Why Retire In Punta Del Este Uruguay: The Hidden Gem

aerial photography of the city of punta del este

Do you like Uruguay and looking for a cheap place to retire?  This article will show you Punta Del Este and give you all you need to know to start your retirement there.  I will also share with you some tips and tricks that will help you as well.

Punta Del Este, Uruguay, is a beach town with about 70,000 people in it and surrounding areas.  It is referred to at the “Hamptons of South America” for its laid-back lifestyle and long golden beach Playa Brava.  Uruguay is cheap, has great health care, and is a very safe place to live. It is also a cruise port destination.

In this article we will discuss everything that is important to your retirement like:

  • Healthcare
  • Security
  • Visas
  • Real Estate
  • Cost Of Living
  • Transportation
  • Lifestyle And Culture
  • Weather
  • Food
  • Local Attractions

Now that you know what there is to know about retiring in Punta Del Este, let’s dig in deeper and let me give you some greater detail about these.

Introduction To Punta Del Este

Punta Del Este is located in South America in Uruguay is famous for its coastlines and countrysides. The Latin culture and Spanish-speaking people are very welcoming with great food, and a vibrate lifestyle makes it a perfect place to retire. Being in a smaller town, you will have to learn a little bit of Spanish to live locally.

Punta Del Este is rich with multimillion-dollar yachts and golden beaches. High-rise apartments on the beachfront and modern houses provide you with a familiar style of living to other tops of pyramid countries. The city is known for being visited by famous celebrities, politicians, rich businessmen and holiday tourists from all over the world.  This is why the city is growing rapidly.

The high season for tourism is from November to February in the summer months, like with most southern hemisphere countries where short-term rental prices can be four times the price.  The town really comes alive during this period and is a favored holiday destination.

Punta del Este’s coastline is divided into two parts by Río de la Plata, which is also the beginning of the Atlantic Ocean. Both parts of the coastline are totally contrasting. Mansa is called Quiet Beach as it has thick and golden sand. 

The Brava side of the coast is called Rough Beach and it has white sand. Another distinction between these two is that of the strength of the waves, Mansa has quieter waters, and Brava has rough waters. 

For more information about Punta Del Este, you can check out the tourist information link below.

LINK: Tourism Punta Del Este

What Is Healthcare Like in Punta Del Este?

Healthcare in Uruguay is first world quality in general and in Punta Del Este it has many local hospitals and medical clinics.  The best rated local hospital is the Asociacion Espanola which is at the edge of Punta Del Este.  For around $100 usd per month you can get a membership to most hospitals that works much like normal healthcare insurance.  For emergency medical care  you can be at the hospital in about 10-20 minutes with small waiting times.

Good local private hospital setups are working and providing good health care services there. In addition to that, there is a British hospital in Montevideo called Hospital Britanico that is a 2 hour drive or bus ride away. If you want a health care plan with them it will cost you about $300 USD per month for a premium plan. Otherwise you can use the public health system if you are a permanent resident or citizen as well called Administración de Los Servicios de Salud del Estado (ASSE).

How Safe Is Punta Del Este?

To be honest, safety and security in Uruguay was a big concern back in 2015-16. Since then as more and more tourists are becoming aware of the benefits of retiring  to Uruguay the government is taking strict actions to control crime. 

Uruguay ranks as a Level-2 on the Travel Advisory by the US State Department, as a country for safety. The government is putting in strict laws to protect tourists and foreigners that has stamped out lots of crime all over Uruguay.

What Visas Are Available To Retire To Uruguay?

In Uruguay, you can apply for a permanent or temporary resident visa as they don’t have a retirement visa as such. You can look at both of these options in your local country Uruguay embassy. Seeing that Uruguay is only a small country with 3.4 million people it does not have a website for visas and you will have to contact by phone or in person for your visa. The link below will help you find the embassy in your local country.

LINK: List of Uruguay embassies around the world

What Is Real Estate Like in Punta Del Este?

Punta Del Este is expensive compared to other cities of Uruguay mainly due to being a major tourist area. It is also locally referred to as “Monaco of South America”.  A one bedroom one bath unit to buy in an urbanisation near the main town of Maldonado starts at $60k USD.  One in  the town of Maldonado has a starting price of around $85 USD.  And finally on the beach at Punta Del Este you are looking at a starting price of around $100k USD.

If you are renting you would expect to pay around $400 to $750 usd per month for a 1 bedroom unit in Punta Del Este and less if you go to the local town of Maldonado.  Then you work up from there depending on how many bedrooms and bathrooms you want and if you want a freestanding house.  My recommendation is always to go for a month getting the monthly discount on Airbnb and check out the place and then get a local rental while there.   

Here are some local real estate agents where you can review rental and purchase prices:

What Is The Cost Of Living In Punta Del Este?

The cost of living is much cheaper in Punta Del Este than in the USA, UK, Canada, and Australia.  I have put together a list of approximate expenses for you in the table below to give you an idea of what it would cost to live there.

Monthly ExpenseUSD Cost
Rent – 3 bedroom (85m2)$ 160
Rent – 1 bedroom unit $ 55
Utilities (Electricity, Gas, Rates)$ 52
Internet$ 18
Maid Service$ 105
Groceries$ 100
Dining Out (2 people) x 4$ 50
Healthcare$ 200
Fitness or Social Club Membership$ 26
Total Expenses (3 bed)$ 1140
Total Expenses (1 bed)$ 640

So, we can easily see that a retired couple can comfortably enjoy a good lifestyle for a price much lesser than $1000 (USD) per month.

What Type Of Transport Is Available In Punta Del Este?

The local international airport is the Maldonado Aeropuerto de Punta del Este.  You also have access in a 2 hour drive or bus ride from the centre of town to the main Uruguay International airport as well.

Just like with most places in the world you have local bus and taxi services as well as Uber that you can use to get around.  Most of the locals due to the slowed down lifestyle will also opt to ride a bike around town then get the car out as well.

Will I Enjoy The Lifestyle And Culture Of Punta Del Este?

Being a Spanish speaking country you can expect the usual latin lifestyle where life is celebrated and everyone is included.  Punta del Este being a beach town there are heaps of festivals that happen on the beach including the local Carnaval of Uruguay celebrations from mid January to late February in the summer season.  

The laid back beach lifestyle suits most retirees that are looking to slow down their lifestyle.  The people are friendly and helpful and being a tourist town most of the local tour operators and shop keepers also speak English as well. 

Is The Weather Good Year Round In Punta Del Este?

The weather in Punta del Este is great in the summer between December to February with temperatures around 18 to 27 deg C on average.  In the winter from June to July the temperatures get down to 7 to 14 deg C.  Most of the rain falls in the summer months but it also has the most sunny days in the year with on average only 8 rainy days.  During winter it is more likely to be overcast but has very little rain.  March and October have the highest rainfall of all the months in the year.

For more information on the local weather you can check out:
LINK: Uruguay Meteorological Institute

What Is Local Food Like In Punta Del Este?

With major exports of beef and chicken, soybeans and dairy you will find a lot of these locally and when you include that Argentina next door to Uruguay is a major work exporter of beef you will not be short of meat dishes. You won’t find a lot of lamb dishes but you will never be short of a chicken or beef schnitzel called Milanesas locally. You will find local bbq’s on the streets as well as lots of local fruit and vegetables.

Some local dishes to try would be:

  • Asado – a Uruguayan meat grill or bbq
  • Chivito – a steak sandwich with papas fritas (french fries)
  • Empanadas – a pastry pocket with savory and sweet filling
  • Bizcochos – local pastries

Below are some local restaurants you can check out:

  • I’marangatú – Cocktail Bar and Bakery Cafe
  • Sipan – Famous for seafood and sushi
  • Cactus Y Pescados – Also famous for seafood and sushi
  • Lo De Tere – They make south American food the best
  • Parador La Huella – Bar & Restaurant of seafood and south American with desserts
  • Porto 5 – If you want to sit on the beachline and have a nice meal, this is for you. 

TIP: Check out the highly rated Lighthouse Resturant at the Grand Hotel

What Languages do they speak in Punta Del Este, Uruguay?

Spanish is the national language of Uruguay and you will find a lot of the younger generation speak English as well.  With smaller towns like the Maldonado region, you will need to learn a little Spanish to get around.

Here is a local language school you can contact for lessons: 
LINK: Spanish Herradura Language School

What To Do In Punta Del Este?

There are not as many things to do in town as you would find in the bigger cities as it is a local beach town.  But if your idea of retirement is walking down the beach, shopping, and eating out at local restaurants then this is definitely the relaxed town for you.

Here are some great things to do around town:

There is also a traditional event of “Punta Del Este Sevens,” a rugby competition, takes place in January every year that is well worth seeing.

There are heaps of the usual boutique shops around Punta del Este especially in the tourist areas.  Your local big shopping centre is Punta Shopping where you will find everything you need for day to day living.  You also have access to the Maldonado city shopping as well which is close by.

For a list of the current events check out the Centro de Información Turística which is at the end of the beach Playa Brava and this is also the location of the start of the free walking tour for the area as well.

For some local tourist attractions check out this google maps link:
LINK: Punta del Este Tourist Attractions

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