When the hamas-isreal thing started happening and we got kind of spooked, my wife (IR major with South America focus) decided Uruguay is probably the spot considering El Salvador isn't exactly low key.
Uruguay is ranked first in the Americas for democracy, and first in Latin America in peace, low perception of corruption, and e-government. It is the lowest-ranking South American nation in the Global Terrorism Index, and ranks second in the continent on economic freedom, income equality, per-capita income, and inflows of FDI. Uruguay is the third-best country on the continent in terms of Human Development Index, GDP growth, innovation, and infrastructure. Uruguay is regarded as one of the most socially progressive countries in Latin America. It ranks high on global measures of personal rights, tolerance, and inclusion issues, including its acceptance of the LGBT community. The country has legalized the consumption and production of cannabis, same-sex marriage, prostitution and abortion. Uruguay is a founding member of the United Nations, OAS, and Mercosur.
Uruguay was a nice chill place when I visited twenty years ago, but I was only passing through, and I have no idea about its political / civic / infra situation. What were the aspects of it that appealed to ya'll?
If anyone does make it down here, even to scout it out, please hit me up. Would love to give all of you a warm welcome.
Now is a great time as we’re now moving into summer months of December to March.
I can vouch that it is extremely chill in Uruguay 🇺🇾 , (and whilst some might claim it is boring) that is exactly what you want during times like this. One of the most commonly used words is “tranqui” which you probably don’t need to google.
No political polarisation, the whole country’s history is made up of immigration, plentiful food, solid gun laws, strong European vibes, meat & cowboy-based culture 🤠 Literally everyone just loves to sit outside, sip mate and chill with a view and sunset.
More expensive to live than most places if you’re on a budget, but the peace of mind more than makes up for that.
As a Brit having made the trip last year, people are so welcoming and surprised to see Westerns WANT to come here. Which makes them really welcoming and will very much leave you alone. Even people that aren’t so fortunate, rarely bother you unlike in many other Latin American countries. People find their way to get by.
For those that are interested…
The downsides that exist are probably that there isn’t really much of a Bitcoin economy here yet in Uruguay. They haven’t needed it. The next biggest one is that bureaucracy still exists.
Definitely witnessed an uptick in the amount of libertarian minded people here, moving from abroad, which is a huge plus. People I’ve enjoyed connecting with.
The cashless card culture has expanded and is commonplace. I’m becoming one of the minority in local markets still using cash. It’s still used but much less than other Latin economies, at least in major cities like Montevideo and Punta del Este. They have hooked people in with 15-20% discounts in cafes and restaurants if you have a certain branded card. Now people use cards daily.
Supermarkets are pretty much run by a French monopoly here. There’s lots of brands but all with the same/similar owners, which is why veggies and consumables are 2x-3x more expensive than neighbouring countries. I try to avoid lining their pockets by opting for the local markets or “ferias” and building relationships there.
On the plus side, you can exchange significant amounts of dollars for pesos or vice versa without any sort of identification whatsoever. These are large registered businesses. In the U.K., even exchanging $100 felt like an inquisition and a favour I was being granted.
You need to present ID to get a SIM card like most countries, but it’s so refreshing to walk in & pay a competitive FX rate without being asked your name. To not get asked about what you plan to do with your depreciating dollars, or your travel plans etc. Reason being I expect, many big purchases like houses and cars are denominated in dollars, just like neighbouring Argentina. Those assets by the way are also fairly pricey for the region near the coastline cities given the stability on offer.
Renting and purchasing property comes with quite a lot of additional costs. With very little work or effort on the agency side. I gather it’s often best to find a good agent to trust with this process, or even a friend who does it on the side. Or just be prepared to eat that cost.
Linked to the agency world, and being both a positive and negative, sometimes when paying for a service you’ll find you as the buyer need to chase to get things done. The culture is very different here, to the detriment of speediness. It’s almost like businesses are not motivated by money and believe you are lucky to being served at all, even when paying hefty fees. I guess that’s the “tranqui” way.
It’s just a general observation and not always the case, but also potentially provides good opportunities for those people that are responsive and are willing to setup a business here. You will soon find yourself as the exception if you keep your promises and can deliver on time.
Linked to the agency world, and being both a positive and negative, sometimes when paying for a service you’ll find you as the buyer need to chase to get things done. The culture is very different here, to the detriment of speediness. It’s almost like businesses are not motivated by money and believe you are lucky to being served at all, even when paying hefty fees. I guess that’s the “tranqui” way.
This was my experience when I lived in BsAs and it drove me mad, though I think it was partly the vibe and partly corruption and partly just the collapse of everything (this was in 2004, after the recent bout of currency collapse; there have been many since, as we all know.)
What's internet like, where you are? That was another infuriating thing, but then, it was twenty years ago. I assume it's better now.
[Edit] Also: have you ever written about your experiences on SN in a comprehensive way? That would be dynamite. I perused some of your posts, and didn't notice one such, though I didn't read closely. This was a helpful article on Uruguay that you posted, but it would be cool to hear your own story.
Internet is bang on, really great fibre and cell coverage (given the whole country is flat). Cheap too. Also Starlink recently came online here, which was the motivation to dig deeper into their service in a recent SN article of mine.
Thanks for the suggestion. I guess I’ll type something up and cross-post to Nostr next week. We’ll see if people ‘dig it’. Hopefully it’ll inspire others to do the same for their preferred Plan B destinations.
Don’t be surprised if i regurgitate a lot of the above though 😅
That Starlink article was one of the best to ever appear here, at least since I've been here. Nice one. I look forward to your Our Man in Havana report ;)
Appreciate the pat on the back. Thanks.
Does Elvis have Nostr btw?
I don't -- SN is the only place I exist and say anything. I have a read-only Twitter account for reading research stuff. Otherwise, I'm trying to make this home, like you and Uruguay, maybe. Heh.
Do you know if they got stupid over covid or did they have a reasonable reaction overall?
I wasn’t here at that time, but I’m told that generally people were able to do as they pleased. Without much social pressure or stigma.
Someone who lived outside the capital, in a small town, told me if it were not for their Twitter account, they’d have had no idea for 3+ months that it was a thing.
So overall, I would say much more on the reasonable side, in comparison to pretty much most countries.
It’s helped by the fact that Uruguay doesn’t have much in the way of TV channels given the size of the country. Therefore entertainment and news is for from a combination of Argentina, Brazil and United States. So controlled media isn’t such a thing here. I feel most people have a decent assessment of world affairs, at least those I have interacted with.
I might have to start planning a trip to check out this ignored little gem of a country. Thanks for all of your info.
Thanks for the question. Planning to finish a more thorough write-up in the next week.
As I said to others, would love to greet anyone that comes to check it out.
This episode has a lot of good information: https://fountain.fm/episode/jJ5JnOebiFSBmW04y3Pl
Nice listen. Especially from 1hr40 on this subject.
Yeah, this is very timely!
I'm not much of a life-planner so it was mostly her reasoning that led to Uruguay. The way I understood her, it was:
  1. progressive
  2. peaceful
  3. ignored
I also recently met a really rich, really cool guy that ended up moving/living there which (for me) is an independent source of validation.
A friend of mine bought a house in Uruguay because of all those reasons. But they eventually moved to Columbia because his wife had family there.
Yes, I have witnessed this also. Of course moving forward family reasons isn’t unexpected but in general for other South Americans, Uruguay isn’t actually an easy destination to come to and get accustomed to.
Many people from Colombia, Venezuela, Cuba, Mexico I have met said they struggled for a few years, to find meaningful friends and to feel accepted. Not to mention it isn’t that close anyway. Think it’s an 7 hour flight from Bogota, so even Miami is closer to Colombia. In those other countries it’s very common to get invites to houses and to find close friends.
In Uruguay however (at least for non-Europeans) it takes a little more work. Culturally it’s very different, much more isolated than most of South America. More European, less densely populated too, so in the big cities people tend to keep themselves to themselves, unless involved in activities & sports. Solitude is quite normal for some reason. Not for everyone and not perfect by any stretch.
Ha, this is knit so deeply into my bones I can't even tell you. It's like when I lived in England for a bit, and people talked about how stand-offish the English were, and I was like: wtf are you talking about?
Baselines are important.
Here's an interesting article, a libertarian take by a guy (Doug Casey) who lives there part of the year:
He's mostly negative on it, but ends like this:
"I know I’ve sounded quite negative on Uruguay. On the bright side, it’s peaceful and pleasant. And there’s not a bubble in property, as there is in most of the world’s first-rate cities. But, frankly, there is no perfect place in the world. That’s why, if you can afford it, you want to have comfortable digs several places in the world…"