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A safe and affordable place to live abroad...

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4/21/2013 21:26 EST

Hello there!

As I am approaching the so called "retirement age". I have been wondering...if I'd be able to survive here in the States. Anyways, I've traveled to Guatemala many, many times, and like they say; "I've seen it all" including Antigua Guatemala, and the famous Lake Atitlan. Now, to make this story short; a question to those people who know these areas well: which of these places will be cheaper to live?


4/21/2013 22:23 EST

Your questions are somewhat vague.... "Safe and Affordable" the words have different connotations.

You have been to Antigua and so you then very aware how expensive it is as compared to the rest of Guatemala.. Lago Atitlan has many villages that surround the lake and again these all present a variance in costing and safety.

I live in Quetzaltenango (Xela) which to me is perfect..... very safe and yes very affordable.

My question to you is "what are you looking for with either... in safety and affordability??

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4/22/2013 00:06 EST

Thank you for your reply. In terms of your question; "safe and affordable" meaning that just because I will be in a safe place, I am expecting to support myself without spending a monthly fortune I don't have. I know Antigua can be very high; especially if one stays in the heart of the city (Antigua). I will try to find out more on around Lake Atitlan, "Xela" it sounds nice too. Oh well, que sera, sera...

4/22/2013 01:15 EST

Antigua is very expensive if you rent an apartment or co op, Ciudad Vieja a smaller town outside of Antigua is less expensive, Lake Atitlan can be cheap or moderately expensive, depending your lifestyle, most ex pats are opting to live in Lakeside villages outside crowded Panajachel and Quetzaltenago is a good choice if you do not mind city life, fairly cheap rentals and large expat and traveler community view
Lake Atitlan
Quetzaltenanago also called Xela
then travel yourself, look around, make friends of locals and long term working ex pats - not barflys or real estate scammers-The Webmaster of xelapages dot com in Quetzaltenango very helpful, long term expat from US, I lived in Guate several yeara before returning to El Salvador, a great place to settle if you like Surf, Sand, Waves and Fiestas Buena Suerte. PS San Lucas Sacatepequez some 15 km. East of Antigua, large town enroute to Guate City becoming popular with expats. 20 minutes by Bus or Car to Antigua. Reasonable rents.

4/22/2013 11:42 EST

You can live in Antigua cheap. Rent on the outskirts of town. Eat at the mercado or street vendors or cook at home. Buy a bike or scooter or simply walk it. What's nice about Antigua is there is more to see and do than the other places mentioned. The social scene is vibrant and dynamic. It is very easy to make friends. Don't let people scare you with the Antigua is expensive nonsense. You get what you pay for anyway.

4/22/2013 12:02 EST

I think Panajachel has it's qualities but I got bored very quickly. in a short period of time. I have not visited Xela so I can't tell you what it is like there. Avoid Guate City like the plague if possible. The traffic is horrific! But Antigua, I would chose Antigua everytime. I am currently living in San Cristobal de las Casas in Chiapas, Mexico (for 2 years) but I catch myself wishing that I was serving in Antigua. I am a 27 year old white woman traveling alone and when I was in Antigua for 5 months last year, I felt very safe. Yes, some things about Antigua is expensive, but if you live like a local, you will be fine. When I say, live like a local, I mean don't eat out at all the fancy restaurants all the time, cook at home a lot. My rent in Antigua was $350 including internet/water/cable tv/electricity/cleaning lady. I cooked almost all my meals at home, ate out with friends a couple times a month (nothing expensive), had coffee with a friend 2-3 times a week, and there is a plether of things to do in and around the city. Tuk Tuks are cheap to get around, as well. I spent around $750-$800 a month. Good luck!

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4/22/2013 12:23 EST

I certainly appreciate your advice; you're right on "you get what you pay for". I sense that Antigua it would be better, especially for a single lady.

Thank you! Expat5150

4/22/2013 13:35 EST

Speaking from experience not heresay, the three places mentioned here are all affordable and safe to live in. They just offer different things to different people and certainly at different costs. Panajachel, Antigua and Xela can only be compared to for cost of living.

Xela for me is the perfect place as it is large enough to offer several markets to purchase local foods in, There are even large food stores if you want that, even a five screen movie house. It has all the brand name shops, great eateries, bars and salsa hopping places. It has a sports complex, soccer fields, museums, a wonderful historic theatre and several parques.

What I do prefer is that Xela does not cater to Englsh speaking tourists or expats like both Pana and Antigua do. It is less touristy here. I much prefer living amongst the real Guatemalans. In Xela I can do that. It is also close enough to either Lago Atitlan or the Pacifica should I wish short visits.

The mountains offer me wonderful warm days and cool nights with its dry air and endless vistas. As for what it costs to live, well that really depends on your lifestyle. Easily a person can live on one half what it costs to live in Antigua. You can rent a house (not just an apartment here in Xela for $125 a month. You can easily live on between $400 to $500 a month. That includes rent, power, cable, WiFi, food, entertainment, transportation everything.

I live in a three bedroom house ten minutes walk from downtown in a non touristy neighborhood (local people only) that is very quiet and very safe. The house is all mine, I do not share it. Behind the house is a patio and garden with grass and trees. I hear songbirds everyday. There is a small chicken coop for fresh eggs, a kiln to bake bread, a washer and dryer, the list goes on. All of this for a fraction of the price I would pay in other touristy areas of Guatemala like Pana or Antigua.

Xela gives me an affordable living at $400 a month for all my living costs. The decision of where you want to live and what you are prepared to pay is all up to you. It is always a personal choice.

I just prefer non tourist areas, less English spoken, yes I prefer Xela as it offers me everything I need here in this wonderful country called Guatemala.

4/22/2013 13:58 EST

Hi Gavino. Thanks for the info you just posted. I've been told Xela is very cold. I don't know whether its true. I have no problem with cold weather, as I really hate the heat,like its in Miami,l place that has theatersand restaurants. I speak fkuent Spanish. With my pension and social security, I know I can live a lot better than in the states. I have one question. Do you know of a good hearing aid business inGuatemala? I wear a hearing aid in my left ear. Thanks once again for the info.

4/24/2013 13:31 EST

I have lived in Guatemala for 20 years. There are places for everyone here. If someone wants a mix of a cosmopolitan city with great restaurants, lots of traffic and something to do culturally then Guatemala City is your choice. If someone wants a more peaceful life, lots of centuries old ruins, monasteries, convents and churches all laid out on cobblestone streets then Antigua is your choice. If someone wants peach and tranquility with the World's Most Beautiful high mountain lake as a back drop then Panajachel or one of the towns around Lake Atitlan is your choice. If someone wants a colder climate then Xela (Quetzaltenango) is your choice. The city has the second most spanish schools in the country, is an hour's drive from Xocomil and Xetalul.

The country is very inexpensive. I rented a four bedroom home with a two car garage in Guatemala City from 2004-2009 for US$314.00. I bought a home in guatemala city for US$100,000 and it has four bedrooms, family room, living room, dining room, maids quarters, back yard and more..

4/29/2013 10:28 EST

Xela may be a little chilly at night in the winter but it is not a problem, don't worry no snow! If you would like to see Xela check my youtube presentaton Quetzaltenango-Xela, Guatemala

5/3/2013 15:58 EST

Quetzaltenango is just a beautiful affordable place to live, free of the city rush, full of culture and delicious foods.
Lived there for a year with just about $700 per month to cover rent and expenses. :)

5/3/2013 22:59 EST

To: Xela23

May I ask you how much were you paying for your monthly pad in Xela? Why only for a year? Was this recently that you were there?


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