We have run through all of these issues not only when we lived in Thailand, but here in Guatemala as well. I'm sure it will be the same dilemma everywhere we explore.
After spending two straight days looking at many options from hotels to bungalows, we finally settled on this apartment building called Macondo. It is just off Santandar Street which is the main street in Panajachel. It is on a side street so the traffic is light and it's only two blocks (5 minute walk) from the lake. We have volcano views from our balcony as well as stunning panoramic views of the lake from the rooftop terrace.
Now, the last time either of us has spoken Spanish was in high school and that was quite a while back. For the last 17 years we have attempted to communicate in Japanese and Thai. We found out very quickly living in Panajachel that we need to learn Spanish....and fast!
Luckily Spanish is not nearly as difficult as Thai, so reading the language is much easier, but our new goal is to learn to speak it. Since our Spanish was limited to a few greetings and anything we could remember from a Taco Bell commercial we had to rely on Google translate to do the negotiating between us and our building manager, Pablo. Believe it or not, this worked fairly efficiently.
We agreed on the price for our 2 bedroom, 2 bath apartment of Q2700 ($350) per month which includes waste water, trash pickup and internet. Not included was drinking water Q20 ($2.60 per 5 gallons), propane Q100 ($13 every 3 months) and electricity which we don't know yet how much that will cost. We think, because we are now in the "land of eternal spring", where there are no heaters or A/C in any of the buildings, that we won't break the bank with our electric bill. This apartment, though fully furnished, did not come move in ready. We spent approximately $100 on daily living items such as pots, pans, cups, bowls, utensils, sheets, towels, pillows, and cleaning supplies.
From our internet shopping with realtors online prior to us coming here and our own leg work once we got here, this is a pretty good deal. Most places in our self-imposed budget of less than $400 per month, were pretty "rustic" to say the least.
As we stated before, not everything is peaches and cream in this lifestyle. The internet here is slower than molasses. We are NOT kidding. I ran a speed test last night and got a blistering .61 download speed. Yes, you saw that right. That is a point in front of the 6. Only half a MB! The promised "agua caliente" hot shower is more akin to lukewarm, and the water pressure is just above a trickle, but we can manage and even have a laugh or two over it.
The best part of this living arrangement is that we are paying month to month. Therefore, if we decide to move to another location on the lake or to another apartment, there is no penalty. There was no lease to sign, just a Q500 ($65) refundable deposit and a handshake.
We are also on a waiting list for a one bedroom apartment in this same building when one comes available for the bargain basement price of Q1900 ($250) per month. So, if you want your own space when you come visit, you better come in the next month or two or it's "sofa city, sweetheart."
Below, are some pictures of our new abode. Pictures of our new neighborhood are coming soon!
Click on a picture below for a larger image.