Don’t be scared! Breathe.
When I told everyone I was moving to Guam, of course they had their own opinions. I did my own research and didn’t want to hear any negative comments that would put doubt in my mind about Guam. Some people told me that Guam is full of poor people, that it was a third world country and that there were wild animals everywhere. These were people who had never actually been to Guam, so of course I didn’t take them serious. I did listen to some people (like my co worker) who had lived in Guam for a few years. She gave me tips on what foods to try and places I could apply for work. I really appreciated that. I wanted to come here with an open mind and I think that’s the key if you are going to move to Guam, or anywhere.
Guam is part of the United States but it has its own culture too. Chamorro’s are the native islanders here and they have a wonderful culture that was influenced by the Spanish. Guam is also very influenced by Philippines, Japan, Korea and the U.S. military. It is in the middle of the Pacific ocean, far away from anything else, so that creates some limitations. Being an island, some people have never left Guam. Many people haven’t been exposed to other types of music, foods and people. Don’t come here expecting everything to be the same as where you came from or you will be angry and disappointed. We live on an island, things go very slow, everyone knows you somehow and it’s pretty hard to get away.
So after being here for just over a year, here are a few things that might be helpful to know.
1. You’re hair will probably become frizzy.
2. Coming here alone will be hard. It’s very important to be friendly. Then you will be invited to BBQs and family parties, which are always fun If you’re a little anti-social like me, then it will be very hard to get by on your own.
3. The roads are bad (potholes and poorly made), there’s way too much traffic and people regularly run red lights so be careful.
4. Everything is expensive.
5. Guamanians speak English.
6. Unfortunately there is a high rate of robbery and theft, so be smart. Despite a few recent events, the island is usually very safe.
7. Nepotism exists and that is unfortunate and means there are a lot of people doing jobs that they aren’t qualified for. This is VERY frustrating to me.
8. Military guys run rampant throughout Tumon on the weekends.
9. There’s a lot of litter and people dumping their garbage in the jungle. It’s also very hard to recycle.
10. There is a reef that surrounds most of the island. It creates blue, clear water that sort of looks like a swimming pool. If you go past the reef, there is a VERY long drop and swimming becomes dangerous. The beaches are beautiful and there are tons of fish, which is great for snorkeling.
11. Lots of stores don’t ship here. Products are limited so if you have a favorite lotion or food, you might not find it here. If you do, it will most likely be double to the price.
12. Most of the news and events will be in the newspaper. The two main newspapers are Marianas Variety and Pacific Daily News.
13. You will probably gain at least 10lbs because the food is DELICIOUS!
14. Knowing Japanese or Russian will greatly benefit you.
15. Lots of great hikes and outdoor activities; although, the paths aren’t very clear and you will have to do a lot of exploring.
16. There are very few homeless people and always someone to help you out when times get tough.
17. Catholicism is the main religion and you will find it affects many things in your life, whether you practice or not.
18. Internet speeds are slow and that’s just the way it is. Phone service is spotty.
19. There’s a lot of corruption in government and police, but I see it getting better.
20. Electricity is expensive and almost as much as a mortgage/rent payment at times.
21. There are many beautiful, clean beaches and a lot of WWII history.
22. Cars tend to rust quickly because of the humidity and the salt in the air. On top of that, cars are ridiculously expensive. Repairs are also pricey. I wish someone would open a Les Schwab! We bought tires for our car and a week later we had a flat. So we went back and they had not properly put the tires on. They fixed it and tried charging us $50!
23. It’s VERY hot here. Probably worse than the heat is the humidity. Since I’ve been living here, the coldest it has been was around 78⁰F and the warmest was about 98⁰F.
24. There are a lot of small earthquakes and sometimes tsunami threats from earthquakes around the area. At first I was really scared about this, but there are evacuation routes and safe zones. The Marianas Trench, the deepest part of the Pacific Ocean, usually absorbs most of the potential damage.
25. There are two seasons: rainy (June-December) and dry (January-May). Rainy season you really need a car to get around because it is intense. Dry season makes you forget there ever was a rainy season. It’s just an absolutely beautiful time.
26. Guam is located in typhoon alley; although, there hasn’t been a typhoon in MANY years.
27. There’s always a local/military price and a tourist price. Always ask for the local price.
28. Just think of it as an extension of the U.S. Very small town feel to it, same problems as anywhere else you might live within in the U.S.
29. Shopping is limited. The only large department stores are Macy’s, Ross and the Filipino SM store. There are other small shops as well.
30. Explore and don’t be afraid! We’re living on an island!
I’d be interested to hear what other people have to say about living on Guam and the differences they encountered!