Questions & Answers
What is the typical person like who moves to a Latin American country? Someone who doesn't mind less conveniences in exchange for the reasons they move there. Normally they're at least somewhat exceptional and willing to take risks to realize the changes they want in life.
What do think about some of the mostly highly advertised overseas southern locations? Well, I've been to the Panama islands, Bocas del Toro, and to the Panama mountain retreat, Boquete, and wouldn't want to live in either place. Why? Because there's nothing there (civilization-wise). They're a buyers nightmare. And Boquete is so overclouded and rains so much I'm sure I'd commit suicide to escape the depression. People dream of island escapes but once they're there for a few weeks all the nothingness gets to them. Which is why I like it here. Not too much stuff, and not too little. Anything else I need I cheaply import from the US by Skybox (click here to read more). About Brazil, all the cities are horridly oversized and choking on their own auto exhaust. No thank you. About Argentina, their economy crashed but they are recovering. Besides that they are a very snobbish people who will criticize you even if they don't know you. Very arrogant. Click here to read about other countries.
Is it easy to make friends there? Much much easier than in 1st world countries but still the people have an exterior coldness to them that quickly melts away when they see you are a sincere person that just wants to chat. Since the women are so beautiful, the men are always trying to get sexual favors from them, so as a result they seem to be cold. But when they realize you aren't a wolf then a smile and warmth comes to their faces and it's not hard at all to also get them to laugh with you. But they may be very reluctant to invite you to their home to meet their family because they may be ashamed of their house.
What is one of the biggest advantages to Paraguay over other Latin American countries? Lack of pollution. The problem with most South American countries is that the big cities have a LOT of pollution because the people all remove pollution controls to get better gas mileage on their cars. And many use them until they are absolutely unrepairable, so you can imagine the smoke that some cars are putting out. For example, Chile is one of the most orderly Latino countries but the main city is extra heavily polluted since the mountains stop the air flow from the ocean like what happens in Los Angeles California. Also, San Jose in Costa Rica has mountains all around it and the high altitude prevents complete burning of the cars combustible fluids (since there's less oxygen in the air) which results in high levels of pollutants. You could just live out in the boondocks but for anything other than very basic stuff you have to go into the big city anyway. That's why Paraguay is a decent choice since the capital city is only 500,000 and it's not too polluted, there's almost always a breeze, there's no industry putting toxins into the air, and the land is relatively flat (which permits the breeze to take away pollution). Also the abundant local produce isn't overly sprayed with chemicals. Also you are allowed to import vitamins and anything else health related (except for seeds) which is often prohibited in other Latino countries.
What are common first impressions upon arriving there in Asuncion? The small size of the airport, how easy it is to get through customs, the number of self assigned porters wanting to carry your bags for you (for a fee of course), how beautiful (with more Spaniard blood) and how ugly (with more Indian blood) some of the people are, the friendliness of people in service jobs and how patient they are with your lack of Spanish, how BMW's and dilapidated ex-school buses all share the road and how they often make 3 lanes in one direction when there are really just two, how modern the malls and many businesses are, how many national guardsmen there are on street corners helping to keep the streets safe (from thieves, not speedsters of which there aren't many), how difficult it is to drive inside the heart of the city and how great it is to have the two best malls outside of the inner city.
How does the general cost of living compare to 1st world countries? I've heard it said that the cost of a Big Mac hamburger is a good general gauge of the cost of living. Here a Big Mac costs about $1.33 (US Dollars). It's very cheap to live here.
What cultural events are available in Asuncion? There's around 20 art galleries and there's theatrical events happening occasionally. Also there are occasional social events for foreigners.
Can someone get around OK just by public transportation? Yes, very easily. One way fares are around 40 cents for any of the many bus lines that transport the majority of the population here who are without their own vehicles. Waits at bus stops is 1-20 minutes, depending on the bus line you want. Also there are plenty of taxis although they are typically about $5-$10 a ride.
What hotels do you recommend for staying at when I arrive and why? I recommend the following 3 hotels because they are in the city and close to a mall, but out of the major congestion of the inner city. Aparthotel Don Gerardo is very pretty with a swimming pool and the cost is only $35 daily although they have discount rates by the week. This is more like your own apartment since they have a kitchen with fridge and stove. Another place close by and for the same price is Portal Del Sol (email: firstname.lastname@example.org) which doesn't come with a kitchen but the hotel has its own restaurant. And for $48 you can have real luxury at Westfalenhaus Hotel. Click here to see a full list of all hotels in Asuncion.
Are there road cops with radar guns radiating drivers all over the place like in the USA? Ha! No way! The beauty of these poor disorganized countries is the lack of controls. I was so sick of cops and big brother everywhere in the USA.
How much is car and health insurance there? Those details, along with many others, are available to you on our Living-In-Asuncion-Details page.
Is it hard to get citizenship there? It's relatively easy. Actually much easier than in 1st world countries. They just don't accept poor people or escaping banditos. See the requirement list on our Living-In-Asuncion-Details page. Legally you can stay here indefinitely as a tourist as long as you leave the country every 3 months (or pay a small fine before leaving if you've stayed more than 3 months).
Are there any dangers to look out for? Mostly just thievery. Never leave your car unlocked and better yet only park it in an attended parking lot. Buy a big mean dog to watch your house. Don't walk around at night and if you do then carry a spare wallet that you can give to a thief. Install bars on your houses windows and a security door if those things don't already exist. Remember that this is a poor third world country with plenty of people that can't even afford 3 meals a day. Hunger can make some people do things that aren't too cool. Click here to read the state departments travel warning page.
Are there fast food restaurants there? In the malls are McDonalds, Burger King, Pizza Hut, and one or two others.
Are there any restrictions on foreigners owning land or houses or vehicles? No, not at all. The only necessary thing is having the money to buy the house/land/vehicle.
Do you use wells, springs or rivers for drinking water? City water is from the river. Occasional springs exist. Many away from the cities have drilled water wells which is great since, as in all Latino countries, the river is somewhat polluted. I always drank bottled water from their underground reserves which is some of the best water anywhere.
How valid are the land titles? Very valid.
What do you think about foreigners shipping their house furnishings down there? Most everything you need is available there, so why go to the expense of boating your stuff in? Even if you can't find what you want, you can have a local furniture maker specially produce what you want. Like all poor countries, the people are good at being creative since they can't afford to import everything they want.
Is it hard to learn Spanish? Not at all if you are willing and able. Latinos don't laugh at speakers of bad Spanish like Americans laugh at speakers of bad English. So don't be afraid to risk looking foolish. Latinos actually love to see you doing your best unashamedly although in the end you may have to write what you are saying since they won't understand you unless you are speaking with a Spanish accent.
Should I think of bringing my car? I wouldn't advise it since it's expensive, not immediate (since it's a long boat trip), and involves many hassles. Everything you need is here, including just about every make of car to choose from.
Should I bring heavy winter clothes also? Well, you should bring a few, but there is only 3 months of occasional cold here each year (without snow).
Are there TV programs and radio channels and movies in theatres in English? Of course. In almost every country in the world American entertainment dominates since it's of the highest quality. Cable TV has many English channels and Soft Rock (in English) is easy to find on the radio. The movies in the theatres have the normal English audio but display the Spanish translations at the bottom of the screen.
What advice would you give for someone who wants to escape from America without leaving a trace? I'd read the article at http://www.escapeartist.com/efam/45/Disappearing.html
How does one renounce U.S. citizenship? Well, of course you should live away for an extended time (say 5 years) before deciding that you want to stay away. Click here to read how to do it.
What does a typical house in S. America lack that is considered commonplace in the USA? They don't have carpeting, hot water heaters (most use electric shower heaters), bathtubs, hot water faucets, or garages. Also the construction is mostly concrete (which is fireproof and lasts forever) with very little wood and the roofs are tiled clay which can last a lifetime.
How much is a typical yearly property tax there? Only around $20.
What is the going price for land out in the country? Well, it can vary a lot, but normally it's around $200 per acre.
Do I have to apply for a VISA from the Paraguay embassy here before I come down? Yes if you are a US citizen. Check with the Paraguayan embassy to see if its required for your people if you are not of the USA. If your flight schedule leaves you in Brazil for more than 8 hours (I think that's right) you'll need to get a VISA from their embassy also which requires your passport, a couple photos, and around $50. (A VISA isn't a credit card, but rather a legal stamp in your passport giving you permission to be in the country for a certain amount of time.)
Are there work opportunities for gringos there? Not hardly anything, and what is available hardly pays anything.
How are the banks there? There's only one bank I recommend for foreigners. But I think it wisest to continue to keep the major part of your savings in a bank in your country with a means to have access to the funds anywhere (by checks, debit card, etc. Banks here aren't too stable.
What are some of the main reasons people often move to third world countries? To get away from over-developed schizophrenic societies, over controlling governments (ie: Patriot Act in the U.S.), stop paying U.S. taxes, health damaging genetically altered food, terrorist attacks, and the New World Order. (Which is coming into existence in all developed countries.) Also they often want a slower life style and friendly neighbors which is what they find here. Or maybe they want to marry one of the most beautiful women in the world. (Latinos have won the Miss Universe contest more times than any other race.)
What is the political climate like there? The same as in the USA, people wanting major change (mostly in the economy) but afraid to vote for a 'radical' third party candidate. So everyone complains about the government but they don't do anything to change it other than a small peaceful protest in the streets once in a while.
Do you have to have a Paraguay drivers license to drive on Paraguay roads? Technically speaking, yes. I didn't have mine during 4 years of driving there. I was stopped twice by highway police and just gave them a $18 bribe and went on my way. Most important thing is that you can show your vehicle ownership papers.