Articles Related to Uruguay

Good luck finding this level of sophistication and infrastructure anywhere else in Ecuador outside Quito (which we also would not recommend as a place to live).

Why Not Boquete?

Boquete has long been heralded by many (starting, in fact, with us, more than 15 years ago) as one of the world's top retirement havens. However, we decided not to include this Panamanian mountain town in our 2014 Index for two reasons.

First, the cost of living in Boquete continues to rise.

Second, you have other better choices elsewhere now, which we wanted to feature instead. We limit our Index to 21 destinations. This is an arbitrary restriction that forces some hard choices. The truth is, as more places worldwide become more appealing for the would-be retiree, other places, including some well-known, like Boquete, become less so. Boquete is still a great turn-key choice for overseas retirement, but we'd say it no longer belongs on a short list of the world's top 21 choices.

One big draw of Boquete is its large and growing expat community. If the idea of retiring to a place where many others like you have already paved the way and stand ready to welcome you to their ranks, you have other more affordable choices, including Cuenca and Chiang Mai, for example, both of which offer super-cheap, high-quality lifestyles (and both of which are included in our Index this year).

Puerto Vallarta and Barcelona are two other expat-friendly options featured in our 2014 survey. The cost of living is higher in Puerto Vallarta and Barcelona than in Cuenca and Chiang Mai...and higher than in Boquete. However, the cost of living isn't unreasonable for the quality of life available for purchase. The quaint mountain town of Boquete just can't compete for lifestyle with chic, cosmopolitan Barcelona or Pacific oceanside Vallarta.

Why Not Uruguay?

Uruguay has gotten expensive, too expensive for the lifestyle on offer, and it's likely to become more expensive still.

Uruguayans are used to the devaluation of their peso. They refer to appreciation as atraso cambiario, "the exchange rate is running late." Because of this phenomenon, prices for many big-ticket items in Uruguay (including real estate, cars, and even high local salaries) are quoted in U.S. dollars.

Why Not Brazil?

High crime rates keep much of Brazil off our radar and out of our survey. That said, south from Ceara to Natal, you can enjoy super-cheap coastal buys in safety.

Further, the bureaucracy, red tape, and corruption at all levels involved with getting anything done in this country are significant downsides to life here. The country doesn't make establishing residency easy and offers no retiree benefits program.

Also, Brazilians speak Portuguese, which, for most of us, is not as easy to muddle through as Spanish, French, or Italian.

Why Not Ajijic, Chapala, San Miguel de Allende, Or Merida?

Mexico offers many well-publicized options for the foreign retiree. Why did we choose Puerto Vallarta over the rest of the choices for our 2014 Retire Overseas Index? Because if offers the best option anywhere for the retiree looking for developed Pacific coastal living on a budget.

Nicaragua, Panama, Costa Rica, and Ecuador all also offer Pacific coast options, but none is anywhere near as fully appointed as Puerto Vallarta, which offers marinas, country clubs, golf courses, shopping, and fine dining. Yet, you could retire here on a budget of as little as US$1,910 per month, which is more than an average budget for other countries with Pacific coastlines in our Index but a very reasonable amount given the lifestyle on offer.

Why Not New Zealand?

We like New Zealand as a part-time retirement spot, but we didn't include it in our survey this year because it's just not a realistic full-time option for the typical retiree. The truth is, New Zealand (like Australia) isn't overly keen on the idea of foreign retirees and doesn't make it easy for the retiree to establish residency. In fact, in most cases, it's not possible.

Why Not Costa Rica?

About three decades ago, Costa Rica decided to make a business of the foreign retiree. The Costa Ricans invested in a formal and successful advertising campaign, targeting Americans primarily. Tens of thousands of would-be retirees from the States took up the invitation and relocated to this beautiful land of hills and rainforests.

The benefits Costa Rica offered retirees who became resident were terrific, including the original pensionado program against which others were measured for decades. In addition, way back when Costa Rica made a name for itself as a top retirement choice, the cost of everything from groceries and eating out to prime coastal property was super cheap. Fast forward a couple of decades, and, thanks to investors and speculators, Costa Rica wasn't so cheap anymore, neither its cost of living nor its beachfront real estate. And, while prices had risen dramatically, the infrastructure hadn't kept pace. Retirees were happy to overlook falling bridges and unpaved roads when prices were low. Harder to rationalize putting up with failing infrastructure in the face of appreciating costs.

Worse, after working so hard to woo American and European retirees, Costa Rica seemed to change its mind. The Costa Ricans didn't eliminate their famous pensionado program; they simply eliminated most of the tax breaks it had promised, as part of a deficit-reduction austerity package. And they didn't grandfather in existing pensionados. So those who'd chosen Costa Rica for the retiree benefits it offered were surprised and disappointed to find that those benefits existed no more. Now the Costa Rican government is considering a further pensionado program adjustment. They're talking about increasing, maybe substantially, the minimum monthly income requirement to qualify. And, again, if the change is made, existing pensioandos won't be grandfathered in. To renew your status, you'd have to qualify under the new requirements.

Kathleen Peddicord

P.S. Our 2014 Retire Overseas Index is featured, in full, in this month's issue of our Overseas Retirement Letter. If you're not yet an ORL subscriber, become one now to receive this bumper special annual edition, hot-off-the-virtual-presses.

Or you can purchase a copy of the Index on its own here.

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First, I think Montevideo is a good choice within Uruguay; the cost of living is lower than in Punta del Este, and I found lifestyle to be richer for a year-round resident. Don't get me wrong; I loved living at the beach. But Montevideo is alive and active every day of the year, while Punta del Este grinds to a halt in the wintertime.

Colombia's Medellin, however, provides a more upscale environment than Montevideo. In my neighborhood of El Poblado, the streets are better kept, the city is cleaner, and everything seems shiny and new. In fact, the lifestyle is higher-end than anywhere I've lived in the United States...which makes Medellin an amazing bargain considering the low cost of living and of property.

On the other hand, I find a cultural richness in Montevideo that I don't feel in Medellin's El Poblado. The Old World European traditions, the predominantly Italian influence, and the friendly people create an experience that I haven't been able to duplicate outside Uruguay. And Montevideo--in fact, Uruguay in general--offers the low-stress environment that comes with a truly non-confrontational culture...something I've found to be unique about Uruguay in the Americas.

Whether you prefer the Old World ambiance and tango culture of Montevideo or the upscale beauty of Medellin is a matter of personal choice. But here are a few other things to take into account, as well, if you're deliberating between these two top retirement options.

First, I believe that the cost of living for day-to-day items in these two cities is almost the same. Based on my own spending habits for food and entertainment, I can't see a difference in my routine expenses.

However, you'll spend more on electricity in Montevideo, as you will likely use heat for three months per year and air conditioning for perhaps two months. Montevideo has four seasons (but no ice or snow), while Medellin enjoys moderate temperatures all year (average high of 79°F).

All things considered, I'd say you'll spend less in Medellin than in Montevideo, especially if you live (in Medellin) outside the most expensive and sought-after El Poblado.

Both Montevideo and Medellin are cities where you could live without a car; although it's easier to get around Montevideo on foot than it is El Poblado, as Montevideo's terrain is fairly level and everything's closer at hand.

Both cities also have solid infrastructure, with drinkable tap water, good public transportation, and reliable high-speed internet service available at reasonable prices.

Montevideo and Medellin also both host a significant English-speaking expat community. But in neither case is the English-speaking community large enough to affect the local culture.

One important difference has to do with the cost of real estate, which is significantly higher in Montevideo than in Medellin. Based on my personal experience, a Medellin apartment that sells in El Poblado for US$1,500 per square meter would cost more than US$2,500 per meter in Montevideo, in a comparable neighborhood.

Also, real estate transaction costs are much higher in Montevideo than in Medellin. I paid around 8.2% of the purchase price on the two Uruguayan properties I bought but only 1% on each of two Medellin properties I've purchased.

Real estate trades in U.S. dollars throughout Uruguay, while it trades in Colombian pesos in Colombia. So Uruguay offers exchange-rate stability (with respect to real estate), while Colombia offers the risks and/or rewards of buying in a foreign currency.

In both countries, you have exchange-rate exposure for all other expenses (aside from property purchase). Both the Uruguayan peso and the Colombian peso have risen strongly against the U.S. dollar over the past few years; however, recently the dollar has been gaining ground on both. This is impossible to predict, so I just chalk it up in the “risk” column.

In both countries, I found residency fairly easy to obtain; although Colombian residency is the easiest I've seen in Latin America. I applied and walked out the door with my Colombian visa in just under one hour.

Finally, Montevideo is less convenient to the United States than Medellin. The flight to Montevideo takes over nine hours from Miami, while Medellin is just three hours away.

As we say again and again and again, it comes down to your priorities. If you're seeking to diversify your life outside your home country or looking for a safe haven, I would give Uruguay the edge over Colombia. It's an easier jurisdiction for the movement of money; it has a far more flexible and customer-focused banking system; and it's geographically and economically more removed from North America, which, in the context of "safe haven," is a plus.

On the other hand, if want to be able to visit family, friends, or business ventures in the States regularly, Uruguay's geographic situation would be a negative.

If you're interested in the purchase of real estate, for investment and/or for personal use, I would recommend Medellin over Montevideo. This is where Medellin is the clear winner, not only versus Montevideo but versus almost any other city you could name right now.

Not only are prices significantly lower in Medellin than in Montevideo, but we see in Medellin the potential for continued appreciation of values over the near, mid-, and long terms. And, in Medellin, you also have the potential to generate cash flow from rental income of better than 10% per year net. Medellin is one of the top real estate investment markets in the world today.

Lee Harrison

Editor's Note: The limited VIP attendee spots for our Live and Invest in Colombia Conference taking place in Medellin in May are filling quickly and will be sold out soon. If you'd like to join us to discover firsthand just how much Medellin has to offer, I urge you to get in touch to reserve your VIP place now.

You can read more about the program we've put together for this, our only Colombia event of this year, here.

Or you can register by phone by contacting our Conference Department toll-free from the United States at 1-888-546-5169.

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Kathleen Peddicord

Kathleen Peddicord is the founder of the Live and Invest Overseas publishing group. With more than 25 years experience covering this beat, Kathleen reports daily on current opportunities for living, retiring, and investing overseas in her free e-letter.

Her book, How To Retire Overseas—Everything You Need To Know To Live Well Abroad For Less, was recently released by Penguin Books.

Read more here.


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