Treinta Y Tres, Uruguay: The Ultimate Low-Key Lifestyle

Treinta y Tres

The Best Place To Disappear Abroad

Those of us who write about living overseas tend to focus on the positive. That is, we make our case for living or buying abroad based largely on the advantages of overseas life… rather than the advantages of escaping your previous life.

But let’s face it… some expats simply want to disappear—to spend their days under the radar.

Or, if they don’t want to disappear right now, they want the ability to disappear if they should feel the need to do so.

When looking for an out-of-the-way haven, I have a few preferred criteria… I like a low-profile country, at some distance from the United States, in a low-key city that has no big attractions or tourist traffic. It also helps if the destination is not particularly easy or convenient to get to.

Uruguay: One Of The World’s Best Countries For Privacy And Independence

There are several reasons why Uruguay is at the top of my list, for starters, it’s almost 10 hours south of Miami by air. It also has an attractive financial-services infrastructure and offers a First World environment with well-maintained roads and drinkable water throughout the country.

The people are warm, friendly, non-violent, and well-educated. The health care system is good-quality, and free health care is available.

Residency is easy to obtain with a path to citizenship in as little as three years.

And most importantly, Uruguay is neither an aggressor nor the object of aggression on the world stage, so there’s little motivation for citizen-spying or terrorism.

Your best options for privacy will be found deep in Uruguay’s interior in places like Tacuarembó, Rivera, Artigas, or Melo. My favorite, however, is the town of Treinta y Tres.

Treinta Y Tres: My All-Time Pick For Under-The-Radar Living

A blue house in Treinta y Tres, Uruguay
Alamy/Patricia F. Almeida / Stockimo

On arriving in Treinta y Tres, my first thought was that if I wanted to hide from an imminent lawsuit or a whopping divorce settlement this town is where I’d settle.

There’s the distinct feeling, here in this ranching town of 26,000, that you’re completely removed from the rest of the world, which in many ways you are. If anyone were looking for me, I believe this is the last place they’d come.

In fact, I got here by traveling more than five hours over well-groomed, mostly dirt roads from the remote gaucho town of Tacuarembó… yet, I’m still almost three hours inland from the coastal highway… a part of the coast with deserted, wide beaches virtually free of tourists. (Normally, you’d get here by driving up the coastal highway from Montevideo then turn inland.)

Treinta y Tres (which means thirty-three in Spanish) got its name from the Treinta y Tres Orientales, a group of 33 revolutionaries led by Juan Antonio Lavalleja, who led the fight for independence from post-Portuguese Brazil, which ultimately resulted in Uruguay’s independence.

Entering the town’s wide, shady, tree-lined streets—which are typical to all of Uruguay—you’ll find what I believe to be the nicest town plaza I’ve seen in the country. The centerpiece of the square is a monument bearing the names of the famous 33 revolutionaries.

I found Treinta y Tres to be peaceful, clean, and quiet. The town plaza is the social center, and you’ll see families enjoying the company of their neighbors, groups of men solving the world’s political problems over a chess board, and people just relaxing with the paper while their kids splash in the fountain.

There are plenty of places to have a good meal, and Treinta y Tres has all the requisite necessities such as supermarkets, bakeries, butcher shops, laundry facilities, hardware stores, etc. Best of all, it’s completely walkable.

Treinta y Tres is not a tourist destination, nor is it an expat town.

Treinta Y Tres Offers A Low-Key Property Market

You won’t find a hot property market here of the type you’ll see in Uruguay’s Punta del Este or Montevideo. You’ll find the normal buying and selling that you’d expect in a place that’s not a tourist destination or big city.

Most of the market here is for houses rather than apartments, which are rare here. I did see one apartment for sale, a small, two-bedroom unit. The size was 50 square meters (538 square feet), and it was located just one block from the square. I think the houses in Treinta y Tres are a better value and more liquid.

And Treinta y Tres is not a good market for buying a home for the purpose of renting it out… at least not if you expect a good return.

But the lack of local attractions and traffic mean the resident enjoys more privacy at a lower cost of living and property prices.

Is Treinta Y Tres For You?

Treinta y Tres is fairly removed from the rest of the world… an enviable trait if you’d like stay off the beaten path. The international airport at Montevideo is more than four hours away… you won’t see the rich cultural scene, nightlife, or fine dining that you’d find in the big cities…

But Treinta y Tres is a small town where everyone knows each other, and you’re always among friends. If you’d like to be away from it all and enjoy a quality of life that is unlike what you’ll find in Uruguay’s resorts or big cities, then Treinta y Tres could be for you.