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
This article first appeared in Expat Daily News.com