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Why This U.S. Couple Decided to Retire in Uruguay

Our friends and family were stunned and a little confused by our decision to leave Santa Fe, N.M., and retire to Uruguay.montevideo-urug

About five years ago, impelled by a search for affordable health care, my husband and I started researching places to retire. One country kept showing up on the list—Uruguay.

After a few more visits and a lot more research, we made Uruguay our permanent home about a year and a half ago. A stable democracy for some three decades with relatively little corruption, Uruguay has virtually all of the amenities to which we are accustomed, including reliable electricity, decent roads, skilled health care and widespread fiber-optic connectivity.

With the help of a real-estate agent, we purchased a modern two-bedroom apartment in Montevideo, in the barrio of Pocitos — a popular choice among expats for its cosmopolitan vibe. An efficient bus system serves the entire country, so we don’t need a car. The fare, roughly $1, frequently covers entertainment, as well. Montevideo is a thriving arts center.

Of course no place is Utopia. Uruguayan drivers may be the worst on earth. As a pedestrian, it is important to always remember that you don’t have the right of way.

As for cuisine, Uruguayans love their beef. Tender cuts are slow-cooked over wood-fired grills called parrillas. Since Italian heritage is common here, pasta and pizza are readily available, too.

The cost of living in Montevideo isn’t exorbitant, but I wouldn’t call it inexpensive, either. A cellphone or laptop can cost twice as much as a similar model in the U.S. The cost of using these devices, however, is about a third less than what we were paying back home. Electricity runs us about $200 a month, even though we don’t use air-conditioning. Pet food is nearly double the price we were used to, but visits to the vet are about half the cost. Services such as haircuts and watch repair are amazingly reasonable. Oh, and that health insurance we were searching for costs us about $62 a month per person.

Housing prices vary, but a two-bedroom condo can be had in the favorite expat neighborhoods of Ciudad Vieja, Pocitos and Carrasco for roughly $160,000 to $275,000.

Apostille time

Uruguay welcomes foreigners who want to live here. But have all required documents, such as birth certificates, marriage licenses and divorce decrees, in hand when you arrive, and be sure they carry a special type of notarization called an Apostille from the U.S. jurisdiction in which they were issued. For those not fluent in Spanish, it may be a good idea to hire a local attorney to help with the process. But the attorneys should be vetted; fraud isn’t unheard of in these matters.

Probably one of the hardest adjustments, however, has been our inability to speak Spanish, especially the unique Uruguayan idioms. Despite these challenges, we have few regrets. In Uruguay, generations of family members enjoy spending time together doing little more than talking. Living in a country that puts its playwrights and poets on its currency, rather than its generals, makes us glad we decided to spend this chapter of our lives here.

Original Story at WSJ.