Discover a Perfect Retirement in Uruguay

Are you torn between the idea of a country life and a beach life? If so, you should know about a region of Uruguay known as Rocha.

It’s a mostly rural area with pristine Atlantic beaches.

About Rocha, Uruguay

Rocha is a department (like a state or province) that stretches more than 100 miles along Uruguay’s Atlantic coast. It’s an area where you’ll find lush pastures dotted with palm trees, pine forests, lagoons, and areas of green hills with granite outcroppings.

Rocha’s coastline of long sand beaches is punctuated with bays, areas of dunes, rocky points, and small towns.

The coastal towns in Rocha number less than a dozen. They are small places surrounded by nature with full-time populations that range from 90 to 3,500.

The lagoons in Rocha are huge. The largest one, Laguna Negra, covers 70 square miles.

You’ll find two national parks along Rocha’s coast. One is Parque Nacional Cabo Polonio. It’s a 99-square-mile area that includes pupping grounds for sea lions. It’s also where you’ll find the off-the-grid village of Cabo Polonio. Cabo Polonio is a popular spot for travelers who hike, rent a horse, or pay to ride in the back of a four-wheel-drive truck to get there.

The other national park is Parque Nacional Santa Teresa. It’s where you’ll find 1000s of forested acres, a popular surfing beach, and other attractions such as a bird aviary, various gardens, and a large stone and glass greenhouse.

Another interesting place on the coast of Rocha is Karumbé: Centro de Tortugas Marinas (Center of Marine Turtles), a nongovernmental organization in the town of La Coronilla.

As for weather, Uruguay’s climate is subtropical with four seasons. Since Uruguay is in the Southern Hemisphere, the seasons are opposite of North America and Europe.

Average summer daytime temperatures in Rocha touch 80 F in January, the warmest month. Summer nights cool down to the low 60s F. Winter high temperatures average in the high 50s F, cooling down to the mid-40s F at night.

Retire in Rocha, Uruguay

Retire in Rocha, Uruguay

The most popular area for retirees in Rocha is in and near the coastal town of La Paloma.

La Paloma’s Centro is on the Cape of Santa Maria. The main street is lined with restaurants, a few hotels, low-rise condos, markets, a casino, and many shops. At the end of the cape, you’ll find a large bay, a lighthouse, and a commercial boat harbor. On each side of the cape, you’ll find residential beach neighborhoods.

You also find private communities and small farms near La Paloma.

Like several beach towns in Rocha, La Paloma attracts vacationers. In summer, the year-round population of approximately 3,500 rises to more than 30,000.

One of the attractions for retirees is La Paloma’s infrastructure. It offers a larger set of year-round services than other beach towns in Rocha, which includes garbage pickup, a gas station, banks with ATMs, and a small private and public hospital. You’ll also find stores and restaurants that stay open all year.

Another option for retirees is La Pedrera. It’s a smaller coastal town 11 miles east of La Paloma. Here, the year-round population of around 300 jumps to more than 10,000 during high season. Some of the hotels and restaurants in La Pedrera cater to an affluent crowd—providing a high level of service in a rustic down-to-earth atmosphere.

In La Pedrera, you’ll find a high bluff overlooking the sea. Each side of the bluff descends to long sand beaches. The terrain in parts of La Pedrera slopes up from the shoreline, providing many homes beyond the first line with a water view.

Besides affluent vacationers, young people flock to La Pedrera for its carnival celebration. It also attracts a crowd for its annual international jazz festival.

Most, who live year-round in La Pedrera, make frequent visits to La Paloma to shop, bank, and buy gas.

Lifestyle in Rocha, Uruguay

Lifestyle in Rocha, Uruguay

In the summer, the bay in La Paloma is a great place to play beach volleyball, swim, kayak, and water ski. The bay is also good for windsurfing and kite surfing when the wind comes up. Several beaches in La Paloma and La Pedrera are favored surfing spots.

Hiking and horseback riding are popular in many areas of Rocha. At the Laguna de Rocha, near La Paloma, you often see a variety of birds including flamingos.

As a retiree in La Paloma, your year will have a rhythm. Summer may include a lot of activities and meeting new people. Winter is a quieter time when the town and the beaches are all yours again.

Real Estate in Rocha, Uruguay

Real Estate in Rocha, Uruguay

Even though Rocha is growing in popularity, you still find reasonably priced properties in La Paloma. (Home prices in La Pedrera tend to be higher than in La Paloma.)

Here are some examples of properties for sale in Rocha, Uruguay:

  • A front-line two-bedroom one-bathroom apartment overlooking the bay in La Paloma. Enjoy the water view from the roomy terrace. The flooring throughout is large tiles. The bathroom includes tile walls and modern fixtures. Price: $120,000.
  • A three-bedroom two-bathroom home on a large corner lot four blocks from La Paloma’s Anaconda Beach. Inside you’ll find tile floors, cathedral ceilings, and a fireplace. Outside is a detached garage, a large lawn, and an outdoor barbecue area. Price: $180,000.
  • A three-bedroom two-bathroom home in La Pedrera. It’s close to the main street and about four blocks from one of Rocha’s best surfing beaches. The home is constructed of brick, with double walls for better insulation. Exterior details include hardwood window shutters and a metal tile roof. Inside you’ll find a country look with rustic wood doors and cabinets, an open-beam wood ceiling, and a brick fireplace. This home sits on a large lot, just under 14,000 square feet, with mature landscaping and a sprinkler system. Detached from the home is a covered barbecue area, as well as a guest or service room with a bathroom. Price: $260,000.

Cost Of Living In Rocha, Uruguay

Cost Of Living In Rocha, Uruguay

While most of the rentals in La Paloma are summer vacation properties, priced by the day and week, you also find properties available on an annual lease. For year-round living, a two-bedroom home may run between $450 and $650 per month.

One big plus about Uruguay for people from the U.S. is the price and quality of healthcare. If you qualify, you can get complete health care coverage for under $100 per month, plus small co-pays, and prescription fees.

While most retirees in La Paloma own a car, it’s possible to get by without one. To do so, live close to the town center; use a bicycle to get around. You’ll find regular bus service to Montevideo, Uruguay’s capital, 140 miles to the west; and to Chuy on the Brazilian border, 90 miles to the east.

Here are some examples of the monthly cost of living in Rocha for a couple:

ItemU.S. $
Rent (Two-bedroom home)$650
Internet$40
Water, electrical, gas$175
Food and household items$800
Healthcare (for two people)$200
Dining out and entertainment$300
Total$2,165

Note: Energy costs can vary. Some spend less than the estimate, and some spend more.

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