(This article was last updated on Jan. 27, 2023.)
How to retire in Uruguay in 2023 – that will be the topic of today’s article.
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Table of Contents
It’s no surprise that pensioners are flocking to Uruguay. This South American country, located between Argentina and Brazil, is recognized for its kind people and diverse culture.
Such dynamic country has grown in popularity as a retirement destination because of its mild climate, stable economy, clean drinking water, inexpensive healthcare, gorgeous beaches, low taxes, low cost of living.
In addition, Uruguay continues to be the most peaceful country in South America, according to the available Global Peace Index 2022 from the Institute of Peace.
If the thought of retiring in Uruguay piques your interest, make sure you grasp the country’s visa and immigration rules, cost of living, healthcare system, and other factors. You might even want to consult with a financial professional before making your final decision.
How to Retire in Uruguay: Visas
Do you need a visa to enter and stay in Uruguay?
To enter Uruguay, US citizens and certain other countries do not require a visa unless they intend to remain in the country for longer than 180 days. Foreign nationals are given a temporary visa valid for 90 days upon arrival, which, in exchange for an extra fee, can be extended for a further 90 days. You are required to get a visa in order to extend your stay for a longer period.
Visas are available in a variety of forms in Uruguay. A retirement visa is the most common. This allows you to bring your automobile without paying taxes and provides you with a Uruguayan passport. This visa takes time to get.
How do you apply for a retirement visa?
You are required to go to the official website of the Interior Ministry – National Directorate of Migration, register yourself, and then fill up the web form in order to complete your visa application online.
Remember that you need to attach your paperwork to your online application form and in order to do so, they must all be in PDF format. If you do not have them in such format when you apply, your application will be rejected.
For applications in person, you are required to report to the consulate of Uruguay or at the National Directorate of Migration’s office that is located near your place of residence. There, you will be expected to fill up the application form and submit supporting paperwork.
What are the eligibility requirements for a retirement visa in Uruguay?
You need to fulfill all of the following requirements in order to be eligible for a Retirement Visa:
- Acquire (a) property within the nation’s borders that is intended for a house-room, which must be worth at least 100,000 USD and may not be left unoccupied for a decade, or (b) Uruguayan government-issued debt bonds worth at least 100,000 USD that will stay in the Banco de la Republica Oriental del Uruguay (BROU) for a at least a decade.
- Get a retirement income or other profits earned from overseas worth at least 1,500 USD per month.
What documents do you need to submit?
In order to apply for a Retirement Visa in Uruguay, you will need to present the following documents, all of which should be transcribed into Spanish and notarized:
- Application form for retirement visa. Fill out the application form in its entirety, then print it out to take to the Uruguayan consulate. When you submit your application online, you won’t be required to have the form printed.
- Passport. When you submit your application form plus other relevant paperwork, you must do so while in possession of a valid passport.
- A photo. Include a photo that was taken within the last two weeks and is sized appropriately for a passport in accordance with the instructions provided on the application form.
- Clearance from the police. You are required to present a statement from the police in your country of origin as evidence that you do not face any criminal charges and are not seen as a potential danger to Uruguay.
- Proof of income. You are required to provide paperwork demonstrating that you have a consistent stream of income to sustain yourself and that you obtain a passive income in your bank account that fulfills the required amount.
- Medical report. You are required to provide a comprehensive medical report as evidence that you do not suffer from any infectious conditions.
A permanent residence application can take months or even years to process; some people have reported that the procedure might take up to two years. To begin residing in Uruguay full-time, you don’t need a permanent residence visa or a passport.
You can seek for citizenship after completing five years of full-time residency if you are single and three years if you are a married couple. To become a citizen of Uruguay, you must be able to demonstrate that you spend the most of your time there and intend to stay.
Since the country recognizes the legitimacy of holding dual citizenship, you will not be required to give up your American citizenship in order to move to and retire in Uruguay.
What benefits can you enjoy with a retirement visa?
You will be eligible for a number of benefits if you obtain a retirement visa for Uruguay, said Visa Guide, including the following:
- You will not be required to pay any taxes or customs duties during the first half of the year you secured your permanent residence
- You are not required to go through any exchange legalities and are exempt from paying any kind of taxes or other relevant fees if you choose to bring in personal belongings and other household items from another country.
- If you have been a resident of Uruguay for at least four years, you are exempt from having to pay any customs duties or taxes in order to transfer a vehicle that was originally registered outside of the country
- Guarantee that your life insurance policy will continue to be in effect and valid in Uruguay at all times, as well as guarantee that your retirement policy will remain effective even if it was purchased or contracted outside of the country
Cost of Living in Uruguay
How much do you need to retire in Uruguay?
While Uruguay is not the cheapest South American country, living expenditures are significantly lower than in the United States. According to Numbeo, a website that gathers cost of living data from individuals, you must have 3,593 US Dollars in Uruguayan capital Montevideo to retain the same living standards that you could have in New York for 9,000 USD. This is true as of the time of update.
While the cost of living will vary depending on your lifestyle and particular area, you would spend around 112,793 Uruguayan pesos (2,918.5 USD) per month if you are a family with four members and 31,487 pesos (815 USD) if you are alone.
According to data from Numbeo, the national average for a one-bedroom apartment is 21,545 pesos (557 USD) in a metropolis and 17,115 pesos (443 USD) in the suburbs.
If you want a bit more space or extra rooms for when your family comes to visit, the national average cost for a three-bedroom apartment in the city center is around 36,183 pesos (936 USD) per month and 32,034 pesos (329 USD) in the suburbs. Quality homes may be relatively inexpensive for seniors in the country.
You should anticipate to pay 590 pesos (15 USD) for a meal at a cheap restaurant, 48 pesos (1.24 USD) for a public transport ticket, and around 5,337 pesos (138 USD) per month for essential utilities including power, heating, cooling, water, waste collection and internet.
Of course, the cost of housing will vary based on the city in which you choose to retire in Uruguay.
According to Statista, Montevideo is the sixth-most costly city in Latin America and the Caribbean in 2022. If you’re searching for a less costly neighborhood, try one of Uruguay’s rural towns, such as Mercedes or Atlántida.
Healthcare in Uruguay
Do you have access to private healthcare when you retire in Uruguay?
Many seniors are looking for low-cost healthcare coverage. Fortunately, Uruguay has a strong healthcare system that is free of constraints and provides healthcare and quality medical treatment to all residents.
Uruguay’s private hospital membership model, known as mutualista, is what distinguishes it. After accepting the membership, the hospital provides members with healthcare services ranging from doctor visits to emergency department treatment. This plan’s monthly membership price is typically under $100, plus a minor co-pay when visiting a doctor.
Mutualista was the country’s solution to the problem of providing not only its citizens but also its visitors with private medical care that was both affordable and of high quality.
Additionally, mutualistas frequently offer discounts on various medications. In contrast to health insurance, Uruguay’s Mutualista scheme does not impose deductibles or annual or lifetime limits on coverage.
What about public healthcare?
Because of the higher standard, more affluent people frequently choose the Mutualista plans for their insurance needs. Despite this, the nation’s public hospitals continue to provide care of a satisfactory standard, with numerous publicly funded hospitals even offering specialized medical care.
The public healthcare system in Uruguay is quite comparable to that of Mutualista plans. The most important distinction is that patients with low or no income do not have to pay for their medical treatment.
Furthermore, individuals who have pre-existing conditions and the seniors have greater access to healthcare options through the public sector. Anyone who possesses a valid Uruguayan ID card has access to the country’s publicly funded medical system.
Because of the collaboration between the public and private sectors, both locals and foreign nationals have access to a diverse range of medical treatment options in the country.
It’s crucial to understand that Uruguay isn’t a popular location for medical tourists. This implies that if you visit Uruguay and require medical assistance, it may be rather costly. Long-term healthcare insurance, on the other hand, may provide stability and value to both expats and locals.
Also note that since Spanish is the predominant language in Uruguay, it is highly likely that you will not be able to receive medical treatment in English at the majority of the country’s hospitals. When you go to a medical facility, you should bring either a native Spanish speaker or someone who can translate for you. This will help you communicate more effectively.
Because it is widely regarded as the best medical facility in the country and because its staff is able to communicate in English, the British Hospital in Montevideo is where the majority of foreign visitors and residents of Uruguay choose to seek medical attention. Asociación Española is yet another facility that is very well-liked by expats for medical care.
Housing in Uruguay
What’s important for acquiring a house for when you retire in Uruguay?
Buying a home in Uruguay is rather simple. Uruguay is regarded as one of the safest areas in South America to buy a house.
When it comes to acquiring property in Uruguay, both Uruguayans and non-Uruguayans are subject to the same rules. You must, however, hire a public notary to create any legal documents and to certify that they are in good order. For example, they will tell you whether the property has any outstanding debts or anything else that might prevent you from acquiring it.
Remember that Uruguay has all four seasons when you’re looking for a place to reside. Furthermore, certain locations appeal to expats more than others. Be careful to engage the services of a lawyer, notary, and real estate agent while you conduct your investigation.
The formal and legal home-buying procedure begins with a boleto de reserva, or reservation contract, once you’ve identified a house you wish to pursue. The contract will be reviewed by both the buyer and the seller before being signed in front of the notary.
A deposit is required at this point, which is usually 10% of the acquisition cost. In the event that either party violates the terms of the purchase contract, the penalty is typically 10% of the total purchase price as well.
The notary then obtains all of the relevant documentation for the transfer of ownership. This comprises the property’s title, tax receipts, and any debt documents.
They’ll also look into the property’s history, which goes back at least 30 years. This assures that the property is free of legal concerns. After that, the buyer, seller, and anybody else involved in the property sale will meet with the notary to certify that all of the paperwork are correct.
After that, the notary has one month to prepare the new deed to the house, pay any taxes due, and register the deed with the local government. The buyer must next make any payments due, sign the paperwork, and get homeowner’s insurance.
Taxes in Uruguay
What tax rules must you know when you retire in Uruguay?
Tax rates for personal income of residents
Both residents and non-residents of the country are subject to paying individual income tax on income they bring in, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC).
Taxable income must be attributable to activities carried out within the borders of Uruguay, as well as to properties and rights that are economically utilized there. Even so, there are certain circumstances in which income obtained outside of Uruguay is liable to taxation too.
Compensations that employees generate from personal services provided outside of the country to local taxpayers are charged an income tax on resident individuals at progressive rates of between 0% and 36%.
The standard rate of 12% apply when calculating an individual’s taxable income from capital investments, such as interest, rents, royalties, and capital gains, subject to certain exceptions. This tax is charged on the gross income that an individual receives.
Earned income that is the result of work, such as wages, salaries, and other forms of compensation, is charged progressive tax rates that range from 10% to 36%. Because there are relatively few expenses that can be deducted from your taxable income, such as contributions to social security, almost the entirety of your gross income is charged such tax.
What about the tax for non-residents?
Individuals who are not residents of Uruguay are subject to a withholding tax on their Uruguayan gross income from 7% all the way up to 25%. A tax rate of 25% is applied to the income of entities that are domiciled, reside, or are located in so-called Low and No Tax Jurisdictions.
Technical services offered by non-residents outside Uruguay but connected to taxable income for corporate income tax reasons are considered to have originated from within the country and charged an income tax on non-residents individuals at 12% or 25%. Technical services are those offered in administration, advice, management, or technical areas.
Nevertheless, only 5% of the service fee paid or recognized abroad will be charged such tax for when the “taxable income for [corporate income tax] obtained by the local user of said service does not exceed 10% of its total income,” PwC said.
In the latter circumstances, the effective tax rate on the amount paid or recognized overseas is 0.6% or 1.25% if the recipient individual is from a Low and No Tax Jurisdiction.
The social security system in Uruguay is extremely comprehensive, as it provides pensions, sick pay, and medical and unemployment insurance. Both the employee and the employer are responsible for paying into the social security system based on the amount of income made in salary, which includes any bonuses or commissions.
A rate of 18.1% to 23.1% is withheld from an employee’s salary to pay into the plan, while an amount equal to 12.625% is shouldered by the employer.
Value-Added Tax (VAT)
Any services provided and goods distributed within the borders of Uruguay are subject to a standard VAT rate of 22%.
Overall, the excise tax is levied on the very first transaction that the manufacturer or importer of a good conducts within their own domestic market. Exports are exempted from any such tax.
Excise tax rates are different for each item, and the Uruguayan government generally sets them within “maximum parameters” that are mandated by law, PwC said.
Net Wealth Tax
The local net wealth of both residents and non-resident individuals is charged a net wealth tax at the end of each civil year at a progressive rate that will be determined by the individual’s residency status. This tax is in addition to the net wealth tax that is levied on corporate taxpayers in the country.
Individuals who are not residents are charged a net wealth tax that range from 0.7% to 1.5%, whereas individuals who are residents are charged at rates that range from 0.1% to 0.4%.
According to Bloomberg Tax, the following are the current tax rates for properties as per the Uruguayan General Directorate of Taxation:
- 0.15% for properties worth 247,783 Uruguayan pesos to 433,619 pesos (6,358.11 USD to 11,126.66 USD)
- 0.2% for properties worth 433,620 pesos to 1.86 million pesos (11,126.69 USD to 47,727.60 USD)
- 0.25% for properties worth over 1.86 million pesos to 4.33 million pesos (11,126.69 USD to 111,107.80 USD)
- 0.3% for properties worth more than 4.33 million pesos.
- Properties that are worth below 247,783 pesos (6,358.11 USD) are non-taxable.
What if you are a US citizen?
As an expat, you’ll still have to submit a tax return in the United States, which is true even if you don’t have to pay any US taxes due to certain circumstances applicable to you.
Do note that the US and Uruguay currently do not have a double tax agreement.
If you’d want a more precise estimate of your tax liability, you should speak with a tax professional. Look for someone who is knowledgeable with both US and Uruguayan tax rules.
Savings Strategies for When You Retire in Uruguay
Saving for retirement may be done in a variety of ways. You’ll almost certainly need to augment your Social Security income; the most common vehicles are individual retirement accounts (IRAs) and 401(k) plans. Whatever you do, get a head start so you can benefit from compound interest.
Consider speaking with a financial planner to see whether you’re financially ready to retire abroad. It doesn’t have to be difficult to find a skilled financial counselor. Start looking for a financial adviser today if you’re ready to attain your financial objectives.
Things to Do When You Retire in Uruguay
In Uruguay, there are a lot of opportunities to have a good time, from lively nightclubs and mouthwatering restaurants to vibrant festivals and breathtaking natural attractions.
You can take a trip to Punta del Este, Uruguay’s most famous and upscale beach, which is famous for being a popular destination for models and actors from all over the world. In addition to having beaches with golden sand, Punta provides opportunities to participate in a variety of water sports and to see southern right whales. Isla de Lobos and Isla Gorriti, two neighboring islands, both offer dazzling views.
You also have the option of going to Colonia, which is Uruguay’s oldest city. You can also take a ferry from Colonia to Buenos Aires, the capital of Argentina, for a day trip.
You should try a variety of foods when you retire in Uruguay, such as those served at steakhouses where so-called asados are popular. Chicken or beef is traditionally roasted over an open flame for an asado, which is then accompanied by baguettes that have been grilled plus salads.
In addition, you have the option of going to Cabo Polonio. The teeny-tiny town does not have any 21st-century conveniences such as running water, electricity, or Wi-Fi. But you can take a tour of a lighthouse or see a sea lions’ colony while you are out exploring its area.
There is also a carnival season in Uruguay. The locals are very enthusiastic about the event, which takes place over the course of 40 days that usually starts in January or February. The carnival is an intriguing and colorful event for dance and music, both locals and expats enjoy.
Is there nightlife in Uruguay too?
Different bars and restaurants can be found in Uruguay. If you’re searching for a lively nightlife, the major cities of Uruguay offer a wide variety of options, including hip nightclubs, traditional taverns, as well as modern cocktail bars. The nightlife scene starts after 7 pm.
Naturally, nighttime activities in Uruguay’s smaller towns and rural areas are more subdued than in larger cities.
Best Places to Retire in Uruguay
Because Uruguay has a high ranking when compared to other countries in terms of the level of peace and safety in the country as aforementioned, it will be much simpler for you to adjust whichever region you end up in.
The following are a few of Uruguay’s most desirable locations for retirees.
Nearly half of Uruguay’s population and the majority of the nation’s expats call Montevideo, the country’s capital city, home. Montevideo has the highest standard of living in the region and is known for its diversity and multiculturalism. The city is divided into 62 neighborhoods, each of which presents a distinctive flavor and way of life.
Expats who are interested in living in an environment rich in culture, arts, and a nightlife that can compete with that of any major city globally will be at home in this location. There are numerous art galleries, theaters, and music halls, in addition to a profound recognition for the arts, particularly jazz, tango, and traditional folk music.
Montevideo boasts breathtaking views of the ocean from a boardwalk that is lined with restaurants, parks, and outdoor workout facilities, which is common even among other cities in the country.
Living expenses in Montevideo may be higher than in other cities due to the large population size and the influx of people from other countries. However, because it is the center of all commercial and recreational activities in the region, it provides expats from every corner of the globe with access to a variety of options and prospects.
In order to cover the typical costs of living in the city on a monthly basis, a family of four will require approximately 112,849.8 pesos (2,895.73 USD), while a single individual will require 31,657 pesos (812.32 USD) on average.
Punta del Este
Punta del Este is akin to the Hamptons in New York and Saint-Tropez in France. These comparisons are just fair when taken into consideration the popularity of Punta del Este among the most elite people in the world.
Punta del Este serves as a popular tourist destination, particularly during the warm summer months. It started to become more than just a tourist destination as an increasing number of people decided to make the area their permanent home.
Punta del Este is part of the department of Maldonado. If you choose to retire in Uruguay and in this area, specifically, take note that prices, including rent, can be up to 50 percent more than in the other cities.
Punta del Este can be the perfect spot for you, if you don’t mind being in close proximity to a large number of tourists during the summer and if you have enough money to support yourself there.
Maldonado is the ideal place to live for a large number of people, with a current population of more than 55,000 people. It may not be as cosmopolitan as Montevideo or as glamorous as Punta del Este, but Maldonado still has a lot of great restaurants, services, and shopping complexes, plus other stuff you need for a comfortable living.
Pinares, a suburb area in Maldonado, is lined with single-family homes along the beach. This is where you will find the majority of Maldonado’s expat community. If you choose to live in Pinares, you can enjoy the beautiful beach views of Punta del Este at a much more affordable price.
La Paloma is a scenic seaside town in the southeast of the country. La Paloma possesses most of the essential conveniences, such as a bank and a coastal town.
The population of La Paloma currently sits at more than 5,500 people, but during the summer months, that number shoots up due to the influx of tourists.
This lovely town is a fantastic low-cost alternative to residing in expensive Punta del Este and other cities.
Even though it is only about 40 minutes away from the country’s capital of Montevideo, the coastal town of Atlantida feels like it is located in a completely different world. The traditional town feels like it’s been transported to another era while still offering a variety of contemporary conveniences.
The teeming open markets are popular places for locals to go shopping for inexpensive fresh produce, apparel, and toys.
There is no need to look any further if you are searching for a town that possesses a one-of-a-kind allure and a beauty that is contemporary. Atlantida is home to some truly unique tourist destinations, including a miniature zoo, a cinema, a theater that stages tango nights as well as plays, and a carnival during the summer.
The city is home to a sizable expat community of retirees, which is quite active. They have their own newsletter, and they get together for events and meetings. It’s the ideal little glorious place, with relatively affordable real estate, acceptable amenities, and a laid-back vibe all rolled into one.
Piriapolis is yet another small seaside town that is popular among expats. The mountainous hills that decorate the landscape of Piriapolis are one of the characteristics that distinguishes it from other cities in Uruguay. Piriapolis has real estate prices that are approximately in the middle of those in Atlantida and Punta del Este.
The town of Piriápolis has the feel of a traditional small town, complete with a variety of shops that stock all of the items that are required on a daily basis. In addition to that, there are both public and private hospitals as well as medical clinics.
Punta del Este is only a half an hour or so away by driving, so if you want to go shopping or watch a film, you can easily do either of those things there.
There are fewer people who speak English in Piriápolis than there are in Punta del Este. Therefore, if you want to live here comfortably, you’re going to need to learn even a bit of Spanish.
If you reside in the center of Piriápolis, you might not need a car because you have easy access to public transportation. You can get around town on foot or by riding a bicycle, and you can also travel by bus to Montevideo or Punta del Este. However, the majority of expats in Piriápolis choose to drive their own vehicles.
The city of Salto is known for its important contribution to the country’s tourism industry due to its location in the most idyllic part of the country’s northwestern region. You can enjoy days filled with peace and quiet in Salto, thanks to the stunning natural scenery, crystal-clear water, breathtaking waterfalls, and parkland found there.
You’ll have access to the city’s shopping stores, as well as private and public hospitals, high-quality food and wine, and natural hot springs. It is not necessary to own a car if you live in the downtown area of Salto. Despite this, a lot of residents in Salto believe that having a car is the best option for getting around town as well as going on excursions and day trips.
Ciudad de la Costa
The city of Ciudad de la Costa is located in the department of Canelones in Uruguay, and it is home to a number of remarkable sights and activities. Ciudad de la Costa is an amazing city, both to visit and to reside in. Enjoy a delectable meal at one of the city’s many opulent restaurants while you relax on one of the many stunning beaches that surround the coast.
How to Retire in Uruguay: The Bottom Line
It’s easy to see why you’d want to retire in Uruguay, with its pleasant temperature, rich culture, and stunning scenery. It’s also a highly appealing area to spend your golden years because of the kind population and low crime rates.
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