Lifestyle

Go Eat!

This Sunday (May 4th), was one of the best days I’ve had in Guam.  We were invited to the Inarajan fiesta again!!!!! I’ve been counting down the days to the fiesta since Peter came home and told me.  Last year was the first time I’d ever been to a Chamorro fiesta and I definitely learned a lot of things, which you can read about here. I feel like this time I was slightly more prepared, but I still felt like I was wide-eyed and there were still things to learn.

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We rode the motorcycle down south to the historical part of Inarajan, just like we’d done last year. This time it seemed like there were more people, the roads were crowded and parking was limited. When we arrived we found Peter’s coworker fanning away the flies from the food. He said, “We don’t believe in the small plate. So what you need to do is get two BIG plates each. One for rice and one for your meat!” Yes, that’s what he said TWO plates!

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I wanted to take pictures of everything but it was kind of crowded and by the time we finished eating, the food was almost gone! I did take home two kiwis and a grapefruit, which I’m proud of because I NEVER would have done that before. There was a huge pig, cooked breadfruit, taro, chicken of all kinds, TONS of fresh fish, and Oh my goodness the dessert table was filled with treats. I had one plate full of dessert. I loved the dessert so much that I dreamt about it and was craving it the next day! I ate lumpia, red rice, dried beef, chicken, and a Chamorro tamale.

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An endless amount of  food and drinks,  a gorgeous day, and a band playing island music; what more could you ask for?! We sat at a table under a coconut tree with Peter’s coworkers; an occasionally a breeze would pass through and it felt so good. I wished I had a hammock so I could take a nap after eating all that food! Fiestas are a great way to become familiar with the culture and to enjoy life. No one is worried about calories or gaining weight. Eating well is the only concern.

We stayed at the Duenas family fiesta for awhile just listening to the music and enjoying life! As Peter’s coworkers left, a few local people sat down with us at our table. I’m not sure how the conversation started, but we had about five guys telling us about fiestas. I feel like as soon as people here find out that we’re not from Guam, even though we’ve lived here for three years, they are so eager to tell us everything about Guam.

They encouraged us to try the crab and to get more food. They said that the fiestas in southern Guam are different than the north. In the South, you don’t need to be invited, you can just show up and go to all the different family’s homes holding fiestas. One guy said, “You can’t call yourself an islander until you’ve eaten these three things. 1. Red rice 2. Dried beef 3. Local crab.” Another man said, “You can’t ever lose weight in Guam and no one is ever skinny,” as he pointed at his plate full of food. They were so nice, so interested in us, and so informative. I’ve never felt so welcomed, I felt like we were all related and it was a refreshing feeling. Kindness for no reason.

After we said goodbye we walked across the street to another fiesta to see if what they said was true. This one was much smaller but had just as much food and a stage where people were dancing the Cha-Cha. We were like, “This is awkward we don’t know anyone here.” Then this man walked up to us and I thought he was going to ask us who we were. Instead he said, “Go eat!” We smiled and said thank you but  we had just left another fiesta and already ate and he said to eat more! I love it!

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After that we walked through the village and made our way to the cultural center to watch the parade. Every time I feel like I might be falling out of love with the island, I have an amazing day like this and meet such nice people that it makes me fall right back in love. That day I just felt so good.

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I love Inarajan! 

 

Things People Want to Know About Guam 2

It’s easy to search online and find things to do in Guam, but what I found difficult, was to find someone who could honestly tell me HOW life in Guam is. I often get questions about living in Guam, things to expect when moving, and the differences between living in The States and living in Guam. Since the last post, I’ve had hundreds of people searching for information about Guam and ending up on my blog. I thought I’d answer them for you! Again, if you would like to add your own answers, please do so in the comments 🙂

 

What do they eat in Guam for breakfast/Where to eat breakfast?

Many restaurants offer rice and fried rice for breakfast, which was odd for me because I never had rice for breakfast before. Oh and Tabasco with everything! I enjoy breakfast at House of Brutus (Tamuning), Tu Re (Agana), Linda’s (Agana), Kings, and The Kracked Egg (Tumon). There are lots of restaurants in Guam, but these are a few of my favorites. They all serve some type of local breakfast in addition to traditional American breakfast. On Saturday and Sunday mornings, before 9am, I like to eat at the Dededo flea market.

Do Rhino beetles fly around during the day?

Yes and they are horrible at flying! I think they dry out easily so they usually dig holes and come out when it’s cool.

Where in Oregon do people from Guam live?

When I lived in Oregon, as far as I know, I never met anyone from Guam. That might be hard to believe because many Guamanians move there. Even though there are a lot of Guamanians moving to Oregon, in comparison to all the other people, the population is rather small. I think that there are a lot of people who attend the University of Portland.

Is Guam dangerous?

No.

Areas with poor roads Guam

Everywhere!

Does Bank of Guam cash off island checks?

Yes, but it can take up to two weeks for it to clear.

Does basic talk work in Guam?

Yes.

American living in Guam

People born in Guam are U.S. citizens/American. But if you mean people who lived in The States and moved to Guam, there are a lot of us! Come join the fun 🙂 If you are a U.S. citizen all you need is a passport to move here (and money and all that other stuff).

Why is Guam so hot all of a sudden?

I was thinking the same thing just the other day. I guess it’s due to the peak of dry season! The heat is kind of getting on my nerves. It’s making me feel sluggish too!

Is Guam a poor country?

A few months ago I read an article in the newspaper about poverty in Guam. The numbers showed that, compared to The States, there is a higher percentage of families living at or below the poverty line. Making Guam the poorest out of all territories and states. The cost of living is HIGH and most jobs pay minimum or just above, making it incredibly hard to get by. At a glance, you wouldn’t think that those statistics were true and I think it’s due to the culture. There are few homeless people and the ones I’ve seen don’t seem to be from Guam. It also seems to me that if you are having a hard time, someone in your family is always there to help. I think that because living in Guam is so expensive, people tend to live with their families, sharing the burden of the bills and making it more affordable. Those are just my opinions and observations I’ve made while living here. Read this article for more information.

Best places to live in Guam?

I’ve only lived in Tumon and I love it! Peter has lived in Yigo and Mangilao and he prefers Tumon. I think it would be nice to live down south, if it wasn’t so far from work. Also, I’d like to live in Agana/Hagatna.

Do white people live in Guam?

Peter and I are both half white and we live in Guam. If that’s not enough, yes there are white people here. Some are here for work, travel and others are born and raised here. That’s the great thing about Guam, even though it’s a small island, its population is actually very diverse!

Guam monthly grocery budget

I’d say double whatever you currently spend wherever you are from. It’s pretty expensive.

Do you have to worry about the cockroaches in Guam?

YES! Some villages have them worse than others and during certain times of the year I tend to see more (like after it rains).

What is Guam like for black people?

I asked Peter what he thought about this and this is what he said: When you are black and living in Guam, people assume that you’re in the military. They think that people in the military have money, so they treat you different. It’s the opposite in The States.

I think that people are just curious in general here. They always ask what ethnicity we are and where we came from. The other day we were at a store when two little boys walked past us and looked up at Peter’s glorious afro. They said, “WOW you have nice hair. I wish I had curly hair so mine would look like that.” It was sweet and innocent, because they probably haven’t seen any or many people with curly hair like his. Peter would rather that no one point his hair out, I think it makes him uncomfortable.

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Abandoned in Guam

There are many abandoned homes and buildings in Guam. At first sight they are an eyesore but now that I’ve become used to seeing them, I have so many questions. I want to know why and how it happened. Why would someone abandon this house in the heart of Tumon or who owns the Oka Point land and where did they go? I tell you, Guam is FULL of mysteries and absolutely no answers! Peter and I often ride on trails through the jungle and end up finding an abandoned structure of some kind. I know that a lot of land was taken by the military and when they were done using it, they returned it to the people. The problem arose when the land was given back and there were no records kept that stated the owners. Now, much of this land is in dispute. In Spain, land is held by the parents and when the parents die it’s passed on to their children. This goes on for generations. The same happens in Guam, yet there are so many disputes about who really owned the land, who it should belong to, what should be done with it. While family members are disputing who the land really belongs to, it’s neglected and deteriorates.

I often like to give myself photography projects to work on, one day I asked Peter to drive me to a couple abandoned properties so I could start my new project. He took me to two, the first an old Navy building in Dededo an old Navy and the other the Bordallo mansion.

It was a really hot day when Peter and I stopped in front of the abandoned Navy building in the middle of red dirt trails. A few cars passed by as I wearily got off our dirt bike and moved forward toward the dilapidated structure. The shrubs surrounding it were overgrown and it was covered in spray paint. It looked spooky and I was thinking, “I’ll just take a few shots from the outside and be on my way.” Thankfully, I have a very adventurous fiancé who ran up the steps and said, “Take a picture!” Then he ran the rest of the way up to the second floor and called for me. The steps up to the top looked like they might just give way and crumble as I fall to the ground. Adding to that, there wasn’t a rail. So I scrunched myself as close to the wall as I could and tried to not be clumsy for once. When I reached the second floor, there were many rooms with large windows. I wondered what this building was used for. We walked through each room, looked at the graffiti while making up stories about what each room was. The huge picturesque windows on all sides of the top floor showed a gorgeous view of the surrounding landscape. We walked to the end of the hall and down the stairs on the other side of the building. Peter pulled me through the darkness of the bottom level where there were mattresses and wooden blocks placed strategically for Airsoft with pellets all over the ground.

After this I felt inspired and wanted more photos, so we headed down to the Bordallo mansion. The first time I went, Peter told me that it was supposed to be haunted. So of course, I refused to go inside. I didn’t want any angry spirits attacking me (haha)! I stood there looking up at the eerily daunting mansion and it looked like it had some secrets.  This time, as we approached the hill in Yona where the mansion sits looking down on the bay, someone had cleared the trees around the house so it was somewhat friendlier from the outside. Again, a gorgeous view gone to waste! This might have be the one and only time that I thought about being a squatter, in a place like this, with views of the bay and a breeze might not be so bad! The first floor of the mansion looked like it was a kitchen. Upstairs there were about eight identical rooms sharing a bathroom and a living room at the end of the hall. Once the entrance to the mansion, now covered by trees and leaves, the living room opened out to stairs that led down to the driveway. There were a few moments of creepiness, like that small, window-less room in the main living area where someone spray painted, “Listening Room” on the wall. We climbed the stairs to the top floor where there were a couple of rooms. Here is where the best room was. It had so many windows and what looked like a balcony. Around the back there was another balcony that looked out over the ocean. Behind the house there was another structure, but it was covered with branched and trees, so it was too hard to reach. When I came home I tried to research what had happened. All I could find was that it was supposed to be a hotel and that Congresswoman Madeleine Bordallo had lived there. I wish I could take this house and renovate it, I’m sure I’m not the only one. If someone knows why it’s abandoned, please tell me!

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I’m an AC Baby

A few months ago the power went out for about 6 hours (as it usually does at least once a month) and I tried my hardest to deal with it; by 2:00pm I ended up walking to a nearby coffee shop to cool off. This got me thinking about something that a co worker on Guam had mentioned to me last year. She referred to her daughter as an AC baby. Not knowing what she meant by that she explained that even though her daughter was born and raised on Guam, she was raised in air conditioned cars/homes and couldn’t stand the heat. This made me think about all the people I’ve seen who do anything to avoid the sun. I never understood how someone can live on Guam and 1. not be tanned 2. avoid being hot. But this whole “AC Baby” concept sort of explained it all. Police officers leave their cars running with their hoods up to avoid overheating (not sure how safe that is),  so that they can leave their AC on while they’re doing checkpoints and then jump back into a cool car when they’re done. People have found ways to live on this hot island without actually experiencing too much heat.

Our first apartment on Guam was a first floor unit that was shielded from the sun on one side of the building, making it much cooler. That meant that I could go most of the day without using the AC. For the first six months the AC in my bedroom didn’t work so I slept in the heat with just a small fan. It was hot and uncomfortable, but bearable, and I grew accustomed to the temperature. We now live on the third floor and there is no shade to protect us from the sun. By 9:00am the apartment is pretty warm and by 12:00pm it’s too hot. Opening the windows in different rooms to get a cross breeze going is no use because there’s not enough wind on Guam and it makes the apartment hotter! I think there are certain parts of the island that are cooler and windier than other areas. I really don’t like using the AC so much not only because of the cost, but also because I’d like to just breathe natural air and I feel like the AC makes my allergies worse. Unfortunately I’ve also become accustomed to the cool air and whenever I’ve been inside all day, the moment I step outside it’s like a shock to my body and I start saying, “Ahh why’s it so hot and humid, what’s happening, I’m sweating!” And to top it all off, if I leave chocolate out on the table, within an hour it’s melted and that’s the last straw for me.

It’s official, I am an AC Baby.

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Things People Want to Know About Guam

One of the cool things about this blog is that it comes with a basic stats page. I’m a sucker for analytics, so I check it everyday. By the way, thanks for all the views on my last post!! Included in the stats are things that people search for. Most of them are about the same topic, but there are few that are either really good questions or really funny/creepy. Thought I’d share a few with you and answer them! Maybe if you know the answers to them, you could comment below.

1. Is Guam a nice place to move?

YES!

2. Hidden things in Guam?

There are hidden latte stone in the jungle near the hidden pond called Lost Pond along Hilaan Beach! Lots of cool, hidden caves that I’d like to check out soon all over the island.

3. Are there nude beaches on Guam?

This is actually a very frequently asked questions. No nude beaches that I know of.

4. Where’s the Crocs store gone? Guam.

It closed down! There are other small shops that carry Croc products at the malls and throughout the island.

5. Where does Guam get its fresh water?

I’m assuming the springs and rivers.

6. Where is Guam?

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(map source: http://www.surftrip.com)

7. How to be a beach bum?

Like this!

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8. Hot women in Guam November Craigslist.

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I can’t believe someone actually searched for this THREE times. You should be ashamed. I hope you’re not on Guam.

9. Guam monster

Peter saw a monitor lizard that he says was about 5ft long at the Oka viewpoint! I’d call that a monster.

10. How to eradicate Guam geckos?

Why? Geckos are harmless and cute and they help control the bug population. If you find that you have a lot of them IN your home, it might be due to another problem like ants or termites.

The Problems with Guam

I’ve been meaning to do this post since I first read this article last month, but February was a super busy month for me. Now that life has calmed down, I finally have the time to catch up on everything I’ve let slide. One of those things is this article I read in the Pacific Daily News regarding the Guam Visitors Bureau’s new goal. The board Chairman, Mark Baldyga, stated their goal is to reach two million visitors to Guam by 2020.  I thought this would be a good time to address some of the problems I see daily in Guam. Below are my responses and thoughts to a few of the statements made throughout the article.

1. I immediately became annoyed with GVB’s focus on Japanese tourists. If you don’t know, Russian tourists were granted their visas to visit Guam and their numbers on island have increased. In this article, it states that Russian visitors have been staying longer, thus; spending more money in Guam. Yet, the focus tends to be toward catering to  Japanese tourists. I understand why, but things are changing and it’s time to jump on the bandwagon and be inclusive of all the new faces in Guam.

I’d been planning on taking my parents to Hamamoto’s Tropical Fruit World when they came to visit last month. When I called, I was told that their tours were only in Japanese, unless I had a group larger than 15. I then realized just how hard it is to be an English speaking tourist in Guam. Bus signs and information are in either Japanese and recently added Russian but no English and The Reef Hotel’s website is in Japanese only, which is a shame because they have a couple of really nice bars with the best sunset views. Ignoring or limiting certain markets (people living in Guam due to the military, U.S. expats) isn’t smart business.

2. The plan to make “Guam cleaner and safer” is a great idea for everyone in Guam. One of the things that my parents commented on was the amount of trash that was dumped EVERYWHERE. You could be at the most beautiful beach or viewpoint and see garbage, mattresses, and household appliances that had been dumped. Do you know what happens when you leave trash lying around? Rats and roaches. A few months ago someone thought the road leading to my condo complex was the perfect place to dump their tires and mattress. They’re still there. It’s absolutely disgusting and leaves an ill impression on all of us who call Guam home. Especially coming from Oregon, where recycling is embraced, to see the type of garbage that is just thrown away that could be recycled feels wrong. Even at parks and beaches, a garbage can is hard to find. And when you find one, it’s usually overflowing with trash. Recently there have been recycling stations (aluminum, plastic, and paper) placed sporadically throughout Tumon, I guess that’s a step in the right direction. MORE PLEASE.

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Where in the world is this acceptable?

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Also, more police are needed in all villages not just Tumon. After that horrendous murder that took place last year where a man ran over and then stabbed people in Tumon, Guam Police Department had pledged to add more officers to the area and even spent money on new mopeds. A year later, tell me where they’ve gone? Tourists are very important to Guam’s economy, which is why I don’t understand that when there happen to be police in Tumon (who aren’t doing much other than standing near Underwater World) why they won’t AT the very LEAST help them cross the street. I don’t know how many times I’ve seen tourists standing at the crosswalk as cars speed past them while an officer is watching. When traffic lights are out (which is often), where are the officers to help guide traffic in dangerous areas? You don’t want to get the reputation that Guam is a dangerous place and allow people to believe that it’s a third world country.

3. “The focus should be on improving the quality of life for island residents and making the island a more prosperous place to live.”  – I’m pretty sure that tourism is Guam’s number one industry, so why not make the lives of those who serve and work in this industry better? I was very offended when I saw a job posting at one of Tumon’s large hotels advertising for an accounting position which required three years of experience and a Bachelor’s degree in accounting. The pay? MINIMUM WAGE! Do you know how much it costs to go to college? That’s not even enough to make payments on student loans AND live in Guam (or anywhere). I’ve noticed that customer service lacks in many Guam establishments and I wonder if it’s because of poor training, pay, and value that companies place in their employees. I can’t imagine that these HUGE hotels, restaurants and other companies that charge ridiculous tourist rates are really unable to pay their employees more than minimum wage. Invest in your employees and it will surely pay off. Considering Guam’s high cost of living and the recent increase in crime, the two could be related.

4. “Graffiti, hawkers bothering visitors at street corners, cheap vinyl business establishment signs, substandard landscaping, and poorly maintained sidewalks and public restrooms should be addressed.” –  I’m glad these things were addressed. Although small problems, if fixed, they could change Guam for the better. In Tumon you have expensive luxury stores neighboring sketchy massage businesses, annoying handbillers, and abandoned buildings. Small things can make a huge difference, even if it’s just adding a nice sign to your building.

I’m surprised no one has fallen into or tripped on one of the many holes in the sidewalks. Maintaining things as they deteriorate seems to be more cost effective than waiting until something is completely destroyed and has to be redone.

5. Road conditions & transportation – Whenever Peter and I travel we always run into the problem of how will we get to the airport. We have two choices, pay $25 to go two miles in a taxi or try to sneak on one of the hotel buses and pretend we’re going back to wherever they think we came from. I can only imagine what tourists go through. Their first impression of Guam, aside from the stinky/messy airport, is the expensive ride to their hotel. An affordable airport shuttle would be nice. There are SO many buses on island I’m sure they could put them to better use.

Speaking of too many buses, do they have to pay a special road tax for the damage that they cause to Guam’s roads? If not, they should! The roads are terrible. Whoever is in charge of the roads should reconsider their profession. Infrastructure  should be a top priority on this quickly growing island. Ignoring the HUGE potholes or fixing them by throwing a bunch of gravel over them isn’t cutting it. Fix them properly please and not just cheaply. I rented a trike for my birthday and it was one of the scariest things I’d ever done. Not because of the trike, but because driving it over the bumps and potholes was treacherous. I understand that during the rainy season, the rain washes away parts of the road and they have to be fixed often. BUT the way the roads are fixed is a joke. Filling pot holes not over the top but just under, so that it’s still a pothole just not as deep, doesn’t fix it. The road to Ritidian should be better. That’s a beach that Guam should be proud of, but the road doesn’t reflect that.

6. “Though Guam sees itself as a competitor to Hawaii[…]” –  Uhh please don’t do that. You want to be different. The differences between Hawaii and Guam should be highlighted. I’ve been to Hawaii before and it is much cheaper and cleaner, yet; Guam’s beaches are by far the most beautiful beaches I’ve ever seen, the water is warmer, clearer and southern Guam is absolutely beautiful. Not to mention Guam’s intricate history and Chamorro culture that is so special. Those are the reasons that make Guam standout and why tourists should forgo Hawaii (sorry Hawaii). Go Guam!

I’m sorry if this blog post seems negative/ranty but I get so frustrated when Guam’s beauty and potential is being taken for granted. All of the problems mentioned are not problems that can’t be fixed. These are things that we should all keep in mind and make an effort to help change. I hope GVB actually does help improve the island. Before we consider inviting more people to visit Guam, let’s take care of our island.

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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.

FAQ – Guam

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.

$1,000/month Rent

$300/month electricity

$6,000 used car, $1,500-2,200 scooter/moped

$50-100/month cell phone

$50/month internet

$25-300/month gas

What kind of jobs can I find? 

+ Hospitality

+ Restaurant workers

+ Construction (Electricians, cement masons, metal workers, carpenters, tile setters…)

+ Civil engineers

+ Bus drivers

+ Military

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 🙂

Helpful Resources:

USA Jobs

Pacific Daily News

Guam Jobs Online

Indeed Guam

Guam DOL -Guam Department of Labor

Guam Home -Real Estate and rentals

Craigslist – Everything!

Moving to Guam

Cost of Living in Guam

Guam Chamber

Past Posts About Moving

There are a lot of Facebook groups where you can find cars and furniture for sale, I’d join a few of those too!

Scoot, Scoot!

Scooter

Before I moved to Guam, Peter told me he drove a scooter and a motorcycle and that I’d have to get a helmet. I thought, “No way am I going to be able to do this.” Before we left Portland we went helmet shopping. Of course I had a panic attack, feeling like I couldn’t breathe in that thing! Here I am a year later and I LOVE riding around on them.

Surprisingly, not too many people drive scooters or motorcycles on Guam. Being an incredibly small island, there are a lot of vehicles on the road; thus, causing a lot of traffic. In addition to the traffic, the coral based roads are full of potholes. There isn’t really a dependable public transit system in place. Using the scooter has been nice to get around quickly and spend less on gas.  A few things have happened while scooting, beetles and other bugs ALWAYS fly into us and they usually hit us right in the middle of the face, sometimes geckos that are sleeping on the scooter fly off and onto our legs or arms, and sometimes we hit one of those potholes that shakes us up a bit!

Many people here don’t understand how we can get by without a car. When we had a car, it was the worst driving experience of my life! The roads on Guam are not built for all the traffic and the drivers don’t always follow the law (often running red lights and speeding). It took me nearly an hour to get home after work, when it should have taken me 15 minutes. I’m not sure where people are going at all hours of the day/night and why families need one car per person. A car does make life easier during the rainy season, but we got by without one before and we can do it again! The view is so much better when you’re not boxed in and the wind feels so good on a hot day! Just remember, if you see a motorcycle or scooter on the road, be a kind and respectful driver. It’s only unsafe for us out there when other cars  drive recklessly!

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August Adventures in Guam

Howdy!

I can’t believe how quickly August has come and gone. Summer in The States is coming to an end and the rainy season in Guam is in full effect. Again, I put together a short video of some of my August activities. It’s funny looking back at the end of the month to see what I did. August was a peaceful month for me. I discovered a new beach that I hadn’t been to before. I also tried to bodyboard for the first time, which is actually quite difficult in Guam because inside the reef there aren’t any waves! At least I had fun trying and pretending I was awesome!

We also did some fishing, with no luck! I don’t know what we’re doing wrong. We had dinner at Jeff’s Pirate’s Cove where I had a chicken gyro and listened to the one man band.

I did a lot of staring up into the sky, laying on the beach and relaxing at the park! Sounds like a good month to me!

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