Often when I visit a country I take a stroll through a typical supermarket looking for the screaming bargains. What’s a deal here?
I’m in Guatemala right now, which is certainly one of the cheapest places to travel and one of the cheapest places to live. Here’s what I picked up yesterday in a supermarket one block off the square in Quetzaltenango, also known as Xel-Ha.
That photo at the top is what I bought for the equivalent of $7.50. Now keep in mind I was staying at a hotel and couldn’t cook, and it was Saturday night after a tough bike ride. So unlike a mom cooking for kids, I had no reason to take advantage of the carrots (three pounds for a dollar), potatoes (2.5 pounds for a dollar), rice (60 cents a pound), bananas (40 cents a pound) or beans (65 cents a pound). I also didn’t buy juice, which was less than a dollar a liter.
Here’s what I walked out with though, with all prices in quetzales, currently fetching roughly 7.5 to the U.S. dollar.
16-ounce Brahva beers: 4.85 each
Pound of premium coffee to take home: 18
Quetzalteca hooch, tamarindo flavor: 7
Barbeque peanuts 80 grams/2.8 oz: 5
Pack of Clorets gum: 3.25
Chocolate bars: 3.8
Glue stick & eraser: 3 for both (so cheap, I bought them to take home)
Yeah, a strange and random assortment I know. If you want the real bargains, go to a market and buy local fruit and vegetables, which are so cheap it’s hard to believe. Or get a local sandwich roll for 1Q: less than 1/7th of a dollar.
No, not everything is a bargain. Odd things like toilet paper and toothpaste cost more than they should. Overall, I’d say Guatemala is pretty much on par with Mexico right now in the cost of many goods and services, but maybe a bit less when it comes to gasoline (under $3 a gallon) and household help. Lodging is cheaper too if you’re a traveler, as are Spanish lessons. If you get out of Antigua, rents are pretty cheap, but in the country’s prettiest city, the monthly housing costs are not really a bargain if you want to be in a convenient spot.
Want to get more detailed info? This post is a few years old but from what I saw this week, is still spot on: Travel Prices in Antigua.
The really good news is, this post I wrote in 2007 while traveling with my family is not too far off either. A few things are a little more, but the strong dollar has erased most inflation.
If you’re part of my Committed or All in Groups for A Better Life for Half the Price, watch for a video soon where I interview five Antigua expats who are raising a family in Guatemala. If you’re not, get on board here!