Guatemala: One of the Most Beautiful Countries in Central America


Guatemala is a fascinating place with a traditional way of life and a rich cultural heritage. The Mayan ruins are some of the best preserved in the world, and the landscape is breathtaking.


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Fast Facts About Guatemala

  • Population: 14,373,472
  • Capital City: Guatemala City
  • Climate: Tropical; hot, humid in lowlands; cooler in highlands
  • Time Zone: GMT-6
  • Language: Spanish (official)



5 Low-Cost Countries Where You Can Live on $1,500 a Month or Less

By choosing to retire in one of the world’s best bang-for-your-buck destinations, Rob enjoys a lifestyle well beyond his reach if he had stayed in the U.S. Every day he can choose to relax on the beaches around his home in the town of Sihanoukville, on the Cambodian coast, dine on fresh French croissants…rent a sailboat or go fishing on an offshore charter…


The Five Best Bang-for-Your-Buck Retirement Havens: Part 2

“I really love my life in Guatemala. The low cost of living makes me feel that the opportunities here are endless, and I feel like I can really carve out my little spot here in paradise,” says expat Tara Tiedemann of her life in colonial Antigua, a gem at the heart of Guatemala. “It’s amazing how far your money goes in Guatemala. For $500 a month, I can rent a beautiful apartment in a colonial-style building right in Antigua. I’m within walking distance of the Central Park and my favorite bakery for fresh banana bread.


Swim with Golden Jellyfish, Hidden Guatemala, and much more…

During the second Chinese Opium War, in the 1850s, a penniless teen named Cheong Fatt Tze fled from China to Southeast Asia. There he would make his fortune as a merchant. He became so wealthy that he earned the moniker of “Rockefeller of the East.” Tze owned many fine houses throughout Southeast Asia, but none was as extravagant as the Blue Mansion, on the tropical island of Penang off the coast of Malaysia. It’s a colossal beacon of 19th-century Chinese extravagance


See the World and Save Money with a Roving Retirement

Neither Yvonne nor Michael Bauche qualified for a pension in Canada. And so the adventurous duo decided to embark on a round-the-world trip that has seen them visit Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, Portugal, Italy, France, and the Caribbean. “We cut our expenses in half,” says Yvonne of their new life on the road. “Running two cars, paying for electricity, gas, phone, cell phone, internet, food, and eating out used to cost us almost $4,000 a month. Our average expenditure is now about $2,000, and we live and play very well on that.”


Knights, Truffles, and Bolivar’s Birthday

With summer in full swing, many parts of the world can get hot at this time of year. The Philippines is one of them, with average temperatures pushing above 80 F. So July is a perfect month to get a refreshing splash of water, and the Bocaue River Festival is a perfect opportunity to do just that. Taking place in the municipality of Bocaue on the main island, Luzon, on the first Sunday in July, the festival commemorates the holy cross found in the river around 200 years ago. A pagoda—an ornately decorated barge—is set afloat in the river, accompanied by small boats. Attendees douse themselves with water to mark the occasion.


Real Estate on the “Maya Route”

Encompassing Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula, Guatemala, Belize, and parts of El Salvador and Honduras, La Ruta Maya (the “Maya Route”) covers the territory of the Maya civilization, which reached its height from 250 to 900 A.D. One of the New World’s most advanced cultures, the Maya had written language, mathematics, a sophisticated calendar, and architectural skills that saw them construct massive temples and spectacular cities, many of which still stand. However, the Maya were never a single empire; rather, kings ruled over small territories surrounding a city.


Growing Macadamia in Antigua, Guatemala

There are thousands of foreigners dotted about Guatemala quietly doing their thing. Lorenzo Gottschamer is one of them. “I was only supposed to be here for three days,” says Lorenzo. “Yet I’m still here over 30 years later.” Originally from Redwood River, California, the 68-year-old Lorenzo first decided to make the move overseas after an accident ended his career as a professional firefighter.


He’s “Writing” His Way to Guatemala

As I write this, I’m preparing to leave on a flight bound for Guatemala. My wife and I plan on staying a few days in the city of Antigua—one of the world’s best-preserved colonial cities—and then heading over to El Salvador.

How to Buy a Yacht for Retirement

How to Buy a Yacht for Retirement

If you’ve decided to buy a boat and live the cruising lifestyle, you have all the same questions we did. Where do you start? What makes a good boat? How much will it cost? Where do you shop? The first thing you need to do is research. Back when Al and I bought Carina the Internet was in its infancy. We did it the old fashioned way, with print publications. Now things are much easier with a vast amount of information online.


Find Your Sea Legs with an Affordable Boating Retirement

You’ve just weighed anchor on another night of bliss, lulled to sleep by the gentle rocking of your sailboat in the calm sea. Before you is a small cove lined by craggy cliffs. Clear blue waters end at a white-sand beach. You’ve had it all to yourself for the last week. It was supposed to be just an overnight stop. But it was so beautiful, you decided to stick around. After a quick dip, you’re enjoying a cup of coffee and a light breakfast on deck as you contemplate which island paradise you’ll go to next.


Looking for Culture, Comfort and Low-Cost Living? Try Guatemala

It’s largely thanks to these folks that Guatemala has such a rich and unique culture. And it’s this culture that entices many of the expats who have made their homes here. “I love how different it is, and I want it to stay that way, too,” says Jean Johnson who lives in the colonial city of Antigua. “It’s like traveling into some epic or bygone landscape,” says Portland-native John Kin, of traveling around the highlands.

Belize Chocolate Festival, Britain’s Best Pub, Turtles Nesting…and Much More

The Santa Catalina arch is one of the most famous landmarks of Antigua, Guatemala. And for a compact town of 40,000 people, there are a lot of them. Antigua was once the capital of Spanish Central America, and its cobbled streets are lined with the grand mansions and ornate churches of the colonial golden age.

Romance, Culture and Adventure in Guatemala’s Southern Highlands

It’s the “slap, slap” sound of contentment: Women making tortillas by hand as I sip a Gallo beer and look out over the water. I can hear a marimba and see children splashing happily on the sun-kissed lakeshore. Several old women in native dress are passing by, carrying large parcels on their heads…hands free.


How to Blog Your Way to a Beachfront Income

The ocean breeze blows in through the open door as I sit in my rocking chair—a surprisingly favorite Nicaraguan furnishing. Sunlight glitters on the ocean, almond and coconut trees sway in the wind. This is my office for today, a four-bedroom house right on the beach that we rent for $350 a month. Previously we spent time on the shores of Lake Atitlan, Guatemala, beneath the shadow of three majestic volcanoes…swimming in one of the most beautiful lakes in the world, shopping in the local markets, and interacting with the indigenous people who still wear their traditional clothing and speak Spanish as their second language.

An Artisan Boutique In Colonial Guatemala

An Artisan Boutique in Colonial Guatemala

I don’t think I could have afforded to make this work in the States,” says expat Britini Port. “It is just too expensive and the high cost of living would make this dream unattainable.” But on a cobbled street of the colonial town of Antigua, Guatemala, Britini’s dream of a thriving business selling her own boot and handbag designs is a reality. It started in 2012.

Best Places To Retire Overseas And Slash Your Cost Of Living

Best Places to Retire Overseas and Slash Your Cost of Living

A low cost of living is one of the most important factors for retirees who move overseas. You can live a richer life overseas, probably for what you’re currently spending at home (or even less). Here are some of the top places where the cost of living is low, and the quality of life is high, according to International Living’s Annual Global Retirement Index 2014.

When abroad, being able to speak the language makes travel richer, less stressful and more independent.

The 3 Best Reasons to Learn Spanish

When I started learning Spanish in Spain some years ago, I never envisioned how helpful it would become. Mostly, I just wanted to know how to order food, talk to people a bit and avoid embarrassing myself as much as possible. The more I learned, however, the more I discovered how much of a key that speaking the language is. Spanish has opened many doors for me—in Spain, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Cuba and Mexico.


My Life: New and Improved as a Travel Writer

We’ve all seen the phrase “new and improved” countless times. It’s on everything from cereal boxes to cosmetics. No doubt someone in a lab somewhere tweaked the latest wrinkle cream and declared it new and improved. I think I should have a “new and improved” tag on my life—it has certainly had some tweaking in the last few years!

Guatemala Credit

Beaches, Ruins, and Romance in Guatemala

Guatemala is a paradise for the adventuresome traveler. In the four years I’ve lived here, I’ve made a point of exploring far afield. And though I certainly haven’t seen everything, I have trekked much of this nation.


Leave “Ordinary” Behind—Starting Now

I’ve always been one of those people who won’t settle for “ordinary.” Sure, I have done my share of everyday things…but if I can find a way to step beyond the run-of-the-mill, you can bet I will! One of the ways I left “ordinary” behind was with my career. I spent many years working as a tax accountant—I knew there had to be a better way to spend my time.


Finding Your Own Sweet Home – in Guatemala

Everything that happens on Guatemala’s Rio Dulce happens because of the water. Rio Dulce translates as “Sweet River”…and life here is truly sweet.


A More Leisurely Lifestyle in Colonial Guatemala

I’m making my way down the cobblestones of Arch Street, on my way to meet friends for a glass of wine. As I arrive, the bells of the 17th-century cathedral ring in the hour. Antigua, in the Department of Sacatepéquez, Guatemala, is one of Latin America’s best preserved colonial towns. With a population of 40,000 people, it’s full of white-washed and pastel-colored churches.


The Pleasures of a Life Lived Slowly in Antigua, Guatemala

I’m making my way down the cobblestones of Arch Street, on my way to meet friends for a glass of wine at Tabacos y Vinos. As I arrive, the bells of the 17thcentury cathedral ring in the hour. Antigua, in the Department of Sacatepéquez, Guatemala, is one of Latin America’s best-preserved colonial towns.


Romantic Hideaways

At 129 square feet, this apartment is what real-estate agents call “cozy.” But it’s Paris, city of love and romance. From your fifth-floor balcony you have a view of Place de la République. The square gives its name to the historic neighborhood that surrounds it, where the 3rd, 10th and 11th arrondissements (districts) come together. Le Marais, where some of the oldest buildings in the city line winding, narrow streets, is just a five-minute walk away.


The World’s Most Beautiful Lake

Formed 5,000 feet above sea level in the western highlands of Guatemala, the 11-mile long Lago de Atitlán is the deepest lake in Central America. It plunges to depths of over 1,000 feet. Three volcanoes dominate its southern fringe—Atitlán, Tolimán, and San Pedro; the latter two emerging from the lakeside. The lake itself changes as wistful breezes or surly gales whip up its sleek, glassy surface. The ever-shifting light reflecting off its belly…

Expat Larry Evans with one of his students enjoying a work day in Vilcabamba, Ecuador. © Larry Evans

Expats Giving Back in Their New Homes

Just shy of 10 years ago, my wife Laurie and I fell in love with the Vilcabamba Valley, a lush gem tucked away in the Andes of Southern Ecuador. The near-perfect weather, the healthy lifestyle, the low cost of living, and the natural beauty of the valley all contributed to our decision to settle there. And those things have lived up to our expectations.


Find Your Niche When Opportunity Knocks in an Overseas Paradise

In the U.S., you cannot do what I have done here in Ecuador… you’d have too much debt to worry about,” says Kevin Sheehy, who bank-rolled his first venture—a Vietnamese restaurant—in the cool-weather capital of Quito with just $14,000. One business opportunity led to another, and today his success overseas means that Kevin enjoys the flexibility to live in a place he loves (the weather is spring-like year-round) and spend four months every year traveling.

A Journey on Guatemala’s “Sweet River”

A Journey on Guatemala’s “Sweet River”

Real adventures don’t start at the airport…they start at the mouth of a river. And nestled on the eastern edge of Guatemala awaits one of Central America’s best river voyages. Fishermen cast nets from dugout canoes, birds tiptoe across lily pads, while manatees swim nearby. This is life along the Río Dulce (“Sweet River”).

Adventures in Guatemala

Adventures in Guatemala

Exactly where is home? Well, “my hat” currently hangs in the village of San Marcos La Laguna on the shores of Lake Atitlan, Guatemala, where I’ve lived for three years now. Before this stint, my list of homes reads like a travel brochure: Zanzibar, Indonesia, Mozambique, New Zealand, Thailand and Costa Rica are just some of the highlights. I left home years ago, fueled by a desire to find the perfect location and to see the world.


Create Your Own Adventure Overseas

There I stood, close to a 100-foot cliff. Could I do it? Would I dash forward and trade the security of solid ground for the adventure of soaring on the warm thermals of Ecuador’s north coast? How did I even get here? It’s a familiar story. My wife Jan and I had been preparing our retirement parachute for many years. We were readying for the jump when the economic ground we were standing upon began to crumble.

Latin American Lake Homes

Latin American Lake Homes

Chile’s Lake District is all about spectacular scenery…forests, snowcapped volcanoes, the towering Andes, and hundreds of deep blue mountain lakes…German emigrants brought their distinctive traditions to the region and it’s been compared to Switzerland for its beauty and cosmopolitan resort towns…

Mermaids And Convents In Guatemala

Mermaids and Convents in Guatemala

Antigua is Guatemala’s most beautiful city, and the center of its cultural life and Spanish- colonial heritage. If you want to taste a little of everything Guatemala has to offer, this is the place to come. To start with, Antigua is nestled amid some of the country’s most dramatic landscape. This local geology hasn’t always been kind, however. Earthquakes in the 18th century led the Spanish to move their capital to the site of modern-day Guatemala City. But while Antigua’s population declined—today it’s around 47,000— more than enough of the city’s impressive architecture remained.


I Wear Flip-flops to the “Office”

I had to work last Sunday. I was up by 7.30 a.m. But don’t feel bad for me just yet. Once out of bed, I slipped into my swimsuit, cover-up and flip-flops and checked out of my room at a hotel I was staying in at the mouth of the Rio Dulce in Livingston, Guatemala.


One Crazy Adventure in Guatemala

My childhood dream was to explore the world, treading in the footsteps of past explorers while discovering the wonders of its landscapes and people for myself. I was still just dreaming when I grew up—and I was stuck working long hours behind an office desk.


Rent in Antigua, Guatemala From $300 a Month

The colonial city of Antigua in the Central highlands of Guatemala has a thriving expat community. It’s no surprise that foreigners choose to live here full- or part-time. They enjoy the history-steeped cobbled streets and a vibrant culture. Visitors often extend their stay, swapping family home stays or hotel accommodation for short or long-term rentals in Antigua.

Could This Be The World's Best Job?

Could This Be The World’s Best Job?

I first came to Antigua, Guatemala in 2006 to study Spanish and extended my one-month language course month-by-month for seven months. By then, I’d fallen in love with the city and lifestyle, befriended both locals and expats and felt I wanted to make this a more permanent lifestyle…so I stayed.

Salto de Chilascó – Central America’s Highest Waterfall

In an ankle-length skirt and dance pumps, our 12-year-old guide, Verónica, leads us daintily along a muddy path between steep fields of broccoli and maize. Climbing uphill away from the hand-tilled patches of land, we are engulfed by the luxuriant trees of the forest. Vivid orchids, giant bromeliads, and ferns thrive here in the heavy moisture.


Guatemala’s Giant Kite Festival

In Guatemala—as in Mexico—people celebrate All Saints’ Day on November 1 by traveling to cemeteries to honor the dead. They repaint family tombs, adorn them with yellow flowers and picnic by the graves.

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Your Chance to Retire Overseas Now

Sign up for our free daily Postcard e-letter and we'll immediately send you a FREE RESEARCH REPORT on the most desirable —and cheapest— retirement havens available to you today.

Each day you'll learn about the best places to retire, travel, buy real estate and enjoy life overseas.

Enter your E-mail Address Below

We Value Your Privacy.