I've been writing about Uruguay for a little bit more than a year and a half now. The topics range from places, to food, to customs but the perspective has always been a positive one. For a change I've decided to write about the ten major things I dislike about living in Uruguay.
So here I go, this is my top ten list of things I DON'T like about living in Uruguay in no particular order,
Poverty in Uruguay
More generally speaking would be lack of resources at all levels. The consequences of this can be seen everywhere. From beggars in traffic lights, to children begging in restaurant tables, to public buildings in need of restoration, like el Palacio Salvo, to lousy salaries for university professors and doctors. It can be depressing.
Conservative & lazy mentality
This one is hard to explain. There's a popular phrase that portrays it well, which is "es lo que hay"(…valor). Translated would be something like: it is what there is, it's the way it is, meaning don't complain and put up with it. If something is wrong, sometimes the answer is not let's change it, but rather "es lo que hay" it's the way it is. This is one part of the problem.
On the other hand lots of people look up to bankers and public employees as low effort, high paying jobs. Like they are the role model to follow. It's a twisted logic, where the "smart one" (el vivo) is the one who works less and gets more, to put it somehow, and if he cheates the state in the process and gets away with it, then he's even smarter.
Risk taking and enterpreneruism is not encouraged in Uruguay to say the least. There's a rather pesimist mentality regarding endeavours, business in Uruguay doesn't work, and if it work is because there's some monkey business going on. That's pretty much the Uruguayan mentality regarding business.
Uruguayan services are usually not good.This is not a service oriented culture. Here the customer is NOT always right, in fact he seldom is.
One example, sometimes in restaurants the waiters make you feel like they are doing you a favor putting up with you. If your request is not standard then you've gained an enemy. If you phoned the empanadas delivery and they brought you something wrong, or in a bad state, you don't have many options. Being a small population, there are few service providers, and sometimes you don't get to complain, you put up with it, or you quit consuming the service, which sometimes is just not an option. Picture that with cable, phone, electricity, water, restaurants, food deliveries, and you'll get the idea.
Added value tax stands for a 23% of the total value of most products. This makes for expensive imported products, which are 99% of them. Buying tech stuff is a matter of waiting for someone you know to travel north and buy one of whatever for you.
Lack of jobs and opportunities in Uruguay
Uruguayan market is very small, if you specialize in some subject chances are that the market won't pay your specialized skills, meaning if you are a PhD and you stay in Uruguay don't expect to make money. This is another emigration helper.
Public transport sucks
Schedules are not strictly respected, frequently services are missed, buses travel packed. Some neighborhoods are very badly connected, and on top of all this is a expensive service. One urban bus ticket is worth 0.65 USD.
Uruguay's population is old, we are only three millions and 12.8% has more than 65 years old, and it's stands out.
Public employee's inamobility
This was born as a solution to a former problem, but the cure ended up being worse than the original disease. Years ago every new government would change all the public institutions staff. To restrain this from happening they passed a law that makes virtually impossible to fire a public employee. No matter how inefficient an employee is, he will never be fired. The result is bureaucracy hell in Uruguay. Again, you can complain, but you feel like won't gain much.
In theory is possible to fire a public employee in Uruguay, but I guess in practice there must be a huge felony involved, and tons of evidence to support it, like videotapes, and an army of witnesses.
Uruguay is known to be secure, and comparatively I guess is still is, but everyday less, and if compared to the Uruguay I was born it's very insecure.
Money is expensive in Uruguay
Getting a loan to buy a house or to start a business is very hard to get.
Some of the provided loans to buy real state require an income that only has like 20% of the population (1000 usd) , plus they don't lend the total of the amount of the real state, but more like 70%, meaning you have to save by yourself 30% of the total.
Final thoughts and conclusion
I know, I know, you are thinking: if it's so bad what am I still doing here, right? Building this list wasn't easy, there's a lot of subjectivity involved. Sometimes it's hard to separate syntomps from causes, plus some of the items are related, I feel I could go on ranting for ages. There's a good graffiti here that reads: "Don't complain, emigrate!"
The truth is there are a lot of good things also, that I'd like to write about in a future post....