The Cost of Living on Lake Atitlan, Guatemala

Dariece Swift author's bio Goats On The Road

As digital nomads, we’re constantly browsing the web in search of somewhere to live, unpack and put down some temporary roots. We do our research and try to source out costs and amenities before moving, but rarely do we find exact costs of basic, every day items. Surely, these are the things that people want to know when planning on visiting or living somewhere, right?

We lived on Lake Atitlan for almost 2 months, and are able to give you a good idea of what groceries, transportation and accommodation cost are like here.

Note: at the time of writing, 1 USD = 7.66 GTQ

These monthly costs are for two people. 


We looked at quite a few rentals before deciding on our current casita (small home). If you’re comfortable with just showing up and walking around to find an apartment, that is totally possible. You can find “for rent” signs on the actual homes that are available, or, you will find numerous ads and listings in cafes, bars, hostels and tour agencies.

If you have time and don’t mind staying in a hotel until you find an apartment, then this option could work for you. However, you will most likely be dealing with a local person if you go this route, which will mean that you’ll need to be able to negotiate in Spanish.

If you would rather find something ahead of time before arriving at the lake, you can always check online with some of the real estate companies. We found that the prices of accommodation online were actually quite good, plus, you can deal with an English-speaking person.

We booked through Atitlan Solutions/Atitlan Vacation Rentals, who had quite a few listings for us to look at before deciding on a vacation home we liked. You can also check out Terra X Atitlan or Century 21 (Antigua Fine Homes).

In San Marcos, you can find a wide range of rooms at Lush Apartments. Some have kitchens, while others do not. Some are studio style, while others have separate rooms. The costs range from $500 – $1,700 USD / month.

Just outside of San Marcos, a 10 minute tuk-tuk ride, is Pasaj-Cap, a rental complex with 6 apartment units, 1 house and 3 cottages. The costs here range in price starting from $525 USD/month. An obligatory $12/week cleaning service must be paid on top of the rental rate.

In Paxanax at Sunset Lodge (where we live), which is a 2 minute boat ride or a 20 minute walk away from the village of Santa Cruz, the cost of our apartment is $600 USD / month (although, we received a discount to $550 USD / month). This includes all utilities and a twice-weekly cleaning service, but we pay for drinking water and cooking gas.

There are many options available in the villages of Panajachel and San Pedro as well.

Check out the video of our beautiful casita here:

Casita – $550

Bottle of drinking water, 18L, (x 5 bottles) 20Q/jug ($13)

Tank of cooking gas (2 tanks) 140Q/tank – 280Q ($36.33)

Our Total Cost of Accommodation and Utilities / Month
Total: $599.33


We are actually quite surprised at the cost of groceries here on Lake Atitlan, especially compared to the costs in Mexico. It’s still much cheaper than groceries in the western world though.

Here is a breakdown of the cost of food items, in Guatemalan Quetzal and in American Dollars:

Dairy Products

  • Aged cheddar cheese – 30Q ($3.92)
  • Block of regular sharp cheddar – 28.75Q ($2.61)
  • Philadelphia cream cheese – 19Q ($2.48)
  • Mozzarella shredded 400g bag – 34Q ($4.44)
  • Parmesan cheese 115g – 26.75Q ($3.49)
  • Butter – 24.80Q ($3.24)
  • Yogurt 1L – 25.70Q ($3.36)
  • Milk 1L – 14Q ($1.83)

Breads, Rice etc.

  • Small wheat tortilla wraps – 10Q ($1.31)
  • Loaf of grain bread – 19.35Q ($2.53)
  • Lasagna noodles – 10.25Q ($1.34)
  • Spaghetti noodles – 2.75Q ($0.36)
  • Chow mein noodles – 14.50Q ($1.89)
  • Rice – 4.5Q ($0.59)


  • Eggs – 14.80Q / dozen ($1.93)
  • Ground beef – 49Q/lb ($6.40)
  • Chicken breast (2) – 29Q ($3.79)
  • Refried beans – 6Q ($0.78)
  • Fish fillets (3) – 35Q ($4.57)

Fruit and Vegetables

  • White onion – 0.92/lb ($0.12)
  • Tomato – 0.77/lb ($0.10)
  • Carrots – 1.14/lb ($0.15)
  • Cucumber – 1.60Q ($0.21)
  • Green Pepper – 1.60Q ($0.21)
  • Garlic 3 pack – 4Q ($0.52)
  • Avocado – 3.95Q ($0.52)
  • Papaya – 10Q ($1.31)
  • Cantaloupe – 7.95Q ($1.04)
  • Banana – 1.23/lb ($0.16)


  • Beer in store – 5/7Q ($0.65
  • Beer in Restaurant – 20Q ($2.61)
  • Bottle of wine in store – 41.75Q ($5.45)
  • Glass of wine in restaurant – 25Q ($3.27)

Snacks and Other

  • Quaker cookies (4) – 2.50Q ($0.33)
  • Guatemalan dark chocolate bar – 21.75Q ($2.84)
  • Doritos chips (medium bag) – 9.60Q ($1.25)
  • Spaghetti sauce – 7.20Q ($0.94)
  • Mayonnaise – 12.75Q ($1.67)
  • Ketchup – 18Q ($2.23)
  • Olive oil 750ml – 20Q ($2.61)
  • Coffee 460g – 19Q ($2.48)


cost of living on lake atitlan
Fresh produce!

During our first month here (March), we spent 3,962 Quetzales ($517 USD) on groceries – strictly food items. During our second month (April) we spent a little bit less than that, but quite close.

It’s important to note, that we eat quite well, with 3 big meals a day and lots of snacks. Your food budget could be much less than ours.

Our Total Cost of Food / Month

Alcohol and Entertainment

This list includes the cost of wine and beer at the shops, street food, coffee at a cafe and a typical meal at a restaurant in Panajachel or San Pedro.

Bottle of wine – 41.75Q ($5.45)

Bottle of beer – 5Q ($0.65)

Cup of coffee – 12Q ($1.57)

Street food meal with chicken and sides – 15Q ($1.96)

Meal at a restaurant – 30Q and up ($3.92 +)

We have a beer or a glass of wine almost every day, and we don’t eat out at restaurants, except for the occasional street-food meal.

Our Total Cost of Alcohol/Entertainment / month
the cost of living on lake atitlan guatemala
If you drink wine at home, it’s easier on the budget


There aren’t any proper roads connecting all of the villages and most people go by taxi boat (lancha). You will arrive by bus to the main town of Panajachel, and it is also possible to arrive directly to San Pedro by road from Guatemala City, Xela and Antigua. Within the villages of Panajachel, San Pedro, San Juan and Santa Cruz, you can take a tuk-tuk.

Note: Foreigners pay more than the locals do for boat rides, there’s no point in arguing, it’s just the way it is. These are the prices for tourists:

Taxi boat from:

Panajachel to Santa Cruz – 10Q ($1.31)

Panajachel to San Marcos – 20Q ($2.61)

Panajachel to San Pedro – 25Q ($3.27)

Panajachel to San Juan – 25Q ($3.27)

San Pedro – San Marcos – 10Q ($1.31)

Tuk-Tuk ride within Panajachel – 5Q ($0.65)

Tuk-Tuk ride between San Juan and San Pedro – 15/20Q ($1.96/$2.61)

We go into Panajachel about once a week by boat from Santa Cruz, we visit nearby villages and we take a tuk-tuk sometimes within the city. The more you move around, the quicker your costs will add up. For both of us to go to San Pedro from Santa Cruz, it costs 100Q ($13) return.

Our Total Cost of Transportation / Month
cost of transportation lake atitlan
The inside of a very full lancha boat

Final Thoughts and Costs

How much you will spend living on the lake all depends on which village you live in. If you’re in Panajachel or San Pedro, the temptation for bars and restaurants is high, which will ultimately up your budget. If you’re constantly partying, travelling in between villages and eating out at restaurants, you will spend quite a bit more than we did.

Our lifestyle consists of free activities like kayaking, swimming and walking, the occasional trip to nearby villages, eating and drinking at home and just chilling out.

Each month we also spend an extra 300Q ($38.92) or so on miscellaneous items like tips, cell phone minutes, toiletries, clothing and odds and ends.

Our Total Approximate Monthly Cost of a Couple Living on Lake Atitlan

To learn more about Panajachel, click here.

To learn more about Santa Cruz, click here. 

To learn more about San Pedro, click here. 

Hopefully this information will help you plan and budget for your trip to the lake!

The Cost of Living on Lake Atitlan, Guatemala

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Photographs of Guatemala with text overlay A Guide To Living on Lake AtitlanLake Atitlan Village with text overlay Guatemala Cost Of LivingView of Lake Atitlan with text overlay A Guide To Lake Atitlan Guatemala

Dariece Swift author's bio Goats On The Road

Written by

Dariece Swift

Dariece is a co-founder of Goats On The Road, and an expert in saving money, finance management, building an online business and of course... travel. She loves meeting new people, trying new cuisines, and learning about the unique cultures of our world. She has over 12 years of experience helping others to realize their travel dreams and has worked in numerous jobs all over the world to help pay for travel.

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26 thoughts on “The Cost of Living on Lake Atitlan, Guatemala”

  1. Hi Guys,

    Way cool! We’re visiting Mexico for a house sit after Bali so it looks like South America will be next up. We hope to journey down into Guatemala and I know Kelli loved her stay in Lake Atitlan, so I am pretty sure we’ll be hitting there. Looks awesome. As for food, we’re both doing the veggie bit – me most of the time, her all of the time – so methinks we can save some dough looking at your cost breakdown above.

    Thanks guys!

    Tweeting and Pinning from Bali.


  2. Lake Atitlan was one of the most beautiful places I have visited. Love your posts about living there. A detailed cost breakdown like this can really help when deciding where to move abroad.

    The fresh produce – and the homemade tortillas – are always great when visiting Guatemala!


  3. I haven’t seen too many travel blogs break it down like this. Very helpful! I’ m getting ready to start my most extended travel yet and this time I really have to watch my budget. It’s good to know where all the places are that a person can travel to and not spend $$$$. Thanks guys! Beautiful place btw ☺️

  4. To Nick and Dariece,
    You two are so adorable and this blog site is exactly what I need to read when I reason myself out on a cheerful Monday morning to quit job and go skydiving. Travel doesn’t become an excuse in presenting out expenses and revising them. I’m glad you guys are up for it!

  5. I am reading about lake Atitlan everywhere… Now I really have to go! Very informative post, thanks for sharing and for putting so much effort into it 🙂

  6. You definitely can save money if you’re a vegetarian…for sure! We honestly eat and drink more than the average person I think so most people out there will spend less on that than we do! haha

    Loved our stay on the Lake, hopefully you guys will get there 🙂


  7. Hi Dave,

    Thanks for commenting! The fresh fruit, veg and tortillas are fantastic. I loved hearing the “slap-slap” sound of the women making the tortillas fresh on the street 🙂


  8. Thanks for this breakdown – very useful. We’re heading to the lake in Jan 2016 after being on out hit list for a number of years. Quick question regarding Internet connection – how fast / reliable did you find it? We work online and will need to continue doing so for clients worldwide – not just blogging – from your experience, is it workable? Would we be better off staying in the main towns rather than going to the slightly more remote villages? Appreciate any insights you can give. Thanks very much!

  9. That’s exciting!

    We found our internet to be very good, but I think we had the best one possible actually. As far as I know, there is good internet in Pana and San Pedro. You might also want to look into a range extender – which you can either plug into your computer, or into the wall, and it helps the connection/strength of the wi-fi…a lifesaver for us!

  10. Hi,

    Love the video. My fiance and I are in Antigua at the moment and are looking at places around the lake. We have had some problems with mold here and were wondering how it is around the lake?


    Tom and Caroline

  11. Hi! Thanks for the comment.

    We had no issues whatsoever with mold. The air is dry at the lake actually because it’s at altitude, 1,500m+. It was sunny, warm and dry (but not too dry!) Zero mold.

  12. Hi. I am watching tour beautiful video while staring out at Lago De Atitlan
    I am staying at Villa Eggdal. In one of their casitas
    Could stay here for ever. Doing nothing and just staring at the volcano
    Thanks for sharing your expetience

  13. What an awesome time you two must be having. I’m really thinking about moving to Lake Atitlan, but do seem to be having problems finding a place to live. I would like someplace private, quiet , and secluded for about the price you paid. How did you find such a nice place for such a good price? Plus, is there a big difference in prices for the homes, apartments, or hotels? Thanks for your advice and the great information.

  14. Hey guys,

    We’ve been looking at places to stay around the lake and ended up finding the same place you stayed in. In fact, the owner told me to contact you guys specifically about working online there. We’re both online English teachers, I run a few blogs/social media channels for a company, and we have our own site we like to update a few times a week. What kind of speeds did you guys get there, and was it generally reliable? I’m not so concerned with the blogs. My main worry is our classes, as they’re video chats and require a stable and pretty solid connection. After reading your posts and seeing your videos, we really want to spend at least a month there. Keeping our jobs has to be a high priority, though! Appreciate any insight and tips on dealing with the internet there, as many forums say that working online is damn near impossible outside of Panajachel, and that even there it’s not great… We’d rather stay at the lake than Antigua for an extended period of time for reasons I’m sure you understand! Love the site and hope to run into you guys sometime!

  15. Hey guys,

    We worked online the whole time while we were there and I remember it being solid internet! I don’t recall the speeds though, so I would ask Armand about that. We obviously work online as well and we had no problems working for the 1+ month that we were there


  16. How was the wifi? Was it fast and reliable enough to do video calls?

    We really wanted to do an extended stay on Lake Atitlan but read the wifi was pretty horrible and cut out a lot. It’s not a risk we can take with our online teaching jobs. We would go in a heartbeat if someone told us it is in fact reliable.

  17. Hello! I want to thank you for laying everything out for us, making it clear and broad. I was told about Lake Atitlan, from a client. I do massage therapy, and really would like to live abroad and work. I’m not sure if you know about whether Americans can’t easily obtain a work visa (would prefer not to do the under the table thing) in Guatemala or not? I’d be fine with staying for 60-90 days. I’ve been researching different resorts/spas near the lake. They mostly all seem lavish and upscale.

    I am thankful to read your paragraph about San Marcos. Now I can see where it’s best to look for possible employment. Maybe I could reside in a nearby village where it costs less to rent a place. Since you stated that price ranges are higher in this area.

Comments are closed.