Knowing what I know now, it’s possible that Uruguay may be the best retirement destination you could treat yourself to. Not the cheapest…but the best. (And still at about half the cost of living in North America these days.)
Uruguay offers the very best of Latin America and Europe all rolled up into one surprisingly appealing package.
Unlike much of Latin America (and even parts of Europe these days), it comes with a stable government, a strong economy, and a well-known reputation for personal safety. Its people are warm and welcoming…as is its government.
The process to obtain residency in Uruguay is easy — perhaps that’s because no one in Uruguay is a “local” — everyone can trace their roots back a generation or two to Italy, Spain, Portugal, France, Ireland, Germany…
And all of those immigrants learned what I recently learned: That Uruguay has it all, from a rich coast and a bountiful sea full of delectable seafood…to fertile farmland where you can easily grow everything from greens to grapevines (Uruguayan wine rivals those produced in Chile and Argentina). Uruguay also produces record wheat crops and is well-known for its tender, grass-fed beef.
The European heritage in Uruguay remains strong in many ways… from food to music…to the Old World architecture of the cities… as well as in the physical appearance of the people themselves. It’s one of the few places in Latin America where a pale, 6’ 5” guy like me doesn’t stick out like a sore thumb.
There are little villages in the Uruguayan interior that have been settled by Italians (excellent pasta), Swiss (flavorful cheese), and Germans (delicious bratwurst and potato salad.) I’m told there is even one village, up near the border with Argentina and Brazil, settled by the Irish where almost everyone has red hair.
And a fun fact: Supposedly, as a percentage of the population, there are more left-handed people in Uruguay than most anyplace else. A grade school teacher in Uruguay told us she doesn’t know if that’s because, as some scientists think, lefties are more creative than right-handers. (And Uruguayans are definitely resourceful and creative.) Or if it’s because Uruguayans are so open-minded.
“Instead of trying to change our children into using their right hand,” she says, “we just let them be.”
And that’s one more area where Uruguay stands out: tolerance.
“Uruguayans are very tolerant and inclusive,” one expat says. “I’ve always been uncomfortable in parts of Latin America where there is a distinction between, for instance, the wealthy foreigners and the poor servers. There really isn’t a class division here…and that adds to my quality of life.”