Most of the English speakers I met living in Uruguay nine years ago were financially independent or had a retirement income. They were in Uruguay for the lifestyle and real estate opportunities.
In those days, the jobs held by English speaking foreigners in Uruguay were mostly political appointments, embassy jobs, and jobs with international commissions.
However as Uruguay’s economy grew, I started running into more English speakers from abroad with jobs. Many were employed with international businesses with local interests--fields that included banking, agriculture, paper production, construction investment, and aviation. Their jobs took them to Uruguay, as opposed to choosing Uruguay as a place to look for a job.
But times have changed. Without looking very hard, I see more English speakers from developed countries choosing Uruguay as a place to come and get a job.
As an example, one of the cashiers at the small market where I shop in Montevideo is from New Jersey. My attorney’s office administrator is from Australia. And when I spent a couple of weeks at a Spanish language school in Montevideo, the office manager was from England. And the list goes on.
Many of the English speakers coming to work in Uruguay are motivated by family ties or a love interest in Uruguay. Some are working in Uruguay as a short-term adventure. Others are in Uruguay to start a new life.
The majority of English speakers who get jobs in Uruguay also speak Spanish. But you'll find some that found work while still learning to speak Spanish.
But the trend is clear, more English speakers are coming to Uruguay and getting jobs. And judging from the emails I am receiving, a lot more people are interested in finding employment in Uruguay.
Uruguay job wagesThe per capita GDP in Uruguay (gross domestic product divided by the number of people in the country) has been going up every year for the last 12 years. In 2014 it was an amount equal to 21,100 US dollars per person per year--or 1,758 US dollars per person per month.
In February 2015 the average wage for an individual in Uruguay was equal to 652 USD per month. The average household income was equal to 1,836 USD per month.
Average incomes in Montevideo, Uruguay's capital where half of the population lives, are higher. The average pay for an individual in Montevideo is equal to 808 USD per month. The average household income in Montevideo is equal to 2,184 USD per month.
Bank workers, some government workers, and professionals make significantly more than the average. Unskilled service providers and laborers often earn less than the average.
Wages reported here do not include overtime, bonuses, or rent credits.
Uruguay employment benefitsWhile the wages in Uruguay are lower than fully developed countries, As a Uruguayan worker, you'll be a part of the largest middle class in Latin America. While you won't get rich, you will live with dignity.
In Uruguay, if you work more than 44 hours in a week or more than eight hours a day, you are entitled to overtime, which is often double-time. You're also entitled to Sundays off. If you work on a Sunday you may have the choice to trade it for another day off or received double-time pay.
You'll also get lots of paid holidays. And after working at the same job for more than a year, you're entitled to 20 consecutive vacation days with pay. And as you get more seniority, you get even more paid days off a year. Plus, you're entitled to an annual bonus equal to a full month's extra pay--every year.
As a worker in Uruguay, you're benefit package includes a comprehensive medical plan. Your only out of pocket cost is a small co-payment when you see a doctor or receive medical services. You'll be eligible for retirement payments when you've put in the required number of years. And if you are injured on the job and cannot work, you'll be qualified to receive disability.
Besides job benefits, some of your living expenses in Uruguay may be less. Because Uruguay has a good public bus system, most people (about 80 percent of the population) get by fine without the need to own a car. You can get a basic home Internet plan with an incoming phone line for an amount equal to 15 USD per month. And if you want to continue your education, you can attend post secondary school and university for very little cost.
It is my understanding that one needs to be pursuing their permanent residency in order to legally work in Uruguay. (Check with Uruguay’s immigration authority or immigration attorney, to make sure you are within the law.)
In addition to being legally qualified to work, as a practical matter you will need to have basic Spanish language skills to communicate with customers and coworkers.
Earn more money by working for a foreign entity with a presence in Uruguay
Some expats are able to make more money in Uruguay, than they would otherwise, by working for a foreign entity with a presence in Uruguay such as…
- Embassy posts, international commissions, and joint university projects
- International companies with service contracts to provide consulting, maintenance, or training programs for Uruguayan government-owned industries and private businesses.
- International banking and financial sector companies in Uruguay.
- International companies with regional bases in Uruguay
Several Uruguayan friends report that the best service job opportunities in Uruguay are in the beach resort of Punta del Este. Many Uruguayans from all over Uruguay come to Punta del Este to work long hours during the summer, where they can make as much money in a few months as they would all year in other parts of the country.
Getting a Job in Uruguay - The Two Things You Should Know
Is it Possible to Become a Resident in Uruguay if You Need to Get a Job or Start a Business to Meet the Income Requirement?
Starting a Business in Uruguay
Note: Are you interested in learning more about Uruguay? If so, sign up to receive my Free Monthly Newsletter, the Uruguay Insider. And when you do, I'll immediately send you a link to download Uruguay in Pictures—a free PDF guide I've prepared, showing you the top eight places to travel and live in Uruguay.
(This post, which first appeared in 2010, is updated to reflect current wages and conditions.)