Thursday, August 22, 2013

Emigrating? Think Uruguay

I can smell the sweet air of nominal freedom, but I see clouds moving in with a cold front. Things getting ominous here in America. The rich get richer, Wall Street crooks still walking the streets and raking in bonuses, the NSA listen to your calls and read whatever you do or send online, everyone who can collect any kind of data on you sends it to the government, billionaires are pushing for millions of new immigrants and there are millions of protesters in the streets people getting fatter and poorer with each year. Thank God for Iphones. Gadgets and technology mask our societal, cultural and spiritual decline. Our crisis, one that an entire Generation supposedly anted for purpose and meaning (Fight Club expressed this best), is not sparking engagement or activity. Leadership sees this apathy and reacts. The cracks in the system are visible, but the elite pushes for more and more. If you're like me, the idea of emigrating before the cathedral codifies thought crime and the system collapses on itself is enticing. If you are looking for a long term destination, be sure to add Uruguay to your list. It is at the top of mine.

Uruguay is a small nation of 3.5 million people nestled on the South American coast between Brazil and Argentina. The climate is warm, there are over 120 miles of beaches, great scores for corruption (lowest in Latin America (LA)), ranked 9th by the UN in livability, second highest literacy rate in Latin America, and a murder rate equal to the United States (low for LA) with a disproportionate number of murders in one section of Montevideo. The HDI score is high (ranked 51st) just behind European and East Asian nations along with small, developed emirates and islands. The nation is 88-95% of European ancestry, with roughly 25% of people of Italian descent. The average per capita GDP is in the mid teens, and the Gini coefficient is the same as America's (good for LA). Drinking water and sanitation receive high scores from the world econ forum. If you're worried about a super-Catholic nation, Uruguay is pretty secular. Some travel forums call it sleepy, insular, quiet or conservative. If you're moving with a family, doesn't that sound perfect? Does to me.

Outside of Montevideo, most cities are under 50,000 people in size. The banking sector is stable, their electricity generation is secure (+95% hydro) with massive exports to neighbors, but the housing stock is rather meh. The government did just legalize marijuana. The public debt to GDP is healthy. They have a decent hoard of foreign reserves to handle capital flows from Argentina and Brazil. The huge pull for an American should be the low hurdle for immigration. Permanent residency attainment is rather quick. After a 3 year residency period (if married, 5 if single) a second passport and citizenship is possible. The minimum income requirement is only $650/month (pension, dividends, income, doesn't matter where from). There is no investment requirement or proof of X level of net wealth holdings or assets required for the government like other nations require for permanent residency or a passport. You get the same rights as nationals. They have socialized medicine. There's Youtube videos on the healthcare situation in Uruguay, and some better providers cost +/- $200/month. Going back to housing, where and what you live in is important, so that might be your challenge. If you happen to be gay, they just allowed same sex marriage to be recognized. One thing to keep in mind is you just have to learn another romance language if you want to integrate more (Spanish).

Uruguay is appealing to me because of all of the above, I already know Spanish and the ease of my family fitting in physically (wife looks "Mediterranean"). I can grow a thick mustache to fit in better. The income requirement is incredibly low, and compared to other countries' immigration policies, there is no six figure donation to the government for permanent residency. One could hit the $650 monthly income requirement with a fixed income portfolio with a $100,000 principal (think post-QE world). One under the surface thing of note is that their imports are oil, cars, car parts and cell phones. If the currency became an issue, you're not looking at electricity or food problems. The idea of having Argentina and Brazil next door for quick vacations is appealing. Argentina was long on my bug out list, but has since become an economic basket case with +20% inflation and odd, aggressive government policies. Uruguay does not have the economic lunacy of its southern neighbor, nor the murderous multiculturalism of its northern neighbor, Brazil. This is just a contingency plan that hopefully never has to become a reality. It is not paranoid to scope out your top five potential destinations years in advance rather than when everyone is scrambling for a lifeboat or a little hideaway. Expat forums are all over the Internet. Be proactive and keep Uruguay on your relocation list.


peterike said...

How's this for a travel poster?

Yeah boy!

PRCD said...

Why just not move to a part of the US the elites don't care about, like Michigan?

Son of Brock Landers said...

I've lived in areas they don't give a shit about, still kind of do. Problem is massive waves of immigration and corresponding government interference. As I said, it's contingency planning.

PRCD said...

I'm getting pretty sick of opportunists showing up from all around the world and getting on the dole immediately. Here's to the USG running out of money soon.

Still, everyone I know is here. Learning sailing interests me. You can escape by boat if you need to.