I have MANY questions... can someone help me? Lago Atitlan, Guatemala

I have MANY questions... can someone help me?

I would love to have an email buddy who's "been there, done that" that is willing to let me pick their brain for awhile.  I have been researching and surfing the web for a place outside of the USA where I can retire, for good and use as a base of operation while I do some traveling and do it inexpensively. That's when I found Andy interviewing Chris Smith at Chris's hotel in Panajachel.  I have already fallen in love with Lake Atitlan and am debating weather to settle down in "Old Folks ex-pat town" Panajachel or try and relive my younger days and hang out with the young and old hippies in San Pedro de Laguna.

Now for some of my questions. I read where the lake is the end of the supply line so if you want something in particular that's not a normal stock item you would have to special order it etc.   So my question is can I order products online and have them delivered to me in Guatemala without paying an arm and a leg for shipping.  I am not talking large box items but just things like computer cables, coffee grinder or a french press. Just stuff like that.  Or is there a department store on the lake somewhere that I can get most items at or special order from them?

Another question,  Does anyone know what I would have to do to get my black and tan Dachshund there?  She weighs 20 lbs, is 5 years old and is well behaved. Will it be hard finding long term rentals that will allow small dogs?

I intend on coming down and doing some recon of the area but it would be nice to know ahead of time what I might be running into. Any one have tips on how to get cheap tickets?

What do you do when your 90 day Visa is coming close to expiring?

If there's an expat out there that's not a member here and doesn't want to leave a note here please email me at  (nabashalam  --A-T-- yahoo.com)

Photos I have MANY questions... can someone help me? Lago Atitlan, Guatemala

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Comments 3


A Business called El Ranchero will allow you to have a box in Miami. YOu mail things to this box, then it is forwarded more or less privatly to Pana. You have a PO box there, which is yours. They also handle renewal of visas, truly you never have to leave Pana, they will renew for around 60 dollar for I think 60 days.

I am not sure about the dog, but of course there are many people who drive to Guatemala. I will try to get James to answer more, he is good.


Note, I want to start an assisted living thing there, maybe a cooperative owned thing. Storage, cleaning, nurses, etc, assisting with everything, not I am positive you can do all the things you want, and even get a room in El Amigo or Posada Don Carlos with WIFI for around 160 USD per month, complete with balcony. The only thing that is a question for me is the dog.


Nabashalam, rents vary, due to a variety of factors, but in the two hotels Gadget mentioned, that would be the reasonable monthly rent. Other issues to deal with are location, as you want to be away from the river, as it changed course somewhat last year, and you ideally dont want to be down by the lake, as the streets often flood down there. Also, your personal comfort level is a factor. A maid is often available either included in the rent, or for a very reasonable weekly rate, utilities are generally reasonable, and there is at least one secure community in town that offers North American satellite television service, which is actually better than the local cable.

As far as medical care in Pana, you definitely have a full range of excellent doctors, medicines are moderately inexpensive, though, a few medications are not marketed in Guatemala.

Its generally easier to rent a furnished house, as unfurnished means exactly that, no stove or refrigerator. Youll also find all sorts of things constantly listed on bulletin boards in town for sale, so if youre looking for something, someone will be selling one before you know it.

El Rancho is an excellent resource, as Gadget mentioned. But, do realize in advance that you have to pay about USD$3.75 per cubic foot or weight on the package, plus, 27 duty on many items and 12 value added tax.

Finding specialty goods is actually not that difficult. Lake Atitlan is one of the very, very few places in all of central America where you can actually buy real, American style corn meal, for example. Some items are certainly cheaper in Guatemala City or even in Xela (Quetzaltenango), but ask around, someone probably knows someone going to one or the other in a week or less.

As for living off your debit card, thats not always a good idea, and there are ways of opening a Guatemalan bank account that give you a bit more security. Only two banks in Guatemala print the 3 digit security code on the back of a debit card, and neither has a branch in Panajachel. So, you wont have to worry about internet purchases with a compromised card. By using two email addresses, and having an American Paypal and a Guatemalan Paypal account, you can transfer money to yourself rather easily as you need it. Its also fairly easy, depending on your American bank, to wire yourself money into your Guatemalan account. Bank account fees are also very inexpensive here. If I dont make 6 purchases during a month with my debit card, I get charged a whole Q10 monthly service charge. Thats about USD$1.30.

Feel free to send me a private message if you have any specific questions.

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