La Paz, Bolivia Report of what it's like to live there

Personal Experiences from La Paz, Bolivia

La Paz, Bolivia 02/13/19

Background:

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

This was our first tour.

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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?

Home city is West Palm Beach, Florida. There are no longer direct flights to La Paz. Connections include Bogota, Colombia, or Lima, Peru, and Santa Cruz, Bolivia. Flight from Miami is 7 hours, not counting layovers. This is a difficult country to reach by air. Visa costs are high, the altitude is physically demanding, the travel to and from the airport is dizzying, and local travel is not cheap.

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3. How long have you lived here?

We have lived here for one and a half years.

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

Diplomatic mission.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

The housing here varies. I have seen houses in one neighborhood that are large and lovely with great yards. The neighborhood, however, is set off from main roads and there are fewer amenities close by. In lower Achumani the houses tend to be smaller, but there are parks every few blocks and grocery stores are walking distance, as is the Achumani market. Our house has six bedrooms (and six bathrooms!). There are a few houses in San Miguel that would be ideal for singles; San Miguel is a bustling commercial center in a central location with a lot of restaurants. I have not been to any of the houses in Calacoto. Commute time is approximately 30-45 min by car. There are some who have biked to the embassy and the teleferico (cable car) system also offers a stop that is a 7-10 min walk from the embassy. Most of the houses have skylights and carports.

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

Everything is available, but not everything is good. Groceries are relatively inexpensive for non-imported items. Groceries can be purchased at stores such as Ketal or Hipermaxi, or at the open-air markets. The food in the grocery stores is less fresh than in the markets. So you have to choose between graying beef in a cellophane-wrapped, pre-weighed package, or bright red meat being handled by women who are simultaneously swatting flies and taking your cash with their bare hands. Produce is plentiful and very good, most of it imported from Peru, and always cheaper in the markets. Agriculture is irrigated with recycled water so all produce must be bleached. Good ice-cream and cheesecake are very hard to find. Most food items don't taste the way their American counterparts do, such as ketchup or dairy. A recent health report from the health unit found that over 50% of cream-filled pastries sold by bakeries and street vendors contained E.coli, so there's that. Household supplies are of very poor quality. We went through three garlic presses in a month before we gave up and had one shipped from the US.

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

Clothes detergent, hand soap, Pepperidge Farm Double Chocolate Milanos, nuts and dried fruit (pricey here). Things we did ship to post and were thankful that we did: paper goods (toilet paper, paper towels), maple syrup, beans (canned as well as dry- they are surprisingly hard to find here!), coconut oil, brown sugar (not sold in small grain sizes here), applesauce, sunscreen, brownie mix, mojo criollo (it's a Cuban food staple). U.S-Standard sized notebooks and loose-leaf notebook paper are extremely hard to find.

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

Safe restaurants include a fabulous sushi place (New Tokyo), Brazilian (Paladar). and burgers (Crafted). Good pizza is a rarity. We only eat at vetted restaurants, as proper food handling is not standard and digestive issues are a frequent concern. We have never had food delivered.

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5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

Ants.

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Daily Life:

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

DPO and pouch.

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

Americans typically pay upwards of 350 Bolivianos (abt 50$) per day for a housekeeper/cook/nanny. Often, they work in all three capacities at once. The locals pay about 70 Bs per day ($10) which might explain why it's so hard to find good help. Most of those in the American circuit have formed a sort of social circle and seem to be chatty and demanding. Hiring outside the embassy pool may be challenging but may yield better results. Most families here also hire a gardener/handyman as some of the properties have fairly extensive gardens. Our gardener built a raised garden bed for us to grow our own lettuce and herbs.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

The local grocery store has a gym upstairs. There are local clubs such as Los Sargentos which offers horseback riding, a swimming pool, and tennis courts. The Tennis Club is a little more exclusive. The German Club is in the Achumani neighborhood, and several families take tennis lessons there. They also have a swimming pool, a gym, and playground facilities. The embassy also has a gym.

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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?

Credit cards are widely accepted at most of the nicer restaurants. We make most of our payments and purchases in cash, from the fruit market to dance classes.

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

That I know of, Catholic and non-denominational Protestant. La Iglesia Biblica de Mallasilla offers translation by earpiece.

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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?

Every professional I have met speaks English including the kids' music teachers and tennis instructors. Most of the domestic staff pool and market vendors speak very little English. Taxi drivers are hit or miss. There are local language classes available.

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

Very much so! Hills are steep, stairs are ubiquitous, and sidewalks are hazardous with pits, cracks, small walls running through them, and often straight drops.

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Transportation:

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

Yes. Taxis are so cheap and plentiful that you may find you don't need a car. The cable car system is clean, and a scenic way to get to the downtown areas or to El Alto. Many tourist-oriented locations, such as the Hotel Andino, will provide private bus from central areas in the Zona Sur or from the downtown.

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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?

A car with medium to high clearance that you don't mind getting banged up. Preferably something with 4WD if you plan to go exploring. There are age restrictions on imports.

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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?

Most spouses work at the embassy. One works at a local Christian missionary school, and a few others work at the American Cooperative School.

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Health & Safety:

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

The prevalence of E.coli, H. pylori, and salmonella are a major concern. Altitude issues are also a big concern- short term effects may include shortness of breath, dizziness, slowed metabolism, and dehydration. Long term cumulative effects at this altitude may be non-existent but for our family (and others) has included difficulty sleeping and anxiety. Post med-unit is well equipped to handle the myriad of digestion issues that arise. Anything that requires surgery will be a medevac.

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2. 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?

The air quality is moderate. When you're a passenger in a rattling old taxi, bumping along with the windows down, and the trucks in front of you are belching smoke into the vehicle, it feels like you might have taken a few years off your life, but for the most part we have had no respiratory issues.

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3. What do people who suffer from environmental or food allergies need to know?

Food allergies are not taken very seriously.

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4. Are there any particular mental health issues that tend to crop up at post, such as Seasonal Affective Disorder (winter blues)?

Being from Miami, La Paz feels like the land of eternal winter. Temps hover in the 50s some days during the summer. That brings me down. Prolonged effects from altitude and multiple incidents of painful diarrhea and vomiting can take their toll.

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

Over all climate can vary from moment to moment or even within a mile. Sometimes at our house I can be sweating in shorts, we can go up to the German Club a mile up the road, and be freezing. Summers are rainy. Temps can range from 50-90 degrees F, sometimes within the same day. The 50s are more common, though. Humidity is low. Winters don't feel much different- just less rain.

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Schools & Children:

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

We know families who attend the French school, the German school, ACS Calvert, and Highlands Christian School. We have no personal experience with any of them except the ACS families which appear to be very, very unhappy. The German school follows the Bolivian school calendar, which runs February thru December.

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2. 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?

Preschool is available.

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3. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

Our children take horseback riding lessons, flamenco classes, and tennis. Other families have children in gymnastics. Soccer programs exist at the German Club and in Aranjuez. Quality music instruction is near impossible (if at all possible) to find, and we have had to resort to online instruction.

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Expat Life:

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

This is a good post for families in the way that the Bolivian people are kind towards children and value family and community. We feel very safe here, and our children feel valued. There are some pretty good playgrounds and parks around as well. The only caveat with regard to families is that the larger the family, the greater the likelihood someone will not tolerate the altitude well. During our time here, there was a family or two at the embassy that had to split up for health reasons, with EFMs going back to the States to wait out the tour. But if a family finds themselves in good health here, it’s fantastic. Couples and singles will enjoy their time here if they can get out and get involved with community projects, adventuring, or hosting social events.

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2. Is it easy to make friends with locals here? Are there any prejudices or any ethnic groups who might feel uncomfortable here?

I think it is. Our family was fluent in Spanish, which was definitely an asset, but Bolivian people are generally very gracious and humble. If you make eye contact, they often offer a "buen dia!" as you pass on the street, or will wish you "buen provecho" (enjoy your meal) if they pass your table at a small restaurant. They greet friends and acquaintances with kisses and hugs and find Americans who wave at a distance to be stiff and comical, (but they only share that in private).

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3. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

Highlights included a trip to Mt. Chacaltaya, using the cable cars to get to and from Calle Sagarnaga, and hanging out with friends we made in the local community. Titicaca was lovely when I wasn't nauseous. Any chance I get to see Mt Illimani is also a special moment. We have trips to the Amazon coming up shortly.

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

Parque Arquisamaña is easy to get to and has some amazing views of the Zona Sur; Parque Gimnacio de Achumani has the best stone slide; Flor de Leche is a local dairy that provides tours and lunch by reservation.

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

This is a good place to buy alpaca everything, and aguayo fabric. We have bought tons of tiny llama pens and llama pins and llama magnets to give as gifts. One Christian ministry here (Word Made Flesh) has equipped women to come out of prostitution by employing them in making lovely purses and handbags (Sutisana).

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6. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

Safety (from crime anyway), availability of mangos, and the vistas are incredible. Also, adventures are close at hand; climbing La Muela del Diablo, climbing the Andes, seeing the pink dolphins in Madidi or monkeys in Coroico, hiking the Choro Trail or biking Death Road, visiting Inca ruins, Dinosaur park, spelunking. We chose not to do most of these things because we have little kids.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Not sure. The anxiety and digestive issues have been really difficult to endure.

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

Beach umbrella and flip flops.

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3. But don't forget your:

Long-sleeved sun-guard shirts and hats, and Chapstick.

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La Paz, Bolivia 09/02/16

Background:

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

No. We've lived in Europe and Latin America. This is our fourth overseas assignment.

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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?

DC. DC to Miami to La Paz. Miami to La Paz is direct on American Airlines. Approximately 7 hours.

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3. How long have you lived here?

2 years.

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

Embassy.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Housing is superb. Big houses with 'quinchos' (outdoor barbeque), which is big for lazy family Sundays. Most all of embassy housing is in Calacoto (smaller houses, but near ACS Calvert American School), La Florida, Achumani (5-10 minutes farther away from school/embassy, but bigger housing, and close to fantastic market). Commutes from farthest reaches takes around 30 minutes to Sopocachi (where embassy is located). Calacoto take around 20 minutes.

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

Fresh produce abounds. Ketal and Hypermaxi are the two big supermarket chains. They both offer most everything you can desire. Of course, pringles and peanut butter cost more than in the States.

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

We don't lack for anything here. Whatever we deem too expensive locally, we order through Amazon and Wal-Mart. I believe consumables are still offered. We utilized that once, but it wasn't really necessary.

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

Surprisingly, for a landlocked country, there are several sushi options. Beef is big here, either top quality Argentine, or above average and slightly cheaper Bolivian cuts. There are several decent pizza joints, and a place called, The Factory, which offers a taste of home (think Chili's baby back ribs, draft beer, and blues music). No McDonald's. We do have a good local fried chicken place and Burger King. Bolivian fare is quite good, but it does get old sometimes.

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5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

Insects don't like 12k feet.....well, except for an occasional flurry of ants.

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Daily Life:

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

DPO and Pouch. 2 weeks.

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

Household help is readily available. Work pace, capacity, and ethic is not North American usually. Very cheap for the region.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

The embassy has a fantastic (free) gym. There are many options around town for yoga, pilates, and typical gym stuff. There is a hash group, and don't believe the haters...you CAN run in La Paz at 12k feet. There are active running groups and the landscape is challenging, but gorgeous.

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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?

Yes to all.

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

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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 need Spanish. You could get around without, but your experience would be limited. There are many options for tutors. I can't speak for price, but I cannot imagine it is expensive.

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

Yes! Cobblestone, broken sidewalks, severe grades up and down streets.

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Transportation:

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

Yes. Taxis and 'trufis' (minibuses) are easy and good.

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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?

Any car will do. Note that the Bolivian government has tight import restrictions (age/cost). However, you should be able to sell and recoup what you paid.

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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?

Yes. Speed is getting much better, but still lags behind other neighboring countries. We can stream TV and Netflix with no problem. Getting set up is also much easier than when we arrived.

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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?

There are many cheap options. Bring an unlocked iPhone and you are good to go.

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Pets:

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?

Yes. Bolivians love dogs.

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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?

Embassy jobs.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Plenty of charities.

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

Formal business attire with casual Fridays. Bolivians dress smartly.

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Health & Safety:

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

Not really. Miner strikes on occasion. I feel safer here than any other posting, not to mention the States.

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

The high altitude creates challenges to varying degrees for folks. Caveat: I run here. It's not a big deal. That said, some experience asthma-like symptoms, headaches, and insomnia, due to the extreme altitude. You get 20% differential for a reason. Folks remedy this by taking things a step slower, drink lots of water, herbal tea, and be mindful that you are on top of the Andes.

There is a good U.S. style clinic. However, anything involved will require medevac to Miami.

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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 to bad. Dust and dry air is a big thing.

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4. What do people who suffer from environmental or food allergies need to know?

Not sure it's any different than the States.

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5. Are there any particular mental health issues that tend to crop up at post, such as Seasonal Affective Disorder (winter blues)?

Nope. If anything, it's too sunny.

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

Climate is absolutely lovely. Think San Francisco or San Diego weather. There is a wet season and a dry season. Otherwise, expect highs in the mid-70s F....every day!

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Schools & Children:

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

ACS Calvert is the American embassy sponsored school. It is fully accredited and most of the embassy folks attend. The school has above average MAP scores for the region and for the U.S. The school is sending its seniors to very good schools in the States, including some recent Ivy League acceptances. Class sizes are higher in the primary grades. It offers K-12 and has over 500 students. Due to political changes over the last decade or so, the school has experienced a shift in demographics to more of a host country makeup. However, the school employs many high quality American staff, and is making a concerted effort to focus more on its international (read: American) clientele. After school, team sports, and extracurricular activites include: soccer (of course!), volleyball, basketball, swimming (the pool is the best in La Paz), drama, among others.

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

Limited, but depends on the scenario. I can't comment personally.

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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?

Yes. They are abundant and inexpensive. ACS Calvert offers several after school activities that keep the school age kiddos busy.

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4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

ACS Calvert offers soccer, dance, music, etc....after school. There are other options around town, including at the country clubs (German Club, Tennis Club, Golf Club). My kids take golf lessons at the 'highest golf course in the world.' Also, believe it or not, the embassy has a fast pitch softball league, and there is a burgeoning little league that sometimes competes locally throughout Bolivia. It's pretty rough, but the sport does exist here.

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Expat Life:

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

Relatively small. Morale varies, depending on who you talk to. We've enjoyed our time here. My kids are happy.

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

Drinking, dancing...standard FS lifestyle. Also, there is a hash group. As mentioned before, the embassy loves its fast pitch softball team. Embassy folks attend lots of barbeques and get-togethers. It is a very social post.

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

Yes, yes, and yes. This is an easy, comfortable place to live.

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

Relatively good.

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

Yes and yes. Skin color matters for some Bolivians. It is a patriarchal society.

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6. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

This post boasts incredible travel and adventure tourism. My son and I hiked the 40 mile 'Choro Trail' (Inca Trail), an ancient footpath starting at around 14k feet to around 5k feet, an incredible (free) trip that only requires your own backpacking gear. You can climb a 20k foot mountain (Huayana Potosi) with a guide for about 100-200 USD (quite challenging, but considered the 'easiest' in the area). You can travel to Rurrenabarque and see pink dolphins, anacondas, fish for pirahnas, etc...in the Amazon sub-region...all relatively accessible. La Paz itself is awe-inspiring in its natural beauty.

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

Choro Trail. Definitely.

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

Nah. There is plenty of artisan works to purchase, but it doesn't really float my boat. Silver and alpaca.

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9. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

Cheap. Easy to get around, save money. There are lots of walkable areas in Zona Sur (where most expats live).

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Words of Wisdom:

1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?

No real surprises.

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

Absolutely.

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

Beach gear. Extreme hot and cold weather clothing. Although, you can 'escape' to Santa Cruz relatively cheaply to get a pool/spa experience.

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4. But don't forget your:

Hiking and layered REI type clothing. The difference in weather is sometimes measured by whether you are in the sun or the shade.

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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. Do you have any other comments?

Bolivians are very nice, mellow people. If you show them a smile and proper respect throughout all strata, you will do well here.

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La Paz, Bolivia 06/09/15

Background:

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

Yes

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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?

SC
Shortest trip is about 14 hours with two stops. For the most part, it seems you can't leave La Paz without making a stop in Santa Cruz, it can add about 3 hours to your flight. It is not the same when coming in.

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3. How long have you lived here?

shy of a year

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

Government

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Single family for us, it is quite large. About 25-minute drive from the Embassy during rush hour.

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

Depends on if it is local or American. American stuff can be really, really expensive. On the other hand, local stuff is typically good quality. Our empliada prefers to use local brands.

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

Juice, maple syrup, EVOO, bubble solution for the kids.

Fresh juice is good here but sours quickly. Boxed juice tastes like a box. You can get Ocean Spray here but it is expensive.

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

There is a BK but everyone tells you not to eat there. "Fast" is a very loosely translated word here.

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5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

ANTS

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Daily Life:

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

DPO and Pouch

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

Affordable.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

Yes, and the Embassy just put in a really nice one.

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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?

So far so good. Prefer chip technology here.

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

If you don't speak the language, get a tablet and use Google Translate. English is more common here than what I was expecting but I still need electronic hep to express more intricate instructions or inquiries.

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

Yes. Everything is uphill here.

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Transportation:

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

Taxis are safe and affordable. We have an excellent working relationship with a driver here.

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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?

The regs for importing a car here have recently changed. It is now something like no older than 1 or 2 model years as opposed to three. This is rumored to be a decreasing window so check with someone in the know before you plan. As for types of cars, they are all over the map here, VW Bugs to giant SUVS, as long as you are ok with bumps and dings, you'll be fine.

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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?

Yes. US$160 or so a month. We can use it to Skype, watch Amazon Prime etc on many devices at once.

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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?

Get one. Email isn't a thing with the locals or schools. They like phone calls, text messages, and Whats App

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

The Med Doc has a charity that is always looking for volunteers.

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

They are pretty American here when it comes to style but athletic wear is sometimes looked down on. Some folks would rather be late dropping their kids off for a playdate than wear yoga pants.

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Health & Safety:

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

None that I know of.

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

Our med unit is good and the hospital, though utilitarian, is ok too.

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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?

Good. The dryer days can be harder because of the dust and smog from the cars but otherwise we are ok.

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4. What do people who suffer from environmental or food allergies need to know?

DUST, specifically road dust is a nuisance.

Since there is little humidity, I think pollen allergies are low here. Food allergies aren't common (there are no rules at my children's schools).

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

It is like spring or fall all the time here. Rainy season is Dec-March or so.

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Schools & Children:

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

They are here. French, German, US. - we chose a local school as we were unhappy with ACS.

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2. 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?

Yes. We love the preschool the girls attend (CEAMI). It is affordable. Children are promoted to K/1st grade early here. They begin taking children at age 2 in preschool here, potty training not required.

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3. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

Yes. Soccer is big here.

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Expat Life:

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

Alcohol is big here.

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

I think so. Our biggest challenge is how late everything is: dinner starts after 7; lunch after 1; people routinely show up late for birthday parties; etc. It is hard to keep a schedule and be involved at the same time. Also, if you have stroller sized kids, getting around can be hard because the side walks aren't stroller friendly.

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

They say everyone is equal under the law here but there are some obvious classist tones to things/situations.

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4. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

All of my children have been exposed to Spanish. My 20-month old even seems to understand more than me! My other 2, 3 and 6 year olds, are relatively fluent.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?

Everything costs something, even going to a park is a coin or two.

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2. But don't forget your:

Sunscreen

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La Paz, Bolivia 04/06/15

Background:

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

No. We have lived in Managua and Rabat

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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?

La Paz is about 10 hours from DC, going through Bogota.

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3. How long have you lived here?

Been living here for 9 months.

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

U.S. Government.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Most, if not all, embassy personnel live in the Zona Sur, which is about 20 minutes to the Embassy. Houses are spacious and normally about 3 floors. Apartments are an option too, but I haven't been to one to comment.

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

We do most of our grocery shopping at the local market, and for specialty items go to the supermarket. Imported goods are expensive, but local products are really cheap. I feel that you can find most things you need. The one thing we love that you can't find is 100% pure maple syrup all they have is the fake Aunt Jamima syrup. And I miss almond milk, also not available.

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

100% pure maple syrup.

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

There isn't too much fast food, which I love. They have Burger King, and McDonald's will be coming soon. Starbucks is starting to pop up too, though not here in La Paz yet. There are plenty of cafe's and a handful of decent restaurants. I find eating out to be pretty cheap. This weekend we went to a TGIFriday's type restaurant and it was about US$50 for 3 adults and 2 kids.

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5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

There are some ants in our home, but not too many.

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Daily Life:

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

DPO.

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

Domestic help is easy to find. We pay about US$325 per month for full-time help (she works Mon-Fri from 9am-5pm). We also have a gardener 1 day per week who we pay about US$80 per month.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

There are plenty of gyms around. I'm not sure of the cost as I use the embassy gym. I know there is CrossFit and MMA type gyms too.

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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?

I haven't heard of any issues using ATMs in terms of theft. Not all ATMs accept my debit card, so sometimes I have to go hunting for one that will. Credit cards are accepted at most restaurants and big stores. Smaller restaurants and shops will only take cash.

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

There are two English language services that I am aware of here in Zona Sur.

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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 need Spanish for day-to-day communication as locals speak Spanish and Aymara (indigenous language).

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

YES. Sidewalks are NOT friendly in general as they are not even and in rough shape. Moreover, being in a valley, you're pretty much always walking up or down hill.

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Transportation:

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

Taxis are cheap. It's about US$1.50 to go within the Zona Sur and about US$3 to go to the Embassy. But most taxi's are unsafe as they rarely have seat belts and you wonder how the vehicle is still running (they are pieces of junk). There are also truffis, which are taxi's that you share with whoever can pile in. They are really cheap, about US$0.30, and run specific routes. Same with mini-buses, which are mini-vans. New to La Paz are big, modern buses (comparable to DC metro bus system) and cost about US$0.15. Now there is also a teleferico system with three lines (more to come). If I need to take public transport, I use taxis.

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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?

Small SUVs are popular among embassy personnel, like RAV4s and Subaru Forresters. The roads here are rough, and there can be some flooding during the rainy season, so something with clearance and all-wheel or 4 wheel drive is recommended. Plus you're always driving uphill, so something with some power is good. If you're importing a vehicle, it can't be more than 3 years old.

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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?

Yes, but crazy expensive. We have a 4MB plan so that we can stream Netflix and Skype. We realistically only get about 3MB on a good day, and pay US$160 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?

I brought and use my iPhone 5. For 1GB per month plan with ENTEL, it's US$7 plus text and minutes. I normally pay about US$11 per month total.

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Pets:

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?

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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?

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

I am familiar with HOPE Worldwide Bolivia. I'm sure there are more opportunities as well.

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Health & Safety:

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

We feel pretty safe in our neighborhood of Achumani here in the Zona Sur. I've heard of some car break-ins, but not since we've been here. I hear that things are a little more dangerous in the city center, more so at night. Overall we feel safe here.

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

The high altitude is a big concern especially if you have a condition that would be affected by it. If you get pregnant, you are strongly encouraged to leave post.

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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?

Good air quality. The only problem is that with the high altitude, it's hard to breathe.

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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?

The weather is pretty much fall-like all year round. There is a rainy season from around December to March. I normally wear a long sleeve shirt with a sweater and feel fine. In the middle of winter (July-August), I'll have a jacket as well.

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Schools & Children:

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

Most embassy children go to the American Cooperative School (ACS). There is also Highlands as an option, and a Montessori school. Our son is in 1st grade, so our experience is fine at ACS.

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2. 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?

Our younger son, who is 2, goes to a neighborhood preschool which we (and he) love. It's a half day program, from 8:30am-12:30pm, and costs us about US$110 per month (includes daily snacks).

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Expat Life:

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

I feel that the morale is good here. There is a good mix of families, couples, and singles. Also right now, the management team is amazing.

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

Get-together's, playdates, & BBQs at home are common. Going out to eat or for drinks. And sports - softball, soccer, tennis, etc.

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

I think everyone can have fun here. This is definitely a great place for families as we feel safe, domestic help is affordable, and there is a lot of nature to enjoy. I would imagine singles can have fun as there is plenty of nightlife. Couples would find it easy to travel as most flights within country are only about an hour.

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

Not sure.

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

I don't notice any racial issues being that La Paz is mostly indigenous.

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6. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

There is a lot of natural beauty here in the high Andes mountains. The salt flats of Uyuni (and its surrounding areas) are amazing, as is Sajama national park. If you love hiking and photography, this is a great place!

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

Hiking is huge here. There are also a lot of markets for shopping.

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

Clothing and accessories made of alpaca and leather. Art.

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9. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

You can save money, the weather is pretty consistent (feels like fall all year round), and there is a strong indigenous culture in La Paz.

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10. Can you save money?

YES.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?

I didn't know much before arriving. I love all the natural beauty and differences in landscape. I also love the strong indigenous culture and influence.

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

YES!

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3. But don't forget your:

Sunblock (the sun is so strong here you get burnt easily), hats, sunglasses, sweaters, comfortable walking shoes.

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La Paz, Bolivia 11/08/14

Background:

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

Have lived in Latin America before and the Middle East.

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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?

U.S. West Coast about 18 hours with a connection in Miami. You can technically connect in Bogota or Lima but the AA flight from La Paz to Miami is the only authorized U.S. flagged carrier.

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3. How long have you lived here?

2 years.

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

U.S. Government.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Housing is good -- mainly large detached homes with small gardens in quiet, safe, upscale neighborhoods lower in elevation (more air!). After reductions in local staff, facilities is a little slower to respond and less willing to help with anything but the most urgent requests; they say it's due to manning problems. Commute is 20-30 minutes.

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

This is still a consumables post. It's hard to find some staples such as paper products (expensive and poor quality), non sugary cereals, snacks, variety of cheeses, decent toiletries... There are a lot of DPO addicts here

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

The choice of restaurants was awful in recent memory but is improving. You can get somewhat decent Vietnamese, Thai, Indian, Korean, and Japanese food. Entrees are less than US$10 equivalent most places. You can eat for as little as US$1 depending on how brave you are. Gustu is the one true upscale restaurant in La Paz and can run you up to US$70 a person (a bargain for the world class dining experience). Bear in mind that food poisoning is very common and seems worse than other places, possibly due to the altitude, it messes up your body.

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4. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

Almost none. Occasional ants and houseflies.

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Daily Life:

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

DPO and pouch. It can take over 3 weeks.

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

Less than US$20 a day for a housekeeper, many also cook and watch the kids for not much more.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

Yes, at the embassy motorpool and at the Marine House

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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?

I wouldn't.

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

Spanish is essential here. Few Bolivians speak any English. You can get by with survival Spanish or take classes though the Embassy but you need some in order to meet people and enjoy your time.

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

Yes. Sidewalks are in awful repair or nonexistent. It can be hard for able bodied people to get around with the altitude. Ramp grades are very steep and most buildings do not have elevators. Medical care is very hit and miss.

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Transportation:

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

Radio taxis are cheap and affordable. You should be careful hailing private cabs on the street as express kidnappings are on the rise. Trufis/micros are off limits.

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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?

4WD is really helpful given the steep hills. Nothing too big as parking can be tough. Check with the CLO or your sponsor to find out what cars are popular, because vehicle part theft is a big problem and rare cars seem to be targeted more frequently than others.

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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?

Yes, but very expensive and not very reliable. We paid well over US$100 monthly.

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Pets:

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, vets are prevalent but their qualifications vary. It can be hard to get pets in and out as the one U.S. flagged carrier (AA) has an embargo on flying pets into La Paz. You have to cost construct through Lima or Bogota, which is much much more expensive.

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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. Job availability in the Embassy is also very tough with a lot of spouses who want to work and can't. It's gotten harder since USAID was expelled.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

A few for impoverished kids and homeless animals.

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

Business casual at work. Casual in public.

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Health & Safety:

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

Protests and blockades happen a few times a year and sometimes cause closures at the Embassy. Apparently this has gotten a lot better than it used to be, though. Overall La Paz is really safe. You have to be a bit more careful in El Alto but violent crime is rare.

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

The altitude poses a serious health concern and causes plenty of people to curtail. Pregnant women are medevaced pretty much immediately and lots of people have problems with high blood pressure. Medical care is abysmal for anything but the most routine things.

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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. There is some pollution related to traffic but the main problem is actually the lack of air at 11,000-14,000 feet above sea level.

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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?

Due to the altitude, the weather is more or less the same all year round -- between 50F and 70F. The "rainy" season goes from about December to March but it doesn't really snow where housing or the Embassy are, and the rain only lasts for an hour or two a day. The weather is pretty monotonous, but a 45-minute flight will take you to the hot lowlands.

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Schools & Children:

1. 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 a bunch of preschools that are run out of houses and unregulated; one or two are popular within the embassy community. Nannies are inexpensive, equivalent of less than US$20 a day.

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Expat Life:

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

Small and getting smaller. Morale is pretty bad. Lots of people talk about La Paz like it's a prison sentence.

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

Ha... Theoretically there are outdoor activities but the infrastructure is not developed, so you do it at your own risk. The social scene is pretty dead. Locals and expats stick to house parties and don't go out much.

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

Families, yes. It's safe and schools are pretty good. Singles and couples can get frustrated by the lack of things to do in La Paz. It's kind of a small town. The local dating scene definitely seems to be better for single men than single women.

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

Not great. La Paz is conservative but there are some fledgling groups starting to raise awareness.

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

Yes. Bolivians make a big deal out of being a plurinational state that allegedly accepts all cultures but this is still more a dream than reality, racism between European looking and non European looking people is still rampant. There is discrimination against women but it's not as bad as other places in Latin America.

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6. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

Salar de Uyuni is beautiful. Not much to do in La Paz but some unique places aren't too far away.

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

Drive or bike ride to Coroico or Illimani. Sorata and Copacabana are popular weekend trips.

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

Not much. The decent alpaca stuff is actually imported from Peru. Silver is available but not especially cheap.

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9. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

The Andean history and culture are truly amazing, there is incredible geographic diversity, it is pretty inexpensive to travel within Bolivia, it's very easy to save money.

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10. Can you save money?

It's hard not to save money.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Probably not. The altitude is seriously hard and the political situation really wears on you. The Embassy has had a lot of staffing shortages for a reason.

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La Paz, Bolivia 01/01/14

Background:

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

No, several other posts in different regions.

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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?

From Washington, the only approved routing is American Airlines through Miami. It takes about 12 hours with transit time. We're hoping a United codeshare with Avianca Airlines might happen as it allows some better options for onward connections and pet travel.

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3. How long have you lived here?

2 years.

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

U.S. Government.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Housing is primarily detached houses with yards; most are quite nice and perhaps architecturally unique. Houses can range from Alpine cottage type detail to concrete modern boxes. Most tend to have 3 or 4 floors with somewhat unusual layouts and sometimes trees and plants growing in indoor flowerbeds. There are a few apartments and townhouses which are also quite nice. Embassy personnel live in the Zona Sur, in the neighborhoods of San Miguel, Calacoto, Los Pinos, Aquisamana Bajo and Achumani. These neighborhoods also host many of the nicer restaurants and shopping options. Commutes to the Embassy are usually about 20-30 minutes at peak traffic hours.

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

There are a lot of acceptable local or regional products available at reasonable cost. Produce in the markets is cheap and varied. Imported American and European products are available in the larger grocery stores like Ketal and Hypermaxi and in the Achumani Market but are often double U.S. prices. Availability is inconsistent so buy lots when you see it. Paper products, laundry detergents and cosmetics are expensive and generally of lower quality. Cleaning products are cheap but so-so and tend to be highly scented and colored. There are not too many international food products here like Indian or Mexican food, although strangely there are dozens of types of soy sauce available. Italian products are here but a bit more expensive. La Paz is a consumables post so bring any foodie/gourmet items you would miss and if you have kids that will only eat certain brands of peanut butter or cereal stock up and ship, you'll save a bundle.

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

More specialty baking supplies, gardening supplies, toys to give as gifts (toys are REALLY expensive here). A good gas BBQ would have been great-getting a regular BBQ here to heat up sufficiently takes a lot of work-things don't burn well with less oxygen in the atmosphere.

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

Not many American fast food outlets, just Burger King and Subway. There are a growing number of international restaurants that are pretty decent, usually under US$20 per person for a nice meal. There is a growing interest in gastro-tourism. Famous European restauranteur Claus Meyer recently opened Gustu which offers organic local Bolivian ingredients prepared in a modern international style. Most higher-end restaurants are European or American in style but you can also find Korean, Vietnamese, Japanese food although the quality may not be so great. Brazilian and Argentinian style BBQ is very popular.

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5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

A few ants and flies from time to time and the occasional mosquito. Nothing major.

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Daily Life:

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

DPO and pouch.

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

Good domestic help is available and reasonable, usually less than US$250 a month for full-time help for a housekeeper/cook plus health insurance about US$50 every 2 months. There is an extra month salary bonus required at Christmas. Gardeners are about US$20 a day. English is not widely spoken though.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

There are a number of social/sports clubs in La Paz of various types. Many embassy staff use the Los Sargentos Club which has gyms, a pool, tennis, horseback-riding etc. The nicest club with the best pool is the Tennis Club but it's expensive and doesn't waive initiation fees for diplomats-it does have a very nice facility in the countryside that you can use as a member. You can swim in the Olympic swimming pool that was reopened after being closed for decades-it's a copy of the one in Munich. There are weekly yoga classes at the Embassy during lunch hour and the Marines sometimes offer boot camps.

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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?

You can use local ATMs here but it may take a few tries to find one that works with your U.S. bank. Withdrawal limits are pretty low (US$50-75) as are credit card purchase limits imposed by local banks so you may have trouble with larger purchases. Sometimes this can be solved by charging a lesser amount several times. It's still primarily a cash economy. If you use your ATM and credit card, monitor your account closely for fraud, it happens. Most embassy staff cash personal checks at the Bisa bank in the Embassy or use the ATM in the lobby.

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

There are a few English language services in town.

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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?

Your life will be much more enjoyable here if you speak Spanish. English is not widely spoken. There are a lot of Spanish language schools in Bolivia and private tutors are inexpensive.

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

This city, located in a deep mountain valley, is difficult for most able-bodied persons to navigate. Most office buildings and houses are multi-story and many are without elevators. Many roads are cobblestone; when sidewalks exist, they are often filled with obstacles like vendors, construction materials and dogs. Accessibility is not typically considered, even in new construction, and places that could have been made accessible are often filled with unnecessary and inexplicable minor level changes.

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Transportation:

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

Local buses and trains are generally not recommended due to safety and security concerns.There are regular reports of catastrophic traffic accidents, especially with buses where 10 or more people die and dozens are injured. Taking shared taxis or "trufis" is dangerous as you just don't know who might get into the car with you. Radio taxis are safer and affordable but still rarely have luxuries like seat belts or airbags. It costs US$2-3 dollars to take a taxi from residential areas to the Embassy and about US$15 to the airport.

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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?

In La Paz a sedan or smaller SUV/crossover vehicle is fine. Parking spaces tend to be narrow and small both out in town and at residences, so monster SUVs may be more trouble than they are worth. Most popular makes here are Toyota, Nissan, Jeep and Suzuki. You can also find an astounding number of old Volkswagen bugs! The government only allows diplomats to bring cars younger than 3 years old and limits the value of the car based on diplomatic rank. Cars do retain their value so you can sell your newer car for near what you paid for it when you leave post. Many have their cars "hardened" here which involves inserting structure around side mirrors, the hood and the electronic brain of the car to deter theft. It's probably not a bad idea to do but some members of the Mission have suffered repeated thefts despite hardening. It's also advisable to be very careful where you park and check in advance if there is secure parking at your destination.

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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?

ADSL is available here but it is the slowest and most expensive in all of South America. Acceptable download speed for streaming vidoe is available for about US$100 per month but there are frequent slow downs and outages. 4G has just become available.

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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?

Blackberries are usually provided to all Embassy officers, pay as you go cell phones and service are reasonable to purchase for family members. The Embassy uses Entel, more popular are TIGO and VIVA. You can get sim cards and service for any unlocked phone.

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Pets:

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. Getting pets in and out of Bolivia can be a hassle. American Airlines is vague and generally unhelpful about pet shipping both into and out of La Paz - be sure to read the welcome cable for the latest information. Low temperatures in La Paz for the early morning arrival and high temperatures in Miami during transit can make travel arrangements challenging in the U.S. summer months particularly. Good vets are available and will come to your house for very reasonable rates, some even speak English. Grooming service is also available. Most people have their household help assist with pet care. There is a dog walker/trainer that has worked for a number of embassy families. Better quality dog food and cat food is not generally available-you can order through the DPO. There is some clumping cat litter available but if you are picky about this bring it in the consumables shipment.

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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?

Job opportunities are very limited for expats.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

There are many opportunities here. The embassy community has volunteered frequently at local orphanages, children's and cancer hospitals, shelters for victims of trafficking, under-resourced schools and wild and domestic animal shelters.

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

Business casual in the Embassy, casual in public.

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Health & Safety:

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

This is probably one of the safer countries in the region from a crime perspective. There are the normal urban crime concerns, pickpockets in crowded or touristy areas and sometimes express kidnappings where, typically, taxi drivers take you to an ATM and force you to withdraw cash. Usually crime in Bolivia does not rise to the level of violence and gang activity that really limits the ability of expats to travel freely in other Latin American countries. However, Bolivians have a strong tradition of strikes and public demonstrations that can really affect life in this city. Sometimes they are aimed at the U.S. but even when they are not, transportation and business in the city regularly comes to a complete halt as one group or another blocks the major roads and squares, or takes them over with marches and protests. More alarming is the seemingly easy access to dynamite which is used often in protests.

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

The very high altitude can cause some problems and exacerbate existing health conditions. Most folks need a few months to really adjust to the lack of oxygen which can cause fatigue, headaches and shortness of breath. Some people find it interferes with sleep and digestion for most of their tour, others adapt fairly well. It's almost impossible to know in advance and adjustment is not necessarily based on your age, general health or fitness level. Food and water-borne illness is pretty common as are upper respiratory infections. It seems to take longer to recover from just about anything, even a strenuous workout. There is a good health unit led by a FS Nurse Practitioner and supported with a locally contracted U.S. doctor that visits a few days a week. There are some decent quality local doctors for routine care but any really serious conditions require medevac to Miami. Pregnancy is not advised here due to very high risk at altitude-this will usually warrant curtailment. Dental care is good and reasonably priced.

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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?

The air quality is generally quite good with the exception of exhaust fumes in traffic.

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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?

It's usually quite temperate and very dry. Temperatures are usually no lower than 40s (F), no higher than 70s (F). The rainy season is the exception when it can get quite dreary and cold, usually between December and March. Otherwise clear blue skies are the norm. The sun can be intense but when you get into the shade or the sun goes down, the temperature drops 20 degrees. It snows occasionally in the winter but doesn't stay on the ground long.

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Schools & Children:

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

There are two or three options but most Embassy families attend ACS. Some others attend Highlands. It seems like most parents are satisfied but there does seem to be a lack of extracurricular or academic enrichment activities.

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

Not much-do some research before you come if this is important for you.

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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?

Lots available, reasonable costs.

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4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

Probably through the schools.

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Expat Life:

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

The expat community is fairly small and shrinking. Many missions and international NGOs are closing or moving their operations to neighboring countries due to less than welcoming posture by the government of Bolivia and its tendency to expel or expropriate international aid and business concerns. Morale in the Embassy has suffered terribly in the wake of the expulsion of USAID and the closure of the remainder of our anti-narcotics operations in 2013. Literally hundreds of employees lost their jobs. With these recent blows and the continuing lack of an Ambassador since 2008, Embassy leadership has really struggled to set a new course.

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

Many people entertain at home but there are a fair amount of cultural things going on if you get into it. There are two decent movie theaters with first-run films in English with Spanish subtitles. Cinemateca is a good art house film theater that shows first run U.S., European and South American films and also hosts the national film archive. There is a bowling lane and a strange plastic ice-skating rink at the MegaCenter mall and a paint ball place. During the summer, there are music and dance performances and vendors every weekend on the Prado downtown which is closed to car traffic. There are regular art gallery openings to attend. There are a lot of classical music performances and visiting performers from around South America if you watch for them. Big American acts don't often come here as there are few appropriate venues for big concerts.

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

It's probably a better post for families but couples and singles will do okay if they like to entertain at home or can make their own fun. Single men will do okay in the dating scene but the situation is definitely more challenging for single women.

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

It's okay, not a huge open community or social scene.

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

For expats there are not too many difficulties. This is a macho culture and there is prejudice against women and girls in many contexts. There is a long colonial history of oppression of those perceived as indigenous by those perceived as European. Arguably the majority of Bolivians have some indigenous heritage. There are signs everywhere that say all are equal under the law so it is obvious that a reminder is still necessary. The colonial legacy is still very alive here even with an indigenous president in office. There is not a huge diversity of religion, the majority are Catholic or Christian and there is little familiarity with other religions amongst the general population. There are very small populations of Jews, Muslims, Baha'i and some Korean and Japanese Buddhists. There are also colonies of conservative Mennonites that keep socially and culturally isolated, still speaking their original low German dialect.

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6. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

Getting to know some of the local traditions like Carnaval, Alasitas, and traditional health practitioners like the Kallawayas. Travel to different cities that have completely different characters and climates. Seeing the amazing diversity of wildlife and plant life here.

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

Hiking and horseback riding to the "Muela del Diablo," visiting plant nurseries and walking around the moonscapes in Mallasa with lunch at San Aquilina pizza place, having drinks with an excellent view of Mt Illimani at Allkamari in Valle de las Animas, visiting the wild animal shelter Senda Verde in Coroico, walking tour in old La Paz and the markets of El Alto with Banjo Tours. Visit to World Heritage site Tiwanaku, Lake Titcaca and the Eco-lodge and natural hotsprings near Mount Sajama, rock climbing and, of course, mountain biking down the "death road" from the Yungas. There is a Hash group and its called the "Highest Hash," of course.

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

Beautiful llama, alpaca and vicuna wool products, leather bags, textiles, ceramics, silver jewelry with local Bolivianita stones (amethyst/citrine combo), artisanal chocolate, coca tea.

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9. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

La Paz is a pretty nice post for a 25% differential. There are many interesting places to visit in Bolivia like the Amazon (Beni), Tarija wine country, colonial Sucre, the Salar de Uyuni and the altiplano, the rainforest and pampas of Rurrenabaque, carnaval in Oruro. If you are really intrepid you can try the national parks in Pando. Although not always cheap, you can easily travel to Peru, Argentina, Chile and Brazil. Bolivians are generally warm and gracious people.

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10. Can you save money?

Yes.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?

The really incredible geographic and biological diversity here. There are a lot of interesting places and people packed into this small country. Some of the sites here rival Peru, Chile and Brazil-the Amazon and Andes particularly, perhaps less tourist friendly but also not overrun or spoiled either.

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

Yes.

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

Bikini, fear of heights (everything is high at 12,000 ft!).

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4. But don't forget your:

Sunscreen, hat, camping gear, humidifier.

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

"Once Upon a Time in Bolivia,"

"Yvy Maraey-Land Without Evil,"
Che (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray],

Blackthorn,

Cocalero,
American Visa,


"Who Killed the White Llama? / ¿Quién mató a la llamita blanca?",

Even the Rain

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

Whispering in the Giant's Ear: A Frontline Chronicle from Bolivia's War on Globalization, I Am a Taxi (The Cocalero Novels), and anything about Che Guevara.

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7. Do you have any other comments?

La Paz is overall a very nice post-the difficult bilateral relationship is a downer at work as is the constant negative rhetoric in the news and from government officials. However, regular Bolivians are typically very welcoming and interested in Americans and foreigners in general. It pays to get out and make friends with as many Bolivians as possible-your experience here will be much enriched.

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La Paz, Bolivia 07/22/13

Background:

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

Yes.

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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?

From Miami it takes 6-7 hours. Longer to get back to Miami -- and it's usually a day flight.

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3. How long have you lived here?

2 years.

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

Embassy spouse.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Most live in nice, large houses with high walls. A lot of people live in Achumani.

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

Incredibly cheap! Quality produce at the markets. It is very easy to eat healthy. American goods are more expensive and hard to find.

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

Dog food, toilet paper....I ordered food from Amazon often, which was wonderful. We didn't do a consumables shipment and were able to find most things.

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

Burger King and Subway....I found myself missing McDonald's, even though I've never been one to eat there often...there are a few good places to eat.

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5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

Occasionally ants, but the lack of insects is pretty awesome!

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Daily Life:

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

Pouch, DPO.

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

Very affordable. Ours became a part of our family. She took care of the dogs, ran our errands, paid our bills, cooked and cleaned everything. We paid a bit more, but usually only about $250-$350 a month.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

There are two in the embassy community. A lot of people have memberships at area gyms and seem content.

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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?

Never had any problems. I usually use cash and use the same ATMs.

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

There is a community church where they speak English.

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

Multivision has English/Spanish channels, Direct TV comes from Puerto Rico, the newspapers are in Spanish.

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

I picked up a lot over the 2 years -- very little English is spoken.

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

The roads/sidewalks are very bumpy and hard to navigate. There aren't any accommodations made for people with physical disabilities.

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Transportation:

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

The embassy recommends to only use Radio Taxis...they are very affordable (about $1 in Zona Sur, $2 to the embassy).

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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?

Definitely an SUV. If you bring your own, it needs to be less than 3 years old. You can get it hardened to help deter thieves and you can sell it for about what you bought it for. A lot of people have Jeeps or Nissans and haven't had any problems with parts.

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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?

Very slow and expensive in comparison to everything else here.

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Pets:

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.

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

Vets come to your house and are aware of American standards.

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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?

At the embassy it's professional; in public it's casual.

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Health & Safety:

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

I have felt safe most of the time. There are reports of occasional express kidnappings -- without any violence -- and cars are targets.

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

It is very common to lose 15-30 pounds in your first 6 months due to the altitude and the questionable food. High blood pressure is common. When you do get sick with a cold or flu, it will last 3 times longer. The words "Bolivian Belly" are used on a daily basis.

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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.

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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?

The rainy season can get old, but the rest of the year is pretty nice. It is normal to experience all 4 seasons in one day. Layers are the key -- and don't expect summer weather. Fall and Spring are beautiful with cool nights and sunny, warm days.

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Schools & Children:

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

ACS has been improving over the years. The administration is currently very strong and there will be more American teachers in this coming year. I don't really have experience with the other schools, but there are a few.

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

ACS has an Elementary Special Education teacher. In middle school they make accommodations for students with special needs - and there is an English Language Support class in Elementary and Secondary.

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3. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

ACS has a sports program for Secondary and an after-school program for Elementary, but they are not up to American standards and competition lacks.

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Expat Life:

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

Shrinking.

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2. Morale among expats:

Seems to have changed over the year. During our first year, morale was high and the community was close.

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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?

A lot of socializing at homes, a few really good restaurants, some clubs uptown that people enjoy. There are more high-end restaurants and bars opening.

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

As a young couple without children, we found our fun within the embassy community. During our first year it was more of a dog community, but more families have moved in now. There isn't a lot to do for children and the playground equipment at the parks isn't ideal.

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

Not a large community.

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

Not that I've noticed.

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7. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

Trips to Chile and Peru.

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

Hiking, rock-climbing, sight-seeing. The Death Road, the Yungas...you can get in your car and take scenic, adventurous trips easily. But there aren't maps or GPS, so you have to find your way and be adventurous -- and prepared!

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

Alpaca, Bolivianitas.

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10. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

Beautiful scenery, lots of culture, easy to save money, the climate is "fall year-round".

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11. Can you save money?

Yes, but travel is expensive from La Paz.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Absolutely!

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

summer clothes and swimsuits, unless traveling.

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3. But don't forget your:

sunscreen, adventurous attitude and layers!

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La Paz, Bolivia 06/22/13

Background:

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

Germany.

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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?

Flight from Miami to La Paz is 6 hours.

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3. How long have you lived here?

6 months...18 months left.

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

Military - U.S. Embassy.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Housing is amazing here. There are some apartments for singles and couples with no kids. Standalone housing is the norm, and all are walled and protected. Most have great BBQ areas, yards, and space.

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

Groceries are very cheap. Most fruits and veggies are bought in the mercados rather than in the grocery stores. You will find them to be very cheap. American products can sometimes be found here, but they are very expensive. Utilize your consumables shipment.

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

Toilet Paper, paper towels, canned soups, cereals, peanut butter, dish soap, laundry soap....basically, any American item that you really like. You will not find it here -- or if you do, you will pay much more for it.

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

There is one Burger King. Everything else is a national or local company. Eating out here can very often cause sickness. You must be very careful. La Paz is not a town to come to if you are hoping for great food experiences.

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5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

Some people have problems with ants, but we have not seen one since we got here. No other insect problems.

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Daily Life:

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

DPO and pouch.

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

It is easy to get great help. And cheap. Most people have full-time or live-in help for less than $350/month.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

The U.S. Embassy has a small gym with all you need.

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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?

Be careful. Our credit card info was stolen from an ATM machine within 30 days of our arrival in country. We use cash for everything now. You are able to withdraw USD from the embassy cashier, and then you can exchange it on the economy for a better rate.

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

Not many. There is one english-speaking protestant church. Many catholic churches, though, but I'm not sure if any are in english.

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

No newspapers in english. TV channels are in both. You can get cable or Direct TV from Puerto Rico.

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

You must know it to some extent. Very few people speak english here.

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

Many. The city is very high and you are going uphill all the time. Cobblestones and dirt roads are common. Sidewalks are frequently broken and uneasy to walk on.

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Transportation:

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

There are no trains, buses are iffy, and you must use radio taxis. Taxis are very cheap and easy to get.

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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?

If you bring your own, an SUV is needed. You are able to buy one here from people who are leaving. Your car will not depreciate much here.

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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?

Internet, yes....but not what we consider high speed. Not too expensive, but you will pay more for the faster speeds.

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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?

It is easy to get one when you arrive.

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Pets:

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.

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

There is a good vet that will come to your house.

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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?

Casual.

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Health & Safety:

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

Car-part thefts are very common. There are pickpockets in crowded areas.

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

The high altitude causes most people to be sick for a while after arriving. High blood pressure is an issue for some people who have never had the problem before living here, and it is due to the altitude. When you get a cold, it takes 3 times as long to recover from it. The embassy health unit does a great job, but as far as healthcare away from the embassy is concerned, you will probably have to go to Miami for anything serious.

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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. The high altitude makes it very hard to breathe. Even after being here for months, you will be out of breath going uphill, upstairs, etc.

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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?

Cold all the time. Winter (May-Sept) is VERY dry but very cold in the morning and evening. The sun shines brightly all day long during this time, which helps to warm it up a bit. Summer is very wet and cloudy. Mudslides are very common, as are washed-out roads, bridges, etc.

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Schools & Children:

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

Take your time when choosing. You do have options here. There is a German school, two International Schools (ACS and The Highlands- Christian School) and Montessori Schools. Lots of parents complain about ACS, but they send their kids there because it seems to be the easier thing to do. Most of the complaints involve the Middle School-High School. Just take your time and really visit the schools before enrolling.

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

Not many, if any.

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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?

Many throughout the town - and they are cheap.

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4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

Not many. The schools have some, but they are not competitive. As kids get older, this can be an issue -- as they seem to grow much more when in competitive sports. Even most local sports teams do not compete against each other.

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Expat Life:

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

There are some miners here, but it is not really a large expat community. And it does not seem to be a close-knit community.

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2. Morale among expats:

So - so.

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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?

There is nothing to do here. Most entertaining will be done in your home. There is a movie theater. Kid's movies are ONLY shown in spanish. Others are in english, dubbed in spanish.

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

If you want to save money, yes. If you want things to do, no. There is really nothing to do here, so you have to make your own fun. There is not much for kids at all.

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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?

No.

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7. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

Traveling to neighboring countries..although it is very expensive

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

uhhh....still working on that one.

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

Alpaca.

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10. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

Saving tons of money, everything except imported items is cheap. But travel is very expensive from La Paz.

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11. Can you save money?

YES.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

No.

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

expectations of a fun-filled, exciting, adventure.

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3. But don't forget your:

board games and creativity.

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La Paz, Bolivia 07/20/12

Background:

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

Fifth expat experience.

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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?

Washington DC, 3 hours to Miami, 7 hours overnight flight to La Paz.

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3. How long have you lived here?

One year.

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

US Embassy

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Great and spacious, about 20-40 minutes commute.

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

Imported products are expensive. Local products are inexpensive. It is a consumables post; take advantage of the 2500 pounds.

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

We went shopping for everything we wanted as part of our consumables allowance. Buy anything you need from paper products, medicines, food etc.

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

Burger King, some chicken places, and plenty of good beef and Trucha fish from the lake.

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5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

Ants.

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Daily Life:

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

DPO.

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

Inexpensive.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

The embassy has a small gym and there are a few others throughout the city.

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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?

The embassy offers cashier service and ATM; there are also plenty through the city. Like always, be vigilant.

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

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

Direct TV from Puerto Rico.

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

You should have some Spanish. Especially if you leave the main part of La Paz.

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

Plenty. This is an old city with stones everywhere.

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Transportation:

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

Taxis are inexpensive. These are old cars without seat belts.

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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?

4X4. There are price restrictions depending on title. Check before you buy with GSO. You will be able to sell your car easily before departure.

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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?

Yes, not too fast, but enough to stream.

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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?

The embassy provides Blackberries to all employees, ENTEL for spouses.

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Pets:

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?

I don't think so, there are hundreds of dogs in the streets.

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

People are always taking dogs from the streets.

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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?

It is cold, so jackets and sweaters.

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Health & Safety:

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

Not really. Just stay away of the local demonstrations towards the local government.

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

Medical is BAD, for everything you go to Miami. High altitude so high blood pressure is an issue.

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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.

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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?

Usually on the colder side. No snow but always cold in the shade.

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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?

Plenty and inexpensive. US$350 a month for two kids, 9 AM - 1 PM.

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4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

At the ACS school.

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Expat Life:

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

Medium.

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2. Morale among expats:

Not bad, but everyone gets sick due to the altitude and health issues related to that. It is a 25% post because of the altitude.

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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?

At your house, few restaurants, great movie theater.

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

Not much to do really. You make your own entertainment.

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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?

None affecting visitors.

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7. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

Machu Picchu, ATV through the high mountains, great Argentina beef, relax city, Chile trips.

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

ATV rides, trips to Chile and Peru. Flights to Argentina (expensive).

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

Alpaca clothing.

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10. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

Inexpensive, hiking opportunities at high altitudes, good housing, low crime.

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11. Can you save money?

YES

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Words of Wisdom:

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

No, because of health issues and the lack of entertainment for small children.

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

summer gear.

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3. But don't forget your:

Sun screen. The high altitude sun is a killer. Cold weather gear.

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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. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

See the embassy website for the post movie. Post Management went to a great length to make sure only the good was shown and nothing realistic about what you will see on the streets.

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6. Do you have any other comments?

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La Paz, Bolivia 02/09/12

Background:

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

No, fifth tour overseas.

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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?

Florida, 8 hours.

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3. How long have you lived here?

8 months.

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

Goverment.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Large houses, usually very nice. Commute about 20 minutes if you leave before 7:30 AM.

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

Inexpensive; you can buy anything here.

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

Detergent, canned items that you like, warm clothing, heaters for the house, transformers for electrical items.

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

Few beferias with Argentinean food, Brazilian, wine restaurants. You have to be extremely careful where you eat in La Paz. Also do not drink the water.

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5. What kinds of organic, vegetarian and allergy-friendly foods are available, such as organic produce, gluten-free products, meat substitutes for vegetarians, etc?

Not sure.

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6. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

Ants.

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Daily Life:

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

DPO.

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

Maids about US$200 a month full-time.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

Few. The Embassy has a small gym and the Marine residence.

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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?

I cash money at the Embassy, but machines are available around the city.

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

Not sure.

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

Direct TV Puerto Rico about US$60 a month.

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

Some will help.

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

Not made for disabilities.

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Transportation:

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

Taxis and inexpensive. Housing area to the Embassu about US$3 for a 15-20 minute drive.

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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?

Large SUV to enjoy the mountains.

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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?

Reliable and reasonable speed, nothing like the US or Europe.

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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?

Local company ENTEL or Embassy will provide a phone to employees.

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Pets:

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?

View All Answers


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

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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?

Same as any other Embassy, relax for casual evenings. Since it is usually cold people have leather jackets, etc.

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Health & Safety:

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

Typical city, pickpockets.

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

Many, especially food related.

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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 to good

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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?

Usually low 70's in the summer, low 30's in the winter.

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Schools & Children:

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

Not sure.

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

Not sure.

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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?

Great and inexpensive, usually classes are in Spanish until the children are 3 year of age when they can go to the American School.

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4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

Not sure.

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Expat Life:

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

Small to Mid size.

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2. Morale among expats:

Good.

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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?

At your home or few local restaurants.

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

I will say couples, not much to do for for kids.

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

Not sure.

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

Probably internal to the country, the government hates Americans but you can't feel the same sentiment from the locals.

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7. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

ATV rides at 17,000 feet high. Trps to Lake Titicaca, Oroico, Cochabamba and Santa Cruz

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

Travel to the mountains.

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

Leather and custom made clothing, traveling to Peru and Argentina.

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10. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

Mountains, saving money, meat from Argentina.

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11. Can you save money?

YES.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Not sure, the altitude was hard on me.

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

Warm.

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3. But don't forget your:

Jackets and sweaters.

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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. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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6. Do you have any other comments?

If you have heart issues do not come; This is a high-altitude post at 12500 feet.

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La Paz, Bolivia 08/07/11

Background:

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

No

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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?

Washington DC. 7-8 hours to/from Miami.

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3. How long have you lived here?

2 years

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

Government

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Mostly single family homes (multi-level) and apartments. Top floor is better for noise control because there is no sound insulation.

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

Non-imported grocery items and staples are cheap. Expect to pay several times more for imported goods from the U.S. and Europe.

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

Toilet paper, liquid detergent and fabric softeners, brown sugar, chocolate chips, spices and sauce mixes.

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

Burger King is the only US chain.

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5. What kinds of organic, vegetarian and allergy-friendly foods are available, such as organic produce, gluten-free products, meat substitutes for vegetarians, etc?

Very little availability. Some larger newer groceries have a small selection and there are one or small specialty stores.

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6. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

Very few in La Paz. Any insect you could imagine in the Amazon.

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Daily Life:

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

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

Best domestic help so far.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

Yes, there are a few modern gyms, country clubs, and yoga and martial arts.

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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?

Avoid using them or carrying them around due to the growing rate of express kidnapping.

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

Yes

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

Digital cable and Direct TV, children's and some educational programming is only in Spanish.

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

You must speak Spanish.

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

Very hilly with cobblestone roads and evenly paved sidewalks (when there are sidewalks).

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Transportation:

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

Radio taxis only due to safety and security. But they are very reasonable.

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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 ground clearance for the potholes and flooding, enough engine power to make it up the hills. Not too tall or wide because roads are narrow and garages are tight +both commercial and residential).

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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?

Expensive but available, speeds not true.

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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?

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Pets:

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

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

Poor, as is the availability of good pet food.

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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?

Perhaps for significantly less money.

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

Varied, layers are a must in La Paz.

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Health & Safety:

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

La Paz is medium for crime, mostly pick pocketing , snatch and grab. But a high rate of vehicle break in and theft of parts. Santa Cruz has a high rate of crime.

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

Altitude is a huge problem, La Paz is not recommended if you have asthma, high blood pressure or during pregnancy. Food and water borne illnesses are very common. The altitude can also effect normal digestion.

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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?

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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?

Very dry and moderate to cold temperature in La Paz. With a rainy season that results in flooding and mud slides. Winter days are sunny and almost cloudless. You can be burned very quickly in the sun and the temperature can vary 10 or more degrees between the sun and shade

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Schools & Children:

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

View All Answers


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

View All Answers


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?

View All Answers


4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

View All Answers


Expat Life:

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

Getting smaller all the time.

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2. Morale among expats:

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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?

Movie theaters, bowling alleys, and lots of restaurants are available. Single family homes have built in gills so BBQs are popular.

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

A good city for families because the cost of living is cheap and houses are quite large. There are also a variety of bars, restaurants, and nightclubs for single, but Spanish will be helpful.

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

Don't know. Probably not.

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

No

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7. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

Traveling from the top of the Andes down through the clouds to the rainforest in only a few hours.

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

Great for outdoor activities like hiking and biking. The valley of the moon is close by and a very unique hike.

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

Textiles

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10. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

The cost of living is low, so that provides greater opportunity to travel and explore Bolivia. You can enjoy nice meals and great South American wines for a fraction of what it would cost in the U.S.

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11. Can you save money?

Yes

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Yes

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

Pets with special needs or that are older. Plasma tv and U.S. electronic clocks.

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3. But don't forget your:

Sunblock, a good hat and polarized sunglasses. A warm comforter. Your favorite moisturizers and lip balm. Your Kindle because you won't find English reading materials.

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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. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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6. Do you have any other comments?

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La Paz, Bolivia 05/27/11

Background:

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

Heidelberg Germany, Augsberg Germany, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Bogota, Colombia

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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?

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3. How long have you lived here?

1 year

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

Diplomatic (1st State) Assignment

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Housing consists of houses and apartments. Last report about some kind of unique feature with each place is spot on. I would add that there are positives and benefits for everyplace. You might be close to the 'action' but you put up with the noise. You might live in a big beautiful house but far away from everything and it sometimes hard to get a taxi. Most people love their housing here but there are a few people who can never seem to be satisfied.

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

Cheap and available. You have to pay health insurance and comply with Bolivian law. Its not too bad. The quality of help varies - interview well and have potential domestic employees checked out by the RSO.

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

I was thinking of a Westin Heavenly Bed – the bed GSO provide is rock solid hard and killing my back.

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

Burger King. McDonald's left years ago, but Arica, Chile is 7 hours away by car - its a beauiful drive and there is a McDonald's there! There are also a few good restaurants here but not too many. Still - you have a few options - so its not totally bad.

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5. What kinds of organic, vegetarian and allergy-friendly foods are available, such as organic produce, gluten-free products, meat substitutes for vegetarians, etc?

Organic? Don't know. Just make sure that your domestic helper washes your fruits and vegetables properly. The embassy has classes every so often to teach housekeepers how to disinfect food. Ask the health unit when you arrive for the next date.

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6. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

Ants – no others – but lots of ants – all over the place.

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Daily Life:

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

Mostly DPO and personal pouch. Shipping is a little high.

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

My domestic employee also helps with the kids. She also babysits for us when the wife and I go out.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

Yes - Marine house, motorpool, and ACS (if you have a child attending).There are a few others that are a bit pricy - but the first three free options should have you covered.

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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?

More places are accepting credit cards and ATMS work in many places. Use caution. The embassy has an ATM machine for employees and family members. My family and I use either the embassy ATM or ATM at the Mall (inside).

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

Yes - there are but I don't go. I like sleep on Sundays.

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

No - not really, but the internet works, we have cable at the embassy, and have directv at home with a few English channels.

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

You need to be good in Spanish. It will not be an enjoyable tour without it.

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

Not impossible but the infrastructure mostly isn't set up for individuals with physical limitations. The high altitude exacerbates any problems with high blood pressure or heart problems. This is a serious consideration for this post. Even physically fit people are taken aback when they get here and their bodies have to adjust.

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Transportation:

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

Radio taxies are safe. These are taxies that have a placard attached to the top of the car. Don't use taxies with just stickers on the windows and/or doors. Avoid trufies. Try to call a taxi ahead instead of hailing one from the street. Most stores and restaurants will gladly call you your own cab if you ask them to. Buses between major cities are OK – just use common sense. No train service in La Paz – too mountainous.

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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. The government of Bolivia now has a rule that your car can't be older than three years old, but you should be able to sell it for what you paid for it when you are ready to leave if you want to.

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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?

750K connection is about 110 dollars a month. Cheaper if you prepay. Slow for the money you pay but you can get faster internet speeds if you want to trade your paycheck out. My 750k while slow - still meets are needs for a family of five. Wireless connection at no additional charge.http://www.axsbolivia.com/

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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?

The embassy provides most employees. Cheap prepaid options exist for family members.

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Pets:

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?

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

Don't know - I hear good.

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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?

Not really - good managment of EFM positions by management.

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

Business Mon-Thurs. Casual Friday.

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Health & Safety:

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

La Paz is generally safe, but there are instances of crime; especially crimes against property. You have to secure your vehicle or it will be stripped in five minutes (no exaggeration). There are reports of express kidnappings. There are many demonstrations that can turn violent or can choke off the city. But mostly, it's better than most places in the world – including many U.S. cities.

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

The altitude is the worst. Takes awhile to get used to and you never fully get used to it. But we manage. If you have respiratory or heart problems, think twice about coming here. Mostly, many people feel drained, have some sleep issues, get sick twice as much and colds takes about three times to recover. There is also a lot of tummy trouble here with I suspect is the water. My boss is always saying that the 25% differentialisn't free – we do earn every penny. It is such a nice break to go lower and when you return to sea level, you feel like superman and you sleep like a baby (makes trips to Arica Chile so much fun – beach, sea level, and McDonalds!).One benefit is that you can lose weight without diet and exercise here as your body has to work twice as hard just to breathe. Relax!The health unit will issue an oxygen tank when you first arrive and they have oxygen even at the airport if you feel quezzy after you get off the airplane (The Airport is actually at an elevation higher than the city of La Paz).

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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?

Very good - but thin at high altitude

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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?

Southern Hemisphere – Winter Jun – Aug; Summer Dec- Feb; Winter is cold but very dry. Summer can also be cool as it is the rainy season.

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Schools & Children:

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

Schools are really good. Excellent campus with lots of features including a swimming pool, gym, libraries, sports fields, etc. Lots of afterschool activities and great preschool program. Caring staff and administration.

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

School can handle many special needs. Check out the websitewww.acslp.org Really accessible staff - send the superintendant an email - school is awesome with communication.

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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?

Preschool at the ACS school is 240 dollars a month for PK3 (3 year olds) - a little more at PK4 (4 year olds) - but oh so worth it!I see my child getting the head start she needs. Worth every penny. Cheaper options elsewhere.

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4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

Plenty!

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Expat Life:

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

Small but they are here.

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2. Morale among expats:

Pretty Good.

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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?

Sometimes - not too much unless you want to.

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

Good for everyone but especially families.

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

No reported problems or issues.

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

Not really. Some folks don't like Americans, but most do!!

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7. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

Great school for my children, embassy housing, high morale at embassy.

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

Hiking, sightseeing, travel, cheap air travel to other nearby major cities and even cheaper bus travel, shopping, natural beauty

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

Arts and crafts, lessons on anything and everything, massages, dinners out, movies, shopping, and traveling

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10. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

Culture, saving money, 25% differental, good weather mostly, nearby countries.

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11. Can you save money?

Yes! You can save a lot of money!

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Words of Wisdom:

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

I will need about a decade break - but yeah- I wouldn't be opposed to doing another tour. If government relations improve - for sure. Bolivian people really like Americans even if there are major disagreements between our governments.

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

Snow shovels

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3. But don't forget your:

Cold weather clothes, warm weather clothes, humidifiers, blankets

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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. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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6. Do you have any other comments?

This is a nice post with good management. It's just the right size of mission – not too small and not too big. You will save money here and 25% differential is worth living in the highest capital city in the world for two years!

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La Paz, Bolivia 05/26/11

Background:

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

Montevideo, Buenos Aires and Bogota.

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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?

Houston, TX. 13 hours aprox. Connections in Miami and Santa Cruz, Bolivia.

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3. How long have you lived here?

2 years

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

I work for the Consular Section and my husband for the RSO office in the US Embassy.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Houses are big, spacious with big yards. People from the Embassy live in the same area called Zona Sur. The location is good, there is a new small mall andthree or four different grocery stores. Commute time to the Embassy 40 min.

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

Three or four different grocery stores and not expensive at all.

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

Detergent. Lots of it. Your favorite american snacks and if you have pets, pet food and medicines for fleas.

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

American fast food only Burger King.3 to 7 dollars combos. There are a few very good restaurants and prices are not too high. The most expensive plate would be 20 dollars.

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5. What kinds of organic, vegetarian and allergy-friendly foods are available, such as organic produce, gluten-free products, meat substitutes for vegetarians, etc?

No restaurants for vegetarians. The food is very basic and if you want fresh you can go to "plazas de mercado" little markets in the streets to buy fruits and vegetables.

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6. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

Aunts if you live in a house. This place is way too high for insects...

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Daily Life:

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

We have APO in the embassy. Local mail companies are not reliable.

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

120 dollars per month and they do everything.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

Yes. A few gyms in Zona Sur, not too expensive. 50 to 70 dollars per month.

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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?

The are ATMs throughout the city but the use of credit cards is limited. It is better to carry cash with you but not a lot.

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

Not too much.

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

Cable for 300 dollars for 6 months. Direct TV is more expensive but you need to have the correct equipment.

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

Basic Spanish but if you want to have bolivian friends you need to speak the language.

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

A lot. Roads and side walks are in very poor condition. People don't respect the traffic signs and it is very disorganize.

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Transportation:

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

We are not allowed to take public transportation. It is not safe.

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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?

A very strong car. Sedans suffer a lot here. Roads are a mess and the best option is a 4x4 SUB like a Jeep.

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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?

No high- speed Internet. The speed is low and it is probably the only service that is not cheap. 120 dollars per month and many times is down.

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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?

Bring your unlocked cell phone.

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Pets:

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. They only ask for the health certificate.

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

Vets are still learning, and there is no culture of "take care of your pet." there are thousands of stray dogs, and rabies is a major issue. The situation for dogs cats -- and in general all animals here -- will make your heart ache.

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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?

Not at all.

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

Sporty. People are very humble here.

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Health & Safety:

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

Once in a while there are protests that are not bigger than 300 people. Most of the time pacific. People tend to be a bit more violent in El Alto , a small town 45 minutes from La Paz. The only problem is when there are protests in El Alto there are roadblocks and the access to the airport is closed. To fly from La Paz you have to go to that airport.

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

A lot of health concerns. You have to rinse the fruits and vegetables with clorox for 30 min to eliminate all the bacteria or viruses. Stomach problems are incredibly common and due to the altitude,it is very difficult to breath. This place is dangerous for people with high blood pressure or heart problems. Medical care is not the best. Poor.

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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?

Very good. No contamination and no traffic jams. The air is clean and the sky is ALWAYS blue. The only problem is the river because it is extremely dirty and smells pretty bad. People throw trash and any kind of waste to the river.

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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?

Weather is very nice. During summer is rainy season and the temperature is not hotter that 60 degrees F. Winter is very dry, very few showers never thunderstorms but it is colder, 25 to 30 degrees F.

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Schools & Children:

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

I don't have kids but I heard very good comments about the high standard of the American school. the German and the French school are also good options.

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

The American school has United States standards so they try to have at least the basic accommodations for special-needs kids. Parents with kids have had excellent results.

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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?

Again, I heard that all the parents are very happy with schools and daycare. It is not easy to find a reliable nanny though.

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4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

In the school, yes.

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Expat Life:

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

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2. Morale among expats:

Good. It is cheap and you can save money.

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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?

A few restaurants, night life is good, bolivians are very friendly.

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

It is good for families and couples. It is a bit boring for singles because it is not a big city.

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

Gay or lesbians are not well accepted inside of the Bolivian culture but they are very humble and kind so they won't bother. I haven't heard any negative experience about it.

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

This is a very "machista" society but they don't have major issues or prejudices.

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7. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

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

Traveling throughout the country. Beautiful landscapes and sceneries. Lake Titicaca is completely out of breath. Yungas is in the middle of the jungle and the rivers are beautiful.

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

Alpaca coats and sweaters.

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10. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

This country is extremely cheap. If you don't travel too much out of the country (flights are expensive) you can save good money. Weather is nice. It is always sunny and not too cold or hot. There are a lot of places to visit and hotels are cheap too. I don't have kids but I heard from my friends that they are very happy with the American school.

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11. Can you save money?

Yes.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

No. Poverty is right in front of you and people here don't want any kind of help. They like their lifestyle and don't want any kind of improvement.

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

High heels and fancy or elegant car.

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3. But don't forget your:

Sunscreen!

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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. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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6. Do you have any other comments?

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La Paz, Bolivia 03/14/11

Background:

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

No, we lived in Buenos Aires Argentina for a year

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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?

North Carolina, with a travel time of about 12 hours, connecting in Miami Florida

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3. How long have you lived here?

7 months

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

Government/military

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Houses for the expat community are generally nice. Most have a small yard, and most of the houses are older but are very pretty. Commute time varies, from 15 to 45 minutes to work, depending on the traffic.

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

There are good grocery stores here, but costs vary, depending what you need. Cleaning supplies are low to medium priced, but most just don't seem strong enough. Groceries are low to high priced. Many items are imported from surrounding places suchas Chile and Argentina, so they cost more. Fresh fruits and vegetables are cheap, and there are weekly local markets open in the neighborhoods to find just about anything you need.

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

Food items that can't be found here, shoestrings (yes shoestrings), some school supplies, household items such as towels, bathroom rugs, shower curtains, etc. Those are sold here, but very expensive. No Wal-Marts here!

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

The only American fast food is Burger King, and one Subway at the airport!But there are many good restaurants here of almost every nationality! Cost range from $3 to $25 per person depending on what you want to eat.

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5. What kinds of organic, vegetarian and allergy-friendly foods are available, such as organic produce, gluten-free products, meat substitutes for vegetarians, etc?

I'm not sure about gluten-free products and meat substitutes here. Most everything is bought fresh, including meat, poultry and fruits and vegetables.

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6. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

Not many. The biggest complaint is the ants!They are in many people's houses, and nothing seems to work keeping them out for very long.

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Daily Life:

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

Through the DPO at the U.S. Embassy

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

The embassy has a good program of finding domestic help. Cost is affordable, and most families seem to be happy with their employees.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

Yes, the German club, Los Sargentos, and then some other newer local gym clubs that have opened recently.

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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?

I don't use credit cards or carry them in my wallet, just to be safe. ATM cards are generally okay, they can be used at the grocery stores. ATM machines are available, but most people only use the ones where bank guards are standing nearby. Cash is still necessary in most places!

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

Yes, there are a few English-language churches in the area. There are mostly Catholic churches, but many other denominations here also.

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

There are no English-language newspapers here. They have local cable here, with many English-language channels. Cost is affordable but combined with the internet services here, the prices are medium to high. Many people here order Direct-TV.

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

Language is very important here. You can get by with the basics, but I feel that to really be able to get around in a taxi, go shopping etc. you should have a good understanding of the language.

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

Many difficulties, there is very little handicapped parking. Also, the sidewalks can be uneven or non-existent in some areas. I have not seen very many wheelchair ramps either.

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Transportation:

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

Local buses and taxis are very affordable, but are not very safe. You must know the language and be a very aware person at all times. Taxis are generally okay if you know the company and check the owner stickers in window, or call ahead to the referred companies.

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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?

SUVs are good, but smaller crossovers are even better because parking spaces are gold!Because of the rugged terrain outside the city, and even the rough roads in the city 4-wheel drives are a good choice if possible. Any type of car that requires special or expensive parts has difficulty getting repaired here.

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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?

There is high-speed internet access here. It is not as fast as in the U.S. but is sufficient for us. Cost is the same as the U.S. or more if you request faster internet service.

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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?

We have cell phones here, you can purchase a monthly plan, or just buy the minutes for your phone. Simple phones are better, i-phones tend to get stolen.

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Pets:

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

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

There seems to be quality pet care here, we have a very good veterinarian. Everyday items such as treats and toys are not very good quality and hard to find very many pet stores. It's better to bring your own treats and toys. There are however lots of stores with dog clothes!

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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?

I don't think there are many opportunities except for those looking for teaching jobs. If you have good Spanish speaking skills, you can even teach at the local colleges.

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

Depending on where you work at the embassy, casual dressy to suit and tie. In public, there are many types of dress, but it is better to dress casual but nice. People even dress nice to go to the yummy popular ice cream shop.

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Health & Safety:

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

Crime is not too common here. Of course like any big city there is stealing but normally non-violent. Usually cars are broken into, the most common occurrence. It is very wise to park somewhere where guards are nearby!

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

The biggest health concern here is the altitude. It can cause issues with breathing and restless sleepless nights. Also it is highly recommended not to drink the water here, only buy bottled or have a water distiller. Stomach problems abound here also, and avoid salads at the restaurants. The health unit at the Embassy is good, and there are a few hospitals recommended in the area. Dentists I am not sure about, I recommend that a person ask around to other families which dentist to use.

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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, I think we would just like more of it at this altitude!There is some pollution from the older cars, taxis and buses, mainly at the busy times of day.

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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?

The climate is almost perfect. Sunny days are wonderful, warm without being too uncomfortable. Rainy season can be bothersome, but still nice. The nights get cold, but normally around 50 F, sometimes in the 40's. The only complaint would be the dryness from living so high up!

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Schools & Children:

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

American Cooperative School is the international school here. There is a good mix of many nationalities as well as many Bolivian families that attend ACS. I have three children there, and they all seem to like it. It seems to be a good school, but they are having problems now keeping enrollment up, not as many families coming from outside Bolivia to join the school.

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

There seems to be some accomodations for special-needs kids, I have not looked closely at what ACS has to offer. I think there would be difficulties for handicapped children, as there are lots of stairs to many of the classrooms.

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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?

There are many preschool and daycares in La Paz. I have only had experience with ACS, which offers KG3 (3 year olds) and KG4 (4 year olds)classes as well as Elementary, Middle and High School.

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4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

I believe so, but am not sure. My children are involved in sports at their school, ACS.

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Expat Life:

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

Large

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2. Morale among expats:

Generally good!

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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?

There is plenty to do here, the embassy always has activities and functions.

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

I think La Paz is a good city for everyone.it is a big city but not too big. The people here are friendly and helpful, and overall hard working.

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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?

I have not experienced any prejudices here, though there is some distance between the government here and the United States, which can be uncomfortable at times for those of us living here.

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7. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

The major highlight so far in La Paz is seeing the beautiful mountains surrounding the city. I never get tired of viewing them at different times of the day and taking pictures!

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

Drive to Valle de la Luna, play golf at the highest golf course in the world, go see Lake Titicaca, take lots of pictures of the beautiful mountains, birds, and people.

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

Beautiful alpaca sweaters, wraps, leather goods, silver and pewter crafted items. Even pretty local paintings and other artwork.

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10. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

Advantages include saving money, cheaper prices on services such as sewing or repairing clothing, repairing furniture, hiring household help, etc.

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11. Can you save money?

Yes, if you don't go out to buy all the pretty things at the local artisan markets!

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Yes

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

Second car if you have one.

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3. But don't forget your:

Everything else! Seasonal clothing is necessary, since you can wear a sweater, shorts and a suit all in one day!

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

Bolivia in Focus by Robert J. Werner, Bolivia in Pictures: Francesca DiPiazza

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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6. Do you have any other comments?

It can be an adjustment regarding the altitude and missing American products (amazing how you can miss Kraft products!), but that is to be expected since you are visiting another country!The people are friendly and helpful, the scenery is beautiful, and it is an experience worth having!

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La Paz, Bolivia 08/25/10

Background:

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

No.

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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?

Florida, 10 hours.

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3. How long have you lived here?

One year.

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

Government.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Nice homes about 15- to 20-minute commute time.

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

Cheap, $100/month for a couple.

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

Nuts, cheddar cheese, TP, your favorite canned foods, and sports gear.

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

Only Burger King is available. There are other Mexican, Italian and Spanish restaurants available. Several to pick from.

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5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

None, at least in high altitude La Paz.

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Daily Life:

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

DPO.

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

$210 USD a month for a full-time maid, 40 hours a week. Very helpful.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

Yes, two major facilities. Its a major help here.

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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?

Safe.

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

All.

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

Internet, mostly for U.S. news.

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

Lots.

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

Lots.

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Transportation:

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

None is safe except a radio-taxi that you call.

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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?

Bring an SUV or a Jeep. They also sell fast here when you leave.

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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?

Yes, but a bit slow. $40/ 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?

Use calling cards.

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Pets:

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.

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

Good and cheap. The vet care here is about 30 years behind the U.S. Vets here are shocked to see any dog or cat older than 10 years old.

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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?

Not really.

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

At work it is suit and tie,and in public it is jeans and polos or sweats.

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Health & Safety:

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

Only with roadblocks and demonstrations. Home break-ins in La Paz are very rare. Crimes, such as assault, rapes and armed robberies, are very rare in La Paz. They are more common in other cities like Santa Cruz.

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

Medical care is poor. If you have a heart condition or high blood pressure, I recommend that you not come here. If you get pregnant here, you will be medically evacuated.

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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?

Good, clear and sunny skies 95% of the year. The altitude will create most of your health issues -- including high blood pressure and lack of a decent night's sleep. Stomach problems are also common here. If you do come here, bring nose strips and take Probiotics to help withstand the bacteria. Also, bring good quality sunscreen.

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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?

It is reversed from the U.S.The weather here is dry and mild.

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Schools & Children:

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

American Cooperative School.

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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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4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

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Expat Life:

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

Big.

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2. Morale among expats:

Very good.

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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?

Possible if you look for it. For singles, there is a lot to do. The embassy community always has some activity going on that sometimes you have to decline in order to take a break.

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

It is a good city for all. Single women may have more of a challenge.

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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?

No not that I am aware of. The only prejudice is from the government of Bolivia towards anyone associated with the U.S. Embassy. Local embassy employees are constantly harrassed by the GOB.

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7. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

The embassy community has a positive attitude, and morale is high.

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

Go swimming or play tennis at the German Club or the Tennis club. Go out to eat in a nice restaurant or take a road trip to Lake Titicaca.

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

Coca tea.

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10. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

Save money.

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11. Can you save money?

Yes, you can, after you pay off all your credit cards from your last assignment in the U.S.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Yes.

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

Nothing. You will need everything here.

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3. But don't forget your:

Your sports equipment, including shoes and swimwear, goggles, tennis racket. Any other item you can buy at Sports Authority. Anything of quality will be hard to find and overpriced.

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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. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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6. Do you have any other comments?

The people here are very kind. They deserve better from their government. I will miss the Bolivians when I leave.

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La Paz, Bolivia 01/07/10

Background:

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

No, Colombo Sri Lanka, Niamy Niger

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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?

Buenos Aires Argentina or Mexico City. Connections to either one of these cities is not great. There is only one direct flight abroad from La Paz, to Lima

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3. How long have you lived here?

5 years

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

Husband work with international cooperation agency

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

We had a house in the southern residential area. Houses are huge but have no heating (most of the time) so you are always freezing

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

Except for imported items very reasonable

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

None, you can get everything. If you want -- Asian spices maybe..

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

No McDonald's (Yes!!) but there are good, cheap restaurants. it might not be such a cosmopolitan choice but there is good Bolivian, peruvian, Mexican, Swiss, French etc.

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5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

not many

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Daily Life:

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

go to the post office!

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

Readily available, good and cheap (about 150 USD) for full time.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

Yes, in the zona sur there are two or three good gyms. We went to the Club Aleman which was great. Indoor pool, tennis courts, gym. We did a lot of our weekend life there

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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?

We used ATMs all the time as well as our credit cards.

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

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

Through cable you can get US TV

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

You need to speak some Spanish.

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

Streets go up and down. Someon on a wheelchair would have a very difficult time. Sidewalks are in bad condition, buildings d not accomodate for people with disabilities.

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Transportation:

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

Taxis are all over are quite safe and cheap. The minibuses can get crowded but I took them all the time and they were safe, reliable (although slow)

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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?

There are a lot of 4 by 4 because of the steep climbs

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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?

Yes, it is not the greatest and I though a bit expensive for the type of service.

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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?

View All Answers


Pets:

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

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

Loads of great ones. The Veterinaria Alemana next to the Mercado de Achumani is very good.

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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?

View All Answers


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

Fairly formal. Women wear these ridicolously high spiky boots. Could never understand...

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Health & Safety:

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

Healthy, but be prepared for the altitude. 3800meters

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

Political instability brings protests, roadblocks. Petty crime but very few violent crime. I felt very safe in La Paz

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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?

Both my girls were born here and it was completely fine. For more complicated things people who can afford it go to Chile or Buenos Aires

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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?

Cold because you are high up. Rainy season and a cold but beautiful blue sky season

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Schools & Children:

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

My kids were too young

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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?

Great preschools. I highly recommend Paraiso which is Montessori system. Regina the owner speaks fluent English and is fantastic. Our daughter was very, very happy here.

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4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

I believe so

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Expat Life:

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

Medium sized but they blend a lot with the local community

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2. Morale among expats:

Good

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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?

We went out a lot to restaurants and made very good Bolivian friends with whom we entertained, went to their houses and they came to ours.

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

I think mainly for families

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

There is a small gay community. As in all Latin America, they are there but not too visible.

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

Yes, among Bolivians there is discrimination against indigenous populations. The darker the skin the more they will be discriminated.

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

Hiking, Valle de la Luna, Lake Titicaca. Going anywhere does take an effort. ROads are bad and distances long

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

Recommendation take a look at the Artezzano line of clothes made from Alpaca. They are excellent quality and good price.

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9. Can you save money?

Yes

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Yes!

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

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3. But don't forget your:

oxygen tank(kidding)

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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. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

Movie: American Visa

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6. Do you have any other comments?

Great place for families with small children.

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La Paz, Bolivia 08/21/09

Background:

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

No. Central America, Eastern Europe, Africa.

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2. How long have you lived here?

1 year.

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

The official route is through Miami. Coming to La Paz is about 6.5 hours. Going back to Miami is about 9 hours (including layover in Santa Cruz).

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

Diplomat spouse.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Typically everyone gets a house. There are some apartments. Most have smallish yards. Houses are generally big and comfortable.

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

Lots of American products are available. They are more expensive than local products and availability varies. You can find everything you need and most things you could want.

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

Cereal (primarily because of the cost), chocolate chips, crackers, generally taste-specific items.

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

Burger King and a chicken place. Both are okay.

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5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

None.

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Daily Life:

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

APO/DPO.

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

Generally good quality, very available and inexpensive.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

Yes.

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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?

Some problems with ATMs, but the ones attached to banks are fine. I have used them the past year with no problems.

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

Yes.

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

Not so much on the newspapers. TV cable and directv are available.

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

Spanish is quite useful as most folks don't use or speak english.

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

Difficult due to lack of infrastructure for physical disabilities.

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Transportation:

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

Taxis are inexpensive and safe but generally lack seat belts.

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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?

Higher clearance is good even for city driving. 4-wheel-drive for outside of city if you do that kind of exploring. Parts can be found, but you can bring your own. They secure your vehicle locally to avoid theft of car parts.

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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?

Yes, not too expensive. Quality of connection is spotty but improving.

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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?

It's good to have one, and they aren't expensive.

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Pets:

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?

View All Answers


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

Yes.

View All Answers


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?

It varies. There are some opportunities with the embassy, USAID, NGOs, the school. You need spanish for most of these, though.

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

Business Casual to normal work attire. In public normal attire.

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Health & Safety:

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

The air is very clean but thin.

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2. What immunizations are required each year?

The usual.

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

Moderate security concerns. Avoid protests.

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

Medical care for us is through the embassy health unit. There are US-trained doctors and dentists who are generally OK. Serious medical issues are evacuated to Miami. The altitude can cause problems for some.

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

Beautiful climate. Winters can be cold. When the sun is out (which is often) the temperatures are wonderful.

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Schools & Children:

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

The American School (ACS) is excellent. Wonderful teachers and administration. Active community life at the school and a broad range of after school activities for all ages.

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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?

There are many options including 3 and 4 year-old pre-k programs at ACS, a Montessori school and some good private preschools. Nannies are cheap.

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4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

Lots of sports programs through the school. Also private clubs including golf and tennis.

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Expat Life:

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

Large.

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2. Morale among expats:

Generally good. Some folks have issues, but most enjoy the country and the community.

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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?

As active as you want it to be. Some decent restaurants.

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

Great for families.

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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 any more than you would expect anywhere else.

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

Lots of great day trips. Lake Titicaca, Tiwanaku ruins, subtropic city of Coroico. Also lots of longer trips are within easy reach, including Amazon trips, mountain hikes, including following old Inca trails, the Uyuni salt flats, other cities, the list goes on and on.

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

Alpaca, wood products, silver, masks, clothing, leather products.

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9. Can you save money?

Yes.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Absolutely.

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

Concerns. This is a great post.

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3. But don't forget your:

clothes for a range of temperatures, and a camera for the incredible countryside.

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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?

Our family loves this place. There are challenges working here, but that keeps things interesting. The quality of life is high and the school is great. What more could you ask for?

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