Uruguay has drawn a steady stream of expats for a long time. Uruguayans tend to have unlimited patience, they’re non-confrontational, non-violent, good-natured, and friendly. It’s a country that enjoys one of the lowest crime rates in Latin America, the culture is honest and hard-working, and levels of corruption are low. Overall, this country is safe, stable, peaceful, and friendly.
The culture in Uruguay is European-like, and the primary cultural influence is Italian. You’ll find tango clubs, opera houses, orchestras, and more fine dining options, cafes, and downhome restaurants than you can imagine.
We like Uruguay not only these reasons, but also for its four mild seasons, long stretches of coastline, charming old quarter (in Montevideo), and laid-back way of life… but also for its friendly tax legislation, its absolutely low cost of living, and its real estate investment opportunities right now. Montevideo’s old town is being rejuvenated, thanks to foreign (not only American) investment, but it’s not too late to get a super-good buy on a classic-style apartment in a good location. Beyond the capital, you can find even better buys, on estancias and big tracts of productive land.
Best known beach buy in the country is Punta del Este, which has been a draw for Argentine and other South American sun-seekers for decades. This Gold Coast, but an hour-and-a-half from Montevideo, has been enjoying such a boom that rental owners we know have lately reported extraordinary returns, as much as 12% net and more per year.
Located on South America’s eastern seaboard, Uruguay is surrounded by Brazil and Argentina. While Uruguay qualifies as sleepy, which is both a pro and a con, cities like Rio de Janiero and Buenos Aires are only a quick flight away (or ferry ride in the case of Buenos Aires).
The capital city of Montevideo— the southern-most capital in the western hemisphere—is home to almost half of Uruguay’s 3.4 million residents. Founded in 1724, this colonial city as seen Spanish, British and Portuguese influence over the centuries. Since 2006, Montevideo has consistently ranked as having the highest quality of life in Latin America. Since 2010, it held the spot as the most economically powerful city in South America. This city attracts expats for its vibrant, eclectic, and rich culture. It’s also said to be the fifth most gay-friendly city in the world.
Uruguay, in general, has an extremely open-minded and progressive culture. President José Mujica, commonly referred to as “the world’s humblest president” and “the anti-politician,” lives a simple life and donates about 90% of his salary to charity and entrepreneurial small businesses. A personal rights freedom-fighter, he legalized abortion, gay marriage, and drugs during his 2010 to 2015 term.
When it comes to individual sovereignty, Uruguay is king. For those who want to fly under the radar, diversify their financial assets, obtain a second citizenship, or even live off the grid, you won’t beat Uruguay. With a solid financial system, First World infrastructure, a stable and consistent democratic government, there are few better places to establish yourself, be it through residency, investment, or citizenship. We can’t think of a better country in which to become a citizen and obtain a second passport. It’s quick, easy, and, if you ever need that second citizenship, you won’t find a better place to call home.)
Cost Of Living In Uruguay
Live and Invest Overseas offers a monthly cost of living budget for our favorite destination in Uruguay:
Infrastructure In Uruguay
Infrastructure in Uruguay is First World and first rate across the nation. In Uruguay you’ll enjoy fast, modern highways, reliable phone, cell, and broadband Internet service, well-maintained beaches and good public facilities, a public radio system, and drinkable water from every tap. You won’t find a town in which this isn’t true. You’ll even enjoy the use of free Wi-Fi on buses and in town squares in cities.
Climate In Uruguay
Uruguay enjoys a humid subtropical and enjoys four genuine, distinct seasons.
The temperature in all areas of Uruguay typically ranges between 40°F and 80°F throughout the year. Average annual humidity is around 80%. Frost is rare, and it never snows. Few people use air conditioning due to the cool evenings and ocean breeze, but you’ll use the heat in the wintertime. Uruguay receives an average of 40 inches of rainfall per year. Rainfall is spread throughout the year here, without any particular wet or dry season— although rain is uncommon in the mid-summer months of January and February.
As in any country, weather depends on your region, but generally Uruguay enjoys the variety of four seasons.
Uruguayan Summer: December to February
Uruguayan Autumn: March to May
Uruguayan Winter: June to August
Uruguayan Spring: September to November
Residency In Uruguay
U.S. citizens may enter Uruguay without a visa and remain in the country as a tourist for a maximum of 90 days per trip. If you wish to stay longer than 90 days, you need to seek permission to remain in the country.
Uruguay offers a number of advantages as a place of residency and as a tax domicile. Foreign residents have the same rights as Uruguayan citizens and Uruguay does not tax worldwide income. The process for obtaining residency is fairly straightforward, with low qualifying thresholds.
The first thing to know about obtaining residency in Uruguay is that you initiate the process after you’ve arrived in the country, rather than at an overseas consulate. This is not the case in many countries and makes it much easier for you. You can come to Uruguay as a tourist and decide to stay. To start the residency process, you submit a request to Immigration, stating your intent to remain in Uruguay for the purpose of becoming a resident. This request should be approved in about two weeks, and the request alone allows you to overstay your tourist visa entry. You must be in the country legally at the time of request.
Once your request is approved, you’ll need to obtain a police background check, get a medical exam, and provide evidence of your required income. At this time, you must have an income of at least US$500 per month. After you’ve turned everything in, you’ll be able to obtain a temporary national ID card known as a cédula. This cédula will entitle you to most everything that’s available to residents and citizens. When your final approval is granted, your cédula will be renewed to show that you are a resident. You can come and go freely, and no annual registration is required.
The most common type of residency visa is the rentista (a rentista is someone who has income from outside Uruguay). Another popular type of visa is the foreign retiree’s visa available under Law 16.340. The advantage of this visa is that you can get a non-citizen Uruguayan passport after obtaining residency, without the usual wait time. In addition to these two visas, others are available for business owners, independent entrepreneurs, employees, and religious workers.
Residency in Uruguay can lead to a second passport and dual citizenship in this country after three to five years of residency, but there is a language test requirement in which you must prove that you speak Spanish.
Health Care in Uruguay
Everyone in Uruguay is entitled to quality medical care via the national healthcare system… and this includes foreign residents. There are no restrictions on this system, and we’ve even known nonresident visitors who’ve used it.
If you’d prefer the extra services that the private system offers, you can also join one of the many higher-end private hospital associations. The cost for these is reasonable, plus you’ll have fewer people waiting and more-pleasant conditions.
Remember that your options for initial signup in private health plans will be fewer after you reach age 60, and will diminish further as you pass 65 and 70. Most plans require a physical, at any age, but many will accept pre-existing conditions. A private plan at La Asistencial (in Maldonado) costs US$57 per month. The best plan they offer is the VIP plan for US$154 monthly, for which you get a private room, a special waiting salon, guaranteed appointments, and lower co-pays. At La Asistencial there are no age restrictions, and your premium is not based on age. You might also find some willing to accept foreign health plans including Blue Cross.
If you just walk into the emergency room for treatment in a private hospital (without a plan), you’ll spend around US$85, which will include doctor fees and lab work.
Many Uruguayans and expats believe that the British Hospital is the best medical facility in Uruguay; it’s located about 30 miles (48 km) from Atlántida. For your sole provider—where you’d go for serious illness or major surgery—I’d consider British Hospital. Outside of this facility, you can have trouble finding English-speaking medical professionals. Smaller medical clinics, emergency centers, and ambulance services do exist in the Costs de Oro area but they are less sophisticated. Have a look at Médica Uruguaya, which offers good coverage. SAPP LINK: http://www.sapp.com.uy/ has four facilities on the Costa de Oro in Parque del Plata, La Floresta, Salinas, and Atlántida, and Centro Clínico del Este has a facility in Villa Argentina.
For the region, life expectancy is high and infant mortality is low; and the ratio of doctors and beds to population is exceptionally good.
Real Estate In Uruguay
Buying real estate in Uruguay is a straightforward matter. This country has an excellent system of property registry and a well-organized process for property purchase; buying here is very low risk. Every property transaction is processed by an escribano, who is a hybrid of a real estate attorney and a notary. The escribano’s role is defined by law and includes title verification prior to closing. In a way, due diligence is built into the purchase process.
But keep in mind that the escribano is only verifying that the transaction is safe and sound… not that the property you’ve chosen is necessarily the best for your intended purpose. You’ll need to decide this on your own, or with the help of a broker or attorney who is accustomed to working with foreign investors and clients.
Finally, if you are buying with any agricultural land, make sure you know the land’s productivity rating and that you’re paying a fair price in accordance with that rating. You can check the rating of any piece of land in Uruguay by looking it up on the government’s CONEAT rating map.
A productive land purchase in this country is an appealing option for investors. Uruguay’s strong commodity sector, lack of natural disasters, and abundant water supply combine to create a strong argument in favor of an agricultural investment in this part of the world.
Real estate in Uruguay is typically priced in dollars because of a history of fluctuations in the value of the peso. You can find some rentals in pesos, but even in rentals, at the high end it’s usually rented in dollars. Uruguayans do not usually invest in title insurance, but it is available.
Uruguay has no restriction on foreigners owning property.
Chacras In Uruguay
If you are seeking to diversify your life internationally, owning a chacra in Uruguay may fit the bill perfectly. A chacra in Uruguay is a piece of land smaller than 100 hectares (can be as small as a half-hectare; bigger than 100 hectares or so (247 acres), and a chacra becomes an estancia in this part of South America.) This investment can often be self-sustaining and generally costs less than other types of property purchases, as they are often found away from the more expensive beach areas. This is an option that is right for an increasing number of individual investors.
While a chacra may serve as a vacation home for the time being—or a normal residence—they can often be set up to operate off the grid, for those who would like that independence. Finally, chacras generally cost less, as they are often found away from the more expensive beach areas.
Shopping for a chacra in Uruguay, you’ll find that the most expensive ones are often part of a development, rather than off on their own. Both approaches offer advantages. With the developed version, a chacra typically comes with electricity and a maintained road, as well as a front gate. But they can also be quite high end (usually near the coast) with elegant club houses, restaurants, and pools. I’ve seen 5-hectare chacras go for US$55,000… but I’ve also seen them priced at US$350,000.