7 things that I love about daily life in Uruguay

I moved to Uruguay with my family in 2000. These are some of the things that I’ve come to love about life in Uruguay—some big, some trivial.
By Karen A Higgs
Last updated on September 24, 2021

I’ve been living in Montevideo, the capital of Uruguay, since 2000. Over the years, these are the things that I’ve come to love about day to day life in the city—in no particular order.

If you live elsewhere in Uruguay, I’d love to hear about your daily life. Feel free to post in the comments with your contact details. We might even ask you to write an article sharing your experience.

Going for a walk along the Río de la Plata

I love living in a capital city and yet being able to walk for miles along the rambla—Montevideo’s 25 kilometre-long boardwalk—on the coast of the Rio de la Plata. The river stretches so wide that the locals refer to it as the sea. I go out for a walk most days. On weekends, I love being able to drive to a really lovely beach, like Atlántida, for lunch and a long walk. There are never many people around.

Affordable, personable healthcare

I love the fact that I have really good, affordable healthcare on demand. Over the years, I have chosen my own GP, gynecologist, pneumologist and more, and I can request appointments and get to see them fairly quickly. My doctors tend to be in demand so I may have to wait a couple of months to see them. If it’s urgent I can see a specialist right away.

When my son was small I was in love with the fact that I could call the a doctor to my home anytime of day or night. This type of coverage is available in the form of a co-pay or  ‘mutualista’ as they are called here for  around a hundred dollars a month.

Egalitarianism and being acknowledged as part of the community

I love being called ‘vecina’ when I’m out and about. It’s a very Uruguayan thing to address someone that you don’t know but you see around a lot as ‘neighbour’. You’re a ‘vecino’ or ‘vecina’ depending on whether you present as a man or a woman. It’s common to see personalities and politicians out and about like a regular person. Not a bodyguard in sight.

Last week the president was spotted in a clothing store waiting for his teenage daughter (reports mentioned he chatted to the cashier). (OMG, this reminds me of Mick Jagger in Uruguay)

Get anything delivered

I love being able to call a local pharmacy for a prescription and having it delivered to my door within a few hours. The same goes for corner shops and many other small businesses. There’s generally no cost though there may be a minimum purchase.

Culture and music every night of the week

Living in the capital I love how almost any evening I can go out and listen to live music, go to the theatre, or have my choice of cinema including independent films. All at accessible prices (The Guru’Guay Guide to Montevideo has entire chapters to guide you). I also love hearing and watching candombe drummers any night of the week.

Walking everywhere

I love the fact that everything is close by and in the city public transport is good (Uruguayans will dispute me on this one, but my experience is that it is way more affordable and frequent than South Wales where I come from and as good as Washington DC’s public transport—where I lived before I moved to Uruguay). I love the fact that I went for three and a half years without a car and didn’t really miss it, other than occasionally on weekends.

The corner shop reigns supreme

I love how the concept of the big fortnightly grocery shop at a hypermarket is not really a thing here. In Uruguay, 65% of food and cleaning products are still bought in independent stores and markets. I shop at my corner store which is part of a cooperative of small supermarkets and consequently has prices that are even better than the big supermarkets.

Angel, the store’s butcher, and I have a running joke regarding his ridiculously accurate precision. And I love shopping for fresh vegetables on a Sunday and a Wednesday at local outdoor markets where I know the names of the vendors and they know mine.

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8 Responses

  1. Just one comment on pastries: If you look for great quality go to Cafe Oro del Rhin in Convención. They have a variety of delicious sweets!

  2. Si el bicarbonato de soda se quiere usar como antiacido es logico que el lugar donde se venda es la farmacia.Si se quiere usar para cocinar se puede encontrar en desde el pequeño almacen de la esquina o en un gran supermercardo como ingradiente del Polvo para Hornear.
    Een el Reino Undo yo no pude encontrar ni dulce de leche ,ni dulce de membrillo ni yerba para mate .

  3. Right on spot! I agree with all your pros and cons of living in Uruguay. Two things you haven’t mentioned and that drive me crazy are: the fact that cars don’t stop for pedestrians (I suppose they teach drivers that pedestrians have the right of way but they choose not to honor it)… and dogs without a leash! That’s my real pet peeve. I brought my little dog from the US and she’s absolutely terrified (me too) of dogs running around loose.
    A really good thing you forgot to mention is: Uruguayan beef and pastries. :-)))

    1. Hi Marina, thanks for the confirmation. I have a tip for you regarding cars not stopping for pedestrians. Make eye contact with the driver. In my experience it works pretty much 100% of the time! I’m afraid to say I had a similar experience with unleashed dogs and my own pet who was super submissive and it seems other dogs could sense it a mile off. It really put me off having another dog. I feel for you and your lovely pet.

      You love the pastries? Good to know! My husband is Argentine and is critical of Uruguayan pastries. I don’t eat sweet stuff so have no skin in the game 🙂 The beef of course almost goes without saying! Thanks so much for taking the time to comment, Marina — Karen

  4. I will certainly agree with you about lots of graffiti and horrid customer service in stores. (where is Nordstoms) I don’t miss Starbucks, but I certainly miss “real” chocolate chips. And why can’t I find sour cream or why must I go to a pharmacy for baking soda? I do find restaurant service excellent, and once you’ve been to a particular restaurant they seem to remember you as a guest.

    Oh!! Beware of drivers, especially from Argentina (sorry) and pepole on bikes, without lights of course!!

    1. Hi Michael, great points! Are you in the east? I’m thinking you must be given your comments about Starbucks and Argentinian drivers 🤣 There are quite a few Starbucks in the capital. Real chocolate chips… hmmm, I’m sure some other reader (I don’t eat chocolate) is to going to have a suggestion for you. Sour cream – right. Have you tried Casancrem? For me it’s a pretty good substitute. You cracked me up about the baking soda in pharmacies – different cultures, right? 🤣🤣🤣 People on bikes in the dark, wearing black clothing and without lights is definitely a thing. I wish for their own longevity, it wasn’t… Nice to be in touch. Karen

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