South America Living

Travel, Dine, Live… Like A Local

Salto, Uruguay – Cheap Place To Live In South America

Uruguay Street in Downtown Salto

The majority of locations in Uruguay would be very difficult to live off of $800 USD per month such as capital city Montevideo and Atlantic coast beach towns Punta del Este, Atlántida, Piriápolis and La Paloma.

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Inland locations are dirt cheap, but not where most International visitors would enjoy living. Salto is an exception to both of these rules i.e. affordable and with enough attractions in and around the city to make life interesting for awhile.

Located in northwestern Uruguay next to the Uruguay River, Salto is 498 km (309 miles) from Montevideo (6 hours by bus) and the second largest city in Uruguay with a population over 110,000. There is a branch of the University of Uruguay with students obtaining degrees in Architecture, Law and Nursing.

The main tourist attraction in Salto are the termas (hot springs in English). To learn more read: Travel in Uruguay – Salto

It is a low-key city, evident by the lack of upscale services and shopping found in other areas such as Montevideo and Punta del Este yet has a small shopping mall (attached to the bus terminal) – Salto Shopping - with a multiplex movie theater (list of current movies), bowling, restaurants and various shops (list of businesses).

One possibility for life and low-cost living in Salto would be to rent a two-bedroom house and open a small B&B or hostal and play host to the continuous stream of tourists that visit the area to enjoy the termas or simply transit through on their way to Iguazu Falls.  Travel Guide to Iguazu Falls

You would not even need to become a resident of Uruguay (costs to obtain residency range from $600 – $1000 USD and up depending on the amount of legal assistance you need) to open a small business, and updating your Tourist Visa every six months is a snap. When your visa is about to expire, just cross the Salto Grande Bridge atop the Salto Grande Dam and enter Argentina. Then turn around and re-enter Uruguay with a new 90 day visa stamped into your passport. More info here: Visas & Fees in Uruguay

If you need your privacy… a small apartment or house can be found for $175-250 per month. For information on renting in Uruguay, click here. Your primary expense will most likely be buying groceries; food is not cheap. A restaurant meal will run from $6-10 USD.

The best budget shopping advice is to shop around. Your corner produce stand may give you the best buy for fruit & veggies (and a regular discount if you are a regular customer) but the supermercado (supermarket in Spanish) may be the best place for dry goods such as rice, salt, sugar, packaged soup, etc. as they will have more selection and carry low-end as well as more expensive brands.

Similar to in Argentina, beer and wine drinkers get a break. A litre of beer in Uruguay (Budwieser is found everywhere in addition to the national brands Pilsen and Patricia) is only $2-3 USD. A decent bottle of wine can be bought for $3 USD.


  • City living with a laid-back small town atmosphere (and low costs!).
  • Termas (hot springs) and beautiful outlying areas for camping and exploring.
  • Local shopping mall with multiplex cinema.


  • Blistering hot during the summer months January & February with temperatures reaching 40 degrees C (104 F) and high humidity.
  • Very local feel to the city, very few foreigners living full-time in the area to interact with.

Interactive Map of Salto

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19 to “Salto, Uruguay – Cheap Place To Live In South America”

  1. Molly McHugh says:

    That is great Mark, there are a bunch of expats in the Montevideo area, check out this forum to connect and post questions:
    Join our FB page too – I try to get new articles up there as we go, http://www.southamericaliving/come-join-us-on-facebook/. Best, Molly

  2. Hi, I am from Indonesia, my name is Dylla. I have a plan to visit Salto,Uruguay, because there i’ll find my best friend. When i have enough money to get there, i try to go there with the tour and tour guide :)
    Thanks for the infomartion

  3. Wuji says:

    Hello Molly,

    Congratulations on your excellent writing and your SouthAmericaLiving
    site. It’s a great resource. Thank you.

    Hey, I’ve been thinking of moving to Salto at the end of October and
    read your articles on renting a house and setting up a hostal situation
    there, which sounds brilliant. Curious if you used any websites like or others to advertise your rooms. Also, any
    tips/contacts for folks to talk to re. renting a house in Salto (I speak
    perfect Spanish) and any areas where it would be ideal to rent for the
    hostal gig? Can you renew your visa indefinitely in Uruguay or do they
    have the 180day/year limit too? How about summertime? Is there a lot
    of tourism in summer? Salto doesn’t really sound like a tourist
    destination – which is one of my attractions to the place.

    Thanks for your help and best of travels to you, your son and your
    dogs. Where are you in Argentina? I was thinking of going to Cafayate
    but it definitely sounds like a touristy (thus expensive) place in the
    summer. I’d love to connect with the expats at the Estancia.

    Thanks again,


    • Molly McHugh says:

      Hi, thanks for the nice compliment!

      I’m not sure how brilliant I am :) But Salto is a cool spot,
      loved the hot springs and waterpark. Salto is not a huge tourist
      attraction, but gets a fair amount of visitors from Uruguay and Argentina and many backpacker type folks transit through the area to Iguazu or on their way to Argentina.

      I’m sure you could make some cash with a small B&B – even one extra room to yours, or two, maybe one made up like a hostal room with a few bunk beds, then advertise as a hostal/B&B.

      Another spot to think of – that may have more folks for you to interact
      with full-time – is Atlantida near Montevideo. A really good contact for
      the area is Mark & Lisa Mercer who write about moving to Uruguay – their
      blog is on my blog page:

      Uruguay is great to travel in, and close to Iguazu, Argentina, etc. Have
      fun, Molly

      P.S. for detailed Visa information, check out our Visas & Fees for Uruguay page:

  4. Jan says:

    Hi, I’m from the U.S. and wondered if you could tell me how long a U.S. citizen can remain in Uruguay? Would I need a work Visa? Visa? I’d like to find an apartment or house to rent if I can remain more than 90 days. I’m currently in the UK which is hurting my pocket with the currency exchange.

    Thank you!

    • Molly McHugh says:

      Here is visa information for Uruguay:

      Nothing has changed that I know of, but you can always contact the embassy (in your case U.S.) to make sure. Nice thing about Salto is you can cross into Argentina easily, and neither countries have fees for land border crossings (Argentina has a reciprocity fee if you fly into the country).

      A good resource for you would be to contact these folks who live just outside of Montevideo and help folks move to Uruguay:

      Best of luck, don’t forget it is blistering hot in the Salto area during summer!

  5. Jan says:

    Thank you for the links Molly. I’m pretty much a native from Arizona which is HOT for more than 7 mos out of the year so I’m sure I will have no problem. And I was thinking of Quito area, althou I’d prefer something along the coast that’s not too pricey. Am I correct that the currency is USD?

    Thank you,

  6. Marc says:

    Can anyone recommend a Spanish Immersion school in Salto for my wife and myself?
    Thank you.

  7. Molly McHugh says:

    Hi Marc, I do not think there is one, you may want to visit another area for a few months to take classes before your move. Here is a list of Spanish Schools in Uruguay – is pretty good, has the school I took classes at in La Paloma, but the links don’t work very well. Use the list to find a school, grab the name from the list, then re-enter the school name into Google to find the schools’s website.

    Best of luck, Molly

  8. richard cadena says:

    hi Molly, just happened on your site while googling uruguay crime stats. i am 62 and had thoughts of moving to uruguay when i turn 66 and live on my social security and small savings. but lately, i have been reading some bad stats as far as crime and in particuliar- drug related crimes increasing in Montevideo and the other popular resort cities. i would appreciate any info you have. Salto sounds like a nice hot place to live a simple life. i love hot weather and just want to get away from it all having lived in los angeles for the past twenty years. i find myself going off the beaten path on my vacations.


  9. Molly McHugh says:

    Hi Richard, it has been a little over two years since we lived there (La Paloma) and had a crime situation occur (very complicated but trust me, about as bad as you could imagine dealing with myself and then 13 year old son) yet in general the country is considered safe. I’m not sure about increases in crime, though makes sense as there has been a big increase in crime in Argentina and the two are tied closely together in many ways.

    That said, there are folks who have moved there and love it, definitely would be safer than LA! Maybe ask this to Mark & Lisa Mercer who live there now as expats and help others move to the country, they would have more up-date info as would the U.S. Embassy located in Montevideo. Their blog is ‘Uruguay Expat Life’, link on this page:

    Have you considered Peru? Can you handle altitude? Loved Cusco, fun, fun place, safe in general and many great trips easily accessed from there. best of luck, Molly

  10. Larry says:

    Hi Molly

    Thanks for the information about Salto, it is very hard to find information about moving to Uruguay.

    I have a few questions about life in Salto, I would be really happy if you can help me

    1. How much can I expect to pay for a family of 3 (one child), including ok – nice apartment, school, health care, food etc? How much did you spend for example?

    2. How is the crime in Salto? Did you feel unsafe? How does it compare with other places you have been?

    3. Is there anywhere else you would recommend in Uruguay?

    Thanks so much

    • Molly McHugh says:

      Hi Larry, yeah, I just thought it was worth a mention since is a decent stop-over from Buenos Aires to Iguazu Falls and isn’t as expensive as the rest of the country. But we did not even stay a night, just spent a day!

      I’m not recommending Uruguay for anyone to move to or live, especially with a family. We were put through a horrific ordeal and forced to leave the country, lose months of cash from hostal biz I spent all winter preparing (La Paloma on the Atlantic coast) – you can check our blogs page and ask someone who is promoting the country, I definitely am not.

      I highly recommend Argentina (so many areas other than pricey Buenos Aires, what about Cordoba?) over Uruguay, so much more to do, so many areas to visit and many more options for schooling. Check out my Salta, Argentina page — I’d move there with a family, is affordable, safe for a small city with lots to do.

      best of luck, Molly

  11. Justin Wall says:

    This site is great b/c my wife and I are looking to move into the northern interior portion of the country but can’t find affordable undeveloped land.I was wonwondering if you knew of anyone that is selling, or ssomeone that we can work with; and do they hike up the price for Americans because they think we have lots of money which is not the case here. We have our home for sale priced to sell quickly and come help or high water we’re going to be in route. So any help would be outstanding and greatly appreciated. Thanks so much for your time. Justin-n-Jen.

    • Molly McHugh says:

      Hi, there is simply no way to do this without going there first, spending a little time, getting to know locals, driving around and seeing what areas you may like, etc. Then you will find a good deal hopefully in a place you will enjoy living. best of luck, Molly

  12. joss mago says:

    I really would like to know more about the schools there .. if a community college of some sort exists .. la possibilidad de creer un pequena escuela de ingles .. would be quite promising then ..
    ..perhaps tourist industry level english by simply cribbing off the tourist guidebooks and bringing a tape recorder .. and keeping the costs to. let us say, food or other barter for lessons ..

    could be an interesting town .. no great shopping centres you say .. sounds right

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