Moved here when my Mexican visa was about to expire after traveling there for 6 months. I know Antigua is more popular but I found a super cheap Airbnb in Guatemala City ($340 for 4 weeks) which looked decent so decided to start with the capital city.
The city turned out to be not that scary as they say on the internet. I would advise you from living in the historic center though (Zona 1). It is cheap but it is not the best place to live: you can sometimes see drunk, stoned or otherwise shady people. But I lived near the main walking street and it’s fine to walk a few times a day to take a break from the computer.
Counterintuitively, the area near the airport is among the places where I’d prefer to live if I come there again. It has a number of nice coffee houses with specialty coffee (El Injerto is the best). Don’t think that it is quieter to live farther from the airport. I lived in the center and I already know the most popular airlines flying to that city — this is how low airplanes fly over the historic center. Another notable place is Zona 4 (lots of cafes and restaurants and modern architecture), to where I took 30 minutes walks almost every day to get a nice flat white at Coffee District.
Best coffee shops I discovered around the world
The coffee I enjoyed the most. I don’t claim it to be a precise chart
Also, Family Bonds Cafe is my favorite. It is on the outskirts of the city, where a new neighborhood is built (Cayala). It is giant, spacious and has very good coffee. I bought a pack of impressive geisha beans there. Also, you can find all the international apparel brands there if you need to shop.
I came to Antigua from Guatemala City a couple of weeks ago and I see why it is such a popular tourist spot. The town has such a nice relaxed vibe, lots of old architecture as well as impressive number of cool bars, coffee shops and modern store inside all those old buildings
Again, I was very lucky to rent an Airbnb with a decent discount ($700 for 4 weeks, 1 BR, 2 blocks from the city center). But most of all I’m happy that I have a proper working chair and a table with the desired height. Also, very bright and has plenty of space.
You don’t need transport here because the city is tiny. Very walkable. And seems very safe. Every street is visually appealing.
I still haven’t gone hiking to any of the nearby volcanoes yet, but it is on my list. But just seeing them from afar walking around is already magnificent. And one of them (Fuego) erupts almost every day every 10–30 minutes.
I’ve never seen so many Americans in my life lol. Maybe this will change when I come to the US one day.
I would say that I don’t enjoy grocery prices too much as well as the range of products. The only grocery store inside the city has a poor range of meat and poultry, although I managed to find a couple of nice modern butcher shops nearby. Salmon of the same brand costs 2 times more than in Guatemala City. If you happen to buy a bottle of water in a convenience store instead of that supermarket, they will ask 15 GTQ for a 2-liter bottle (2 USD). And I’m sorry for being that guy, but I hardly can find bottled water of any label except Salvavidas, which doesn’t work well with my V60 coffee.
P.S. I received couple of comments on Reddit saying that $700 is way too expensive for Guatemala. If you think the same way, you can see it for yourself: just open Airbnb, select 1BR apt (not a room) for 4 weeks, filter prices to see only those under $500, and try to find a place that doesn’t look like a slum hovel from inside and that is within 15 minutes walk from the center. I mean, we all want to work in a room with at least some sunlight and be able to drink a cup of flat white in the morning, aren’t we? :)