Deciding to pack up your life for a career teaching English in Guatemala can be a bit terrifying for even the most adventurous traveler. But take it from us, many of our TEFL graduates go on to lead successful teaching careers overseas, which help them to bulk up their resumes and develop unique skills any employer would love to chat about. And if it’s job security you’re worried about–DON’T! English is the global business language, and you will definitely find clients to keep you in business and living your best life as a traveling teacher.
Though you won’t advance your financial standing considerably teaching English in Guatemala, your income will allow for safe, secure, and comfy accommodations, exploring new foods in the chic cafes of Antigua, and heading out on adventures unique to Guatemala.
The average wage for teaching English in Antigua is $500 per month, or approximately 3,750 Quetzal. A full-time teaching schedule typically includes 6+ hours per day in the classroom, Monday-Friday. In addition, you are expected to complete administrative hours outside of the classroom for lesson planning and grading. There are always opportunities to provide private lessons to outside clients as well, so depending on how hard you want to work will determine your monthly salary anywhere from $500 to $750 monthly. However, with just the minimum $500, you will find that you are making over 5 times the amount of the local minimum wage, which usually amounts to about $100/month!
To the average U.S worker, $500 might sound like a laughable salary, yet compared to the average cost of living, $500 in Guatemala will leave you with less stress than making $2,500 in places like New York and San Francisco.
Rent, Utilities & Food
With the influx of expats to Antigua, it’s easy to find a roommate to share the expense of accommodations. Fully furnished 2-bedroom apartments can go for about $400/month. Splitting $400/month with a roommate will leave you with a minimum $300 for the remainder of the month. You can always find someone renting space in the local paper, Facebook groups for expats, or by asking a new co-worker or friend. Internet and electricity are usually included in the rent price, helping you to save even more. If you don’t mind squeezing a third roommate in the living room, you’ll drop your monthly expense down to just over $100/month.
When it comes to food, it doesn’t matter where in the world you choose to live, cooking for yourself will always be the most economical option. But when the food is as delicious (and cheap) as it is in Antigua, eating out is doable. Some of the trendiest restaurants price menu items at about 20Q—for $3, who wouldn’t splurge?!
Staying connected is cheaper than ever with the invention of messaging apps that only need WI-FI to function. Apps like Skype, Facebook Messenger, and WhatsApp are all great tools you can use to communicate with friends and family back home, and even new friends you meet in-country! And you’ll never have to worry about not having Wi-FI, as so many public locations provide you with access free of charge. Staying connected adds nothing to your budget!
If you still want an actual phone line, you can easily find one of many prepaid options in the area. Purchasing a prepaid sim card such as TrueValue, or TelePlus Worldwide are great options which can be bought for about 10 cents a minute.
Travel & Transportation
Antigua is very small and pleasant to stroll around, so transportation isn’t really necessary within the city. However, if you’re looking to get somewhere fast, you have a few options.
Taxis can be conveniently found near the Cathedral, and around the “Mercado”. Most taxis run on meters, so a 10 minute ride can cost about Q60. However, not all taxis run on meters, so you must make sure to bargain with the driver BEFORE getting inside. As a foreigner, it’s likely you won’t get the same prices as a local, but you should be able to talk the driver down from their original offer. Expect to pay higher rates after dark.
Tuk-tuks, three-wheeled mini-taxis, can also be found all over Antigua. Typically, it costs about Q15 to get you almost anywhere in Antigua, but again, bargain before getting in. Not only are they a cheaper option, but quite an adventure in Antigua. Tuk-tuks are not allowed to drive near central park, so if that’s your destination, expect to walk a few blocks.
Antigua, Guatemala is declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and rightly so. The city is a beautiful example of some of the most preserved colonial architecture. Some of the historic sites within the city include The Plaza Central, Cerro de la Cruz, San Jose el Viejo, Iglesia de la Merced, and the Catalina Arch.
With the extra room in your budget, you can allow yourself to take trips outside of the city as well including a hike to Pacaya Volcano, a trip to Lake Atitlan, explore the giant temple ruins of Tikal, or discover paradise at Semuc Champey. All of these trips are accessible by public transportation, but you may want to splurge on a tour to make your commute much more bearable. Overall, you won’t spend over $150 getting to any of the sites in style and comfort.
So, if you’re worried about living on a teacher’s salary in Antigua, Guatemala—worry no more! The average $500 monthly salary is enough to house you, feed you, and entertain you! And if you’re still hesitant, feel free to chat directly with you a teacher in Guatemala to get the full scope of what it’s like to live and teach abroad in a desired destination!