Punta del Este, Uruguay, is, without doubt, the most fashionable beach resort in South America. During the high season, there are polo tournaments…yacht races…fashion shows…lazy days on the beach…and celebrity parties. To many vacationers, Punta del Este is a beach resort of half a million people that empties at the end of summer.
However, for me, and a growing number of year-round residents, Punta del Este and the adjoining middle-class town of Maldonado form a community of 85,000 that explodes with holidaymakers during the southern hemisphere summer months of January and February…and then settles back to normal.
The reasons more expats are choosing Punta del Este as a place to live are the same reasons that vacationers flock here: Because it’s picturesque, fun, convenient, and safe.
Punta del Este is beautiful. It has miles of wide, sand beaches and blue Atlantic waters. There are palm trees, gleaming condo towers, and single-family homes with trim lawns. If you drive inland from the resort area, you’ll find yourself winding through green hills with granite outcroppings, stacked stone fences, olive orchards, and grazing sheep.
Punta del Este is fun. It’s true, things slow down after high season, but there’s still plenty to do here in the quiet season. Full-timers continue to enjoy golfing, horseback riding, tennis, cycling, and running. If it’s raining or cold we can go to the movies, go bowling, or meet for a coffee. There are good gyms and the community center in Maldonado has music lessons, dance lessons, and a yoga class.
Punta del Este can be a very convenient place to vacation…. and to live. You don’t need to own a car to get around here. And many condominium buildings offer hotel-like services with porters and maids.
Building porters can be an especially valuable resource. As an example, my air conditioner needed to be serviced on New Year’s Day when most everything was closed. I told the porter…and 40 minutes later there was a trustworthy air-conditioning repairman at my door. This type of service is especially helpful when you are new to an area.
Punta del Este has a reputation for being safe—and that is the underlying reason jetsetters, some who are quite wealthy, come to Punta del Este in the first place. It’s also the number one reason expats from other Latin American countries relocate to Punta del Este.
But while there is no shortage of affluent people living in Punta del Este, it’s not a snobby place or a place only the wealthy can enjoy. Hundreds of people go to the Peninsula to watch the sunset every Sunday night. Some watch from the tables of expensive waterfront restaurants. But many more are just yards away on public benches or grass areas sharing yerba mate (a popular tea-like drink) and having a picnic.
In fact, Punta del Este can be a good place to live, especially if you are on a budget.
The real estate market in Punta del Este, which is different from the real estate market in North America, also makes this an attractive place to live. Here, the newness and prestige of a property has more value than the location. This makes it possible to buy a nice condominium unit in an older well-maintained building for less than $150,000… in the same neighborhood as million-dollar places.
And renting your Punta del Este apartment or home during the high season can often cover the entire year’s ownership costs. Find out more in the video below.
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