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Nervous but excited about Panajachel

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4/21/2014 11:35 EST

My wife and I are considering relocating to Panajachel but are understandably nervous as neither of us have lived and worked outside the United States. My wife has been to Lake Atitlan several times, loves the region and speaks fluent Spanish, but it will be my first time in Guatamala. I've only been to Central American once - on vacation in eastern Costa Rica, and it ranked below the times I've spent in Buenos Aires or European destinations. But I want to expand my experiences and comfort zone.

My professional work is mostly in online communications, so reliable internet is essential, with enough bandwidth to Skype with colleagues back in the U.S. I am also curious about the weather. I understand it is very moderate (60-75F) most of the year, which is nice since I don't do well in hot climates or in direct sunlight. (I'm Irish by ancestry, with the accompanying pale skin.)

Am I being overly worried or would this be a difficult transition? The town sounds welcoming and I'm reassured with there apparently being a large expat community, but as noted, this would be a extraordinary experience for us, especially me. Moving is generally a tiresome endeavor, and this would be to a new country.

4/21/2014 12:12 EST

I live in Antigua and go to Pana maybe every other month for a weeks vacation. I have used Skype in Pana as well as youtube with little or no problems. Yes, a large expat community in Pana. Weather is very nice, basically Spring all year around. I have found on whole that prices are a bit cheaper there than here in Antigua. If you're open to learning a new culture, language, etc. you'll do fine.

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4/21/2014 15:10 EST

Dear Guiness
Pana is a wonderful place to live, as is the Lake as a whole. I've lived her permanently now for nearly 6 years and about 15 years ago I was here for a year and a half.
The Lake is, and i don't think I'd be wrong in saying, probably the safest place in Guatemala.
the climate is perfect, do read up about the country on line, but Spring is right, 6 months dry season, never too humid even in the rainy season, another 6 months which is about to start (Apr/May - Oct). BUT temp is pretty much the same throughout the year because we are at altitude of 5,000 feet more or less.
There is a HUGE foreign community living all around the lake.
Each village is different so there is something for everyone!
But for good internet that Pana is probably your best bet and trying to find somewhere with a landline so that you can get higher speed internet.
Coming and renting first is probably your best bet and get to know the whole area and what it has to offer, plus learning the language i believe is important and there are lots of teachers and schools around!
I'm happy to help you with finding somewhere to stay and any more questions you might have about this spectacular country.
Yes, any move is hard, and yes pretty much the way everything functions here will be different. So long as you are patient and open minded and ready to expect the unexpected you will love it here!! Just send me a private message
Best, Francesca

4/21/2014 16:32 EST

Hi there,
Panajachel is the entry of Lake Atitlan. Where there is the biggest concentration of expats.. so I'm sure you will morph easily in the expat community. Regarding internet now there are various providers around the lake offering WIFI connection.. and I use one of them which allow me to do streaming and skype call.. but the best connection is for sure to have a land line on which you can have a dsl service.. I have helped numerous person to relocate and for all of them so far it has been a great experience.. for my self 25 years here gave me the experience to help the new comers to have a smooth transition.. Send me a private message if you want to discuss further .. and welcome to the Most Beautiful lake in the world..

7/21/2014 09:22 EST

Hello All,

I'm a single female currently living in a quiet place in the UK and looking to relocate to Panajachel.

I'm going to be coming over at the end of September/ early October to stay for a couple of months and it would be wonderful to have a connection to someone who could tell me the important things I'd need to know for living there.

My priorities are safety, health care, affordability of housing plus a good internet service.

I'd be grateful for any help on this.

Thank you.


7/21/2014 16:36 EST

Hi Krystina - I'm a Brit too and been living on and off at the lake for past 15 years, and permanently the past 6.
Feel free to pm me or email might be better: francescwade (at)
Try coming as far into Oct as you can as Sept/Oct are the heaviest months of the rainy season with concessional hurricanes passing through. Nothing to worry about, just means a lot of rain. But, if you stay on into Nov, then you will be here for one of the best months of the year! And the beginning of the dry season!
Best, Francesca

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7/21/2014 17:00 EST

Living in a country is much different than visiting. Give yourself six months just to acclimate. You will have to relearn many things, so try to relax, go slow and be easy on yourself.

Actually having to navigate in another language can be very taxing. Give your self lots of slack and smile mucho.

Don't push yourself too hard and remember, you have the rest of your life to get used to it. Successful expats use the experience to reinvent their lives and do entirely new things. Unsuccessful expats complain that things aren't like where they came from. It is also a great time to rediscover your spouse and find new ways to relate. My husband has talents I never knew he had, moving rekindled our relationship and gave us a new freedom to relate because we didn't have to meet anyone's expectations.

Travel around the country and the region. Too many expats just settle in and never go anywhere. Central America is a fascinating place full of wonder, beauty and great people.

Life will be the same but different. Make it an adventure.

11/16/2016 17:04 EST


I am just on the boards looking at all the people's comments about places to live in Guatemala. Your description of the lake sounds marvelous. I would like a relaxed atmosphere with other expats, cultural and artsy too. With some modern amenities. I'm just wondering what would be the expectations of housing rental there? Also, what about traveling to Guatemala, would it be advisable to drive there from the US with my vehicle? I don't have enough money t retire here in the US, so looking for alternatives. This place sounds wonderful!! Thanks!! Kathleen

11/16/2016 18:04 EST

Hi Kathleen
To be honest I would not just move here without knowing the place. Have you ever been to Guatemala or a country like Guatemala?
I love it and have lived here on and off for nearly 20 years, permanently for the past 8, but it is not necessarily for everyone.
The best advice, I believe, is to come down here, rent a house somewhere around the Lake, explore the Lake, explore Antigua and maybe Xela and visit the country as a whole.

Then, after a few months, having lived here for a bit, you will understand better what it is like actually living here and had a chance to speak to the locals, speak to other foreigners living here etc.
It is a developing country, so it will not be like living in the States at all! Or any developed country!
Then, you can consider the move and decide where and how to get here - personally, especially i fyou are on your own and don't speak Spanish, I wouldn't drive.
The Lake itself has 12 villages around it, each one very different to the next, meaning there is something for everyone.
I'm very happy to help with any further info or regarding rentals, as we also run a small real estate business.
Good Luck and yes, Guatemala is a magical place...but like anywhere you have to take good with the bad, understand, respect and be patient with the way things work here. And learn the language!

11/16/2016 20:11 EST

Come to Pana, go to Crossroads Cafe and strike up a conversation. You will get information and meet people who are passing through, but also expats, currently living here. Moved here 3 1/2 years ago for the climate and cost of living and our life here is extremely satisfying. My advice is be quiet and listen before drawing your own conclusions. Best of luck!

11/16/2016 23:52 EST

Thanks for your response! What would be a average cost to rent a one + bedroom house in Pana? Can arrangements be made ahead of time r does one have to go there in person to look around? Thanks again!

11/17/2016 00:14 EST

HI! I'd like to hear how your experience goes there in Panajachel. I won't be able to come down until Spring or early summer here. I have the same concerns as you do. Thanks!!

11/17/2016 23:15 EST

Tough to answer your question about cost of rent. Do you want 1 room in a hotel? Can be had for $150 with a bit of looking. 3 rooms with cable, fridge, stove and maybe a nice sitting space outside $400-$500 depending. Rents lower outside Pana, yet still on the lake. Best come check it out for yourself!

3/9/2017 11:30 EST

I have a friend that lives in Pana and runs an online business in another country. He uses a software called speedify. It combines 2 internet services so that you never get dropped calls or interruptions in your service. He swore it works great and has had no problems running the business, and he does online meetings/Skype with it.

2/1/2018 14:04 EST

I visited central America several times now over the past 11 years. One conversation I had was with a man who had driven his vehicle there (not sure which country) with the idea that it would save him $$ and a fun experience. His story was that the experience was NOT fun because it practically every checkpoint there was always something wrong with his papers. Purely by accident, the wrong something could always be corrected with a payment of $$. He said he would NEVER do it again.
Your experience could be much different and much easier, but be wary.

2/3/2018 13:07 EST

Hello everyone --

It's almost 4 years later, and I've stumbled across this old post again. I was neglectful in thanking everyone before, but my wife's and my time in Panajachel was an absolute adventure. We are now back in the States. If it had not been for a change in my profession, we would still be in Guatemala.

We made many lifelong friends and acquaintances in Pana, both locals and other foreigners. The expat community was very welcoming to us as newcomers (though a few liked to engage in nastiness at times). I was able to take a few classes in Spanish, but also picked up quite a bit just doing the shopping at the market and at the Dispensa, Chalos, and Sandras. The locals were extremely welcoming as well, and very patient and sincere with those us learning their language.

The weather was amazing there. Only a few days out of the year did it get unbearably hot. My favorite time of the year was the raining season as it felt so refreshing during each afternoon's shower. The windy season was a joy.

We had a great apartment on Calle 15 de Febrero. I was success continuing my work in online communications once we got Claro to run a line to our building three months after arriving. Many of those I spoke with using Skype did not realize I was calling from Guatemala.

We can't wait to return and see our friends again. This is just a very short peek into our life, merely to express our thanks to those who answer my 2014 post. I'm happy to answer any specific questions others may have. There are a number of Facebook groups where you can ask questions and get familiar with local amenities.

While there, take lots of trips around the lake and meet others in the other towns. Each one has its own character and things to see and do. It's hard to really put it all into words.

If anyone is nervous about making the move to Pana, as I was, I can confidently urge you to do it. It's a great place to live with amazing locals and foreigners, and a place that will live in your heart forever.

2/28/2018 13:24 EST

Panajachel is an exciting city, you have many infrastructures, lots of expats, ...
The weather is indeed great year round, with sunny days but never too hot !
This region of Guatemala is great, safe, and you'll have a good water and electricity access (also good internet). The provider Claro has an office in Panajachel for example :)

For buying or renting a house, there are also many great options to have an excellent quality of life.

I am myself in the process of buying a house near Panajachel, and I am in touch with the Real Estate Atitlan agent. He is friendly, and lives there for more than 25 years! He can give you good advices :)

Here is the website if needed :

Good luck and contact me when you arrive if you want to meet :) I arrived one month ago in Guatemala only :)

4/29/2018 00:47 EST

My wife and I are planning to move to either Antigua or Atitlan. We have 2 kids (8 and 9), so schooling is the issue that will keep us in Antigua unless we homeschool in Atitlan. My question is whether you would make the move again with two kids. Is there decent healthcare around the lake?

4/29/2018 12:15 EST

Being nervous, totally understandable. The Lake is a wonderful and welcoming place to be. However, I would strongly advice you don't relocate, lock, stock and barrel, so to speak without having spent a good 6 months here and even living in different villages around the Lake as each one offers very different things! AND travel around the country as much as possible.
It is VERY different from living in the States or any developed country, it will take time to adjust and understand that everything is different here, including the culture and the way people live and do things! Patience is a great thing to have and a sense of humour. Never get angry....doesn't help! But I would say jump right in and give yourselves like about 6 months to test the waters. It isn't for everyone, but for those of us who have chosen to live here and have done for decades....we love it!! And all newbies are welcomed!
Good Luck!

4/29/2018 12:47 EST

I have 2 daughters borned and raised on the lake.. They are now 16-18 and they had the great experience growing in the living Mayan culture and expat communities.. Health care never been and issue .we have local and expat heatlh insurance.. School we had them in Escuela Caracol in San Marcos La Laguna until 6th grade then in PCI in Panajachel great school and environment .PM if you want more info

6/2/2018 19:10 EST

I also have similar aged children. Is Antigua the place with the best schools? That is my main concern.

6/2/2018 23:18 EST

The best school is always relative to how you distinguished them and to what. But for sure Antigua as private expat schools with more children than in Panajachel and maybe more capacities to have better educational team.

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