Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Expatriate Spotlight on Venezuela

The petroleum sector dominates Venezuela’s mixed economy, accounting for approximately 80% of exports. Venezuela is one of the five founding members of the OPEC, which was initiated by Venezuelan politician Juan Pablo Perez Alfonzo. Most expatriates in Venezuela are employed in petroleum related sectors.

Expatriates in Venezuela must take appropriate security precautions. Drug traffickers and illegal armed groups are active and there is a risk of kidnapping. The incidence of street crime in Venezuela is high. Armed muggings and ‘express kidnappings’ are a regular occurrence. Where possible you should avoid traveling on the road to and from Caracas International Airport (Maiquetia) during hours of darkness when there are few vehicles on the road. You should take out comprehensive travel and medical insurance before traveling. The most important thing to remember is to use common sense! Suggested precautions:
  • Keep money hidden. A money belt under clothes is a probably best.
  • Don’t carry large amounts of money. Deposit valuables in a hotel safe.
  • Expensive items such as cameras should be carried and used inconspicuously
  • Don't leave luggage unattended.
  • Don't leave possessions visible in a car, particularly a hire car.
  • Avoid walking alone late at night.

Venezuela has public and private healthcare. Public healthcare offers free treatment but charges for prescriptions. Conditions, however, are often different to what expatriates may be used to. Private hospitals offer a higher standard of treatment but require prepayment or a credit card, even for emergencies, and can be very expensive.

Living in Venezuela can be challenging. You are likely to encounter challenges such as:
  • stock at the local grocery may sometimes be little to none. You could go on any day and there will be no milk, no butter, certain types of meat, as well as household/kitchen items.
  • 'armed' guards at certain locations like malls.
  • blackouts occur regularly - about one every 2 days and there is quite strict rationing of electricity in shopping centers, cinemas, casinos, etc as well as on advertising.
  • water shortages supplied to your home and having to run water through a tank/pump system can be frustrating.
  • large amounts of garbage dumped anywhere.
  • little compassion for animals, particularly dogs and cats. You are likely to see many hungry dogs.

Most expats live in apartments because of security. Some prefer furnished homes. If looking for something furnished, it is much easier to find a one or two bed-roomed apartment. Anything bigger is more likely to be unfurnished. Be prepared that it might take 3 months to find a permanent apartment.

Caracas is ranked as an extreme hardship location with a hardship premium of 40%

The overall weighted cost of living difference between New York and Caracas is 42%. The unweighted cost of living difference per basket group is as follows:

Basket Group
Cost of Living in Venezuela, Caracas

Alcohol & Tobacco
more expensive

more expensive



Furniture & Appliances
more expensive

more expensive

more expensive

more expensive

more expensive

Personal Care
more expensive

Recreation & Culture
more expensive

Restaurants Meals Out and Hotels
more expensive


This means, based on all the above factors, that a person would require a salary of 172,095 US Dollar (USD) in Caracas to have the same standard of living as currently enjoyed in New York on a salary of 100,000 US Dollar (USD ). This salary compensates for the overall cost of living difference of 42%, the hardship difference of 30% (Caracas 40% less New York 10%), and the exchange rate

Xpatulator.com for all your cost of living information

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