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What Is It Like to Live in Guatemala Introduction – This is written for a target audience consisting of those living in North America, Europe and Australia. This is the second of the series. It seems that the first one was well received so we are staying with it. Many people are interesting in leaving their home countries recently. We will be continuing the Fall of the American Empire newsletters as well. Some Departure Motivations - The USA is pushing the envelope again with the muslims in the middle east. Europe is right in there with the USA. They are meddling and are probably going to get some terrorist attacks if they keep it up which I think they most assuredly will. They are going to attract a real terrorist attack or make one up again. This should lead to more and more patriot act controls. This will make life awful. How it is Now - The TSA sexual molestations have blown over and the people have adjusted to them. I doubt the people will adopt to invasive body cavity searches which is their next move. They find someone with a destructive device in a body cavity and then you are there. The economy progressively deteriorates. People do nothing. Homelessness grows and the government spends billions on foreign aid and foreign wars instead of helping the homeless. The people do nothing. Obama is not able to authoritatively prove he was born in USA and the people do nothing. Obama care with death counseling for those too sick or old and sick is taking hold and the people do nothing. People get arrested for organic farming and the people do nothing. People get arrested for selling non pasteurized milk and the people do nothing. Gas is $4.00 a gallon and expected to hit $6.00 and the people do nothing. The police taser elderly people in bed, women and children, people in cars and all over for talking back and the people do nothing. The ponzi scheme federal reserve bank continues and the people do nothing. They keep forcing vaccines on people and they do nothing. Child and family services keeps abducting children and the people do nothing. Private lawyers and governments keep on confiscating the peoples money out of their home country bank accounts and the people do nothing. There are more people incarcerated in the USA than any other country and the people do nothing. The vast majority of these people go to jail for victimless crimes. These are referred to as political crimes.
Corrections officers easily earn over $100,000 per year these days. The theme in the USA is the people do nothing. In the EU the people seem to be more active in their resistance. Consider the Middle East – Believe it or not this is going to affect North America and the EU. The middle east is boiling now. Soon the pot will boil over. The USA is not smart enough to not meddle in other peoples affairs. The EU is following them. They will get dragged into this in one way or another. They will spill their soldiers blood to protect the full dictatorships of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain and others. The Saudis buy billions of dollars of weapons from USA with their oil revenue. Guess who profits from these weapons sales. They are talking sanctions against Syria, Iran and others. The USA is a soft country for terrorism. Their borders are open. The schools, hospitals, nursing homes, malls, public transportation, bridges, hi rise buildings etc are all soft exposed targets. This does not bother the government in that it is no threat to them and provides an alibi to do more patriot act like controls if such a real act of terrorism occurred. They dislike the airplane threat because the planes can be flown into government targets and this would force the government to shoot down a plane full of civilians. This would scare a lot of people and open their eyes as to what their government is really about. This is a hard thing to cover up so they try to prevent it in their own foolish way. Their TSA screening does little except make it harder to hijack a plane. A terrorist could easily shoot down a plane taking off or landing by shooting it with a shoulder fired missile near the runway from a vehicle, building, etc. Remember the USA has open borders and weapons smuggling is easy. They get tons of drugs in every week don't they. Again this does not seem to bother the government because it would not affect them. It would give them an alibi for more controls over the people. If the government cared about terrorism the first thing to do would have been to shut the borders some years ago. They never even came close to doing this. Serious Threats – You may not always be able to leave. One day soon they may invoke exit visas. Getting money out of the home country banks to foreign countries can be stopped easily. Over the last ten years things got progressively worse. Freedoms are constantly eroding. Would you have believed that TSA would be molesting men, women and children in plain sight at the airports ten years ago. Don't think you know what they are going to do a year from now, you don't. They will keep pushing it until the people stop them. Have you seen any signs of the people ending it? Of course not. It is going to keep getting worse. They want the people entirely dependent on the government and in total fear of the government with no chance for resistance. Governments are evil cruel taskmasters. Look at the IRS to see how merciful they are. Submission to an evil empire is only going to delay what they have in store for the people. A Small Percentage Are Waking Up – We are seeing more people getting ready to leave their home country than we did in the past, especially in recent weeks. The people are waking up. Most are hoping it will get better. They do nothing but cling to the prospect of some emerging political hero saving them. This can be Ron Paul (masonic ties), Trump (who knows what he is about really), Palin (one of them or she would not have been Governor of Alaska), Huckabee (a ex politico with a TV show who probably will be a promise breaker like the rest of the politicians), Romney (another potential promise breaker coming from politics) and so the list goes on. Many people are dumb enough to try to put Obama into office again. Have you heard any of these people ever talk about ending the federal reserve. Well Ron Paul does. He also starts to run to pull people from say Trump and then stops running. Has he ever accomplished anything or just made noise and stirred up dust? Do you think he might be there to just attract dissidents and make them think there still is hope within the system? The system is hopelessly broken and cannot be fixed. They need to start over and none of them are talking like this. You can step aside and watch the decline in comfort from another country. If you think this is not patriotic please explain what good staying there is going to do. If anything changed you could always come back couldn't you? Staying Away From Problems in the USA – The USA could get hit with terrorist attacks. The could have civil disobedience. They could have dirty bombs go off. They could get hit with chemical or biological
weapons. Basically we estimate about 1200 miles to get from USA/Mexico Border to inside Guatemala where we suggest living. This varies depending on which part of USA you depart from. It is much greater if you leave from the western coast of the USA. This is a big trip for one to take during a crisis. We think it is enough distance. A nuclear blast, dirty bomb, chemical or biological weapon would probably be used inside the USA much further away from Guatemala. We are talking at least a two and one half hour drive to the Mexico border from inside Guatemala where we advocate staying. We feel this is a safe distance from the USA. The Guatemalan military (19,000) watches the borders. Guatemala has a navy and an air force as well. During world war two Central and South America stayed out of the fighting. They do not get sucked into this sort of thing. The muslims are taking control over the middle east countries. There is going to be trouble fairly shortly. The USA dollar is going to keep descending and they will go into hyper inflation. Panama, Ecuador and El Salvador are dollarized. These countries are going to hit a brick wall soon by relying on a dying currency. The other nations have their own currencies. Guatemala has taken steps to reduce the amount of USD in the country. Their own currency does quite good. They have 4.9 metric tons of gold reserves and $6.9 billion dollars of foreign currency and gold reserves. Remember you are talking about a country with about 14 million people. It has the largest economy in Central America and their bonds are rated one step under investment grade, which is pretty good. Latin American Lifestyle - We will cover lifestyles for different categories of people. We will cover the sense of freedom one has when living offshore compared to the police states. We will cover the high standard of living available for little cost. Living with Domestic Help – For many of you this is foreign. In the USA a live in maid would run about $2000 a month with taxes, workers compensation, unemployment insurance etc. On top of that comes room and board. Using Guatemala as an example a live in maid runs $140 to $175 a month. This is for a five and a half day work week. You need to provide them with room and board. Normally you would also get them some uniforms, but this is optional. Generally, the domestic help consists of maids, gardner/repairman/groundskeeper and a chauffeur. There are always a few that prefer to retain a bodyguard. This is generally not needed for the vast majority of you but will be covered anyway. We at one time did hire a chef. It was an interesting experience. They have cooking schools that can be six months up to three years in duration. No matter which school they attended, the chefs will understand how to prepare a variety of healthy tasty meals. A chef will run about $300 to $600 a month depending on the chef and your needs. You can have him come for lunch and dinner. You could have him come for breakfast and lunch. You could have him live in and then prepare all three meals. You can use him to cook for dinner parties entertaining clients. Maids – In Guatemala the maids are generally Mayan Indians. They usually are raised in small villages in the outlying areas. We have had some with a high school diploma and others that only attended up to the second grade and could not really read or write very well. The Mayans are a diversified group. They have 28 different dialects and can often not understand each other. Most do speak spanish although as a second language, but fluently. If you want one who speaks English you are going to have to buy the DVD's and let them use a computer to learn it. It would be rare to find an English speaking maid. There are books that deal with Spanish for talking to maids. Check Amazon. The Mayans will give you an honest days work. They do NOT steal as a general rule of course. In their villages if one gets caught stealing they get stripped to the underwear and hit with branches quite a bit to teach them a lesson. It works. In the olden days the Mayans were fierce warriors and conducting sacrificial idol worshipping ceremonies. Today the Mayan maids you would be likely to hire would be Catholic or Evangelical Christians. Remember we are using Guatemala as a reference point. Guatemala is mainly an Evangelical Christian and Catholic country. Many other Latin American countries are just Catholic. The maids will clean your house so it is spotless. Everyday they will wash the floors, clean every bathroom, dust, and of course the kitchen will be free of dishes stacked in the sink. They will sweep the outside pathways twice a day. The windows will be washed and cleaned. You may need to teach them how to use a dishwasher and then they will run the dishes through it. If you prefer dishes done by hand, they will be more comfortable with that. They will be glad to wash clothes in the sink with a washboard. We have some items done this way but it can be hard on the
garments. We taught them how to use the washer and dryer. The dry cleaners here are very cheap (I think about $1.00 an item as a guesstimate) and they pickup and deliver. So the finer clothes go to the dry cleaners. Some items get hung up on a line to dry. The maids can be anywhere from late teenagers to mid forties. Generally if they are older than that, they do not take work as a maid. The exception would be one who has worked for the same family for many years and she sort of becomes one of the family. We let the maids eat what we eat if they wish. They prefer to eat their own style food. They have an attraction to tortillas. They think this gives them strength and endurance. I can find no scientific basis for this but if it makes them happy fine. Tortillas are certainly cheap enough. They eat spaghetti, tacos, eggs, plantains, corn, and a number of things. They do not get drawn to Italian, Chinese, Greek, German, American, Japanese food. They like their own style. We occasionally have left over Chinese food from deliveries and they eat it but cautiously. Sushi and Sashimi is weird to them. Pizza they love. Barbeque hamburgers, steaks they go for. Here the corn on the cob gets sort of barbecued with salt and lime juice and this they like. Why not, it tastes great. Breakfast cereal they do not know from. They do not cost a lot to feed. In case you do not know this the Mayan women are usually 5'4” or less. Many are 5'0” to 5'2”. How Many Maids – This is a good question that you might overlook if you are not used to having maids. Please remember they work five and a half days only. If you only have one maid then you will be without on the days off. If you have a three thousand sq, ft home (small for Guatemala) I would think you would want two maids. Forty percent of the time one of the maids will be off. The floors are tile. The houses are built fairly open. This means the floors need to be cleaned daily because they get dusty. If you get into 5000 sq. ft. you probably want to add in another maid so two of them are there at all times considering days off. If the family is large with in laws or several children then the maid count may go up. More laundry, more bedrooms and bathrooms to clean, more cooking and kitchen cleaning etc. Maids can easily fill in as nannies if you have small children. This frees you up to go out whenever you want to, no sitter worries. Remember the wages are $140 to $175 per month for a maid. I am a firm believer in avoiding temptation. Get a safe that can be bolted into concrete walls and or floors. You can get these sort of things in Price Smart for maybe $100. They are maybe 8” high and 15” deep and 18” wide. They have a combination lock, battery operated and the walls are about as thick as a gun safe. With some decent tools would take 15 minutes, without decent tools an hour. Breaking out of the concrete could take 15 to 20 minutes if one knows what they are doing. With power tools could get in this sort of safe in five minutes or less, so be careful what you use it for. Serious valuables can go in a “real” safe or put in a vault box at the bank. This is for casual storage like weekly cash, handgun when not being used, diamond rings, gold necklaces, that sort of thing. The maids will probably never try to crack any sort of safe. There will be noise and then the other maids and gardner will be dragged into it and they will not like that. Put excess cash, jewelry and valuables in this sort of lock box safe for casual short term storage. Also lock up all guns for safety reasons. We don't want the maid dusting a loaded shotgun, no I am not kidding. Basically the maids are very honest in Guatemala. Day Maids – This is another way to go. The maid comes at say 7AM or 8AM and leaves at 5PM or 6PM. This leaves you maid free in the evening. This is attractive for some. We found most larger homes have separate maids quarters. The maids clear out of the main house by 7PM and then you do not see them again until 7AM. If you have a party or guests over and need extra help in the evening or baby sitters for guests then you just ask the maids to help out. They will serve food and beverages, clean up, help you prepare and generally make having such events very easy on you. One can always have a combination of live in and day maids. A day maid may cost you a bit more in wages because they will need to take the bus every day and you do not give them the evening meal. A live in maid basically banks her salary. Well it usually goes to support family members. Maids, Food and Cooking - Most expats prefer to do their own cooking. They refer to food cooked by maids as “maid food”. They might say I don't eat maid food. I have found the maids can fry eggs, make a sandwich, cook spaghetti, make a salad with fruit wedges, cut up papaya or mangoes. I usually do not have
them prepare food for me other than what I just mentioned. Now others have the maids do their cooking. Then they eat typical Guatemalan food. Lot of rice, beans, tortillas, veggies, fruit. Not that bad. Whatever one likes. The maids do take much of the work out of the cooking. They do the clean up. You need to teach them how to take care of your cookware. If you have a driver you can send the two of them to the fruit and vegetable market to get the produce. You can contract with a meat company to have your chicken, beef, pork delivered to your home. We are talking free range meat that is practically organic although they have no official organic designation here. Never heard of free range pork. For steaks cut the way you want them, say ½ lb. T-bones for instance, they charge $3.25 a lb, delivered. Whole chicken is maybe $1.50 a pound delivered. We have never had the maids barbeque but I expect this is a skill they could learn easily. OK so in summation let me lay out a typical plan. You take a maid shopping for fruit and vegetables in the open market. She negotiates. Remember she is eating the food too. As a little girl she learned what was good fruit and veggies. The sellers will not try to inflate prices on the maid. She helps carry the goods. If you wish to take it easy get a driver and send the two of them to do the shopping. Many expats do the cooking and let the maid do the cleanup. If you are spared the shopping and the clean up well the cooking starts to become fun again. After you eat you just walk away from the table and leave the dishes there. Retire to another room for coffee or whatever. Yes the maids can easily be taught to make coffee. Now I didn't say operate any sophisticated expresso machines. Guatemala has award winning coffee and they enjoy their coffee too. If you like fresh juices Guatemala is the right place. You can buy oranges and apples so cheap it is about insignificant. You can have them juice them manually or using an electronic machine. You can juice papaya, mango and other fruits as well. Blend the fruits and make different concoctions. All the fruits are a mere fraction of the prices you are used to. The fruit is not certified organic but it is close. You can get a commonly sold water ozonator and ozone the fruit and veggies in a plastic basket in the sink. You soak them in water with the ozone machine pumping ozone into the water. Cleans them up real good. We generally just wash them in the sink. They are not as dirty as they are in North America. The fruit and produce is grown locally. We have a hard time getting cherries, everything else is easy. We get watermelon, cantaloupe, mangoes, papaya, grapes, apples, pears, coconuts, peaches, nectarines, and some fruits you would probably not be familiar with that are also good. We get a full range of vegetables as well. There is next to no GMO food here. For those of you that understand coconuts and the health benefits they are dirt cheap here. We buy the whole coconuts. We tap them and get the water for beverages. Then we get the meat. We consider ourselves spoiled because of such easy access to cheap fresh coconuts. If you ever try using fresh coconut water in place of some commercial energy drink when exercising, you will know exactly what I mean. The coconut water works better than anything commercially made without any crash. Gardens & Growing Your Own Food – Thought I would insert this. We do our own organic gardening. We bought an assortment of heirloom seeds. The soil is super rich in Guatemala. The growing season is twelve months. We have no frosts. We grow different lettuces, tomatoes, cooking herbs, spices and a variety of other things. We just grew our own echinacea. The produce we grow is so good the lettuce tastes very strong. We are not using depleted soils. Oh and the tomatoes have so much flavor they don't taste like North America supermarket tomatoes. We have a gardner so he takes care of this. Our home has some land and a lot of things grow on it including coffee trees. Many of you are concerned about food shortages and GMO tainted food. Easy to find a home in Guatemala on an acre or a few acres and have your own garden. There is no FDA or Dept of Agriculture that is going to care one bit about your garden. Heirloom seeds are easy to get. Now if you want to go further get a chicken coop and have some eggs. Let your chicken range free on your property and eat what they eat in the wild. Now you have meat, eggs and produce. Add in goats and you have milk and cheese. If you wish get cows and even horses. All very common here. If you are ten minutes out of town no worries even if you have a lot of animals. Contract with a Mayan family. Put up a simple house for them with plumbing, water, electricity etc. Many farms and country homes already have such homes for staff. They will take care of your animals and land. Mom and dad will work at the property and the kids will take a bus to school and help out after school and on weekends. Remember they eat what is produced so they will be diligent. You will feed them and this can easily come from the farm. You pay their utilities and provide the roof over their heads. Modest wages would be expected, perhaps $250 a month for the family. Now you have a full line of organic food. Want fish get a tank or pond and raise them. Like horses have a few and ride them. Get some dogs to protect the animals and
produce from predatory animals. Easy to set up solar, we have a lot of sun. Wind turbines can also be set up. Dig your own water well. Want internet get a satellite for this or use wireless or DSL. Want TV use a satellite. Depends on how off the grid you want to be. You can easily go off the grid 100%. Chauffeurs – Many people use a driver here. A driver runs about $400 to $500 a month. If you look you can find one who speaks some english. This frees you up to talk on the phone in the car. This is important if you are working here. If you go to a crowded area they can drop you in front and go park the car. Then when you are ready you call them on cell and they bring the car around. You can send them on errands to the bank to cash checks, to go to the ATM machine, to go to the pharmacy, to go to the drugstore, to pick people up at the airport, etc. Some prefer to do their own driving, others enjoy not having to sit in traffic. Having a driver really works well when you combine him with the maid to do the food shopping. Elderly folks may really enjoy having a driver. They can get out whenever they want to. In the house they have a maid or two to cook and clean. They are never alone in case they fall or need help getting around. Someone there to remind them to take their meds. They can go visiting, go to the park, the beach whatever. The quality of life is there so they are going to be happier, healthier and live longer. Then again if you have teenagers the driver can take them to their friends houses, drive them to school, pick them up and so forth. Most of you never had such luxury. Bodyguards – Well now don't go off on me and think you need a bodyguard here. The vast majority do not. Many parts of Guatemala like Antigua are safer than the USA, Canada and EU and you do not need such protection. If you are a high profile business person and thus a kidnapping risk you might need such help. The best ones come from a military background. They will run about $500 to $800 a month depending on skill set and language skills. Shopping – Well here in Guatemala we have 19 shopping malls. You can get Polo. Hilfiger, Nautica, and many higher end brand name products. We do not have Louis Vuitton and the ultra high end shops. Furniture is cheap. Much of it is made in Guatemala. We have a large cyprus wood furniture industry. Just take your copies of architectural digest to the furniture maker and he will make a knock off of anything you can show him a picture of. Pay a mere fraction of what the North American or EU price is. You also have to tell him how big you want it to be. The electronics stores sell up to date electronics. Plasma, LCD TV's even 3D. We have the latest PC's and Macs. The have IPhones, Ipads and Androids. We have 3G. There is no shortage of consumer goods at all. We have Office Max stores. We have Price Smart which is equivalent of Price Club. We have Pais which is Walmart with another name. You can get pretty much what you want. Jade – Guatemala is the worlds second largest producer of Jade. They have beautiful jade jewelry in a variety of colors. Lavender, is a real nice one. Figure about 25% of USA prices. Jade is so plentiful it is sold on the street. They also sell a lot of sea coral jewelry as well. Custom Western Boots – You can get custom cut western style boots very inexpensively in Guatemala. They measure your foot and make the boots custom for your foot. They have a lot of exotic leathers. You can get Caiman skin boots. Caiman is a type of alligator. Western boots with caiman on not only the lower but the entire boot will run about $450. These would be about $5000+ in the USA. They make exotic leather coats, belts and holsters. Regular leather custom western boots run about $100. You can bring in a magazine picture of some boots you like and they will make it for you at a fraction of the USA price. Boots take about a week to make. Inspect the exotic skins and select them before the work starts. Cars – Guatemala has a special deal with the USA for car importation. The cars made in the USA are just about the same price as the cars in the USA. They have most of the brands here with warranty and service. The cars do not have the same smog and safety equipment as in the USA. We get a lot of turbo diesel cars not available in USA. USA and Guatemala car parts are not always interchangeable.
Motorcycles – We have mostly small 125 cc bikes but you also see a fair amount of Harleys. Beaches – Guatemala has beaches on the Pacific and the Caribbean. Most of us use the Pacific Beaches. It takes about 2 hours to drive to the Pacific beaches. For a little longer drive one can go to the beaches in El Salvador9 2.5 hours). These are beautiful white sand beaches. They have a famous all inclusive hotel on the beach called the DeCameron. It runs about $160 a night for two with tips, all food and entertainment. All the rooms face the ocean. The beaches are warm and humid. Museums, Opera, Theatre, Plays and Culture – Here is where it falls down. Nothing here you are likely to want. Sports – There are plenty of sporting events. There is soccer and soccer and more soccer. Forget baseball except for some minor league teams playing, nothing to speak of regarding football, hockey or basketball. There is occasional boxing but it is lightweight fighters always. Electricity – We use the same current as the USA. Same plugs. Internet – Now you can get 5 meg connections. We have internet with a USB device that can be purchased anonymously for cash. It can get up to a 3 meg speed connection with these usb devices. This is real anonymous internet. You buy these for cash, no ID. All they can get is a GPS reading on you since it is wireless. There are a lot of wifi hotspots as well. Getting internet on your cell phone is common. They have blackberry push email too. Cell Phones – We have most of what is available in North America. You can get prepaid cell phone anonymously, no ID, pay cash. You can call international with these prepaid anonymous cell phones. Movies – Well we had Thor down here in 3G on IMax etc one week before the USA got it. Usually we get movies same time or a week later. Then again sometimes we get them before the USA. They are usually in English with Spanish subtitles. They have a lot of 3D movies. There is an IMax theatre and a Disney equivalent of IMax which is not quite as good but better than a regular screen. Most of you do not know what a VIP movie theatre is so I will explain and make some of you jealous. This is a special theater. They charge $6.00 a seat about double what the other theaters charges. There is extreme stadium seating. The VIP theaters have their own lounge, snack bar and restrooms. They even have a bar. The seats are larger than first class on an airline. They almost fully recline and a foot rest comes up. In between the seats is a table with a lamp. There is a menu you can order from. You can get popcorn and candy. You can also get burgers, sandwiches, fries, sushi (full sushi menu), beer and mixed drinks. They also have cappuccino, coffee and expresso. This is all delivered to your seat. To make it better there is reserved seating. You can send your driver to the theatre early in the day to get you the seats you like and buy the tickets. Then you just get there in time for the show to start. This is how we go to the movies in Guatemala. I told you we do not live like you guys do in North America and Europe. University – We have 11 Universities all in Spanish. Some better than others. We have medical schools, law schools, veterinarian schools. Grade Schools – There are a lot of bi-lingual schools for grades K-12. The class sizes are small. The children must be well behaved. If the kids start fights they will be given one chance and then they can get suspended. This is not tolerated. The schools are on a campus with grass, playground etc. Most expats think the schools are great. Banking – The banks in Guatemala used to be good. Then they started with all the due diligence and reportage on cash transactions. The banks are a bit difficult to work with and suggest one only keep modest
sums in Guatemala to pay bills. Banks do not speak English. They have online banking but not in English. It is always best to bank in a country other than the one you live in. We are changing Presidents in Jan. 2012 and we are thinking the new regime may bring the banking back to where it was a few years ago which was pretty good. Housing – The big question is to buy or rent. I always say rent first to see how you like it. The country might be right, but the region is not. After six months or a year you can look to make a purchase. We get clients that do not want to be renters so they buy right off. We always start people off in Antigua Guatemala and the surrounding area if possible. Let us a spend a moment on this. Antigua – This is the third largest city in Guatemala. It is a 300 year old city. There are a lot of old church ruins. A lot of horses are used in the streets. Many have Vespas type bikes. They have Taxis made out of a Vespa with a back seat and canvas walls and roof. The driver sits in from and uses handlebars. Figure $2.00 from anywhere to anywhere in the city, could be less. The city is surrounded by lush green volcano mountains. One volcano blows steam at night and in day. The city has a lot of artsy shops. Jade, sea coral, leather goods, sculptures, paintings, and clothing. Artists sell in the streets. There are street mimes, jugglers and artists. Streets are closed off during weekend for foot traffic. There are many great restaurants of all genres. Antigua has a lot of nightclubs as well. There is always something to do in Antigua. It is full of hotels, bed and breakfasts and youth hostels. The crime is very minimal in Antigua. It is safer than USA and Canada as a general rule. There are a lot of tourist police. They speak English. Antigua has a lot of tourists. They come from USA, Canada, Sweden, Finland, Norway, Denmark and Latin America. It is still an undiscovered sleeper. You can get by quite well with English in Antigua. Apartments – You can get a nice furnished two bedroom apartment in Antigua for $600 a month with utilities including internet (2 megs usually). This should be in a gated community. You should be within walking distance to the central area where the park is. You will be in a cozy apartment which may have two levels. For $900 you would be in a simply lovely apartment complex. Probably be a townhouse with a pool in the community, furnished with utilities. Rental Houses – We are talking single family detached homes now. The houses around Antigua start at around $1000 and can go to $3500. Figure $1300 will get you about 2500 to 3500 sq ft. The houses are going to be surrounded by walls and have a gate to the street. The area inside the walls will have gardens and fountains. The house will open to the garden. Much of the house will flow to the outside but within the exterior patio walls. This is the style of the housing. For $2500 you would be right in downtown Antigua and have a 5-8 bedroom house plus servants quarters, garage, etc. Usually leases are for one year with first and a deposit equal to one months rent required. It usually takes most people 5-10 days of looking to figure out the market and find what they want. We do not see this as a three day event. Real estate brokers are not licensed. Houses to Buy – Well they are going to be all over the place price wise. We are talking in the area close to Antigua, Guatemala. For $350,000 to $450,000 you are going to get a 5-8 bedroom house on two levels inside of a secure gated community. There will be high ceilings, atriums, jacuzzis, skylights, sprinklers, maybe a pool, elaborate staircases and many accoutrements. Think executive level home. The house will be on an acre or so. There will be a garage or three wall garage. There will probably be servants quarters that are detached from the main house. In a word this would be considered a mansion by a person from EU or North America. You can buy nice townhouse condos for $140,000. Figure three bedroom in a gated community. If you go to $750,000 to $1,000,000 you will have a full blown hacienda estate. Figure on two or three outbuildings, fountains, gardens, maybe a pond, the main house will have 8,000 to 15,000 sq ft and so forth. This will usually be on a few acres. Most houses are bought for cash. With a 25% down payment banks will lend if the buyer is a citizen or resident. Farms – Yes you can have a farm near Antigua. Say ten to twenty minutes out of the city. There are all
sorts of farms. The prices vary based on crop, buildings, and size of land. You just need to kick the tires. Bed & Breakfasts – I have seen quaint bed and breakfasts for rent in Antigua for $3500 a month for about six rooms fully furnished. Nice place ready to go even has bedding & pillows.You could plush it up and get $140 a night with breakfast and evening snacks. All you need to do is be good with marketing online to make sure you stay full. Now you have a nice business for a minimal investment in a high tourism area. It should not be that hard to get a decent living out of such a business, if you can do the marketing and fill the bed and breakfast. Having good food helps. You can run a restaurant for lunch and dinner to add to the profits. Get a piano or guitar player cheap at night and get tablecloths and candles and you are all set. People that come to Antigua have already arranged accommodations so walk-ins are not going to work. You need to get reservations on the internet and from travel agents. If you do not know hoe to do this then buy a restaurant instead. Restaurants can be promoted locally through tourist magazines (free ones) and walk-ins. Tourist Shops – The foot traffic is there. If you are good at retailing to tourists you have it made. Shop rents are most affordable and then it is up to you. Labor is also cheap. The only thing missing is you and your know how. Real Estate Contracts - Never sign anything or give any money for real estate rental or otherwise without first consulting a Guatemala lawyer. You do not know the laws here. Freedom – When you move here the first thing you will notice is a sense of feeling free. There is a lot we do not have here. Let me list some of them. Food and Drug Administration – We have nothing like this. No one is going around to hobbyist farmers and busting them. No one is going to jail for raw milk. No one is doing what they do in USA and EU. Most of the medicines sold here are imported and without problems and issues. Many of the pharmacies don't even have a real license, it is more of a registration as a pharmacy store more than anything else. There is no such agency running around conducting farm or food raids with guns drawn. Federal Trade Commission – There is no such agency running around suing business people for not following an impossible list of requirements. Nuclear Regulatory Agency – We have no such folks. This agency does have gun toting special agents in the USA. TSA – We have no such agency. We have private security people running the metal detectors at the airport and screening the carry on baggage. When you see a flight going to the USA at our airport you see it is different. The people are harassed much more. We have no naked body scanners. We do not have sexual molestation pat downs. Once I had a 5 inch bladed folding knife in my carry on. They made me take it to the ticket counter and check it. See the difference. Well we do need to take off our belts and shoes, big deal. The experience is 10% as bad as what you get in the USA. More of What We Do Not Have and Do Not Want Department of Commerce – We have no such agency with armed special agents running around. Department of Agriculture – We have no such agency with gun toting special agents running around. Department of Education -No such agency with gun toting special agents.
Postal Inspectors – Post office special agents with guns. Don't have them and the people would never understand this. Post office police, absurd really. Railroad Police - Don't have them. Veterans Affairs Police- Don't have them. Department of Labor – They have special agents running around which we do not have. Department of Housing and Urban Development – We do not have such an agency let alone with special agents with guns. Environmental Protection Agency – We have no such agency with gun toting special agents. Bureau of Land Management – They have gun toting special agents . We have no such thing. Bureau of Indian Affairs – We have no such gun toting special agents. Capital Police, Supreme Court Police, Amtrak Police, Federal Reserve Bank Police are all missing in Guatemala. There are about 130,000 Federal Law Enforcement agents in the USA. Do you know anyone who really thinks they are safer because of these law enforcement agencies. In addition there are another 700,000 city, county and state law enforcement people running around looking to arrest people. This is far too many. Do they make you feel safe? Of course not. Most people are more worried about avoiding being one of their arrests. They are enforcing victimless crime laws most of the time. Tasers – Never saw any law enforcement agency that issues tasers in Guatemala. The list could go on and on. We have an immigration department, customs, traffic police and regular police. The military gets into some police roles specifically at the borders. You are smothered with police agencies in the EU and North America. This is one reason you feel free in Guatemala. Look police are needed. When you get too many of them like in the USA then they have not enough criminals to chase and start to bother regular folks violating statues without any victims. Then it is a police state. Incarceration Rate – In the USA there are 743 people in jail for every 100,000. This is the highest rate in the world. In Guatemala the rate is 72 per 100,000 people. This is about one tenth of the USA rate. I often hear people tout Panama as a good place to live. For comparison the rate in Switzerland is 79, UK is 150, Germany 88, Belgium 97, Costa Rica 228, Panama 324, Canada 117. You have a simply excellent chance of going to jail in the USA. A better chance than anywhere else. High Tech Police – We do not have this. I never heard of them having any sophisticated license plate reading cameras. They do not have any RFID chip reading devices on highways. A lot of tires have RFID chips in them by the way that trace back to your car ID number. Buy your tires in one store and have them installed by another outlet. Pay cash. Patriot Act – We have no such garbage law in this country. More Freedom Reasons – No one goes to jail for sending too many faxes or emails. No jail for growing food or giving your kid herbs. No jail for spanking your kids. Car insurance is not mandatory.
Traffic Enforcement – This is done by the green police. They do not carry guns. They are mostly inspecting commercial vehicles and checking current registration and driving licenses. If they did not check diligently for car registrations the people would never renew their registrations. Same for driving licenses. Tickets are rarely issued. If you get a ticket your lawyer goes and pays it. You get no points. The insurance company only knows about accidents, not tickets. You do not see laser and radar traps. You do not watch your rear view mirror to see if any highway patrol cruiser is clocking you. They are never there. It seems the people have fewer accidents. I expect this is because they concentrate on the traffic versus watching for cops ambushing them. Driving is a freer experience. Checkpoints – We are not perfect. They do run checkpoints around the country. They pull cars over at random. They check license and registration. The checkpoint has police and military. They are very polite. You need to unload your gun and give it to them if carrying. They check things, return your gun and documents and you are on your way in a few minutes. It is stupid. It does not stop the criminals. The crooks send a car ahead of them to detect the checkpoint and they stay in cell phone contact. When the point car sees a checkpoint they tell the bad guys with the contraband and the bad guys detour around it. This is something we hope stops with the next administration in January since it would only catch the most stupid of criminals. This administration tried to go after the guns a little bit. There was a high ranking official who was anti-gun who since resigned. It used to be that one could carry as many guns as one wanted on their license, then it was 12. Then they reduced it to three. The gun owners took it to the constitutional court and it came back to twelve guns on the license but as many as you want at home. We used to be able carry assault rifles on the carry permit but no more. You can still get a 14” shotgun on your carry permit like a semi auto Benelli M-4. I expect gun laws will improve with the next administration Jan. 2012. Home Security – Most of us live in gated communities. Many of these communities have armed guards. This is how we deter crime. We live in patio homes which are walled in. We have burglar alarms. If the alarm gets tripped the alarm company dispatches two armed guards on a motorcycle that gets there in a few minutes, pretty quick. The guys are typically ex military and are not to be trifled with. They have bullet proof vests as well as 9mm pistols with hi cap magazines. They can also get backup if engaged by crooks. Home invasions are not all that common. In the inner city they happen at times. The crook waits in the bushes for the people to come home and open the automatic garage door opener and then sneak in. An easy fix is to trim the bushes and keep lights on when out. If one was inside of a gated community would not happen. Many houses are expensive and are on dimly lit streets. This creates the temptation, the shrubbery and bad lighting set the stage and then it happens. This never happens in Antigua or the surrounding area, just happens in the inner parts of Guatemala City, nowhere else. Commercial Security – Stores restaurants and malls have a lot of private security guards and cameras. The guards have pistols or shotguns. They are in the parking lot and all over the premises. This keeps the criminals out. You can feel safe in the stores, malls and restaurants. Summary – I guess this is enough for another newsletter. More to come. Feel free to call and ask questions.
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