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Life in Antigua, Guatemala (Costs and an Update)

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So I’ve been in Antigua for over a month now. Where did the time go? In that time I’ve got myself a pretty handsome novio (boyfriend), a super cute apartment, a coworking space, bought a moto and am feeling pretty settled.

And then I tried to do something stupid: I over committed myself.

I was volunteering six hours a day in a school for children who come from disadvantaged backgrounds. I love volunteering, but six hours a day volunteering, plus 2-4 hours of Spanish and trying to squeeze work into the mix… well it just didn’t happen. I tried this for two weeks, got super sick and decided now wasn’t the time for me to be devoting so much of my time to such cause. It probably makes more sense for me to work well, earn decent money and then donate some of that.

Costs in Antigua:
One of the reasons I moved to Guatemala was a part of my plan to pay no taxes. So far, I’ve started the residency process, kind of. I’m being held up a bit because there’s no Guatemalan Embassy in New Zealand and so it looks like my documents have to go to Tokyo to be verified. Right. Despite that, my costs here are pretty reasonable, especially compared to what I was spending in New Zealand

Apartment: $300 per month. I’m sharing with a lovely American girl who’s an English teacher. That covers Internet, but electricity is on top of that. I think electricity will be around $30 per month. So total for my apartment and bills is $330 approx. In New Zealand I was paying $1620 for the apartment, around $150 for power and another $100 for Internet. That’s around $1870 a month. So I’m saving $1,540 per month on those expenses alone.

Transport: I drive a moto now which costs around 20Q to fill up, which is around $2.50. I fill it up, at most, twice a week. So that’s $20 a month on gas, vs the $350 or so I was spending in New Zealand. Obviously I’ve changed the type of vehicle I drive so it’s cheaper, but how great is this! $330 a month savings.

Food: Ouch, food is my biggest cost here as I’m a fan of going out to lunch or dinner most days. Grocery shopping is pretty cheap, but I find cooking for one super depressing. I need to track what I’m spending on food, but for example a coffee and brunch in my favourite cafe in Antigua runs at $7.20, that includes a high quality latte and a big, delicious breakfast. In New Zealand you’d be looking at at around three times the price. A coffee there alone runs close to $4.50! For less than I used to spend on groceries alone in New Zealand, I’m eating out at least once a day. My waistline isn’t too happy about this though! I did take a Guatemalan cooking class on the weekend with my novio which was super fun, so maybe I’ll start cooking a little more… maybe.

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Gym: I joined a gym here for a crazy $30 per month. In New Zealand my gym was $100 for the month. That’s a saving of $70 per month.

Co-Working Space: This is actually an additional cost as it’s not something I bothered doing in New Zealand, but I think it’s a great investment. There’s a coworking space here that is $100 per month. For that price you get access to a really cool space filled with other like minded people. The Internet’s super fast, around 6mps which is crazy fast for Guatemala. You also get free coffee and discounts on events that they host, which are fairly regular. It’s a cost I could “do without” but considering how much money I’m saving on rent etc I think it’s a good investment. I also like having a separate space to work that isn’t my home.

Spanish Classes: Again, these are something I didn’t take when I was in New Zealand because I couldn’t justify paying someone $40 per hour frequently enough for me to really get comfortable with the language. However, here Spanish tutors are reasonably priced. I have two teachers, seeing them both for two hours a day each. One I pay $6 per hour (she started on $5, but she’s a single mother and I think she’s a great teacher) and the other is $5. This is for one-on-one private lessons. HOW GOOD IS THAT?

All in all, when you factor in my savings and my tax savings… I’m thousands of dollars better off here. Beyond money, I’m really happy here. The place I live is super beautiful. The local people are friendly. I’m learning Spanish and improving more than I have in the years before being here. I love it here so much I almost don’t want to go to the states and Europe next month. Almost.

How are you all doing? Sorry I’ve been so distant. I was overcommitting myself but now I’m back on track! Is there anything you’d like to know about my life in Antigua, Guatemala?

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