We’ve now officially been living in Paxanax on Lake Atitlan, Guatemala for over a month and it’s time to share how we feel about this place. We’ve been so busy getting caught up on our projects and other work that we haven’t really written much about our life here on the lake.

Well, I have to say, our lakefront casita is the most spectacular place we’ve ever stayed in and the lake itself is indescribably serene and beautiful!

Our Life

Each morning at around 8 o’clock, we wake up and look out of the floor-to -ceiling window that points out towards the water, perfectly framing the enormous San Pedro volcano that stretches skyward on the other side of the lake. A cool morning breeze blows into the open windows, and the temperature in the room is sublime.

View From our Casita

We get up, brush our teeth and slowly make a delicious pot of rich Guatemalan coffee, which we enjoy from our upper level terrace. We relax and chat about what we’ll do on the site that day, before hitting the laptops for a couple of hours. Working on a computer sometimes comes with the assumption that the employee is in a stuffy cubicle with artificial flourescent lighting and the endless drone of photocopiers and fax machines, but our office is different. We look out to the volcano and the lake which is so jaw-droppingly beautiful that it’s often hard to keep our eyes on our computer screens.

From there our day is a mix of work, walking, wakeboarding, drinking wine and enjoying aged cheeses, but Instead of describing our entire day in this article, check out the video below to get a good idea what life is like as a digital nomad.

The Lake

Lago De Atitlan is, without a doubt, one of the most visually breathtaking places we’ve ever seen. Three menacing peaks flank its southern shore with all of the elements that you would expect from prehistoric volcanos, minus the molten lava spewing from their ominous craters. All day we look out at these monstrous mountains and we never get tired of their tectonically shaped features.

View Of San Pedro

The water on the lake can be as calm as glass on some days, perfectly reflecting the soaring volcanos, while on other days, when the Xocomil winds have picked up, the surface is rippled with white capping waves.

The cloud rainforest that surrounds the lake is browner than normal as we near the end of the dry season, but even now it is lush and beautiful. Tropical flowers bloom along many of our favourite waterfront docks and walkways, while colorful birds chirp and sing, the allure of their bright colours surpassed by the melodic beauty of their song.

Atitlan Flowers

The air is dryer than the typical equatorial climate here, thanks to the elevation of 1,562 meters, but it is not so dry that it scratches the throat or dries the skin. In fact, the lake enjoys a spring-like climate year-round and while there are heavy rains in May, September and October, the lake can be visited at any time of the year.

Although we love our casita, it’s nice to get out once in a while! There are a couple of great places to spend the day, while enjoying a drink and gazing out at the lake. One such place is Isla Verde, an eco-friendly hotel with a massive chill-out deck with hammocks, a wholesome restaurant with locally grown products and (of course) you can also stay here in one of the many funky cabins with gorgeous views! This is one of the best spots in Santa Cruz to go and relax.

isla verde santa cruz guatemala
What a view! The perfect place to spend the afternoon

Our Apartment

We’ve already explained our apartment in great detail in the video below, so I urge you to check it out. Basically, we couldn’t have asked for a better place. Every room is bright and enjoys wide open views of the lake and volcanos. We get a comfy bed, relatively reliable wi-fi and two massive decks where we can enjoy sunset with a glass of wine. What more could a digital nomad ask for?

Check out our Lake Front Casita in the video below!

The Costs

We were surprised to find out that Guatemala is more expensive than most parts of Mexico. At least around the lake and in Antigua (the only two places we’ve visited thus far). From what other travellers had told us, we figured that Guatemala was outrageously cheap, comparable to places like Thailand and India. This simply isn’t true and the average cost of groceries, accommodation, restaurants and transport is more on par with places like Turkey and China. We spend around $1,250 USD / month living here on the lake. We do eat very well and drink a lot of wine, but we don’t go out often and our groceries are mostly healthy and cheap produce.

Guatemala Produce

If we were travelling full-time here, I would expect that we would spend around $2000 / month for both of us. About $500 more than I had originally thought.

Having said that, Lake Atitlan is still a great value. Our apartment is $550 / month ($600 during high season), and our grocery bills come in at 3,962Q ($518) / month and we spend 975Q ($127) / month on alcohol. We’ll be reporting more about the cost of living on Lake Atitlan in later articles.

Our Overall Opinion Of Lake Atitlan

For me, this is most satisfying destination I’ve ever lived in, while Dariece is torn between here and the Caribbean island of Grenada. Every day when I look out to the water and see the local fishermen in their wooden canoes, hear the sound of the tropical birds and gaze up at the mighty San Pedro Volcano, I feel like I’m home. As home as somewhere can feel when living there for just 2 months. There’s no question that Dariece and I absolutely love Lake Atitlan and I would say it’s the perfect destination for anyone looking for nature and calm serenity.

Atitlan Sunset

There are enough tourists and expats here to facilitate a reasonable amount of amenities, while not too many that the lake loses its character. A quick stroll into a village or a ride on a boat instantly reminds you that you’re in the real Guatemala. I’d say that Lake Atitlan is as perfect as it gets.

Even though we are enjoying our time here so much, we may be peeling ourselves away from the lake two weeks earlier than expected. There is somewhere we’ve been wanting to go for quite some time and we fear that if we don’t go now, we may never see it. We’re currently looking at booking flights and partnering with companies in this amazing Caribbean destination, so stay tuned for more!

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Our Digital Nomad Lifestyle On Lake Atitlan

For More About Lake Atitlan:

Check Out Our Weekly Episodes of GoatLife TV

Read About Our Arrival To The Lake Here

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Written by

Nick Wharton and Dariece Swift are the owners and founders of Goats On The Road. Together they have been travelling and working abroad since 2008 and have more than 20 years of combined experience in online business, finance, travel and entrepreneurship. Their expert advice has been featured on the Lonely Planet, CNN Money, Business Insider,  WiseBread and Forbes and they also spoke at the World Tourism Forum in Istanbul about the business of travel blogging.

Learn more about Nick Wharton and Dariece Swift on their respective author archives on this site and on the Goats On The Road About Us Page.

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40 thoughts on “Our Digital Nomad Lifestyle On Lake Atitlan

  1. What a gorgeous spot you have found there – well done on working out a life style that you love

  2. Really interesting, guys. We’ve seen a lot about Lake Atitlan and it seems like a lovely place to base yourselves for a while. I’m surprised at the costs, though! What you expect to spend in a month is a little more than we spent in a month in downtown Lisbon! But it looks worth it. Those views across the lake are stunning!

  3. I would never want to leave that Casita! What an amazing place, and incredible view. I have to say guys, this is, by far, the most inspiring post I’ve read this morning! Itchy feet? uh huh!

  4. Gorgeous landscape views! I would love to have my office based in similar views someday – enjoy your time and looking forward to the next adventure!

  5. Thank you for commenting Toni 🙂

    It’s hard to know what to expect before getting somewhere, but we lucked out and really like this spot . Cheers!

  6. I know! We were totally surprised at the costs. The apartment is much more than we were spending in Mexico, but it’s significantly nicer as well. But it’s the groceries that are killing our budget! So surprising…

    Interesting that Lisbon is about the same…hmmm – our next temporary home?


  7. haha, glad to hear it Rachel!

    Ya, it’s sooo nice here, we’re really loving it. It’ll be hard to say goodbye for sure 🙁 But, it’ll be time to move on soon – hopefully one day we come back.

    Thanks for the comment!

  8. Thanks very much Arti 🙂 We’re pretty pleased with our office for sure. Love it here and will be hard to move on…


  9. Not sure what direction you’re heading in, but if you’re heading south, you’ll find Ecuador and Bolivia to be the most affordable spots in the Americas for location independent living. I’ve got five weeks left in Quito and already know that I will miss it.

  10. It’s really beautiful. I haven’t yet been to Guatemala, but after reading this I’m eager to see it. We’ve been discussing the options in Central and South America for retirement, which of course are a long ways off, but it does seem like the living expenses are low and the quality of life is good. So many places to go, so little time. Enjoy your couple of months there!

  11. Gorgeous! Hey, is that the same apartment that the couple from Never Ending Voyage stayed in? If not it looks incredibly similar.
    Between both of your posts on Lake Atitlan I’m thinking that we should spend some time there. We spent 6 months in Thailand this winter and as much as we enjoyed it when we just travelled there as tourists we enjoyed it much less as slow travellers – we’re looking for another destination for next winter. Any suggestions appreciated 🙂
    Frank (bbqboy)

  12. I would love to do what you guys are doing, but with 3 children (one in University, and a 13 and 11 year old), it seems like a distant dream that I will not be able to do until they all leave home. Sounds like your life is lots of fun!

  13. “Most satisfying destination”? Wow, that’s a recommendation and a half! *Adds to travel wish list*

  14. I love your videos, I am living “vicariously ” thru the two of you ! Keep up the amazing work.

  15. Thanks for sharing Bob. We’ve heard that those are some inexpensive countries for digital nomads – we plan to go there, soon! Although it seems like everywhere is on the list 😉


  16. Thanks Laura,

    There are many affordable places in Central and South America, for sure. Even here on the lake isn’t all that expensive. If we were staying longer, I’m sure our rent would cost less as well. We can’t wait to explore more of the Americas 🙂


  17. Really? That’s interesting that you didn’t enjoy Thailand as much as a base..hmm, why was that? haha, no it’s not the same as their, they were living outside of San Marcos and we’re outside of Santa Cruz – both excellent spots 😉

    well, Guatemala is good, the city of Antigua has a lot of amenities and great wi-fi! But costs are a bit high there. We haven’t explored much yet, but will be coming back to see more of Central/South America.

    Happy trails!

  18. Thanks for following us Janey 🙂 We’re happy to have you along for the journey!


  19. It was my 5th time in Thailand but first time as a slow traveller. Stayed in Bangkok and Hua Hin for a month each, but the traffic, filth, high costs (actually more expensive than our stay in Prague last summer) got to us. Never saw as many rats and cockroaches as we saw in Hua Hin, No infrastructure, horrible sidewalks – we like to walk but didn’t enjoy it in Thailand. Funny, we never noticed these things when just travelling through but living day-to-day it wore us down…and there’s only so many wats you can see 😉
    Ended up in Nong Khai (North East Thailand) for 4 months and actually really enjoyed it. Lovely town if you have a chance and it was cheap (monthly rental less than $300 and everything cheaper than most places in Thailand). If we go back to Thailand it will be our base.
    But I think the first two months kind of stayed in our system and we need a bit of a change. Will spend most of the year in Western Europe and the Balkans but looking for a new home for the winter. I’m sure we’ll be back in Thailand in the future but just need something different. Trying to get Spanky to South Africa but she’s scared…so it may be somewhere in Central America. Love Mexico but my mom is there which is a whole other issue with Spanky 😉
    Frank (bbqboy)

  20. So breathtaking! I would never want to venture out with that view. So glad you enjoyed your time there.

  21. Looks like a nice place to be. I plan on traveling through South America. Where else would you recommend in Guatemala?

  22. Interesting piece, I often often wondered about Guatemala as a place to go and be a diginomad and learn Spanish however I have always been a little put off by the security situation in the country which concerns me as I often travel with my life in my backpack.

    You could certainly live in Southern parts of Europe for cheaper and you have much more in the way of security.

  23. Breathtaking is certainly the word. Some of the pics I’ve seen around your social media accounts from this place are more than postcard worthy! What a great time you seem to be having there 🙂

  24. We haven’t seen hardly anywhere in Guatemala…just many of the villages around Lake Atitlan and the city of Antigua. We will have to come back here to explore more – Tikal, Flores, Semuc Champey, Xela and the Rio Dulce are high on our list.

  25. It’s true, there are many security/theft issues in many parts of Latin America as a whole. The lake has some sketchy areas here in Guatemala as well, and the capital city is very dangerous. However, we have been completely safe and sound at our casa and have felt find travelling around to the villages – you just have to know where to go, and where to avoid 🙂

    Thanks for sharing!

  26. Thanks Tim! Living on the lake was awesome, and it was very easy to find images to photograph – everything was so photogenic 🙂

    Thank you for commenting.

  27. This is a great insight into the digital nomad life there on Lake Atitlan. My boyfriend and I are planning to work remotely from there at the end of the year. We are a bit concerned about internet speeds there. We both need reasonably fast internet for our work. How did you find it?
    Thank you!

  28. Our internet was very good. I don’t know if it was the best plan, or a normal plan, but in Paxanax we had good speeds.

  29. Hey Goats,
    First of all I love this post and your blog. Been a fan for years but I’m usually not one to comment much – I spend enough time on my computer as it is! We’re hitting the road in January into Mexico and continuing as far south as we can get throughout 2017. We’re moving a bit slower than a regular backpacking trip as we both have to hold down our online teaching jobs and my blogging gig. Lake Atitlan looks like a great place to spend a few weeks or even a month as you guys did. I was wondering how you found your place there and if the internet was really solid enough to do the kind of work you do (i.e. uploading videos). It’s a bit nerve-wracking trying to make travel plans when we really need to rely on having a proper work space/internet. It’s one thing if it cuts out while you’re writing a blog post which you can just finish later, but our classes are video chat and dropping the class due to your own IT problems is costly for us teachers. Any advice you have about Lake Atitlan specifically or any other places you used as a home base to get work done while traveling in the region would be much appreciated! Hopefully we run into you somewhere on the road and we can just chat it up over a beer!

  30. You forgot to write about the most important thing for a DN: wifi. I read it’s pretty horrible in Guatemala. What was your experience?

  31. Hey, great post!
    How could I get in contact with that casita host? The place looks amazing! I’m going for Cosmic Convergence festival at the end of the month and am thinking about hanging around for a while.

  32. Hi Anita Here is how you can book the casita on Lake Atitlan: Cheers!

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