Guam is a tropical island in the Western Pacific Ocean, and also a US territory. It is perhaps most known for its key role in the Pacific Theater in World War Two, as well as its pristine beaches, warm weather – which varies between 77 and 88 degrees Fahrenheit year-round – and cultural heritage.
One thing which may surprise you about this Pacific island, though, is the cost of living in Guam, which is higher than the United States.
Housing Prices in Guam
Arguably your biggest expense when moving to Guam will be housing. Whether you decide to rent a property or buy one, this can affect the overall cost of living. Below, we will break down rent vs mortgages in Guam.
Because Guam is an overseas US territory, the currency is still the US dollar, so any financial figures listed below are in US dollars.
Like with many places globally, city center prices are more expensive than areas outside of the city center. In Guam, you can expect to pay around $1,500 per month rent for a one-bedroom apartment in the city center. However, you are looking at around $1,100 if you rent a one-bedroom apartment outside of the city center.
If you are looking to buy an apartment in Guam, the average price per square meter is about $1,600 in the city center, and about $800 per square meter outside of the city.
How Much Will Your Utilities Cost?
Another factor to consider is how much your utilities will cost you while living in Guam.
An average figure, for your gas, electricity, heating, cooling, water, and garbage disposal costs will be around $400 per month.
On top of this, you can expect to pay $100 or more for internet access. This is based on 60 MBPS or more.
OVerall, if you were to rent a one-bedroom apartment in a city center in Guam, with your utilities separate, you can expect to pay about $2,000 per month in housing costs.
Food is another factor to consider when moving to Guam. A major reason why food is so expensive in Guam is because most of it has to be imported into Guam from the mainland US. This is largely due to the Jones Act of 1920 which stated that only US vessels can transport goods to Guam.
2 pints of milk will cost around $3, while a loaf of bread can be up to $8. Fruits and vegetables can also be expensive, but it is worth purchasing these from local markets, where you are likely to get fresher produce at a lower price.
Exotic fruits like mango, avocado and papaya are grown in abundance on Guam, and can be eaten fresh from the market stall, or you could freeze them at home so that you can eat them even when they are not in season – saving you money in the months when the fruit is not growing and will be more expensive in the supermarkets.
If you enjoy going out to eat, you can expect to pay around $10 to $15 dollars per person for a meal, but if you go to a high-end restaurant, you are likely to pay up to $100 for two people.
Beer is not overly expensive on the island itself, if you opt to drink locally-brewed Guamanian beer: you are likely to pay no more than $5 for a pint. However, if you choose to drink imported beer, you can pay up to $9 for a 0.33 liter bottle.
The Cost of Transportation in Guam
Because of its small size, there are limited transportation options on Guam. Public transport is not too expensive, as a single one-way ticket on a bus costs around $1.50.
Owning a car can be expensive though, and you can expect to pay over $4 for a gallon of gas, which is typically more expensive than the US mainland.
In saying that, gasoline prices can fluctuate, but as a general rule it is cheaper to opt for public transport than to own a car on Guam.
Can You Save Money While Living in Guam?
Although the cost of living in Guam is more expensive than the mainland US, it is still possible to save money while living there. We have outlined a few tips below:
- It’s All About Who You Know, Not What You Know
Getting to know your neighbors and being friendly with locals can go a long way in Guam. The people are typically very friendly, and in no time you’ll gave friends and neighbors offering you favours, such as dropping off fresh fruit that they have home grown themselves – free of charge.
It also works when you’re looking for reliable professionals – word gets around quickly on the island, so it works in your favour to be kind to people, and you will reap the rewards in the end.
- The Gym
For some people, going to the gym is a hobby and a lifestyle, for others it is nothing short of a chore and something they’d rather not do. Whatever your views on a gym membership, it you can save yourself money by not having one – the average cost of a gym membership in Guam is $100 per month.
Instead, appreciate the beautiful surroundings of this tropical paradise, by taking them in during an early morning jog, or perhaps a sunset yoga session on the beach. You’ll not only feel better exercising outdoors, but you will also save yourself up to $1,200 a year.
- Eat Like a Local
We all have our own personal comfort foods – mac and cheese, hamburgers, pizza and so on. But living on Guam, these sorts of foods can set you back a lot of money, seeing as they have to be imported onto the island.
Instead, try out the local cuisine, and you will find that you are saving money by doing so: Guamanian dishes use local ingredients and seasonal produce, so that you know the food is as fresh as it is tasty!
On top of that, fruits and vegetables that you can buy at local market stalls are a lot cheaper than their counterparts in supermarkets. For example, oranges are not native to Guam, and 2 pounds of them can set you back almost $13. On the contrary, the same amount of bananas (which are grown on Guam) will cost less than $3. And if you opt to buy bananas at a market stall when they are in season, it is highly unlikely that you will pay over $1.50 for the same amount.
Flights To and From Guam
If you move from the US to Guam, you may experience feelings of homesickness. However, it is worth noting that a return flight from Guam to the US (specifically, Los Angeles Airport) will cost around $1,400 to $1,800.
However, if you choose to fly to Sydney, Australia instead, you are looking at around $1,000. Return flights to Tokyo, Japan are likely your cheapest option, coming in at $600 to $700.
Guam is a stunning country to visit, and even more attractive to up sticks and live in permanently. Despite the higher cost than the US mainland, the quality of life is arguably higher – with better weather conditions year round, fresher produce, and less pollution.
And even though the costs are higher than the US, the cost of living in Guam is not overly different to that of the US, as the salaries are higher in Guam than the US to reflect the higher cost of living. For example, the average monthly net salary (after tax) in Guam is just under $3,400.
With proper budgeting, financial planning and research, it is absolutely possible to enjoy all that Guam has to offer without breaking the bank.