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  • Writer's pictureDonovan Paulino

A Guide for Families Moving To Guam

Keep Moving: Adventures in Logistics


By Donovan Paulino

General Manager


If you dream of beautiful white sandy beaches lapped by turquoise waters or an island life packed with coral reefs, numerous shopping experiences, and endless entertainment options, then Guam may be the place for you. 


This U.S. territory offers a combination of American familiarity and rich Chamorro culture. U.S. citizens are particularly drawn to Guam’s ease of relocation. There’s no need for work visas, and U.S. dollars work here just like on the mainland. 


However, while Guam operates under federal regulations, it has its own customs. Local procedures and a vibrant local culture can sometimes surprise newcomers. This guide will help you understand everything you need for a smooth transition.


GPX is the right moving company to save you time, stress, and possible damage to your belongings.
Guam Pak Express (GPX) is the solution for all your moving needs. Our team has extensive experience handling Guam shipping logistics and knows how to arrive your belongings at the destination with maximum safety and efficiency.

Exploring Life in Guam


Let’s learn more about Guam, including its geographical location and weather pattern.


• Where Is Guam?

Guam is the largest and southernmost island in the Mariana Archipelago, a chain of islands stretching 450 miles north in the western Pacific Ocean. It is 1600 miles east of Manila, roughly 5800 miles west of San Francisco, and 3808 miles west of Honolulu, Hawaii. Although it might feel remote, Guam has surprising proximity to other small island nations like Micronesia and Palau, as well as Asian neighbors like the Philippines and Japan.

• What Is Guam’s Climate?

Guam has a tropical climate most of the year, which means constant warmth and humidity. Average low temperatures range from a comfortable 76-79°F (24-26°C), and highs stay pleasantly warm at 86-89°F (34-36°C) year-round. Guam doesn’t always have sunshine and blue skies, though. The island experiences two different seasons:


  • Dry Season (December-June): This season usually has sunny days and clear skies, perfect for soaking up the island vibes. It’s a great time for outdoor activities.


  • Rainy Season (July-November): Guam’s rainy season arrives in July and lasts until November, bringing a lush and vibrant landscape with it. This season also sees about two-thirds of the island’s annual rainfall.



Understanding Guam: Culture and Lifestyle


Guam has a rich cultural history with Chamorro traditions, Spanish influences, and a modern American touch. Let’s discuss the island’s own unique culture and lifestyle in detail.

• Brief History and Cultural Highlights

The Chamorro people have called this island home for over 4,000 years. These skilled seafarers, who likely arrived from Southeast Asia millennia ago, are the indigenous inhabitants of Guam. 


Spanish colonization in the 17th century left its mark, with Catholicism the dominant religion and Spanish influences weaving into Chamorro traditions. Traces of American presence, particularly after World War II, are also here, with English as the official language along with Chamorro. Explore the Guam Museum to learn more about its history.

• Key Lifestyle Differences

Adjusting to a new way of island life takes time, and Guam is no exception. You might encounter some practical adjustments in Guam.


1.) Island Time:

Life in Guam tends to move slower than in the U.S. mainland. This means you’ll experience a laid-back island lifestyle without any rush.


2.) Family and Community:

Family and community hold much importance in Chamorro culture. You might expect larger extended families living close by and a strong priority on respect for elders. Your children will probably be showered with warm hospitality and attention.


3.) Outdoor Activities:

Guam is a favorite for nature lovers. Snorkelling adventures in crystal-clear water, hiking through lush rainforests, and exploring hidden waterfalls are just a few ways to experience the island’s natural beauty. 


4.) Island Cuisine:

Guam’s cuisine is a delicious combination of Chamorro, Spanish, and Asian influences. Sample Kelaguen, a spicy chicken salad, or Finadene, a comforting fish simmered in coconut milk. You’ll also have the choice to try local fruits like mango, papaya, and fresh coconut water. 



Explore the Chamorro Night Market on Wednesday nights in Hagatna for an authentic taste of the island.



Moving to Guam. Pre-Move Planning and Preparation


Moving to Guam unfolds a new chapter in your life, with its gorgeous beaches, relaxed island lifestyle, and unique Chamorro lifestyle. However, some planning considerations and preparation are needed before moving to this island. 


• Research and Information Gathering

This is the most important factor when moving to a new place. Researching the location, its surroundings, and everything you need to be prepared for is something that you cannot overlook. 


Here is some of the essential information you need to know:


  • Visa and Documentation Requirements:

U.S. citizens don’t need a passport or green card to enter Guam. However, having a government-issued photo ID (driver’s license or state ID) and a birth certificate is always a good idea. For non-U.S. citizens, visa requirements can vary depending on your nationality, so check your country’s requirements well in advance.


  • Guam Customs and Quarantine Agency (CQA):

Bringing your pet or a collection of exotic plants might seem like a good idea, but Guam has strict regulations to protect its ecosystem. Familiarize yourself with CQA’s guidelines to avoid delays or confiscated items at the port of entry. Generally, live plants, fruits, vegetables, and meat products are not allowed.

• Creating a Moving Checklist

Guam’s Customs and Quarantine Agency (CQA) has numerous federal and local regulations. 


Create a detailed inventory of your belongings. Although Guam’s shopping options are improving, they might not offer the same variety you’re accustomed to. Take note of the essential items you’ll need right away. 


Here are some regulations you need to consider:


  • Any household items you bring must have been in your possession for at least three months before your move to Guam and are not considered for resale.


  • Carry all prescribed drugs with you in their original labeled containers. It is also recommended that you keep a doctor’s prescription for these medications in case CQA officials request additional documentation.


  • Alcohol and tobacco allowances differ from those in the mainland U.S. You can bring 1 gallon of alcohol (on-person carry) and a maximum of 200 cigarettes, 50 cigars, or 2 kilograms of tobacco per person duty-free. Anything exceeding these limits may be subject to customs duties. Contact local authorities for the latest regulations.


CQA strictly prohibits some items. These are:


  • Live plants, fruits, vegetables, and meat products to protect Guam’s delicate ecosystem.

  • Milk and meat products also fall under this category. 

  • Copyright-infringing materials, illicit drugs, explosives (including fireworks and ammunition), weapons (though firearm import is possible with proper procedures), and hazardous materials like fertilizers are also strictly prohibited.


Clearly label each box with its contents and destination room in your new home. This will make unpacking easier, and movers can place boxes in the correct rooms. Consolidate similar items like books and clothes into the same boxes. Separate fragile items from heavier ones to prevent damage during transport. Pack a separate box with the essentials you’ll need immediately upon arrival, such as toiletries, medications, a change of clothes, and basic tools. 


Apart from all that was mentioned above, take photos and create a detailed list of the belongings you’re shipping. This documentation helps in case of any loss or damage claims during the move. Keep your passport, visa (if applicable), moving company paperwork, and CQA import documents readily accessible during your move.


• Hiring a Moving Company

Unless you are planning a very light move, you’ll need a moving company to save you time, stress, and possible damage to your belongings. The right moving company should have experience shipping to Guam. 


Guam Pak Express (GPX)  is the solution for all your moving needs. Our team has extensive experience handling Guam shipping logistics and knows how to arrive your belongings at the destination with maximum safety and efficiency. We understand the intricacies of Guam Customs and Quarantine Agency (CQA) regulations and can guide you through the process to avoid delays. 


We also offer different insurance plans during your move. Our basic coverage protects against loss or damage during transit. Our optional plans offer additional coverage on high-value items like electronics or artwork. 


Connect with our team of relocation experts or fill out the form to get a free quote. Our charges are competitive based on your needs and requirements. From wrapping and securing your belongings with high-quality packing materials to unpacking them upon arrival, we will take care of everything. 


Finding a Home in Guam


Guam offers a diverse selection of housing options. Finding the right place for your family requires a little planning and understanding of the local market.


• Renting vs. Buying

Choosing between renting and buying in Guam depends on your individual circumstances and long-term plans. 


Renting:


Pros: 

  • You’ll have flexibility if you’re unsure of your long-term commitment to Guam. 

  • Renting has less upfront cost compared to buying. 

  • The landlord usually handles maintenance and repairs.


Cons: 

  • Rent prices can fluctuate. 

  • You won’t build equity in the property. 

  • Limited ability to make changes to the property.


Buying:


Pros:

  • Building equity in your own home gives you security and long-term financial gain. 

  • More freedom to personalize the property.


Cons:

  • Requires an upfront investment, including down payment and closing costs. 

  • Responsible for maintenance and repairs. 

  • Subject to fluctuations in the housing market.



Selling or Renting Your Home in Guam


Life can take unexpected turns at any time. Sometimes, you might have to move on from your home. If you’re relocating for work, downsizing, or looking for a change, here are some key considerations to remember. 

• Preparing Your Home for Sale or Rent

First impressions are the most important factor when selling or renting your home. Steps you can take to showcase your property are:


  • Improve your home’s exterior with a fresh coat of paint, well-maintained landscaping, and a welcoming entryway. A power wash or deep cleaning can also improve the look.

  • Give your home a thorough cleaning. Remove unnecessary personal belongings to create a spacious and inviting atmosphere.

  • Address any minor repairs, such as leaky faucets, loose doorknobs, or chipped paint. A well-maintained home reassures tenants or buyers that the property is in good condition.

  • Place furniture properly, especially if you are selling your home. Stages home can help tenants understand the space’s functionality and potential.


• Legal Considerations

Selling or renting a property in Guam involves legal considerations. Guam law mandates that sellers disclose any material defects in the property. This could include anything from a leaky roof to past termite infestations. Convey everything transparently to buyers or renters to avoid legal repercussions later. 


If you are renting your property, study Guam’s landlord-tenant laws. These laws highlight your responsibilities as a landlord, including maintenance requirements, security deposit regulations, and eviction procedures. The Guam Department of Land Management website is a helpful resource for landlords.


Education System in Guam


Guam’s education system is modeled after the U.S. system. Like the mainland U.S., education is compulsory for children between the ages of 5 and 16. The majority of schools are public institutions overseen by the Guam Department of Education (GDOE). These schools offer a curriculum similar to U.S. educational standards, with English as the primary medium of instruction. 


Public schools in Guam are generally accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC). Guam also has over 20 private schools affiliated with various religious organizations or independent institutions. These schools have alternative learning environments and different curricula.


Higher education is also accessible on the island. The University of Guam, established in 1952, is the island’s primary public university, offering bachelor’s and master’s degrees in many fields. Guam Community College provides vocational training and associate degree programs.  


Employment and Job Opportunities in Guam


Guam's economy offers exciting opportunities for job seekers with different skill sets and career aspirations.


• Job Market in Guam

Guam’s economy depends heavily on tourism and the U.S. military presence. Tourism is a major driver that offers jobs in hospitality, recreation, and retail. The Anderson Air Force base is at the north end of Guam, just 15 miles away from the capital Agana. The U.S. military presence on the island increases demand for jobs in construction, healthcare, and logistics. Government services and the growing service industry also provide many professional opportunities. 


According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, construction and extraction, tourism and hospitality, and government sectors have the highest focus on jobs in Guam. However, due to Guam’s location, average wages tend to be lower than the U.S. national average.  


• Finding Employment Before Moving

If you are planning to take up employment before moving to Guam, actively planning can increase your chances. Identify skills and experiences that are in high demand within Guam’s specific industries. Job boards like Indeed Guam or Guam’s Department of Labor website can be helpful resources for researching current job openings. 


Connect with people already working in Guam, particularly those in your desired field. Reach out to professional organizations or alumni networks related to your industry to get job referrals. 


Non-U.S. citizens must have the appropriate work visa. To avoid delays, research Guam’s visa requirements and procedures well before applying. The U.S. Department of State’s travel website is a reliable resource for visa information.


Healthcare and Medical Services in Guam


Guam has both public and private healthcare providers who have access to essential medical services. The island has two major hospitals—the Guam Memorial Hospital Authority (GMHA) and the Guam Regional Medical City (GRMC)—which are equipped to handle different medical needs. Many private clinics are also available to provide special care in areas like dentistry, pediatrics, and ophthalmology.


Medicaid and Medicare programs are available to eligible Guam residents to provide financial assistance. The Medical Indigent Program (MIP) helps cover medical expenses for low-income residents who don't qualify for these programs. 


Although Guam’s healthcare system is generally good, some residents travel to neighboring islands or the U.S. mainland for special care that is unavailable in Guam. If you have specific medical needs, it’s advisable to research available specialists and consider travel insurance. 


Cost of Living and Financial Considerations


The cost of living in Guam is higher than that of the mainland U.S. Renting or buying a home in Guam can vary depending on location, size, and amenities. Housing costs are generally slightly lower than the U.S. national average, but utilities like electricity can be more expensive on the island.


 Most goods are imported, so you might have to adjust when grocery shopping. Explore local markets for fresh produce and join wholesale clubs for better deals on bulk items. 


Owning a car is almost essential. Gas prices are higher compared to the U.S. national average, but you need to consider the cost of car maintenance and import duties if you’re bringing a vehicle. Public transportation options are limited.


Guam residents pay federal income taxes at the same rate as U.S. residents. However, there is no state income tax in Guam. 


The Bottom Line


Moving to Guam is an exciting journey. You’ll have a new experience with breathtaking landscapes and a unique culture. Guam Pak Express is here to partner with you every step of the way so you can stress-freely relocate. Whether you are looking for assistance with shipping, handling customs regulations, or have questions about Guam life, we are here to help. Connect with us, and we’ll try our best to answer all your questions.


Donovan Paulino is the general manager of Guam Pak Express.  To contact Donovan, please email him at Donovan.Paulino@guampak.com 




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