I attended a conference in Punta del Este, Uruguay in March 2017. I never got around to writing about what I learned due to a heavy travel schedule. I liked Uruguay enough to return and am writing from La Paloma, Rocha, Uruguay now (October 2017). The2017 Offshore Investment Summit was a production of Banyan Hill Publishing (formerly The Sovereign Society).
When I attended the conference in March, I was pleasantly surprised by many things. Because of this and because I met a very nice couple who live in Uruguay part of the year, I decided to come back and hang out with them for a week. I wanted to see Uruguay through their eyes. They’ve been coming to Uruguay for 4 years during the North American winters.
They have chosen to stay in La Paloma when they’re in Uruguay. I’ll be in Uruguay for 13 days this trip and I am spending 8 of those days in La Paloma with my friends. I’m meeting their friends and seeing how they spend their time. October is still the off-season for La Paloma, as well as for Punta del Este, so things are still pretty sleepy or tranquilo here.
In fact, it’s sometimes hard to find a restaurant to eat at. Many are only open during the high season. If my friends weren’t here, I would be concerned about starving while I’m here. I like to eat one good meal at a restaurant each day. My friends have rented a car, which makes it easy to get to places outside La Paloma and explore other areas.
What I Like About Uruguay in a Nutshell
Here are some of the things I learned and liked about Uruguay at the conference in March, with supplemental information from my friends.
- Qualifying for residency is easy. I used to think that you have to have a high income or a high net worth to qualify for residency here. I asked a lawyer that handles residency and it sounds like even as little as $800/month income is enough to qualify. They want you to have enough stable income to be able to support yourself.
- The income does not have to be from social security or a pension, although if it is, that makes it very easy to qualify. If you could show that you earn that much from work which you can continue to do in Uruguay, I think that would work. Likewise, if you have investment income, that would also be sufficient, I think, as long as it’s not something that’s short-term.
- The other piece of information that really got me to sit up and take notice is that, once you qualify for citizenship, you don’t need to renounce your other citizenship. They allow dual citizenship!
- If I apply for residency, I would get temporary residency the day I apply. I must live here for 6 months out of the year to get permanent residency. Then, it takes 5 years for a single person to get citizenship. It only takes 3 years for a married couple to get citizenship. There are other qualifications for citizenship and I don’t know what they all are. My understanding is that they want to see that you are assimilating. Proof of assimilation consists of having Uruguayan friends, and having a bank account, a doctor, and/or a dentist in Uruguay. There may be more to it, but I’m not going to make things up.
- Uruguay is never involved in any world conflicts. You never hear about them in the news. Nobody wants to bomb Uruguay or create chaos here. I like that. I have no need to live in a place the is constantly a target for countries who want to disrupt those in power.
- Uruguay has a low level of government corruption. Transparency International ranks them at 21 out of the 176 countries they ranked. For comparison, the U.S. is ranked at 18.
- Uruguay has great farmland. There is a registry for all farmland which carries information about the type of soil and what it’s best for raising (e.g. crops, trees, or cattle). There is a huge aquifer beneath Uruguay as well as lots of water on the surface (as I saw when I flew into Montevideo from Bogotá).
- The country has a higher population of cows than of humans. There are 4 cows per capita.
- It’s easy for foreigners of European descent to blend in here. It was populated by Europeans. When I was waiting to take the ferry from Montevideo to Buenos Aires in March, people tried to ask me questions about the ferry. They thought I was one of them. I’ve never had that happen anywhere else.
- It has had a solid middle class for a long time. This is not true of most other countries in Latin America. It’s nice to live amongst equals and not a lot of people who see you as a target for thievery.
- It’s very safe in Uruguay, except for some parts of Montevideo. No one worries about their house being burglarized or about being mugged. There are a few parts of Montevideo where you must be careful after dark, but most of it is also pretty safe. I have not spent any time there yet.
- When things are bad in their neighboring countries, it benefits Uruguay because then the wealthy people in those countries move assets and themselves to Uruguay. The real estate here does not have mortgages so prices are stable and there tends to be no foreclosures.
- It has 4 seasons, but the winters are mild.
I looked at some chacras when I first arrived in Punta del Este on this trip. Chacras are small parcels of farmland (about 5 hectares). I will tell you what I learned in my next correspondence.
Yours in prosperity,
Sophia Hilton (A Savvy Woman)