When I first arrived in Guatemala about a year ago, I had very little idea of what to expect. It’s quite a leap to move from a largely wealthy suburb in the US to the seemingly chaotic pace of a Central American country, where I was constantly told there would be danger lurking around every corner.
Turns out those fears were highly inflated. Perception, from afar, is not reality, and just as I wouldn’t choose to live in Camden, New Jersey, or Detroit, Michigan, there are places in Guatemala one would be well-advised to stay away from. Which is why I chose Antigua Guatemala as my home-base for exploration, and couldn’t be happier about it.
Antigua Guatemala has everything I could wish for in an expat city:
#1 – Wonderful Weather: Dubbed the “City of Eternal Spring”, Antigua boasts year-round temperatures that average in the 70s. This makes the use of A/C or heaters unnecessary. There’s a rainy season that runs from May to November, though the rains are mostly an afternoon event, and not an all-day occurrence.
#2 – Great Food: Almost every type of cuisine is represented here. Argentinian food? Got it. Japanese, Indian, German, even Danish? Yup. Seafood is also easy to find (try ceviche (seafood dish) with a cold brew on a hot day… delicious!)
Antigua is also a great place to sample some of Guatemala’s best local food. San Felipe, a town within walking distance of Antigua, is a great spot to try beloved Guatemalan street food, like tamales, chuchitos, tostadas, enchiladas, rellenitos, and atoles, the last being a favorite hot beverage made from ground corn.
#3 – Safest City in Guatemala: Police presence is very visible here. Because Antigua Guatemala is such a draw for tourism, the government has a vested interest in continuing to keep it safe for tourists that land here. Very rarely do I feel uncomfortable walking the streets at night. It helps that Antigua has its own Tourism Police, in addition to Guatemala’s National Police.
#4 – Most Beautiful City in Guatemala, Maybe All of Central America: As a UNESCO Heritage Site, Antigua has been protected from overzealous investors. The local government has exercised good care to keep the city in the most pristine state possible. You won’t find a building higher than three stories here, which preserves the magnificent views of the volcanoes for everyone to enjoy. You won’t find gaudy neon signs either, and loud music is well-regulated. In fact, blasting your car horn inside the city is forbidden.
#5 – Easy Access to Major Airport: Antigua Guatemala is about 45 minutes away from Guatemala City, which makes flights into/out of the country relatively painless. Shuttles from Antigua to the Aurora airport are available for about $10 (~80Q). A round trip taxi ride to the city will cost about Q450 ($60).
#6 – Digitally Connected: Awarded the moniker “Digital City”, Antigua has an advantage that because it’s close to Guatemala City, technology makes its way here fairly quickly. Fast Internet speeds of up to 10 Mbps are available here. The newly opened Reforma Business Center offers modern, physical office space and Executive Receptionists to handle calls if you need a place to meet and greet clients and a physical address to receive packages.
#7 – Culturally Lively: There’s plenty of events going on every week and live music is easy to find. There are cultural events happening every month, from religious processions, to free concerts, there’s something for everyone. It’s also a kid-friendly city and the Spanish Cultural Center (Centro Cultural Espanol) has enough free activities on the weekends (puppet shows, movies, plays, etc) to keep the little ones entertained.
For these reasons and others (low-cost of food, housing, medical care and ease of doing business) I fully recommend Antigua Guatemala as an option for short-term and long-term living.
Thinking about living in Antigua?
Not sure how to handle the move?
Check out the Living in Antigua Guatemala Guide!
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