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Forum Post
03/31/12 19:12

Gold Member

Things You Didn't Know About PARAGUAY

Thank author of this post/comment
, comparison: A park bench in Asuncion, Paraguay
Photo Rating: 4.5 by 6 members
I am writing about Paraguay in the Uruguay forum because the article referenced in the most recent post I made here inspired me to. That article said, "Before I came down to South America I’m not even sure I could find this tiny country on a map, let alone tell you the difference between it and Paraguay." It then proceeded not to offer any answers about what is different between the two.

I see many expats chose Uruguay as their 'expat paradise' because of information they read, not based on any personal experiences. Some of that information is based on someone's commercial interests, trying to sell you a book or conference. Other based on minimal information, for example, the above mentioned article then told us all about Uruguay after a one week visit.

So, let's have a little look at (some of) the "difference" (s) between Uruguay and Paraguay. Of course this will be a short look at a few things and it will be inherently negative toward Uruguay (read other posts on this forum by myself and others for the bright side of Uruguay). After reading this, I hope you'll chose participate in Total Paraguay (see link for Paraguay at the very bottom of this page), and consider at least a brief trip before you make a final decision about Uruguay.

Paraguay is first, a place that it seems no one is promoting as a expat destination and it is also a place that people who've never been there don't seem to like. Read that again. A lot of the worst commentaries you'll see about Paraguay are written by people who've never visited the country.

RESIDENCY. URUGUAY, now it has unclear and subjective requirements. PARAGUAY, the requirements are clear, there is much more paperwork, copies, and little documents needed than in Uruguay. Many would consider it "easy, " however, though because the basic requirements are depositing US$5, 000 in a bank account, and legalized copies of your birth certificate and police (FBI) background check. Your Cedula is needs to be renewed every 10 years as opposed to every 3 in Uruguay.

I don't think in either country it is (or has been) fair to say how long the process takes. It takes as long as it takes. In my case, Paraguay about 7 months, and in Uruguay about 22 months (in 2005).

BANKS. There are many more banks and levels of banking type institutions in Paraguay. They currently pay higher interest rates than Uruguay on US$ CD's, ie: 3% on a six month CD. It is much more difficult to open an account in Paraguay as you will probably need local and possibly interpol background check(s). If someone helps you with the residency process they will help you with the needed bank account too.

UNIVERSITIES. In Uruguay the University of the Republic is free to citizens and residents (there may be a waiting period) and there are a few private universities. Paraguay has many more universities and no free option. However, though there seems to be a much larger number of young people attending a university.

REAL ESTATE. There are few apartment buildings, and properties are in general much larger. It can be difficult to find affordable rentals suitable for one or two people. There are many more very low end rental options. Some of the low end rentals are much uglier than in Uruguay. However, there are many more high end options and some are probably much grander than you usually find in Uruguay. Either way the price per sq ft will generally be much less.

ELECTRONICS. The IVA rate is 10% vs 22% in Uruguay and a number of stores give those who present a foreign ID an official tax exemption. There is a much larger selection of consumer electronics, cell phones, smart phones (there are 4 cell phone carriers) and computer equipment available. There are several malls and sections of Asuncion dedicated to the sales of computers or cell equipment. In Montevideo the options are few and far between.

My rule of thumb in Uruguay was if an electronic item was twice the price as in the USA then it was an appropriate price. In Paraguay the multiplier would seem to be closer to 1.2 times. I recently bought a 2 sim, cell phone with qwerty keyboard for about US$42 (including an upcharge for using my credit card). The 3 sim version was just a few dollars more.

FOOD AND RESTAURANTS. There seem to be fewer fresh fruit and vegetable stands on corners, but no lack of fruits (especially tropical fruits which are unavailable, and/or expensive and of poor quality in Uruguay) and vegetables. There is a large selection of ethnic restaurants including Vietnamese, Thai, Mexican, Peruvan, Arabic, Spanish, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Brazilian. As well as a variety of street food available. Meals in restaurants are around 1/2 of what you pay in Montevideo with many choices on the very low end of the spectrum.

PEOPLE. The country seems to be much more multicultural with a larger Asian population than Uruguay, and people seem quite open socially to everyone that comes. It seems to have a much more dynamic social vibe.

VITAMINS. There are a number of vitamin stores, ie: health food stores like we would find in the USA and some of the pharmacies also sell a large selection of vitamins. It also appears to be much less of an issue to receive vitamins via international post.

ELECTRICITY. The electric rates seem to be roughly 1/2 of that in Uruguay and there are various options for internet also at a significantly lower price than in Uruguay.

PUBLIC RESTROOMS. There seems to be be little different here. In both Uruguay and Paraguay public restrooms tend to be clean and regularly attended to.

AIRPORT. The Asunion airport has not had a $250 million makeover and it is friendlier, has better and cheaper food, and jetways to walk directly onto your flights. It also has numerous gift shops selling locally make arts and crafts as well as the classic "duty free" shop. Montevideo has overpriced, uninspired food, duty free and practically no (if any) locally made crafts and a bus to take you to/from the airplane (on many flights).

On my last flight from Montevideo to Asuncion, it took 15 minutes from the moment the airplane door opened to passing through Immigration, Customs and arriving at my home via taxi, ie: there was no waiting for immigration or customs.

TAXIS. In both countries the rule is that the taxi driver charges what the meter says and goes by best route. However, in Montevideo I see a shift toward "gringo" pricing with special (higher) flat rates to the airport. And, of course the Montevideo Airport taxi's charge unconsciousable rates. Traffic can be extremely intense in Asuncion but lacks road rage. The problem is increased at this time and probably through Dec of 2012 as two main thoroughfares are blocked by the construction of some type of metro system.

ANTS. In Paraguay you must believe that all types of ants are part of your family. They come fast and in force when anything tasty is left out and are great entertainment to watch.

The truth is that it isn't fair to try and compare Uruguay and Paraguay and it's not fair (to yourself) to visit one and not the other.

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This post has a total of 14 replies. Your feedback, comments, opinions and questions are welcome and encouraged.

This forum post has messages dated from 03/31/12 through 11/13/13, please be sure to read all the messages. If you feel it is old or outdated, please follow up with a question or comment and someone may be able to update it, or reply with newer information if you have it.

Comment 1
04/01/12 12:30
United States
Thank author of this post/comment"PARAGUAY's things to overlook - or not!"

George W. Bush (baby Bush) bought a 98, 000+ acre ranch in northern Paraguay back in 2006. That alone would be a deterrent for me. So cheaper isn't always better. So, to Uruguay's favor, being relatively obscure and not hooked to the US Dollar (Like Ecuador)is a good thing. So far, you have many more plus points than minus ones....and I will find out in person in July on a two week tour. Am looking forward to meeting you all and learning from your experiences so far. Blessings for a wonderful Fall to each of you.
Comment 2
04/01/12 13:19

Gold Member
Thank author of this post/comment"Bush's Land Purchase"

I would hope no one actually makes decisions in their own life based on what some rich or famous person does. In the big scheme of things (in your life) what difference does it make if Bush buys a farm in Paraguay or not. Whether you plan to live in Paraguay or not.

Now, that said, another way to look at his purchase is that the Bush family is a very successful business. Obviously they chose to purchase a farm in Paraguay because they determined it was a good business decision, ie: a good investment. So that might be a reason to follow suit and invest in Paraguay.

The Elder Bush owns a property in Punta del Este, Uruguay. I don't see anyone shying away from that are because of his purchase.

Both Uruguay and Paraguay (as well as Costa Rica and probably many other countries) seem to have US Embassy facilities that are far over-sized for normal political relations. So, it would be logical to assume that the US intents to exert as much influence in those regions as possible. A much larger threat, I would think, that what an ex-President does.

The focus about, though "cheaper" applied to many ideas, was also "more/better". Ie: more multi-cultural, more ethic restaurants, more electronics, more banking options, more educational opportunities, better social vibes, more open attitudes (ie: vitamins). If you are worried about end of the world issues, then the electricity being locally produced and hydro should be a big plus for Paraguay.

I also find it interesting that those there are few Americans living in Paraguay (some 3, 000 according to the US Embassy), there seem to be many more long term expats as compared to Uruguay. I know several that have 30+ years in Paraguay and recently met one women who originally moved to Paraguay in 2000 and returned a year ago after a 2 year break in the USA.

But, I think you hit the nail squarely on the head: "I will find out in person."

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Comment 3
04/01/12 19:36
Rural east Colonia departmento
Thank author of this post/comment"Were all different :-)"

When I was doing my pre-retirement research, Paraguay qualified on my short-list but it was finally vetoed by my SO because he reckoned that he wouldn't be happy with the climate.

Its a marvellous country for farming and I enjoyed my visits but the ROU was still in slump mode after the 2002 melt-down back then offering some staggeringly good farming investment opportunities so for these and other reasons, we settled here rather than there.

Paraguay has a fascinating history inc being the place of refuge to where the starving first settlers of Buenos Aires fled, having one of the most impressive, micro-managing and horribly mad dictators the world has ever seen in the person of El Supremo, a history of enforced isolationism and an apparent death wish wrt its various foreign wars. I was told that the ex-bishop who became prez in the early 2000s was the first man to gain the post without bloodshed.

Comment 4
04/01/12 20:17
United States
Thank author of this post/comment"differing opinions"

Curious as to your opinion of the weather after 10? years of experiences.
Comment 5
04/02/12 06:52

Gold Member
Thank author of this post/comment"Weather"

I have a years worth of experience in Paraguay. I was referring to Paraguay expat's I've met. Seem to be more with very long times in Paraguay... as compared to Uruguay.

In the summer it will approach 40C. You will probably want A/C. However, I find with A/C and electric heat my highest electric bill approaches my lowest in Uruguay and never had A/C or electric heat in Uruguay.

In the Winter, Uruguay gets cold within a week of May 1st and pretty much stays cold until winter is over... the end of Sept. Cold = you will want heat and be very uncomfortable without it. In Paraguay though it also goes down to almost freezing, it seems to cycle between a week or two of cold and then a week or two of warm. And, during the cold cycle the sunny days are very pleasant.

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Comment 6
06/04/12 12:00
Buenos Aires
Thank author of this post/comment"Paraguay analysis"

Great report on Paraguay, Glen. One of my family members, considering joining us here, informed me she was "not going to Paraguay or Chile!!!!" So you're right about people who have never been there not liking it. I don't think she's been to either one. She has not been to Uruguay either but has decided that she would like Uruguay. Interesting, yes???

Could you tell us more about the weather in Paraguay compared to Uruguay? A friend in Paraguay told me the humidity had been so bad the water was running down the walls. That's a bit too humid for me. Can you give us an idea what you think about that? How does it compare with Uruguay. 'Course if you have reverse cycle A/C in Paraguay, then probably you wouldn't notice any of that.

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Comment 7
06/04/12 13:19
Norwalk, CT
Thank author of this post/comment"Excellent report"

Thank you Glen. I don't know much about Paraguay except for the little I've read about it, or things I ocassionlly see/hear on Uruguayan TV. For whatever reason it seems like Uruguay's press/media is generally not very interested in what goes on there. And when they mention it, they usually go for the negative (i.e. reports about smuggling and lawlessness in Ciudad del Este).

I've always been curious about Paraguay and have toyed with the idea of visiting Iguazu Falls and Asuncion one day. After reading your report I am more eager to visit and compare and contrast the "guay" countries in the flesh.

[message deleted by user]
Comment 9
11/03/12 11:10
Thank author of this post/comment"Health Care"

This a good bit of information, thanks Glen. What do you know about the health care system in Paraguay?
Comment 10
11/03/12 17:18

Gold Member
Thank author of this post/comment"Health Care Options"

They have IPS which is the hospital & plan workers get. I'm not sure if you can sign up there if you aren't employed.

You can chose a plan at a hospital like the mutualistas in Uruguay.

Or, you can buy a plan (like "insurance") in the USA. I have a "Gold Plan" from one of the companies and I got it without any health exam or questions (there is an age limit). I pay 452.000gs a month and it is a yearly contract.

They seem to have significant discounts for family members. Divide by 4440 for US $ as of today.

I've never actually used it.

I got a root canal at the University for 70, 000 gs.

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Comment 11
03/24/13 10:53
New Zealand
Thank author of this post/comment"Paraguay is better?"

So, Paraguay is better? I hear horrible things about the place.
Comment 12
06/16/13 10:28

Gold Member
Thank author of this post/comment"The Better Place"

Andy, you need to get out of this place is best, or that place is better, or that place is horrible, and open your mind to exploration.

You talk about visiting or moving to Uruguay in many of yours posts. Once you get to Uruguay you can easily spend some time in Brazil, Argentina, Chile and Paraguay.

You might find that very worthwhile before making serious commitments in Uruguay.

Someone I met recently, rented an apartment in Montevideo for six months. After about a month he planned a short trip to Chile. However, apparently he likes it so much more that he isn't planning to return to Uruguay.

You just never know until you get there.

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Comment 13
11/13/13 19:06
Montevideo via New Mexico USA
Thank author of this post/comment"RV Trip from Uruguay to Paraguay"

We are moving out of the US in December. Arriving in Montevideo. We have not decided where to make our home yet. As of now I'm planning to rent in Montevideo and explore Uruguay and Argentina. After reading this I think I will add Paraguay to my list of places to check out.

I've been looking into renting an RV for a couple of weeks. So far it looks like I will have to rent from a place in BA Argentina I can't seem to find any RV rentals in Montevideo. I'm wondering how easy it is to cross borders from Argentina into Uruguay and then Uruguay to Paraguay in an RV with 3 kids and 2 small dogs in tow. Will there be any problems?

Comment 14
11/13/13 19:42
Asuncion, Paraguay
Thank author of this post/comment"Rental Place"

Ask the rental place! Might need a vet certificate for the dogs... Expect confusion and hassles at the border. Make sure you have permission from the rental company and the papers are in order.

RV's are extremely uncommon. Don't think I ever saw one in Uruguay and once a really old one parked in Asunción.

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