Asuncion, Paraguay Report of what it's like to live there

Personal Experiences from Asuncion, Paraguay

Asuncion, Paraguay 05/30/08

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

First expat experience.

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2. How long have you lived here?

2 years.

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3. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

I work for the U.S. Government at the Department of State.

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4. Travel time and best routes to this city from Europe or the US:

From DC it was over 14 hours through BA, Argentina.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

Unreal. Our apartment was HUGE!

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

This was getting more and more expensive while I was there. If you have American products you can't live without bring them or plan to spend a lot on shipping via Netgrocer.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

Any American product you can not live without. Mosquito repellent and sunscreen!

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

McDonald's, Burger King and Pizza Hut are all here. The local restaurants are pretty good.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

APO.

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

Great for availability and cost!

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3. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

Did not use an ATM but had no problems using my credit cards in most places.

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4. What English-language religious services are available locally?

I believe there are Catholic services in English.

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5. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

No newspapers in English. MultiCanal had a couple of channels that had a few shows in English.

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6. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

You will need Spanish!

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7. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

A lot, nothing is geared for physical disabilities!

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Transportation:

1. Do you drive on the right hand side of the road or the left?

Right, left, middle, wherever you seem to want. There were no traffic laws it seemed and if so, they were NOT enforced.

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2. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Taxis are affordable and safe, no trains and was advised not to take the bus!

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3. 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?

Something with a high ground clearance. We had a 4x4 that came in quiet handy to navigate the flash floods and the roads are rough.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Tigo called there service high speed. Cost was not terrible, about US$30 per month.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

Did not use one while there.

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3. What is the best way to make phone calls back home?

Skype.

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Pets:

1. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

Pretty good vets and they make house calls.

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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?

No.

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2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Business at the office. The nightlife scene seemed pretty formal.

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Health & Safety:

1. Pollution index (Good, Moderate, Unhealthy, or Very Unhealthy)?

Unhealthy, the diesel fumes and burning trash are hard on allergy sufferers.

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2. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

Not a one as long as you follow the RSO briefing.

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3. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

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4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Hot, Hot, Hot!

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

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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?

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

About 50 direct hires.

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2. Morale among expats:

Pretty good. Was like a large extended family.

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3. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

Lots, this was the most popular past time.

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4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

I would say this would be a great city for families. Not a lot to do for singles and couples other than dining out and traveling.

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5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

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6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

Not that I was aware of.

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7. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

Travel. A must see is Iguazu Falls!

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8. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Nanduti Lace, leather goods, hand crafted furniture, pottery.

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9. Can you save money?

Difficult with the US dollar declining. When I arrived $1 = Gs 6,200, departed at $1 = Gs 3,995.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Once was enough and 2 years was really too long.

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2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

Watch and cold weather gear.

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3. But don't forget your:

Patience and open mind.

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4. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

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5. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

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6. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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7. Do you have any other comments?

One of the best things about Paraguay is the wonderful people. They will embrace you and make you feel like part of the family.

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