Moving To Antigua
Replies: 6 - Last Post: May 28, 2012 2:31 PM Last Post By: Shogun01
Apr 3, 2012 9:39 AM
Moving To AntiguaMy wife and I are planning to move to Antigua later this year; she was born and raised in Guate -has lived here in Los Angeles for over 10 years- and we're looking forward to moving to her homeland. I would like some advice on how she could secure a job (she's in business/administration) before we move. I'm curious of the likelihood of doing a Skype/phone interview; that's not too rare in the states but don't know about in Guatemala. At worst case scenario we can stay with her family in Guatemala City until we find work in Antigua but would prefer to bypass this step. Does anyone know of any Guatemalan job boards that we can post a resume'? As for me working, it's my understanding that I would have to wait at least 3 months to get some residency to then apply for a work visa. I'm not sure if that's correct information though. Also, we would just like to meet some people from the area to connect with. If anyone has any great general advice about moving there (or anything else) we would greatly appreciate it. Thank you in advance.
Edited by: Marcos777
Apr 4, 2012 8:12 AM
1the prensa libre has the best classifieds section of all the national newspapers: http://clasificadospl.com/empleos/
job boards I haven't heard of - something that you may bear in mind is that Guatemala is still a very face-to-face culture. Email and phone calls are OK once you know someone, but you may not get very far introducing your self by those methods. It's also a place where "it's not what you know but who you know" is about a thousand times truer than elsewhere, so if you or your wife have contacts in country they will be your best resource.
I would say at least 3 months before you can work and best to plan for significantly longer. Have a look at the immigration department website to see what papers you will need: http://www.migracion.gob.gt/ and bring them along. It can be a real pain to get this stuff from your home country once you are here.
Bear in mind that immigration law changes regularly, particularly when the govt changes (as it just has) and anything that you get told this week (even by people working in that office) may well be completely useless next week.
Without meaning to let air out of your tires, I know people in your position (married to a Guatemalan, wanting residency) who have been on that particular roundabout for years. Consider hiring an immigration lawyer based in Guatemala City or Antigua - they charge significantly more than what you would pay doing it yourself, but know who to pay off (contacts, remember?) to get you your piece of paper within this lifetime.
In the meantime I would investigate finding a job you can do online - you may find that it suits you better than the low paid work you may end up with otherwise, and will at least pay an income while you wait for the wheels of bureaucracy to grind along.
General advice is too general maybe... if you can, come on a fact-finding mission before you make the big move. Scope out areas you would want to live and prices of things you need to be comfortable, that way you will know what you should bring and what you can simply buy here.
good luck and if you have any more specific questions, feel free to ask.
Apr 7, 2012 6:17 AM
2Online jobs are the best if you can arrange that before leaving the USA. You will need high speed internet and the highest speeds are available in the capital although speeds are going up in other areas as well.
Call centers DO go begging for employees. That pay cited by Delmonte is a decent wage in Guatemala, but very low when compared with the USA, so an online job with a USA employer is the best idea.
If you want to come to Antigua, most jobs are low paid and foreigners usually end up tending bar or working at a hotel in a job that requires English, but does not pay well. Also, there are few of those available and plenty of traveling tourists who want them and will take low pay to supplement their travels.Teaching English is a common alternative but there are too many people who have those skills and too few opportunities to teach English in Antigua. If you were a highly skilled (TOEFL certified)and experienced teacher of English, you might be able to find a position in one of the private schools, either in the capital or in Antigua, but pay is well below US standards.
Apr 7, 2012 6:37 AM
3Check out the Living Abroad branch, lots of great tips from people that make a transition.
From my decade of visiting the region, and talking with endless expats of all stripes and backgrounds, I have learned a lot.
If there is one thing a expat will tell you, is have a job lined up prior to moving to another country or culture. But Guatemala is not exactly an economy that is booming for educated expats, compared to say China. Overall, most expats in the CA area have businesses of some sort to support themselves, with the odd exception of sports books or call centers, which is not exactly putting the degree to work nor very much a career, though sports books in CR made some great money before the crack downs.
Residency is another issue that is always BS for most and many foreigners end up making Visa runs for years.
If I were to move to CA or Guat, I would have a game plan on opening a business to support your living standards anywhere close to what you have now. Unless you have a hefty pension and retirement savings/income, you could blow more money than you planned trying to get a job in these countries thats even worthwhile. There is a reason people want to get to the US from CA, the land of opportunity and higher wages/incomes.
Even moving to CA (or any country) if you are loaded, is a big adjustment for most. I just returned from 7 months in China, Shanghai and Beijing with my wife's MBA and her native Mandarin making it easy for her to get offers daily and securing a excellent fortune 500 job, but for me, without Mandarin, is very limiting, unless I started my own business, or taught english $2000 Month there, not bad considering. Luckily I lined up some consulting and kept busy, but not a yellow brick road for a foreigner unless you are recruited and offered a package to move from US/EU to a developing country, with a big salary, housing/daycare and car/driver part of the package.
One thing about Antigua, there are a lot of Expats there, to learn the ropes from, and maybe foster a business opportunity.
Apr 7, 2012 10:16 AM
4if you are planning on starting a business (and I agree that most expats who aren't working for foreign companies find that much preferable to working for a Guatemalan business) I would advise having a BIG buffer of cash - some to live on while you get the lay of the land and check out what opportunities there are and the rest to actually get yourself set up (ther cost of which will go down the longer you spend talking to people, hopefully learning from their mistakes, understanding how the "system works, etc).
I've seen alot of people come here with big plans, throw money around and either close up or end up having to commute seasonlly to the US to work to make ends meet.
In the current climate I think it would be madness to open a business aimed strictly at tourists - every place where tourists go is overstaurated with the traditional tourist businesses (hotels, restaurants, internet cafes, bars, etc) and the problem is exacerbated by dwindling tourist arrivals.
If you can run something out of your home (like a restaurant or B&B) you will cut down on the real killer overheads like rent (wages is barely worth mentioning until you have 10+ employees) and maybe earn OK in the (increasingly shorter) high season and some pocket money the rest of the year, but a steady, reliable income it will not be.
Apr 9, 2012 10:17 AM
5All good advice here....I've seen many, too many people come and go for lack of "making it" in Guatemala. Many have started businesses only to have them fail or barely limp along which happens anywhere, but is especially heartbreaking when someone comes all this way, loves the country but just cannot make it financially here. It can be very,very sad.
May 28, 2012 2:31 PM
6Nice thread and needs a bump. Like many here we've seen countless numbers of expats that really try to make it here and in other countries. The most common mistake is they try to do to much to fast as Braxman said Big Planes and big money only to crash and burn. I opened a total of 7 restaurants/Bars in 18 years. I too made some big mistakes in the beginning like catering to the gringo crowd, I quickly learned the money was with the locals. Another mistake is working, if someone needs to work to survive here it's best to stay home. I never seen an expat make it trying to work. To open a business in Antigua is suicide IMO, The overhead is insane and this cuts out the locals. If you need to depend on tourist to survive well it will not work unless of course you are swimming in $$$.
A newly transplanted expat should sit back for at least 1 year to look around and learn the ropes. Anyone relocating here should have some sort of income to fall back on.
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