Punta del Diablo, Uruguay
Last updated on Jan 11, 2023
Summary: People describe Punta del Diablo, Uruguay as a small fishing village with a laid-back atmosphere and stunning beaches. Expats love the relaxed lifestyle, the friendly locals, and the beautiful scenery. The weather in Punta del Diablo is generally mild, with temperatures ranging from the mid-50s to the mid-70s Fahrenheit. The average cost of living for an expat is around $1,500 per month. The cost of a one bedroom apartment is around $500 per month, while a two bedroom apartment is around $700 per month. The approximate population of Punta del Diablo is around 2,000 people.
Are healthcare and health insurance expensive in Punta del Diablo?
"I don't bother with health insurance. Medical care is so cheap here I don't need it. Can't see paying a monthly fee when I've been "sick" once in 11 years," remarked another expat in Punta del Diablo.
What do I need to know about living in Punta del Diablo?
When we asked people what advice they would give someone preparing to move to Punta del Diablo, they said:
"Learn Spanish before you come! Yes, they say everyone speaks English, but that's not true of the interior (or anyplace away from Montevideo). Learn Spanish! Learn to ride a small motor bike or 4-wheeler. You do not want to own a car here; the streets will eat it. Also, the salt air from the Atlantic. We use the bus to go out of town for major purchases, and use a small scooter & a 4-wheeler for getting around town. DRESS DOWN! Wearing your old sweats & flip-flops works to your advantage here. Especially if you're thinking of living here, you want to dress down. Flashy clothes gets you robbed. Dress down comfy - jeans, t-shirt, camos, work clothes.... Leave the suit in the suitcase. Learn to use a fireplace and/or wood stove competently without smoking up the house. Learn what to look for before you rent a house with a fireplace or wood stove. I.e., don't rent a small house with a huge fireplace! The big fireplace will actually suck more heat out of the house than it leaves in it - where YOU are! Find a house with a fireplace sized appropriately. It will make the difference between an economical, comfy winter and a chilly, expensive one. If renting, you will never find a Uruguayo house that has hot water in the kitchen, so just get over it. They have a tap in the shower and a bucket. Fill bucket with hot from the shower & tote it to the kitchen. Ta. Learn small motor repair - esp. chainsaws, motorbikes, and 4-wheelers. We have 2 mechanics in town and they will both skin you alive. One will fix the vehicle just enough to keep it running a week, then you'll be back for more repairs. The other will siphon the gas from your tank & tell you it was empty when you brought it to him. GAS is expensive. At present, we pay 70 pesos per liter here in Diablo for gas brought in from Brazil. If you buy from the gas station in Coronilla, it sells for 42 pesos/liter and Uruguayo gas, better quality. Learn to work with propane. Cooking revolves around the 13kg propane cylinder here. BUY MORE THAN ONE so you have time to wait for refills to be delivered. "Manana" (minus tilde) does not always mean "tomorrow" - it could be next week. Learn how to connect & disconnect your gas tanks yourself. Learn how to cook over wood on the grill. Charcoal in the bag exists here, but nothing like Kingsford. It's expensive when you can find it and it throws sparks. Learn to cook in the fireplace - you might enjoy it. Make yourself speak Spanish, even if you're shy or feel embarrassed. Check out DuoLingo.com. Even if you're tripping over your words, the people will appreciate you more for making the effort. Shop around for your internet. Antel (govt phone company) currently offers LTE superfast modem with 30GB downloads for 1,200 pesos (about $60USD) per month. BUT... when you get there to buy one, they're always out of them. We just got a new one after our old contract expired... We pay 750 pesos/mo for 12gb, about $25USD/month. DON'T be afraid to shop on the Brazil side of Chuy, the international free zone town. We bought our wood stove there at factory prices because Brazil's cast iron is better made than UY's. UY produces very little in the way of picante sauces, etc., so we get most of our groceries there as well. Clothes, groceries, shoes, tools, etc., we buy in Brazil for better selection, better prices, better quality," explained one expat living in Punta del Diablo.
"Bring flip-flops. Bring your favorite condiments, especially if you like spicy foods. Leave heavy coats behind, as winter only lasts about 3 months & spring is usually beautiful. That said, bone up on your fire-tending skills, as most home heating is by wood fire... If you split your own wood, you can buy it cheaper. Make friends with a good firewood vendor. Bring earmuffs for winter, as we do have a lot of wind (the Pamperos). Bring comfy pants with lots of pockets for shells, etc. when you hit the beach. ALWAYS save your empty beer bottles, as you get a 10- to 15-peso discount when you return the "dead soldiers" as you purchase more beer. Same with wine - returning the bottles (esp. the 5-liter bottles) saves you 165 pesos or so (about $8.50). Get the tri-fold maps from an Ancap station. Worth every penny of the $10, they have a map of UY, another of all the MercoSur countries, a map of Montevideo, and city street maps of all of the major cities... PDD is not listed, as we have only one main road through town... ;p Be prepared to be unprepared for the welcome you receive, the wonderful food & wine, the genuinely friendly people. We have found our new home, for sure. Lay out your trips in advance & plan to use the least fuel possible... Gas is about $8/gallon, so we use it well. We bought a 1968 VW Bug for $3500 USD. She's economical, reliable & parts are cheap as dirt. We bought an engine belt, new fuel lines, fuel filter, new seatbelts, and a new door knob for only $10. The fuel lines & filter were installed curbside at no additional cost. We had the resistor for the windshield wipers changed out curbside & were given a handful of extra fuses. The labor took 2 hours, but the total cost was $16. Learn to use propane. It's one of the things they do best here. Exchange of a 33-lb cylinder is only $16. The 2-lb cylinder for the gas stove in the kitchen costs $5. If you plan to immigrate, come down during the fall & stay thru the winter, so you know what you're getting into. You will probably be pleasantly surprised - we were. Now that we're hooked, we're buying property & starting building a home. Buy a cell phone from Antel, the govt phone company. A mid-range phone with camera & MP3 player, Bluetooth, and internet will set you back $26, with $5/month for service. :D Try the Uruguayo products. We have found many to be superior to brands we used in the US. If you have allergies, plan to obtain some antihistamines & decongestants from a farmacia here. You can get Loratadine cheaply for the first; you can still get pseudoephedrine down here without being spread-eagled outside the pharmacy. If you have health issues & are on regular medications, most are available over the counter without prescription here. Put off any dental work until you get here - it's incredibly high quality, latest technology, and incredibly cheap... I had a cracked molar that eventually broke, losing 25% of the back corner. Mario, my fabulous dentist, my hero - fixed it for $40 USD. Be prepared to be amazed at how little govt interference these people have in their lives. Be prepared to make friends with the police. They are not at all the threatening thugs one fears in the US," said another expat in Punta del Diablo.
How do I meet people in Punta del Diablo?
When we asked people living in Punta del Diablo about club and activities where newcomers can meet others, they responded:
"Hah! That's what we DON'T have here... Here is just a magic vibe, granite boulders covered with mussels & snails, the mighty Atlantic on your doorstep, with 4 beaches. As for activities, just daily life is enough for us... Gardening, cooking out, building on our house. The whole area is filled with national parks and some old Spanish/Portuguese forts, etc. Great for hiking through the ghost gums (eucalyptus trees), checking out the capybara & fantastic birds from a comfy blind, and perving on all that luscious plants in the shade gardens, etc... Laguna Negra is nearby, a great lake for fishing & camping. Don't expect your catfish to look like the ones you've caught. These have a fin all the way around the back to the belly side of the tail, but they taste the same... If you or your kids are into soccer (futbol here) then you're home free as far as a social life. Life revolves around the kids. Get to know your lavadera (laundry lady). Ana is great, cheap, and knows how to get whites white. The "other guy," however, who has stickers on all the fridges in the rental places, will hang your clothes on the line & spray with fragrance. :-/ They will come home with all of the dirt still in them, but smelling fresh, thank you... Our town dentist, Mario Garcia, is a godsend! The ONLY completely pain-free dentist I have ever known. We're getting ready to move back North for a spell to take care of elderly parents, but we are having hub's teeth fixed first. He needs a partial for the uppers, as he lost his back teeth long ago. He does NOT like going to the dentist, but he & Mario are friends & fishing buddies now. The partial & an implant in front are going to cost us about 1/20th of what we'd pay in the US and First Class work it is... Never any mercury fillings down here. In fact, Mario specializes in removing mercury fillings and replacing with ceramic," remarked another in Punta del Diablo.
"First of all, learn some Spanish, preferably Castellano (Castile, Spain) instead of the Mexican version... They will understand YOU, but you may not understand THEM... Many TV shows here are in English with Spanish subtitles... It helps, believe me, especially with grammar. We have one Canadian couple here and one crusty old Irishman... Those are the only expats we have met in our tiny fishing village of 1,000 souls... This agrees with us PERFECTLY, as we want to assimilate, not hang with expats. I would recommend just chatting the local up - your grocery clerk, the fellow who fills the tank for your car at the Ancap station, the meat man (prime rib is always in the meat locker, seldom out front). We have made friends of a family who own a wine/cheese shop in the town where we buy our groceries... They love to practice their English while we practice our Spanish. My dentist has just returned from a trip to British Columbia to do a work/study tour on a boat up there. He practices his English with me & I practice my Spanish with him... We have been so well received & made welcome, I may eventually offer English classes for adults... My best advice is not to be shy and simply venture "Buen dia" occasionally until you feel more comfortable. Undoubtably, someone will eventually try to engage you in conversation on the bus or at the market. If they speak to fast for you to understand, simply request "mas lentamente, por favor" & they will slow down. I had to retrain my ears to the Castellano, altho I had grown up speaking Tex/Mex and Mexican Spanish. Just be yourself, be courteous & respectful, smile & the world will open up for you. Be aware that here we don't say "Adios" but, rather, "Ciao!" Schnitzel is Milanesa here... Germans may have invented it, but the Italians immigrated first, so there ya go... :D One of the BEST places to meet people is the local futbol matches and/or practices. Uruguayans are rabid futbol fans, and will quickly try to persuade you to root for their favorite teams... ;p," explained one expat.
Will I be able to find a job in Punta del Diablo?
When we asked people about industries and career opportunities in Punta del Diablo, they reponded:
"Well, more a fishing village than a city. As above, heavy tourism. When we moved here, there were 1,100 year-round residents. Now, we have over 3,000 - in only 5 years! We have the govt-supported artesanal fishing fleet. The rest of the "industry" here is fitted around the tourist industry - lodging, food, drink, entertainment. VERY quiet place in winter; you can be the only person on the beach. VERY busy place in summer - 40,000 tourists & a main beach clogged with 20,000 people at a time... TONS of career opportunities exist here! CAVEAT - you must invent them yourself. Nobody here is going to 'give you a job." At the moment, our cybercafe has closed... Get some PCs and open a new one!!! Save ONE computer for the adults to use, please... ;p If you are a cook, you can put your special cinnamon buns & other goodies in the local grocery shops, no permit required. If you are an artist, you put up a little stand in front of your house or get a letter of permission from the owner of a piece of land with nice traffic... Build a stand & sell your paintings, sculptures, etc. No permit; no problem. I sold small paintings the first year we were here through a local restaurant. No, I didn't get rich, but we could afford that Spanish black pork more often... In 2012, I started making my own soap again because we have a rather harsh climate here & my skin was dry. Shared a few bars with friends & POW! Instant demand! They were hooked because there IS no natural soap down here, just the syndet bars from J&J or P&G. Next step? I chatted up Marta, owner of our pharmacy, and she became a fan. I began selling my soaps & beauty creams through her pharmacy, giving 20% commission to her. Almost no effort, yet a good $100USD per month coming in... And because it is ARTESANAL, no permits, no bribes, no FDA, etc. If you are a forward-thinker and motivated, you can find a skill you already have and make a business of it. For instance, we desperately need someone competent for computer repairs, copying movies from CD to pen drive, etc. Diablo currently needs a hairdresser & barber, too. Many people take advantage of the tourism & do massage, etc., then take the rest of year off," explained one expat.
"Most jobs here at the moment are in construction, as our village is growing. Most of the construction going on is for rental properties for the tourist trade, rather than personal housing... Many people find employment with the hotels, restaurants, or as musicians. One friend of ours is a fish cook in summer and does bricklaying & concrete work in winter... ;p," said another person in Punta del Diablo.
What is life like in Punta del Diablo?
When we asked people living in Punta del Diablo what life is like and how people spend their time, they said:
"Family, family, family. Getting ready for tourist season. Working like demons to keep their renters happy & greet guests, etc. during the season. Rest like crazy the first 2 months after high season & plan for next year. Many things have changed since we arrived in 2011. For one thing, instead of having little wooden "corrals" for the garbage (which dogs would get into & spread trash everywhere), we now have the standard type dumpsters and DAILY garbage service. There is another truck that follows the first once a week and it is equipped to wash the dumpster once it is emptied... Very cool," said another person in Punta del Diablo.
"Family is the MOST important consideration here. Raising kids on pure air, clean water, unprocessed foods (keeping them from eating too many sweets) are all high priorities. Life is not a race here. Relax, take five minutes instead of one - they're small. :D The parilla is an EVENT, not a meal. It's a chance for family & friends to get together around the grill for nice conversation while the kids run around, a few delicious bites, a glass or two of excellent wine... Our village is centered around two things: tourism & fishing. One feeds the other & vice-versa. The one word that ALWAYS comes up in conversations about Punta del Diablo is "que tranquilo," which, of course, it IS. Everyone is relaxed... I found myself relaxing immediately. Anything that can't be finished today will certainly be waiting for you tomorrow. I doubt, when I stand before my Maker, that I will regret not having spent more time cleaning house or washing dishes. Rather, time with friends on the beach fishing or taking the sun, enjoying one another's company is a high priority for me," remarked another expat in Punta del Diablo.
What do expats in Punta del Diablo appreciate most about the local culture?
"The lack of the fedral gummint's nose in my business. The fact that people here are more laid back & easygoing in their approach to life. The fact that there are no "old folks' homes" here. Old folks stay with the family until they die - they don't get farmed out for someone else to take care of because the family can't be bothered..," remarked another expat in Punta del Diablo.
What do expats find most challenging?
"Because of 3 previous head injuries, I struggle with remembering precise wording & phrasing of Spanish, especially now when faced with formal Castillano... But people are so patient & understanding, even if you arrive speaking Mexican Spanish, they still understand you, as most of their TV is in Mexican Spanish..," said another person in Punta del Diablo.
Is there a lot of diversity? Are people in Punta del Diablo accepting of differences?
"It is so refreshing to live in an area without lots of churches & heavy religious presence. We do have the Mormon Church - the most prevalent - but thankfully, they are in the towns, not in our town. We have 1 Catholic church, and the priest comes 1 Saturday a month to hold mass. I know of 2 old ladies that attend occasionally. But no - nobody will show up with tract papers & try to argue you into their version of heaven here. Discrimination? When people call you "Negro" or "Negra" here, it is because they love you. "Negro" is a pet name. Uruguayos come in all colors, even blonde & blue-eyed. There is ZERO discrimination as far as: racial, sexual preference, religion, body habitus. There IS discrimination regarding your habits - if you're a thief, everyone will soon know it. The majority of the locals here are very accepting of foreigners. Some are not overly friendly, but are only hurting themselves because our town is rapidly becoming an international community. We have folks from Russia, France, Germany, Spain, Argentina, Brazil, Venezuela, the US, England, Ireland, etc. More and more English words are making it into the daily UYo vocabulary. You will find Oreos and Lays Potato Chips here, although peanut butter is a challenge. You can get it through an expat family near Montevideo who make it. Economically, life is hard for the locals at this time. Last year, tourism from Argentina was down, while Brazil was up. This year, the reverse, as Argentina has dumped Christina and there's hope for the future again... Meaning, more $$$ for vacations in Uruguay, which has the beaches they lack. We do quite comfortably on about $1,200 per month here. We have a quematuti (wood stove) for home heat. The house is paid for as we build each month, so the value increases with each new feature completed. What a shame to be preparing to leave for the US again, but we need to take care of some family business up there. And just when the house is livable & the "fun" part begins... choosing sinks, paneling, fixtures, etc,... we're preparing to sell & move. What a great deal for someone independent & determined... 510 square meters in the eucalyptus forest (away from town's summer dust & tourist insanity), with a 36 sq. meter house built for off-grid living. We have a great raintrap for delicious drinking water (the govt's water system, OSE, is facing scandal in Maldonado re charging people for their household water when it comes out brown & sometimes with worms in it. Nope, not for me. We have no chemtrails here & this water is the best I've had in years. We have our little Comet generator, which powers our tools but is also nice for charging computers, phones, music boxes, LED lights, etc. We're one of about 3 to 5 houses in all of Diablo that will have... a BATHTUB and hot water in the kitchen! Everyone else has showers and cold water only in the kitchen. All of that stuff will stay with the house when we go... right down to the percale sheets, library, tools, etc. It'd be really sad if I didn't miss Mexican food so much. But we both believe firmly in "paying it forward," so we're happy to help some youngsters if this is something they want to do. We have made many close friends here who are upset that we are leaving, but it is the right choice for us at this time. We will not be making the US a permanent home, but just tying up some business, and then will be relocating to Mexico. Why Mexico? Because, me being a desert rat, a more tropical zone would be kinder to my old arthritic joints (yeah, and the 9 spinal fractures) that ache in the cold humidity of winter. I'm just a warm-weather creature, I guess. That, and another group of friends who are already there and waiting for us," remarked another expat in Punta del Diablo.
"I have yet to experience any racial discrimination here in UY. I am a true Heinz 57 - Native American, Scots/Irish with some Russian Gypsy Jew, and Texas redneck... My partner is Filipino & German. Uruguayans come in a wide range of skin tones & hair textures. People are not referred to as "black" or "white," but just as... people. Mixed-race couples are everywhere, if you judge by skin tones; however, you find out eventually that BOTH are native Uruguayans. The principal religion is Catholicism; however, they are not rabid about religiosity. They attend Christmas, Easter, funerals, weddings, christenings. Religion is a personal matter, between a person & his/her higher power - that is all. That said, I find it amusing that they refer to the Mormons as "huevos," because they are always found in twos... :D I have found all the Uruguayo cities I have visited to be very accepting of foreigners, which I obviously am due to my Texas twang... Here in PDD, this is even more pronounced, as this is a village dependent upon tourism, so tourists are VALUED. Stick around awhile, make some friends, let the people steal your heart like they did ours... Economic diversity - well, there are some rather wealthy & some not wealthy in money but wealthy in quality of life. I have made friends with some Rastas and other locals who make their living by selling their handicrafts during tourist season. What more does one need in this life, they ask, other than a dry bed, a warm fire in winter, good wine & good friends to share it with? Answer: good music & the lovely environment here," explained one expat living in Punta del Diablo.
About the Author
Joshua Wood, LPC joined Expat Exchange in 2000 and serves as one of its Co-Presidents. He is also one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. Prior to Expat Exchange, Joshua worked for NBC Cable (MSNBC and CNBC Primetime). Joshua has a BA from Syracuse and a Master's in Clinical and Counseling Psychology from Fairleigh Dickinson University. Mr. Wood is also a licensed counselor and psychotherapist.
- What do I need to know before moving to Punta del Diablo?
- How do I find a place to live in Punta del Diablo?
- What is a typical expat home or apartment like in Punta del Diablo?
- What is the average cost of housing in Punta del Diablo?
- Should I buy or rent a home in Punta del Diablo?
- What should I pack when moving to Punta del Diablo?
- What cultural faux pas should I try to avoid making in Punta del Diablo?
- What advice do you have for expats having a baby in Punta del Diablo?
- What are healthcare services like in Punta del Diablo?
- Is the cost of living in Punta del Diablo high?
- Will I save money living in Punta del Diablo?
- Why do people move to Punta del Diablo?
- How are healthcare services Punta del Diablo?
- What are medical services in Punta del Diablo like?