It’s not every country that is described as “modest yet bold, liberal and fun-loving,” but that determination by the Economist Magazine was behind the publication’s naming Uruguay “Country of the Year” in 2013.
South America’s diminutive nation, second only to Suriname, is overshadowed by its neighbors, Argentina and Brazil. Like Argentina, Uruguayans have a strong European heritage with many tracing their roots back to Italy and Spain. That Euro-cum-Latin feel is evident in the food, music and the well-preserved colonial architecture.
It is a country of parks and plazas, colonial towns and rolling plains. Its beaches are some of the most popular--and posh--in South America. In recent years, political and economic stability has made Uruguay a safe heaven for asset protection for residents of other South American countries.
The capital of Montevideo is the largest city and Uruguay’s cultural center. Its streets are lined with restaurants and artisan shops while its squares are often filled with tango dancers and street musicians. Carrasco is a prestigious seaside neighborhood of large private homes with a leading equestrian club. A trio of modern neighborhoods, Pocitos, Punta Carretas and Buceo, shares golfing, parks and a long sandy beach.
Uruguay is friendly to global house-hunters who are well represented at the high end of the market. Buyers need not be residents. Some 75 percent of international investors are Argentines followed by Brazilians at about 20 percent. The Uruguay real estate offerings are diverse: hunting ranches, waterfront penthouses, residential lodges, equestrian estates and even urban lofts. The country’s beautiful coastline is a particular draw for buyers. Punta del Este is known as the St. Tropez of Uruguay, owing to its tony beaches, glamorous resorts and overall Mediterranean feel. In the Southern Hemisphere’s high season of December through March, festivals, fashions shows, yachting races and polo tournaments fill the social schedule while golfing and tennis are popular off-season diversions. Coastal condominiums offer amenities comparable to five-star resort hotels, some even featuring a service bedroom for on-site staff.