10 Reasons to Retire in Uruguay

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Uruguay Home

Foreigners have traditionally come to Uruguay for vacation, to invest real estate, and to use Uruguay’s secure banking services. However, for many approaching retirement during uncertain times, Uruguay is attracting attention as a great place to retire.  Here are 10 reasons why:

1. Uruguay is safe

Safety is the number one reason people from other South American countries relocate their families to Uruguay. Uruguay is known for having the lowest rate of crime in Latin America. (For safety’s sake, keep in mind that having the lowest crime rate in Latin America is a relative term. While rates of assault are low, incidents of purse snatching, camera grabbing, and robberies are not uncommon in some areas.)

2. Uruguay is stable

In 2008 Uruguay’s economy had a greater percentage increase of economic growth than any other country in Latin America. In the first quarter of 2009, Uruguay is the only economy in Latin America still experiencing some economic growth. A recent JP Morgan’s emerging market report states that Uruguay’s fiscal discipline and adaptability of policies is likely to minimize the negative impacts of the global economic crisis.

Uruguayan banks are trusted because they have never resorted to expropriating, freezing, or forcing a currency exchange of deposits due to tough economic times. Over 40% of all deposits into Uruguayan banks in 2008 were by foreigners. Banks and financial institutions are adding more safe deposit boxes to keep up with demand.

Uruguayan banks have three types of currency accounts to choose from: Uruguayan pesos, US dollars, or euros, which allow the depositor to choose the currency which gives him or her the greatest confidence.

The IMF has determined that Uruguay’s exposure to “regional spillover risk” (meaning fallout in the event Uruguay’s neighbor and historically largest trading partner, Argentina, were to have an economic crisis) will be half of what it was during the regional financial crisis of 2002. This is because Uruguay has greatly diversified its trading partners.

3. Uruguay does not tax foreign source income

Uruguay does not tax foreign source income, meaning that your pension, social security, and all money that is generated outside of Uruguay is not taxed in Uruguay and does not need to be reported to the Uruguayan tax authorities.

4. Good medical care is available in Uruguay

Uruguay has private hospitals that provide excellent patient care at affordable rates. Some expat retirees pay out of pocket for the care they need, and others purchase health plans with a fixed monthly fee. A health plan is different than health insurance. With a health plan, the hospital you contract with provides the health care you receive.

Some plans have options and insurances that can be added to your health plan for an additional monthly fee. These include ambulance service, travel insurance, and the option to have surgery in the US.

(Hospitals may refuse to accept a new plan member based on age or a pre-existing condition.)

5. Uruguay has a comfortable climate

Uruguay is located in the temperate zone of the Southern Hemisphere and has four seasons. When it’s winter in North America and Europe, it’s summer in Uruguay. Temperatures average 70° F to 80° F (21° C to 27° C) in summer and 50° F to 60° F (10° C and 16°C) in winter. There are periods of “cold” (relative term) weather, but freezing temperatures are almost unknown.

6. Uruguay offers a variety of lifestyle settings

6.1 City Life: Montevideo is Uruguay’s capital and home to 40% of Uruguay’s population. The City is made up of many interconnected but distinct communities with tree lined streets, neighborhood shops, and outdoor cafes. Montevideo’s Centro and historic district (Ciudad Vieja) are known for period architecture and picturesque plazas. Montevideo has a wide seaside walk, great restaurants, theater, and several tango clubs.

6.2 Beach life: Uruguay has 200 miles of beautiful coastline that turns into a vacationland during the summer.  The coast is dotted with resorts and communities including the continents premier beach resort, Punta del Este. Punta del Este offers a 24-hour menu of recreation, events, and entertainment. Daytime sports include surfing, tennis, and golf. Punta hosts a long list of tournaments and competitions that include a major running event, polo, seven-a-side rugby, and yacht racing. The entertainment menu includes fashion shows on the beach, concerts, casinos, and dancing until the sun comes up. In addition to being a vacation resort, Punta del Este has a growing year-round international community.

6.3 Country life: Once you leave the coast, most of Uruguay is green rolling prairies. The country has large estates (called chacras), ranches (called estancias), and several agricultural supported communities, most with a town square (plaza) where people come in the evening to socialize. The vast prairies have scattered palm trees, small green parrots, and groups of large flightless birds (similar to an ostrich) called nandu. The country still has gauchos (South American cowboys) who lead lives of rugged simplicity. The nights are quiet, and the stars can be amazing.

(Some people in Uruguay enjoy more than one lifestyle by having two or three homes in different settings.)

7. Uruguay does not have hurricanes or earthquakes

Uruguay has never had an earthquakes or a hurricane.

8. Uruguay has first world infrastructure

Uruguay has good roads, safe drinking water, good public transportation, broad cell phone coverage, and widespread availability of high-speed internet. It has several airports and ports, which are being updated and expanded to keep up with Uruguay’s economic growth.

9. The people of Uruguay are well educated and friendly

Uruguay has a social climate that many people from North America and Western Europe find favorable. Uruguay has the most highly educated population and the largest middle class in Latin America. The people of Uruguay are generally friendly and tolerant with a strongly European culture.

10. Uruguay has a reasonable residency procedure

Applying for residency in Uruguay includes a criminal background check, a health check up, and a verification of a regular source of income, such as social security or a pension. The current income requirement is just 500 US dollars per month (considered the minimum amount a person can live on). New residents are allowed to bring in their household goods without duties or taxes.

Uruguay provides the opportunity to live a quiet life. It is a free country out of the spotlight of major world controversy.

About the Author: David Hammond is the author of Buying Real Estate in Uruguay, an  ebook available to purchase and download now. http://ebooks.escapeartist.com/products/country-reports/uruguay/buying-real-estate-in-uruguay/

For more information about living, investing or retiring in Uruguay visit his website

www.ParadiseUruguay.com or contact him by Email: David@ParadiseUruguay.com

This article first appeared in Expat Daily News.com

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  1. Dr. Tom Long September 15, 2009 at 7:30 pm

    Am interested in moving there and opening a small water purifying business. Also interested in purchasing property, but not certain, until I view the landscape, just what I might be interested in. However, a small farm with water well would be most interesting. I’m only familiar with the country from the information submitted here. Thanks for any additional information you might provide, air travel from U.S. etc. My home phone is:
    904 266 3299. I’m here in the mornings mostly and evenings.
    Tom Long

  2. Allen Kugi September 17, 2009 at 3:59 pm

    Sounds great, but I guess there’s no way to use Medicare benefits down there. Your pretty much on your own as far as securing health insurance at individual rates, I guess.

    • Susan Beverley September 29, 2009 at 8:51 am

      Hello Allen,

      Thank you for leaving your comment. Please check the next issue of Escape From America Magazine for an in-depth report on Medicare overseas.

      I would also suggest you contact the author of this article who is very knowledgeable about all issues relating to living and retiring in Uruguay and I am sure he will be happy to help you with your questions.

      Susan Beverley
      Escape Artist

    • David September 29, 2009 at 9:24 am

      Allen Kugi,

      Thanks for your comment.

      Medicare is a US system. Uruguay has private hospitals that offer medical plans, a public system for the poor, and I have heard that health insurance is becoming available. Medical costs in Uruguay are generally much less than in the US.

  3. frank September 20, 2009 at 10:40 pm

    I´ve heard that Uruguay is now discussing a similar deal with the IRS, Investors/tax cheaters beware!

    According to Bloomberg:

    IRS to Extend Leniency for UBS Offshore Disclosures (Update1)

    By Ryan J. Donmoyer

    Sept. 21 (Bloomberg) — The Internal Revenue Service will extend until Oct. 15 the ability of Americans with undeclared offshore accounts at UBS AG and other banks to avoid criminal prosecution and some fines if they disclose their holdings, a government official familiar with the program said.

    The agency will delay a Sept. 23 deadline at the request of accountants and tax lawyers who are experiencing an influx of inquiries and need more time to prepare formal “voluntary disclosure” applications under the program, the official said. More than 3,000 people have come forward since the IRS announced the partial amnesty in March, the official added.

    Americans with large undeclared offshore accounts have been under growing pressure since Switzerland agreed Aug. 19 to hand over data to the U.S. on as many as 4,450 UBS AG accounts to settle a lawsuit in which the U.S. had sought as many as 52,000 accounts. The IRS says it expects to handle as many as 10,000 cases related to the matter and about half will come from the voluntary disclosure program.

    “This is a positive step,” said Stuart Bassin, a partner at the Washington law firm Baker & Hostelter LLP and a former senior litigator in the Department of Justice Tax division. “This gives everybody a couple of weeks to digest what’s happened in the last three weeks and get their paperwork together.”

    UBS spokeswoman Allison Chin-Leong didn’t immediately return a call and e-mail seeking comment.

    Names of Clients

    The IRS has already received 250 names of UBS clients from a Feb. 18 settlement by the bank to avoid criminal prosecution, Commissioner Douglas Shulman said Aug. 19. The tax agency has described the names that may be turned over by the Swiss government in phases as the cases in which it’s most interested.

    On March 26, the IRS announced a six-month voluntary disclosure program that requires people with income in undeclared bank accounts to amend six years worth of tax returns, pay back taxes and some penalties.

    Those who come forward may be able to avoid criminal prosecution and the IRS may seize a smaller amount of an account’s assets than it would be entitled to otherwise under the law.

    The IRS can confiscate the higher of $100,000 or 50 percent of an offshore account’s value when the holder deliberately doesn’t disclose the account to Treasury. The penalty can apply each year the form isn’t filed, so after three years of noncompliance the account holder can owe 150 percent of the account’s value.

    Peak Value

    Under the IRS program announced in March, the tax agency will take 20 percent of the account’s assets based on its peak value in the previous six years. In cases where the accounts were inactive, the agency will confiscate as little as 5 percent.

    Pamela Olson, a partner at the law firm Skadden Arps and the former head of the Treasury Department’s tax policy office, called the IRS decision to extend the deadline until Oct. 15 “a good move” because it will yield more confessions.

    “There are still people who could use more time to get everything sorted out and get their affairs in order,” Olson said.

    Bassin said the disclosure program is also in the government’s best interest because “they can’t litigate and investigate 50,000 people at the same time.”

    Bassin said the 3,000 people who have come forward dwarfs the IRS’s usual voluntary disclosure programs. The government official, who spoke on condition he remain anonymous, said the IRS received less than 90 voluntary disclosure applications in 2008.

    Criminal Probes

    Even as the IRS tries to lure voluntary disclosures, the U.S. Justice Department has ramped up criminal probes, so far prosecuting two UBS bankers, five of its U.S. clients, a Liechtenstein adviser, a Swiss lawyer, and a manager at Zurich- based Neue Zuercher Bank.

    Also, Sept. 23 is the deadline to file a separate form with the Treasury Department called the Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts, an annual disclosure for Americans who own accounts valued at more than $10,000 in other countries. Oct. 15 is the deadline for filing 2008 tax returns.

    The disclosure program and the U.S. lawsuit settled by UBS are helping the U.S. squelch offshore tax evasion by pursuing financial institutions and intermediaries including law firms, Shulman said last month. The U.S. loses $100 billion a year through offshore tax evasion, estimated U.S. Senator Carl Levin, a Michigan Democrat.

    Lawrence Horn, an attorney at Sills Cummis & Gross in Newark, New Jersey, said the government stands a better chance of recovering that money by extending the deadline.

    “The money is coming in, why turn off the faucet?” he said. “It would be in my opinion a mistake for the Internal Revenue Service not to extend this program at least until Thanksgiving, if not the end of the year, in view of how successful it’s been. The government doesn’t lose anything by extending.”

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  5. BrianJUY December 27, 2009 at 8:06 pm

    Hey everyone… To hear it from the horses mouth… Insurance through Ascocion Espanola for myself, my wife and 19 month old daughter along with ambulance service is right at U$S 200 per month…

    We’ve been living here for almost 8 months and we’re loving the country… This article is right on when it speaks about the positives of living here…

    You can click on my name to go to our website “Exploring Uruguay” or you can visit our blog http://blog.exploringuruguay.com

  6. Colombia Tours May 12, 2011 at 8:17 pm


    Nice post.I like the way you start and then conclude your thoughts. Thanks for this information .I really appreciate your work, keep it up.

  7. Allan May 6, 2012 at 3:39 pm

    Uraguay, here I come!!!!

  8. nick taylor November 9, 2012 at 6:55 pm

    I look forward to a Uruguay visit early next year.

  9. Aj Doran January 15, 2014 at 6:51 pm

    Is it possible to make money there doing sometime investing. Are there any specials for people over 65. Am I allowed to visit with just my U.S. Passport” Is land cheap?

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