Top 10 reasons to think about retiring in this ocean-side paradise
The first question people always ask when they find out where we bought our vacation home is – why Uruguay?
It’s a reasonable question. Uruguay is a small country and since it’s at least 10 hours flight from our home in North America, it hardly registers on most people’s radars there. When they think of South America they usually picture some vague jungle scene from “Romancing the Stone”. They definitely don’t envision the “Hamptons-meets-Miami” enclave that is our chosen destination – Punta del Este, Uruguay.
So why did we choose Uruguay?
- Great weather
If you’re from the northern hemisphere, you’ll love having a destination with the opposite seasons from home. You can time it right so you’ll never have to experience winter again.
Our town of Punta del Este is on a peninsula jutting in to the Atlantic ocean, so we usually get strong breezes from one direction or the other. Even when the temperatures soar, we rarely have to use air conditioning as we can just leave our windows wide open to catch the breeze. Those breezes also mean no mosquitoes to worry about!
- Beautiful beaches
Uruguay’s coastline is basically beautiful white sand beach for hundreds of miles. You’ll find a beach to suite any mood, whether you’re looking for a laid-back, hippy enclave (Cabo Polonio), big-city access (Montevideo), or a jet-setting lifestyle (Jose Ignacio) – there’s something for everyone. And of course, all that coastline means endless opportunities for surfing, sailing, paddle-boarding, diving, etc – any water-sport you can think of.
- Wide variety of things to do
Since Punta del Este is a top destination for South American tourists, there are ample restaurants, bars, clubs, casinos, art galleries, museums, concerts, special events (regattas, car races, film festivals) and other things to do.
The peak tourist season is busy, but it only lasts for a few weeks each year. That means for the rest of summer, while the weather is still amazing, there are a wide range of amenities to enjoy without the huge crowds.
- Close to even more things to do
Uruguay is located where the continent begins to narrow, so it’s easy to get to other destinations in South America. We are able to explore jungles, deserts, glaciers, historic sites, world-class cities and so much more, all within a few hours travel from our vacation home. This is a huge plus coming from Canada, where it’s easier to travel to Europe then it is to get around parts of our own country.
- Same standard of living
People often ask how difficult it is to access modern amenities here. I blame Hollywood – people have been led to believe that all of South America is some dangerous, poverty-stricken place. I can’t stress how much that’s not the case! Supermarkets, shopping malls, cinemas, etc. – they’re all just like you’d find at home (and in some cases, even better).
Uruguay is known as a stable, progressive country with a socially-minded government. They were among the first countries to legalize gay marriage, decriminalize marijuana use, and provide every school child with a laptop. They are moving towards clean fuels and are generally at the forefront of social issues in Latin America.
- Lovely people
All the Uruguayans we have met have been friendly and more than happy to chat with an “extranjero”. The vibe is generally more laidback, with a typical Sunday seeing everyone gathering with friends and family to just chill on the beach or in someone’s backyard. The most popular activity in Punta del Este seems to be strolling along the boardwalk each evening to enjoy the sunset before dinner.
- Not an English-speaking enclave
Since this is primarily a South American tourist destination, the beaches aren’t overrun with English speakers. We really didn’t want to end up somewhere that we’d become insulated in a large ex-pat community. (What would be point of moving somewhere else if we did that?)
While it’s possible to get by in English, Spanish is definitely an asset here. We’re working on it and with any luck, we’ll finally end up fluent!
- Far from the worries of home
The distance means relief from hearing about the constant fear of terrorism or the non-stop coverage of the latest political kerfuffle. Honestly, you have no idea what a psychic toll it takes on you until you get away from the incessant background noise of the North American/European news cycle.
- Not so commercialized
You know how everywhere you go there are usually people lined up trying to sell you stuff? That doesn’t happen here. It’s surprising to be on a beach full of tourists in the center of a major destination and find there aren’t t-shirt shops and souvenir stands lining the beaches. The idea that you have to buy things all the time to have fun just doesn’t seem to have caught on here.
And most importantly:
- Possibilities – Uruguay feels like it’s just starting to come into its own on the world stage. As newcomers, it feels like there are so many possibilities for us here and a promising future in a welcoming new country.
It’s hard to capture what is so wonderful about Uruguay in words. It just has this perfect combination of beautiful weather, varied geography, great food, a laid-back lifestyle and chill, friendly people that all go into one overall result – happiness!
Contributor: Lianne Winterburn