25 Lessons From My First Year Living in Antigua Guatemala

Antigua Guatemala

It’s already been a little over a year since I made the move from the US to Guatemala. It’s been quite the adventure in some ways, frustrating in other, and a smooth transition in many areas. Overall, I have to say it’s been a great experience!

Here are 25 lessons I’ve learned in my first year living in Antigua Guatemala:

  • #25Everything isn’t better back home. I have no idea what the Kardashians or Lindsey Lohan are up to. Nor does anyone else here bring them up.
  • #24 – For roughly $5 a day my child receives a vastly superior education than what she would’ve ever received in a US public school.
  • #23 – Just because something is cheaper here, it doesn’t mean you’re getting it at a good price.
  • #22 – I don’t have to keep up with the Joneses. Or the Martinezes. Few people here can afford to anyway.
  • #21 – The US medical system is ripping you off big time. As is the pharmaceutical industry.

Guatemalan Tortillas

#20 – Corn tortillas are not that bad. Just give them another chance.

  • #19 – Don’t trust a Realtor to help you get into a ready-to-move-in house or apartment. Make sure EVERYTHING works before receiving your house keys and waving the Realtor goodbye.
  • #18 – Police here are not out to “get you.” Heck, they may even be polite and give you directions if you ask!
  • #17 – Is Guatemala dangerous? Well, they haven’t had any mass shootings or stabbings at any schools, sporting events, movie theaters, or universities lately.
  • #16 – Unleaded gas here sucks. Always get Premium gas.

Mercado Antigua Guatemala

#15 – Paying over $10 dollars to see a movie is insane.

I will never pay over $1.00 for a movie DVD if I can help it.

  • #14 – Don’t ever lock yourself outside your home or car on a Sunday. Nobody works on Sunday if they can help it. As it should be.

Antigua Mercado

  • #13 – Eating vegetables and fruits here is actually cheaper than eating at McDonald’s, not the other way around.
  • #12 – Always change the locks when you move into a house unless you want the owners or their relatives to drop in when you’re not home.
  • #11 – Don’t buy your ceviche (seafood cocktail) just anywhere, especially from that street vendor selling it in little plastic cups for Q5. Unless you’d like to cleanse your digestive system fire-hose style.

Antigua Guatemala

#10 – There are places in the world with perfect weather year-round.

Antigua is one of them. Remember this when the weather is below zero and you’re shoveling snow away from your driveway. Your move, hotshot.

  • #9 – “Chicken buses” will rarely, if ever, have any chickens in them. They will often have clowns, though.
  • #8 – Always bargain prices. You’re expected to. Except at restaurants. It won’t work, trust me.

Carne Asada Guatemala

#7 – Carne asada is not the same as a steak. Not by a mile. But it’s still dang tasty.

  • #6 – The quality of clothing and shoes in the US, even at Wal-Mart, is vastly superior to Guatemala’s. Just because the label says “American Eagle”, it doesn’t make it so.
  • #5 – Lava-spewing volcanoes are just part of the landscape. Enjoy the fireworks and have a travel bag ready at all times.
  • #4 – Pedestrians do not have the right-of-way. Cross the street leisurely at your own risk.

Guatemalan people

#3 – It’s OK to say “Buenos días” (good morning) to total strangers on the street.

They won’t think you’re a psychopath or a mugger. They will even smile and greet back!

  • #2 – No one ever wears gloves when preparing or handling your food. And yet, I haven’t died. I got over it.

And the #1 Lesson I’ve Learned While Living in Antigua Guatemala?

Naranjada Guatemala

Arguing over politics or politicians is a waste of time.

Just kick back and enjoy a cold beer. Or a naranjada, if that’s your thing.


See more about what makes

Antigua Guatemala great here:


Published by Rich Polanco

Fan of dogs + all things tech. Love a great pizza. My goal is not to travel to every country in the world. I only want to get to know my favorite ones REALLY well. Check out the big bio here. Follow @RichPolanco and connect on Facebook. Currently exploring: Guatemala.

11 thoughts on “25 Lessons From My First Year Living in Antigua Guatemala

  1. Hi!
    Great collection. And from my roughly two months down in Antigua I can confirm all except one thing – the school system as I don’t have kids ;-)
    The weather is great, the people are nice and helpful, lots of fruit and veggies at almost nonsense price compared to the ‘first’ world.

    1. Thanks for visiting, Andreas! Don’t be a stranger here :)


  2. Great post! With 1 year and 10 months under my belt in Nicaragua I have learned many of the same lessons.

    Elisha in Nica
    Formerly from Calgary, AB, Canada

    1. Hi Elisha!

      Thanks for stopping by! Have actually been following your blog for a while. Great stuff! Actually planning an exploratory trip to San Juan del Sur soon, as its a possible next destination. Will reach out when the date gets closer.



  3. Great article Rich, really enjoyed that. Antigua on our list, maybe we’ll get there sometime in 2014!
    Good job on the blog,
    Frank (bbqboy)

    1. Wow! Twainian! Not sure if I should take that as a compliment… I have to ask first:

      Are we talking about Mark Twain the American author or Shania Twain the Canadian singer? Because I don’t know how quite take it if it’s the second one. I certainly don’t feel like a woman here! ;)


  4. Enjoyed your comments. Working at an orphanage in San Marcos, 2 yrs in march. Love our kids but do miss family & friends back in Mi. Finally feeling relaxed with the culture, takes awhile especially in more rural area. Take care, Linda & canica kids :)

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