South America Living

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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