How to Find the Perfect Climate

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Dear Reader,

When buying a second home overseas, there’s a way of immediately cutting the list of possible countries to a handful. Your climate preference. Not only will it shrink your list, it will help you focus on very specific locations for your property search. Moreover, this method is simple and easy.

Think about the type of climate you’re comfortable with. Some of you want spring-like weather, where you won’t need heating or air conditioning. Others want wall-to-wall sunshine, and to swim in the sea year-round, while still others prefer four seasons.

Today, we’ll start with a look at areas with seasonal weather (we’ll cover eternal spring and year-round sunshine in later articles).

If you enjoy distinct seasons, two countries in particular stand out in my experience: Argentina and Uruguay. The seasons in both countries are opposite to those in the US. Summer runs from December to February in Uruguay and Argentina, while winter is from June to September. If your plan is part-time overseas living, you could avoid the cold, gray northern winters back home, and bask in the warm sunshine of a South American summer.

Uruguay is perfect for anyone who loves changing seasons. The country has four distinct seasons, but no extremes of temperature. You won’t find boiling heat, or snow and ice—but you certainly won’t be swimming in the sea in mid-winter. The average temperature in summer is 70-82F, and in winter it’s 50-61F.

The property market in Uruguay (outside the glamour hotspot of Punta del Este) is relatively stable. This is the place to go if you want to renovate a colonial property, have a beach home that you’ll use part of the year, or a stylish center-city apartment. Properties in Uruguay are extremely affordable. You’ll be impressed with what you can buy on a budget.

An apartment in Ciudad Vieja, the colonial side of Montevideo, is on the market for $50,000. The apartment is in a Spanish-colonial style building with only four apartments, sharing a terrace and barbeque area. The apartment is in good condition, with just under 500 square feet of floor space.

Beach at Piriapolis
Piriápolis was Uruguay’s first seaside resort, and remains popular today

An hour from Montevideo is Piriápolis, Uruguay’s first seashore resort, founded in 1893. In the evening, you can stroll the boardwalk, enjoy a fresh seafood dinner, or try your luck at the casino. Piriápolis has one of the few marinas on the entire coast, with affordable rates. A one bedroom, one bathroom apartment, 400 meters from the beach, is for sale at $43,000. That gets you 538 square feet, the furniture—and an ocean-view.

Beach at Punta del Este
Punta del Este is the summer playground for the rich and famous

Punta del Este certainly scores highly in the glamour stakes in summer season, when you can add celebrity-spotting to your agenda. Not all properties have celebrity price tags, though. A 110 square meter house (1184 square feet) is in excellent condition throughout, and is open for offers at $150,000. It’s a third of a mile from the closest beach. A house with a thatched roof, with 3 beds and 2 baths, is in move-in condition but further from the beach (a little over a half-mile). This home has 120 square meters (1290 square feet) of living space for $107,000.

In Argentina, the climate varies enormously from one part of the country to another. The northern section of the country has hot, humid summers and mild, drier winters, while the southern regions have warm summers and cold winters with heavy snowfall. In northern areas, summer temperatures average 80F: in the extreme south, the summer average is only 40F. The national glacier park in the southern region of Patagonia is a major tourist attraction, where you’ll see individual glaciers up to 18 miles long.

Cottage at Bariloche
Set in Argentina’s Lake District, Bariloche is a top ski destination in winter

Bariloche, in Argentina’s Lake District, sits in the foothills of the Andes, surrounded by alpine lakes and dense forests. The climate is temperate, with summer highs of 70F, and winter lows of 30F. The mountain air is crisp and clear. Known as the San Moritz of South America, it’s a top skiing destination in winter. In summer, fishing, sailing, horse-riding and trekking are popular, and lake swimming for the brave (the lake waters are usually very cold, even in summer). 

The town is Swiss in feel, with wood and stone town-center buildings, chalet-style houses, and a cathedral and clock tower. The town’s also famous for its chocolates. A 76 square meter (818 square feet) apartment, right in the center of town, costs $93,000. It’s in good condition, with 2 bedrooms, and is bright and airy. A much larger house (3045 square feet), 3 miles from the town center, is $205,000. That gets you 5 bedrooms, 2.5 bathrooms, an American-style kitchen and wood floors. There’s a cabin in the garden, with a bedroom and bathroom, that could work as private guest accommodation. 

If snow is not part of your overseas dream, Argentina’s beach towns on the coast are worth considering. Argentina’s elite choose Pinamar as their summer destination. You’ll see large redbrick houses with manicured lawns. There’s a mix of upscale boutiques, coffee shops, and Italian restaurants, and a chic yet bohemian vibe. The town gets its name from a pine forest that surrounds it. Pinamar has strict planning codes, which preserve its exclusivity.

Summer highs are 80F, and winter lows 40F. You’ll pay around $1000 a square meter on average in Pinamar for properties that don’t have an ocean-view. A 2-bed, 2-bath apartment in a redbrick 3-story complex is $80,000 for 75 square meters (800 square feet). A recently remodeled 150 square meter house (1600 square feet) is $150,000. This home has an ocean view, and is 100 meters from the beach.

So seasonal living is possible in Latin America—and it won’t empty your bank account when it comes to buying a property.

Next week, we turn our attention to countries with spring-like weather year-round, and four locations that merit a closer look.

Margaret Summerfield


You might also be interested in:

How to Choose the Right Overseas Destination

How to Upgrade your Life while Spending Less

What You Should Know About Overseas Medical Care

Posted Under:

uruguay, argentina

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