Expats who move to Guatemala live in a country directly south of Mexico, to the west of Belize and bordered by both the Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Sea. There are several places that expats gravitate toward, and there are several important factors to consider before moving to Guatemala as an expat.
Deciding Where to Live In Guatemala
An expat in the United States who wanted to move to Guatemala asked about places to live.
There are areas considered the best places for expats to live in Guatemala.
Here is some advice offered to someone thinking about moving to Guatemala:
"How wonderful that you wish to move here. Best advice though is not to move lock, stock and barrel without coming here first to check out the different regions. Xela (Quetzaltenago) is a big City... might be too busy for you....sounds like Lake Atitlan might be more up your alley?! Come down for a few months, travel around, stay in Antigua, Xela and the Lake (the Lake itself has 12 villages, each one very different, so best to try and visit and stay in as many as possible!)
"It is a magical place; I first came here in my late 20's and kept on coming back and have lived in Xela and Antigua, but now live Pana on the Lake. There is something for everyone here. But for sure come and check it out first. Good Luck!"
In an expat report about moving to Salama, Guatemala an expat advised others to "find a home that is closer to town - that way you will have electricity, water, etc... Make sure you are close to a bus route."
Here is advice on living in Antigua, Guatemala with kids.
Visa Information for Guatemala
Here is Visa Information for U.S. citizens traveling to Guatemala. Here are some highlights:
U.S. citizens do not need a visa for a stay of 90 days or less. That period can be extended for an additional 90 days upon application to Guatemalan immigration (If the initial period of stay granted upon entry is less than 90 days, any extension would be granted only for the same number of days as the initial authorization). U.S. citizen travelers should have at least 6 months of validity remaining on their U.S. passports after the date of entry or they may be turned back by the airline or immigration.
Remember to always check with the Guatemalan government before going to ensure that you have the most up-to-date information.
What to Bring to Guatemala
An expat moving to Guatemala asked what to bring, and they were advised:
"High thread count sheets, wash clothes, Frank's kraut, everything else you can get here or a reasonable substitute. Note the high thread count sheets, also big fluffy towels. These can become rather important if you plan on spending any length of time here. Also flea treatment, if you are a do9 or cat person, you know how important this can be. The fleas here have attitude like you wouldn"t believe and need strong encouragement to die. Although I consider myself a peaceful soul, I wish death and destruction to fleas. We have 6 dogs, I believe they would agree."
"Any electric item is expensive in Guatemala. Tv. Microwave, computers, etc."
"For things are not available here... I want a specific item not available here I order from Amazon. Fast, cheap and U.S. prices. There are shipping charges (I use a mail forwarding service based in Miami, FL.) plus Customs charges and receive my items in 7-10 days."
Retiring in Guatemala
In our article about the best place to retire in Central America, Antigua Guatemala is one of the more popular options cited.
One expat who retired to Guatemala offered the following advice to someone thinking about bringing their family of four to Guatemala:
"Guatemala is a place for gringos to retire to not a place to bring children. The health care in Pana is third world. the school ,no offense to your wife, are dismal. you can teach in elementary schools with a high school diploma. Your kids will get worms, diarrhea and be eaten alive by the bugs flying and crawling.... to answer your question; I live in Antigua by myself in a 4 bedroom house, the rent is $350.,00 a month and the maid gets around $10.00 a day. I still go through about $4,000.00 a month to live half way first world."
Expat Health Care in Guatemala
An expat who reported about health care in Guatemala for expats stressed that expats should "forget about public hospital unless it is for [an] emergency."
In regards to prescription medications in Guatemala, he wrote that "most everything is available. Lots of things you need [a] prescription [for] in the first world you can get them here over the counter. But medicines are expensive here."
Carefully consider CDC information about the Zika Virus.
Cost of Living in Guatemala
Here is cost of living information for Guatemala from numbeo.
In our article about tips for living in Guatemala, expats are quoted about the cost of living there.
One expat reported: "I have been in Guatemala for 20 years - one year in Antigua and 19 in Guatemala City. Fruits and vegetables are priced better than anywhere in Central America. They are all grown here and cost less than a fifth of the prices in the U.S. Meats are more expensive, but I buy mine at the market as well. Pork is $2.50 a pound and Chicken is $0.99 a pound. I rented for years in Guatemala City and paid US$300 for a four-bedroom home."
Local Banks in Guatemala
An expat asked about local banks in Guatemala. They were advised by another expat:
"The most secure bank generally is Banco Industrila, probably followed by BAM. But, as a foreigner you cannot open an account unless you have a 'sponsor', someone with a DPI.
A few years ago foreigners could open accounts with GyT, their rates are higher than others, but don't think you needed a 'sponsor'."
"There is a limit as to how much you can wire into Guatemala due to laundering...be sure to make an arrangement with the bank so that you can have a higher limit, before you open the account. In Pana all of these 3 banks have branches and on-line banking facilities."