Utilities and Basic Services in Bolivia

Expat Services   Expat Meets   Expat Forum   Live in Bolivia   Housing

Although this section on utilities was originally written for Santa Cruz, the processes described are similar or the same for most of Bolivia (although some company names may be different) so if you're planning to move somewhere other than Santa Cruz, read through this very important information anyway.

You will have to set up utilities (water, electricity, gas, phone, internet, cable or satellite TV) in your home and/or office if you are relocating to Bolivia. This can be a bit frustrating for foreigners as it is time consuming, usually must be done in person, and there are quite a few prior requirements that must be fulfilled, especially in terms of documentation you will be asked for.

In addition, things just don’t operate the same way here as in other countries, but if you are well informed prior to your move, everything will go a lot more smoothly, which is why I've included this section to help make your transition just a little less stressful.

Learn how to set up water, electricity and other utilities in your home in Bolivia


a) You may need a written rental contract to set up some of these utilities, so make sure you get one when you decide on a place to rent or buy. You may, in some cases, also be asked to show documents proving your legal residency.

b) Utilities companies do not send a bill each month in the mail, although some will hand deliver them to your home. You then pay your bill either at the utility company office itself, or at your bank or credit union. The electric company, gas company and some cellular phone companies do hand deliver a bill to your home in most areas of most larger cities.

c) There are sometimes power shortages and the electric company rations power throughout the city whenever necessary. To this end, they will previously announce (usually in the local media or on their websites) in which neighborhoods and during which hours these cut-offs will occur so you can plan ahead (to not use electricity or water during these times, or to have extra water and candles on hand during these hours). It doesn't happen often, just something you should know.

d) There are parts of every city (usually the outskirts that have not been fully developed and urbanized yet) where running water and electricity (and other utilities such as landline phones) are not yet available. Be aware of this BEFORE you rent or purchase a home or a piece of land you plan to eventually build on. This can be true even in places where homes have already been built so before you rent or buy, ASK about each and every one of the basic services, if they exist and are available, and how much is the estimated monthly cost for each one of the services you will be using.

e) In Santa Cruz, all electric appliances must be 220V (in the U.S. everything is 110V). This is not true of every city in Bolivia (La Paz, for example, uses 110V). Therefore, 110V appliances will either not be worth bringing with you, or you will have to purchase and rely on a lot of converters (which convert your appliances current from 110V to 220V) when you get here. If you bring 110V appliances with you, you will also need adapters because the wall outlets in most of Bolivia will have round holes rather than narrow slits for plugs. Using too many adapters in your home or business here is not recommended. The power grid tends to get overloaded. In addition, your home’s electric installation grid may not withstand it – and the laws regarding inspections of electrical installations during construction may be lax. It's a fire hazard.

Follow the links below to learn how to set up water, electricity, phone, cellular phone, internet, Cable TV, and natural gas (for cooking) in your Santa Cruz home. If you will be moving to another city in Bolivia, read through this anyway. Most of the procedures will be similar and you'll be a well-informed consumer.

WATER service (running water, sewage and trash pick up are included).
This section also lists companies that deliver bottled water.

ELECTRICITY for your office or home.

NATURAL GAS for cooking or to have gas canisters delivered to your home.

PHONE AND CELLPHONE service (landline and cellular phones).

INTERNET service (dial-up, DSL and wireless service).

CABLE TV providers. How to choose and set up cable TV.

Continue to These Important Pages on Housing

What are Bolivian houses like?

Is rent free living possible (and worthwhile)?

Everything you should know about house hunting.

Everything you should know about renting.

Return to the Housing Home Page

Expat Services   Expat Meets   Expat Forum   Live in Bolivia   Housing

Click here to get a link to this page for your blog or website.

Would you prefer to share this page with others by linking to it?

  1. Click on the HTML link code below.
  2. Copy and paste it, adding a note of your own, into your blog, a Web page, forums, a blog comment, your Facebook account, or anywhere that someone would find this page valuable.