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

Personal Experiences from Asuncion, Paraguay

Asuncion, Paraguay 06/01/19

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 post experience abroad (as a family).

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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. From Asuncion 5-6 hours to Panama or Sao Paolo, then 6 hours to Washington, D.C. Note that most flights in and out of the country internationally get you around difficult times like midnight, 2am, 5am. This was a pain, but by the airport is pretty small and simple. I heard recently that the cost of the parking has gone up but diplomats can park for free.

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3. How long have you lived here?

Two years.

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

My husband works at the embassy and I am a teacher at the American School of Asuncion.

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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 were lucky and got a large apartment not far from the school (our priority was near my work). The houses and apartments are scattered around the city, but no commute is more than 30 minutes away from the embassy, and some are within walking distance. No one lives outside of the major city limits. The apartments can vary in size so can the houses. If you have a family larger than three, you can get a pretty big place. All houses and apartments must have at least a wading pool. Our apartment doesn't have any outside space for our little one besides the pool but we are near a small park (albeit it has some issues) but we have adjusted and there is a super nice park within a seven minute drive.

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

Groceries here are incredibly inexpensive if you buy the seasonal fresh produce and local meats. There is also a great local farm that delivers to the embassy if you're interested. We are flexible with our diet and house supplies and we had no problems here. It is a steal. Wine and beer are cheap and when my father was here he laughed out loud how cheap it was to buy groceries. I eat gluten free and had no problems at the grocery store (a little harder at restaurants). Cleaning supplies are a bit more expensive and I would think worth sending down a bit of. Your cleaning lady will go through a lot quickly if she is thorough. Friends have pointed us to another location, a specialty store where items are less expensive, but we haven't found the need. We generally save money so it hasn't been a problem.

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

Things we ended up shipping were quinoa (very expensive here), diapers and wipes for our son (they do have various brands but we preferred the US brands in bulk to be cheaper), nuts, cereal (its very sugary here! and no brands like Cheerios), peanut butter (sometimes they have it sometimes they don't at the Casa Rica), traditional cooking supplies like cream of tartar and chocolate chips. Saran Wrap and tinfoil in a giant Cosco-sized perforated edge (here they just sell plain tubes with nothing to cut it off). Some people get cheddar cheese shipped, as they don't have aged cheeses here.

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

There are so many restaurants here in Asuncion, you can eat your way around the city. Those who miss America have plenty of burger joints and American restaurants: Burger King, McDonalds, Johnny B. Good, and TGI Friday's. There is a food court at both malls for quicker food stops. Many people also enjoy having delivery from the grocery store Casa Rica, the convenience store Biggie, or use a food app called Munchis. I've never used any of them but all our friends swear by them.

We have enjoyed Mexican, Thai, Italian, Brazilian, Indian, sushi, you name it here, but things open and close quickly here so make sure you check if its still open when you get here. Our favorite spots are Pakuri, a gluten free restaurant (stick with the amazing cocktails and appetizers), Tierra Colorado or Pozo Colorado for upscale and traditional Paraguayan, the food park Mburucuya for a bit of everything, and Cafe de Aca for sitting outside. There are hundreds of places to check out we haven't because of our son. Its easy to get a babysitter here but restaurants don't often open until 7:30pm. We have often had the whole restaurant to ourselves!

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

No. Ants are the most common problem, with an occasional cockroach.

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Daily Life:

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

DPO. The Embassy had some issues with post last year and this year because the carrier cut us down to one plane so Christmas time, I suggest you order and have friends ship early. However, we have had no issues in the last few months thanks to the hard work of the Embassy staff. In fact some Amazon has been taking fewer than two 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?

We have a nanny five days a week from 7:00-4:30 for 1/4 the cost of daycare in Washington, D.C. She is like family. She watches our son and keeps our giant apartment clean. She could cook too but we asked her to focus on our son and higher a cook for $20 once a week and she cooks us three to five entrees we stretch out for a few meals and lunches. Help here is incredibly cheap and we take great care of them. Most everyone has someone who cleans or cooks for them. Some people even have multiple nannies - one for day and one for night! Most empleadas live an hour outside the city.

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

There are some gyms, yoga spots, and even some Crossfit places. Yoga classes I think are reasonable but the gyms are a bit more expensive. We work out at home or at the embassy gym. If you are ASA you can work at the school 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?

We have had no problems with Credit cards. ATMs can be a bit harder to find but have been safe. We have only heard of one gas station trying to lie about mileage. Banks are open and closed in shorter hours and a bit more difficult to use than stateside so the online app for Itau (if you have a local bank like I do) are suggested.

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

We go to an Anglican Church nearby, there are also Morman and Catholic services; I've heard these are in English.

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

There is a tutor at the Embassy people use and I have a tutor at ASA for 12 dollars an hour (unbelievably cheap!) I suggest having Spanish if you can as it helps. Most of the professionals here: dentists, business owners, etc. speak English but your day-to-day people: grocery store clerks, doctor office staff, cell-phone locations, hairstylists, guards at the school, etc. don't speak English much at all. The farther from the city you get the more less likely to find English and more likely to find Guarani.

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

YES! Taking my son in his stroller is nearly impossible as there are no rules for smooth sidewalks. Piles of sand can block your way, people don't stop for pedestrians unless you just go for it, and there is limited accessibility for wheelchairs.

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Transportation:

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

We are suggested not to go on the buses, but taxis are super cheap! Uber just got here too and another app that is similar. I normally feel safe in taxis but have had to say no to one or two due to lack of 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?

A newer car is better as only old cars with no alarms are targeted for stealing; I've only heard of one school staff member getting their car stolen and it didn't have an alarm. Get a car with high clearance as the roads are incredibly jagged, potholes are deep and always developing from the rain, and it floods here quickly when it rains! We brought a Rav4 and were very happy - especially if you want to drive out of the city to places like the Salto Cristol. Do not bring your shiny new vehicle you don't want dinged up.

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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, we have Tigo and others have Personal. Our awesome sponsors had it hooked up for us before we got here. We have had issues with it going our recently but generally its fine. We use a VPN to stream Hulu, Amazon Prime, and also have Netflix (Paraguayan).

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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?

Best to get a local provider of Tigo or Personal. I had some serious issues at the beginning with my personal phone. I was they my iPhone 5 (which worked for three months) was too old to work on their network. Then it rebooted and worked fine. Then my son dropped it.... just have patience when you go to set up your phone. You can pay your bills at the embassy.

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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. I am one of two spouses that work at ASA full time. My pay is not what I would get in the US, but that's because I'm paid on the local economy.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

There are plenty of options as there seem to be many impoverished people here and I wish I had gotten involved. There is an orphanage the Embassy helps out with, a similar project to Habitat for Humanity when the floods come, and the poor are always in need of donations of food, water, and money.

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

. Day to day is pretty casual though the parents at ASA dress up or wear their fancy workout gear! If you got to a Paraguayan wedding, birthday party, or gala you get dressed up, get your hair and make-up done, and go all out! Any excuse to party is a full-tilt prom!

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Health & Safety:

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

A lot of this would be any city safety. You shouldn't walk with your phone out in case of a Moto-chorro (motorcycle pulling up to steal your purse/phone). I've only heard of this happening to two people (not embassy-related). Always be alert when walking, lock your car/door, don't leave valuables visual. I usually feel safer here than I do in the States. My son and I go for walks and I walk to school. Your biggest concern is just safety on the road. You will learn the "fish school" driving mentality here but you always have to be weary of motorcycles passing you on both sides, cars making an extra lane, etc.

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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?

I have been sick a number of times in the last month and its just as fast to go to the emergency room as a doctor. I have had great care with a dentist, gynecologist, internist for my son. No concerns with care. Many women have been pregnant here although Zika is still mentioned (it is more of a concern outside of the city). I even had an American friend give birth in the local hospital. We've had friends medivaced for skin cancer, emergency dental care, and for childbirth.

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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?

Generally, I think the air quality is pretty good. Some people have allergies from the new flora and fauna.

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

Gluten-free can be an issue at some restaurants (one pizza place is gluten free) but mandioca flour is your hero here. I'd be extra careful when ordering just because things are super tranquillo here (if you have a high risk allergy). If you have a specific allergy brand you need like Zyrtec, Claratin, I'd ship them from 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)?

No, there is plenty of sunshine here!

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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?

It is generally hot and humid here! The Paraguayans wear jackets if its near 70 degrees Fahrenheit. If they can afford it, the Paraguayans go away during the months of January and February (very hot and humid). Museums close during this time, so it's great time to get out of country. The coolest months get to the 60s and occasionally the 50s. However when it is chilly it gets in your bones due to the humidity. People in the houses complain they can get pretty cold.

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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 teach at the American School and have some serious issues as a teacher, however most embassy staff seem generally happy with the education their kids receive but struggle with being accepted with the Paraguayan parents and can have issues with the communication from them. I think the lower elementary kids see less of a break between Paraguayan and non-Paraguayan kids, but in the upper elementary where I am there is not a lot of intermingling between American and Paraguayan kids.

The lack of intermingling is due to the fact that most Paraguayan kids at the school are related to one another, or have been in the same school since Kinder4. That said, there is a new Director General who is moving things in a great direction. A number of other schools have Embassy kids too: American Christian Academy (ACA) has made some people very happy. THere is also Pais, a German School I think, and a Montessori School.

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

Honestly, I would suggest if your child has a high-level of special needs they do not attend ASA.

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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 is a daycare called Creciendo that lots of younger kids go too. We looked at it but did not go because we love our nanny and she has helped educate our son. ASA has lots of afterschool programs.

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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 about 60 families or so and then DEA, Unicef, Peace-corp outside the city. I have had tremendous support here from the awesome people at post. We have a Mamas Group on Whatsapp that is always there for you helping you out. I will miss a large number of people here. You are not lacking in support.

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

If you're single there is a large population of 20-30s and a very active late night that gets started around 10 or 11pm! We've loved this post as a family with a young child because it is quiet and we have had lots of other families recently. Day care is cheap, our son is learning Spanish, and there is a great park called "Parc de Salud." The Paraguayans are very family oriented and love kids. There are lots of festivals and things but you don't always know if they are kid friendly. There are lots of playdates to keep us busy. Babysitting is cheap and so is a night out so we have loved it here.

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

Generally no. It seems members of the LGBT community are starting to be accepted here but it is a very religious country. That being said I know some Paraguayans who are out and are happy here.

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

I don't think anyone would feel uncomfortable here due to their ethnicity. It is easy to make friends with the Embassy and School staff.

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

There is definitely an issue with gender equality in that some people are more traditional here and women women, particularly outside of the city, are expected to fit a more traditional role. Abuse of women by a spouse or significant other is an ongoing problem that has had marches in the past two years. There are many single women raising children.

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

Honestly the calmness of life here, the focus on family, the love of children, and the kindness of Paraguayans have been a great break from Washington, D.C. We can afford to have help which has increased my time with my family and that means a lot. We've enjoyed traveling Paraguay a bit but the best trips have been hops to other countries.

In Paraguay: Many people love the Jesuit ruins (we didn't make it there yet), Salto Cristal is a nice waterfall day trip, Yaguaron for a hike, Aregua for the strawberry festival, park, and pottery, Itagua for the nanduti.

Outside must-sees: Patagonia (we hiked Perito Moreno glaciar), Buenos Aires, Santiago Chile, Peru. We spent a good chunk of time in Argentina and Chile!

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

Nanduti is a stunning "Spiderlace" that is very cheap and can you can buy anywhere but especially Itagua. Aregua for pottery and cheap solid wood furniture, and Luque for the unique filigree jewelry.

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

It's a great jump off for other South American cities, you can save a lot of money here, a calm way a life.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Paraguayans are great people unless you put them in a car.
Unlike most capital cities there is not a lot of English spoken by the day to day people.

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

Definitely,

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

Driving rules. You can bike but I would not bike in the streets ever!

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4. But don't forget your:

Bug spray, sun screen, light weather gear. Don't forget cold weather gear though for trips back to the states, Chile, etc. There are great destinations that are much cooler!

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

Book: At the Tomb of the Inflatable Pig
A recent movie made in Paraguay: "Los-buscadores" a fun movie currently available on HBO

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6. Do you have any other comments?

We loved it here but understand its not for everyone. You have to be patient with some services and dinners can take a long time as they don't rush you out like in America. But it was a great post for slowing down and enjoying a quiet life. Friendships with Embassy staff are important because they are the ones you go out and explore with. If you want exciting weekends every weekend you may want to go elsewhere, but there is always something to do if you want there to be.

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Asuncion, Paraguay 08/03/18

Background:

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

No. Brussels, Belgium, and Izmir, Turkey.

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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?

USA. There is no longer a direct flight from Miami. Connections are usually through Peru or Panama. The whole trip (including normal layovers) is about 12-14 hours (Miami to Asuncion).

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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?

The embassy housing pool is generally nice, each house has its own quirk (the Paraguayans love experimental architecture), but our apartment was lovely. There was shirt, but not long-dress hanging space in the closets for us. Most of the city has a relatively similar standard of American middle-class equivalent housing, though there are several wealthy areas and several slum areas.



The commute times are bad. There are some paved roads, but most of the neighborhood roads are cobblestone or paved-over cobblestone with mammoth potholes. The city wasn't designed; it's been built up for 500 years. The congestion (an influx of cars in the last decade) makes what should be a 10 minute trip into a half hour stop-and-go.

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

Comparatively similar cost to the US. A lot of people here say it's expensive, but I think they're comparing it to other countries they've been. Being land-locked, most things have to be imported, so you're paying for that. We spent an average of $400/mo on groceries in the States and we spend $400 here. Availability, you'll find most everything you need, but not want. There's maple syrup, for example, but it's all sugar-free. Brown sugar isn't quite brown sugar, nor is sour cream or cream cheese. Their "cheddar" is really American cheese. Some families order food from Amazon. The only time we did was for Thanksgiving and Christmas to get cranberries and candied yams. OH! And Campbell's soup. Canned soup is not a thing here, but different stores will import a variety of American goods and there's a large population of Koreans, Germans, and Italians here, so you'll find a wide-variety!

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

My Swiffer wet-mop. It broke the last day of our move and I'm too cheap to pay the big-bucks at ACE. (Yep! There's an ACE Paraguay! Some American goods there!) The mops here are rags on sticks and squeegies which work really well on the floors, but I just couldn't get used to. My crockpot. I had the idea that I'd just buy my appliances here so I didn't have to worry about transformers. It took a while to find a toaster, but crockpots don't exist here. I don't use one, but I'm not sure if I've seen a blowdryer. I bought both a hair straightener and hair clippers here which work well.

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

All of them. Paraguayans deliver everything. Even groceries. There's sushi, burgers, pizzas (NOT like American pizzas, just a warning!), everything is delivery.

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

Mosquitoes. Some ants or roaches. But mosquitoes. Just take normal precautions, don't leave water sitting about, don't throw open the windows without a screen, wear repellent when you're out on muggy days in season.

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Daily Life:

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

We use the USPS at the embassy. We have heard horror stories of the local post, but have not tried it. Even through USPS, several pieces of high-value mail have been stolen in transit.

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

We didn't hire help, but every kind is available. Nannies, housekeepers, cooks, gardeners. Generally ₲100.000-₲120.000 guaranies a day which translates currently to US$20-$25, with lunch provided.

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

Soccer, and there's also soccer. Tennis, golf, track, and handball. There are tons of gyms of many types and I'm pretty sure I've seen weightlifting. Pilates is BIG. Some separate gyms for women. Treadmills, ellipticals, and most parks have some kind of exercise machines set up as well. I don't know about the gym costs. There are several large parks with beautiful walking paths; just bring the bug spray!

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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 accepted most everywhere. You have to be careful and monitor as it's a quickly rising crime here, but we haven't had an issue so far. ATMs I haven't used as we go to the embassy.

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

I know that there is one English-speaking church by the college on Espina.

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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 some Spanish. The embassy offers paid Spanish classes with Spanish-only instructors. If you just learn some simple Spanish for the store, you'll be okay, but Spanish here is different. There are some archaic terms, some Guarani (local native language) mixed in, and even speaking Spanish, sometimes people will look at you funny; they're particular about their pronunciation. Most won't slow down when you ask to repeat. Some won't repeat. The people here are friendly; give yourself some patience and practice!

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

Yes. The sidewalks are not compatible for wheelchairs and a blind person would trip. There are few wheelchair accessible stores and street parking would be near-impossible for a handicap vehicle. There are dedicated handicap spots in the mall or parking lots, but this would be difficult for most physical disabilities. Doors are all push/pull with high handles. I have seen only one blind man who was walking in his neighborhood (across a rather scary intersection!). There are no protective lights or audible cues.

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Transportation:

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

Buses are crammed, private (unregulated) companies, and we were warned against pickpockets. Taxis: yes, one cab company was more highly recommended, about US$20 to drive across town.

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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 a high-clearance, thinner-framed vehicle. With rain, streets flood quickly. Your suspension will be thoroughly tested. Roads are narrow and people park their cars on both sides.

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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 took about five minutes for us. Super easy. It does go down sometimes; power outages and internet outages are intermittent.

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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?

Two choices: Tigo or Personal. We used Tigo because they had a chat help system online which was handy. My husband's phone didn't have a SIM card and mine was (despite claiming to be international) hard-wired to US cell towers. Do a little research on that before you come as it was a little headache when we got here; though the setup and service was quick and easy.

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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 on vets, I don't know on kennels. We didn't bring a pet, but took care of our friend's and I found a wonderful vet who didn't speak English, but spoke slowly, repeated herself, and made sure I understood everything.

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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?

Jobs are sparse locally. Mostly teaching. Nurses can't transfer positions. When we arrived, there was a hiring freeze at the embassy, but several positions opened up recently. I'm not sure if that will continue, or if there will be a lull once the positions are filled.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Difficult. I'm certain that there are, but they're hard to find. Advertising (unless for products) is rare here.

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

Business casual. Some formal events, and for those, go glitzy! When there's a party, people doll up. Several dress shops around, expensive BUT they rent them.

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Health & Safety:

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

Pickpockets. Some motorcycle drive-by snatching. House break-ins/attempts. A few car break-in/attempts. The only violence that I have heard was a car stolen for a bank robbery and a rare drug lord shooting.

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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?

Dengue, chikungunya (related), and yellow fever. Wear bug spray. There are two hospitals here. Medical evacuation for anything major.

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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?

Relatively good, unless you walk by the street by a bus. A friend has had serious asthma concerns (hospitalized) and another has had sinus issues.

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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)?

You have to get out of the city or you might feel trapped. Iguazu falls and Encarnacion are about 5 hours away. Argentina is about an hour, but a lot of the area is flat and empty. Either explore the city thoroughly, or get out every other weekend. You'll feel better.

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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?

Temperate, mostly. Hot gets hot and muggy. Cold gets tingly. But neither is unbearable. Air conditioners are everywhere and you can grab a blanky and hot cup of mate.

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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 School of Asuncion is the only one I know. It has a great reputation and is a beautiful campus.

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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?

Many people use nannies.

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

Some and some have private tutors as well.

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Expat Life:

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

Unknown. Positive, but the sense of community could improve. Because this is a low-threat environment, there's not as much need for togetherness. More could be done with that.

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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?

Asados/BBQs are the thing! There are movie theaters, paintball, parks, clubs, and restaurants galore.

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

Yes. Yes. Yes.

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

There are LGBT here and there are LGBT locals, but I have heard they have a struggle. I haven't heard of any issues from expats and I haven't seen any discrimination.

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

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

I love the lapacho trees. It's beautiful and temperate for the most part. Unfortunately due to constraints, we weren't able to see as much as we wanted, but the Jesuit reductions and Iguazu falls should not be missed! There are also some smaller falls and several local festivals.

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

Mostly people will get some leatherwork, nanduti lace, and guampas and bombillas for terere (the tea everyone drinks here).

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

It is generally peaceful, calm and beautiful.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

How to find out about more local events. Advertising is really hit-or-miss. A lot is on Facebook or word of mouth. I know something's coming up, but only hear about it after it's happened. Poor-planning on my part, but I wish there were an easier access to local events.

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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:

Winter parka.

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4. But don't forget your:

Bugspray, but it's not that bad.)

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

They just released a movie called Los Buscadores which was filmed around Asuncion. It's in Spanish and Guarani and was almost up for an Oscar! The Mission, though I haven't seen it.

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Asuncion, Paraguay 06/11/18

Background:

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

I have lived in Asia and the Middle East. Asuncion was my first posting in Latin America.

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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?

Asuncion has a small airport and to date, no direct flights to the United States. You willl be most commonly routed through Sao Paulo, Lima or Buenos Aires depending on where you need to go in the U.S. Copa has good connections via Panama which works well for west coast and other South American destinations.

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3. How long have you lived here?

Two 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?

We are in a single family town home with a yard and pool. I can walk to work which is great because traffic is an issue (as in any major capital). Other colleagues commute and that averages 20-30 minutes from other parts of town.

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

You can get just about everything here at a grocery store, Casa Rica, which has two locations. There are many Asian grocery stores owned by Japanese and Korean families, so there is a wide variety of options available. Weekly there is an farmers market that has the harder to find veggies.

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

Spot and stain remove; I haven't found a good locally made option.

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

The delivery options here are endless. You can order sushi, Mexican, pizza, hamburgers, empanadas, and groceries. The range of restaurants is pretty impressive. Of course the beef asado is everywhere (there's a reason Paraguay is the 8th largest exporter of beef) but we've been impressed with the Korean and the Japanese restaurants.

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

Ants, but not in crazy amounts.

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Daily Life:

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

I've never seen a Paraguayan post office. Paraguayans use various click and ship services to have items imported or purchased via Amazon shipped to Paraguay. It's expensive, but for small high-value items, they tell me it's worth it.

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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 local min. wage is close to US$400/month. That's how much we pay our live-out housekeeper who works 40 hours/week for us. Factor in another US$50 to pay into their social security fund/insurance. Paraguayans get universal health care here.

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

My husband uses a local cooperative's facilities and pays a personal trainer about $50/ month for five CrossFit sessions per week.

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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 use our credit cards everywhere and have not had any issues. Same precautions apply about ATMS as anywhere else in the world.

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

We go to Spanish language Catholic mass, but I hear there are a few English language options available around 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?

Spanish will get you far; some people speak English, but not many. Learn a few words of greeting in Guarani to really make Paraguayans smile.

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

Yes, as the sidewalks do not seem in good repair.

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Transportation:

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

Taxis seem a bit dumpy, but are cheap and get you where you need to go. Average fair to cross town is US$4. The nicest taxis are the remise service from the airport into town for 110,000 guaranies or US$20. I've never taken a local bus, as I hear about people having their pockets picked a lot on them because they can get packed.

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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 clearance with off road tires. When it rains, the roads become rivers, and if you have a low clearance car, you'll need to wait until the rain stops before attempting to travel anywhere. In general the roads are cobblestone or asphalt and potholed, so a car with good suspension is a must.

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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?

The internet is solid, but expensive. We pay US$120/month for a combined cable and internet package.

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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 personal cell phones and the plans are reasonable. They have pre-pay and billing. Bring an unlocked phone and you can buy a sim card relatively easily.

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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 upon arrival. We shipped our 20 lb dog into Paraguay as cargo via COPA airlines via Panama from the States and he was well taken care of.
We found a great kennel service which offers a more home-like atmosphere with other smaller dogs while we go away.

The vets are variable. We went through a few and still aren't 100% thrilled. You will need to know your stuff, and know Spanish well to ask the right questions. Leismaniasis is a big concern here. Paraguayan vets recommend rabies boosters annually versus every three years, and you need to keep up with anti-parasite and tick prevention.

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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?

My partner telecommutes, and it's been relatively smooth experience for him with only the occasionally power outage (January is when it's most frequent). Teaching opportunities exist at the international and private schools.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

There is no shortage of volunteering opportunities, from maternal health, orphanages, and Techo (like habitat for humanity).

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

I wear suits to work. In public places it is like anywhere else- and runs the gamut from exercise wear to nearly semi-formal.

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Health & Safety:

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

I've heard of break-ins into colleague's houses, and motorcycle drive-bys but if you exercise caution and common sense, you can reduce your risk.

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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?

Mosquito borne illnesses, but bug spray is available for purchase.

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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?

It's good. I tend to be pretty sensitive to pollution and have had minimal problems here.

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

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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)?

Not that I know of.

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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?

Winter can drop to 50F at night, and it can be up to 100F+ in the summer.

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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've had our child at the American school and have had a good experience with the curriculum and the teachers. There are a lot of extracurricular activities on offer as well ranging from soccer, basketball to the kindness and chess clubs. There is a little something for every kid.

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

Limited from what I understand.

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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?

I have friends whose kids are involved in karate, MMA, ballet, basketball, tennis, golf, horseback riding, and of course, soccer.

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Expat Life:

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

Not huge, but those other expats I meet are friendly.

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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?

We go out to eat a lot with other families and couples. We also frequently host backyard BBQs.

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

It's a great family post, and we've been really happy here.

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

Paraguay can lean pretty conservative, but I hear there are options.

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

Not as much as other places I've been.

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

The people are awesome, so friendly and kind. We've enjoyed getting to know Paraguay through local friends.

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

Iguazu falls hands down, but also the Jesuit ruins are pretty cool as well.

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

We've bought a few things, to include some nanduti lace, and a few knick-knacks and art by local painters. You won't break the bank here.

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

it's relatively small and easy to get to all parts of it compared to larger metro areas (like Sao Paulo)!

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Words of Wisdom:

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

No huge surprises moving here.

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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:

Thoughts that you can turn left at an intersection. It seems to me that one of the most maddening parts of driving here is the inability to turn left anywhere!

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

The Tomb of the Inflatable Pig, the Paraguayan Reader, and a small primer on the triple alliance war would help, too.

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Asuncion, Paraguay 05/21/16

Background:

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

This is our fourth expat experience. We have lived in Georgia, Ukraine, and Ecuador previously.

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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?

Our home base is Ohio. We fly from Asuncion to Panama (usually) then the U.S. for our final connection to Ohio. It take about 24 hours (with layovers) to get home to Ohio but only 17 or 18 to get back because the connections are better.

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3. How long have you lived here?

We have been here for almost two years.

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

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?

Embassy houses are generally spacious and usually have a small yard and a swimming pool. There are also some lovely apartments. Traffic can be very bad, especially in the rain. Your commute will probably depend on how many major arteries you need to cross. I think most people can generally get to the Embassy in 15 - 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?

American products are definitely more expensive but I think it is very cheap to buy fruits, vegetables, and meat that is locally sourced. Fish is ridiculously expensive and not that good. There is a very nice supermarket called Casa Rica and a chain supermarket called Superseis and you can find about anything you need except for real maple syrup and cheddar cheese. The Meat Shop (a Mennonite coop) has homemade peanut butter and amazing homemade breads. Mercado Cuatro is the huge market downtown that sells everything. There is a section run by the carpenters and a section for plants and herbs. But, much of it has the feel of a dollar store with tons of cheap products.

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

Maple syrup and cheddar cheese.

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

You will find Pizza Hut, McDonald's, Burger King, TGIF, etc.

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

Mosquitoes bring dengue and zika.

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Daily Life:

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

I use the DPO but many people use Paraguaybox to send and receive items from the United States. There are a few similar services.

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

I believe a live-in housekeeper is about US$80 - $100 a week. A housekeeper part time usually runs around US$20 a day. Domestic help is available although sometimes hard to find. A gardener costs about US$15 - $20 for a half day.

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

There are gyms available but I don't know the costs. There is a small gym at the Embassy. The Embassy is being rebuilt so I'm not sure what will happen to it.

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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 use both.

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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?

It really helps to know some Spanish. They love it if you can say a few words in Guarani!

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

Many of the roads are made with stones (so hard to cross streets) and the sidewalks can be broken up if they exist. There are not a lot of accommodations throughout the city.

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Transportation:

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

Yes, there are buses and taxis that are safe and affordable if you are careful. There isn't a train.

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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?

It is probably best to have a vehicle with high clearance because the roads can flood significantly during rainstorms.

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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, although I think it would be better to call it "moderate-speed internet access."

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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?

Most people bring an unlocked phone from the U.S. and buy a chip from Personal or Tigo upon arrival.

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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. The pay is very low.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

The Facebook page "Asuncion Assistance Group" posts volunteer opportunities and information about groups looking for help. There is plenty that you can do but you might need to work hard to find opportunities. There are a few orphanages that look for volunteers as well.

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Health & Safety:

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

Less than many large cities although I have heard of one home invasion and one armed robbery. I feel very safe here although we take normal precautions.

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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?

Dengue and zika. There are a few well regarded hospitals including Bautista and La Costa. It is very affordable! I have friends who have had babies and surgeries here and have been very happy with the care they received.

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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?

Great, unless you are walking along the street!

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

There are flowering trees and plants all year round which makes for a beautiful city but might cause trouble for allergy sufferers.

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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?

Hot in the summer (November - February) and cool with a chance of heat in the winter (May - August). Rainstorms are fierce and punishing. It is best to have a high clearance car because flooding in the roads is a pretty big problem.

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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 schools used primarily by the embassy. ASA (American School of Asuncion) is used by most families and has good reviews for the younger grades but it sounds like there may be issues with the older grades. PAIS, or the Pan American International School is currently used by one family and they seem very happy. It is a bit further for the Embassy. Our four children are in the French school and we love it because it is small, inclusive, welcoming and they are very supportive!

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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. There are lots of pre-schools and they are very affordable. Some people choose the school closest to their home to avoid traffic and others choose the English speaking pre-school near the International school. Many people also have nannies or housekeepers who help with child care.

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

There are programs through the schools and you can also find soccer, swimming, and a few other sports. Centro Paraguayo Japones has gymnastics (very full classes), karate, and a few other classes.

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Expat Life:

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

It isn't a huge expat community but morale seems to be great. People love living here. There is a Facebook page called "Expats in Paraguay" and that is a great place to ask questions and meet other expats. People are very friendly and welcoming and it is easy to quickly feel at home.

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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?

Going out to dinner, backyard BBQ's (asados), movies, and road trips.

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

I think it is great for families because it is safe, easy to get around, and there are lots of activities for children. Older children might be bored. There are quite a few singles here at post now and they seem to be an awesome group and go out for lots of adventures.

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

We loved Iguazu Falls, the second largest waterfall in the world (5 hours from Asuncion). We visited Bonito Brazil (a ten hour drive) to snorkel down clear rivers filled with fish and fauna. Salta/Pumamarca/Cafayate in Northern Argentina was my favorite trip with jaw-dropping scenery, cheap and delicious wine at the wineries, beautiful hikes and fun salt flats. It is about 18 hours by car but worth every single second. Many of the best roads are dirt but easy to drive on. We also enjoyed the ancient Jesuit ruins (5 plus hours), the sand dunes, and numerous camping and hiking trips. We also like to visit the art city of Aregua (1 hour plus) and the lake side San Bernadino (1 hour). My kids have loved their horse riding lessons, music lessons, and other sport activities. There are a lot of backyard gatherings and BBQ's (asados) and so it is a great place for families, especially with younger children. There is a cultural scene although it isn't huge. There are concerts, art exhibits, and athletic events as well. You just have to seek them out. There are also lots of great opportunities to volunteer.

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

Visiting La Recoleta, the old cemetery in the city, visiting the train museum, going to the yacht club in Aregua, visiting the parks, and going on road trips.

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

Wooden objects, pottery, paintings

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

I love the people and the relaxed way of life. Asuncion does not feel like a large city. It is very affordable and everyone is very kind and welcoming. I love the weather but it is very hot in the summer and can reach temperatures of 105F or more. Winter usually sees temperatures in the sixties but it feels really cold partly because the houses aren't heated! There are amazing road trips if you don't mind time in the car. You can visit Brazil, Bolivia, Chile, and Argentina (even Uruguay) from here.

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8. Can you save money?

Absolutely!

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Absolutely. I will be very sad to leave. Paraguay is comfortable, relaxed, happy, and easy-going. My family and I have been very happy here. We have made a lot of local friends and we will miss them a lot. This is a welcoming country that quickly feels like a real home.

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

Snow gear!

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3. But don't forget your:

Bathing suits and mosquito spray!

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

"At the Tomb of the Inflatable Pig: Travels through Paraguay" by John Gimlett and "The Paraguay Reader" by Peter Lambert.

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Asuncion, Paraguay 09/30/15

Background:

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

No, I have lived in Asia, Africa, North and South America. Half of my life has been spent 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?

Miami to Asuncion took about 8 hours, I think. There is no longer a direct flight, so Asuncion to Sao Paolo or Buenos Aires or Panama to Miami is the norm now. Flying from Paraguay to the USA takes a very long time.

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3. How long have you lived here?

Over 2 years

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

US Embassy employee

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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 houses are available and everything seems to be relatively close. My commute is 15-20 minutes each way.

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

Groceries and household supplies are plentiful and relatively inexpensive. Beer and wine are really cheap.

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

Hair dye. I'm glad I shipped my small SUV. If I had it to do over, I might have shipped a bigger one.

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

McDonald's, Burger King, KFC, TGI Friday, Pizza Hut, Domino's. These places are not expensive. They don't taste the same as their counterparts back in the USA.

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

We have ants, mosquitoes, weevils, termites. It's very tropical.

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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?

Very plentiful and inexpensive. It's hard to find someone you really like, but eventually you probably will.

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

Yes. I don't know the cost-- the Marine gym at the Embassy is free but will soon be demolished.

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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?

No problem.

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

Catholic and Anglican and Mormon

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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 to know some Spanish since most people don't know any English.

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

Yes. The roads and sidewalks are terrible.

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Transportation:

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

There are no trains. Buses are cheap and have pickpockets. Taxis are affordable but they vary in quality. Most do not have seatbelts or air conditioning.

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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?

You should bring an SUV. The roads are horrible here. You need a high clearance, tough vehicle. Carjackings are almost unheard of, but you should keep your doors locked and your windows up.

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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

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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, pay is very low.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

There are plenty. Habitat for Humanity is here. There are also many churches you can collaborate with on volunteer work. I know of at least one person who volunteers with abandoned, disabled children. There are MANY missionaries here, and there are many Peace Corps Volunteers, plus former Peace Corps Volunteers. There's a lot of poverty and lack of education in Paraguay, so the opportunities are many and varied.

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

Suits and business casual at the Embassy with dress-down Fridays (half days!). In public, people tend to wear lots of shorts, sleeveless, and tight clothing.

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Health & Safety:

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

Security is getting worse. Some foreigners get mugged for their money and passports. Riding the public buses results in pickpocketing and purse snatching. Home robberies are on the rise. Motochorros (criminals on montorcycles) are a problem. Law enforcement is lax.

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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?

There's dengue and chikingunya. Medical care is not bad. Dentists are inexpensive and some are quite good.

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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?

It's moderate. There's lots of particulate matter in the air, but because there aren't that many vehicles on the road yet, the air is still relatively clean.

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

Lots of allergy medicines are available over the counter.

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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?

Very hot and humid most of the time. Occasionally cool.

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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 of Asuncion is okay, not great. It's not very American and not very international. Most of the children there are Paraguayan. Many of the teachers are American and the administrators are American. The parents are overly involved in the school. The kids are kind of spoiled. I am looking forward to moving on.

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

I don't think they have 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?

Yes.

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

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?

The expat community is small but happy. Lots of foreigners marry Paraguayans and choose to live here.

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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?

There are shopping malls, movie theatres, outdoor markets, a couple of theaters that put on plays, musicals, ballet, opera, a yearly jazz festival, and the annual Harp festival. The town of San Bernardino is nearby and it has a big lake where people sail (you can't swim in the lake-- too polluted). There is a fun ecoadventure park about 1.5 hours outside of Asuncion. There's also hiking, bird watching, biking, etc. People keep themselves amused. Lots of barbecues and pool parties...

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

Families are pretty happy here. Singles complain that there's nothing to do.

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

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

It's tough to be an indigenous person here. There is a lot of prejudice against native people. It's sad to hear Guarani people call themselves lazy. There are not many people of African origin here. Paraguayans do not appear to be highly racist, but if you talk to them privately, some of them are very racist. As for gender prejudices, this place is pretty sexist. Men have almost all of the power and most of the property.

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

I have enjoyed the slow pace of life here. People are very friendly and down to earth.

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

There are shopping malls, movie theatres, outdoor markets, a couple of theaters that put on ballet, jazz festivals, and the annual Harp festival. The town of San Bernardino is nearby and it has a big lake where people sail (you can't swim in the lake-- too polluted). There is a fun ecoadventure park about 1.5 hours outside of Asuncion. There's hiking, bird watching, biking, etc. People keep themselves amused. Lots of barbecues and pool parties...

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

You can save money. If you don't like cold weather, you'll like it here. This is the heart of South America, so you can explore Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Chile, & Uruguay pretty easily.

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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, I would.

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

Winter coat, wool clothing, snow gear, mountain climbing gear, scuba gear...

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3. But don't forget your:

Sunscreen, hats, swimming suits, camera, flip flops, binoculars...

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4. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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

Paraguay (Bradt Travel Guide),

At the Tomb of the Inflatable Pig: Travels Through Paraguay, and

Letters From the Battle-Fields of Paraguay (Classic Reprint).

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Asuncion, Paraguay 04/01/15

Background:

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

Papua New Guinea, Vietnam, Slovenia, Nicaragua, Paraguay

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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?

Boston, there used to be a direct AA flight from Miami, but no longer - you must go through Panama, Buenos Aires or Sao Paulo.

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3. How long have you lived here?

almost 2 years

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

Department of State.

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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 houses, a handful live in apartments. I think most people like their houses/apartments. Like every post in the world, there will be a few who are not happy with their homes for a variety of reasons, sometimes the fault of the person, sometimes the fault of the embassy. It is no different here. Due to the high clay content in the soil here, brick is the norm in building.

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

Groceries and household supplies are about the same as the U.S.

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

things for your backyard. I managed to buy a trampoline from someone leaving, but that would be a great thing to put in your HHE-large and heavy things for your backyard that you will have trouble shipping - fooze ball tables, ping-pong, etc.

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

Fast food and decent restaurants are here. Cost is probably 10-20% less than U.S. prices.

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

There are ants and mosquitoes, Dengue is here, but seems to be on the decline. We are now facing Chikungunya, but I don't actually personally know anyone who has had it.

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Daily Life:

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

DPO or 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?

We love our empleada!! The cost of full-time help is very inexpensive. Salaries for live-in help is btw- US$250-400 per month. Non-live-in - US$300-400 per month.

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

There are gyms, but I wasn't that impressed. There is a really fancy country club that I am sure is nice, but it's really expensive. An EFM offers Yoga classes at the embassy and there is a great free park with a walking/running/ biking path right in the middle of town.

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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 them without problems.

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

Catholic mass every Sunday, maybe others too.

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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 really need some Spanish - very few people speak English.

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

There are some side walks here and I have seen some ramps. But this probably shouldn't be the first choice for someone with mobility limits.

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Transportation:

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

no trains in the entire country. Buses and taxis are generally safe, just use common sense.

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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 would bring a car that can withstand very bumpy roads, so one with good shocks. Other than the major highways and thoroughfares, very few roads are paved in PY. Most are dirt or cobble stone - don't think European cobblestone, think big rocks just thrown on the road in any manner. The drainage system is awful here so after a decent rain the roads truly look like rivers. We actually lost a car during a rain storm. High clearance will really come in handy after the rain.

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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, we pay about US$60 per month for 6 megabites.

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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 has a group plan which costs me about US$10 per month.

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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. Pet care available, but don't know about quality.

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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?

There are some EFM jobs at the Embassy, there a several schools where spouses work.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Yes

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

Embassy is business with casual Fridays. In public people look fairly nice, shorts are not seen often.

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Health & Safety:

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

There are some concerns, we have had one embassy house break in here, but security upgrades have happened.

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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 medical care is just OK. I try to get as much of it as I can outside of PY.

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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?

I think it is pretty good compared to most capitals in the world. Not a lot of industry here. Two of my children have asthma and have done very well here.

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

My kids have allergies here too, there are certain pollens and times of the year when they need to take more medicines. Many people who have never had allergies before, experience them here. Peanuts are not a common item in the local diet, although there are major peanut producers in the north.

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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?

Semi-tropical. There are really 2 seasons - a long hot summer-very hot (90-110F degrees) and short cool fall (40-70F degrees).

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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 many schools here that have good reputations. One thing that limits choice is the school year. There are only a few schools that have children start the school year in August and finish their grade in June. Other than several of the international schools, most others start the school year in February and finish in December. Our personal experience has been with a small school called PAIS or Pan American International School. We have been happy there. They have Kindergarten, 3-12th grade. Class size is about 10 or 12 per grade. The community is mostly middle class Paraguayans or long-term expats. The teachers are Paraguayans with high levels of English proficiency. My kids felt like they were friends with everyone in their class immediately. The classes are so small that it is almost impossible to exclude anyone-they need you for a simple game of kickball! My children speak a lot of Spanish there. Most classes are in English, but the children mostly speak Spanish everywhere in school except during academics. I think my 3 children have learned a lot there. I recently had them tested using Massachusetts Schools Standarized Tests for their grades and they did excellent.

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

I think they try on a case by case basis. Best to contact the CLO or Nurse at the Embassy.

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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?

They are on every corner. Typical cost in about US$150-200 per month.

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

There are tons of programs 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?

Not very big with varying morale. If folks are content to spend a lot of time at home, having barbeques with friends, and lounging around the pool, then they tend to be pretty happy. If you're looking for an exciting night life (or really any kind of excitement), spectacular scenery, or mountains and beaches, you may be less than thrilled to be in Paraguay. It's a pleasant place with pleasant people.

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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?

Fire-pit smores nights, pool parties, Asados (BBQs)

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

It seems to me most families and couples are happy-ish, but singles less so.

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

Paraguay is a fairly conservative and Catholic society, so tolerance for LGBT is less than ideal, with some high-level government officials occasionally making anti-LGBT comments. But I haven't heard of blatant prejudice or expats feeling ostracized.

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

I think Paraguay falls in the same category in these areas as most of Latin America.

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

We love swimming in our pool - most embassy houses have one. We have made our backyard into a kid paradise. There is a lot of home entertaining - barbeques are the national pastime. We have enjoyed visiting the Jesuit Missions (World Heritage Site), Encarnacion, Caaucupe, San Bernadino, Aregue, religious festivals, strawberry festivals, and of course Iguazu Falls, which is not in PY, but just over the border.

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

We have enjoyed learning a lot of new skills at great prices. The whole family is taking art classes, guitar, piano, tennis, sailing, etc. There is no shortage of affordable classes. If you can think of it, you can probably learn it.

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

nanduti- a sort of lace, Palo-Santo wood, ceramics,

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

Paraguay has the happiest people in the world according to a Gallup poll. It is sunny, the land is fertile, the economy is growing and yes, people generally have a positive outlook on life.

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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 wish I had known more about the road conditions.

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

Probably, our family has been happy here. As stated above - Paraguay is pleasant, it's just not terribly exciting.

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

love of mountains and beaches. PY doesn't have them. You can take vacations to Brazil and Argentina easily enough though to get your fill.

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4. But don't forget your:

pool toys

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

The Mission (Two-Disc Special Edition),

7 Boxes.

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

Paraguay (Other Places Travel Guide) (Other Places Travel Guides),

Paraguay (Bradt Travel Guide Peruvian Wildlife)

At the Tomb of the Inflatable Pig: Travels Through Paraguay.

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Asuncion, Paraguay 08/18/14

Background:

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

Many cities in Europe, the Caribbean, some South American posts.

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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 Area; flight is via Miami (2 hours) to Asuncion direct (7 hours); United / Copa also fly via Sao Paulo / Panama City.

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3. How long have you lived here?

Still here, about a year.

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

Government- work at the 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?

Apartments, town homes and single family homes. Traffic can be slow and frustrating but nothing like DC.

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

Grocceries are generally more expensive than the U.S. although meat is cheaper. Fruits and vegetables are available year round with less variety than other South American countries. Seafood selection is limited (all frozen except for locally caught catfish).

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

Canned ethnic foods i.e. refried beans. Also BBQ sauces, salad dressings, Old Bay, etc

An extra pair of tires would be a good idea, although it is super cheap to have flats repaired.

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

McDonald's, Burger King, Pizza Hut, Dominos, Quiznos, Subway, TGIFs, and local fast food establishments. Prices are same or cheaper than the States. KFC is supposed to open in the next several months.

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

Mosquitos, ants. Scorpions and tarantulas are native but I haven't dealt with any.

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Daily Life:

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

DPO / 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, inexpensive (US$300-$350 month is average for embassy families).

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

The Embassy has a gym, although it will be demolished in preparation for the construction of the New Embassy Compound. There are private gyms whose costs are comparable (US$50-$75 / month) to those in the States.

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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?

Both acceptable; watch out for transactions fees

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

Catholic.

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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?

A working knowledge of Spanish is definitely required. Most Paraguayans don't speak any English as Guarani (local indigenous language) is more frequently taught in schools.

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

Individuals with mobility issues may have a difficult time due to uneven sidewalks / pavement as well as less than courteous drivers potentially running them over when the light turns green.

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Transportation:

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

City buses can be dangerous for petty theft. Taxis are usually ok, are marked, and usually organized by neighborhood. Coach style buses for travel from city-to-city are 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?

Higher clearance recommended due to potholes, surprise / unmarked mountains...err...speedbumps.

Roads can also flood during / after rain storms, so clearance is s plus as well. 4x4 generally NOT needed.

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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?

Fastest speed is 10MBS for US$150 / month. Slower / less expensive speeds are available. Internet is handicapped due to having to go through cables (Argentina / Brazil) to U.S., so you may get a fast speed here in country, but have it reduced by 10 going to the States.

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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 own handset as they are substantially cheaper than buying one 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 qurantine, yes it is available, but I'm unaware of quality of kennels. Pet care = your maid staying at your house and taking care of your pet. Vets are SUBSTANTIALLY cheaper than the U.S.

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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?

Local ecnonomy pay is abysmal in comparision to US. Teaching positions are available, however previous experience is generally required.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Some; Habitat for Humanity is active here.

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

Work is generally business casual and casual in public.

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Health & Safety:

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

Watch out for street crime but nothing worse than most major 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?

Food poisioning is always a great way to start a weekend. Dengue is present, although not prevalent. Emergency care is available, however anything serious that can be / will be medevac'd.

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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?

Generally clean, but can be dusty. Pollution of cars / buses near the roads can be bad, but hasn't affected my breathing at all. Tropical climate, so allergies are always present.

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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?

Generally warm, but change from one day to the next in the winter. Summers are 100+ Fahrenheit with high humidity. It can go weeks without falling below 80-90F degrees. Winters are very pleasant, but temperatures can change drastically from one day to the next. NEVER freezes.

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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 School of Asuncion is the primary international school and where most embassy kids go. There are other options but less frequently attended.

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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?

No experience, although services such as this are generally less expensive than the States.

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

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?

Good Embassy Community; laid back lifestyle. Other expats are few and far between- WHY would anyone come to Paraguay?

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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?

Several movie theaters (some movies in English with Spanish subtitles), some decent bars / restaurants. Big name concerts will tour through Asuncion on occasion November - March (Red Hot Chili Peppers, Lady Gaga, 30 Seconds to Mars, Coldplay).

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

Mediocre for all.

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

Paraguay is a conservative country, however, there is an active LGBT community here.

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

Not that I'm aware of.

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

Inexpensive dining out / good meat. Warm, friendly people, regional travel.

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

Regional travel is great. Some people enjoy spending time in the countryside on weekends.

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

People like the lace (Nanduti), filigree silver jewelry, and other local artisanal crafts. Most of it is not high quality.

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

Laid-back lifestyle, warm climate (brutally hot summers), saving money.

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10. Can you save money?

Sure, although travel back to the States can be expensive depending on when you go.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Been able to speak / understand more Spanish. Also how insualar Paraguay is; it is a family oriented / focused country and that can make it hard to socialize outside of work.

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

Sure.

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

Expensive clothes (humidity = mold, also moths are present). Low clearance vehicles. Non-present vehicle brands i.e. Buick, Cadillac, GMC.

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4. But don't forget your:

Bring cold weather clothes (for when it is chilly) and also to go skiing / snowboarding in Chili / Argentina.

If you use aeresol sunscreen, it is VERY expensive here.

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

"Siete Cajas" (7 Boxes) - a local Paraguayan film that depicts the city's central market (Mercado 4) and has won many awards.

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

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Asuncion, Paraguay 07/30/13

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?

8 hours to Miami. 12-14 hours to DC or JFK. We are about 24 hours from home in Utah.

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3. How long have you lived here?

2.5 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?

All of the embassy housing here has one issue or another, although all in all the housing is nice. Some houses are within walking distance to the Embassy and other can be a 20-30 minute commute. None are super close to downtown.

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

Some things are higher some are lower, but all in all is it not horrible.

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

Karo syrup, brown sugar, chocolate chips, granola bars, soups, maple syrup.

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

McDonald's, Burger King, Pizza Hut are all here for about what you would pay in the states. We also have a TGI Friday's. The best food is probably non-U.S. restaurants. The cost can be super cheap to fairly expensive.

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

LOTS of mosquitos (Dengue), ants and cockroaches.

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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?

Plenty, about US$300/ month + insurance (US$15).

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

Yes a few. They are expensive. The Embassy has a small gym.

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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?

Use your credit card, but I recommend only using it in places where you can see them run it in front of you, stores etc. Everything else I use cash.

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

There is a Catholic service in English.

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

I think DirectTV offers a Puerto Rico option for those at post. We don't have it but if I remember correctly it is US$60/mo. We just use slingbox and hulu.

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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?

Yes, the more Spanish you know the better.

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

All sorts, cobblestone streets, no sidewalks, crazy drivers, and the list goes on.

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Transportation:

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

No trains, yes on buses but the RSO recommends you not use them. Taxis are fairly safe and affordable.

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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 with good suspension. However cars of all types can be found 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?

Yes, and it is fairly reliable. It is about US$60/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?

There are plenty of companies here, and plans are cheap. I recommend Personal because that is what the Embassy uses so most of your calls will be "free." But others are just as happy with Tigo.

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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?

Nope.

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

Yes, and they are pretty 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?

Very few. We know a teacher or two from the Embassy and a few who work from home.

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

Business casual.

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Health & Safety:

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

Just little stuff. I love it here, I think if you are smart and follow the rules you will probably be fine.

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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 healthcare here is okay. There is not a U.S. doctor at post, however there are several English speaking ones (some even U.S. trained) working in the community.

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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. Sometimes there will be smoke in the air from a fire or fireworks. And if you are following a bus or truck the emissions can get to you. But all in all it is fine.

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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?

9.5 months hot and humid, 1.5 months cool and rainy, and 1 month nice (not all at once).

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Schools & Children:

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

ASA - where most kids attend, is okay. Not great but not horrible. I do not recommend children with special needs or high schoolers.

PAIS - A few families go here. They tend to be a little more user-friendly, but don't have the same standards as ASA. They are a little bit farther away from housing. They have a smaller classroom size than ASA. Currently there is no embassy bus because there are not enough students attending.

ACA - Christian school. Some people love it. They too are easy to work with, but don't have the same standards. They are very close to ASA but the Embassy does not provide a bus for them.They will not accept, Jews, Muslims, Mormons etc.

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

Very little. If your child has ADHD or a mild learning disability they can probably handle it but anything else will be difficult to accommodate.

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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. My child attends a half day Spanish preschool with about 18 students in the class and 2-3 teachers for about US$175/month. There are others but only one that is mostly in English. ASA offers a K4, but you have to pay tuition (US$600/mo).

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

Yes, through the school and a few others in town.

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Expat Life:

1. Morale among expats:

Morale varies on the person. Some people are miserable here and are counting down the days until they get to leave. Many are super happy here enjoying the wonderful embassy community we have and taking in the culture. Of course morale changes according to who is at post.

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

Great for families, and probably okay for couples, however I think most singles do not love it here.

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

I know of several gay expats who have lived here. I would not say any of them loved it but I think that it was more because singles have a hard time here than that they were gay. However that being said, this is a very LATIN, Catholic community and there will be some issues.

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

Iguazu Falls, Puerto Madryn (Argentina), Buenos Aires (Argentina).

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

Nanduti, leather, pottery.

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

If you don't travel you will save money, but most people travel because you gotta get out or you might go crazy. Iguazu Falls is only 5 hours from Asuncion. Buenos Aires, Santiago, and Sao Paulo, Brazil are easy plane rides although not as cheap as they used to be.

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7. Can you save money?

Yes, if you don't travel and don't eat out all the time.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Yes, we really like it here. However the school has been a bit of a concern.

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

Parkas (however many Paraguayans use them everytime we get down into the 50's or 60's F), bicycles (unless you plan to haul it to a park to bike), watch (things rarely start on time).

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3. But don't forget your:

Patience, swimsuits, optimistic attitude.

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Asuncion, Paraguay 08/06/11

Background:

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

Cochabamba, Tegucigalpa, Sao Paulo, Banjul, 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?

No direct flights to the U.S. Getting in and out of Paraguay isn't easy or cheap. Most transit through Sao Paulo or Buenos Aires. Due to the booming economy, airlines are starting to open up other routes, but Paraguay isn't a big market.

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3. How long have you lived here?

1 yr.

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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?

Older houses in need of repair. Most have pools. Increasing number of apartments. Everything's close.

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

I would say cheap compared to other Latin American capitals, but getting more expensive due to inflation (booming economy), and falling dollar.

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

I shipped down a lot because the govt pays for it. It's really not necessary though. There aren't many American products here, so if that's important to you, bring them. Lots of comparable substitutes from Brazil and Argentina.

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

McDonald's, Burger King, and Pizza Hut. Other local varieties. Asuncion is not a foodie town. Lots of meat and potatoes. Some international cuisine. Save a few restaurants, eating out is mediocre.

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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 don't think there's much, but there are plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables. Paraguayans like their beef. Eating out for vegetarians could be a challenge.

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

Asuncion is in the subtropics, so there are insects here. In the home mainly ants. Mosquitoes can be an issue though. Dengue is endemic. No malaria.

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Daily Life:

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

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?

Cheap and available.

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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?

No problem.

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

Yes, but limited.

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

No English language reading material is available locally. Cable TV has English-speaking stations.

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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 a must. Guarani, not so much.

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

A tough time.

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Transportation:

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

Taxis are suprisingly expensive. Buses are in poor condition, but I would use them in a pinch.

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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 something with a higher clearance, but it doesn't need to be a 4x4. Small SUVs and cross-over vehicles are popular here. There are lots of older Toyota Landcruisers here if you're a fan. Cars will work as well, but the roads are in poor condition.

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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?

I think it's probably not that expensive.

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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?

Easy to get cell phones locally.

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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)?

Surprisingly 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.

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

I wear a tie, but a it is little more informal than other Latin American capitals. Less informal during hot season. Non-government is more informal.

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Health & Safety:

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

Take normal precautions to ward off street crime. Crime is much lower than in other Latin American capitals.

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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?

Health care is mediocre. It's gotten better recently, but many Paraguayans with means go to Sao Paulo or Buenos Aires for medical care.

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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?

It's okay. Street level air quality is poor due to exhaust from buses, taxis, 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?

Hot and humid Dec-March and surprisingly cold June-August. Transition seasons are spring-like.

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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 have no kids in school, but ASA is popular.

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

I don't think there are many options for kids with learning disabilities here.

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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?

There seems to be lots of things to get kids involved in, but it depends on how much the parents integrate into the city and culture.

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Expat Life:

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

Decent size.

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2. Morale among expats:

Pretty good, but depends on your attitude.

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

Lots of entertaining in homes. Fairly vibrant night life, but things start late.

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

Post has lots of families with kids, but I think everyone can get along well if they have a good attitude and adventurous spirit.

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

Probably okay, but not like Sao Paulo, Bogota, or Buenos Aires. The Paraguayan government doesn't recognize same-sex domestic partners.

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

Perhaps some socioeconomic prejudices, but that's common in Latin America. Not many minorities here.

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

I've done less traveling so far than I'd like to. I would say that Paraguayan countryside is accessible and rural Paraguay is easy to appreciate. Iguazu Falls is only 5-6 hours away. The Chaco is an interesting ecosystem, but somewhat inaccessible. Good quality Argentine wine is available locally and once you learn the cuts of meat, the beef is pretty good. Paraguayan modern art is of surprisingly good quality.

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

Sports - golf, tennis, soccer, etc. are plentiful. Explore the city center, which, although small, is fun. Going out at night to cultural events.

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

Paraguay has lots of artisans. They do good ñanduti table cloths and clothing and wood carvings of religious figures.

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

Compared to other Latin American capitals, Asuncion is safer, cheaper, and easier to get around. We save money, but others complain about the rising cost of living. Weather is pleasant save for the hot and humid part of the year Dec-Feb.

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11. Can you save money?

Yes, but things are getting more expensive.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Sure, but from experience there are more interesting posts in Latin America. (Andean countries are very interesting).

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

Most items are available locally, so don't feel you have to buy everything for Paraguay.

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3. But don't forget your:

That said, imported products are more expensive here than in the States. We just had a baby and bought everything we needed because all baby products are much more expensive locally.

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

Bradt published a Paraguay guide book in 2010.

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:


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6. Do you have any other comments?

Asuncion is 220 volts, so you bring transformers for youy 110 v equipment or leave it behind. Paraguayan culture, in my experience, is less rich than other Latin American cultures. Paraguayan society is also very family oriented and may appear "closed" to outsiders at first. Paraguay is flat and I miss the "geography" of mountainous countries.

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Asuncion, Paraguay 06/01/11

Background:

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

5th 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. 12-16hours. Dulles to Sao Paulo to Asuncion

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3. How long have you lived here?

3 years

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

Work for 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?

Housing here is decent. You'll get your own pool whether you like it or not. The housing program is poorly run, and advice on how to make it better is met with a used car salesman pitch of how hard everything is. The biggest problem is that GSO rely too much on the locals whose idea of a 'good house' for a family of X size is very different then what a American would be. The housing program could be so much better if they had a truly good GSO manager in there.

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

Same as Washington DC prices.

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

Sports drink mix, more fall-type clothing.

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

McDonald's and Burger King. The chicken fingers cost more than a whole chicken would on the streets. $5!

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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 wouldn't bet any of the vegetables are organic. Pesticides are abundant here.

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

The DENGUE (don...don....donnnnn). Mosquitoes are a big concern.

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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 here. Average time is 2 weeks. There is a great mail room in the 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?

We pay $500 for a full-time nanny. She's good. She's no Tony Macelli from "Who's the Boss." More like Berta from 2.5 Men.

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

Gyms are not open on weekends. Paraguayans are fairly exercise-conscious, except for the weekends. But the gyms are affordable.

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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?

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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?

Most channels from cable-vision can be turned into English audio. You can buy a dish and hook up DirectTV, but that seems like a lot of work. We have near the top-of-the-line cable package with 6Mb internet download for about $100 month. That gets me 4 English HBOs, Al Jezeera, Fox News, BBC, and CNN. And 7 other US national stations: Warner, TNT, Sony, etc. Did I mention they have BabyTV here?

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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?

A LOT. Don't be fooled. You need to know spanish to have any type of life here.

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

The so called cobble stone streets are in fact jagged-edge rocks thrown into a thin layer of asphalt to make 'roads'. Try pushing a wheelchair or baby stroller on that. Not happening!

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Transportation:

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

The buses are awful here. but if you're fluent in Spanish, or just brave, you can take the buses.

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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 your SUV that you bought for 22K back in 2003, and when you leave you in 2011 you can sell it for 22k. A great way to take back a little something from this place.

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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?

I pay about $60/month for 6mb download. But I'll be lucky if I ever get 1/3 of that advertised speed.

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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 has a great family plan. Bring your own phone down here. The phones here are very expensive: BlackBerries $600, iPhones (not very common) $500. Bring them here get them unlocked and hook up the service (which is affordable and reliable). ...dang it I was trying not to say anything good about this place.

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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, it's best to break your dog in slowly to this place. Once he realizes where he is, he may never forgive you. But there is no Paraguayan rule that requires quarantine.

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

They are available, but I do not know the quality. My guess is that one can become a vet if you have ever owned a pet or know of someone who owned a pet, or wished you knew someone who owned a pet. Dogs are inexpensive here. You can buy a sharpei for about $250, and more common breeds like retrievers, poodles, etc., for about $90. But they only guarantee them for 1 month.

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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?

Yes, if you speak fluent spanish and guaruani.Jobs are plentiful in the embassy for EFMs.

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

Some dress up in a suit and tie and are under the impression that it matters.

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Health & Safety:

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

I don't really think so. But we do have barbed wire on our home walls. Car break-ins are not uncommon.

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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 DENGUE. I hear dentistry here is okay. I hope I never have to know about the hospitals.

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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. Paraguay is per capita the 3rd largest pollutant in the Western hemisphere. The city buses here are over 30 years old, and spew enough smog to kill a small rodent each time they stop and go.

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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?

Varied. Winter can be "cold" as in the 50s, summers 100s. Summer time turns many into prisoners of the indoors. It's so hot and humid and there's very little green space in the city, you cannot stay outdoors for 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?

They are okay. Theres 3, most go to the american school. Don't expect your kid to become Einstein, or even dan quayle from the 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?

Preschool is more like expensive nannies that you have to take your kids to for 4 hours a day. Better to get a full time nanny, and put them in front of BabyTV, which is available on the local cable system. I guess I could put that as a highlight for this country.

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

Soccer, golf, and tennis. But you HAVE to speak Spanish fluently. My Spanish teacher speaks about 30 words of English. And she's the most fluent English speaker among the 15 or so people we had to choose from. How do these people expect to teach beginning and mid level English speakers Spanish if they don't speak a lick of english? que suerte! pasa bien!

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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.

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2. Morale among expats:

I know everyone dislikes this place but would not describe it with that word. Rather they say, "It's okay, better than being in hell."

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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?

You can have fun here if you don't have high expectations or if you're the type of person who find Piers Morgan funny, or if you're into drinking heavily.

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

"Good" is a really strong word for this country. let's just say it's better than hell for all who get stuck here. Side note: the local women are more often than not very pretty. Very surprising. You can randomly select 10 women from a phone book, and i would say at least 6 of them would be considered pretty by most universal standards. Compared to the USA, I would say, 4 would be pretty. Shallow side note, but I think it's interesting to share.

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

i have not seen or heard of anything overtly against gays. I am sure it's no DuPont Circle or Berlin Love parade, and it's not like being in Iran (where they put you in a burlap bag and throw you over the side of a mountain. True story, I know because I read it on the internet.) It's somewhere in the middle.

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

Prejudices, maybe not. But there are definitely stereotypes that are widely applied and commonplace.

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

I am still waiting for the highlights to happen, but not holding my breath. There's almost zero tourism here. Once you've been here for a week, you know exactly why. There's nothing special about this place: culturally, historically, or economically. I am saying this from a foreign service lifestyle point of view. There's nothing here worth writing home about, except to write home to say, there's nothing to write home about.

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

Sit around and talk about how wrong you were for thinking Asunción would be an interesting/fun place to go and live. The golf courses, to put it lightly, suck. The most exclusive courses here somehow cannot keep random people off the course who come in and hawk you while you are playing. They are hoping to swipe your ball and then sell it back to you for a buck apiece. There are at most 3 parks that are accessible here. They aren't that great because of the bugs and are a breeding ground for dengue fever. The local street 'parks' are so bad that even the crack addicts are complaining about them.

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

A truly unique thing to Paraguay is this tea that they drink, I could think of the name if I really think about it, but I am not going to. Anyways, the unique thing is that they carry around a ridiculous tackily-decorated gallon thermos of water to support this tea drinking. I can understand that the tea is good, but dang, drink it and be done with it. No need to carry a gallon refill with you to business meetings, church, and birthday parties!

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

Not much. Material goods are comparable to WashDC prices, services and labor are about 60% of WashDC prices. Music, dance, sports, lessons are in-expensive.

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11. Can you save money?

Yes, you can save money anywhere in the Foreign Service because you don't have to pay for housing. But is this a cheap place to live? No, especially if you plan on living the American Dream of food variety, good groceries, dinning out, and small kitchen appliances.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

No. (I said that in spanish so that it is perfectly clear.) I say "no" because of how this place was presented. They (old tales from a small planet postings) said that this was a cheap place, had lots to do outdoors, and had good weather. Yes the weather can be nice here in May-July, but then what? There's nothing to do. It's not cheap here, especially the expendable necessities of American life. If they told me this place is your average small town USA in the 1950s except that they only spoke Spanish, had terrible local food (ever seen a Paraguayan restaurant anywhere outside Paraguay?), had about 3 or 4 malls that were way way over priced, and very little green space, then maybe I would think differently about this place. I was hoodwinked!

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

notion that this will be over soon. Even if you leave tomorrow, that's an eternity away.

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3. But don't forget your:

sense of humor, and anger management techniques.

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

The Alchemist. Has nothing to with Paraguay (likemuch of the rest of the world) but really is a good book.

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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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Asuncion, Paraguay 02/08/11

Background:

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

No. Guatemala City and Managua.

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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

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3. How long have you lived here?

1.5 years

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

Dependent spouse of USAID employee

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

There are disparities in housing here -- the local housing board has not been great at picking houses -- many families with young children have been put in houses that are full of mold, because the embassy is still paying rent on them. GSO is not at all effective here, often coming to houses 3, 4, 5 times for the same problem. That said, the housing is fine. Not as big as some places I've lived, but adequate. Our yard, (luck of the draw), is tiny, which is not great for teenagers, but we're living with it. Most houses have pools (really big bathing pools because they are not deep), and all housing (apartment or house)have BBQ grills called quinchos. Most bedrooms have adjoining bathrooms and the size is nice. My house is about the same size of house I have in the States (with more bathrooms). You MUST be prepared to have a lot of extension cords (good ones) -- Paraguay uses 220 electricity (US is 110) and so all your appliances will have to be hooked up to converters. Not an issue if you have lots of extension cords. The embassy will provide converters (about 4 or 5).Commute time varies from where you live. But no more than 30 minutes driving.

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

I spend about $150/week on groceries (if I'm not buying US products).Pretty cheap.

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

All sports gear. Lots more summer clothes (it's hot here).

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

Yes, there is fast food if you're dying for -- buy why when you have such great restaurants -- Chinese, Korean, German, Brazilian, Spanish, just to name a few!Great place for restaurants.

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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?

Lots of great vegetables from the farmer's market literally trucked in the same day. There are availability of some gluten free products. Not much for vegetarians unless you are willing to eat local vegetables and dairy. None of the great frozen products available in the States.

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

There are lots of houseflies and mosquitoes here. We have animals, so we have to leave our backyard doors open, and we are always combating the flying insects. So much so, that we often spray ourselves with Off before we go to bed.(and there is the occasional outbreak of Dengue that is transmitted via mosquito, so best to be safe).

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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 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?

About $300 or 400 a month -- I think I over pay, but she's good and reliable.

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

Lots and lots and lots of gym facilities. Take your pick. There are even exercise parks solely devoted to exercise and recreation. Great place for exercise.

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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've had problems with my ATM -- the number has been "used" (read stolen) 3 times, so I don't use it anymore. We live with cash only now because the card-number stealing is getting out of hand. But it's not usually a problem because we take out enough for the week from the Embassy bank.

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

Yes. There is an English Catholic mass weekly, and there is an Anglican church, and anon-denominational church (but I think that is in Spanish).

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

No English language newspapers. TV is either local, cable from Argentina (which has some US shows), and DirecTV -- we have DirecTV -- however, it goes out when there are huge storms -- so it becomes a pain. But that's the price you pay for 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?

Basic Spanish -- people are pretty accommodating -- even though I'm fluent, a lot of my friends aren't, and Paraguayans are very nice about it. Some people here also speak the local indigenous language, Guarani, too.

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

There is virtually no access for those with disabilities -- like any other Latin American country, it is assumed that you don't have disabilities.

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Transportation:

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

Buses are taken by lots of people -- they are cheap and go all over the city and country (even out of country).There doesn't seem to be an issue with the safety of the buses either. No trains (except for one that is a touristy type of train).Taxis are more expensive, but pretty safe. You do have to make sure your taxi driver is not drunk (talk to him at his window to do a smell test).

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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 because Asucion has lots of cobblestone streets and HUGE potholes that would take out a normal car. The highways, on the other hand, are wonderful and smoothly paved. Go figure. There are the normal car break-ins if you leave valuables sitting in plain view, but if you don't then you're fine. Parts are usually hard to come by, most people have to have the part shipped here and then the local mechanic will install it (usually well).

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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?

We have Tigo at the highest speed -- we do pay a lot more than most people, but our internet speed is about the same as Verizon Fios in the States -- for me, worth the price, but I know for others it wouldn't be.

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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?

Cell phones themselves are pretty expensive (as are most electronic things here). But the service is okay and pretty reasonably priced.

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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)?

Pet care is adequate.

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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?

If you're not a teacher, no.

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

Suits at work. Jeans everywhere else (sometimes even workout clothes!).

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Health & Safety:

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

There are the usual pickpockets and car break ins (although I had that happen to me while I was living in DC, too). So just the usual city living awareness is needed. There is no need for concern other than that. People walk around after dark all the time, there really is no "violent" crime at least in the areas where we live. Pretty nice living compared to other places.

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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?

Despite what others have said, I think the medical care here is very good compared to other countries. They have a brand new children's hospital with the latest equipment, the adult hospital too has all the latest equipment. Doctors are great (although most don't speak English) and I have been very impressed.

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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?

It's okay. I've lived in much, much worse. However, compared to a developed country, the air will be worse. But not overly horrible. The only shocker was the allergies -- our embassy nurse warned us that if we had allergies to pollen in the US it would be worse here - and she was right!Different pollen, different time of the year all make for lots and lots of allergies. So make sure you bring lots of allergy medicine!

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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?

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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 3 schools most people send their kids to:the American School of Asuncion (ASA), Paraguayan American International School (PAIS), and the Christian Academy. Most send their kids to ASA.ASA has US and Canadian certified teachers and Paraguay certified Spanish teachers. They have a drama, art, and music departments. The only downside is that most of the kids are Paraguayan and have gone to the school, known each other from kindergarten. The kids, while friendly, are not liable to reach out to incoming American kids. And, if you have older teens (like I do) you might have more difficulty because the social circles are very difficult, if not impossible to become a part of. Many teens are very unhappy here as a result. My middle school child is satisfied, but not overly enthusiastic. We keep him busy though, so he's not dwelling on the "no friends in Paraguay" aspect so much. We do know many other teens and pre-teens who are miserable though because of the no friend aspect. So, that should be taken into consideration. PAIS is considered an "okay" alternative to ASA -- most of the teachers are Paraguayan and non-native speakers of English -- this is fine if one is not teaching English, but they do have non-native speakers teaching English as well. They have smaller class sizes which some people prefer. The Christian Academy also has smaller class sizes and non-native speakers/non-certified teachers teaching as well. The downside from what I've heard is that many of the kids speak Korean on the playground and therefore, American kids have a hard time making friends.

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

ASA has 3 full-time certified LD teachers. Pretty remarkable for an American school in my experience.

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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?

Don't really know -- many people have maids for babysitting.

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

Lots of soccer, tennis, and golf. Take your pick of the place -- however, note that Paraguayans are known for their great soccer, so the kids are uber competitive about soccer -- that said, there are lots of soccer schools, great golf courses with cheap instructors, lots and lots of tennis. They love sports 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?

Very small. Almost non-existent. There are the American teachers and the embassy communities (German, Japanese, Korean, etc). Other than that, really no one.

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2. Morale among expats:

Ok.

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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?

That's about all there is to do other than sporting. Some people like to go out to the clubs. I'm not a club person.

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

For families it's great, especially for those with younger kids. I think it's great for single men as well. For single women, I think it's hard because one would have to rely on the Embassy community (this is Latin America where women don't live outside their parents' home until they're married).For couples, it's fine if you get involved in activities -- after you've toured the country once, there's not that much to explore (other than going to other countries).So, best to get involved in lessons, activities, etc.

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

I don't know about the gay situation here -- Argentina is just to the south and is very open and friendly to gay/lesbian community. But Paraguay is more traditionally Latino -- but there doesn't seem to be such anti-gay sentiment as I've seen in other Latin American countries.

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

No problem with race -- we have Brazil to our East and it's very diverse. While you don't see people of African descent here often, people automatically presume they are Brazilian. There are lots of people of German descent here as well -- lots of blonds. Very unusual. And lots of tall people. So, people will automatically assume Americans are Brazilian or Argentinian before assuming they are Americans.

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

We have loved Iguazu Falls, seeing it from both the Brazilian side and the Argentinian side. It is highly recommended. The ruins of the Jesuit missions are wonderful too (see the movie, "The Mission" to get an idea).Other than that, it's a really great family post -- there are lots of things to get the kids involved in. Otherwise, not much to do.

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

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

A'poi lace/tablecloths. Naduti lace. Hammocks.

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

A lot of people say this is a poor country -- as a USAID dependent having seen poverty, there ain't that much here. It's rapidly developing, with 4 huge malls, lots and lots of available products to buy, nice houses (even for the working poor).I can count on my hand the number of shacks I've seen and compared to other "developing countries," Paraguay is heaven (in the economic sense).The increase in GDP last year was almost 10%.Huge. The downside is there are lots of underemployed people - but, at least they're employed. Asuncion is a very laid-back city (except for the driving).If you have kids, or if you enjoy taking classes or taking lessons in various sports, you can do it all here. Activities are very inexpensive compared to other cities, and are readily available. If you are a golf aficiando or a tennis enthusiast, this is your post. I golf EVERY DAY.Seriously. The weather is perfect (except for the occasional rainy day) and there are plenty of golf instructors (cheap!) who are willing to help your game. As a woman, it is rare, however, to see another woman on the course, but it hasn't deterred me -- everyone is very polite. My kids all take tennis and golf lessons. In addition, we all take guitar and art classes. So, that's what you can do on a daily basis -- lots of classes. As for touring -- seeing the ruins of the Jesuit missions is great (and great history), going to Iguazu Falls is wonderful. BUT once you've done that, there isn't much more to see in the country. There are the small towns that make the famous a'poi lace, hammocks, etc. But that's really a one time trip. Everyone usually takes advantage of the proximity of Uruguay, Argentina and Brazil and explores them. The only disadvantage is that if you have a family, flying is very expensive ($500 per ticket).A lot of people drive (if you're used to road trips) and the highways are great for a "developing country."Seriously. You can save money here -- if you buy local products, (except for clothes), everything is cheap. Vegetables are wonderful if you buy in the farmer's market on Tuesdays, the beef cannot be beat. Because this is a land-locked country, the only local fish everyone eats is surubí, but I won't eat it because a lot of it is caught from the river which is really polluted. So I rely on frozen Tilapia or Salmon. We've had to buy a lot of our clothes from the States which is ok -- the DPO is only weekly, so mail takes about 2 weeks to get here. We also have the pouch for bigger items. There is a local grocery store that imports US products every month or so, which is nice -- so if you're dying for pancake mix or syrup, or even Poptarts, you can get it there (even spices!).Other stuff you can't get you can buy from Walmart online or Netgrocer. Paraguayans are very nice, but kinda introverted. They are welcoming, kind and are very proud of their country. It takes a while to get to know any Paraguayans well. But if you plan to be here a while, don't worry, you will!Weather is nice -- in June, July and August it can dip down into the 40s and 50s. September and October are wonderful (70s), November is great (80s), but December, January, February are HOT!!!(90s - 115s) -- March and April are cooler in the 70s and 80s. So you might need a light coat for the winter months of July and August, but don't be surprised to see Paraguayans all bundled up with hats, mittens and boots during this time. And they might look at you weirdly if you wander about without a coat.

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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?

Yeah, but be prepared to entertain yourself.

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

Your thick winter coats and boots (unless you want to look Paraguayan, but then you'll sweat from wearing them when it's 50 outside). Any 110 appliance that you really don't need. It's a pain in the butt trying to use all your appliances and plugging and unplugging them to get them to work.

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3. But don't forget your:

Extension cords (lots of them). Sports gear. Summer clothes. Umbrellas.

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

Paraguay by Margaret Hebblewaith. See other posts for recommended books -- they're good.

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

The Mission.

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6. Do you have any other comments?

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Asuncion, Paraguay 04/28/10

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 and Paris, France.

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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?

16 hours, including required layovers in Sao Paulo or Buenos Aires.

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3. How long have you lived here?

Two years.

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

US Embassy employee.

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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 with pools, apartments with pools. All are large and very nice. Commutes range from 5 to 25 minutes.

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

Much is available here, and all is reasonably priced as long as you aren't wedded to US brands. Good cheeses and fish are hard to find.

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

None.

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

Yes. McDonalds, Burger King, Pizza Hut. US prices. But who would want that filth? There are plenty of other restaurants here that are very inexpensive compared to the US. And Churrascurias galore.

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

Mosquitoes for much of the year, but no worse than the MD eastern shore in the summertime -- and better than lots of other places.

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Daily Life:

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

DPO. Only one time per week, unfortunately. You get used to it, though.

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

Cheap. About $300 per month full time. More expensive for live-ins or part-time help.

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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?

ATMs are everywhere, but they charge $5 per withdrawal. Credit cards are accepted at some places.

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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?

No newspapers. DirectTV and cable are available. About $50 per 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?

Spanish is an absolute must. Nobody speaks english. Some only speak guarani, but that's fairly rare in the city.

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

Not set up for handicapped people. No sidewalks, no ramps, etc.

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Transportation:

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

Buses are cheap, and are the most widely used transport for locals. Taxis are surprisingly expensive for Asuncion, but they are everywhere and worth the money. They are never more than five minutes away.

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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?

An SUV is best for the potholes, floods and cobblestone roads. I have a car and it's ok, but an SUV is definitely best. Carjacking is very rare.

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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?

Medium speed. Between $30-100 per month. Stick with the $30 subscription. It appears to be the same speed as the more expensive options.

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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 here. Cheap and reliable.

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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 are ok. Nothing else.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

No.

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

Business attire at work. Jeans in public. There isn't one restaurant in Asuncion where you couldn't wear jeans.

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Health & Safety:

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

Crime is on the increase. Police are corrupt and ineffective, and there is corruption on a scale so massive one cannot expect justice of any kind.

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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?

Sort of. Emergency medical care at hospitals is terrible, so just hope you don't get too sick. But there are plenty of decent doctors.

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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?

Unhealthy. Unfortunately, it's often full or smoke and fumes.

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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 very hot for about 4 months, hot for about 4 months, and quite temperate for about 4 months.

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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 School of Asuncion, Pan American International School, American Christian Academy, french and german schools, too. All are ok from what I understand. None are great.

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

American School makes accommodations.

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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?

Available and inexpensive.

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

Through 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?

Tiny.

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2. Morale among expats:

Good to very good. It's an easy place to live.

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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?

People go to each other's homes and pools. Lots of BBQs with locals, too. Restaurants, clubs, etc.

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

For male singles it's a fine city. For female singles it's very tough. For couples and families it's a great city. Families have some trouble finding things to do that their kids enjoy - especially between the ages of 10-18. But all seem to enjoy living here.

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

Yes. There are many openly-gay people and none ever seem to have any problems at all.

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

No, although there are no blacks in this country. So if one is here, he or she definitely gets stared at quite a bit.

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

Hearing the Guarani language, exploring the countryside and learning about a new culture.

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

Restaurants, bars, a few parks. Further away are the Iguazu Falls and northern Argentina. Frankly, there isn't much to do nearby.

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

I don't shop much, so can't help here.

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

This is a fairly inexpensive country full of warm people. The fact that there are zero tourists makes for a fascinating (if not slightly surreal) experience.

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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, absolutely.

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

winter clothes and savings account. You'll be adding to it.

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3. But don't forget your:

spanish and willingness to pick up a new hobby.

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

"Tomb of the Inflatable Pig" and "News from Paraguay".

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

"The Mission".

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6. Do you have any other comments?

This is a strangely wonderful place unlike anywhere else. It's partially first-world, but mainly developing. It's poor, but with much opulence, too. There are no tourists, and that makes for quite an insular existence. Fascinating and enjoyable.

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Asuncion, Paraguay 05/30/08

Background:

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

First expat experience.

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2. How long have you lived here?

2 years.

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

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

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

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

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Unreal. Our apartment was HUGE!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Daily Life:

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

APO.

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

Great for availability and cost!

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

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

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

I believe there are Catholic services in English.

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

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

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

You will need Spanish!

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

A lot, nothing is geared for physical disabilities!

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Transportation:

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

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

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

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

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3. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

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

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Phone & Internet:

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

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

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

Did not use one while there.

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

Skype.

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Pets:

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

Pretty good vets and they make house calls.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

No.

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

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

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Health & Safety:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hot, Hot, Hot!

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Schools & Children:

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

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

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3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

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Expat Life:

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

About 50 direct hires.

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2. Morale among expats:

Pretty good. Was like a large extended family.

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

Lots, this was the most popular past time.

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

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

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

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

Not that I was aware of.

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

Travel. A must see is Iguazu Falls!

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

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

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9. Can you save money?

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

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Once was enough and 2 years was really too long.

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

Watch and cold weather gear.

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3. But don't forget your:

Patience and open mind.

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

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

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6. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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7. Do you have any other comments?

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

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