Moving to Paraguay
Often referred to as the ‘Heart of America’ due to its central location on the continent, Paraguay is a large landlocked country that has led a somewhat isolated existence. Expats moving to Paraguay will find themselves in one of the poorest and least developed countries in South America. Home to around 6.5 million people, Paraguay is also one of the most scarcely populated countries in the region.
Expats on a budget will be pleased to know that the cost of living in Paraguay is low, with the capital, Asunción, consistently ranking as one of the most affordable cities in the world in several international cost of living surveys. Nevertheless, there are few significant work opportunities for expats in Paraguay, and it is not a popular expat destination. Most foreigners living in Paraguay are there for short-term missionary or volunteer assignments.
Paraguay is traditionally an agricultural economy. There is a large informal sector with a high percentage of the population involved in subsistence farming. However, the country has shown some signs of long-term industrial growth in recent years, particularly in the pharmaceutical industry.
The majority of Paraguay’s population are considered mixed (mestizo) of Spanish and Guarani origin. There are also smaller communities from other European and South American nations who have settled there, including Italians, Germans, Argentinians and Brazilians, who have retained parts of their culture and language.
The official languages of Paraguay are Spanish and Guarani, an indigenous language spoken widely outside of Asunción. English is not widely spoken in Paraguay and expats should attempt to learn at least some Spanish or Guarani, depending on where in Paraguay they will be relocating to.
Security is an important consideration for expats moving to Paraguay; there have been increasing incidents of violent crime and kidnapping in recent years. Corruption, money laundering and organised crime are also ongoing concerns in the country.
Healthcare in Paraguay is limited, particularly outside of Asunción. Although expats may find adequate healthcare in the city for basic medical problems, any serious emergencies may require treatment abroad. Expats should therefore ensure that they have adequate medical insurance to cover such a possibility.
Paraguay's education system is poor, and is a sector that has largely been neglected. Most expats therefore choose to send their children to an international school in Paraguay; there are a number of international schools in Asunción catering for various nationalities, including American, German, French, Italian and Japanese.
Although the slower pace of life will be something that some expats may take a while to adjust to, the natural beauty of Paraguay, from the Iguazu Waterfalls to the various mountain ranges, rivers and lakes, offers expats numerous opportunities for adventure and weekend breaks away from the hustle and bustle of city life.