Punta del Este is South America’s premier beach resort. It is often compared to the Hamptons of Long Island, New York, or Europe’s Saint-Tropez. For decades, it has been a prestigious vacation destination. Now, a growing number of people are living in Punta del Este, Uruguay, making their favorite summer resort their full-time home.
Punta del Este, less than two hours from Uruguay’s elegant capital of Montevideo, has long been the most fashionable beach resort in South America. An apartment sold here a few years back for $7.2 million… but believe it or not, you can still find a nice condo in a coveted Punta del Este neighborhood for less than $150,000. There’s a secret to buying affordably here. And it’s simple.
Just a couple of days into my new life as an expat in Uruguay, I was having lunch on the patio of a restaurant in Punta del Este. I had ordered by pointing to an item on the menu that I imagined was a large Italian-style salad... Ten minutes later, however, the waiter set a large glass serving bowl of sliced beets in front of me.
My winters in Uruguay are very different than in my home state of Washington... There, my December, January, and February routine comprised keeping the house heated, wearing a coat to go outside, and occasionally scraping ice off the car windshield to drive to work. But in the southern hemisphere, the seasons are opposite. Now, in Uruguay, my December, January, and February routine includes keeping the windows open...
I remember the day I ﬁrst left everything behind and set out in a rental car to explore the Department of Rocha in Uruguay. Rocha covers more than 4,000 square miles and stretches from the eastern reaches of Punta del Este to the Brazilian border. With several large lakes and more than 120 miles of pristine Atlantic coastline, it’s rural Uruguay proper.
I came from the US to Uruguay in 2006. After living in the beach community of Punta del Este for a year, I decided to explore Uruguay's interior. In Punta del Este and Montevideo, Uruguay's capital, it is common to run into bilingual Uruguayans who speak English. However, in the country's rural interior there are few English speakers.
Montevideo, Uruguay’s capital, intrigued me with its historic architecture, plazas, and café culture. Punta del Este, South America’s premier beach resort, awakened my senses, with its beautiful beaches and endless menu of activities. The Rocha region, with its palm tree-dotted prairies and pristine Atlantic beaches, filled me with primal wonder.
Aged 58, Richard Cowley came face-to-face with an unexpected early retirement. He was a man accustomed to being active but what would happen to him now? He was too young not to be productive, but who hires a 58-year-old? It turned out that the most interesting chapter of his life was just about to begin.