Nearly everything on Guam is imported and that means costs are higher than in the States. It’s not like South America or the Caribbean where the cost of living can be relatively low for a Statesider. The costliest items are gas, food, and utilities. For example, as of September 2014 gas was $4.87 per gallon. Produce is significantly higher, though you can find deals at local produce stands. For example, strawberries are generally $7-8 per pint and asparagus is usually $7.99 per pound. Utilities such as electricity continue to rise seemingly with no ceiling.
Blame the shipping costs on The Jones Act of 1920, which forbids all but U.S. shipping vessels to carry cargo to Guam.
How to save: Prices on Guam’s military bases are, of course, more reasonable. Non-military residents can save money by purchasing items like electronics, pet supplies, and personal items online. See our shipping guide to find out which stores ship to Guam.
It’s vital to learn to eat like a local. Farm to Table Guam has a CSA (community supported agriculture) subscription program that includes a weekly box of all local produce. Anyone can sign-up. Read how a military dependent treated sourcing local produce like a treasure hunt in The Fresh Factor.
Make friends with your neighbors (outside the base) and you will be overflowing with mangos and avocados during their respective seasons. Guam avocados are huge, creamy, and delicious. Mangos can be eaten fresh, in salads, pickled, juiced, or frozen. Same with papayas!
Eating local also means trying the dozens of bakeries on Guam. Read our guide…
You will be homesick and it will take at least 24 hours and $1,400 per person to get back to the States. This may seem obvious, but if you’re a new Guam transplant and you feel a little down or out of sorts, consider that it may be homesickness.
How to acclimate: It may be tempting to call home every day, but a better way to combat homesickness is to keep busy and make new friends. Fortunately, Chamorro culture is friendly and open to newcomers. Keep an eye on local events where you will be sure to strike up a conversation with a likeminded resident. Newcomers often get their dive certification on Guam, which will keep you busy exploring Guam’s fascinating waters. Read our 5 Steps to Diving on Guam and Get Your Advanced Open Water Dive Certification on Guam.
Need to get back home? If you haven’t already, start saving your miles to get reduced prices on flights home. United Explorer Visa credit card sometimes offers 55,000 bonus miles to new card members! That leaves only 15,000 miles to purchase for a flight from Guam to the States. As of time of writing, the bonus miles offer is 30,000.
It’s all who you know
Guam is a small-knit community and families stick together too. Locals are more likely to use someone they know for any service they need. Calling in favors and showing preferential treatment to family is not considered nepotism, even in the secular world. In fact, there’s a name for it — the Pare’ system!
How to get connected: It’s okay to ask for favors and drop names! Word of mouth is powerful on a small island, so ask around to find reliable service professionals and businesses. If you’re doing business on Guam, this can be an obstacle… until you start networking yourself. Ask your clients to refer you to potential clients. Ask them to recommend your business to their friends.
Guam is an island. In the Pacific. People just move slower. This can be frustrating if you’re from a fast-paced city in Asia or the Mainland and you’re driving or waiting in line on Guam. On the other hand, isn’t that why you moved to a tropical island in the middle of the ocean?
How to get things done: Simply plan ahead. Leave your house earlier and allow more time to travel and wait in line for services (hello, Ross Dress-for-Less, I’m talking to you!). Read our guide to Understanding Guam Traffic and 15 Things to Know Before You Go to Guam. A patient and kind demeanor goes a long way with customer service personnel. You’re far more likely to get help if you keep calm.
Read our 5 Steps for a Smooth Move to Guam.