Ushuaia : Argentina


What It Is Like to Retire in Ushuaia

Ushuaia (pronounced u-shwa'-a) is a small city at the tip of Argentine South America. It is commonly regarded as the southernmost city in the world (a title long disputed by smaller Puerto Williams in Chile). It is located on the Beagle Channel, which, along with Drake Passage and Straits of Magellan, is one of the 3 routes around Cape Horn and South America. The British ship HMS Beagle under the command of Captain Robert FitzRoy first reached the Beagle channel on January 29, 1833 during its maiden voyage surveying Tierra del Fuego. Located at the end of the southern hemisphere, it is becoming an important tourist destination for people traveling to Antarctica, the Falklands, or visiting Tierra del Fuego National Park or Patagonia.  The shops are filled with outdoor gear and the streets populated with sporting types ready for outdoor fun.  For many years the biggest industry was a large and historic prison, which had more inmates (some of them political prisoners) than the town had regular residents. Many of the homes and buildings are quite attractive. The area reminds a lot of people of Alaska. The population is 57,000.  


Where to Retire in Ushuaia and Home Prices

The city is growing rapidly with many neighborhoods surrounding the city , particularly to the west.  Construction seems uneven - there are many new buildings, yet some are unoccupied.  Real estate prices are affected by tight environmental restrictions.  Locals complain that although they tend to get paid more than in other parts of Argentina, the cost of housing is so high that it makes life difficult.  There are some nice parts of town, a few shantytowns, and other upscale areas that are clearly more for expatriates.


What Is Special about Ushuaia

The scenery is first rate here, with a beautiful port, the Beagle Channel, and snow capped mountains year round.  Opportunities for wildlife viewing and the outdoors are exceptional. It is considered one of the safest cities in Argentina. It also would make a great crossword clue as "southernmost city" with its exceptional vowel/consonant ratio. There is an interesting 9 hole golf course here set in the mountains - it is the southernmost golf course in the world.


What Is Not Special about Ushuaia

It never gets too warm here, and it is really far away from anything. The best route driving here involves ferries and passing through Chile.  The town is more expensive than many places in Argentina. The area has special tax protections because the national government is trying to promote manufacturing here, although many Argentines believe these plants are ruining the area (althought they are not noticeable to the casual tourist). Argentina has a troubled government with a history of dictators plus a tortured economy. Conversions of pesos to other currencies are controlled and the black market for exchange flourishes (in 2013 the official rate was less than 5 pesos/$US  but the black market rate is over 7).  One friend described this as a 2nd world country, not up to 1st world standards but not undeveloped either.


Who Will Like Retirement in Ushuaia

Outdoor oriented and adventurous people who want to live in Argentina.


Local Economy Is Driven by

Tourism, the port, and finishing of manufactured products being imported into the country.


Climate and Physical Environment

Being in the southern hemisphere, the seasons are reversed from what North Americans are used to. January, the warmest month, tends to be in the 50s and in July the norm is the 30's (F). This is a port city and tall mountains and glaciers go straight up from the city. There is a large ski area just a few miles from town, as well as the entrance to Tierra del Fuego National Park and its many attractions.


Restaurants & Cultural Scene

Being a tourist area there are any number of good restaurants. King Crab is a local specialty, as is Sea Bass.  While Argentines love their meat, it is usually beef. Ushuaia is the exception, lamb and barbecued lamb is the local treat. Several restaurants feature picture windows highlighting split lamb carcasses being roasted over an open wood fire.  If you order one of the specialities you will get a lot of it - bring a big appetite.  Two good restaurants on a recent visit were Mustacchio and Restaurante Tante Nina. White wines are good. The historic prison and Maritime Museum are in the same building and worth a visit.  The National University of Patagonia San Juan Boscooperates a campus in Ushuaia. Other than that, the outdoors and nature are the cultural attractions.



People who come here from other areas cite it as being a safe place to live.

Medical Facilities

Hospital Gobernador Ernesto M. Campo serve the public, and there is also a private clinic.



The modern airport is international and has daily flights to many cities in Argentina. The port is advanced with daily cruise ships coming and going. Automobile transportation to the rest of the country is difficult, as this is the southern terminus of the Pan American Highway.


Valuable Links

Wikipedia page on Ushuaia


What people are saying about Ushuaia

new topic ushuaia
Posted by topretirementseditor on March 04, 2013

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