Part 2: So You’re Coming to Guam.

Hello there! It’s been a little while since I’ve posted one of these, and with my two year Guamiversary having passed, I think now is the perfect time for another. You can read part one Here.

I can understand how moving anywhere new might be scary, especially somewhere in the middle of nowhere. To be successful in Guam (or anywhere) it’s all about your mindset and how you CHOOSE to view the differences. I was too overwhelmed by the beauty, the sun, the clear ocean water to notice anything else. Yes, Guam has its frustrating moments where I’m like, “I just want to leave!” I’m pretty sure I felt the same way when I was living in Oregon.  Maybe you’ve heard a lot of negative things about the island, don’t let those opinions become yours.

1. Depending on where you live, Kmart may be the closest option for you to buy essential things like toilet paper or soap. With it being the only super store on Guam, and for some reason a very popular tourist attraction, it’s busy 24/7. When I lived in Oregon I went to Kmart (if I could find one) to get away from the crowds because the place was usually desolate. Not on Guam. Kmart on a Saturday night is THE place to be haha! There are busloads of tourists who are dropped off at the store everyday.

2. There are so many stray dogs and cats throughout Guam. I think there are more dogs though, a few times we’ve run into a pack of dogs that chased us down the street. They are called boonie dogs/cats. Most of the time they are scared and run off. It’s really sad to see them hungry and to know that the older animals are feral and will never be tamed.

3. If you will be receiving checks from off-island banks and depositing them into a Guam bank account, you will have to wait at least 7 business days for the check to clear. Even if it has cleared on the other side, Guamanian banks hold it. It’s so annoying!

4. I’m not sure how often these unexplained power outages happen in other villages, but in Tumon they happen often (I’ve had three this week alone). They can last anywhere from 5 minutes to a whole day. I’ve heard that the power supply isn’t enough for the demand in Tumon. Our lights usually flicker a bit and our air conditioner has had to be fixed a handful of times because of the sudden outages. Most businesses have generators that kick on once the power is out.

5. When deciding on what clothes I would need in Guam, I never thought I’d be cold. But being as it is hot everywhere on island, about 99% of places will have their air conditioner blasting on the coldest temperature.  I definitely wish I had brought a light sweater so that I wouldn’t freeze to death!

6. Before I moved to Guam, I researched which vaccinations I’d need on the Center for Disease Control website. At the time, it recommended Hep A & B, flu, tetanus, and typhoid vaccinations. I found a travel clinic that could provide most of these and since I had done all the research on my own, I received a discount. The doctor advised me to be careful of the water and food that I eat.

7. Though I’ve never been to one, cockfights are legal and commonly take place.

8. Guam is NOT a third world country!!! In some ways it does seem to show third world tendencies (some people live in tin houses, unpaved roads, corruption…). Much of the population live at or below the poverty line. It’s very rare to actually see anything that would suggest that Guam is a poor country/territory. There are government agencies that help those in need.

9. Even though Guam is served by the United States Postal Service, many companies consider Guam a foreign country and won’t ship here or will charge international shipping rates.

10. Anytime the temperature dips below 85 degrees Fahrenheit you will hear people say, “It’s cold!” Ahh the struggles of living on an island ;)

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Questions about life on Guam? Check out my FAQ.

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6 comments

  1. Even though I’ve been living on Guam for quite some time now, I still loved reading this and part 1. Here are my thoughts on each point:

    1. Kmart is cuh-ray-zee. It is the ONLY superstore on the entire island (not to mention the closest one to Saipan, CNMI, etc.) so it is ALWAYS busy. Back in Hawaii I think I only went to Kmart 3 times at the most during my life there, but with no Walmart, Target, etc. on Guam, you’re bound to go to Kmart sooner or later – probably sooner.

    2. Stray animals are a HUGE problem. We’ve had major problems with them ripping through our trash, digging up our backyard, and terrorizing the kids in my neighborhood. You know its bad when you can’t go for a walk without carrying a big stick. The government really needs to get more involved and do something about it.

    3. I HATE having to wait “for the funds to clear”. Even banks with branches on Guam take at least a few days to clear because of the time difference. It’s lame.

    4. Power outages are the worst. Thankfully in our village (Agana Heights) we don’t have them as often as you do in Tumon, but still they really do suck. Especially when we have the island-wide outages. And I know that when I used to live in the south, the water outages were probably worse than the power outages.

    5. LOL. Yes girl, ALWAYS be sure to at least have a cardigan in your car!

    6. I never worried about vaccinations or anything when I moved here and I haven’t had any problems. Some people do drink tap water and it seems fine, the only thing I worry about is eating foods that I’m not familiar with. I’m chamorro and I know the food is part of my culture, but if I don’t know what it is or if its something you can’t really classify on the food pyramid, I won’t eat it. Hahaha.

    7. I’ve been to one cockfight, but I can’t stand it. Raising a bird to fight to the death – it’s too bloody and just not my thing.

    8. I HATE when people are uneducated about Guam. “Do you live in a hut?” “Do you wear grass skirts?” Uh, no because I can’t mount my flatscreen to the coconut leaf wall and grass skirts make me itchy. True, some areas are a little more old-fashioned than others – but we’re still a civilized territory of the U.S.

    9. Online shopping is a pain sometimes because of that. Always check first to see if they ship to Guam, otherwise ask someone in the states to forward it to you.

    10. LOL. I love when the temperatures drop and it starts getting breezy! Best time to be outside!

  2. I’m curous about health insurance in Guam. Do they have Obamacare? What does one do if they quit their job and move to Guam to protect themselves from a medical emergency?

    1. Guam does not have the Affordable Care Act because they say they don’t have enough money for it (B.S. to me!). I haven’t found any good options to self insure so it’s out of pocket. If someone has a serious medical issue and no insurance, they go to the Philippines. Medical City is high quality care at an affordable cost.

  3. I heard you on the radio today. You have a lot to say and people should listen. Anyway, I have lived here for over 20 years and have these things to add:

    I was married to a local woman and when she complained about corruption here, I took her to Louisiana and then we spent several days each in Alabama and South Carolina. She couldn’t believe the amount of corruption she was able to sense from reading newspaper headlines. Having lived in some of these places, I further enlightened her and she never again complained about GovGuam. Except the lack of friendly service.

    When I lived in Agana, I only had issues with power when I wasn’t on time with payment. In Tamuning, it’s a bit different. Power outages come every day at least once. It is usually momentary and I can only think that it’s due to switching. However, we get outages lasting up to 30 minutes, and that seems to be from maintenance. But it does really hurt the aircon unit.

    I must say that the grass hut comment takes me back to when I was deaprting Florida to return here. A guy I had met online thru WBS.net, whose nick was Guam Bear worked at Northwest had to help me out. The ticket agent would not process my ticket until she saw a Guam passport. Back in those days I had to mind my tongue as any comment could be taken as beligerent and I could be carted off to a holding cell or even to jail for up to 3 days. At any rate, Guam Bear came to my rescue, but not before I started in on the agent’s ignorance of her own country. And yes, she did make a few comments herself about grass skirts and no electricity. She did later admit that she was from Jamaica.

    One other thing: Roads

    I know what you say about the roads here. However, it is slowly but surely getting better in that respect. I came when the roads were merely giant potholes and sinkholes with bits of crushed coral gravel here and there. Plus, there were no street lights. I know Guam seems a bit lacking, but it has taken these past twenty years to get where we are now. Try to imagine Marine Corps Drive without street lights. And no way to determine lane separation. I lived it. My wife called me a chicken cause I wouldn’t drive at night.

    Take care :)

    1. Hey there thanks for reading!

      That’s the problem, just because corruption might happen everywhere that shouldn’t mean that people need to quit “complaining” or being concerned with it. We should protest against and raise awareness. Whether government corruption on Guam isn’t as bad as it is elsewhere, it’s still happening and that’s bad enough.

      I recently heard that the frequent power outages are more due to snakes! I find that hard to believe, but it was an electrician who made the statement. That could be true I guess.

      Hopefully the progress that’s being made in Guam continues!
      :)

      1. Well, it wasn’t to make her stop complaining. She challenged me to show her a more corrupt place in all of America.

        You may also know that a lot of progress has been made, even since I moved here in the late 80′s. The battle to accredit UOG was won, even over the interference of the legislature. As for the power outages, I suspect that the brown tree snake excuse is just that. Either to cover up incompetence or shortfall in spare parts. You should know that Cabras 1 and 2 were run for 17 years without required preventive maintenance until the failure of one of the units brought that to light. Of course GPA blamed the Navy for not telling them about the required maintenance during the turnover of the plants.

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