All you need to know before moving to Paraguay

The South American nation of Paraguay currently has a population of 6.8 million. It is one of the major emerging markets in the continent with an annual growth rate of 2.5% as of the 2nd quarter of 2016, making it one of the most promising countries for expats looking to move to South America.

Aside from its recent progress, there are other things that draw expats to this country. Paraguay is called as Corazon de America or “Heart of America” mainly because of its central location, and also because Paraguayans are known to be some of the most hospitable and caring people in the region.

Paraguay takes pride in its exotic natural reserves and man-made dams that will surely captivate the hearts of expats. Even so, moving, living in Paraguay has its ups and downs, it’s better to come prepared before you move, so arm yourself with information and learn everything you should know when you’re moving to Paraguay.

 

Things you didn’t know

1. Paraguay is among the few countries in the world that require US citizens visits to get in

The US passport is one of the most powerful in the world. US citizens are able to enter some 160 territories without having to secure a visa. However, if you are a US citizen wishing of entering Paraguay for any purpose, you’re required to secure the necessary permit.

Non-resident visas

Certain foreign nationals may obtain a “visa en arribo” (visa on arrival) upon arrival by air at Silvio Pettirossi International Airport in the capital Asuncion. This multiple-entry visa, valid for 10 years, is available in the airport. The citizens who may apply for a visa en arribo are those from the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and China. If you’re not from these countries, you need to secure a visa in person at the nearest Paraguayan embassy or consulate. Learn more about the immigration requirements of Paraguay through their official website.

The requirements for a non-resident visa are as follows:

  1. Filled-out application forms
  2. Passport with at least six months validity
  3. A passport-size photo
  4. Flight itinerary
  5. For minors, a notarized travel authorization from the parent or guardian
  6. For official or business trip, a letter stating the purpose of the visit
  7. US$160 in cash or money order payable to the Embassy of Paraguay.

2.You may need to pack a three-month supply of prescription drugs before flying to Paraguay

The healthcare system in the country is still developing. It’s facing a serious shortage in public medical facilities, practitioners and medicines. Foreigners are strongly advised to obtain an International Health Insurance before travelling. Most foreign governments advise their citizens to get supplemental insurance to cover medical evacuation.

Since it takes time for certain drugs and medicines to arrive in Paraguay, it’s also recommended that visitors pack supplies good for at least three months. Bring your prescription medicines in the original packaging accompanied with your doctor’s prescription. Don’t forget to get a vaccination against hepatitis A and B, typhoid, rabies, yellow fever and malaria. The prevalent diseases in Paraguay are diarrheal illness, zika virus, dengue fever and rabies.

3. Residents enjoy low-income tax

Do you know that Paraguayan residents enjoy one of the lowest income taxes in the world? The country observes a progressive tax system where taxes increase with income. The general personal income tax rate for residents earning an annual income equal or higher than 120 monthly minimum salaries is 10%; those earning below the 120 monthly minimum salary bracket pays an 8% personal income tax. This and the low cost of living in Paraguay make it very interesting for most expats to work in Paraguay or retire in the country.

 

Amazing facts about Paraguay

1. Their official language is Spanish, but it’s not their only official language, and you probably haven’t heard of the other one.

The official languages of Paraguay are Spanish and Paraguayan Guaraní. Paraguayan Guaraní is the indigenous language of the Guaraní Family, a group of languages from the indigenous people of South America known as the Tupi and the Guarani people. Unlike other South American countries, the indigenous Paraguayan Guaraní is still widely used in Paraguay. In fact, Guaraní is used by more than 90% of the population. So when you arrive, try to greet people good morning by saying “Mba'eichapa ndepyhareve?” It’s not easy, but it will be very much appreciated.

Other languages that people speak in Paraguay:

  • Toba-Maskoy
  • Guana
  • Iyo'wujwa Chorote
  • Toba Qom
  • Chamacoco
  • Nivaclé
  • Aché
  • Lengua
  • Sanapaná
  • Pai Tavytera
  • Ayoreo
  • Ñandeva
  • Maka

2. Music is a big thing here

Paraguayans love music, in fact, their love of music goes back to their traditional culture, and their famous style of music called “Guarania” made popular in the 1920s by the musician Jose Asuncion Flores. Paraguayans are also very proud of their harp. The Paraguayan harp dated back to 1556 and was introduced to Paraguay by Jesuit priests who wished to evangelise the native Guaranis. It has then been altered to fit the national styles. It stands at about 1 and a half metres, with 36-37 strings. Classical and traditional folk music are usually enjoyed by Paraguayans, but they also have a special appreciation for Jazz.

Here are some of the best places to experience music in Paraguay:

3. Tea is also quite a big thing in this country

Drinking tea is part of the Paraguayans lives. The two most famous drinks in the country are maté and tereré. Maté is a hot herbal tea made of Yerba Mate leaves. The cold version of maté is tereré. Most Paraguayans you’ll see are carrying thermos bottles with hot water so they can have their tea wherever they go. If you want to live like a local, go and get your own thermos bottle for mate.

4. Paraguayans celebrate a lot of Christian holidays

Paraguay is dominantly a Christian nation. Nearly 90% of the population is Roman Catholic while 6% is part of other Christian groups. The remaining 4% of Paraguayans are members of indigenous sects or non-religious groups. Similar to other Christian nations, Paraguay celebrates a number of holidays, religious or not, and hold grand festivities. Here is the list of national holidays you should take note of:

Date Holiday
January 1 New Years Day
March 1 Day of Heroes
Thursday before Easter Sunday Holy Thursday
Friday before Easter Sunday Good Friday
Sunday between March 22 and April 25 Easter Sunday
May 1 Labour Day
May 14 Independence Day
June 12 Chaco Armistice Day
August 15 Founding of Asuncion
October 3 Boqueron Battle Victory Day
October 12 Columbus Day
December 8 Virgin of Caacupe
December 25 Christmas Day
December 31 Year-End Bank Holiday

 

How to live like a local in Paraguay

1. You may have to regulate your fast-food consumption

Similar to other South Americans, Paraguayans are not big fans of fast-food and manufactured food products. People prefer to buy fresh produce and cook their own meals. Typical dishes are composed of corn and beef. Paraguayans also love mandioca root (cassava), which is commonly served boiled. The common dishes in households are locro (a corn stew), sopa paraguaya (a rich corn flour and cheese bread) and mbaipy so'ó  (corn pudding with beef chunks). During special occasions, people feast on roasted beef or pig, asado and boiled mandioca. Enjoy your healthy meals with hot or cold yerba maté (Paraguayan tea).

2. Paraguayan families are closely knit

When you visit a Paraguayan household, expect to be introduced to a number of uncles, aunts, cousins, etc. Family is the centre of Paraguayan society, and an extended kin network is part of the culture. Kins are obliged to extend support to one another whether in financial or emotional support. In many cases, extended kins are mobilised to further another’s political ambitions. Ties by blood and affinity are not the only relations within a kin network. Paraguayans also greatly value god-parenthood established in baptisms, confirmations and marriages. A child’s godparents are regarded as second parents.

3. Paraguay has its own version of a caste system

The Paraguayan society is divided between the ultra-rich and the poor masses. A small group of people own most of the land and resources in the country while a majority of the population, especially those in rural areas, are impoverished. Aside from land ownership, other symbols of high economic and social status are a university degree and the ability to fluently converse in Spanish. Peasants and workers are expected to show respect esteem to their richer counterparts.

4. Greetings are based on persons’ social status

When greeting a Paraguayan, it’s important to consider your social statuses. In informal situations, upper-class men and women greet others within their social status with a kiss on each cheek. If you’re meeting someone of the other gender for the first time, it’s customary to give a light handshake accompanied by a nod and a smile. Regardless of social classes and gender, Paraguayan shake hands as a greeting in formal situations. Expect your Paraguayan peers to stand close to you during conversations. Don’t turn your back away from someone while they’re speaking as this is considered unacceptable. Wait for him/her to finish before taking your leave.

 

International Shipping and Removal to Paraguay

Many nationals from all over the globe are finding their way to Paraguay, a beautiful landlocked nation in South America. You can look forward to many wonderful things once you decide to relocate to this country. Paraguay has a warm sub-tropical climate and wilderness as far as your eyes can see. Another aspect that will attract you to Paraguay is the unstoppable growth of its economy and industrial sector, making it an ideal destination for career seekers. So if you’re all set to pack your bags and move to the country where the rich Guarani culture lives on, here are a few steps that will surely help you out.

Preparations

You can find many accommodations across the country through newspapers and online listings. Another and easiest way for you is to find a local English speaking real estate agent. They have a broad range of housing options as well as familiarity with the neighbourhoods. Also, most landlords in Paraguay speak Spanish, so if you do not speak their language, the realtor will be able to translate for you.

When relocating abroad, it is better to expect that the cost of utilities like water, gas and electricity are not part of your rental pay. In this way, you can include it in your budget planning. In Paraguay’s main cities, the average expense of these necessities is €45 per month. You can also apply for other services like internet and telephone. A broadband connection is around €60 per month, and local mobile prepaid calls are charged €0.15 per minute.

House and Apartment Hunting

It is not difficult to find a place to live in because there are many houses and apartments which are ready for occupancy. You also have the flexibility to choose between a short term and long term rental agreement. The rental cost in Paraguay is considered to be low even in the main cities like Asuncion, the country’s capital and where most professional expats live. You can find a one bedroom apartment in the metropolitan for €200 and a three bedroom unit for €400 per month. If you are relocating with your children, you can consider the city of San Lorenzo where several universities are located. A one bedroom apartment is €300 per month, and a three bedroom unit is €500 monthly.

International and Local Schools

There are several international schools in Paraguay, which are mostly located in Asuncion. Most expat kids are attending these schools where the curriculum is suitable for their foreign educational background. Some of the most prominent international institutions in the country are the Pan American School and the British School Ciudad del Este. Education for primary years (ages 7-13) is compulsory and free for all children living in Paraguay. The oldest local school in the country is the National University of Asunción, San Lorenzo, which was founded in 1889.

Moving Your Belongings

The easiest and hassle free method to bring your belongings to Paraguay is to hire an international or local shipping and removal company. They provided door to door services where they will facilitate the whole moving process for you. Since Paraguay is a landlocked nation with no coastlines for direct sea shipping, containers are re-routed to a port in Argentina. But in whole, it takes approximately 25 to 45 days for the cargos to finally arrive in Asuncion, where local customs officers will conduct an inspection. For more information about Paraguay’s import regulations, click here.

Before bringing your pet, make sure that you have it micro chipped and vaccinated against rabies at minimum one month but no more than 12 months before entering Paraguay. You also need to bring its Rabies Vaccination Certificate along with the Export Health Certificate signed and stamped (at least five days before import) by a government accredited veterinarian from your country of origin.

Riding a bus is the most common type of public transport in Paraguay. Most of these urban buses only operate around the major cities so driving a car is considered to be a faster way of travelling especially to distant places. If you want to import your vehicle to Paraguay, here are the documents that you need to prepare:

  • Driver’s License
  • Passport
  • Proof of Ownership
  • Original Purchase Invoice
  • Bill of Lading
  • Original Customs Clearance Certificate from port of origin

After all these mind-rattling preparations, you will find relief in Paraguay’s relaxed pace of life and breathtaking natural beauty.

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