Best Places to Retire in Uruguay - A Guide
Uruguay is a constitutional democracy with a large, educated middle class and a robust developing economy. The capital city is Montevideo. Tourist facilities are generally good with many five star accommodations at resort destinations such as Punta del Este and Colonia de Sacramento. Spanish is the national language. English is frequently understood in major tourist hotels or resorts but is not widely used outside those areas. The country has beautiful beaches and is generally regarded as a good place to live. Over 88% of the population claims to be of European descent. Agriculture is a big component of the economy.
Residency. It is relatively easy to become a resident of Uruguay, in fact the government encourages immigration. You will have to have a medical exam, stay in the country a certain amount of time, not have a criminal record, and be able to prove you have a monthly income of at least $500/month US. According to Wikipedia you can become a citizen after investing a large sum of money in Uruguay or bringing an important contribution to science, art, or industry of Uruguay and after 3 years of residence in the country.
Crime and Security. In general we read reports that Uruguay is considered a very safe country. This is what the U.S. State Department says about safety and security in Uruguay: Protests, some with anti-U.S. sentiment, are common in Uruguay, particularly near the Legislative Palace, City Hall, and the Universidad de la Republica (University of the Republic) in Montevideo. Street crime is common throughout Montevideo and criminals may resort to violence when the victims resist. Common targets for criminals may include tourists, individuals openly carrying valuable items, and motorists in unlocked vehicles stopped at busy intersections, including Montevideo's riverfront road known as the Rambla. Not all parts of the country receive regular police patrols. Montevideo continues to experience armed robberies of patrons at crowded restaurants. Most of these crimes have occurred late at night.
Taxes. A 2012 change in the law grants foreign residents (more than 183 days a year) a 5 year exemption on income from outside the country. After that there is a 12% tax on foreign interest and dividends. Double taxation of income is avoided. See this Uruguayan Tax page for more.
Medical. US Medicare is not honored in Uruguay. From the U.S. State Department: "Facilities for medical care in Uruguay are considered adequate. Serious medical problems requiring hospitalization and/or medical evacuation to the United States can cost tens of thousands of dollars." Check with your insurer to make sure you have coverage while in Uruguay.
Cost of Living. Uruguay is a low cost country to live. The numbeo.com price comparison (CPI plus rent) shows Uruguay with an index of 55, vs. the U.S. with 60 and UK at 73. The Local Purchasing Power Index shows 37 for Italy vs. 89 for the UK and 136 for the U.S.
Climate. From Wikipedia: Located entirely within a temperate zone, Uruguay has a climate that is relatively mild and fairly uniform nationwide. Seasonal variations are pronounced, but extremes in temperature are rare. High humidity and fog are common. The absence of mountains makes all locations vulnerable to high winds and rapid changes in weather as fronts or storms sweep across the country.
Best Places to Live. Many people are attracted to the beach and resort towns near Argentina, such as Colonia de Sacramento.
Pluses and Minuses. Uruguay is a low cost and generally safe place for expatriate retirement. Medical care is adequate, but not up to US and European standards. It is a long way from most places. The climate is idea and so are the beaches. The government is stable.