Retiring in Guatemala: How much does it cost

Guatemala is the perfect place to consider retirement under the sun.

Guatemala is the perfect place to consider retirement under the sun.

Retiring in Guatemala is a dream for many foreigners who want to retire under the sun and enjoy a country with a low cost of living. Here is a rough details of the costs you can expect if you want to retire in Guatemala.

Immigration

You are entitled to a 90 days visa every time you enter the country as a tourist, and many people choose to get out four times a year to visit family or nearby countries, and stay on a tourist visa. While I don’t recommend it, I have never heard of anyone having trouble coming in our out, and have never had my migratory status checked in ten years of visiting and living here.

Obtaining residency is relatively easy, first you will get a two year temporary residency, then another one, before you can become a permanent resident. All applications made by a local lawyer should not cost more than $3000.

Plane tickets

Spirit is the only low cost airline flying to Guatemala from Fort Lauderdale, and the rest of the US with a layover. You can find flights as cheap as $150 round trip, but the norm is more to the tune of $300 for a US flight and $1000 for a European flight. You could also fly to Cancun, Mexico and make your way overland to Guatemala.

Housing

Housing is very cheap in Guatemala if you are looking for a simple one or two bed house. In Antigua Guatemala, the most expensive town, you can rent a basic furnished house including utilities for $500, with more luxurious options in the $800-$1200 range.

Outside Antigua, places like Lake Atitlan and Peten are more affordable, with basic houses starting at $300 and nicer places renting for $500-$700.

If utilities are not included, internet costs about $50 per month for a good package, electricity $40, gas is $10 per tank and water rates are around $30 for normal consumption (no swimming pool).

Food

Fresh fruits and vegetable are plentiful and delicious all year, most of them cost under $0.5 per pound, meat is around $3 per pound and other basics like rice, beans, sugar are under $1 a pound.

If you want imported products like wine, cheese, snacks and cereal, expect to pay around US prices. The cheapest bottles of wine cost $4 with decent options around $10.

Transportation

If you live in Antigua Guatemala, you probably won’t need a car. A local taxi takes your around for $2 and shuttle buses run all around the country for $30 at most. If you want your own car, it is easier and cheaper to buy one there than to import your own.

Going out and visiting the country

You can have a good meal for two with wine for around $50 at the best restaurants in Antigua. A normal meal in a small restaurant costs $2-8.

A mid range hotel charges between $30 and $60 per night, with pensions as cheap as $8 per night around Lake Atitlan.

Comments

  1. Ron Schuver says:

    I am seriously thinking of moving to the Lake Atitlan area. Any suggestions for a good lawyer? Is Lake Atitlan the best place to go?

    • Pauline says:

      Hi Ron, you can check carrillolaw.com, they are not cheap but very good. In countries like Guatemala it is worth paying for a reputable firm to do due diligence, to make sure the deed is legit. Lake Atitlán is a beautiful place but it is a cold climate, you cannot swim in the lake year round like you would in the other two big lakes of Petén Itzá and Izabal. It depends on what climate you prefer. You can check this post for more info on Atitlán

  2. Hey Pauline can expats actually own land and real estate in Guatemala? I know in some places you can only rent if you are not a citizen. I am looking to buy real estate and move abroad in the next five years or so and Guatemala and Spain are two places the wifey and I thought about. Not sure though if we will end up adding other places to that list. You have a lot going on. With the development are you going to be building the homes as well as selling the land?

    • Pauline says:

      Yes, you can own land. I own mine through a LLC to make title transfers easier should I want to buy BF out or vice versa as we are not married. But you can buy a property as a foreigner, except the properties that are 200m from lake and seashores. Those you have a 30 year lease even if you are Guatemalan.
      I am selling land at the moment but we have had a pretty good team build our house in less than 6 months so we are thinking about offering supervision of your project or full turn key houses. If you buy and leave the contractors there while you fly back home, chances are they will “lose” a lot of materials and make less progress so I think that is a service people may enjoy.

  3. Your development looks amazing Pauline. I was wondering if there are any restrictions on foreigners purchasing land in Guatemala? While it sounds like using a tourist visa allows you to stay long term (as long as you leave every few months) does it affect your ability to own a home?

    • There are restrictions if you live near the shore but that is for any individual, you can’t own the land, it is a state concession (which is the case for my house but not the land I am selling). You can apply for a two year residency which is pretty easy to get, then permanent if you like it. If you stay as a tourist you can own property in your name or under a company name, which makes the sale easier, you just transfer your shares to the new owner.

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