by STAFFORD COWLES
This is March of 2012, I retired to Guatemala in May of last year. The previous January, I was living in my home in Michigan. While I was at the shopping mall one day, it rained and then froze and two inches of snow dropped on top of that. I was cursing and shivering while I was scraping the windshield of my car. I was angry for having to get into a cold car. I decided then and there, that I had enough of this @#$%^&*. I am 64 years old and have lived in Michigan for most of my life. No more cold Michigan winters for me. When I got home I got online and began researching a suitable and warm place to move to. I stuck to researching the warm countries. I looked around the Medeterranian, South East Asia, South America, and Central America. It took me about two weeks of searching. But I finally found Guatemala. The weather there seemed to be perfect. It seemed like it would be a nice warm spring day, everyday. And as it turned out, that was correct. I checked the economics of the country and the currency exchange rate, and it seemed to be quite economical.
My hobby in Michigan is guns. (Sorry anti's) I enjoy minor league gunsmithing, ammunition reloading, target practice and hunting. Of all the countries I researched, Guatemala was the only country that would allow me to have my guns and continue with my hobby. I liked the climate, currency exchange rate and their allowing me to continue my hobby. So, those three factors guided my decision for me.
Not being familiar with the country, I also searched for tour agencies in Guatemala. I saw several companies that advertised a wide variety of tourist activities. But I did not want that. I then found a company whose advertisement said: "Custom tours Available" I called them. www.liveguate.com in Guatemala city.
when I called, I was able to speak with the owner, Mr. Ryan Berquist. I told him that his advertisement said: "Custom tours available." He said: "That's right. Just how custom do you want?" I
told him that I was interested in retiring in Guatemala, but didn't know anything about the real estate rental market. I asked him if he would take a few days guiding me from city to city looking for a suitable place for rent? He said "Sure, no problem"
So, in the month of May, I flew to Guatemala City and Mr. Berquist personally picked me up at the airport. He and his assistant, then spent several days driving me around different cities in Guatemala, interviewing different real eatate agents. I finally settled on a nice house in the small town of Jocotenango. (Ho Ko Ten Ang Go) right next to the city of Antigua.
Mr. Berquist also took me to a reputable attorney to arrange permanent residence papers, and firearms permits. They are nearly finished. I am expecting them any day now.
I am thoroughtly enjoying my stay here. As for frugality.... I am on a pension and have a fixed income. I still own my house in Michigan. I live quite well here in Guatemala, and even have a cleaning lady come in once a month. And, I still have a little money left over at the end of the month, for extra things. Like travel. The economy here is great. There are plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables that are very cheap. A month after I got here, I went to a dentist in Antigua. He personally cleaned my teeth and gave me a good exam. He spoke English, and his office was as modern as any in Michigan. He charged me 240 Quetzalas. About $30 dollars, US. That is cheaper than my dental insurance, co-pay back home. The economy here is very frugal. A simple thing like a taxi into town and back is 10 Quetzalas, only about $1.25 U.S. The exchange rate fluctuates, as does most currencies, but it hovers around 8 Quetzalas to $ 1.00
So, my frugal friends. If you are looking for a place with the perfect weather, that is not HOT and humid, and NEVER cold, friendly people and frugal economy, try Guatemala. You won't regret it.