Working online is a way you can realize the cost savings of living abroad, while still keeping some money coming in.
If that’s your aim, you find a lot of interesting countries to choose from.
For comparison's sake, the following are five reasons to work online from Uruguay.
1. A Range of Speedy Fiber-Optic Home Service Plans
Internet service in Uruguay is provided by the National Administration of Telecommunications, known as ANTEL, which currently offers five levels of fiber-optic home-service plans:
- 350 GB of service with 100/20 Mbps for about $32 per month.
- 500 GB of service with 200/30 Mbps for about $43 per month.
- 700 GB of service with 400/40 Mbps for about $60 per month.
- 1,000 GB of service with 500/50 Mbps for about $73 per month.
- 2,000 GB of service with 750/60 Mbps for about $95 per month.
ANTEL provides a modem with WiFi as part of your Internet service package. If you go over your monthly usage limit, the speed slows down.
I’m signed up with the basic $30 plan in Montevideo. After seven years, my modem stopped working. A few hours after I called ANTEL to report the problem, a service team arrived at my apartment and installed a new one.
As a point of interest, ANTEL started a program in 2007 called Plan Ceibal. It provides a free laptop computer to every primary and secondary student in Uruguay’s public school system. It was the first such plan in the world.
2. The Deepest Internet Penetration in Latin America
In Uruguay, you find the availability of high-speed Internet service in places you’d expect, like Montevideo, Uruguay’s capital.
For many online workers, Montevideo can be a good first stop. It’s where you find a selection of furnished and equipped short-term apartments with WiFi, cool cafes, and co-working spaces.
For work breaks, you can take walks along the coastal promenade. In the evenings, you can try different restaurants, go to the movies (with many showings in the original English), and enjoy a range of live music venues.
Once you get a sense of things and look around the country a bit, you can decide where you want to settle. Perhaps it's Montevideo. Or Punta del Este, a beach resort city 80 miles east of Montevideo, which attracts an international crowd.
But the nice thing about Uruguay is you have a lot of choice. Because you can access fast fiber-optic Internet service even in more out-of-the-way places. So, if you want, you can work online from a small city in Uruguay’s rural interior, just minutes away from country life and the great outdoors.
Or, perhaps you’d like to live and work in a small coastal town on Uruguay's Atlantic coast. A place where you can wax up your board and hit the beach when the surf is up.
3. A Favorable Time Zone
Uruguay’s time zone is three to four hours behind London; one to two hours ahead of New York; and four to five hours ahead of Los Angeles. So, if you work with clients or a team in the U.S., UK, and Western Europe, you share overlapping business hours.
For day traders who play the opening moments of the New York Stock Exchange based on the closing of the London Stock Exchange, Uruguay’s “in-the-middle” time zone is ideal.
4. Reasonable Residency Process
To become a legal resident of Uruguay, you don’t need to pay a big fee or make an investment.
What you do need to do is pass a criminal background check from your home country. You also need to prove a recurring monthly income sufficient to support yourself in Uruguay. This is often around $1,500 per month for a single person. And it can be from your online business.
In Montevideo, you find residency attorneys who’ll help through the residency process for a set fee. They’ll tell you what documents you need to bring from home. Then, once you’re in Uruguay, they’ll walk you step-by-step through the application process.
5. Comprehensive Healthcare as a Social Security Benefit
In Uruguay, it can take six months, and sometimes longer, to receive the final approval of your residency application. However, once you’ve turned in your complete application, you’re considered a resident "in process.” And as a resident in the process, you can formalize your business activity in Uruguay. (Uruguay offers several business structures. This includes simple low-cost reporting options for lower-income businesses.)
As a self-employed individual in Uruguay, your social security withholding includes a health plan, which can cover your family.
The default social security health plan is with the Administration of State Health Services, Uruguay’s public health care system (known as ASSE, its acronym in Spanish).
If you like, you can switch from ASSE to a private health care plan during an open enrollment period each year. Then, the health care part of your social security payment goes to your private provider, like a voucher system.
The most popular private option is a hospital-based membership plan called a mutualista. Coverage with a mutualista includes doctor visits, tests, surgery, emergency-room visits, and hospitalization. And you find several mutualistas in Uruguay to choose from.