Recently I’ve been receiving a lot of messages from people asking the same questions about life in Guam. I’ve been answering them all back, but I thought it would be better if I just did a post containing the most frequently asked questions. I blog mostly for myself so that I can have a way to look back on my memories in Guam. I also do it for my family and friends to show them that I am doing well. As much as I like interacting with and helping people, it’s not my intention to be a guide about life in Guam. I’d much rather keep blogging fun for me and just post about things that I do. It’s also tedious to email each person individually with the same thing when I could just do one blog post and answer all the questions. These are my opinions about my experiences from moving to Guam from The States and living here for two years.
Is it hard to find a job? This has to be THE most frequently asked question I receive. Finding a job on Guam depends on you. If you’re fresh out of college and ready to put your degree to use, Guam is NOT the place for you. If you have at least 5 years of work experience and a degree, you will have better luck. If you don’t have a degree or don’t care if you use it and you’re willing to take any job just so you can live the Guam life, then there is work for you.
You might be able to find a job if you can speak Japanese or Russian. The pay might not reflect it, but Japanese speakers are highly sought after because of the million Japanese visitors that vacation in Guam each year. The visa for Russia has recently been made available and for the past couple of years, the number of Russian tourists has been on the rise. Currently there is a Russian fusion restaurant being built, which is the only one on Guam. This is definitely an emerging market and there may be opportunities for someone with Russian language and cultural knowledge.
Another thing is that people in Guam aren’t very good at answering emails so, if you can, I suggest calling if you’re interested in working somewhere. You might not be able to apply for jobs until you are on island. Hiring off island is frowned upon as the island is trying to “support local.” Also, you will probably need to obtain police and court clearances, which has to be done on island. Police and court clearances, two different clearances, basically is you doing your own background check.
Aside from the lack of jobs, the hardest part about finding work on Guam is the saying,”It’s not what you know but WHO you know,” that is very true. Along with that, the questions, “Are you a military dependent and how long do you plan to stay on island?” Making it really unfair to anyone who is not local. Don’t give up though, the people on Guam are really friendly and always ready to have a good time!
How long did it take you to find a job? It took me about seven months. Just as I was about to lose my mind and give up, I found a job. It wasn’t at all what I had wanted for myself but it was better than nothing.
What is the cost of living? Guam can be super expensive. Minimum wage is about $7.25. The cost of rent depends on which village you choose to live in and what kind of home you want. You could find an apartment for $500 a month, but it would be the junkiest thing you’ve ever seen. Roaches, rats, no AC, dirt roads, dirty people and unsafe. If you want to rent a house you will be paying at least $2,000 per month. And home ownership is just as ridiculous. Oh and don’t forget about the high cost of electricity and water. I live in an apartment so I don’t have to worry about the price of water, but the electricity bill makes up for that. You should expect an electricity bill of at least $200 per month for an apartment with two people (also depends on how much you use your AC and what floor you live on). Gas and cars are expensive, groceries are expensive, EVERYTHING is expensive. It would be a good idea if you could find roommates to share the burden of the bills.
Most places try to charge really high rental prices because of the military presence. They know that people stationed in Guam get a monthly stipend to pay for their rent and landlords use it to their advantage. Unfortunately, that means for regular people who have to pay their own rent, it’s almost impossible to be a single person and live on your own. I was lucky to have found my apartment on Craigslist. The landlord charged a fair amount for the location and condition and I’m VERY happy.
Below is an estimate of costs to keep in mind based on a single person.
$6,000 used car, $1,500-2,200 scooter/moped
$50-100/month cell phone
What kind of jobs can I find?
+ Restaurant workers
+ Construction (Electricians, cement masons, metal workers, carpenters, tile setters…)
+ Civil engineers
+ Bus drivers
Where is the best place to live for someone new to Guam? I’ve only ever lived in Tumon and I absolutely LOVE it! Tumon is the place where 95% of the tourists stay, so it’s nicer in every way and there are more police out and about. The beach is beautiful and there are sidewalks and tons of restaurants; although, it is more expensive than most other villages. Anything north of Tumon (Yigo & Dededo) is too crowded for me. Most likely your job will be in the Northern part of the island so living too far south (Merizo, Agat, Umatac) might be an inconvenience. As I’ve stated in previous blog posts, driving is my least favorite thing to do and I’d hate to have to deal with the traffic everyday. I do love the southern villages though!
If I didn’t live in Tumon, I’d want to live in the capitol, Agana. There are many historic buildings and Chamorro culture throughout this village. Tamuning is in between Agana and Tumon and this where you can find a lot of those trashy apartment buildings if you’re not careful. It’s a good place to live if you want cheaper rent but still want to stay close to Tumon.
Since Guam is mainly a tourist destination, you will find hotels, car rentals and everything you need to get you started. You might need to stay in a hotel for awhile before you find a vehicle and home.
How did you support yourself? I didn’t just move here without being prepared. I had enough money saved to get me through those seven months of unemployment. I think it’s wise to have enough saved, at all times, to purchase a ticket back home. You never know when you will need to leave.
How is the crime rate on the island? Crime is relatively low; although, recently there has been an increase in home invasions and robbery. Most of the home invasions I’ve read about have been perpetrated by an acquaintance of the family. Sometimes tourists are robbed too. There is a lot of corruption among police and government employees as well.
Where are the best places for hiking? The link that says “Hiking,” at the top of this page, are posts about the hikes I’ve done on Guam. If you’d like more information on hikes, check out the Guam Boonie Stompers on Facebook or go to Bestseller at the mall in Guam and buy the book called, The Best Tracks on Guam. It is overpriced, but has a lot of good hikes and includes detailed descriptions of how to get to the trailheads. Most of the hikes I’ve done were prior to buying the book. I found them using a Google search.
It’s hard for me to tell people what life will be like because our circumstances are not the same. Some people might have jobs lined up or know people living on the island before they arrive. Some might be making a huge life change and not know or have anyone or anything on island. I think if you’re coming here on your own (no job or family), life will be hard. But if you really want to be here then you will find a way to make it work. Remember, you are not the only one planning to make this move and island life is really worth it!
Have a nice day :)
Guam DOL -Guam Department of Labor
Guam Home -Real Estate and rentals
Craigslist – Everything!
There are a lot of Facebook groups where you can find cars and furniture for sale, I’d join a few of those too!