For those unfamiliar with the word expat, Wikipedia defines it as
An expatriate (often shortened to expat) is a person temporarily or permanently residing in a country other than that of their citizenship
Maurice and I are still in discussion regarding leaving the U.S. of A. It’s not going to happen tomorrow, next month, or next year, but it could happen a few years down the line. We’ve both become disillusioned with our homeland since the election of Donald Trump. As a gay couple we no longer feel safe in our country. As an interracial couple, that fear multiplies. We have, after all, reached the point that its become necessary to shout from the rooftops that black lives do matter.
For me, it’s become more than just a protest of voting with our feet. I’m now more interested in what an exciting adventure it would be. I’ve played it too safe in my life and missed out on some remarkable opportunities. This is one that I want to hold on to. Maurice is more level headed than me. If I had my way, we’d pack up and move tomorrow, despite not having a clue how we’d sustain ourselves. He keeps me grounded.
I’ve posted a map and pictures of Uruguay, not because it’s where we’re sure we’ll move to, but because it’s the number one contender. It is the most progressive of Latin American countries. As I said last week, they have amazing gay rights. The right to marry, anti-discrimination laws in employment, anti-discrimination laws in the provision of goods and services, gays and lesbians allowed to serve openly in the military, the right to change legal gender, and more. Last week I said the only right they don’t offer is the right to adopt. I was mistaken. LGBT couples do have the right to adoption. Unlike the United States, gays have all equal rights and are not treated as second class citizens.
Why is Uruguay so open minded in regards to gay rights? Despite being a country where over half the people believe in God, and despite Catholics being 46% of the population, this is a uniquely secular society and they are quite proud of that. Uruguay has no official religion, and unlike the U.S., they live by this law. What holiday do they celebrate on December 25th? One hint: It’s not Christmas. They celebrate the “Day of the Family.” Oh sure, you’ll find a lot of Christmas decorations and most people celebrating Christmas, however the country itself doesn’t recognize it as a religious holiday.
The challenges with Uruguay is wages. They are low and jobs are hard to come by. I’ll most likely try earning money through writing, while Maurice works remotely for a company outside of the country. The minimum one would have to make to live comfortably is around $1,500 – $2,000/month.
Marijuana is also legal. In 2013, Uruguay became the first country to legalize pot nationwide. Not that I’m a pot smoker, never been a fan, but it’s good to see how progressive they are.
I’ve been in touch with some expats in Uruguay and most of them love living there. They enjoy the relaxed, simple things in life, however they stress it is no paradise. Crime is high due to the low wages and a lax justice system. Learning Spanish is a must. Unlike California where everything is written in multiple languages, Spanish is legally the official language. A child cannot even be homeschooled unless the teaching parent speaks Spanish. A large number of expats make a living through farming, which is not something we will even consider.
The other thing the locals stress is this is not a tropical environment. Though in the southern hemisphere, the country is about the same distance from the equator as Georgia or the Carolina’s. Summers can be hot and muggy, while the winters can be cold and wet.
It also is not cheap. Sure, most things may be less than the U.S.A., but items are high compared to most other South American countries.
This will likely be the last I’ll write about moving or about Uruguay for awhile. As I said, if we choose to move, we will not be moving anytime soon. Also, while Uruguay sounds perfect for us, this is still the early stage of our plan. There are plenty more countries to scrutinize more closely. I just felt the need to share where my head and my heart are at this time.