Asuncion, Paraguay Report of what it's like to live there
Personal Experiences from Asuncion, Paraguay
1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?
2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?
8 hours to Miami. 12-14 hours to DC or JFK. We are about 24 hours from home in Utah.
3. How long have you lived here?
4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?
Housing, Groceries & Food:
1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?
All of the embassy housing here has one issue or another, although all in all the housing is nice. Some houses are within walking distance to the Embassy and other can be a 20-30 minute commute. None are super close to downtown.
2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?
Some things are higher some are lower, but all in all is it not horrible.
3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?
Karo syrup, brown sugar, chocolate chips, granola bars, soups, maple syrup.
4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?
McDonald's, Burger King, Pizza Hut are all here for about what you would pay in the states. We also have a TGI Friday's. The best food is probably non-U.S. restaurants. The cost can be super cheap to fairly expensive.
5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?
LOTS of mosquitos (Dengue), ants and cockroaches.
1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?
2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?
Plenty, about US$300/ month + insurance (US$15).
3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?
Yes a few. They are expensive. The Embassy has a small gym.
4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?
Use your credit card, but I recommend only using it in places where you can see them run it in front of you, stores etc. Everything else I use cash.
5. What English-language religious services are available locally?
There is a Catholic service in English.
6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?
I think DirectTV offers a Puerto Rico option for those at post. We don't have it but if I remember correctly it is US$60/mo. We just use slingbox and hulu.
7. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?
Yes, the more Spanish you know the better.
8. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?
All sorts, cobblestone streets, no sidewalks, crazy drivers, and the list goes on.
1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?
No trains, yes on buses but the RSO recommends you not use them. Taxis are fairly safe and affordable.
2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?
I recommend an SUV with good suspension. However cars of all types can be found here.
Phone & Internet:
1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?
Yes, and it is fairly reliable. It is about US$60/month.
2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?
There are plenty of companies here, and plans are cheap. I recommend Personal because that is what the Embassy uses so most of your calls will be "free." But others are just as happy with Tigo.
1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?
2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?
Yes, and they are pretty good.
Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:
1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?
Very few. We know a teacher or two from the Embassy and a few who work from home.
2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?
Health & Safety:
1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.
Just little stuff. I love it here, I think if you are smart and follow the rules you will probably be fine.
2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?
The healthcare here is okay. There is not a U.S. doctor at post, however there are several English speaking ones (some even U.S. trained) working in the community.
3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?
Moderate. Sometimes there will be smoke in the air from a fire or fireworks. And if you are following a bus or truck the emissions can get to you. But all in all it is fine.
4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?
9.5 months hot and humid, 1.5 months cool and rainy, and 1 month nice (not all at once).
Schools & Children:
1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?
ASA - where most kids attend, is okay. Not great but not horrible. I do not recommend children with special needs or high schoolers.
PAIS - A few families go here. They tend to be a little more user-friendly, but don't have the same standards as ASA. They are a little bit farther away from housing. They have a smaller classroom size than ASA. Currently there is no embassy bus because there are not enough students attending.
ACA - Christian school. Some people love it. They too are easy to work with, but don't have the same standards. They are very close to ASA but the Embassy does not provide a bus for them.They will not accept, Jews, Muslims, Mormons etc.
2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?
Very little. If your child has ADHD or a mild learning disability they can probably handle it but anything else will be difficult to accommodate.
3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?
There are many. My child attends a half day Spanish preschool with about 18 students in the class and 2-3 teachers for about US$175/month. There are others but only one that is mostly in English. ASA offers a K4, but you have to pay tuition (US$600/mo).
4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?
Yes, through the school and a few others in town.
1. Morale among expats:
Morale varies on the person. Some people are miserable here and are counting down the days until they get to leave. Many are super happy here enjoying the wonderful embassy community we have and taking in the culture. Of course morale changes according to who is at post.
2. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?
Great for families, and probably okay for couples, however I think most singles do not love it here.
3. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?
I know of several gay expats who have lived here. I would not say any of them loved it but I think that it was more because singles have a hard time here than that they were gay. However that being said, this is a very LATIN, Catholic community and there will be some issues.
4. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?
Iguazu Falls, Puerto Madryn (Argentina), Buenos Aires (Argentina).
5. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?
Nanduti, leather, pottery.
6. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?
If you don't travel you will save money, but most people travel because you gotta get out or you might go crazy. Iguazu Falls is only 5 hours from Asuncion. Buenos Aires, Santiago, and Sao Paulo, Brazil are easy plane rides although not as cheap as they used to be.
7. Can you save money?
Yes, if you don't travel and don't eat out all the time.
Words of Wisdom:
1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?
Yes, we really like it here. However the school has been a bit of a concern.
2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:
Parkas (however many Paraguayans use them everytime we get down into the 50's or 60's F), bicycles (unless you plan to haul it to a park to bike), watch (things rarely start on time).
3. But don't forget your:
Patience, swimsuits, optimistic attitude.