Asuncion, Paraguay Report of what it's like to live there - 01/11/21
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?
This is my seventh post. Been in other cities in Central and South America, AF region, and Europe.
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?
US is home. Almost 24 hours to get back to middle USA. But they just added a direct flight to Miami so that will be better.
3. What years did you live here?
4. How long have you lived here?
5. 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?
Housing is generally large and good. Most houses have pools but there are also apartments. Travel time can be 5-20 minutes depending upon where you live. There are often issues with maintenance. Embassy maintenance personnel are great. When landlord has to send people to work in the house, it can be entertaining.
2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?
There are many options to choose from. There are chain supermarkets and some small stores. Most prices are reasonable but some prices for special goods are higher at Casa Rica than others.
3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?
Cereal. You only have a few options here.
4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?
There are plenty and anything can be delivered. This is especially important in the pandemic.
5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?
Mainly ants in the house. They are mainly meat eaters and they are hard to control. Keep your kitchen clean. The biggest problem is mosquitoes. They can get everywhere and they carry Dengue fever with them. I know many folks who have been infected.
1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?
DPO works well. It can take time to get a package here, usually 10-30 day (but this is because of issues in Miami).
2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?
I do not use household help. I occasionally hire a gardener for special projects and they are cheap.
3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?
None at the embassy right now as we are moving to the NEC. There are gyms in the city but never used them.
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?
It's always better to use cash when you can but I have had no issues using cards sometimes.
5. What English-language religious services are available locally?
No experience with this. I speak Spanish and have attended Spanish services.
6. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?
You really need to speak Spanish to get around well here.
7. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?
Yep, not really anything that helps folks with disabilities.
1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?
Don't take the bus. No trains. Taxis are good and cheap. Uber is here.
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?
High clearance and good tires. There is hardly any drainage here so you need clearance. After it rains everything is flooded until it washes out to the river.
Phone & Internet:
1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?
Good high speed Internet. I suggest Personal that is run via fiber, if you can get it. 50-100mbps as long as there is electricity. It is cheap as well. About $30 per month for my 50 mbps. I use a DNS service and can usually get Amazon Prime, Disney, Hulu and Netflix.
2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?
I use Simple Mobile from the US for my personal plan. It works fine down here and is unlimited data and calls to US and countries in this region. You must setup your unlocked phone with Simple Mobile before you leave the US. It cannot be activated here.
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?
No quarantine, good vets that can come and pickup your pet and return them after. Good prices.
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?
There are jobs here for EFMs, but it may take a while to get your clearance.
2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?
Pre-COVID plenty. Since then nothing.
3. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?
Business casual unless there is a special event.
Health & Safety:
1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.
This is generally a safe country and the people are kind. Don't get drunk late at night in a bad area. Use common sense. I feel safer here than in DC.
2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?
Oh yes. COVID is currently out of control and hospital beds are limited here. Dengue fever is a real issue and plenty of people get it. We have a great med unit at post with a great local doctor. Anything too serious and you will head to Miami.
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?
Air quality is pretty good outside. Inside the old embassy it can get bad, but the NEC will be finished this year.
4. Are there any particular mental health issues that tend to crop up at post, such as Seasonal Affective Disorder (winter blues)?
There is a sense of isolation at times here, especially during the pandemic. CLO and front office are active in keeping our spirits up.
5. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?
Mostly hot but cools off April to September. The biggest issue is rains and storms. There are constant electrical outages. Homes do not have generators. I have lost food often. With the heavy rains come the mosquitoes that bring Dengue. That is no fun.
Schools & Children:
1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?
The American school is here. Not sure about others.
1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?
There is a good community here. Before COVID there were plenty of activities with the CLO. Since then we do a lot of online activities.
2. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?
I think it is better for families and couples. I am single and since I don't haunt nightclubs not much fun is to be found. And with COVID, contact is limited.
3. Is it easy to make friends with locals here? Are there any prejudices or any ethnic groups who might feel uncomfortable here?
The locals here are wonderful and caring. This is my favorite part of this country.
4. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?
The locals are my highlight. Just honest, hardworking and friendly people. I have spent some time on the Brazil border to see the falls. Encarnacion was fun. There are some interesting places just outside the city as well.
5. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?
There are some good parks in and around the city. San Bernardino is cool.
6. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?
There are some. There are great wood workers here and I have purchased some of that.
7. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?
It feels very safe to me. The weather is usually good until it rains.
Words of Wisdom:
1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?
To me, this should be a hardship post. I have been at many posts that were hardship. I say hardship because of limited medical facilities and poor infrastructure. I have experienced more power outages here than any other post I have been. Power often goes out well before the storm hits or for no reason. All this and generators are not allowed. I have experienced numerous water outages during the dryer/cooler season. Dengue fever is bad here but the embassy does all it can to protect us.
2. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?
I would because of the locals in the embassy and feeling safe here. The embassy community has been good as well. There are always one or two strange Americans at post but for the most part we have done all we can to keep the ball rolling, especially during the pandemic.
3. If you move here, you can leave behind your:
Coats and impatience.
4. But don't forget your:
Mosquito spray and extra flashlights for the numerous power outages.
5. Do you have any other comments?
The Paraguayan people are the best part of my tour. They are friendly to the US and have made my tour here fun.