montevideo.  While government corruption is not unknown, it does not rival the malfeasance found in many other Latin American countries. 

Almost all of the population is of European descent, primarily Spanish and Italian, and the city is characterized by colonial architecture interspersed with modern buildings.  The city's main thoroughfare, Gorlero Avenue, has designer shops, trendy eateries, cafes, casinos and art galleries, and because an early resident let his botanic garden get completely out of hand, gardens overflow with plants from around the world.  Neighborhoods are well kept and many are quite elegant.  The beaches are clean and open to the public.   Punta del Este is often called the St. Tropez of Uruguay, and it is hard to find a Latin American city with a more robust appetite for the good life.  


Overall, Uruguay is one of the least expensive places to live in the world.  Punta del Este, because it is a resort, is more expensive than other areas of the country, but the cost of living is not much more expensive than the U.S. national average.     Monthly utilities for a single family residence usually run $50 to $75 a month.  Cable TV is $30 per month.  A telephone line is around $8 per month, plus charges for each call (.10 to .25 each depending on whether a call is to a landline or a cell phone).   Food is inexpensive - meat and dairy products are produced locally and are very good.  A housekeeper may cost $2 to $3 per hour.  

When it comes to housing, Uruguay is foreigner-friendly and gives foreign investors the same property rights that citizens enjoy.   For many years, affluent Argentines purchased most of the real estate here, but that is changing as more Mexicans, Europeans, Chileans and Americans are stepping into the market.   Buying real estate requires hiring a notary (similar to a lawyer) and following certain procedures - a 10% down payment is required; the buyer must receive four guarantees that the property has no liens; the property must be registered in its locality, etc. - but the process is fairly straight forward.   

 Punta del Este, Uruguay

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Punta del Este real estate comes in all sorts of shapes and sizes, from modest bungalows to high-end luxury homes.  Small apartments can be found for less than $50,000, and single family home prices start in the mid- to high-$100,000s for modest residences (two bedrooms and two baths), some within two to three blocks of the beach.  More typically, though, homes are more expensive, in the $200,000s and up range (in some cases, way up).   Still, for such a fashionable destination, these prices are not as high as might be expected.   La Barra is the neighborhood in which to buy, but it is also one of the most expensive and tends to attract a younger crowd.   

Renting a residence is also an option, and during the off season, homes along the beach can be had for less than $1,000 a month.  Particularly once January and February roll around, though, prices quadruple (and the local population swells).   When renting a house, a deposit of five to six times the monthly rent is also common.

Editors Note: This article is reprinted, with kind permission from:

Last Updated on Tuesday, 04 May 2010 17:56

A negative review of Uruguay

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I read about you in the WSJ so checked out your site. Having spent a month fact finding in Uruguay last year, I was disappointed to see you spouting the same misinfo as everyone else about Uruguay. Have you even been there? Pathetic. Warren

Uruguay: As Seen In March, 2010

"Uruguay: Not as Advertised"

Report by Warren Woodward, April 2010

Last Updated on Wednesday, 16 March 2011 10:02

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