Fondly nicknamed the ‘Heart of South America’ thanks to its central location on the continent, Paraguay captivates everyone who visits it. It is a landlocked country that has led something of an isolated existence, but this does not detract from its cultural richness and extraordinary natural landscapes.
The official languages of Paraguay are Spanish and Guarani, the latter an indigenous language spoken widely outside of Asunción. New arrivals may experience some culture shock, particularly in terms of language barriers. English is not widely spoken and getting around without basic knowledge of Spanish and Guarani can prove challenging. While it is important to learn the basics, locals are friendly and helpful.
Living in Paraguay as an expat
Asunción, the capital and largest city, offers all the conveniences of modern urban living, and expats who settle here embrace its relaxed lifestyle and colonial and modern architecture.
Some expats working in Paraguay are employed by companies where only limited Spanish is needed and English is more commonly spoken, but this is not true of all organisations. Many foreigners living in Paraguay are there for short-term missionary or volunteer assignments, while some expat educators teach English as a foreign language. Those with experience in agriculture, manufacturing and energy services also won't struggle to find gainful employment.
Housing in Paraguay is considerably cheaper than in Europe or other Western countries. Asunción offers the best housing options for expats, and houses here remain highly affordable. Most hotels and airbnbs also offer extended stays for relatively low prices.
Paraguay’s railroad structure is largely in disuse, with only one tourist route still operable. Consequently, the most popular forms of transportation in the country are the urban and interurban buses. Taxis are also available in big metros but are the most expensive form of local transportation. Expats who plan on driving in the country should remain vigilant, since the conditions of roads are often poor.
Public healthcare in Paraguay is state funded, but these facilities tend to be somewhat understaffed and generally rather underfunded. Good quality healthcare is also largely limited to private hospitals and clinics in Asunción and other key urban areas, so expats must arrange medical insurance and prepare accordingly. Some expats also prefer traveling to Mexico for serious medical problems.
Cost of living in Paraguay
Paraguay and its capital Asunción boast a low cost of living, although incomes are generally low too. With cheap housing and affordable food, Paraguay is one of the cheapest Latin American countries to live in. Expats earning foreign currencies will be able to live particularly comfortably.
Expat families and children
Language and education are key considerations for expat families moving to Paraguay with children. As the public education system has been neglected, parents who can afford to, choose to send their children to private and international schools, which offer subjects in multiple languages. These schools tend to be concentrated in Asunción.
Expats relocating here often report that Paraguay feels authentic and they can appreciate their surroundings without constant waves of tourists. Nevertheless, the culture of Paraguay is diverse and engaging, and expats can immerse themselves in the local lifestyle. Rich historical sites and breathtaking natural gems can keep expat families entertained and intrigued.
Climate in Paraguay
Paraguay has a humid subtropical climate. The temperature variability can bring anything from frost to extreme heatwaves, but the country generally experiences hot and rainy summers and mild winters with light rains. Increased rains associated with El Niño can lead to floods in the summer months.
Although the slower pace of life will be something that expats may take a while to adjust to, the natural beauty of Paraguay offers numerous opportunities for adventure and weekend breaks away from the hustle and bustle of city life. Expats moving to Paraguay have much to look forward to.
Population: About 7.1 million
Capital city: Asunción
Neighbouring countries: Paraguay shares a border with Bolivia to the north, Brazil to the east and Argentina to the south and west.
Geography: Paraguay's geography consists of rolling hills and subtropical forests to the east, and low plains to the west.
Political system: Unitary dominant-party presidential republic
Main languages: Spanish, Guaraní
Major religions: Christianity and Roman Catholicism
Electricity: 220 volts, 50Hz. Round two-pin plugs are used.
Currency: The official currency of Paraguay is Guaraní (PYG). ATMs and card facilities should be available in most major urban centres.
International dialling code: +595
Emergency numbers: Police: 912; Ambulance: 141; Fire: 132
Internet domain: .py