Planning a move to Guatemala? Whether you’re relocating for work, retirement, or simply seeking a new adventure, understanding the housing market in Guatemala is pivotal. In this article, we discuss the various aspects of finding your ideal home in Guatemala.
Real estate in Guatemala has the same golden rule as anywhere else: location, location, location. Guatemala has many beautiful places, from charming country villages and colonial towns to bustling urban centers. As an expat, where you decide to live really depends on your reasons for moving to Guatemala.
For professionals: Many expats come to Guatemala for their jobs, with Guatemala City being a prime hub. Your choice of residence will likely revolve around the location of your workplace.
Retirees and adventurers: If you’re retiring or seeking a change of scenery, you might fall in love with places like Antigua, Flores, Quetzaltenango, or Lake Atitlán, each with their own distinct charms.
Regardless of your motive, where you choose to live will shape your housing options in Guatemala.
A former Antigua real estate agent talks about buying property in Guatemala, with an emphasis on Antigua. It's not rocket science, but there are some need-to-knows when it comes to Guatemala real estate.https://t.co/Ko4TzJ6bWL
— Central America Living (@VidaAmerica) July 13, 2022
Guatemala grapples with security challenges, largely stemming from the drug trade and organized crime (although the homicide rate has come down some over the past decade). As a result, condos and gated communities, which provide heightened security, are popular with many expats. Private contractors handle security in these developments, not public law enforcement. The condo fees reflect the cost of this security, which drives up property prices.
The impact of location: Your chosen location in Guatemala significantly influences property prices. For instance, a Zona 10 or Zona 14 condo in Guatemala City will reflect both convenience and security.
Exploring alternatives: If you prefer a gated community, the Carretera a El Salvador area offers a range of options, from small condos to large residential communities. Prices vary based on security, surroundings, and amenities.
- One-bedroom condos: Monthly rates range from US$650 to $1,500.
- Two-bedroom units: Expect to pay between US$800 and $2,000 per month.
- Three-bedroom or larger condos: Monthly rates may surpass $2,500.
While more affordable options exist in Guatemala City, they may compromise on security. Investing a bit extra for peace of mind is often worthwhile.
Is Guatemala City safe? Like every capital in Central America, it depends where you are. Here's a quick guide on where to go and where not to go in Central America's largest city.https://t.co/V2XLCCVQOF
— Central America Living (@VidaAmerica) March 2, 2023
Traffic in Guatemala City is a nightmare, though not on the scale of other Latin American cities like Mexico City, for example. During the two daily rush hours, a typical commute from the Carretera a El Salvador area to Zona 10 can stretch to two hours. It’s essential to take this into account when deciding on a home in or around Guatemala City.
Antigua, often favored for its colonial ambiance and walkable convenience, mirrors property prices in Guatemala City. However, it stands apart due to its limited housing supply. Finding a suitable place in the center of Antigua can be difficult. Just outside Antigua, the San Lucas area has some nice gated communities, approximately 15-20 minutes from the town center.
One often overlooked factor is street noise within Antigua’s central areas. Failing to research this aspect beforehand can turn a paradise into a nightmare.
Street noise – from traffic to bells to fireworks and more – is a culture shock many expats struggle with in Central and Latin America. Here's takes a lighthearted look at noise in the region, specifically in Antigua, Guatemala.https://t.co/3SOL7UeU08
— Central America Living (@VidaAmerica) November 2, 2022
Cost of living
When it comes to living expenses in Guatemala, electricity costs merit consideration. While not overly expensive, they’re not overly cheap either, with an average monthly electric bill hovering around $50 to $70. Groceries, gas, and other basic expenses remain reasonable.
Other services, including internet, cable TV, and water, typically add up to around $125 per month. Condo fees are also around this amount. Electricity in Guatemala is quite reliable compared to elsewhere in Central America, with few major blackouts.
An affectionate piece about grocery shopping and the market in Antigua, Guatemala.https://t.co/vlzUknvS25
— Central America Living (@VidaAmerica) February 1, 2023
Research and more research
Before making a decision regarding housing in Guatemala, you need to do your research. Start online and connect with fellow expats for real-life experiences and insights. This is easy to do through some of Guatemala’s expat Facebook groups, including “The Real Antigua Guatemala Classifieds” and “Expats Living in Guatemala,” offer valuable resources. This can help you avoid many pitfalls in Guatemala’s housing market.
Choosing a safe location with good security, easy access to amenities, and a thorough understanding of traffic dynamics, especially in Guatemala City, are critical considerations. With diligent research, you can navigate the Guatemalan housing market with confidence, and have a smooth and enjoyable transition.
Nestor Quixtan is a Canadian/Guatemalan economist, linguist, and writer. He lives in Guatemala City.