While planning the move and telling everyone about it, the first question, as the blog name suggests was "You're moving WHERE??!?!?", which was quickly followed by "Why Uruguay?" For us, this answer was clear after a long list of considerations. We wanted:
- High standard of living
- Relatively low cost of living
- Similar time zone to the USA
- Spanish speaking
- Cultural opportunities/experiences
- Good infrastructure
- Good health care system
- Stable government
- Positive attitude towards foreigners
That list rules out our favorite place in the world, Spain, because of the time zones and cost of living. It also rules out most of Central and South America for various reasons: either the infrastructure, standard of living, Portuguese language, governmental stability or safety concerns.
Here you have the opera, libraries and nice book stores (will be nice once I learn more Spanish!), the Louvre exhibit on La Rambla and those are just the few things that we know about. There is also a dual public/private health care system which gets positive reviews and modern medical facilities.
There are a few things that we are not wild about Uruguay, but these are minor for our living here:
- Local wages are quite low. It can be difficult for those who are coming here to make a good living without having some source of income from the US or elsewhere (or having multiple family members to pitch in for household income).
- What we have seen of Uruguay really isn't ethnically diverse. Lots of Italian and Spanish Immigrants and... well... white people. Not at all like the indigenous population that I was accustomed to in Peru and Bolivia.
- Along the same lines, there is a lack of international foods. That is why we have been so excited to find good Mexican food and we know of one or two sushi places around the city (but careful, we've heard of some food-borne illness recently!) We can't wait to go to Buenos Aires in a couple weeks so we can scope out some Thai food. I really miss it!! (I used to have the phone number for Chang Mai Thai in Minneapolis on speed dial).
And these are just our experiences in the three months that we've lived in UY. It'll be interesting to see how our perspective might change as we settle into life here and learn more about the country.