Living And Investing In Paraguay

Who Would Want To Spend Time In Paraguay?

It’s not easy to get to know any country. It takes time to peel away the top layers and glimpse the heart and soul of a place, to begin to understand what makes it and its people tick, how things work, what’s important, what’s valued.

After five days in Asunción, I’d say that Paraguay is even tougher to know than most countries. So far I have been able to figure out but one thing for certain:

This is a place I’d like to know a whole lot better.

To that end, we’re spending this initial scouting visit meeting with those we’ve been able to connect with who have experience taking advantage of what Paraguay has to offer. We’re gathering insights, trying to fill in our image of Paraguay, with the help of charmingly contradictory and contrasting perspectives from people who know this country well but in different ways and for different reasons.

Who would want to spend time Paraguay?

Historically, Paraguay has been a place to disappear. Folks on the lam from far and wide have sought out this country because it has something people who don’t want to be found appreciate: Super low population density, at least in parts.

Paraguay is divided in two by the Rio Paraguay. To the east of the river is the Oriente; to the west is the Chaco. Paraguay today is home to 6.8 million people (as best as I can tell; it’s tough to find consensus in Paraguay on anything). About 6.6 million of those 6.8 live in the Oriente, leaving 200,000 for the Chaco, a region larger than the entire country of Uruguay. There is but one real road in the Chaco, the Ruta de Chaco, that travels from Asunción to the Mennonite town in the center of Chaco and then on to Bolivia.

Easy in a place like that to get lost and never to be found again if you didn’t want to be. That reality has contributed to Paraguay’s reputation as a kind of global hide-out. We’ve met with 30- and 40-year expats who probably were attracted to this country initially for reasons that fall into this category.

Other expats we’ve met, from both elsewhere in the region and farther afield, came not to escape but to prosper. Paraguay has a whole lot of undeveloped land. More important to some than the lack of population living on the land is the quality of the land itself.

“I came to Paraguay from Uruguay 15 years ago because I recognized that land in Paraguay is an excellent investment because, bottom line, the land in Paraguay is excellent, period,” one very successful expat-entrepreneur told us.

The land in Paraguay is fertile and also cheap. That Uruguayan businessman told us that he bought hundreds of thousands of hectares of land when he arrived on the scene in Paraguay 15 years ago at a cost of US$4 per. That same kind of raw land today sells for US$450 per hectare. Our new Uruguayan friend has done OK for himself for sure. The point for those of us arriving on the scene today, though, is that US$450 per hectare is still a global bargain.

Where to buy, what to buy, what to grow, and how to manage the farm? Those are questions we’re now trying to find answers for.

And we’re finding the related research delightfully entangled.

Kathleen Peddicord

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