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Property prices in Guatemala

Hello everyone,

Finding affordable housing in Guatemala is number one priority for newcomers. Tell us more about the estate market in your district/city/region.

What are the most desired places to live? What are the most affordable ones? What is the average cost of a rented flat? And what is the average sale price for an appartment or a house? Could you tell us more about local real estate policies/procedures? What about property tax or residency tax in Guatemala?

What about you? Where do you live now? Is it a place you would recommend?

Thank you in advance for your clarifications.

Priscilla

Your question(s) are fairly broad on a geographical bases. X-Pats are more likely to gravitate to where other X-Pats reside. Language is always a barrier if Spanish is required to "get by".
That leaves the simple choices to tourist areas, Antigua and Lake Atitlan are the 2 first choices.
There are pluses and minuses with both choices.
The lake offers a nice setting, if you want to look at the lake, but on a social point of view, it is community of retired people who are mostly on a restricted budget. There is very little to do, and for some, that may be fine. There is always a something to get involved with, if you search hard enough, but it ends up being the same old, same old, and that gets tiresome fairly quickly.
The lake has a lack of services, such as health care, and selection for shopping and entertainment.
Prices are reasonable for land, houses, and rents are affordable, but low cost rentals are hard to find, and generally they are rented very quickly.
The driving time to Guatemala city is approx. 3 hours, and in an emergency, that could be to far to late.
Antigua is really the hub for foreigners. The pluses are the proximity to Guatemala city, which is 45 minutes, depending on traffic. You can find almost anything in Antigua, but there is a price.
The cost is over inflated when it comes to houses to buy or rent. On average, you can expect to pay, for decent 3 bedroom rental property, anywhere from $800.00 to $1500.00 a month, and that is not in the downtown area. In the downtown area, it can be considerably more. The average purchase price for a nice home, in a good location, would be anywhere from $300,000.00 to "the sky is the limit. Financing for foreigners, is next to impossible from banks, and occasionally, owner financing is available, but on rare occasions. Property taxes are hardly a consideration.
The sad thing is the the city has become out of touch with is original roots. The city attracts a lot of local people because of tourism, and that can be good and bad. The uneducated can be taken advantage of, but it doesn't take too long to figure out how the game is played. There are amazingly good restaurants, that are affordable, good health services, and an interesting group of X-Pats with all different backgrounds. I would say there are more retired PhD's per square mile that just about anywhere I have ever been, but also backpackers, and people living on Social Security. There is always something to do.
Banking  in the country has become a pain for foreigners lately, due to the fear of money laundering.
Opening an account can be done, but it requires a bit of work to satisfy the basic requirements.
To live in Guatemala, you need to be patient, as nothing gets done in a matter of minutes, or even days.
If your a "want it now" kind of person, this may not be the place for you. Being aggressive to get things done, will put you at the bottom of the pile, and keep you there as long as they want, so don't come with an attitude.
The weather is one of the best climates in the world. The worst days, may mean a sweater. It does have 2 seasons. Dry and rainy, but nothing in comparison to most countries.
There is no personal capital gains taxes in the country, residency is fairly easy to acquire, but it doed that some time.
The cost of living for food and general expenses is about 40% and less than the US.
If anyone wants more specifics, they can drop me a note at bfwilson2000[at]gmail.com

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