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
Venezuela is home to a large expat community, with many foreigners working in the country's oil industry. Most expats settle in Venezuela’s capital, Caracas, or in cities such as Maracaibo, Puerto La Cruz, Anaco and Valencia. Expats working in Venezuela often find the business environment to be more informal and relaxed than in North America or Europe, but are likely to find more corruption in the workplace as well.
For those who can afford it, the standard of private healthcare in Venezuela is good. 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 dangerous.
Public transport in Caracas and Maracaibo is fairly 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 careful when driving at night. Locals in Venezuela drive erratically so expats should drive defensively.
Expat families and children in Venezuela
Venezuela is a magical place to raise a family, with plenty to do for the kids and countless family-friendly holiday destinations throughout the country, such as the spectacular Angel Falls or any of the gorgeous beach towns along its long coastline.
Cities have plenty of green spaces, museums and other adventures for kids to enjoy, though we recommend that they always be accompanied by a guardian. As far as schools go, major Venezuelan cities are well equipped to serve the needs of expat families with several international schools that allow students to continue studying the curriculum of their home country.
Cost of living in Venezuela
Western expats will find the cost of living in Venezuela staggeringly cheap. Food is extremely affordable, including imported goods and even when eating out at restaurants. The price of petrol (gas) is also exceptionally cheap, which means public transport and driving one's own vehicle cost next to nothing. Rent is also affordable, bar the very 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 are able to live fairly lavish lives here.
Climate in Venezuela
Situated just above the equator, the weather in Venezuela is warm and pleasant all year round. 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 the vibrant culture of this country are sure to have an unforgettable expat experience.
Population: 28.7 million
Capital city: Caracas
Neighbouring countries: Venezuela is bordered by Colombia to the west, Brazil to the south, Guyana to the east and a Carribean 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 make sure 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 hijackings and theft. Venezuela has a limited national rail and bus system.