- It's affordable. A middle-class retirement can buy an improved lifestyle, with plenty left over to support your activities. You can attain a much higher standard of living on your social security, investments and retirement income.
- Proximity to the U.S. and Canada. Guatemala has direct air flights to the U.S. with connections to Canada. You do not need to isolate yourself from your family and friends in North America.
- No Big Brother Mentality. While there are laws and regulations, there is a strong common sense attitude that does not allow a controlling big brother government mentality. Perhaps this is because the court system does not support the types of lawsuits often cited north of the border as evidence of our litigious societies. You do not need a variety of licenses and permits, nor do you need to clear your plans with commissions and committees.
- Lifestyle. It's not necessary to give up the material goods that you enjoy and brand items you prefer. However, you may decide to use less prepared and off-the-shelf goods when you see so many fresh foods and affordable custom products available here.
- The local consumer market is large enough to support the type of malls, brand-name franchises and supermarkets to which you've become accustomed, as well as the local farmer's markets and individual artisans. Customs and shipping costs add only a small amount to the prices you would see back home for luxury goods and commercial electronics. Basic items like food, housing and utilities are far lower than you would experience in most big North American cities. Give it a try! Since it is so easy to come and go, you can test out your new Guatemalan lifestyle without having to make a move before you're sure.
- This author, the publishers and the many friendly North American and European expats are ready to welcome you.
Becoming a Resident
First, try it...
You needn’t be a resident to begin your life in Guatemala. Most foreigners receive 90 days permission as a tourist when they enter the country. An extension of another 90 days is permitted before you must decide what to do about residency status.
Your Residency Options
There are three basic options for most persons interested in residency.
- Temporary Residence: One year. Renewable. Fee Q500 ($65).
- Permanent Residency: Five years, Renewable. Fee: Q3,000 ($350).
- Permanent Pensionado/Rentista Status for life. No Fee.
Who Qualifies as a Pensionado/Rentista?
To receive Resident Retired Citizen status (“Pensionado”) or Investor Resident Status (“Rentista”) you are required to prove pension and/or investment income of US$1,000 per month. You’re required to show additional income of US$200 per month for each dependent.
Becoming a Resident
To become a resident, proof of pension or investment income is required, along with a marriage certificate (if applicable), a “police record” certificate issued by the your police department, a certified photocopy of your passport and a letter of validity of your passport issued by your embassy. (These documents, if not in Spanish, must be translated into Spanish by an “official translator.”)
You can begin the process before coming to Guatemala by working with the Guatemalan consulate nearest you. But, you are not required to attain residency before you arrive. It is possible to reside here up to 180 days as a tourist prior to applying residency residency status.
Excerpted from "Moving To Guatemala" in Escape From America Magazine, Issue 9.