Bell tower in Antigua Guatemala

Thrifty Adventures

I just spent 60 days in Antigua, Guatemala. It’s an intriguing city—a Mayan town conquered by the Spanish in 1524 and reduced to rubble in 1717, 1751 and 1773 by earthquakes. And, it has it’s very own active volcano—Fuego!

The city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site—rich in history and culture. Thousands visit every year from all over the world to climb volcanoes, sample cuisine, visit ruins and bask in the perfect weather. Many go to learn Spanish. Many go because it’s cheap. Well … thrifty. You can secure a single room for under $15 a night (see below), have a nice dinner for around $12 and take a one-on-one Spanish class for $7 an hour. The question is not why are you going to Antigua? It’s  why would you ever leave?

And, many don’t. I met lots of American, Canadian, South African and Dutch expats who visited two, ten, thirty years ago and never went home. Most are retirement age, but a few are much younger. Some are permanent residents; others visit every year for six months to escape winter. And, here’s the takeaway: Many are living well on social security. One 65-year-old told me he lives like a king on $2,000 a month. I believe it! My friends Sue, Deet and Daniel rent apartments for about $400 a month. My two-month vacation cost $1,700 + airfare. And, I was kinda kicking myself when my vacation ended and I landed in Chicago on a cold February night. What was I thinking? 

Now, there are probably lots of places on the planet that are cheaper than, for example, Chicago. If you’re retired, can work remotely, just sold a two-flat in Logan Square or have a modest nest egg, you might consider moving to a place with more bang for your buck. Send me a postcard!

NYT 36 hours in Antigua, Guatemala
Best Time to Purchase Tickets



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