Retiring abroad permanently may not be in your long term plans, but how about escaping the long and dark winters for 3-6 months a year? Sounds like a good compromise between living abroad and staying at home? I have already talked a bit about how much it costs to live in Guatemala, but this post breaks down the cost of spending a winter in Guatemala.
3 months Guatemala trip budget
If you stay for three months, you can enter the country as a tourist, so no need for a visa.
Flights from Miami on Spirit cost about $300 return, you can flight on regular airlines like Delta or American from pretty much anywhere in the country for $750-$800.
You don’t need to bring more than clothes as long term rentals are used to Gringos coming over for months at a time, and your rental will have towels, bedsheets and all the kitchenware. Otherwise, look for another rental or spend $100 on it on arrival. You won’t break your back with a crazy heavy suitcase and spread over 3 months that is not a big deal.
Rentals in the lovely colonial town of Antigua start at $300 a month if you are really broke and not too bothered about cleaning, but to be comfortable, you’ll need $600-$1,000. That gets you a lovely 1-2 bedroom with a colonial feel, wooden furniture, and generally includes all utilities (water, gardening, maintenance, internet) but electric bills ($25-50 a month). For that price, you will be in the center of town and can walk anywhere. A $2 tuk tuk will take you home if your feet hurt after a long day. Rent will be a bit lower around Lake Atitlán, Río Dulce or Lake Petén Itzá in the North, maybe in the $400-600 range for something up to Western standards.
Your food budget can be as low as $5 a day if you eat on the markets, allow for $200-500 a month if you eat at home and need a lot of imported products (milk, cheese, wine, bacon, imported cereals, special sauces… those are expensive), and $50-$100 for a good restaurant once in a while.
You don’t need a car, safe shuttles take you all around the country for $20-$50 depending on the distance. You may choose to do all your traveling around on the last couple of weeks of your stay, saving a bit on rent, or travel once or twice a month for a few days. A mid range hotel will charge $40-80 per night, with basic hotels as low as $2 and luxury hotels in the $400+ range. Two people can comfortably travel on $200 a day, with a clean, well located hotel, three local meals ($10 at most) and transportation.
Total for two people staying 3 months in Guatemala:
Food – sundries $1,500
Travel 4 days a month $2,400
Total $6,800, or $1,150 per person, per month.
You can do it on much less, but I am on the safe side to budget for two people who aren’t really adventurous, and mostly looking for good weather. They want a house that feels like home (and may even be bigger, and with staff!), imported food and safe travels.
Some retirees come here on $300 a month and rent a small house by the lake, do yoga all day and eat avocados with corn tortilla. $1,150 is comfortable. You can do a much more expensive version with $400 a night hotels, but with $1,150 you should feel like you are at home.
6 months budget for living in Guatemala
If you stay for 6 months, you will need to renew your 90 day tourist visa at the immigration office, it is pretty straightforward, you just need a copy of your passport, credit card and a picture, then you pay $15 and you are good to go.
You can hire it out if you don’t feel like going to Guatemala City and queuing at five different desks for half a day.
Generally, your credit card covers you for any big healthy emergency for the first 90 days. If you stay for 6 months, you may need extra coverage. Check with them.
The rest of the budget stays pretty much the same, although you may get a discount on rent for staying longer (I kept it at $800 which is a lot but should cover cleaning services and then some), and as you get used to the surroundings you may become more adventurous about eating out at local eateries, or finding your own way to another town with local transportation. I lowered the food to $330 a month, which is the minimum wage here and should give you plenty to buy imported food but also taste local delicacies. I also lowered travel to $120 a day, because after you saw the main tourist towns for the first 3 months, the rest of the country doesn’t have much luxury hotels, so even if you get the best one in town you’ll probably spend $40 a night, meaning $120 is plenty to eat, sleep and travel.
You also save by having the same flights costs for a trip that is twice as long.
Total for two people staying 6 months in Guatemala:
Visa renewal $30
Food – sundries $2,000
Travel 4 days a month $2,900
Total $11,230, or $935 per person, per month.
Slightly cheaper than staying for three months, this is still a very comfortable budget to live large in Guatemala. I am sure many of you spend that much just by staying home. If you have a paid for house, your costs at home should be minimal while you are gone, and you can even try to rent it on Airbnb if you live in a desirable location.