Uruguay: Where You Can Live in First World Comfort
In Uruguay, you can forget about the cost of health care...about sky-high taxes...about crime...or about "doing 'without."
That's because Uruguay is a Latin American country that's rich in natural beauty...with inexpensive properties...without any Third World trade-offs.
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- Population: 3,324,460 (July 2013 est.)
- Capital City: Montevideo
- Climate: Warm temperate; freezing temperatures almost unknown
- Time Zone: GMT-3
- Language: Spanish (official)
- Country Code: 598
- Coastline: 660 km
Uruguay is the most economically, politically, and socially stable country in the region. The property registration system is among the best in Latin America. And you don’t need to become a resident or get a local tax ID number to buy, own, or sell real estate in Uruguay. Even though real estate values have climbed in recent years, with a little research it’s still possible to buy property in the most popular areas of the country for a very reasonable price.
When people ask me what’s so good about Uruguay, I often talk about the various income opportunities, the natural beauty of the land, or the ability to live a simpler and less complicated life. Just a while ago, I was trading notes about life in Uruguay with Karen Michele—a single mother from the U.S. who moved to Punta del Este, Uruguay with her 12-year-old daughter, Etanne.
Uruguay is a nation of immigrants—which means that if you’re looking to retire overseas, you’ll fit right in. This unique country’s citizens are descended from all corners of the world; about 90% of Uruguayans have ancestors from Western European, with the highest percentages from Spain, Italy, and France. And, because most Uruguayans are descendants of immigrants (and many know and can tell you their family’s relocation story) newcomers are generally treated warmly.
Atlantic beach towns that take you back in time…a foodie’s paradise in Southeast Asia where dim sum stalls beckon…an arts-rich bohemian haven in South America full of cafés and concerts… All over the planet you’ll find hidden gems like these—spots that rarely, if ever, earn even a passing mention in the popular press. It’s not surprising. Almost no publications bother to keep outposts abroad anymore. The quality and scope of international news coverage—and our understanding of and empathy for the world—has suffered for it.
What if you could go back in time to a white-sand beach on the Atlantic coast before heavy development came and prices went through the roof? A time when a beach home was a cottage instead of a high-rise condo, and owning it was a lifestyle choice, not a status symbol…
Last December, when “The Economist” announced its “country of the year” for the first time, Uruguay was the country that took that spot. It was chosen on the basis that it has been a trailblazer at enacting policies that not only benefit its citizens but humanity as a whole. It’s a great place to keep you—and/or some assets—in times good and bad.
If you were to set off on the adventure of a new life in a new country, where would you go? A lot of folks are choosing Uruguay: The small agricultural country in South America, known for its beautiful beaches. While Uruguay is no longer among the least expensive countries in Latin America, it still has a lot to offer.
“We’re looking at retirement options,” she wrote, “and I’ve appreciated your insights, particularly on Ecuador, Mexico, Panama, and Uruguay. I know that seems like a lot of countries, so I’m hoping you can help us narrow it down. We plan to take a trip to at least two of these this year; one country at a time. Which country would you suggest we visit first? And can you please suggest some travel itineraries?”
Today I am challenging you to become as creative as possible about finding alternative routes to do more of what you want. Let’s say you want to earn enough to live in a gorgeous home. Most people think they have to buy or rent such a place. Not Joe. When he was in his early 20s, he found himself drawn to the ocean and wanted to live as close to it as possible. He got the idea to offer his services as a yacht sitter and almost immediately found himself living in luxury.
When moving abroad, renting a place to stay is an attractive option that offers a lot of advantages, whether you’re headed to Costa Rica, Malaysia, France, Mexico, Ecuador, Ireland…or any country. If you plan to buy or build a home eventually, renting allows you to investigate a region and/or community…or several…before you put down roots. You don’t want to be stuck in a neighborhood, region, or home you don’t like.
Going abroad sometimes comes as a response to a personal shakeup: the end of a relationship, a financial loss, or the passing of a loved one. Getting out of Dodge, at least for a while, can provide the opportunity to gain a fresh perspective and explore your options.
Over eight years ago, I decided to leave behind the urban jungle of American cities to travel. At the moment, I’m surrounded by the lush green suburbs of Buenos Aires. I’m constantly reminded of Jumanji out here. Thick green, leafy vines have completely taken over property walls and fences, wrapped themselves around tree trunks and flower pots. Palm trees and banana trees rise up like proud flags beside homes and office buildings.
Uruguay is one of the best places in the world to own a farm…and you don’t have to be a Uruguayan citizen or even a resident to buy agricultural property. While it is most famous for its grass-fed beef industry… Uruguay also has soil and climate that are ideal for growing wheat, rice, soybeans, olives, and blueberries. It is a water-rich country, minimizing the need for irrigation, and its soils are among the least degraded in the world. All Uruguay’s farmland is mapped by soil type.
Vacation rentals are a great way for an investor to create an income overseas but, unless they’re living next door, anyone who owns a vacation rental needs someone to manage it for them. Property management is a business you can start with absolutely no investment. You are simply trading your time and effort.
Sometimes things happen when they’re supposed to happen…and that includes books. My wife, Suzan, and I recently finished writing a book about how to move abroad and live a great life on $2,100 a month or less, so I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about why now is such a good time to move overseas. In fact, I don’t think this book could have been written any time but now, and there are three reasons I can think of for that.
Uruguay is not a medical-tourism destination or a place where people come for the health care alone. However, if you fall in love with Uruguay, as I did, and decide you want to live here, the chances are good you will be able to get quality health care at an affordable price.
Do you ever wish you could find a cool little beach town before it gets discovered and invest in land while the prices are still low? You aren’t alone. Global investors are constantly searching the planet for that kind of opportunity. But you know what? They missed a spot. It’s a little town of 1,000 full-time residents, and it’s called Barra del Chuy, in Uruguay.
InternationalLiving.com’s annual Global Retirement Index reports that France, Uruguay and Malaysia provide the best and most affordable health care in the world. The Health Care category in the Index considers the cost of care and the quality. Also considered are the number of people per doctor, the number of hospital beds per 1,000 people, the percentage of the population with access to safe water, the infant mortality rate, life expectancy, and public-health expenditure as a percentage of a country’s GDP.
Imagine if work involved saddling up and taking to the trail instead of being stuck in morning traffic, heading into the office. You don’t need to have a lot of money to work with horses overseas. If fact you don’t need to own much land or spend a fortune buying horses to set up your own business.
If you hear yourself asking, “Am I too young or too old to start a business?” you’ve just asked a question that is guaranteed to stop the flow of creative ideas. On the other hand, if you begin with a question like, “What project could I start right now that would add adventure and discovery to my life?” your imagination will get busy answering that bold question.
InternationalLiving.com’s annual Global Retirement Index names Ecuador, Uruguay and Malta as the best three countries in the world when it comes to climate. Their temperate weather throughout the year, moderate rainfall and little risk of natural disaster saw them rise to the top of the Climate category, one of eight categories in the Index, which details the top countries in the world for retirement in 2014.
John Brenner, a Minnesotan in his late 50s, was traveling in South America looking for a new place to live. The next leg of his trip was from Bogotá, Colombia to Lima, Peru. He was joined by three others, also Lima bound, whom he had met in the Bogotá hostel where he stayed. After an all-night bus ride they reached Ecuador’s border, where they crossed on foot. Once in Ecuador the four had a stroke of luck.
Health care overseas is more affordable than in the U.S. You will pay less for high-quality health care overseas and these countries are three of the best according to International Living’s Annual Global Retirement Index 2014.
For more than 30 years, International Living has been researching the best retirement havens in the world…and every January the Annual Global Retirement Index is released—highlighting the best places for you to retire. This Index ranks the top 24 countries in the world for retirement in 8 categories. The top 10 countries that feature on the list this year each bring spectacular benefits for retirees living overseas—from great health care and ideal climates to a low cost of living and financial perks for retirees. Starting with number 10, here are our top retirement havens for 2014.
Tired of shoveling snow, braving the torrential rain or wrapping up against the bitter cold? If so, check out these top three places to retire for a better climate as ranked in International Living’s Annual Global Retirement Index 2014. With a perfect score of 100 and for the second year in a row, Ecuador comes out top in the Climate category and is the overall runner up in this year’s Global Retirement Index. Lying directly on the equator, it enjoys 12 hours of direct equatorial daylight 365 days a year.
“Follies are the only things that one never regrets,” said Oscar Wilde. Agreed. But travel writers needn’t look far to find excuses for their follies. After all, writers have a reputation for eccentricity. Whatever bizarre situation you find yourself in—and if any awkward questions arise—you can always blame it on the job. Why were you buying contraband from gypsies in the Czech woods? (“It’s my job.”) How come you spent half the night in a Berlin anarchist squat? (“It’s my job.”)
Among the advantages that Uruguay offers to businesses from around the globe are its various Free Trade Zones (FTZs). FTZs are specific geographic areas within the country that are not considered Uruguayan territory for customs purposes, and where you can avail of important tax exemptions.
The number of U.S. taxpayers renouncing their American citizenship or permanent-resident status is accelerating. For many, the benefits of U.S. citizenship no longer outweigh the costs. Whether you are a high-net-worth individual or a young entrepreneur with a lifetime of earnings ahead of you, renouncing your U.S. citizenship is the only way to end your U.S. tax obligations.
Sometimes a wine-growing region and grape variety combine to produce a wine legend. Think California’s Napa Valley and Cabernet Sauvignon, or Argentina’s Mendoza region and Malbec. Well, there is another wine-growing region and grape variety combination you should know about: Uruguay and Tannat. Tannat is originally from France. It grows in many countries for use as a blending grape, due to its sharp bite.
There are few places on earth as romantic as Buenos Aires. At night, in the backstreets, couples dance the tango. Old men sit outside the bars, playing the accordion. Sad music that tells of loss, longing, and the complications of love. I’d come to Buenos Aires with two prized possessions: my dog-eared copy of the poems of the blind poet, Jorge Luis Borges, and my folded and torn certificate for teaching English.
In the following five countries you will pay less for health care than you do at home. And the quality is at least as good…in fact, many expats say it’s better. Affordable health care isn’t the only reason to move overseas—but it makes the move more attractive. You can get great quality health care for less abroad, lowering your monthly expenses. Panama offers excellent quality health care and modern hospitals in Panama City and other large towns or cities…
When you move overseas, most things cost less. Health care is cheaper, beachfront property is cheaper and flights are cheaper when you qualify for a retiree program. You can even enjoy a symphony performance for far less than in the U.S., and have a better quality of life for less. Here is a list of five items that are cheaper overseas.
Each morning Jerry Bruner wakes up on his farm in Uruguay. He checks in on his animals…Jack the Labrador…Carbon the tiger-stripe cat…the chickens…the geese…and half-a-dozen beef cattle who roam a fenced-off, green pasture. The farm covers 27 acres of greenery and is a world away from Jerry’s native Nevada. What Jerry loves most about Uruguay […]
When I first moved from the U.S. to Uruguay, I didn’t speak Spanish. And while some English-speaking expats get by without learning any Spanish, my experience is, the more Spanish I learn the richer my expat experience becomes.It took just a little study to learn to greet people and show respect. Now, after a little more study and practice I can express my needs and wants and I’m starting to build rapport with my Uruguayan neighbors. More and more, it feels like I’m getting ready to take off my Spanish “training wheels” and learning to communicate like a local.
Montevideo, Uruguay’s capital city, has a culture that many North American expats find comfortable. It’s a place where the traditional and the modern weave together. For example, Montevideo has a prosperous economy, but people still take time for one another. It has new gleaming malls, but it is also teeming with small family-owned shops. Each child in the country receives a free laptop computer, but time with family is still cherished above all else.
For every substantial, bricks-and mortar business set up by an expat overseas, there are hundreds of small enterprises that people operate from their own homes with very little investment. Within a year of starting their micro-enterprise overseas, Jim and Mariellen Wiemann are making a profit and supplementing their retirement income. “The business allows us to purchase the things we might otherwise not have. We are planning some vacations abroad, and the business will support those adventures,” says Jim.
When I asked my Facebook pals what they liked most about working for themselves I expected to get answers about no stressful commute, no office politics and other annoyances they had left behind. Instead the replies looked like this:• “Having customers from around the world; I never realized I could be a global entrepreneur.”
There are situations in life we cannot escape. But fortunately, a long cold winter in the U.S. or Canada isn’t one of them. When it’s winter in North America, it’s summer in South America. And there is no better place in South America for a winter respite than the beaches of Uruguay.
Winter is nigh in North America. Bitter cold, ice storms, flurries, and blizzards are on their way. These are the months spent indoors, staring out at grey skies, pining for spring. But there are places where the sun is shining right now, temperatures are going up, and it’s already beach season.
To apply for residence in Uruguay you must be in the country, this is perfect for those that try out the country and decide to stay. Uruguay’s Dirección Nacional de Migración (DNM, or Immigration) is the government office that deals with residence matters. The complete process for obtaining permanent residence takes 12 and 24 months in addition to the time it takes to obtain the necessary documents.