Moving to Uruguay
Expats moving to Uruguay will find themselves in one of the smallest countries in South America, with a population of just 3.3 million people, who mostly live in the capital, Montevideo.
Uruguay has traditionally been more affluent than other Latin American and does not experience some of the serious economic inequalities that some of these other countries have experienced.
The reasonable cost of living, favourable tax laws, affordable and good healthcare and high quality of life have attracted many European and North American retirees to Uruguay, particularly to the Punta del Este and Costa de Oro coasts.
Uruguay’s economy has shown positive growth in recent years, and opened up more job opportunities to both locals and expats. Most expats working in Uruguay are employed in the diplomatic, financial services, agricultural, construction and aviation sectors in Montevideo. Punta del Este also offers opportunities in the services and tourism sectors, while other expats move to Uruguay to teach English.
Spanish is the national language, although Uruguayan Spanish has some modifications due to the considerable influence of Italian immigrants over the years, and even expats who are able to speak Spanish may take a while to adjust to the dialect. Although most Uruguayans are able to understand English, they may not necessarily speak it fluently, and expats should attempt to learn at least some Spanish, particularly if working and doing business in Uruguay.
Despite having a lower violent crime rate than its neighbours, street crimes are still common, particularly in Montevideo, and expats should keep a careful eye on their valuables when outdoors, particularly on public transport.
Healthcare in Uruguay is of a high standard and reported to be amongst the best in Latin America. Everyone is entitled to medical care via the national healthcare system, including foreigners. However, most expats opt for private coverage through a private hospital or mutualista (health co-operative).
Uruguay has a good education system and public schools offer free education from kindergarten to secondary school. However, classes are taught in Spanish, and expats generally prefer to send their children to an international school, of which there are a number to choose from, mostly in Montevideo.