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Is Guatemala a good place for an American to retire to?

Guatemala has been suggested to me as a good retirement spot, mainly because it is very inexpensive. Is that true ? If so, what would be a good itinerary for a first time visit to check out a few likely places ? I am a 70 yr old retiree that speaks good spanish, in excellent health, but not wealthy. Will have at most $90K US and my $1,850/mo ss income. Will that be enough to live decently there ? One drawback to retiring south of the border is that my Medicare insurance is worthless down there. So I need to make sure I find a relatively cheap place. My needs are small; a laid back, stress free lifestyle, clean air, a nice 2/2 rental, eating out & a few cervezas at a local restaurant/cantina 3, 4 times a week, and a new 4 x 4 SUV. Need people around me, don’t want to be isolated in the country. Any suggestions as to what towns I should visit ?
To Chato : Thanks for the good advise. However I found by googling, two towns in Guatemala with that name, ( Panajachel ), one on the main highway near Mazatenango and one to the northeast, on a huge lake. Which are you referring to ? Nightlife and senoritas are muy importante as well as the other requisites I mentioned.

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  1. Swanny
    May 12th, 2011 at 22:07 | #1

    Haha, I read this as Guantanamo Bay before I got to the end. XD

  2. Brandon A
    May 12th, 2011 at 22:58 | #2


  3. chucksright
    May 12th, 2011 at 23:17 | #3


    Guatemala’s politics and government are shaky at best.

    A family friend was murdered in a apparent random robbery at her home in Guatemala City.

    She often spoke of having to bribe the border guards to get things into Guatemala.

    Her husband was found dead in the mountains, the odds that he drove off a cliff on roads that he bad been driving for his whole life are less than the odds that he was murdered by revolutionaries.

    these may be isolated incidents but be aware of the reality of living in a foreign country

  4. chato
    May 12th, 2011 at 23:26 | #4

    If you go to Guatemala make sure you visit Antigua Guatemala and Panajachel. I think that because of what you want Panajachel would be your best option.

    In Guatemala the exchange rate right now is $1 for Q.8.24 so you would be living really comfortbly and you would love the weather.

  5. Eficient VA
    May 13th, 2011 at 00:06 | #5

    well, let me give you both sides of the coin:

    For an american, Guatemala definitely is an inexpensive country: you have dollars. with your income you can easily find a small apartment in a nice and secure area or in Antigua Guatemala (which americans love), and still have enough for living comfortable. Most of the times, you guys live better here than we do.

    Now, as for the security issues, yes, it’s true, unfortunately our government is unable to do what it suppoused to…
    But, if you live in a secure place and mantain a low key profile (meaning, be careful if you decide to start a business or something like that) and just live a retiree life I don’t see why you should have problems… The thing is, that violence is something real here in Guatemala, and sometimes it doesn’t matter if you live well, sometimes is just about being in the wrong place at the wrong hour…

    Bottom-line, I love my country (except for the corrupt people that we have as “leaders”) but I prefer to be honest with you.

  6. sina
    May 13th, 2011 at 00:22 | #6

    Guatemala is really pretty. You should definitely visit Antigua Guatemala, Tikal, lakes like Atitilan, malls like Concepcion, etc.

  7. AMF
    May 13th, 2011 at 00:28 | #7

    I would suggest Antigua…a lovely town with shops and restaurants at the level an American would expect. A relatively safe city.

    Most of Guatemala is dangerous. They have not recovered yet from their 36-year civil war. I had no bad experiences myself when I was there, but two of my friends who stayed longer were kidnapped and probably would have been killed if they hadn’t escaped. Their truck was pulled over by gunmen. Their police are corrupt and you can’t even tell who are police half the time since terrorists have fake or stolen uniforms.

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