Pretty, popular Piriápolis
Round the bend on the coastal road and your first glimpse of Piriápolis may have you feeling that you've entered another place and time altogether. Not technically part of the Costa de Oro, this is the only place in Uruguay where rolling hills, dotted with small farms, meet the ocean.
"When you travel along the rambla and see pastureland on the left and ocean on the right," says Sharon Rhodes, who moved to Piriápolis from Corning, N.Y., with her husband, Gerry, "and this beautiful hillside with little buildings tumbling down the side, it reminds you of a little Greek village."
Just 50 miles from downtown Montevideo, the seaside town of Piriápolis was Uruguay's first seashore resort, founded in 1893 -- almost 15 years before Punta del Este, just 30 minutes away.
Even though its wintertime population of 8,000 swells to four times that in the summer, Piriápolis has never achieved the kind of international acclaim Punta del Este has. Its laid-back languor is part of its charm, however. Front and center on the rambla, the massive Belle Epoque-style Hotel Argentino, built in 1930, calls to mind a gentler time and sets the tone for this town.
While summertime Piriápolis is lively with vacationers who come to enjoy the waterfront boardwalk, busy seafood restaurants, casinos, and, of course, the beaches and marinas, I can imagine wintertime here as the best of all seasons. You would have the beach and rambla practically to yourself and could linger with friends over coffee or cocktails at a cozy oceanfront café.
"There's a large expat community here, and once a month we get together for lunch," says Sharon Rhodes' husband, Gerry. "We've also made many Uruguayan friends from all walks of life . . . . Everyone here is treated equally and that's something we really appreciate."
Lots of expats I met in Uruguay echoed that idea. Perhaps it is because, when you come down to it, every Uruguayan is an immigrant who can easily trace his or her family's roots to countries such as Spain, Italy, England, Germany, Ireland and beyond.
"Uruguayans are very tolerant and inclusive," one expat told me. "I've always been uncomfortable in other Latin American countries where there is a distinction between, for instance, the wealthy foreigners and the poor servers. There really isn't a class division here . . . and that adds to my quality of life."
There is much to like about Piriápolis, and it's easy to understand its laid-back appeal. This area is generally more expensive than the Costa de Oro, but less expensive than Punta del Este. On the rambla in the heart of downtown, for example, a 700-square-foot, one-bedroom apartment with a sea-view terrace is priced at just $120,000. In the Bella Vista neighborhood, a 2,000-square-foot, four-bedroom, two-bathroom home on a large lot right on the rambla, and also with sea views, is priced at $260,000.
Drive east from Piriápolis along the coastal road and just beyond Punta Colorada, the Río de la Plata gives way to the Atlantic Ocean and Uruguay's already-tempting coastline becomes achingly irresistible. Rolling grassy dunes lead to rocky outcrops like Punta Ballena, where you can spot not only frolicking whales but also the Emerald City itself in the distance . . . the glittering and glamorous Punta del Este.
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Something is wrong with this article. I live in Las Cruces, NM, a US retirement city (mentioned one of the best by Forbes magazine) my house is a 2 bed, 2 bath, garage, high ceiling, back yard, nice neighborhood close to hospitals, shopping , fire, police station, low tax, nice climate and my mortgage is $110,000. Why retire in a foreign country when you can do the same here in the US, just need to do a little research to know where. Yes, there still hope for retirement in the US. By the way, I came from a Latin country.
Real estate prices are insanely high and recent articles in one of Urguay's major online newspaper show that the real estate market is floundering since the Argentines are pulling back their investments.
'Expats' usually are conmen(women) who are preying on people. BEWARE.
It sounds like a nice place to visit, but how dare the author/editor imply in the title that the American Dream is better found in Uruguay. My parents emigrated to this country and started their own business. They were able to watch their children grow up with full bellies and warm beds from their own sweat. There wasn't a word about entrepreneurship in the article.
The American Dream IS NOT about sitting at a roadside cafe drinking espresso. Most immigrants came to America to escape European villages exactly like this. They didn't want it. They thought they could do better - in America.
The information in this article was interesting, but the title was complete link-bait.
First things first...what kind of work are expats doing, and what are they making?
I'm not convinced this is a place older retirees want to live. What about medical services, taxes, etc?
I now live in a small town in Kansas where a nice, older home can be bought for $120,000, property taxes are average, the town has a University with an enrollment of well over 10,000, 10 well maintained city parks, a new sports arena. A large hospital and medical centers(including one that well serves those with low incomes). The yellow pages list well over a hundred Physicians, Dentist, and other professionals that serve all the needs of a wide area. The crime rate is low, the unemployment rate is below 4%, and there is free access to many public buildings that serve the needs of thousands of people. The town has an abundance of Churches, schools, etc. We have a first rate nationally acclaimed Library. A first rate Police and Fire department. And other things that make this a nice town to live in. And no, I'm not working for our first rate Convention and Visitors bureau, and did I forget to mention we have 2 first rate golf courses and a wonderful swiming pool?
I spent one day and one night in Montivideo back in 2003. Actually, I was on a cruise and Montivideo was a port of call. I enjoyed the city, it's people and architecture. I retire in (4) years. And like most Americans of modest means, I'm looking at overseas retirement options. Costs are too staggering in America.... . and will get worse.
Obviously, visiting and vacationing in a region is totally different from living there. I agree $123,000 for a 645 sq. ft shoe box anywhere is a bit much..... particularly in South America. I toyed with the idea of buying; but I think I'll just rent for 3- 4 months of the year when I'm out of the U.S. during retirement years.
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