Perhaps this will help at least generate some ideas for you... I got this in an email the other day from the people at Live and Invest Overseas dot com:
"Lake Atitlan, of Kashmiri-blue sapphire hued water, set in an emerald
fronted by small beaches, inlets, and coves," writes Latin America
Michael Paladin, "is placid in the morning and wind-whipped in the
sits at a mile high altitude in the western highlands of Guatemala and is
three spectacular volcanoes, San Pedro, Toliman, and Atitlan. The
perfectly shaped cones rise another 3,000 feet above the 'unruffled
surface, blue as
a peacock's breast...it is a view that qualifies beyond argument to be one
wonders of the world' (so said Sitwell in 1961).
"Aldous Huxley said that he did his best writing here and concluded that
is too much of a good thing.' That was in 1934, long before anyone was
attention to what now is generally regarded as the most beautiful lake in
"Today, the children of the hippie wanderers who flocked to San Pedro La
the 60s have returned to the region that attracted their parents. The
colony of Santa Cruz is alive and well. And Panajachel, the largest town
lake, with some 14,000 inhabitants, serves as the entry point for the
villages scattered around it.
"The streets of Panajachel are lined with colorful fabrics, handicrafts, and
wandering tourists. Calle Santander is a five-block-long buffet of color,
phosphorescent blues and purples to day-glo reds, oranges, and yellows.
is narrow, a sea of tourists parted by the huffing crimson tide of red
that motorcycle with a shell, the three-wheeled shopper's special. Once,
observing that this city's fleet of tuk-tuks is shinier and cleaner than
in the country, I was informed that the mayor owns the concession.
are individually owned.)
"Pana, as its called, is home to some 200 or so expats from all parts of
Russ, the ex-lawyer from Boston, has been living here for 14 years, in a
house on a side street. His yard is a jungle. The gardeners are there
away with their machetes. Dr. Guevara, who lived at the lake until she
Antigua, two hours away, still sees some of her patients there. She's an
Oxford-trained psychologist who explains that, not surprisingly, she
many lake-region patients with stress-related issues.
"Around the corner, to the south and a half-hour away by boat or car, is
Atitlan, home of Maximon, the cigar-smoking, heavy-drinking patron saint
causes, bad marriages, and favors granted (if you've got the cash).
"David Glanville, owner and proprietor of the superb Posada Santiago, came
the 1970s and gradually built his hotel and restaurant. There's an
expats in Santiago, and poker is a popular pastime. David's skills are
"San Pedro and San Marcos? Two entirely different villages, each with a
flavor. Pedro? Leafy, narrow, winding paths lead you past small bars,
signs indicating massage therapy nearby. It has lesser views of the lake
only ATM on that side of the lake (reached by a steep climb up cobblestone
The pluses? Cheap rents, cheap houses. On the other hand, you pay a bit of a
surcharge for 'carrying' for any and all consumer goods you buy locally.
"San Marcos? Southwest of Pana, northeast of San Pedro, 20 minutes by taxi or
launch, it's smaller, quieter, and more esoteric and laid-back. The expat
here seem to be holding on more diligently to the traditions of their
professors from Maharishi University. Astral Traveling seminars? They got
Pyramid Power? Check. There is also a definite air of tranquility,
serenity, thanks probably to the location. Living here you enjoy a
open view of the lapis-blue lake waters and malachite-colored volcanic
"'Om' may be the dial tone of the universe, but this place doesn't answer
I tried calling to make a reservation at a recommended hotel and restaurant.
Voicemail told me to leave a message. I called back twice; same thing.
hotel, Plan B, answered and took my reservation.
"Why would you want to live here? The weather is ideal. Neither snow nor
coastal humidity. Plus, no bugs. I've already told you about the views.
"The price for the perfect weather and the paradise views is the
living at the end of a supply chain for commodities and daily necessities.
new British owner of the hotel/restaurant Paco Real in San Marcos, has to
20-quetzal, 20-minute boat ride to San Pedro for hotel supplies that the
gardens don't produce.
"Armand Boissy of Atitlan Solutions (real estate agency), when asked about
reasons for living at the lake, explains, 'The most beautiful lake in the
views of three perfect volcanoes, spring temperatures year-round, and a
welcoming community. Then there's the Mayan culture, inexpensive lifestyle,
proximity to Guatemala City for good low-cost health care, and easy access
"How affordable is the cost of living? You could rent a two-bedroom condo
in a gated
community (Pana) for US$275 a month or a one-bedroom house (again, in
US$550. Rental costs are comparable all around the lake.
"Many homes are available for purchase in the $200,000 to $300,000 range;
mansion-style properties are in the range of US$700,000. The quality of
"With its small but established population of full-time expats from all
the world, this place is uniquely suited for the off-the-beaten-path,
Taos-rather-than-Sante Fe, Big Sur-rather-than-Carmel potential overseas
This is the end of a very beautiful road with stunning sunsets, a
lake, and the white-hot blaze of the Milky Way at Midnight. No Snickers."