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The Complete Guide to International Moving to Venezuela, the Land of Grace

Posted Country Guides / July 29, 2013

There are about 23,000 Americans living in Venezuela currently. So, if you are considering moving to Venezuela, don’t think you won’t run into any US expats. And if you are wondering what else you might get to experience and see, keep reading for all relevant information about the country, its cities, customs, sights, and bureaucracy. And by the end of this blog, we are sure you’ll be packing your bags, getting ready to leave.

The Basics You Have to Know Before Moving to Venezuela From the US

Venezuela was one of the first countries colonized by Spain to declare its independence in 1811. At first, as part of the Republic of Gran Colombia, the country declared complete independence after twenty years. Today, it spans over approximately 354,000 square miles and is bordered by both the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean, as well as by Brazil, Columbia, Trinidad and Tobago, and Guyana.

It is a federal republic of 23 states, with its capital in the city of Caracas. The most widely spoken tongue is Spanish, although native indigenous languages are also considered official, and expat communities bring in their own twist to the mix. Home to a population of 28 million people, the country is one of the most diverse in the world, providing unique and intercultural experiences to anyone brave enough to undergo this adventure.

Is Venezuela a Good Place to Live?

Most people considering moving overseas are puzzled by the question: is it safe to live in Venezuela at all? The country has been in a crisis for some time now, and its citizens have been experiencing worrying problems with poverty, hyperinflation, and crime. And while a notable number of Venezuelans have been fleeing the country in the last few years, there is a significant portion of European expats and Americans moving to Venezuela every year.

That is because, even in a crisis, this beautiful Latin American country has so much to offer – from a perfect climate to beautiful nature and friendly, warm people. So, while reservations on moving abroad are completely understandable, there are plenty of reasons to move here in the blink of an eye.

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How Can a US Citizen Move to Venezuela Indefinitely?

If you are considering immigration to Venezuela, it is important to be aware of the requirements and the rules the state puts in place. It is important to know that, unlike the US, the Venezuelan government doesn’t allow for permanent residency that would equate to the US green pass. On the contrary, to stay here for an extended time period, you’ll either have to obtain the status of a temporary resident to later become a naturalized citizen or acquire work or student visa.

To Obtain Residency, You’ll First Need a Temporary Visa

For those aiming to reach the country through employee relocation or through the decision to study abroad, this type of short-term visa will be the first step to obtaining resident status. To even qualify for you, you must already be living here on a temporary basis, and only afterward are you allowed to apply for a national identity card. Beware that the residence status has to be renewed every five years and can be lost if its holder is away for more than two years at a time.

Naturalization Takes About Ten Years to Carry Out

Unless you are moving internationally for love, or to be more specific, on account of being married, obtaining citizenship is going to take you a few years. To be exact, you’ll be able to apply for citizenship after your resident status has been valid for 10 years. And you might be glad to know that you are able to have dual citizenship, with one of it being Venezuelan, so you’ll be able to keep and use your US travel documents.

Housing Prices and the Cost of Living in Venezuela Are Very Affordable

As a US citizen, the one thing you can surely count on as someone aiming to move here from across the world is that the cost of living overall will be much cheaper than back home for about 36%. Anything from food to clothes and even eating out is going to be significantly more affordable, which applies to oil and transport costs as well. And when it comes to rent prices, you can expect them to be almost 80% less than that in the US on average.

How Much Should One Make to Afford Comfortable Living in Venezuela?

The average Venezuelan salary might be the first culture shock you’ll come into contact with, since due to the hyperinflation, on a monthly basis, people are used to earning between 25 and 53$. However, some are higher than others, especially for those working in the management of companies that amount to about $216. However, if you manage to keep a job back home to do remotely, due to low prices, even if you move on a budget with a lower American paycheck, you won’t have to balance your finances after the move, and on the contrary, can expect to live lavishly.

US Expats Moving Abroad Will Always Manage to Find Job Opportunities

Most expats transfer because they work for companies sending them abroad, allowing them to move after securing a position. If this isn’t the case for you, do not worry. As almost anywhere in the world, a native English speaker can easily find a job that doesn’t require them to break the language barrier. In the same way, you are surely excited to learn a new language abroad, so are Venezuelans to learn English. A lot of expats decide to take up the position of an English teacher since the job is always in demand. Other than that, you might want to look for work in one of the country’s main industries, such as oil, tourism, food processing, mining, or construction materials.

Consider These Cities as Potential Places to Build a Home in

Due to the economic situation in the country, the choice of where to move exactly is an important one. And don’t worry – there are still plenty of wonderful options to choose from, even amidst the turbulence. Although the crisis has impacted the quality of life overall, many wonderful places offer safety, beauty, and enjoyment to their residents, and these are our top picks among them:

  • San Cristobal – The Venezuelan middle class has been finding itself relocating to the capital of the Tachira state for some years now. And it’s no wonder, since it is a beautiful haven of nature, while simultaneously being an industrial center, where you can find anything from breweries to a cement plant.
  • Caracas – The capital of the country is always a cultural, tourist, and commercial center, and Caracas is no different. Located in the mountain valley, it provides a one-of-a-kind urban setting. It also has some of the highest skyscrapers on the whole continent, as well as museums that cannot be found anywhere else in South America.
  • Merida – This student and tourist center is, in comparison to other Venezuelan cities, relatively safe. It is famous for its colonial architecture, as well as a plentiful variety of outdoor activities and sights. Not only is it located in the Andes, only a few miles from the highest point in the state, but it also lies near the beautiful Chama River.
  • Valencia – Other than being one of the biggest cities in the country, Valencia is a huge business and industrial center. If you are looking for a job, you should definitely consider relocating to the third-largest city. And don’t worry – while you’ll be living abroad in an industrial hub, you won’t miss out on any nature or beautiful landscapes while you’re there, that we can guarantee.

Health, Education, and Transportation Are All Practically Free in the Land of Grace

Although the Land of Grace has had a great deal of quality public services in the past and was even considered to be one of the wealthiest Latin American countries, today, its public amenities have been experiencing a downfall. Because of the economic collapse, the government has been finding it difficult to keep up with the quality of services that existed prior to the crisis. However, amenities are still existent, practically free, and even capable of producing great results, as the education system shows.

More and More Venezuelans Are Turning to Private Healthcare

Unfortunately, the crisis hasn’t been kind to the country’s health system. After the Bolivarian Revolution, the national public health care system was costless for the patients and one of the more advanced in Latin America. Currently, as the health system is getting more and more privatized, it stays low in cost, although the available services lose their quality. The best medical options at this moment are by far those that require out-of-pocket payment or private health insurance. However, you’ll be glad to know that even these costs are significantly less than those in the US.

Education Is Free of Cost and Produces Great Results

Venezuelans need to go through a nine-year compulsory education system when they turn six. Compulsory education is free, as is secondary education that lasts two years, although it isn’t required. The availability of education has secured high levels of literacy, with more than 95% of literate residents.

And if you are relocating abroad with a family, make sure to get your kids’ school uniforms, which are mandatory in Venezuelan schools in all grades. Additionally, you should know that higher education is also free for citizens, and the best institution to obtain it is the Universidad Catolica Andres Bello, with the Universidad Central de Venezuela following at a close second place.

Riding the Metro Is Free of Charge, But Gas Prices Are Low Too

Similar to many other countries whose amenities are privatized, the public transport system is a complex mixture of being privately and publicly funded. And due to the crisis, in 2018, the use of the public metro became free. While it covers most of Caracas, it is often very crowded, which doesn’t always make it the most convenient transportation option.

On the other hand, most of the bus lines and terrain vehicles that reach the more steep and less accessible regions are private. However, if you are a driver, you’ll be glad to know that the gas and oil prices are quite cheap so shipping your vehicle with an overseas shipping company might not be a bad idea. Just make sure to get your International Driving Permit at the Touring y Automovil Club de Venezuela as soon as you move.

You Can Only Consider Yourself a Venezuelan After You’ve Experienced Some of Its Beauty

Although the country surely has its problems, it has a lot of perks. And one of the most obvious ones is the mesmerizing nature. So, to get over all that relocation stress, be certain to visit the top tourist destinations and experience the plentiful one-of-a-kind landscapes the Land of Grace has to offer. Only afterward will you be able to call yourself a true Venezuelan. After all, could you say you are living in Europe if you haven’t seen the Eiffel Tower? So, to become actually naturalized, we would recommend starting with the following:

  • Angel Falls – Visiting the highest waterfall in the world is a definite must. At 3,200 feet, it is fifteen times the height of Niagara Falls. And if you decide to hike in its vicinity, you may experience sights of capybaras, armadillos, and even jaguars.
  • The Merida Cable Car – Did you know that, other than seeing the highest waterfall in the world, you can also ride the highest cable car on the planet here too? It is located at Pico Espejo, the second-highest mountain peak, and stretches over 8 miles at the height of a phenomenal 15,600 feet.
  • Isla Margarita – Make sure you hop to the largest island in the country and visit the most beautiful beaches on the globe. The Pearl of the Caribbean, as it is also known, is a popular vacation spot, where both foreigners and citizens alike enjoy long summer days.

For more ideas on where to travel and what to see as you’re getting used to the Venezuelan beauty, we recommend checking out the following video:

Make Sure You Are Aware of the Local Customs Before You Move

Whenever you get to a new place on the planet, it’s important to be aware of local customs so that you can adjust to a new country as an expat, in time. And the same goes for living overseas in this wonderful country. So, the first local secret to know (which might help you out a lot) is that it is actually customary to be late for social occasions. Coming on time is considered greedy, so the first time you go out to meet your new friends at a reggaeton or a salsa party, be certain you’re 10-15 minutes late.

Additionally, make sure you pack and move all your jewelry so that you are looking good and feeling yourself whenever you go out. Venezuelans are notorious for taking pride in their appearance and tend to appreciate those who keep their cleanliness and aesthetics at a certain level. So packing up all your clothes and makeup is surely something to keep in mind.

Be Careful of How You Approach Political Topics

Starting political conversations, and presuming a Venezuelan’s position on the matter should be avoided. Most Venezuelans don’t express critical and negative opinions relating to any matter openly, and the same goes for politics. It is often considered rude to state your opinions directly, so be tactical about how you present yours and to whom. Especially as a US citizen, keep in mind that the political situation is complex and serious, so be conscientious about the struggles most folks are facing.

The Local Cuisine Is Tasty, But the Ripe Beautiful Fruits Are the Real Stars of the Show

Comparable to other Latin American cuisines, Venezuelan dishes often have corn and beans as their basis. This is true also for famous national dishes such as pabellon criollo, a staple dish made with beef, plantains, rice, and beans. Flour-based foods, like pancakes and bread, are also super common and served with most dishes.

And if you want to live here we hope you enjoy fruit and coffee, because the locally grown plants are unlike any other. When it comes to fruit, get ready to eat the sweetest mangos, the most delicious papayas, and the ripest of bananas. And when you get to someone’s house don’t say no to a cup of coffee, ’cause it will be considered rude to say no to this symbol of hospitality.

Relocating to Caracas Is Much Easier With the Help of an International Moving Company

Although it is often overlooked as a destination of choice, the beautiful Land of Grace has so much to offer even in the situation of political and economic crisis. It’s not only its food that is fresh, diverse, and sweet, but nature, and people too. So, after you decide on where to move, and get insurance, contact an overseas moving company to help with any difficult tasks, such as shipping overseas your vehicle. It will make the move more enjoyable, and probably get you to one of the beautiful Caribbean beaches faster.

Julie Grace

Originally from The Golden City, Julie has explored the ins and outs of moving and has written all the tips down.

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