In recent months, there's been some curiosity and intrigue towards this part of the world. Be it Argentina, Uruguay or Latin America in general. In the case of Uruguay, the vast majority of people couldn't locate it on a map or would get confused with neighbouring Paraguay. Having recently relocated to this perfectly calm / neutral / 'boring' country, I thought I would provide a comprehensive summary of what tempted me to consider Uruguay as a new home and what the country offers to Bitcoiners, libertarians and anyone with an eye on a new potential Plan B.
Context I came from the U.K. which may be useful as a point of reference. In recent years, the U.K. has wanted more and more involvement in people's affairs. It became too much for this Bitcoiner to tolerate. The desire was not to run away, but to find a place more aligned with my growing libertarian leanings. A place where I could care more about incompetence than dystopia.
Throughout this write-up, I try my best to show both side of the coin. Uruguay is not perfect by any stretch, but it has ticked all the boxes I am looking for. You will notice that I have shared both positives and negatives from my first year inside the country, in an attempt to educate you on what Uruguay offers from the following angles:

Contents
  1. Geopolitics
  2. National Debt
  3. Banking
  4. Tax Benefits
  5. Food & Agriculture
  6. Lifestyle & Culture
  7. Energy
  8. Water
  9. Inflation
  10. Economy
  11. Residency
  12. Politics
  13. . Digitalisation
  14. Real Estate
  15. History
  16. Demographics
  17. Firearms
  18. Drugs
  19. Regions
  20. Further Reading

Geopolitics

  • Right off the bat, I can admit that the main reasons I chose Uruguay was for the fact that it is generally a laissez-faire society, it is resource rich and it is a country with an unparalleled history plus desire today to stay neutral. We'll explore some of these themes in greater detail, but here is a recent podcast that captures its unique offering really well. It was published just a week ago.

National Debt

  • National debt to GDP for Uruguay was 51.9% in June 2023. This is a stark contrast to the U.S. at 123%, U.K at 101% or Japan at 224%. Such places cannot grow nor print their way out of trouble.
  • Uruguay recently issued a bond of equivalent $700m at 5.6%, with international demand for $2.6 billion. It's never ever been easier or cheaper for Uruguay to borrow money on international markets. Uruguay has never had a lower country risk rating than it has today.

Banking

  • I know you're all here for the revolution & maintaining minimal balances, but some people may still wish to open or retain a bank account in 2023. For business or personal use.
  • Uruguay is an underrated financial behemoth in this aspect, offering savings & salary accounts in both dollars and Uruguayan Pesos with ease. There are many options, for locals and foreigners alike.
  • You don't need to be a resident to open a bank account here. For non-residents there seems to be a higher fixed cost as much as $30-$40 per month to keep the account open. Of course even some local accounts for Uruguayan residents involve a monthly cost, sometimes around $3-$5 per month.
  • A paper-trail is of course required to open a bank account here, just like any country. Further requirements are documented well here, but I won't bore you with those.
  • The main banks are Scotiabank, Banco de la Republica, Itau, BBVA, Santander & Bandes. There is also Banque Heritage and OcaBlue which I gather are just online. Then there is Prex which has become a bit of a neobank, offering an arbitrage solution vs neighbouring Argentina as well as offering 'crypto', in the usual paper or non-custodial form.
  • If withdrawing cash using a foreign card or account and seeking a bank to do this at, I recommend using Banco de la Republica's machines.My foreign card doesn't charge for withdrawals and provides a near-perfect FX rate. Banco de la Republica don't charge any fees their end either. Regardless of whether it is Pesos or Dollars. Many of the others listed do charge however, even if the fees themselves are not large.

Tax Benefits

  • Uruguay is currently the exception in Latin America. Other countries in the region are seemingly adopting the 'tax the rich' mindset under international or political pressure. Uruguay isn't buckling.
  • Many articles out there call Uruguay a tax haven, but consider it just 'light touch'. There are still plenty of types of taxes as you will see when we get into the list of taxes below. Just the rates are much lower. If Uruguay is this extensive, just imagine how bad your current country is, if you stop and think about it!
  • Residency is very attainable to be able to take advantage of tax free holidays and additional benefits. There is however still their fair share of paperwork, waiting and bureaucracy.
  • Having done the process alone in recent months, I would most likely recommend working with someone to speed this along. Trust me that whatever reasonable fee they are charging, it will be "vale la pena" (or worth it) if you value a full head of hair.
  • If achieving residency is of interest please reach out and I may be able to give more specific advice. I also have a close contact who is in the immigration business and has successfully handled multiple other friend's residencies with flying colours.
  • For a comprehensive post on the financial benefits of residing in Uruguay, I have referenced further links at the bottom of this article, included will be the word 'tax'.
  • Note that an individual is considered resident if in Uruguay for more than 183 days in the calendar year or if his/her economic or centre of interests is in Uruguay.
  • The tax year in Uruguay also runs January to December for simplicity.

Here is the TLDR on tax

@DarthCoin look away now.
  1. Tax Holidays
    • Firstly, individuals who become tax residents from 2020 may opt for an 11-year tax holiday on foreign-source income or a permanently reduced tax rate of 7% on that income.
  2. Income Tax
    • The rate for income tax without the tax holiday or any other exceptions is progressive, ranging from 10% to 36%. Kicking-in once you earn ~$12,000 or 475k pesos.
  3. Capital Gains (IRPF or IRNR)
    • Uruguay has a 12% capital gains tax. Same for Bitcoin.
  4. Other Income
    • Other types of "income" are also taxed at 12%. e.g. rents, royalties, interest & foreign-sourced.
  5. Net Wealth Tax (Impuesto al Patrimonio)
    • A net wealth tax exists of 0.1% to 0.3% above $151k for residents and 0.7% to 1.5% for non-residents on the wealth located in the country.
    • Note that there is a threshold under which Uruguayan tax residents are except ~$150k. Families/partners can double this threshold also, if married.
  6. Inheritance Tax
    • There is ZERO inheritance tax here. A big potential benefit to families.
  7. Property Taxes
    • On Sales (Impuesto a las Transmisiones Patrimoniales or 'ITP') - When trading property, there is a 4% tax (3% for certain successions) on the property value. 2% is paid by the buyer and 2% by the seller.
    • On Profits - See Capital Gains (IRPF or IRNR) above.
    • Each Year (Contribución Inmobiliaria) - An annual tax payable to the local government at a rate of between 0.25% to 1.40% on the rateable value of the property
  8. Value Added Tax (IVA)
    • Value-added tax (or IVA) is 22%
    • Restaurants - If using a foreign credit card, you will pay 9% less on the bill. Effectively a free tip for staff.
    • Hotels - Presenting foreign identity will mean IVA will not be applied either.
    • IVA is also apparently not applied for exports or financial transactions.
  9. Sales / Consumption Taxes (Impuesto Especifico Interno)
    • Beyond the regular IVA discussed above, Uruguay does apply certain additional tariffs on certain products. For instance alcohol, tobacco and gasoline tend to attract a higher additional tax amount.
  10. Other Tax Deductions
    • Self-employed people can enjoy an income reduction of 30% for "expenses".
    • Deductions from social security can be made when dependent children exist in the family.
    • If you wish to create your own business, there are also plenty of additional tax exemptions, special economic zones and benefits to explore beyond that. Particularly in software but also for importing/exporting of goods.
    • For instance, depending on the type of company you choose you may be able to reduce your tax liability down to 3.3% as a small business or even 0% for a specific corporation.

Food & Agriculture

  • Uruguay has the most cows per person in the world (3.2). And the same for sheep (3.5) per head. It has just 3.4 million people. And yet there used to be even more sheep per human (about 8 per head in 1991) until beef become far more profitable and popular in recent years.
  • It has a proper healthy cowboy ('gaucho' culture), and the agricultural sector is a significant contributor to Uruguay’s economy, accounting for approximately 7% of the country’s GDP. The bugz will not be popular here.
  • There are frequent cowboy events happening year-round, with farming festivals, traditions and communities, everyone is proud of their heritage.
  • You really haven't lived until you've tried a Uruguayan or Argentinian "entraña" steak. Asados (barbecues) will have you turning carnivore within days.
  • This Latin American country currently exports 70% of its meat to more than 100 countries, with China, the European Union, North America, and Russia as its main markets. China being Uruguay’s 2nd largest trading partner for beef.
  • Today, Uruguay meat is selling at prices similar to those of Australia and the U.S. given the quality. Whereas six or seven years ago Uruguay sold at between 20-30% less. Between Argentina and Uruguay, they really do raise the best beef in the world.
  • Uruguay is one of the few countries that sits above the Guarani Aquifer, which is an extensive reservoir that contains an almighty amount of water. This is important as water can play a key role in agriculture and farmland investments.
  • With rich and fertile land, you can grow pretty much anything you can think of here. Timber, wine and produce. Culturally, Uruguayan food is about quality ingredients and little fuss.
  • Sauces and spices are rarely used and for the latter difficult to obtain. For instance chillies are essentially sweet peppers here, not spicy by any standards. If you are fond of heat, it may not be the worst idea if you were to forget that you had some seeds stored away in your luggage. You will be popular with expats and immigrants also, as this is a frustration shared by Europeans, North Americans, Indians and even folk from Latin America.
Some Uruguyan dishes to try:
  1. Asado: The king of Uruguayan cuisine as mentioned is Asado. It is a must in your first month to get invited to a Uruguayan home barbecue. Make it your objective in the first month. Imagine succulent chargrilled smoky steaks, ribs and even chorizo prepared to perfection over open flames. On Sundays, this is what most locals eat with immediate and extended family.
  2. Milanesas: Effectively a schnitzel or milanese (for those that know Italian history). This is a hearty humble dinner, popular for all Uruguayans no matter the occasion. It's a thin fillet of beef, veal, pork or quite often chicken fried, breaded and cooked in oil.
  3. Chivito: The national dish of Uruguay, Chivito is a sandwich stacked with layers of beefsteak, mozzarella, tomatoes, mayo, plus often a slice of ham and a fried egg. At the end of the day it's a meaty sandwich, but Uruguayans are pretty obsessed about it.
  4. Empanadas: These are flaky pasties in the shape of a half-moon. Wheat flour base, usually prepared with beef tallow and baked in the oven with delicious fillings of your choice. Seasoned beef and egg, pancetta & cheese or creamy spinach chicken - whatever you desire. These differ to the fried empanadas in the northern parts of South America (which are fried). Of course like all the best things from Uruguay, they will fight with Argentina over who was it's original creator and who prepares them best. Like they do with some of their desserts mentioned below also.
The country’s sweets and desserts are also addictive: 
  1. Alfajores: These round cookies filled with Dulce de Leche often covered in chocolate are irresistible. The non-chocolate versions 'de maizena' are seriously tempting too.
  2. Dulce de Leche: This sweet caramel-like sauce is a beloved treat throughout Uruguay and as mentioned above, is used in everything from cakes to ice creams.
  3. Torta Frita: Proper old-school Uruguayan snack, prominent in the countryside. The dough is simple to make & consists of flour, water, salt, and animal fat. That mix is then deep fried in more fat. LOL. Trust me, they are more delicious than they sound. It’s a savoury snack but many sprinkle sugar & cinnamon on top, or add dulce de leche on top (are spotting a theme here?).
Other things popular:
  • There are of course a range of other cakes, pastries, flans and baked foods to choose from. Most of which made their way here from Europe. Carrot cake is really popular, as is English Tea for some reason.
  • It's very common for Uruguayans to hold back a selection of Twinnings Tea flavours, and keep them tucked away in their cupboards untouched for future visitors. As a Brit, I found this bizarre initially. Even very few British people stack different varieties of tea these days. Perhaps in some ways Uruguayans wish to be more British than Brits themselves.
  • Uruguay also a strong whisky and wine culture here. Tannat is the red wine completely unique to Uruguay and apparently it is one of the healthiest varieties worldwide given the antioxidants it contains. A great pairing for any of the above foods.

Lifestyle & Culture

Positives
  • Uruguayans, like most of their South American counterparts, are generally considered welcoming and hospitable people. They are also incredibly sporty and are bonkers for over football (soccer).
  • Uruguay boasts some of the most beautiful sunsets in the world, as you're soon about to witness.
  • The country is mostly flat, at least along the coast, with beaches stretching the length of the country for 700km total. During summer months in particular (December, January, February) it is common to be sat along the coast sipping the national drink, a South-American infused tea called mate alongside friends and a view.
    Here's a video to get a sense of the atmosphere of the capital's coastline, as well as a few amateur phonographs:
  • The country has very little political polarisation. Differences between left and right, rich and poor are not very pronounced here. The whole country’s history is made up of immigration, plentiful food, solid gun laws, strong European vibes, meat & cowboy-culture 🤠 .
  • Locals are usually shocked to see a 'Westerner' want to come to their country other than for work reasons. Very rarely do I get questioned on anything else besides “why on earth did you want to come to Uruguay?”
  • Another positive is how cars ALWAYS give pedestrians right of way. Even in the big cities. No matter the rush, 99% of Uruguayans will wave you across and let you cross the road. It's so commonplace that many locals just cross the road at crossroads or junctions without often looking. Knowing full well cars will slow and find a route around them. Be mindful of this when driving here your first few months. It's unique but refreshing!
  • We will go into the history of Uruguay in a later section. However this 18min video from 1943 is almost as fitting today. That just goes to show how strong the Uruguayan culture has remained. "Nothing spectacular", "Nearly all of it's land is useful" still rings true:
  • It is more developed than you will expect on arrival. Almost Europe, replanted.
Not So Positives
  • Something to be mindful of in any country but particularly here, is that it can take some time to feel accepted by local Uruguayans. I have heard it is particularly challenging for other South Americans, who are used to more warmer interactions. Just like in parts of Europe, people are fairly private and so it may a few meetings before being invited to someone's home. Once you get that invite, you can be confident you have a friend for life I'm told.
  • Uruguay is more expensive to live than most places if you’re on a budget, but the peace & pace of life more than makes up for that.
  • Uruguayans dine late and greet with a kiss, like those pesky Spaniards and Italians.
  • The culture for doing business here is slow. Like really slow. Sometimes it feels like as the customer, you are receiving a favour by purchasing the services of a company. Therefore do not be surprised if you need to chase, follow-up or hire expats for the work. I wouldn't go as far as saying Uruguayans are lazy, it is just the "tranqui" way.
  • Uruguay has a lot of dogs. It's a country obsessed. Therefore in the major cities keep in view of where you are walking, whether it for the uneven pavement or the pooch presents that get left behind.
  • Personally speaking, people are very much left to themselves. You can live a very humble & introverted life here. Perhaps that is why they do have an issue with isolation, depression and mental illness in this country, especially males in rural regions. If you're an extrovert, you may prefer neighbouring Buenos Aires instead, but if you love the outdoors you'll be just fine.
  • We touched on driving earlier, but be advised that there is a zero-tolerance approach to drink-driving here. Authorities have the right to revoke Uruguayan licenses and confiscate foreign driving licenses for 6 months if deemed under the influence.
Climate
  • Summer is a blast here. As mentioned that's December, January, February. You can expect temperatures between 25°C to 35°C, or 75°F-90°F. Very few people are truly working hard during these months and families tend to head east to their second homes, enjoying this season in quieter beach towns near Piriapolis & Punta.
  • The heat can be intense and humidity can add to that, but overall it is really pleasant. The ozone layer is particularly 'missing' here, so care with the sun is advised. Heading out before 11am or after 3pm and you should be fine, otherwise cover or cream-up or just accept your lobster fate.
  • Winter (May, June, July) in Uruguay is mild, usually 10-15°C or 50-60°F. What was new to me for the first time was the humidity during cold weather. Being simultaneously chilly and also humid in the comfort of your own home, is not something you will ever miss.
  • Buildings in the major cities are often not built with the best insulation in mind. During my time here I have found it best to seek out more modern apartments simply for that reason, they mostly have thicker walls, insulation and glazing. You may find otherwise they are susceptible to cold (or worse, wet) walls during those months. In spite of having adequate heating & air-conditioning.
  • There's some incredible architecture nestled amongst all the newer blocks and builds in the city. Full on houses wedged between 8 story blocks. For me, it makes me appreciate them even more, like you're encountering hidden treasures. Furthermore, I forgot how much I missed the antique elevators from Buenos Aires (with double-foldable metal doors), those are just as common here. If architecture is your thing, there are surprises around every block. I've included a few awesome shots at the bottom of this article if visuals are your thing.

Energy

  • The Uruguayan government has invested strategically into energy for decades, with minimal corruption along the way. Having deployed $8bn into renewables since 2010, it is now looking to take a leap forward in hydrogen , given it's vast water reservoirs underneath it's flat terrain.
  • A few months ago Uruguay signed a MOU with the EU to export hydrogen and has potential to make further deals.
  • Microsoft for instance has chosen Uruguay as it's only other A.I and I.O.T lab, outside The States, China and Germany. Google has just announced a new data centre in Uruguay also.
  • For such a small country in terms of population, tech & energy business is booming here.
  • Resources in Uruguay are plentiful yet expensive in comparison to the region. The country is in the advantageous position of having abundant resources to export.
  • For the past 4 straight months in 2023, it has generated 100% renewable energy. In comparison, neighbours Argentina have only managed an admirable 55%.
  • Currently, prices for fuel, energy, food, consumables, vehicles and tech hardware are much more expensive than countries nearby. You will notice this in many of the graphs shared.
  • It is both my hope and half-expectation in future years, that prices won't need to rise so crazily like in the rest of the world given the fact commodities won't be in such short supply here.
  • Uruguayans have been flocking to Argentina still to stock-up on inventories due to being about 50-60% cheaper. 4% of the entire population made the trip across the border in one single holiday weekend for the arbitrage. That's a crazy stat.
  • This difference is apparently costing the Uruguayan economy around $1billion per year, although we will see if that will be sustained given recent developments across the river in neighbouring Argentina. You have got to imagine the gap will close somewhat.
  • Talking of energy, Argentina 🇦🇷 suffers from regular power outages or blackouts particularly during summer months. I gather there was a time when people in Montevideo suffered from them too, but that no longer seems to be the case. Uruguay has abundant energy security and in fact quite often exports what is not needed. Equally if there’s a deficit for a short time, energy is easily sourced from elsewhere.
Firewood
  • It is extremely common for Uruguayans (and Argentinians) to cook dinner over wood or charcoal, on the parilla, or using older gas cookers indoors. Especially as mentioned on Sundays.
  • Many also use wood to warm their houses. In the colder months of May, June and July, walking through the city you get that cosy firewood smell because of this.
  • Of course it is a cultural thing to be celebrated but Uruguay is blessed with vast forests spanning the entire country. It has a massive timber industry. When driving outside the capital for example, you'll notice countless people selling firewood on the edge of the road.
  • Uruguay is one of the only countries in the region whose forests have actually expanded in recent decades. In the 1990s they occupied 660,000 hectares and now they’ve surpassed 850,000 hectares. 80% eucalyptus and 20% pine trees were planted to provide raw materials for the wood and pulp industries.
  • Look at me getting carried away with wood & timber! 🪵 Let's talk oil...
Oil & Gas
  • Oil & Gas today is completely imported. You could say it is still Uruguay's achilles heel.
  • For decades Uruguay has tried to find oil. Its previous auctions attracted industry leaders but with only dry wells found. That is likely what led the country to pivot fast into renewables.
  • A few months ago, there was a fresh oil discovery 100-300km off the shore of Uruguay, suggesting there MAY. Apparently with the potential to unlock up to 20 billion barrels of oil.
  • Should that be the case, it may relieve some future cost pressures on citizens further down the line, but definitely not any time soon. Oil is also not the only option. Uruguay has hydro, wind & solar now as we saw in the graphic above. It is certainly not as exposed to wars or other geopolitical events as before or as much as elsewhere.
  • My theory is also that they the ability to negotiate their way to accessing needed fuels. This at a time when the country's favourite commodity (cattle) and other parts of its economy are booming. Now would be the time for a worldwind schmoozing tour!
  • Today, prices remain higher in Uruguay for petroleum oil & gas than elsewhere in the region. Not helped by the additional levies Uruguay applies on petrochemicals. Gasoline fluctuates between 40% - 75% more expensive than in neighbouring Brazil and Argentina. However fuel discounts are available near those borders to offset the difference by around half I'm told.
'Green' Energy
  • The overwhelming majority of people are still running gas & diesel cars, in spite of fuel being the most costly to run in all of South America.
  • From 2022 until 2023, the Uruguayan car fleet went from 2% to 3% being electric vehicles . Big progress.
  • There are decent electric chargers & infrastructure in the capital given how many electric vehicles exist currently. They plan to have 30% of city buses being electric in 2 years time (which is likely achievable).
  • The transport in general in the capital of Montevideo is pretty good. Buses are regular, quick and reasonable. With a free card linked to your ID it is around $1.20 for 1 hour or $1.50 for 2 hours, no matter the length of the trip on the route. Without the card, paid by cash, it is around 50% more expensive. Worth the trade-off for most.
  • The city doesn’t feel like a capital really, so very little congestion apart from 1 hour each in the morning and evening.
  • Electricity and energy as mentioned is much more expensive. Therefore unless you're a company the size of Microsoft and Google; Bitcoin mining on a small scale may not be so profitable here.
  • That didn't however stop Tether from announcing a facility here, in May 2023. I expect they got mates rates for their upcoming mining operation.
  • If you work for a mining company and have big boy pants, drop me a message as I'd love to ride shotgun and explore the region for suitable sites.
  • It's also worth mentioning Uruguay and India are exploring a collaboration around wind energy currently. If you haven't noticed already, the government is extremely active right now in finding commercial interest in its resources, from all over the globe.
  • As of 2022, here is how Uruguay ranks for energy mix. You’ll notice at the bottom of this chart just how much oil & gas is imported:

Water

  • In the capital of Montevideo, the city experienced a water issue a few months back, where they needed to import some oil for a short period due to a lack of hydro in the area. The water issue was only for a few weeks and exclusive to Montevideo basically.
  • The reservoir nearby dried up and that caused a bit of a stink (figuratively I should add), with them needing to pump salt water from the sea into peoples homes & taps. People went to buy bottled water to drink & cook with for some time.
  • It was more of an inconvenience than the reported 'crisis'. Although citizens were not hugely happy with water being used to cool those large data centres at the expense of their pockets & health. Hopefully they’ve learned from that and it won’t happen again.
  • Other parts of the country did not suffer from those problems. Smaller cities and towns have plenty of water, energy & resources to go around.

Inflation

  • CPI (Consumer Price Inflation) since 2021 has been 20%.
    • Comparable vs Western countries.
  • PPI (Producer Pricing Index) since 2021 has been 14%.
    • vs 40% in Europe, 25% U.K. and 18% for U.S (if to be trusted).
  • The Uruguayan Peso has strengthened vs the dollar since September 2020 by 16%.
    • Mostly since Uruguay's economy is bolstered by commodities, rising in value.
  • It's a step change from 2013 when Uruguay was investing heavily in infrastructure and devaluing their currency in preparation for this decade., during a commodity bear market.
  • Back then, 1 dollar bought 13 Pesos and inflation was not a problem. Today it buys 39, which is 20% stronger than 3 weeks ago when it took 47 pesos to acquire 1 dollar.
  • It's my hope that we'll see the Uruguayan peso outperform the dollar this decade. Not for the next 3 months, but through to the end of the 2020s. It's a productive economy with low debts, zero animosity and is punching above it's weight on all fronts. Long may that continue.
  • The biggest issue facing the country could well be whether they can quickly find a long-term solution to oil and gas supplies. Particularly when other countries seek the same. They have significant trade deficits in fuels currently, as noted below. Though they are in a more fortunate position of energy diversification, food security, technological advancement, unity, humility & a general lack of debt.

Economy

Top Exports - Accounting for 84% of all outgoing shipments in 2022.
  1. Meat: US$2.9 billion (25.8% of total exports)
  2. Oil seeds: $2.1 billion (19.1%)
  3. Wood: $1.1 billion (9.7%)
  4. Dairy, eggs, honey: $894.8 million (8%)
  5. Cereals: $819.1 million (7.3%)
  6. Vehicles: $438 million (3.9%)
  7. Plastics, plastic articles: $352.8 million (3.2%)
  8. Animal/vegetable fats, oils, waxes: $293.4 million (2.6%)
  9. Milling products, malt, starches: $289.5 million (2.6%)
  10. Pharmaceuticals: $184.6 million (1.6%)
Top Imports/Deficits - Significant trade deficits for crude, oils & gas for 2022.
  1. Fossil/mineral fuels including oil: -US$2.1 billion
  2. Machinery including computers: -$1.2 billion
  3. Vehicles: -$1 billion
  4. Electrical machinery, equipment: -$795 million
  5. Fertilisers: -$679 million
  6. Other chemical goods: -$382 million
  7. Plastics, plastic articles: -$298 million
  8. Iron, steel: -$194.3 million
  9. Articles of iron or steel: -$194 million
  10. Organic chemicals: -$189 million
Day to Day
  • Back to the more important stuff - the daily life. What is Uruguay like to live in?
  • Supermarkets and pharmacies are pretty much run by a French monopoly in Uruguay. There’s lots of brands but all with the same/similar owners, which is perhaps why veggies and consumables are 2x-3x more expensive than neighbouring countries.
  • It is intriguing to see a pharmacy every 2 blocks in Montevideo. I can only imagine since they are so profitable to import or perhaps it is cultural (European-inspired).
  • Food in supermarkets as mentioned is decent quality and well-sourced, but I try to avoid lining their pockets by opting for the local markets or “ferias” and building relationships there.
  • Uruguayan food products tend to be well-labelled (in fact overly so). In 2020, it was apparently the case that 37% of corn-based products in the capital were GMO (genetically modified), which led to them introducing the mandatory labelling. If you see a circular 'T' label on packaging, it means it contains genetically modified organisms. 'T' standing for "transgenic":
  • I mentioned that earlier in the year a water issue arose in Montevideo. When that happened the 'exceso sodio' meme (right) went viral. This was at a time that authorities needed to send desalinated salt water from the sea into people's homes. These stickers are prevalent on most packaged food products, both in Uruguay and Argentina. Even during this so called "crisis" it was encouraging that people still retained their sense of humour without losing their heads.
  • In terms of buying online, Amazon does ship to Uruguay, but it is quite common for some packages to be held back by customs I am told. I have had success delivering to my destination, but for larger packages apparently it is 'safest' to arrange delivery via a local courier. Especially as couriers don't often guarantee the 'last mile' of delivery nor retain high standards. Glic, Tiendamia & BuyBox import goods from America, with DHL & UPS being decent options as international couriers.
Service Businesses
  • In 2023, Uruguay's service exports grew the fastest in the entire region at 28%!
  • That's more than double what we see elsewhere in the region. It leads the region in terms of AI research and development.
  • Even in just 12 months, I have seen an uptick in the amount of American firms recruiting in LATAM. Remote too.
  • Uruguay's connectivity, free trade zones, high quality of life, deep pool of talent (inc. from those from nearby Argentina) & attractiveness to do business clearly has an influence.
  • Software businesses can effectively pay 0% tax via legal exemptions that exist. Once setup, you may be only paying for social security (pension & medical insurance), about $200 p/m per employee if you meet the criteria.
Creating a Business
  • If you are looking to setup a business in Uruguay, there's a huge opportunity. Especially if you are responsive and value your customers; you will soon find yourself at an advantage over other local firms. Honestly it is that simple.
  • In many industries, you can compete on speed, quality and service alone. Word will catch-on to both foreigners and local Uruguayans. The customer is not 'right' here.
  • If you're in sales, I have heard that Uruguayans value having someone ready to call. It could be the newest bit of home technology, vehicle, energy infrastructure or agricultural kit. It could have the very best reliability. However locals here will always want someone to call in 5-10 years time, should their kit encounter an issue. They are very resourceful and willing to 'make do' repairing rather than replacing with new parts. Something to be respected, given it can be difficult to source parts here (not least because of the 22% import tariffs).
  • Many accountants here are also used to creating companies to assist residencies, so don't be afraid to reach out if you need a recommendation.
  • There are plenty of types of business you can setup, each with different tax treatments and which are not costly at all to setup or administer. Here are 2 options I considered for some context:
    • A a small trader / proprietorship (called 'Unipersonal') that costs in the region of $100 and can take 3 days to setup. This is a general business that can cover many different contexts and industries. There is no legal distinction between your personal capital and that of the business.
    • A SAS business** (equivalent to LLC or Ltd company but for entrepreneurship). This costs around $1,200 to setup and may take considerably longer, up to 2 months, due to additional due diligence. Although some professional firms have 'oven-baked' companies ready for you to take over in a matter of days.
  • To open a new business you will need: a Uruguayan ID, registration with gub.uy (the gov site) followed by with bps (a separate part of gub.uy). The main obstacles you will face will be confirming your identity, as not all systems talk to one another. And securing proof of address (or 'domicilio'), if you have recently arrived.
  • The country boasts not only a seaport and an extremely pleasant airport, but it also has a large number of free trade zones in which multinational companies working in Uruguay can operate without having to worry about income or import taxes.
Jobs & Salaries
  • Uruguay was the 1st country in the world to adopt the eight-hour workday apparently, early in the 20th century.
  • Exports are the main focus of Uruguay’s economy. Agricultural goods such as cattle, soybeans, or wood pulp are exported to be an important contributor to the nation’s economy, as mentioned. Construction and Civil Engineering are popular too, but it is the Tech & Services sector that has grown to become a huge market for Uruguay.
  • Many youngsters have been trained & educated well in engineering and so they’ve created a solid career path for engineers - both civil engineers and software engineers. They have diversified well in recent years.
  • Real salaries are at the highest level in 50 years. They are still significantly lower than Western standards with the minimum being ~$550pm and the average ~$950pm. Many in software and civil engineering careers earn much more than this, but it is good to see healthy rises discounting inflation.
  • In spite of offering higher wages, many Uruguayans do find it challenging to save, given the much higher costs of living compared to neighbouring countries (2-3x in many cases).
  • Laws do favour the employee somewhat. It is more expensive to hire here than other nearby countries also, given the costs of pensions, health & insurance described here.
  • Employers must contribute 12.6% to social security, and withholding 18-23% from the salary of the employee each month.
  • The labour market is very competitive given it is a small country and so companies tend to favour hiring Uruguayans over other immigrants. Something to be mindful of, even as a Westerner seeking employment.
Healthcare
  • Uruguay offers great public and private healthcare. When looking privately, there are an abundance of luxurious clinics with very professional staff. Entire streets of clinics.
  • The private Fonasa healthcare option is the most popular with 2.5m of the 3.4m population enrolled. If you have your own business or are an employee, you can enrol with a very reasonable amount deducted from your salary each month and receive basic private care included. Should anything you require not be covered for any reason, you can receive a heavily subsidised discount from the true cost. Surplus fees for unique care are very reasonable and good value. Although I have yet to make use of this during my time here.
  • Another bonus with the healthcare system here is the proximity to Argentina. Uruguay has strong ties to Argentina to share expertise and medicine. It is not uncommon to travel to receive treatments from across the border I am told.

Residency

  1. Residency for Individuals
    • Anyone with a monthly income of $1,500 can apply & qualify for temporary residency. The minimum amounts are higher than in other Latin American countries due to the higher cost of living. This will grant you a stay of 2 years in the country should you be accepted.
  2. Residency for Family
    • If you are a family of four, the main applicant having an income of $2,000 is permissible. It’s advisable that the minimum income for a family of four be a total of $3,000 and/or over.
  3. Residency for Mercosur
    • If you or your spouse are from a country in the Mercosur region, the process is simpler.
    • The non-Mercosur family member will still need to show proof of income to sustain themselves, but are granted 2 years in order to provide this evidence. Provided that all other paperwork is in order, this will give them suitable time to find a job in that time.
  4. Permanent Residency via Birth
    • Uruguay is one of the few countries in the world that will grant both parents Permanent Residency once a child is born inside their borders.
    • I have some friends currently going through this process, so I gather it is much simpler here than in neighbouring Brazil.
  5. Citizenship
    • After obtaining residency, you can become a citizen in just 3 years if you're married or 5 years if you're single.
    • Note that you will likely need to be physically present for 9-10 months in the first year to claim this. On an ongoing basis, the requirement is to be in the country for 6 months (183 days) of any given year thereafter. Uruguay do wish to see you have ties to the country in order to grant you citizenship.
  6. By Investment
    • For a person to become a tax resident by having main economic interests in Uruguay, they must invest in real estate or an enterprise and stay in Uruguay for at least 60 days per year.
    • The minimum amount accepted for a real estate investment is $390,000. The minimum amount for an enterprise is $1.7 million, provided it creates 15 jobs.
  7. Passport
    • Uruguay is mentioned by the NomadCapitalist in the top 5 destinations for expats.
    • The Uruguay passport is a great travel document, allowing the customary passport-free access to all of South America's Mercosur region as well as visa-free access to Europe’s Schengen Area. But it not always be the very best option.
    • One limitation of the passport is that those that receive it have found their document states their original nationality on it, given Uruguay's Constitution is unique and defines nationality based on place of birth. This has led to some additional questions and conversations at some international borders from friends of friends who used their Uruguayan passport, particularly to visit their stated country of birth. You may be fortunate to gain a passport but you will never be considered a true Uruguayan national until that law changes.
  8. Resources - If you're wishing to secure a residency, I definitely recommend reading:
  9. Ready, Set - If you're feeling almost ready to start the process within the next 6 months, get your affairs and the following documentation ready:
    • criminal record checks (from any country resided in during past 5 years)
    • birth certificates, marriage certificates
    • proof of income & bank statements
    • all documents will need to be legalised with an apostile from your home country (they remain valid for 6 months)
  10. Go - Once you arrive with your documents, you will be able to submit them right after securing yourself a local Health Card, and Temporary ID card in your initial days. After this you'll be well on your way to being an honorary Uruguayo/Uruguaya.

Politics

  • Behind El Salvador, the country with the highest approval rating for politics and state of democracy is Uruguay. 59% satisfied, vs 64% in El Salvador and just 37% in Argentina.
  • In 2020, Uruguay got its first center-right president after 15 years of left-wing rule. Next year, October/November 2024 there will be a new election.
  • Recently, in light of a 'passport scandal' the current President has had to reshuffle some staff with his own approval ratings taking a hit. His approval rating was 46% earlier this year, but the noise on this issue has quietened down in recent days.
  • Milei had proved a popular figure in Uruguay (like elsewhere in the world) prior to his Argentina victory this week. so it remains to be seen if some of his policies gain consideration here also. One thing is for sure, Uruguay doesn't need the dollar as much as Argentina does, so no one including myself are expecting any drastic political shifts.

Digitalisation

  • Internet is really great here - with 90% of households having access to fibre. There is always decent broadband and cell coverage (given the whole country is flat). Cheap too.
  • Starlink recently came online here via with friends achieving 250MB+ down, 50MB+ up via their global roaming plan. I gather an official local launch will happen in 2024, alongside Argentina and Paraguay. This was the motivation to dig deeper into their service in a recent SN article of mine.
  • The cashless card culture has expanded and is quite common. I’m becoming one of the minority in local markets still using cash. It’s still used but much less than other Latin economies.
  • In major cities like Montevideo and Punta del Este, cards are really prevalent. 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.
  • On the plus side, you can exchange significant amounts of dollars for pesos or vice versa without any sort of identification whatsoever. It's 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. 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 still a simple process.
  • In terms of authorities, they have rolled out a “digital ID” here for all public services, but their systems don’t talk to each other at all which is why I’ve had to show my identity in physical offices 3 times to advance through the different systems, e.g. health, gov website and business registration 😅 They’re really not very well advanced on these things, at least not yet. Which provides some encouragement.
  • They had a CBDC trial. It's now a 'sleeping beauty' and inactive. Prex , which we mentioned earlier, has effectively become a defacto digital monopoly like a CBDC though. Allowing Uruguayans easy and lucrative exchange rates between the Uruguayan Peso, Dollars, Argentinian Pesos, USD and more recently 'crypto'. With Prex you can pay bills, people, or almost any service without any friction at all, just by using the app and your national ID. The private sector is way better at innovating this stuff and so the thought of this evolving into something bigger hadn't been something I had previously considered until now.
  • In Montevideo and Punta del Este, those unavoidable white cameras are commonplace, having been kindly donated by their Chinese friends in 2019. Talking to locals, the cameras have almost eliminated petty crime from most parts of the city, which was a problem in years prior. Elsewhere in smaller towns, the tech is far from prevalent however. It is a shame to see, but not unlike many other cities in the world.

Real Estate

Overview
  • For anything real estate related in Uruguay, the LiveInUruguay site is a great resource. As is this page with latest stats.
  • Many big purchases like houses and cars are denominated in dollars, just like neighbouring Argentina.
  • Anyone of any nationality can rent or purchase a property in Uruguay. It makes no difference if the person is in the country or is a Uruguay resident. Everyone is treated the same.
Renting
  • Most places available for rent are for 12+ months. It is not very common for Uruguayans to hop around when renting. Quite often they'll stay in the same building for 5+ years given the inconvenience that comes from moving day and the costs of new agreements.
  • Both renting & purchasing property comes with quite a few additional costs. To rent via an agency, you need to purchase insurance, and to obtain that insurance you need to have an income or be employed in the country. Makes sense when you're very Uruguayan, but is a little more tricky when you are finding your feet in the country for the first time. Once you have proved you are liquid and have purchased the insurance you will be able to obtain a guarantee.
  • Note: every time your tenancy agreement rolls over, for example say you sign a 12 month extension to your existing agreement, you will need to pay the agency 1 additional month of rent for practically zero work or effort on the side of the agency. It is just how it is.
  • With that in mind, it’s best to prepare yourself for eating that cost and/or to not move between places frequently.
  • It is not impossible to rent directly with property owners, but will require paying for many months up-front most of the time.
  • There are some useful aggregated sites to scour the market, namely Infocasas and MercadoLibre. However many of the best deals are always available by word of mouth. Particular between March and November, when demand is lower outside tourist-season.
  • You may have success utilising Airbnb for 4+ weeks when first arriving and then coming to a longer-term agreement directly with the owners thereafter, subject to availability & your perceived trustworthiness.
Buying
  • The housing market as of August 2023 has been found to be "fundamentally strong, buoyed by robust demand and healthy economic growth".
  • In Q1 2023 alone, the average price of a house in Uruguay rose by 18.6%. In the capital Montevideo that was a bit more muted at 4.4%, but still driven by plenty of demand.
  • During 2020, nationwide house prices plummeted by 20%, as both demand & supply fall sharply.
  • The following year, transactions increased 25% in 2021 and 15% in 2022.
  • Montevideo accounted for the biggest share of about 34.2% of all property transactions in Jan-May 2023, followed by Maldonado (17.3%), Canelones (13.2%), Rocha (6.3%), and Colonia (5%).
  • If you are serious about buying, I would reach out to one of the big firms. There are some smaller firms that I have been told may try to take advantage of "gringos", but it is rare. For instance this is a popular firm that ranks well in Google for English search terms but I'm told is best avoided.
  • If in doubt, please feel free to reach out personally and I will let you know if anyone I know here has had a positive experience. Be it for buying, renting or any other services (e.g. healthcare).
  • If you find a listing you like, it has been strongly recommend to me that you should say you have an agent or representation here. Do not take one of their agents, since they will have one agent already on the selling side. If the company gathers you don't have an agent on the buyers side, you will pay BOTH agents 3-4% each!
  • Anyone can be an agent here in Uruguay, with very little work required. You may be able to find a friend that is willing to perform that role for you.
  • You should calculate that between estate agents fees, all expenses and taxes, transaction costs on a purchase will be around 8% of the purchase price of your property in Uruguay. 10% deposits are usually commonplace.
Future Outlook
  • Real Estate is of course much more pricey near the coastline cities, given the stability and views on offer. However the further east you go from Punta Del Este and the further West you go from Montevideo, the cheaper coastal properties will be.
  • There are some decent properties directly listed from owners themselves, where you can browse on MercadoLibre . Search for the terms "campo" or "casa".
  • Prices have been risen dramatically in recent years, due to the sheer number of Argentinians coming to park their capital in banks or purchase property in the country. Previously Argentinians had protection by the Uruguayan Government from the Argentinian Government. This bank secrecy is about to be unwound, leading I suspect to better growth potential to be in Argentina going forward rather than Uruguay itself.
  • This was mentioned by Doug Casey, who spends most of his time in Uruguay, and he declared that view that undoing that secrecy will lead to coming reductions in property prices in the country , which you can already see the effect of this year:
  • Obviously, should Uruguay become a popular destination for Europeans once more, that may net out all being equal, but this is definitely something to be monitored.
Construction
  • When building a home here, expect the building process to be slow and frustrating. Even Uruguayans complain about how long it takes to renovate, extend or construct homes in their own country. And it is not even the permits that are the issue, it's the labour. Skilled labour is in high demand.
  • Expect most constructors to ask for 50-60% as a downpayment to begin any work. In western countries, we are generally used to putting 20-25% down.
  • With that in mind, you will want to be very careful about the type of contractor you choose, as your options will be limited if your team is slow or worse-still taking advantage of you.
  • If you work in the construction industry, and are competent, reasonable & flexible on payment terms, I can assure you there will be a huge amount of demand for your skills & services. Not least from expats but from Uruguayans themselves. It may even be worthwhile to bring contractors from overseas for short periods, due to the slow pace of construction also.
Vehicles
  • Acquiring a car is really expensive, regardless of whether you buy new, used or are importing. Just accept that you will pay much more than in the U.S. or Europe regardless of your approach.
  • I've been told to be careful of used car dealers in particular here. It is a challenge to source used car parts here and so the preference is to purchase new, given there is a guarantee if anything happens to your vehicle. As mentioned previously, Uruguayans value having someone to phone and fix their problems.
  • New car dealerships rarely budge on price, and won't negotiate against other dealerships. The Uruguayan way is that they don't need your business. I can't tell you this from personal experience but I'm told your best bet is to try and get some free 'extras' like car mats or fuel thrown-in.
  • Importing cars can also be extremely costly also. All cars, both new and used attract a 23% import tariff. For trucks it is 7-8% and for parts 22%. Uruguayan citizens can only import 1 used car every 3 three years apparently.
  • Once you secure your residency you have a relatively short window of time to start the process to import your vehicle(s) and belongings without incurring any import taxes. You get one shot at this I'm told. Plus the vehicle [cannot be sold for 4 years it seems](Uruguayan citizens can only import 1 used car every 3 three years however.).
  • For renting cars, I thoroughly recommend going with the small family business called Mariño Sport. They have a facility in Montevideo and in Punta Del Este. This is a company too than can provide an airport drop-off and pick-up service. I'm told they will meet you at the airport, free of charge within business hours. Marino also have no hidden extras that some of the larger car providers will impose. Prices are extremely reasonable and if you find a company cheaper, just note it is likely for a reason. The reviews for some of the other larger providers are littered with people complaining about reported damage that was not of their doing or of being charged for actually putting miles on the car. I've personally used Marino half a dozen times with zero issues. Much recommended.

History

  • There was a brief period of time that Uruguay was part of Brazil (1822-1828). A war between Argentina and Brazil over the territory eventually led to the good ol' British "intervening" to create a buffer state. This buffer state became neutral and became Uruguay. It is still neutral today.
  • While Uruguay didn’t play a significant role in either of the two world wars, it did break diplomatic relations with Germany on both occasions and was one of the founding members of the United Nations in 1945.
  • Uruguay has experienced significant waves of immigration from all around the world, specifically from Europe. Today 90–95% of the Uruguayan population has European ancestry, particularly Spain and Italy. The largest immigration occurred before and during World War II, when the whole European continent was in turmoil. The population ballooned from just over 1 million to 1,953,000 by 1939.
WW2
  • During the Great Depression, Uruguay maintained the United Kingdom as a major buyer for Uruguayan meat, wool, and related products and avoided calls for the nationalisation of foreign, or otherwise, business interests
  • This article on the history of refuge in Latin America details when official immigration to Uruguay became increasingly more difficult during World War 2. Something to be mindful of, if history rhymes.
  • During WW2, the tough economic conditions put pressure on farmers in the countryside, leading to many leaving their farm work and migrating to the capital city of Montevideo in search of jobs.
  • With the government's efforts to expand Uruguay's industrial capacity, these migrants found jobs which thus sped-up the urbanisation of Montevideo. The growth of the industrial sector in and around Montevideo would continue to expand through the WW2 era.
Today
  • Uruguay may be being lined-up to perform a similar role for United States this decade. The current President Luis Lacalle Pou was pictured on numerous occasions directly next to Biden throughout the APEP conference, in early November.
  • The President Luis Lacalle Pou is currently on a visit to China also. Seemingly having secured a free-trade deal for his country and playing both sides of the global pantomime that is politics.
  • China is currently the 2nd biggest market for Uruguayan beef and is predicted to become its primary market in the coming years, in spite of being allies of the United States and a founding member of the UN.
  • Jack Ma the Alibaba CEO was here earlier in 2023 scouting and checking for local farmland, meatpacking and slaughterhouses in Uruguay. Doug Casey and other international investors also have made Uruguay their home, having purchased farmland in recent years.

Demographics

  • Uruguay receives immigration from neighbouring countries in LATAM like Argentina and Brazil due to more favourable tax policies.
  • Indians have arrived due to software consultancies.
  • North Americans and Europeans are also choosing to retire in Uruguay. I have definitely connected with more libertarian minded people moving from the West, which is a huge plus. People I’ve enjoyed connecting with.
  • In recent years, the country saw plenty of interest from both Russians and Ukrainians coming here. This led to some political drama with a few dozen Russians obtaining fast-tracked and false passports to find their way into the country fast.
  • In prior years also, they experienced an uptick of Cubans, Venezuelans (and as mentioned Indians) coming from abroad to work. There is a recognition and some grievances that they make the job market more challenging for locals. I have only heard of a few instances of people not feeling accepted by a very select few Uruguayans on one-off occasions. I know in many parts of the world however, this is becoming very much the norm.
  • It's interesting to note that Uruguay is not such a religious country. Whilst Catholic is most common, over 55% stated in 2020 that they had no-religious affiliation.
  • Despite that, Uruguay still has one of the biggest Jewish communities in the world. I have lived nearby to a few synagogues, churches and religious buildings and they are all very well integrated into society. With the constitution providing freedom of choice over religion.
  • Overall, there is close to zero animosity to any group here. Uruguayans know how to mix, which is a major selling point with the divided state of the world as it is right now.
  • Life expectancy has consistently been on the rise, 81 for females and 73 for males. 99% of the population is urban, vs 79% back in 1950.
  • Uruguay doesn't have a large aging population currently and so looks better than most Western countries. It doesn't have Indian or even Nigerian base (right) but it's a respectable shape (far left) nonetheless:
Education
  • Uruguay consistently ranks among the top in Latin America for education quality, literacy, and school attendance rates. The country’s commitment to education is evident in its free, compulsory education system that is accessible to all.
  • Uruguay's one laptop per child initiative was apparently really successful when implemented in 2007.
  • English is also well spoken amongst younger demographics particularly in the cities, more so than in most countries in South America. Uruguay is ranked 4th in LATAM.
  • The only countries that apparently speak English better are Argentina, Honduras & Costa Rica. Plus English proficiency is rising in nearly all age groups, as seen below:
Homelessness
  • Uruguay stands out in Latin America for its higher income per capita, low inequality and low poverty. Yet homelessness is increasing on the streets of Montevideo, like in many parts of the world.
  • Particularly in certain parts of the city that I recommend later, those without homes do tend to keep themselves to themselves and are extremely resourceful. Importantly there is a cultural safety net in the form of 'ferias'. Each Sunday it is common for those less fortunate to trade what they come across during the week at large local markets, along with a host of other vendors. Scouring the city for discarded items to sell at the weekend.
  • These ferias are really popular with locals & tourists alike, especially La Feria de Tristán Narvaja. Note that it is not expected that you negotiate at these markets for the above reason. I learnt that the hard way.

Firearms

  • It is absolutely legal to acquire a gun in Uruguay. You will need a licence, and to obtain that you will need to pass a 'course' and submit some papers. In person this involves presenting criminal record checks, Uruguayan ID, proof of address and 2 small photographs.
  • The 'course' costs in the region of 7,000 - 10,000 pesos ($180-$250) and it takes around 2.5 hours. You will briefly talk to a doctor, a psychiatrist, perform a multiple choice test with others in class, before being taken to the range to practice. Assuming they have no reservations (they are gun-lovers), you will then be given a slip of paper for you to take to a separate location to submit your papers. Thereafter you will be able to visit the range or purchase firearms.
  • In Uruguay, each individual can own up to 8 different firearms. To own more you will need to register as a 'collector'.
  • Apparently there are 35 firearms for every 100 people in the country (30th worldwide). In 2021, there were 8.5 homicides per 100,000 in Uruguay relating to firearms.
  • Do note that the laws differ slightly here, should someone take possession of and use your firearm in Uruguay. Should someone do so, providing it was stored correctly it is no longer your legal responsibility for what transpires, but theirs instead.

Drugs

  • The country has legalised the consumption and production of cannabis, same-sex marriage, prostitution and abortion.
  • The first half of 2023 saw more legal marijuana sales than the entire year of 2022.
  • It's been 10 years since they legalised weed and since then in 2017, pharmacies begun the sale of it. Apparently when purchasing via this route, it is mandatory to register as a smoker with the government.

Regions

Montevideo
  • If this write-up is of interest, you're likely to spend your first few days in the city of Montevideo...
  • When staying in the capital city, I would thoroughly recommend you focus your property or hotel search in one of 3 barrios initially. Punta Carretas, Pocitos or Buceo. There are others that have their charm and are extremely liveable, but having experimented a bit during the past year these 'barrios' offer everything you need within walking distance - shopping, beach, cafes & nightlife.
  • You will also feel extremely safe in these areas at any hour, perhaps more so than if you were in any other European city. Montevideo is scattered with intricate historical architecture, amongst modern apartment blocks and single-floor housing. There are surprises around every corner.
  • Montevideo is a great initial base to get connected and it never quite feels like being in a capital. Just 1.7million people live within the city area. That's around 50% of the entire population of Uruguay but a fraction of many geographically smaller cities in LATAM. My favourite underrated restaurant in the city is Carbonada, it really is top notch. I won't bore you with cafes and 'watering holes'.
  • Expo Prado is a must-visit in September, showcasing the best of Uruguayan agriculture inside the capital. As is Carnival week in January, where I recommend you watch the main event(s) on Friday or Saturday from Bar Sumo, Montevideo in a typical bar location.
  • Here are a few select snaps of the extremely varied architecture from Caza Casas on Twitter.
  • A common mistake I have witnessed people make is to reserve an extended stay in the 'old town' of Montevideo called Ciudad Vieja. It has plenty of photographic monuments and buildings to discover during a day or two, but at night-time you may feel a little more limited and less secure to walk around. If you stay there for more than a few days it may affect your first impressions of the capital & country, given it's proximity to the port and some poorer neighbourhoods.
  • For instance on Saturday evenings the main market in Ciudad Vieja called 'Mercado del Puerto', features all the traditional restaurants. But come 6pm on a Saturday night of all times, it closes. This was after 10 years ago a number of tourists experienced issues after sundown. I gather the surrounding area is to be renovated in the coming years, but for now its a place to only keep on the lunchtime menu.
Punta Del Este
  • Punta Del Este is Uruguay's premier beach resort and therefore is a very popular destination offering properties that are significantly pricier than most other parts of the country. It is an area that has attracted A LOT of Argentinian capital over the years. A lot of wealth.
  • The Mansa Side of Punta has calmer waters and is where most people live all year round. The houses are less prone to water damage over there apparently.
  • The Peninsula is where many older buildings are and where everything is in walking distance. Property there is extremely pricey, since it is where you'll find the Yacht club. It is also where the fishing boats and cruise ships dock, and so tourists flock there during high season.
  • A few blocks north of the Yacht club in this area you will also find the only Bitcoin ATM in the country. It is often not working, but you can get in touch with the owner who is a genuine guy, in order to acquire literally OTC:
  • On the Brava side of Punta Del Este, there is plenty of housing available because it's further out and a little further walking distance from amenities. It is much quieter, with empty buildings outside of summer months.
Nearby Punta Del Este
  • Maldonado is practically part of Punta Del Este and is a more affordable city than Punta Del Este. It is actually the second largest city of Uruguay. A great connected place to base yourself.
  • If you're seeking something more quiet you also have a number of small coastal towns called La Barra, Punta Ballena and Piriápolis. If you come with capital you are spoilt for choice in terms of finding beach-town property.
  • The towns of Minas, San Carlos & Pueblo Eden are a little tucked in from the coast. And are great options for a healthy balance between amenities and rural life. Moving north of these spots and going further in-land, Uruguay is extremely sparsely populated. Practically all farmland and forest.
Rocha
  • People I have met have said very positive things about Rocha. I plan to spend much more time in this region in the next year. The coastal towns in Rocha number less than a dozen. They are small places surrounded by nature with full-time populations that range from 90 to 3,500 people.
  • Towns like Garzon, La Paloma, La Pedrera, Punta Del Diablo, Chuy and Rocha (itself a town within the region). In this part of the country you will again find some good farms, fincas or campos but for a better price.
  • Even though Rocha is growing in popularity, you still find reasonably priced properties in La Paloma. This article from 2019 may be a few years old but will give you a glimpse into property and the upsides of living in the Rocha region.
  • For an additional taster of what it is like to travel to the East of Uruguay, have a read of this travel blog. I've plagiarised some stunning photography from it for this post.
  • Further East in Rocha you have the national park of Cabo Polonio, which is extremely inaccessible and untouched. There you can only arrive by 4x4 and all the houses have no electricity. It is popular for tiktok detoxes, hippie expeditions but also for normals too. I'm told it is an unforgettable experience being there and stargazing at night, both for locals and tourists alike. Just this week there was a video posted on a rather 'unique' housing development up the road from the Cabo Polonio attraction. I recommend a watch simply to get a glimpse into the variety of developments available in Uruguay.
Colonia
  • On the southern coast of Uruguay is a beautiful historic town called Colonia del Sacramento, great to take a trip down for a few days. It's a special place to walk around that can be visited by bus from the Tres Cruces terminal in the capital. It's most likely a little too quiet and remote for any of us folk to call home, but certainly not to be missed either.
In-Land
  • Inside the depths of Uruguay heading North away from the coast, land is sparse and much more affordable. There you will find the "real" Uruguay. Rural landscapes, forests, vineyards, rarely-visited nature reserves and 'cowboy country'. You will find few people and more animals, but plenty of places to stay for a few days and learn the 'gaucho' way of life on horseback.
  • Soon I will head inland and see if I can find a cowboy legend, willing to make us all a batch of true cowboy hats. It's time to ride off into the sunset...
References & Further Reading
  1. LiveInUruguay
  2. Nomad Capitalist - Uruguay Guide
  3. International Living - Uruguay
  4. Adam Fayed - Uruguay as an Expat
  5. Adam Fayed - Taxes in Uruguay
  6. Lloyds Bank - Tax Rates in Uruguay*
  7. Expat Money - Taxes in Uruguay
  8. Uruguay Taxes - Legal and Tax Residency
  9. Financial Sense Podcast - Uruguay - Most Geopolitically Safe Country In World?
  10. Progress Playbook - Uruguay 100% Renewable Energy
  11. Bloomberg - A Tax Haven With Lots of Beaches and Little Crime
  12. Bloomberg - Could Uruguay Find Oil In The Sea?
  13. International Man - The End of Bank Secrecy Between Uruguay and Argentina
  14. International Living - Rocha Guide
  15. Uruguayan News - MercoPress
  16. GuruGuay- Investing in Farmland in Uruguay
  17. GuruGuay - Starting a Business In Uruguay
  18. Global Property Guide - Uruguay Housing Market in 2023
  19. CN Traveler - The Wild Wild West of Uruguay

Thanks for reading (something)!

So does Uruguay 🇺🇾 sound like a free country, or a backwards bunker?
I'd love to hear from you cowboys & cowgirls on how you think a country like Uruguay fits with your libertarian lifestyles. You may not have made it through every word top to bottom, but hopefully you've taken something from this post.
In the meantime, should this guide to Uruguay have you tempted you to visit, please drop me a message. I'd love to connect, particularly if considering making it a Plan A or Plan B. I have no skin in the game, or any ulterior motive apart from wishing that other like-minded lunatics discover the beauty of this land.
For me at least, it's far too free to ignore.
Special thanks to @birdeye21 for appearing in the final photo. To @elvismercury, @k00b, @nemo, @natalia, @nym and @bitcointerest for the encouragement and helping me get this one over the line.
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I was trying to scroll to the comments section lol and I was like "holy crap this dude has a passion lol"
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Stealing everyone's seconds from scrolling. Maybe I should have just posted a link 😄
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nah is OK, we like big posts on SN. That means dedication and PoW
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@ekzyis tapping the '15 comments' button underneath the title of the post might need to scroll down to the top comment to guard Stackers from degen writers like me
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I wonder how many bytes this post in the database is, lol
This might be the longest post on SN so far but I like your commitment :)
@ekzyis tapping the '15 comments' button underneath the title of the post might need to scroll down to the top comment
I think adding a "click to view more" button for long posts and comments will be enough :)
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What I love about the ‘View More’ button is it would later scale or be extendable for gated or unlockable content too. i.e.pay 100 sats to read more of the article. Should that ever become a thing for custom subs & communities. I see now you said the same on the GitHub issue.
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I see now you said the same on the GitHub issue.
Oh, haha, I didn't mean to, but I can see how you can read it like that since I mentioned @unpaywall, lol
@DarthCoin is advocating for paywalls on SN iirc
Or some other paid features
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Makes sense 😁 I promise not to do another of these for at least another week.
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and maybe one click go back to the top? 😂
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I guess I just DDoS’d the stacker UI 😅
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no, I prefer reading things here not clicking to somewhere 😂
I would bear the pain for scrolling:)
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Wow! It will take me a while to get through this, but from what I have seen by just skimming it will be worth it. Thanks for all your work putting this together.
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Just a couple doubts,
Assado and Mate is really from Uruguay or Argentinia?
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Exactly. They will fight to the death over who 'discovered' mate, asado, empanadas, dulce de leche, alfajores, football - literally anything that brings a sense of national pride.
It's what brothers do.
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awesome thread, thanks! I've been to Uruguai, and indeed Cabo Polonio was memorable! Got beyond high while hanging out with sea lions and turtles!
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Amazing. That definitely deserves it's own write-up...
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Mannnnn why do people keep taking pics of me. Let me chill!!!!!!
You really covered it all man, bravo 👏 only value I can add is that Uruguay also looks absolutely beautiful from high altitudes, in case you happen to be flying in
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For whatever reason @birdeye21 picture was taken the day Titanic sank
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What was their COVID policy?
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Ah yes I forgot to mention that. I wasn't here then. But I can go off anecdotal stories...
I'm told it was light in comparison to most places. There was no strict lockdown like most capitals and major cities. Although most schools, shopping centres and borders were closed, they encouraged but did not force people to work from home.
One friend told me living outside the major cities that had it not been for Twitter, they wouldn't have known there was a pandemic happening. Another friend who worked in the major corporate district quit his job as he was asked to mask-up when entering the office.
In general, everyone I'm told went out, enjoyed their days, hit the beaches without hysterics. Remember it's a country with relatively low population density. Many businesses had a change of policy, opting for delivery or collection of foods to stay open and serve more customers. Now, PedidosYa the delivery firm is really prominent and still delivering to homes.
In the U.K, what I found interesting was people no longer hugging or shaking hands with friends following the pandemic. Following the Boris elbow-bumping, fist-bumping became commonplace. Here, people are still sharing mate, drinking from the same 'bombilla' (metal straw), kissing when greeting friends and going about their lives just like before. Uruguayans are tough in general & very friendly people.
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Something to be mindful of in any country but particularly here, is that it can take some time to feel accepted by local Uruguayans. I have heard it is particularly challenging for other South Americans, who are used to more warmer interactions. Just like in parts of Europe, people are fairly private and so it may a few meetings before being invited to someone's home.
💯. It can be quite the adaptation for people from those countries you mention. For the few I have met from warmer climates, it took 18 months to 24 months to really settle and find their tribes here.
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I was waiting for yours to see should I write one for Turkey, but wow, what a piece! thanks for all your work:)
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Thanks for scrolling all the way down to the comments section 😂
I would love to hear about Turkey 🇹🇷 definitely!
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I've been living in Turkey for a few years but I feel like I've only touching the ice berg of it - quite a massive gem to explore.
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I can imagine. All that rich history, they've seen it all there. Is Gold still culturally significant for Turkish people?
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yes, from wedding, gifting new born babies, to saving, all dominated by gold.
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Oh my. I love you psychos. Thanks for letting me know
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Massive POW! So excited to wake up to this and to have it on SN!
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Now that's a fucking comprehensive report!
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Awesome write-up! Uruguay wasn't on my radar at all as having anything interesting going on. It's like the Botswana of South America.
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Very good. Thanks. Since I am looking for a new place to exist in this world, now I want this information for every country 😃
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I was thinking about moving but with this information I think they convinced me. It is gratifying to know that there are people who take the time to thoroughly research a country and share it. Follow Serca to see if they publish another country more prosperous than this one and change your mind
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I would like to know Panama that it is a very green country with great riches. But right now he's going through a mining contract issue that's hurting the country
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Incredible writeup.
But you could have just told me at the very top that Bitcoin is not "legal tender" there, and I could have just noped out right from the start.
Get them to adopt Bitcoin for international trade and for taxes/utilities, and I'll move there.
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I will do my best going forward.
Don’t forget however that Bitcoin is a grounds-up movement. It does not need legal tender to be a favourable place to live. For countries with fewer people populating it, there are more opportunities for libertarians to shape the future. With better chances at least.
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Agreed!
I was being a little tongue-in-cheek with my comment. Don't take me too seriously.
I enjoyed your post very much.
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Haha I've been out of the U.K for one year, and it seems I've already forgotten how to interpret sarcasm. Thanks for the kind words
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Great post. I would like to move there myself.
What is the Bitcoiner scene like?
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Appreciate it! That was the intention behind the post.
The scene is small, but productive. A few projects focused mainly around education for the youth.
Very few merchants accepting, but the guys I’ve met are deep-down the rabbit hole. Passionate bitcoiners. A few self-mining, acquiring hardware from Argentina.
Many of them new to Nostr and SN, so I think there’s plenty of potential to bootstrap and kick the Spanish-speaking community into action. Too many using crappy Telegram. Work to be done, so come on down… you’ll be welcomed!
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Appreciate it! That was the intention behind the post.
The scene is small, but productive. A few projects focused mainly around education for the youth.
Very few merchants accepting, but the guys I’ve met are deep-down the rabbit hole. Passionate bitcoiners. A few self-mining, acquiring hardware from Argentina.
Many of them new to Nostr and SN, so I think there’s plenty of potential to bootstrap and kick the Spanish-speaking community into action. Too many using crappy Telegram. Work to be done, so come on down… you’ll be welcomed!
We are going to be there end of December and early Jan. It would be good to connect. You can DM me on npub1md39ua3h2s7204a7v5p9sdxmxx9qc7m4kr3r6naeuwfznad6d7nsxpctp9
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Excellent write up. Very informative. Thanks a lot for sharing.
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Just wandering (having unfortunately never visited S.Am.) What's the lingo like, language barriers for Spanish and speakers of other languages. Just curious in general.
Lovely piece. Really enjoyed reading it. Thanks!
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English levels are definitely on the rise across all age groups as you'll see here: (Apart from those out dancing & partying aged 18-20). Unfortunately that image didn't render in the above post. My bad.
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Other languages aren't really prominent. Quite a few Brazilians, so hear the odd bit of Portuguese from time to time. It's Spanish or English basically.
Uruguayan/Argentinian spanish is a different ball game than others. It's understandable but they of course have their own words for avocados - palta instead of aguacate as an example. And playa is pronounced plasha. Still coming to terms with it, but people are patient & forgiving.
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Gracias un montón!
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As long as there is a government there is no land of the free
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Sounds like you'd enjoy The Market For Liberty book. summarised here on SN.
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I'll give it a look, thanks for sharing!
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Thank you, fantastic post! Uruguay and Argentina (maybe also an interesting place) boast a strong European cultural influence, alongside fantastic beef, wine, music, and tango. Quality of life matters to me, and these aspects are significant in that regard.
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Born and raised local Bitcoiner here, already working on the first Bitcoin oriented Hotel, thanks for your comprehensive thread
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Hell yes! Love the concept. If you’re on Nostr, please reach out. Otherwise hopefully see you around town!
npub1xfp0eu86raryz2sw53f9qnxdujm8z73c5s55d3vzkae06gz5p0dsxae7an
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npub1xfp0eu86raryz2sw53f9qnxdujm8z73c5s55d3vzkae06gz5p0dsxae7an followed
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Thanks followed!
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We need another article like this, probably about El Salvador
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Would be nice to gave about every country
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This is like a Wikipedia page of the country
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A great, detailed write-up. Thanks!
I haven't read it all yet, but it sounds like a great country. The only problem for me would be the cold, non-tropical climate.
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I get that. Many locals take off for the months of July & August. To Europe or to visit family in the region. But the winters are pleasant and more like an Autumn or Fall for what I’m used to.
P.S. Not expecting anyone to make their way through it all. But thanks for taking a peek & sharing your thoughts
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Wow that was a lot of good info. Like a science guy’s book of it!
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Looks amazing!
I think I'm going to have to take the family on a trip through South America to get a feel for what its like.
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Wow gun ownership! This is a fantastic write up. Would never love there but take a tourist trip absolutely!!
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Wow, amazing post! Bookmarked to read it in detail later. Beautiful images.
hahaha no worry, I am not interested in paying taxes, wherever I go. But if I would not have in the process of building my citadel, maybe I will consider Uruguay to move. I speak fluently spanish so language will not be a problem for me.
Thanks for this detailed article.
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imaging more skin in the game plebs writing their places and first hand experience instead of all the marketing gurus pretending to be a know-it-all.
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That's a complete report, incredible job!
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This is a long read, I like the firearm section of the writeup
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That is a giant monster post! Thank you for sharing.
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I see this publication and was surprised by so much support and so many sats. Good job you deserve it
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Thanks for your comprehensive review, local Bitcoiner here already working on the first Bitcoiner oriented Hotel. Happy to receive any enquiry
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I enjoyed that review also!
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This has been by far the best piece of content I've read on SN. Very well presented as well. Thank very much you for the shout out at the end.
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Excelente. There is a country called Panama, and I would like to have a publication about this
Cheers and keep it up
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If you're truly serious & sure about obtaining residency or citizenship in Uruguay and want to get the ball rolling, definitely reach out to: - Andersen Legal - Punta Consultants
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Wow......long read.
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The shift towards Uruguay as a potential haven for Bitcoiners and libertarians is a cool aspect of global mobility.
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ai generated garbage
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For someone that works on an AI website, you should really have a better handle on what is AI content
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Thanks chief.
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Feature request: button that takes user to comments
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i like this post