Part 1: So You’re Coming to Guam.

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. Your 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 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!

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23 comments

  1. what an awesome summary list of Guam! that’s cool that you picked up and moved. I once hopped off a plane in Costa Rica without knowing where i was spending the night/knowing anyone at all in the country—it was an adventure, and I didn’t die! haha. kudos to you for being bold. I actually just started a video blog to give an inside look at a singer/songwriter/performer’s world (as that is what i do these days). I find that many of my songs are inspired by my travels and adventures. as i’m sure you know, traveling is a great education! anyway, thanks for the Quick look at guam!

    1. Thank you for your comment. When making my decision to move, I never once thought about what could go wrong or if I was being brave. I probably should have haha I just thought it was something I needed to do. I just followed your page, I look forward to watching your videos!

      1. awesome! yeah of course we need to strike a balance between prudence and adventure, but i think too many people live scared and wonder why they didn’t accomplish anything remarkable. good for you! and i’d love to have you on board with my video blog. thanks!

  2. I had to laugh when I read #1 your hair will get frizzy, lol my wife understood which only made me laugh harder. On a serious note, I applaud you for living life on your terms and all the things you mentioned made those far away places seem closer. One note, as I read the list to my wife she said it sounds like Florida. I found that profound, but maybe I think too much lol. Great blog and I look forward to future writings!

  3. I think people definitely need to be prepared for a change in pace too! The lifestyle in Guam seems much slower (unless you’re driving). Things get done slower, people walk slower, and everything seems much more relaxed. It’s hard to get used to at times.

    I’m currently in Guam, finishing my third month of 4 month student exchange trip, and I wish I’d found your website before I came. You have a lot of great info and insight into what it’s like to live here.

    1. I couldn’t agree with you more about the slow pace of life! It’s almost hard to let go and join them. Driving is just insane to me and I try to avoid it as much as possible.

      Thank you for reading and I hope you’re enjoying your time in Guam!

  4. Hello,
    I am looking into moving to Guam this year from the states. Could you possibly give me some “before you go” tips?
    I have lived in Hong Kong and I loved it but I had to move back to the US due to my inability to obtain a work visa. I have been applying for jobs in Guam this past week and l have also been looking at rentals on Craigslist . My ideal move time is beginning of December so it doesn’t give me much time. I would really appreciate it if you might be able to help me.

    ~Maria

  5. Hi Antonia! I just found your blog because I’ve been doing a lot of research about Guam since a new friend of mine was telling me about it since she was stationed there while in the navy. I’m pretty sure I had heard of Guam before, but never gave much thought about ever going there, until now. I’m always saying to my husband, let’s move. I want to leave the mainland of the USA whether it be another country or even a territory of the U.S., but my husband doesn’t want to give up his citizenship and stop receiving his veterans benefits. So Guam is looking like a real possibility, it is everything we want.
    I just wanted to say thank you for writing you blog, it has been very helpful and encouraging!

  6. Hi. I never been in Guam but I been in the Philippines and it was terrible. The corruption reached a ridiculous level. No laws nor rules. When you`re white or look like a tourist, many people will try to make easy money on your back. They see us like a huge ATM machine on two legs. Homeless kids everywhere. Very dirty country with trash and rust almost everywhere. Mediocre infrastructures. Lot of squatters and people living in huts. Fanatic religious. People with nothing in their head, huge lack of security etc.

    I`m not kidding. You need to see it with your own eyes to believe it.

    Is Guam better or worst than the Philippines?

    Thank you.

    1. I’ve been to the Philippines, Guam is very different because it is a U.S. territory. The poverty that you saw in the PI isn’t present in Guam. Although, there are a lot of filipinos on island so, of course, their culture has influenced the island.

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