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 seven million people, Paraguay’s population is on the smaller scale in comparison to its neighbours of Argentina, Bolivia and Brazil.
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 fact, it is listed at 183 out of 209 cities on 2017's Mercer Cost of Living survey. Nevertheless, there are few significant work opportunities for expats in Paraguay, so it's 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 culture of Paraguay is diverse and engaging. The citizens who make up a majority of the population are a mix 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 universally spoken in Paraguay, so expats should attempt to learn at least some Spanish or Guarani, depending on where in Paraguay they're relocating to.
Security is an important consideration for expats moving to Paraguay as there has been an increase in incidents of violent crime and kidnapping in recent years. Corruption, money laundering and organised crime are also ongoing concerns.
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 ensure they have adequate medical insurance to cover such a possibility.
Paraguay's education system is poor and largely neglected. Most expats choose to send their children to international schools in Paraguay; there are a number of international schools in Asunción catering to 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 offers expats numerous opportunities for adventure and weekend breaks away from the hustle and bustle of city life.