Spanish Vocabulary: Quality of Life in Spanish-Speaking Communities

Instructor: Elena Sacramento Lechado

Elena has a PhD in linguistics from University of La Laguna (Spain). Currently, she teaches Spanish as a foreign language and creates teaching resources.

In this lesson, you'll learn how to discuss quality of life in Spanish. We'll take a look at plenty of vocabulary related to this topic, as well as real-life examples associated to Latin America.

What is Quality of Life?

In your opinion, what are the main factors that determine a good quality of life? Most people will agree that health and safety, as well as a reasonable salary that adjusts to the cost of living of the country, have priority. In Latin American countries, these are determinant factors, but family life and a sense of community are crucial too.

We're going to learn the relevant vocabulary we need to discuss aspects of quality of life, or calidad de vida (pronounced: kah-lee-DAHD deh BEE-dah), in Latin America. To do this, we'll take a look at the most important terms related to this subject. We'll see their pronunciation and translation, as well as their usage through plenty of examples in Spanish. Let's get on with it!

We will discuss quality of life (calidad de vida) in Latin America.

Spanish Vocabulary Related to Quality of Life

We can classify the aspects that determine the quality of life of a specific country or community into different categories. For the sake of clarity, we'll organize these aspects into tables. Let's take a look at them!

Note: We add an article in brackets to indicate the noun gender (masculine or feminine).

Physical Welfare

This is the main vocabulary associated to physical welfare, or bienestar físico (byehn-ehs-TAHR FEE-see-koh):

Spanish Pronunciation Translation
(la) salud (lah sah-LOOD) health
(el) medio ambiente/
(el) entorno natural
(ehl MEH-dyoh ahm-BYEHN-teh/
ehl ehn-TOHR-noh nah-too-RAHL)
(el) agua potable (ehl AH-wah poh-TAH-bleh) drinking water
(los) servicios médicos (lohs sehr-BEE-syohs MEH-dee-kohs) medical services
(la) esperanza de vida (lah ehs-peh-RAHN-sah deh BEE-dah) life expectancy
(la) seguridad (lah seh-goo-ree-DAHD) safety

According to the annual quality of living survey carried out by the global consulting Mercer, Uruguay, Argentina and Chile are the highest-ranked Latin American countries in terms of safety and security in society, whereas Cuba and Venezuela occupy the lowest positions. Let's read some facts in Spanish:

  • Los países latinoamericanos con mejor calidad de vida son Uruguay, Argentina y Chile. (The Latin American countries with the best quality of life are Uruguay, Argentina and Chile.)
  • La capital de Uruguay, Montevideo, es la ciudad latinoamericana mejor valorada, seguida por Buenos Aires (Argentina) y Santiago (Chile). (The capital city of Uruguay, Montevideo, is the best valued Latin American city, followed by Buenos Aires (Argentina) and Santiago (Chile).)
  • Montevideo resalta por su estándar de salud, servicios públicos y entorno natural. (Montevideo stands out for its health standard, public services and natural environment.)

People wandering in Colonia, Uruguay.

Economic Issues

El bienestar material (ehl byeh-nehs-TAHR mah-teh-RYAHL) makes reference to material things that are related to or acquired with money. Here are some terms:

Spanish Pronunciation Translation
(el) salario /
(el) sueldo
(ehl sah-LAH-ryoh/
ehl SWEHL-doh)
(el) salario
(ehl sah-LAH-ryoh
(los) ingresos (lohs een-GREH-sohs) income
(las) pertenencias (lahs pehr-teh-NEHN-syahs) belongings
(la) vivienda (lah bee-BYEHN-dah) housing
(las) necesidades
(lahs neh-seh-see-DAH-dehs
basic needs

Let's consider some facts:

  • La capital uruguaya es una de las metrópolis más avanzadas de América Latina. (The Uruguayan capital is one of the most advanced metropolis in Latin America.)
  • México es uno de los países con el salario mínimo más bajo de América Latina, mientras que Panamá tiene el salario más alto. (Mexico is one of the countries with the lowest minimum wage in Latin America, whereas Panama has the highest salary.)
  • El 40% (cuarenta por ciento) de los trabajadores en México no llega al mínimo necesario para cubrir las necesidades básicas. (40% of the workers in Mexico don't reach the minimum necessary to cover basic needs.)

Social & Political Issues

Los aspectos sociales y políticos (lohs ahs-PEHK-tohs soh-SYAH-lehs ee poh-LEE-tee-kohs), or social and political issues, include:

Spanish Pronunciation Translation
(la) comunidad (lah koh-moo-nee-DAHD) community
(el) entorno
(ehl ehn-TOHR-noh
political context
(la) democracia (lah deh-moh-KRAH-syah) democracy
(la) igualdad (lah ee-wahl-DAHD) equality
(la) desigualdad (lah deh-see-wahl-DAHD) inequality

Let's see how to use these terms in context:

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