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Why Uruguay Is One Of The Best Countries For A Sustainable Lifestyle

When choosing to live in a new country, many people put little thought into sustainable living. As the name implies, this broad topic covers sustainable agriculture, food production, and energy independence. I look at things like these as the positives of sustainable living and care less about the green agenda most other people push down our throats.

Some countries, like Uruguay, have taken the lead in energy and food self-sufficiency. Today, this small South American country of approximately 3.5 million is a world leader in renewable energy and food independence. Regarding the latter, production far exceeds domestic needs, with the nation being a leading exporter of grains, beef, and soybeans. While no country is immune to global shocks, we can learn a few things from Uruguay. 


Pocitos Beach, Montevideo, Uruguay

Punta Del Este, Uruguay


Regarded as South America's hidden gem, most people could not even locate Uruguay on a map. Being the second smallest country on the continent and sandwiched between regional powerhouses Argentina and Brazil, we'll forgive you. While some may regard its geography as a disadvantage, Uruguay has defied the odds to become one of the region's most developed countries.

It goes without saying that South America is more known for corruption and economic mismanagement. However, Uruguay is one of the few bright spots. It has become one of the region's most prosperous nations, which can be attributed to several factors, such as effective governance, a strong national identity, and prudent economic policies. 


Legislative Palace, Montevideo

Legislative Palace, Montevideo


Unlike many of its neighbours, Uruguay is not rich in natural resources and imports most of its oil and natural gas. As such, the economy is heavily affected by rising energy prices and the related impact on food prices. While many countries have only recently begun to prioritize energy independence, Uruguay took the lead following the global financial crisis in 2008.

Obviously, no country is truly energy independent in specific sectors such as transportation, but Uruguay is among a handful of countries where nearly all their power comes from renewable resources. According to the Uruguayan Ministry of Industry and Energy, in 2021, 98% of the country's electricity was produced from renewables, most notably hydro and wind. However, solar has recently gained traction thanks to tax incentives.

These steps have made Uruguay a model for reducing dependence on fossil fuels, and for the record, I personally have no problem with fossil fuels, what I have a problem with is being massively dependent on other countries for the safety and economic stability of a country. I commend Uruguay for taking responsibility and finding solutions to become more energy independent. Of course, it will not fully insulate the country from crises, but it will help mitigate their impacts.

It is important to note Uruguay is also part of the Mercosur agreement, and being a resident of Uruguay makes travelling easy.


Independence Square, Montevideo, Uruguay

Independence Square, Montevideo, Uruguay


Regarding food independence, Uruguay is a world leader. In fact, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Uruguay ranks second only to Argentina in food self-sufficiency. Production far exceeds domestic consumption due to plenty of flat, fertile farmland and a temperate climate. Uruguay is a major exporter of food items like beef, milk, butter, grains, and soybeans.

Uruguay's food independence can be attributed to more than just favourable geography and climate. Prudent policies such as frequent crop rotations, soil care, and sustainability are heavily ingrained in Uruguayan society. A little-known fact is Uruguay has the most cows per inhabitant, not to mention they are free from hormones and antibiotics. When it comes to sustainable living, Uruguay is leading the way.


Related content: The Basics Of How To Get A Second Passport Or A Second Residency.


Empty urban scene at Punta Del Este, Uruguay

Empty urban scene at Punta Del Este, Uruguay


It goes without saying that a building is only as strong as its foundation. This is no different than governance, where a strong government and the people's trust in it form the basis for economic development. In this regard, the small South American country stands out in a region where instability and financial mismanagement is the norm. According to Transparency International's Perceptions of Corruption Index, Uruguay is the least corrupt country in Latin America, ranking 18th and equal to Belgium (which has it’s own special form of corruption) and Japan.

Likewise, it gets high marks on the Economist's Democracy Index, with widespread support for democratic institutions. In addition, Uruguay ranks at or near the top in other indexes, such as economic freedom, income equality, and human development. Lastly, Uruguay has long been regarded as one of the most progressive countries in the Americas, being one of the first to legalize prostitution, and marijuana. 


Motorboat in Punta del Este Uruguay

Motorboat in Punta del Este Uruguay


Thanks to a stable government, strong support for democratic institutions, and prudent economic policies, Uruguay stands out among its neighbours. The approach taken by the center-right government of Luis Lacalle Pou has largely been successful, helping Uruguay avoid the left tide that recently swept through Brazil, Chile, and Colombia. Likewise, some pro-business policies have been paying off, helping Uruguay attract foreign direct investment.

More recently, Uruguay remains a beacon of hope in light of the uncertainty and instability throughout the region and the world as a whole. While it is not the cheapest country in the area, stability and sustainability have made it a part of many expats' plan B. In addition, there are some tax benefits, such as no taxes on most foreign-sourced income (interest payments and dividends are taxed at 12%). In addition, foreigners may purchase and sell land or real estate and are afforded the same rights as citizens.

Of course, no where is perfect and Uruguay could be better in certain regards, but the country has a lot going for it. It is a regional leader in sustainable living and quality of life, has a laid-back culture, and accepting of foreigners. In a world of instability, Uruguay is one of the few places where you can forget about all the problems occurring throughout Asia, Europe, and North America.

Related content: Top 8 Locations Expats Can Build A Real Life Abroad.


Diving Beach, Montevideo, Uruguay

Diving Beach, Montevideo, Uruguay


Uruguay may not have the lowest cost of living in South America, but it is certainly the most self-sufficient. There aren’t many countries that can boast of hormone and antibiotic-free meat, and Uruguay has that going for it. It also is a self-sustaining renewable energy source powerhouse. A place I would definitely put on my to-go list, and maybe eventually become a resident of Uruguay, if not just for the more natural foods, then for the lower energy costs we have seen flaring up worldwide.



I help my clients to move offshore for freedom, privacy and autonomy by focusing on the immigration, legal, and tax issues that you will face when becoming an expat. If you would like to work one-on-one with me on getting out of Canada or the USA (or setting up a Plan-B location), then read this important letter and fill in an application form to become a Private Client. My fees are not cheap; however, I can assure you that when you work with a professional firm like ours, the results will be worth it.



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Mikkel Thorup

Written by Mikkel Thorup

Mikkel Thorup is the world’s most sought-after expat consultant. He focuses on helping high-net-worth private clients to legally mitigate tax liabilities, obtain a second residency and citizenship, and assemble a portfolio of foreign investments including international real estate, timber plantations, agricultural land and other hard-money tangible assets. Mikkel is the Founder and CEO at Expat Money™, a private consulting firm started in 2017. He hosts the popular weekly podcast, the Expat Money Show, and wrote the definitive #1-Best Selling book Expat Secrets - How To Pay Zero Taxes, Live Overseas And Make Giant Piles Of Money.

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