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Expat Exchange - Retire in Chichicastenango Guide 2024
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Retire in Chichicastenango Guide

By Joshua Wood, LPC

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Summary: Retire in Chichicastenango with confidence, armed with the knowledge from our extensive guide. It covers critical considerations for retirees, from the cost of living and climate to housing, healthcare, and residency choices in Chichicastenango. We also delve into the social and cultural scene, volunteering options, public transportation facilities, and the city's walkability, helping you make an informed decision.

Chichicastenango, a vibrant town in the heart of Guatemala, has become a popular destination for international retirees. Its rich cultural heritage, affordable cost of living, and pleasant climate make it an attractive choice. However, like any foreign country, it also presents its own set of challenges, from language barriers to navigating the healthcare system. Let's delve into what it's like to retire in this charming Guatemalan town.


One of the main draws of Chichicastenango is its low cost of living. From housing to groceries, expenses here are significantly lower than in many Western countries. Renting a comfortable home can cost as little as $300 a month, and a meal at a local restaurant can be had for under $5. However, it's important to note that while living costs are low, so are local wages, so it's essential to have a reliable source of retirement income.


Chichicastenango enjoys a temperate climate year-round, with average temperatures ranging from 60 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit. The rainy season, from May to October, brings lush greenery and vibrant flowers, while the dry season offers clear skies and pleasant temperatures. This climate makes it ideal for outdoor activities and exploring the town's many cultural sites.


While Chichicastenango is not home to any major hospitals, it is within a two-hour drive of Guatemala City, which has several top-notch medical facilities. Many doctors in Guatemala are U.S.-trained and speak English, making healthcare more accessible for retirees. However, it's important to have a good health insurance plan, as out-of-pocket costs can be high.

Public Healthcare System

Guatemala's public healthcare system is available to all residents, including international retirees. However, many expats choose to use private healthcare due to the long wait times and limited resources in public hospitals. Private health insurance is affordable and can provide access to better facilities and quicker treatment.

Residency Options

Guatemala offers a pensionado visa for retirees, which requires proof of a monthly income of at least $1,000. This visa grants residency and allows retirees to import household goods tax-free. However, the process can be complex and may require the assistance of a local attorney.

Recreational Activities

Chichicastenango is famous for its vibrant markets, where locals and tourists alike can buy everything from fresh produce to handmade crafts. The town is also home to several beautiful parks and historic churches, providing plenty of opportunities for leisurely strolls and cultural exploration.


From traditional Guatemalan cuisine to international dishes, Chichicastenango's restaurant scene is diverse and affordable. Some popular spots include Los Cofrades, known for its local dishes, and El Quetzal, which offers a mix of Guatemalan and Western cuisine.

Language Learning

While Spanish is the official language of Guatemala, many locals in Chichicastenango also speak K'iche', a Mayan language. There are several language schools in the area, such as the Centro Linguistico Maya, where retirees can learn both Spanish and K'iche'.

Local Culture

The people of Chichicastenango are known for their warm hospitality and rich cultural traditions. The town is a hub of Mayan culture, with traditional ceremonies and festivals taking place throughout the year. However, it's important for retirees to respect local customs and traditions, as this is a deeply spiritual community.

Volunteer Opportunities

There are several local organizations where retirees can volunteer, such as the Chichicastenango Rotary Club, which works on community development projects. Volunteering can be a great way to give back to the community and meet new people.


Most retirees in Chichicastenango choose to rent rather than buy property. Homes here are typically single-story, with a courtyard in the center. Many retirees choose to live in the town center, where they can easily walk to markets, restaurants, and cultural sites.


Chichicastenango is a walkable town, and many retirees find they don't need a car. For longer trips, there are local buses and taxis, as well as shuttle services to Guatemala City and other major destinations.

About the Author

Joshua Wood Joshua Wood, LPC joined Expat Exchange in 2000 and serves as one of its Co-Presidents. He is also one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. Prior to Expat Exchange, Joshua worked for NBC Cable (MSNBC and CNBC Primetime). Joshua has a BA from Syracuse and a Master's in Clinical and Counseling Psychology from Fairleigh Dickinson University. Mr. Wood is also a licensed counselor and psychotherapist.

Some of Joshua's articles include Pros and Cons of Living in Portugal, 10 Best Places to Live in Ireland and Pros and Cons of Living in Uruguay. Connect with Joshua on LinkedIn.

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SJB Global
SJB Global

SJB Global is a top-rated financial advisory firm specializing in expat financial advice worldwide, offering retirement planning & tax-efficient solutions with a regressive fee model.
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SJB GlobalSJB Global

SJB Global is a top-rated financial advisory firm specializing in expat financial advice worldwide, offering retirement planning & tax-efficient solutions with a regressive fee model.
Learn More

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