Uruguay’s Magical Beach Towns

Uruguay is on a roll. Both the economy…and the real estate market. New condos in Punta del Este, the country’s premier beach resort, now average $3,000 a square meter (that’s $300,000 for a 1,000-square-foot condo).

But travel a little farther along the coast east from Punta, and your property dollars will go much further. And you’ll have the prospect of strong appreciation.

Long a favorite with surfers and laid-back vacationers, the Rocha coastline stayed off the radar of mainstream tourists, property developers and second-home buyers. But that’s changing. Uruguay’s real estate boom is moving east from Punta, along the coast toward Brazil. Rocha’s little beach towns are in this development path.

A high-end project from one of Argentina’s top developers is underway right now, with a second planned by the founder of clothing chain Mango. But Rocha’s coastal towns don’t come with the sprinkling of in-season celebrities, sophisticated restaurants, or super-high property prices of Punta del Este…at least, for now.

In Rocha’s biggest beach town, La Paloma, you’ll find banks, a post office, a hardware store, a couple of small supermarkets, and a nice selection of restaurants and cafes. The “big” attractions are a lighthouse built in 1874 and a giant whale skeleton in the town center.

La Pedrera can only muster a handful of tiny restaurants and cafes, and two small boutique hotels. But it boasts a pretty bay that curls around the sapphire ocean.

The town’s single-family homes come in a wide variety of styles, from cozy cottages to sleek glass and concrete cubes.

Properties currently for sale include a house on the beach in La Paloma for $200,000. The home needs some remodeling, but step out your front door, and you’re on the sand.

A 1,080-square-meter (just under a third of an acre) lot, 200 meters from the beach, is on the market for $150,000.

And in a private community close to La Pedrera, a new house, 160 square meters in size, has a list price of $220,000. Set in a one-acre lot, the three-bedroom, two-bath home has views over a small lake and comes fully furnished.

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