Uruguay: An Affordable Safe Haven in Latin America
Disillusioned with life in the Atlanta suburbs, Grace Alexander and her wife, Amanda, decided to search for a better life overseas for themselves and their three children. “We were dissatisfied with things in the U.S. Our health wasn’t great. We didn’t love living in the South. So, we started looking for alternatives,” says Grace.
With Grace’s portable career as a copywriter, the family were location-independent. Their requirements for a new home included high-quality healthcare, a good education system for the children, and gay-friendly laws. Initially, they considered several Scandinavian countries as well as Belize and Costa Rica, before an online article pointed them to Uruguay.
The South American country is renowned for its stable democracy, robust economy, prosperous middle class, and progressive attitudes when it comes to women’s reproductive and LBGTQ rights. “It’s like a liberal oasis in the middle of Latin America,” says Grace.
Moreover, Uruguay is a major regional hub of the tech industry, so fiber-optic internet is widely available throughout the country and reasonably priced. This meant Grace would have no problem continuing her copywriting career from there.
“As a freelancer, I can work from anywhere and my schedule is my own. I can pick and choose what types of work I take on and set my own price for my time and skill set. Copywriting allows me to relocate at will, achieve my desired level of income, and have time for my family and my hobbies,” says Grace.
The family now lives on a spacious ranch in the lush Uruguayan countryside. “We have 5 hectares and a six-bedroom, five-bath house with a large porch. It has a four-car garage and a barn almost as big as the house. We pay $1,800 a month,” says Grace. “We also have three horses, four goats, 10 cats, and 20 dogs. We went to the local rescue and took the worst-case dogs and nursed them back to health.”
They have a veterinarian visit every Thursday to take care of the brood. “She comes for a couple of hours and it’s about $80,” says Grace.
In addition to its pastoral countryside, Uruguay, which borders Argentina, has numerous spectacular beach destinations along its roughly 410 miles of Atlantic coastline. English is widely spoken, since the education system requires it in elementary school.
Thanks to the affordability and high standard of local services, the family enjoys a high-quality life for a fraction of the cost back home.
Take healthcare. Grace suffers from a degenerative spinal disc disease and had to access the Uruguayan healthcare system shortly after arriving. “When we first arrived, my spine was bad. A neighbor called the doctor who came to the house, reviewed my X-rays, and gave me low-dose morphine to ease the pain,” she says. The doctor’s visit cost about $100.
Private school for her youngest son, who is autistic, is affordable too. “In the U.S., my youngest was being mainstreamed into the school system and he wasn’t getting his needs met. Here, he’s in a class with six to seven other kids and they relate well to him. Everyone is respectful, takes responsibility, and tries to meet his needs. The cost is about $120 per month,” says Grace.
Another advantage of living in Uruguay is the mild weather. Uruguay has four seasons, with the average summer high temperature reaching 82 degrees F, cooling down to 63 F at night. Meanwhile, the average winter high temperature is 57 degrees F, falling to 43 F at night. Because Uruguay is in the Southern Hemisphere with opposite seasons, summer is in December, January, and February.
Grace notes that where you choose to live in Uruguay will make a big difference in your expenses. “The capital of Montevideo can be expensive if you move into a gated expat community. We choose to live more local and more affordably,” she says.
By Jen Phillips April