Venezuela is an exciting place in which to experience expat life. From the majestic Andes and the breathtaking Great Plains to the lush grasslands and tropical Amazon basin, there are plenty of reasons for expats to be captivated by this geographically varied country.
Living in Venezuela as an expat
The expat community in Venezuela has seen a significant decrease recently due to the ongoing political and economic instability. However, a number of expats, particularly those connected to the oil industry, continue to reside in the country. Expats working in Venezuela often find the business environment more informal and relaxed than in North America or Europe, but they are likely to see more corruption in the workplace as well.
Major cities such as Caracas, Maracaibo, Puerto La Cruz, Anaco and Valencia remain popular with expats. It can be beneficial for new expats to connect with existing expat communities for support and guidance during their transition to life in Venezuela.
Although it is important to note Venezuela's ongoing economic crisis has affected all sectors, the standard of private healthcare in the country can be satisfactory for those who can afford it. There are many reputable private hospitals in Caracas. That said, medical treatment is expensive, and we recommend expats get a comprehensive health insurance package.
Venezuela has its fair share of crime. Expats should be vigilant in crowded places as pickpocketing is common. It is also advisable to avoid travelling to rural areas, as these regions are particularly hazardous.
Public transport in Caracas and Maracaibo is reasonably extensive. Expats who choose to drive in Venezuela should be warned that road conditions are not always of a high standard. Expat drivers should be especially cautious when driving at night. Locals in Venezuela drive erratically, so expats should drive defensively.
Cost of living in Venezuela
Due to hyperinflation and economic instability, the cost of living in Venezuela can vary dramatically. While some goods and services may seem staggeringly cheap for Western expats, the reality can be complex due to currency fluctuations and supply shortages. The ongoing economic crisis has led to difficulty obtaining some goods, including basic necessities at times, which can impact the cost of living and quality of life.
Food has been exceptionally affordable, including imported goods, even when eating out at restaurants. Despite the country's oil reserves, ongoing economic issues can lead to fuel shortages and transportation challenges, affecting public transport and private vehicle usage.
Rent is characteristically affordable, barring the centres of major metros, and so are utilities. Of course, expats' earning potential is less in Venezuela, so it's all relative, but those earning foreign currency can live fairly lavish lives here.
Families and children in Venezuela
While Venezuela offers a rich cultural experience and natural beauty, such as the spectacular Angel Falls and gorgeous beach towns, the ongoing economic and political instability presents challenges for families living there. It's essential for potential expats to thoroughly research and consider these factors when deciding to raise a family in Venezuela.
The quality of education in Venezuela varies significantly. While there are several international schools in major cities that offer high-quality education, many local schools face challenges due to the ongoing economic crisis, including a lack of resources and occasional teacher shortages.
Expats will find that there's always something to do to keep the children entertained during the weekend. Cities have plenty of green spaces, museums and other adventures for kids to enjoy, though we recommend that they be accompanied by a guardian at all times.
Climate in Venezuela
Situated just above the equator, Venezuela typically experiences a warm climate throughout the year. However, it's important to note that weather conditions can vary significantly across the country's diverse geography, from the Andes mountains to the Amazon basin.
In most major urban areas, including Caracas, temperatures average between 54°F (12°C) and 77°F (25°C) all year, although it can get significantly hotter. Most of the country experiences a rainy season between May and November, and Angel Falls are most impressive towards the end of the wet season.
Moving to Venezuela will be an exciting opportunity for even the most seasoned expat. Those with an open mind and a desire to embrace this country's vibrant culture are sure to have an unforgettable expat experience.
Population: 30.5 million
Capital city: Caracas
Neighbouring countries: Venezuela is bordered by Colombia to the west, Brazil to the south, Guyana to the east and a Caribbean coast to the north.
Geography: The country's landscape is varied, with Andes mountains to the west, the Amazon basin rainforest in the south, the Llanos plains in the centre, and the Orinoco River Delta in the east.
Political system: Federal presidential republic
Major religion: Catholicism
Main language: Spanish
Money: The Venezuelan Bolívar (VEF) is divided into 100 céntimos. ATMs are widely available but are often targets for card cloning, thefts and muggings. It isn't difficult to open a bank account as long as expats ensure they provide the bank with all the required documentation.
Tipping: Five to 10 percent
Electricity: 120 V, 60 Hz. Plugs have two flat blades, and some have an additional round prong.
Internet domain: .ve
International dialling code: +58
Emergency number: 171
Transport and driving: Driving is on the right-hand side of the road. Expat drivers should be aware of the prevalence of car-related crimes such as hijacking and theft. Venezuela has a limited national rail and bus system.
►Planning to make the big move? Check out Relocation Companies in Venezuela
Are you an expat living in Venezuela?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Venezuela. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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