12 Pros And Cons Of Living In Uruguay in 2024

Last Updated: April 12th, 2024

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If you are finding the thought of moving to South America alluring, chances are you have considered Uruguay as your potential new home base. You wouldn’t be the first to consider this great destination considering its excellent political stability and ideal location, but Uruguay has many downsides too.

Some of the cons of living in Uruguay, which may surprise you, are the cost of living compared to other parts of South America, the harsh winters, and the sometimes-unwelcoming attitude of the people.

While the pros and cons of living in Uruguay may bring about some aspects you hadn’t primarily considered, you must get to know both ends of the spectrum to make an informed decision.

In this article, you will uncover my honest opinion and some hard cold facts about living in Uruguay, so if you are still sitting on the fence or have just had the whimsical idea to move there, let us first explain the advantages and the disadvantages that Uruguay has.

A Quick Overview & Comparison

Pros of Living in Uruguay Cons of Living in Uruguay
Its Location It’s Expensive
Politically Stable Small Country
Great Quality of Life Flat Landscape
Great Healthcare Cold and Wet Winters
Easy Immigration Process Language Barrier
Vintage cars are a common sight on the streets of Uruguay

Pros and Cons of Living in Uruguay

Firstly, let me give you the lowdown on where precisely on the vast continent of South America Uruguay is situated. The relatively small country – the second smallest after Suriname, borders Brazil and Argentina and is snuggly on the southeast coast. Its excellent location means it boasts fantastic beaches, panoramic sea views, and a mild climate, which appeals to many who choose to move there.

Its capital Montevideo is one of the most well-developed cities in South America, and the country has been overshadowed politically and economically by its neighbors Argentina and Brazil over the years. Its ideal location, without political instability and high crime, makes it a winner when ex-pats compare Uruguay with surrounding countries.

But it’s not all sunshine and rainbows in this part of the world, so lets us dive in and uncover the realities of living in Uruguay.

Pros of Living in Uruguay

1. An Ideal Location

If you are opposed to moving to a landlocked country, you might have considered Uruguay for its fantastic location, excellent beaches, and stunning sea views. Located in southeastern South America, Uruguay boasts 400 miles of Atlantic coastline, which is perfect for those who love to get out on the water. There is no shortage of beautiful beaches to explore along the coastline and the River Plate, and while the country’s topography is relatively flat, the coastline certainly makes up for it.

Uruguay is an excellent choice for those seeking a beachside lifestyle and are not fussed about mountains, forests, or jungles. Another advantage of its location is that you can easily travel to Argentina or Brazil, which offers a range of incredible sights to see, and flights, ferries and local overnight buses are affordable if booked in advance.

2. Political Stability

When considering a move to South America, one major thing that comes to mind is the economic stability of the country, which will have an impact on you and your family considerably. Luckily, unlike Argentina or Brazil, Uruguay maintains a strong and stable economy and political stability, which you can rest assured of. Its citizens choose the country’s political party every five years, and it is one of the most institutionalized in the world.

The country has a long-standing tradition of respecting human rights, the rule of law, and civil liberties and has been praised for its democratic governance over the years. In recent years Uruguay’s economy has become even more resilient, and its country’s GDP has increased by an  average of 1.52% in the last ten years. This is excellent news for potential residents of Uruguay, who can rest in knowing that they are choosing a strong-willed country.

An ideal place for lunch in Colonia

3. Great Quality of Life

Uruguay is well known for its low levels of poverty, its higher income per capita, and excellent healthcare and education systems. As well as having very low levels of inequality and virtually nonexistent extreme poverty, 90% of Uruguay’s citizens over 65 have access to a pension scheme – one of the highest figures in Latin America.

The quality of life is undoubtedly one of the significant pros of living in Uruguay, and if you don’t believe me, just take a look at the Mercer Quality of Living Index to see that Montevideo consistently tops the list of cities with the best quality of living in Latin America. In 2019 it ranked 78th ahead of cities like Kuala Lumpur, Bratislava, and Warsaw. It even surpassed Santiago de Chile (93rd) and Buenos Aires (91st), its regional rivals. Citizens and residents have access to free or low-cost healthcare, and everyone is entitled to quality healthcare under this government system. Education is free from preprimary through to the university level, which means that the literary rates are relatively high in Uruguay, and education is regarded as valuable in society.

4. Easy Immigration Process

One of the best things about living in Uruguay is that the visa process is easy to follow. Uruguay is a welcoming country open to foreigners moving there, and their visa process reflects this. Married couples can apply for citizenship after three years of residency, while single people can apply after five years, making it a smooth process for those that want to stay permanently.

To apply for residency in the first place is also easy and just requires some essential paperwork like a birth certificate, a police certificate and a marriage certificate, and proof of income. Foreigners pay no income tax on their foreign income for the first few years, and then they pay 12%. Processing permanent residency in Uruguay takes 6 –12 months less than in many other countries worldwide.

5. Multicultural Society

Uruguay boasts a vibrant cultural scene with elements of its colonial past, having been conquered by the British, Spain, and Portuguese. Today, there is so much culture to discover, and towns like Colonia del Sacramento represent an excellent example, making Uruguay an enthralling place to live.

As well as its multicultural past, modern-day Uruguay is a melting pot of cultures, and you will find people from all over Europe, Latin America, and North America living in harmony here. There is also a tiny minority of people of African and Asian descent, which makes Uruguay a fascinating multicultural country, especially for its small size.

The centre of the charming town of Colonia del Sacramento

6. Low Levels of Corruption

One of the surefire pros of living in Uruguay is the low level of corruption, which is significantly lower than any other country in Latin America. According to the CPI (Corruption Perceptions Index), in 2022 Uruguay ranked 14th out of 180 countries, an improvement from the previous year when it ranked 18th. It was given a score of 74/100, with 100 being the least corrupt and 0 being the most corrupt.

It is the best-positioned country in the Americas, alongside Canada, and ranked ahead of countries like France, Austria, USA and Chile. Compared to some of the worst countries for corruption in the region, Brazil and Argentina, it ranked 94th out of 180, making Uruguay even more appealing to ex-pats who want to avoid illegal activities like corruption.

Cons of Living in Uruguay

7. The Terrain – It’s Flat

One of the significant drawbacks to choosing Uruguay as your home base is its lack of diverse landscapes. You will notice that once you get past the stunning coastline – which is the main draw in the country, there is not much else, and if you are a mountain lover, you will be sadly disappointed.

The highest point in Uruguay is Cerro Catedral, which is merely a hill reaching 513m (1685ft), so adventurous mountain climbs and hikes are a no-go here. Uruguay is perfectly suitable for those who want to delve deeper into the rich culture and spend time at the beaches. Still, if you venture inland, you won’t find much excitement, and in truth, most of the country is a rolling plain that extends from the Argentine pampas.

There is always a view of the water in the south of Uruguay

8. The Language Barrier

Spanish is the official language of Uruguay, with 99% of the population speaking Spanish as their mother tongue. Besides Spanish, Portuguese and English are also spoken by a small minority; in fact, just 5-10% of the local population speak English as a second language. This can be a massive issue if you plan to live there and don’t speak Spanish, so it is one thing to consider before moving.

While you might get by socializing with ex-pats and living in the cities and tourist areas, this is very limiting, and you won’t have much freedom to move to rural areas or socialize with locals without some level of Spanish. In addition, the Spanish spoken in Uruguay comes with its dialect, which is called Rioplatense, so you will notice that many words are different from Spanish in Spain, not to mention the pronunciation, which compares to Argentina.

9. The Cold and Wet Winters

Uruguay has a humid subtropical climate, which means it is even across the country, which is not difficult for a small country. While the country has all four distinct seasons, albeit the opposite of the northern hemisphere, you must know that the winters are freezing and damp. The summers tend to be sunny and warm; autumn is mild, and spring is cool and windy, but when winter comes to town, you must be prepared.

This might be pleasant for those moving from countries with extreme winters, but Uruguay is not the right destination if you are expecting mild, warm winters. The Uruguayan winters can be chilly, with temperatures as low as 6C and highs of 14C between June – September; while this is not cold enough for snow, it can be rather dark and dreary and impact your mood.

10. The Cost of Living

Uruguay might seem affordable compared to the USA, Canada, Ireland, or Switzerland, for example, but in South American terms, the prices are much higher than the average. If you are not prepared for this and assume that its location in South America will have similar costs to Peru, Ecuador, or even Paraguay, then you will be in for a shock as the prices are some of the highest in the region.

For example, the cost of living is 19.6% lower than in the USA, and rent is 66.4% lower than in the USA, but you will pay more for rent, food, and essential items than in many other neighboring countries. One of the downsides is that Uruguay doesn’t manufacture consumer goods locally so it can pay prices similar to Australia, Canada, or Europe for some things. A single person should allow $777 per month without rent, while a family of four needs to budget $2,769 per month without rent.

You can always find a wild and beach along the vast stretch of Atlantic coastline

11. The Crime Rate

Uruguay might be among Latin America’s safest countries, but you should know that crime is on the rise there. Uruguay has moderate levels of crime regarding robbery, muggings, theft, assault, and drug dealing, and it is often regarded as a destination country for human traffickers because of its location between Argentina and Brazil.

As well as this, the Uruguay issue is a gateway for illegal weapons that come from Brazil, and while this has increased in recent years, the level of corruption is very low. One thing to consider is that the national police in Uruguay struggle to provide basic safety due to the lack of proper training. According to the Global Organised Crime Index, Uruguay had a criminality score of 2.69 – the 12th of 12 countries in South America, while its Neighbour Brazil had a criminality score of 6.5 – the 4th of 12 countries in South America. This is positive news for the region, but overall, Uruguay has major flaws regarding criminality.

12. It’s a Small Country

One cons of living in Uruguay is that it is the second smallest country on the continent. That means that once you have lived there for a few years, you may have seen everything, and the lack of diversity within the country becomes apparent. Apart from its colonial towns, bustling cities, and beautiful beaches, the country doesn’t have much else to offer, and you will have to venture across the border for some excitement.

Moving to a new country means you should plan to some degree, and if you are the type to love long road trips and varied scenery, you will be pushed to find it in Uruguay. Being a small country means the distances are short, but the disadvantage is that you don’t have the option to get far away within your own country if you want to, which can bring about a sense of entrapment.

There is a lot to love about living in Uruguay


What is the worst thing about living in Uruguay?

Those considering a move to Uruguay must consider the crime rate and the wet winters, which can dramatically affect your decision. In addition, the country is small and flat, which is unsuitable for those who love hiking in the mountains or exploring diverse landscapes, making these some of the worst aspects of moving to Uruguay.

What is the population of Uruguay?

The population is 3.42 million, with just over half of the people living in Montevideo and the rest living in urban areas along the country’s southern half.

What are the locals like?

For the most part, locals are very welcoming and friendly to tourists and ex-pats, and you will always find support and help when needed. That being said, customer service can be unwelcoming at times and rather cold, but this is not always the case; just something to be aware of so you are not caught off guard.

How much does accommodation cost in Montevideo?

A one-bedroom apartment in the centre of Montevideo can cost $2,460 per square metre, while an apartment outside the city centre can cost around $1,871 per square metre.

Can foreigners buy property in Uruguay?

Uruguay is an effortless and straightforward country for foreigners to buy property, mainly because the process is well-regulated and foreigners have the same property rights as Uruguayan citizens. This makes it a popular place for ex-pats to invest in real estate without much hassle or stress.

What are healthcare facilities like?

Uruguay has a healthcare system provides free or low-cost medical care services to its residents, which is excellent for anyone moving from the USA, where healthcare is much more expensive. The private healthcare system is of excellent quality, and you can access a broader range of services by opting to go private.

About The Author

Jade is a seasoned traveller, yoga enthusiast, adventure seeker and travel writer passionate about seeing the world and sharing hidden gems with others. As well as having travelled to 91 countries thus far, she has written for several websites and published her first book ‘The Ultimate Irish Road Trip Guide’. She is a keen writer of satirical articles, as well as ‘The best things to do’ and ‘The best dishes to try’ around the globe. Jade is currently on a campervan adventure around Europe, where she continues to get her travel and food inspiration. She is excited to share what she discovers with her readers.

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Picture of Jade Poleon

Jade Poleon

Jade is a seasoned traveller, yoga enthusiast, adventure seeker and travel writer passionate about seeing the world and sharing hidden gems with others. As well as having travelled to 91 countries thus far, she has written for several websites and published her first book ‘The Ultimate Irish Road Trip Guide’. She is a keen writer of satirical articles, as well as ‘The best things to do’ and ‘The best dishes to try’ around the globe. Jade is currently on a campervan adventure around Europe, where she continues to get her travel and food inspiration. She is excited to share what she discovers with her readers.

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