Living In Asuncion

Palacio de Lopez

We had little idea of what to expect living in paraguay would be like. We had seen pictures of the Asuncion skyline and of the major buildings and a couple of videos on youtube. It looked pleasant enough, but as for the day to day living, there was very little information. We had done extensive research of many countries online and chose paraguay because there is ample water, farmland and there is a small, young population in a large space. beyond that the trail largely goes cold.

We currently live in Asuncion the capital of Paraguay. The population of Greater Asuncion is approximately 2 million. It is a quickly growing city. Many people leave the countryside to come to Asuncion to seek work.

Asuncion is a good city to live in. It has a similar feel to many european cities not to make it feel strange, but there is a quality of going back in time a little. There are department stores, phone shops and many electronic shops, banks and the usual businesses on any high street. The difference is that there are still many privately owned little corner shops, goods similar to what you are used to but different brands and much fewer big brand fast food chains. Fast food comes in the form of traditional empanadas (pasties filled with a variety of meat or vegetables) and milanese style steaks. These are again mainly from small privately owned cafes and bars. There are vendors getting on and off the buses, shoe shine boys, people carrying baskets of fruit and chipa for sale, things that we just didn’t see anymore in the UK. It was a change, life is interesting and not every street is a uniform copy of the last.

The centre of Asuncion is easy to walk around and compact enough to take in some of the major highlights in about 2 hours. These include the Pantheon, which is an oratory, the Palacio de Lopez, which is now government offices and the municipal theatre. The buildings here are elegant and reflect a prosperous past. There are some unsympathetic store fronts but the buildings are left largely intact and could be easily restored. There was not the widespread destruction of old buildings in the centre that has happened to so many cities, followed by the construction of bland concrete. Unfortunately, there are a few high rise concrete testaments to the 60’s. There are good bus links to most parts of the city, good places to eat, shops and some museums. A major promenade is planned for the riverfront and work is due to start soon.

There is abundant green space in Asuncion in the form of parks and plazas. The city has many trees on most streets and each month something comes into bloom. We do not know the names of most of the trees as they are not found in colder climes, but they are a feast for the eyes. Citrus fruits are now ripe, bunches of bananas are bright green. From our city apartment we can see papaya and oranges. If we look out in another direction there are palm trees.

There are various types of neighbourhood that will fit different lifestyles and budgets. If you wish you can import your lifestyle from USA or Europe and spend a similar amount of money, even living in gated communities if you so wish or live more simply, but still very comfortably, in a professional, middle class neighbourhood and pay around £450 per month including rent, food, utility and internet bills. In future posts we will look at a few neighbourhoods in more detail for the availability of accommodation and what can be expected in that particular area. We shall soon have another website devoted primarily to photographs of paraguay.

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