Yes, we’ve considered all our options. When I say that, I mean it. Not only have I traveled to over 35 countries (check out my photo evidence here), but I am also a researcher. I’ve spent about 10 years figuring out which country to choose as my adopted home. When we were looking for a place to settle here are some of the factors I considered:
Universal health care of decent quality. See this Huffington Post article.
Nearly-universal education, especially higher education. Uruguay has a 99% literacy rate.
Political stability, little corruption, progressive political leanings (human rights, social safety net). (See this New York Times article)
Climate stability. No natural disasters including: hurricanes, tornadoes, volcanoes and seismic activity, flooding, drought, sea level rise, etc. (Check out hurricane prevalence in Southeast Asia and Central America here.) (Most of Asia, Central America and Western North and South America have unsafe levels of seismic activity.) (Check out precipitation and temperature predictions here and sea level rise here). We researched climate change predictions on flood and drought and found that the Argentinean pampas and all of Uruguay are predicted to have little change relative to the rest of the world. All of these factors together cut out basically all of Central America, coastal North America, some of Africa, and some of Asia.
Climate good for agriculture. Mild winters and lots of sunlight necessary (this cuts out most of Canada and Northern Europe).
High quality soil. Uruguay is one of the few areas in the world with this high quality soil. Also, plentiful access to fresh water (Rio de la Plata is widest fresh water river in the world). This cuts out SO much of the world.
Ease of immigration and affordability of land/housing (this cuts out most of the cool developed countries like New Zealand, Australia, Canada, all of Europe)
Ability to speak and learn the language. It was also very important to us to be able to integrate into the community culturally. We didn’t want to be “expats,” but true immigrants. Uruguay is very European culturally, a culture we have familiarity with and feel we won’t stand out too much in.
Would like to haves:
Close to a beach with good swimming (our land is 5 miles from playa fomento)
Close enough (but far enough away) from a world class city. We are 2 hours by bus and ferry from Buenos Aires. (“To call Buenos Aires a cultural giant is an understatement.”)
Close to a small town with most services (we are within 10 miles to Nueva Helvecia, Rosario, and Colonia Valdense where we can find most things we would need)
A culture that is turning away from consumerism. Listen to former Uruguayan president Jose Mujica!
Beautiful art and architecture. Uruguay has an increasingly budding art scene, including public (inclusive) art (the ‘I am your piano’ project). There is beautiful public art in Montevideo, as well as some European-inspired architecture. However, most of the architecture in Uruguay leaves much to be desired. Hey, you can’t have it all!
Good food culture. Okay, Uruguay is no Italy, but I can get behind their food culture, which centers on high quality meat as well as cooking over an open flame made from wood. (see this article) (Also, a budding craft brew industry! along with an established wine culture (better than Argentina?) and a newly developed cannabis culture.)