Mechanical

Why Uruguay?

Yesterday I wrote about how easy it is to emigrate to Uruguay, but my wife Leïla asked a rather obvious question: "why would anyone want to?" She wasn't trying to be mean; she genuinely wanted to know and I'm embarrassed to say that I knew nothing about Uruguay. So this morning I decided to do a little digging. If we're talking about, say, Somalia, then just because you can immigrate doesn't mean you would want to. What I found, however, was very pleasantly surprising. If Europe hadn't been an option for me, Uruguay may very well have been.

By interesting coincidence, my employer just released an article about Uruguayan immigration today. Bounded by an economically prosperous Brazil to the north and a struggling Argentina to the West, Uruguay is enjoying very low unemployment levels and very high rates of growth. It is today one of the most politically and economically stable countries in South America.

It's fair to say that Uruguay is a rather tolerant society. They've permitted gay civil unions and gay adoption (the first Latin American country to do so) and are known for being a rather secular country for South America. But they're not just open-minded, they're far-sighted, too. Did you know that every single primary student in Uruguay has been given a free laptop by the government?

Of course, they're also very green, have fantastic freedom of the press and extremely low corruption:

All things considered, Uruguay is a very tempting target. Great infrastructure, great economy, low corruption, very green, very tolerant. I think more and more Americans are going to start hearing about it and heading down there.

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Can I ask: why leave America? Would you consider Uruguay a step up? Or would you just migrate to stay somewhere new and see the rest of the world?

I know people who move around every few years without much hassle and others for whom a single move is just way too much stress.

In January I'll be moving from South Africa to New Zealand - I can't wait. I enjoy trying new things.
There are plenty of people who might want to leave their home country. I'm just providing some information on how to do that. Why they might want to is up to them.

As for Americans, it might have something to do with a poor health care system (unless you have money), awful politics, lack of vacation time (even the worst of the major industrialized nations are far better than the US) or just a general desire to see the world. Offhand, I've no desire to return to the US because it turns out that the grass really is greener on the other side, but that's only because it aligns more closely to my value system.
It would be worth it to get away from Faux news, Teabaggers, and other Republican assholes hell bent on destroying America.
Can I ask: Why stay in America? We're the most gluttonous and inefficient in our energy use; we're backward-looking policy-wise especially with respect to energy; the political debate has shifted to who is most zealotous in the religious framework or who can get the most money via corporations; the Left is ineffective at getting the everyman message—even with the Dems (not really Leftists) in power, simple things can't get past the Republicans; the Holy Dollar is the only dimension that our lives are measured with—while arguably being one of the most destructive measuring sticks everywhere; we're in a state of decline in the middle class and are trending back to a corporatocratic monarchy of sorts; we've had two major economic/civil shocks to our system and are trying to fend off further ones, paradoxically, with instruments of war all the while running up our deficit and passing the buck to future generations; our healthcare system is obviously in the hands of multinationals who make bets on human lives and almost always win—at the cost of those lives; we're constantly being marginalised as citizens—our votes seem to mean less and less although fewer of us are voting; the media is bought and paid for and is no longer the Fourth Branch—those who can pay for speech (according to the tenets of the Supreme Court) inevitably are heard. Justice is dead here—don't even get me started on the legal system and the cover-your-assism everywhere in the US ("Caution, contents are hot!") due to the litigious nature of everything here. As is the American dream; I'm doing better than 90% of everyone I know and I'm only doing marginally well.

I simply can't fathom a reason to stay... except that it is just hard to move out because no one else wants us and it is a lot of effort. I'm only here out of inertia and because I live in the one place I can stand in this entire country (the liberal bubble dubbed Little Beirut, also known as Portland, OR) where I live as close to a European as possible (I walk to work and ride my bike everywhere: try that Dallas!).

Edited at 2010-10-06 12:09 am (UTC)
Some of the benefits of Europe are historical accidents. Walking everywhere makes sense in small villages which were built around walking instead of around cars. Plus, you'll find there is a growing right-wing sentiment in Europe. Geert Wilders, an atheist in the Netherlands, wants his country to change its tolerant constitution to declare themselves a country of Judeo-Christian values and he wants the Koran banned as hate speech. His Party for Freedom is currently one of the largest political parties in the Netherlands. The only reason they're not dominating politics more is that other parties have refused to get in a coalition with him (and he's currently on trial for inciting hate speech, claiming Islam is fascist and likening the Koran to Mein Kampf).

Geert Wilders is not alone. Many countries in Europe are lurching further to the right, largely in bids to protect their cultural identities and keep Muslims out. Long term it might correct itself, but the US war against Islam has stoked a lot of hatred out there and it's ricocheting across the world. South America mind wind up being the best bet after all (I used to not think the US was at war with Islam, but terrorism seems to be a codeword for it now).
Re: oooh oooh oooh!!
I really miss Portland (and I'm going to miss London), but dealing with lack of new friends isn't the issue so much as dealing with missing the old ones (friends, not Cthulhu and pals). To deal with missing friends, it's important to keep in mind that you really, really want to do what you're doing. You have to be so completely committed to it that it's almost an obsession and at first, I found myself reminding myself daily that travel and adventure is what I really wanted. Focusing on the goal is what works for me. Might be different for you.
what about the language barrier? is a lack of spanish going to kill the idea?
I've heard that many people find English to be acceptable in Montevideo. I expect that the further you move from that city, the harder it would be to get by without Spanish. (But even in Montevideo, you want to learn Spanish).