Relocating to a 210-square-mile island in a relatively remote area of the Pacific is a big decision. It will likely mean a big change in lifestyle that will ask you to adapt most of your old habits to completely different circumstances. How can you really know whether it’s the right move for you—and for anyone else, you might be bringing with you?
You’ll probably turn to Google to do some research. Maybe you’ll be lucky enough to have friends or family who has spent time on Guam who can offer you their perspective.
However, in our opinion, one of the best ways to understand what it’s like to live on Guam is to do what’s called a PMV, a pre-move visit. During a PMV, your goal is to live like a local for a few weeks, maybe even a month. This stay will give you a real sense of what it’s like to actually live on Guam, as opposed to what it’s like to visit as a tourist.
If you’re considering moving with a partner or a family, bring them too! You can all try on Guam together to see if it’s a family fit.
Here’s how it works:
Step #1: Get a Place to Stay for Two Weeks—or More
Since you’re trying to live like a local as much as possible, try to find a condominium rental, as opposed to staying on a resort. A resort stay offers you a number of luxuries you may not have at home, such as daily maid service, fresh towel, and linens at the push of a button and amenities like a pool and restaurants on property.
For that reason, hotel life won’t give you a real sense of what living on Guam is actually like. You want to get a feel for things like doing your own laundry, buying and cooking food and navigating the island to run errands.
At the end of the day, you’ll get a much better sense of what Guam is really like if you’re able to get housing that mimics apartment or house living, rather than resort life.
To help you secure the right spot, try the following resources:
- Island Realty offers temporary housing solutions.
- Airbnb offers long-term options on Guam.
- VRBO also has a few properties that fit these requirements.
Step #2: Get Settled In
When you arrive, you might be tempted to grab a snorkel set and start exploring Guam’s vibrant, healthy coral reefs and abundant marine life at Ypao Beach, located in one of Guam’s five marine preserves.
Save the snorkeling for day two and get settled into your new place ASAP so you can cross some of your PMV items off the list:
- Go grocery shopping so you get familiar with the stock at Guam’s grocery stores, as well as its prices.
- Buy the essentials like toilet paper, paper towels, and laundry detergent to get a sense of where you’ll go the most to stock up.
- Check out the laundry facilities. It’s better to know where to go—and what you’ll need—before you run into a laundry emergency.
- Pop by the post office. This one might sound silly, but it’s good for you to get familiar with all aspects of Guam’s life. Mail service becomes particularly important around the holidays when you’re sending gifts back home and waiting for yours to arrive.
If these things sound like the daily grind, they are! That’s the whole point. Getting things done at home vs. getting things done in Guam can be very different, so you’ll want to get a taste before making the leap.
However, once you’ve made your rounds, we recommend you give yourself a night off for fun, which brings us to the next part of your PMV.
Step #3: Get Social!
A strong social life is critical to settling in happily to a new locale. In fact, science has proven that high-quality social lives can keep us healthier and help us live longer lives.
Additionally, if you’ve never lived on a small island before, we’ll let you in on a little secret: You’ll get by with a little help from your friends. Looking for an apartment? You may end up renting from a friend of a friend. Or maybe you’ll hear about a great opportunity from someone you meet at a happy hour. Same with selling a car, finding a job, locating a plumber—most of the best recommendations will come from people you meet on Guam.
So during your pre-move visit to Guam, make sure you get out and see what the social scene is like. We suggest starting by exploring some of the happy hours around the island. You might like:
- The Beach Bar on Gun Beach, where locals and tourists intersect for a killer happy hour with a view.
- Wild Bills 2, which offers pool tables—a great way to strike up a conversation with someone new.
- Or if you want to mingle with some of the military personnel on Guam, try the Horse & Cow. (Civilians welcome!)
Make sure to branch out from bars, too! See a movie at one of Guam’s three movie theaters. Bowl a few frames at one of its three bowling alleys. Check out a shopping mall, including Guam’s Premier Outlets, to see what kind of retail therapy Guam has to offer.
In other words, enjoy what Guam has to offer so you can start to see what your social life would really be like once you decide to make it your home.
Step #4: Put a Few Stakes in the Ground
Finally, during your pre-move visit, you’ll want to do everything you can to try and get your life set up in Guam. For example:
Go to the bank and talk to someone about opening an account. Understand the documentation you’ll need and how best to fund the account from your current holdings.
View a few apartments. Take the time to visit listings in person so you can see what your budget will afford you on Guam. If your move date is far out, you may not be able to secure anything during your PMV, but you’ll 1) make some contacts and 2) secure some intel for when the time is right.
Look for a car. Even if you’re considering shipping your car, it’s still a good idea to visit a few dealers and see what’s available on the island—and at what prices. It might impact your decision regarding your car at home.
Look for jobs. If you don’t have a firm move date, you might not be able to secure employment. However, reaching out to a few potential employers might get you the face-time you’ll need to make a solid connection once your move date is in the books. (Of course, if you’re moving to work in Guam, you can skip this step!)
Visit schools. If you’ll be moving with children, tour the schools they might attend. This way, your whole family can start the process of envisioning your move.
Getting the On-the-Ground Experience for a Final Decision
Making the move to Guam will mean a big change for you—and possibly for your family. It might be a welcome one that offers you an exciting Pacific island lifestyle under the U.S. flag.
However, a decision this large often comes with some uncertainty. Doing a PMV to Guam before you make your final decision will help you do the on-the-ground research you need to feel certain. With this visit under your belt, you’ll know with greater clarity what it’s like to live like a local in Guam, and you’ll know whether it’s right for you.
Need some help with the relocation? We’ve helped thousands of people move to Guam, and we’d be thrilled to help you. Reach out to us for a quote. We can help you with a complete solution that even includes your car.
Final Note: H/T to our friends at the VI Moving Center for introducing us to the concept of the pre-move visit.