7 Reasons to Retire to Uruguay’s Golden Coast

This 30-mile stretch of shoreline is beautiful, safe, and affordable.

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Uruguay is famous for the beautiful beaches that run the entire length of its coast, including those along this country’s Costa de Oro. This Golden Coast is a 30-mile stretch of shoreline with uninterrupted golden sands.

More interesting to the would-be retiree is that Uruguay’s Costa de Oro also boasts some of the country’s best beach towns for full-time retirement living. These shady, livable towns are affordable, safe, friendly, and welcoming. Best of all, Uruguay is a haven that offers a peaceful, genuinely laid-back culture that is notably distant from the world’s current conflicts and troubles. This country is also a place where expats can obtain residency easily and even a second passport.

[See The 10 Best Places to Retire in 2012.]

Uruguay has a solid financial center, with an economy that has expanded in recent years despite ongoing economic woes in much of the rest of the world. As a result, the country continues to draw foreign investors and, increasingly, retirees. Here are a few of the benefits Uruguay, and especially its Costa de Oro, has to offer retirees:

Safety and stability. At different times in its history, Uruguay has been part of Spain, Portugal, and Brazil. It fought its final war of independence in 1828 against Brazil, with the help of Argentina. Today’s Uruguay is a stable democracy, with a directly elected president, two legislative chambers, and an independent judicial system. The rule-of-law prevails here, and the country enjoys the lowest level of corruption in Latin America.

A return to a bygone, simpler era. Uruguay’s Costa de Oro began to attract the attention of Montevideo’s wealthy families looking for a country getaway or seaside retreat in the early part of last century. By the late 1930s, development increased dramatically as the first land subdivisions were planned. Even at that time the area was drawing the attention of European investors looking for a sound place to invest outside of Europe as World War II began. This stretch of coastline was at its heyday with Montevideo’s elite through the 1950s, after which the more prestigious and glamorous Punta del Este began to draw wealthy vacationers farther along the coast. But the Costa de Oro remained popular with middle-class Uruguayans who could afford a vacation home, but who could not afford Punta del Este. Today its popularity is on the upswing again, as North American retirees and second home owners are discovering the attractive lifestyle and the excellent property values on offer in a region that retains the feeling of a place left back in time. The Costa de Oro boasts the charm and character of a 1950s seaside resort.

[See Affordable Places to Retire Abroad.] 

Low cost of living. The Costa de Oro boasts perhaps the lowest cost of living of any place on the Uruguayan coast, as well as the lowest property prices. A retired couple could live here comfortably on $1,300 to $1,500 per month if you own your own home and $2,000 to $2,200 per month if you rent.

Very low cost of real estate. The Costa de Oro is anchored by two main towns: Atlántida and La Floresta. This is not an area of high-rises. You’ll see only a few apartment buildings over four stories tall on the entire Costa de Oro. Most of the available real estate in this part of the country is houses, rather than condos. The cost is inexpensive by any standard. You could acquire a beachfront home in one of Uruguay’s charming Gold Coast towns for as little as $75,000, with a nice selection available for less than $100,000.

Quality health care for all. Everyone in Uruguay is entitled to quality medical care via the national health care system, including foreign residents. There are no restrictions. If you prefer the extra services of the private system, you can also join one of the many higher-end private hospital associations. The cost for these is reasonable, typically less than $100 per month, with some VIP plans costing about $150 per month, and you’ll have fewer people waiting and more pleasant conditions. However, your opportunities to sign up for private health plans will diminish after you reach age 60 and especially as you pass 65 and 70. The British Hospital is generally recognized as the best medical facility in the country. It’s located about 30 miles from Atlántida.

Easy residency. The residency process in Uruguay is straightforward, though not particularly quick. There are three things that really set the Uruguayan process apart from others. First, you get your resident’s identity card (called a cédula) at the beginning of the process, rather than when you get final approval, meaning you have all the rights of a resident while you wait for the paperwork. Second, the process is designed to be done from within Uruguay, not at a consulate. So you enter the country first and then apply after you’ve arrived in Uruguay. Third, you can import all of your household effects duty-free, before residency is granted.

[See 10 Tips for Retirement Overseas.]

Four mild seasons. The average high in the summertime is about 82 degrees, with lows in the mid-60s. In winter, highs approach 60 degrees, while lows can occasionally fall into the 30s. Frost is rare, and it never snows. The 41 inches of annual rainfall occur uniformly throughout the year, with no wet or dry season. Thanks to pleasant sea breezes, most people don’t need air conditioning in the summer, but you will need heat in the winter.

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.