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The Struggles of Moving to Guam (And How to Survive Them!)

The Struggles of Moving to Guam (And How to Survive Them!)

There are two types of people you encounter when you announce that you are moving to Guam. The first group has no clue where (or what) Guam is. The second envisions a tropical paradise with military bases. While Netflix’s “Operation Christmas Drop” may not have captured the island's essence — thanks in part to that hilariously bad CGI gecko, relocating to Guam is an exciting adventure. However, moving to Guam does come with its own set of unique challenges. We know that the struggle is real! Here are some of the most significant ones you might face and how to survive them! 


Adjusting to “Guam Time” 

The concept of “island time” refers to the slower, more relaxed pace of life on Guam. If you’re used to the fast-paced, punctual lifestyle, this adjustment can be extremely frustrating. Meetings might start late, service can be slower than usual, but hey, you'll adjust — eventually. 



  • Embrace the charm: The slower pace is part of the charm of island life. We’re always rushing from one place to the next, leaving no time to breathe. Self-care is more important than ever these days, and this slower place can help with that goal. 
  • Plan ahead: Allow extra time for appointments and errands. If you’ve been here long enough and have been invited to a casual BBQ or party, you’ll know that arriving half an hour to an hour later is perfectly normal – it's “Guam time.” So, relax and enjoy the extra breathing room. 


Tackling Guam’s High Living Costs 

Guam’s cost of living can be higher than many parts of the U.S. mainland. This is because most products are imported, leading to limited availability (Oh man, do we miss fresh strawberries at mainland prices!). While housing, utilities and groceries can be more expensive, there are ways to manage these costs. 



  • Shop local produce! Support local farmers and Guam-made products and get fresh produce at lower prices. Check out our guide on where to buy local produce here. You’ll probably discover a new favorite local fruit from the market, that you’ve never tried. Before you know it, you’ll be using these in your recipes and making your Instagram followers jealous. For some culinary inspiration, look at our Home-Grown Fruit and Vegetable Recipes Part 1 and Part 2


Brand Hunt: Finding Your Favorite Products on Guam 

Missing your favorite brands? Join the club. How many times have you heard someone say, “I can't find that on island!” Another challenge is not being able to find specific products or brands that you’re used to easily grabbing at Target. And if you do find them, the cost is significantly higher due to limited availability and shipping costs. 



  • Care packages: If you can’t find your favorite items, consider asking friends or relatives off-island to send care packages. Whether it’s that favorite brand of chips or snack, a little taste of your good ol’ favorites can go a long way. 
  • Order online: If you really need that particular item and Guam doesn’t carry it, order online! Fortunately, more retailers are shipping to Guam now. Check out our Guam Shipping Guide for a list of stores and tips. 


Limited Healthcare Options 

Healthcare on Guam may not be as extensive as abroad, but offerings have significantly over the past years. Still, it might be a challenge for those with specific medical needs. Most residents with such conditions travel off-island to Hawaii or the mainland for specialized care or treatments. 



  • Research: Before your move, research healthcare providers to see if there are services available for your specific needs. If not, check if they offer special arrangements. Some clinics and hospitals have partnerships with off-island medical facilities. 
  • Insurance assistance: Your insurance company can also help you identify specific healthcare providers on island and inform you about coverage for off-island treatments if necessary. 


Feeling the Homesick Blues 

Let’s face it: if you’re from the U.S. mainland, Guam is far. Its remote location means being away from family and friends. With the time zone differences, staying connected can be challenging, often leading to major homesickness — unless, of course, you don’t like your family that much! But for the rest of us, especially during the holidays, being so far away can be tough. 



  • Set call schedules: You already know this — video calls and messaging apps make staying in touch easier. However, due to time zone and schedule differences, it might require more effort to schedule and commit to regular video chats with family and friends. 
  • Plan regular visits: Planning ahead for visits to the mainland can help ease homesickness. Knowing that you’ll see your loved ones soon can make a huge difference. Check out credit cards that offer great mileage and travel benefits so you can start racking up those miles for trips back and forth. 
  • Build a new “framily” on Guam: Connect with others, including other expats and locals. Making new friends on island can help create a supportive community. Check out our article on Ways to Stay Active and Make Friends on Guam


“There’s nothing to do on Guam” 

Okay, let’s nip this in the bud right now. Sure, Guam isn’t a big city and may have fewer shopping centers and entertainment options, but it more than makes up for it with unique local experiences and activities. If you’re looking for things to do, check out our Events page. It’s jam-packed with events for all types of activities. 



  • Explore Guam’s natural beauty: Guam offers a colorful array of outdoor activities, whether you choose to explore by land or by sea. Check out our guides on hiking spots and other things to do. Pick up diving – the ocean is our backyard, and the beach is always within 10-minute drive. 
  • Join group activities: Get involved in local group activities and events to connect with others and build a community. From adventurous “hash runs” to volunteer opportunities, there are plenty of ways to stay active and make friends


Relocating to Guam from the mainland has its challenges, but being prepared and having the right mindset goes a long way! We’re here to help guide you with information on Guam culture, things to do, insider tips and how to make the best of your time here on island. For more, start with our section, Moving to Guam.

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