Last Updated: 12/06/21
Whether you’re relocating for a job or seeking the tropical island lifestyle, Guam has plenty to offer. Pristine white beaches, vibrant coral reefs, plentiful retail shopping options, and a roster of indoor and outdoor entertainment options all make Guam an attractive place to live. When you move to Guam, you’ll also discover its unique culture. The island is a melting pot built on the foundation of the Chamorro culture of the islands’ original inhabitants. Layered on top, you’ll find colonial influences from Spain, Japan and the U.S., plus the diverse cultures of people who have migrated from places like the Philippines, nearby Pacific Islands, and Asia.
Guam holds a special attraction for U.S. citizens, who can easily live and work in the territory. Neither citizens nor permanent residents require work visas for employment on Guam, and everything runs on the U.S. dollar, just like on the Mainland.
As a U.S. territory, Guam is subject to all federal regulations, but it does have its own customs and quarantine agency. As a result, there are a few local procedures and regulations that can trip up new residents. We’ll walk you through what you can and can’t bring to help you make a smooth transition to Guam.
Fast Facts About Guam
First, let’s get to know Guam with some facts that cover the basics about the island:
English & Chamorro
Largest Ethnic Group
Chamorro Standard Time
Difference from EST
ChST is 15 hours ahead
1,334 ft (Mt. Lamlam)
Where is Guam
Guam is located in the northern part of the Pacific Ocean, 1600 miles east of Manila and 3808 miles west (and about 8° south in latitude) of Honolulu. Guam is part of the Mariana Island chain, an archipelago that extends about 450 miles north of Guam.ii
Guam’s nearest neighbors include the Federated States of Micronesia, Palau the Philippines, Indonesia, Japan, Taiwan, and the countries that make up the Asian continent.
What Is Guam’s Climate Like?
The U.S. Geological Survey describes Guam’s climate as a “tropical marine climate.”iii In other words, Guam is warm and humid year-round, with average lows from 76-79° and average highs from 86-89°.iv That said, you will experience two distinct seasons when living in Guam:
Can Anyone Move to Guam?
Because Guam is a U.S. territory, the requirements for moving to Guam are the same as any other U.S. destination.
- If you’re a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, you can move to Guam without any special paperwork, although you’ll want to check the documentation notes below.
- If you’re a foreign citizen, you’ll need to check the entry requirements for your country before making the move.
What Should I Know Before Moving to Guam?
If you’re not used to living on an island, life on Guam will feel pretty different to you. Additionally, Guam has a number of unique features that make your time on the island quite a singular experience. To help you prepare for what life will be like after you move to Guam, we asked our DeWitt Guam team what tips they would share with a friend who’s making the move. Check out the 9 things you need to know before moving to Guam.
What Documentation Should I Bring to Guam?
Entry requirements for Guam are the same as they would be for any destination in the United States:
Do I Need Any Specific Vaccinations to Come to Guam? What About Daily Health and Medical Care?
Guam does not require any specific inoculations prior to entry. However, the CDC recommends that travelers consider the following vaccinations:
- Hepatitis A
- Hepatitis B
Talk to your doctor to create the immunization plan that’s right for you. When it comes to day-to-day health, wellness and medical care:
Do I Need a Work Visa in Guam?
U.S. citizens and permanent residents do not need a work visa for Guam. Foreign citizens will need one of two visas to work legally in Guam:
H1B VisaThe primary work visa for foreigners in Guam, available for international professionals to live and work in the country. As a “dual intent” visa, the H1B allows visa holders to enter the U.S. while simultaneously seeking lawful permanent resident status.
In order to get an H1B visa, you must:
Be sponsored for a job by an employer who fills out the proper application.
Qualify for a specialty occupation in a field like business, teaching, computing, engineering, financing and more.
H2B VisaAvailable for temporary or seasonal work in Guam. This includes occupations such as sales representatives, camp counselors, ticket sellers, security guards, hospitality representatives, food service workers and more. The visa lasts as long as the job contract, which usually does not exceed one year.
To qualify, you must:
Have a current job offer.
Agree to return home once your job contract is over.
Student visas are also available for those who are accepted into an accredited private or public institution, such as the University of Guam. For help on applying for a visa, visit your nearest consulate.
What Is It Like to Live on Guam?
To answer this question, we polled our DeWitt Guam team to get their take. “Expect an abundance of hospitality,” was one team member’s take.
Others pointed to the influence of the Chamorro people, the original settlers of Guam, who arrived to the island more than 4,000 years ago. In the words of Joyce Diamadi, Sales Director/Records Manager at DeWitt Guam:
“Chamorro culture is friendly and open to newcomers. It welcomes you with open arms and warm hospitality—and immediately makes you feel like you’re part of the family.”
In other words, expect a warm welcome to this island community once you arrive.
What Is There to Do on Guam?
Of course, Guam is well known for its gorgeous beaches. If you love enjoying a good book while you soak up some sun, snorkeling or diving in crystal clear water to discover the abundant marine life under the surface, or just frolicking along the shoreline, you’ll love living in Guam. (Check out our list of Guam’s best beaches!)
There’s also plenty to do beyond Guam’s beaches, including playing golf, shopping, exploring Guam’s rich history, and tasting Guam’s diverse food offerings. To give you a good idea of what’s waiting for you, check out our 10 favorite things to do on Guam.
What’s the Cost of Living on Guam?
Depending on where you’re coming from, the cost of living in Guam may be an adjustment for you. As with many other islands and remote locations, most everything has to be shipped in, which means that things cost more than they do in many mainland locations. Fresh vegetables, gas, and electricity are among some of the pricier items on Guam.
Depending on where you live, rents on Guam can vary significantly:
- 1 BR – Vary from $800 to $1,200 to $1,500
- 2 BR – Can range from $900 all the way to $1,200 to $2,500
If you’re moving to Guam as a member of the military, you’ll get a cost-of-living allowance to compensate for the increased prices. To give you some idea of how Guam compares to some other destinations, Guam’s COLA is only slightly higher than the one you’d receive in Honolulu, Hawaii.vi If you’ve been to Hawaii, that will give you a sense of what you can expect in Guam.
What Am I Allowed to Bring to Guam?
As we mentioned, although Guam is a territory, it has its own Customs & Quarantine Agency (CQA). Although the agency is responsible for enforcing hundreds of federal and local regulations, the rules relevant to newcomers include:
- Any household goods you bring with you when moving to Guam must have been in your possession for at least three months prior to your move. They also must clearly not be intended for resale purposes.
- Any prescription drugs should be carried with you. Bring a doctor’s note, just in case additional documentation is requested.
- Your duty-free alcohol allowance is 1.136 liters per person. Anything above that limit may be subject to customs duty.
When it comes to tobacco, your duty-free allowance is:
grams of tobacco
If you have any questions, talk to your moving company. They’ll be able to help you make the packing and labeling decisions that will smooth your clearance through customs.
What Am I Not Allowed to Bring to Guam?
The Guam Customs & Quarantine Agency prohibits you from bringing certain items into Guam, including the following:
- Live plants, flowers, vegetables, and fruits
- Milk, meat, and meat products
- Items in breach of U.S. copyright laws (CQA reported 2,193 seizures in 2017 alone!)
- Illicit drugs
- Explosives, including fireworks, ammunition, knives and any other weapons (Although it is possible to import firearms by following their procedures.)
- Toxic, poisonous or hazardous materials such as fertilizers
- Dangerous toys
Ask now and avoid problems later. If you have any questions about something you want to bring with you, talk to your moving company or contact the Guam Customs & Quarantine Agency.
How Can I Bring My Pet to Guam?
Please note we do not currently move pets, however you may be able to use an outside service so your furry friends can move too! Guam is a rabies-free island, and their strict quarantine laws are designed to protect both the island’s human and animal residents from the spread of rabies.
The Department of Agriculture offers four options for bringing your pets to Guam:
- A Full 120-Day Commercial Quarantine: If your pet is not arriving from an exempt area and if your pet fails to pass or complete the Rabies Antibody Test for Pet Export (FAVN) testing, as well as the other requirements, then your pet will have to complete 120 days of commercial quarantine.
- Calculated Quarantine: If your pet has completed all of the requirements and has a rabies FAVN titer of at least 0.5 I.U., then your pet will have to spend only as many days in commercial quarantine as required to reach 120 total days since the FAVN blood sample reached the laboratory.
- Home Quarantine on Guam: If your pet is coming from the United States or an overseas United States military installation, has completed all other requirements and has a rabies FAVN titer of at least 1.0 I.U. then your pet may qualify for home quarantine until 120 total days have elapsed since the FAVN blood sample reached the laboratory.
- Exempt From Quarantine: If your pet is coming from an exempt country such as Japan or Australia—and has been there for at least 120 days—then your pet may not be required to go through the quarantine process.
For more details, see the Department of Agriculture brochure on the quarantine program. You’ll also need to work with your veterinarian in order to get the necessary documentation, including a health certificate and vaccination documentation. You’ll also need to meet Guam’s microchip requirements.
Note: If you have a guide dog or a service dog, you can apply for qualifications that may allow you to bypass strict quarantines.
Should I Take My Car to Guam?
We get this question often, and it truly depends on 1) what kind of car you’re shipping and 2) how long you plan to stay on Guam. We’ll walk you through what’s involved in shipping a car to Guam, which may help you make your decision.
First, all imported vehicles must meet certain standards, including U.S. motor vehicle safety, Department of Transportation and Environmental Protection Agency standards.
- Vehicles more than 21 years old may be eligible for EPA exemptions.
- Vehicles more than 25 years old may be eligible for DOT exemptions.
- Those that don’t meet these standards may still be eligible, but you’ll want to check the make and model number, as well as understand what modifications might be required prior to import.
Vehicles that you’ve owned for less than three months are subject to a 4% import tax. Additionally, you’ll need to work with your shipper to assemble the necessary paperwork, including:
- The certificate of title and registration
- An invoice, bill of sale, or statement of value that states the vehicle’s VIN, description, model, and year
- Proof of insurance
- A copy of your current driver’s license
- Any additional documentation required by your car’s origin, make and model
- Cars can be more expensive to purchase on Guam. However, the cost of shipping your car—especially if it’s an older car that you’d likely replace in a few years—may outweigh the benefits.
The bottom line? Get a quote for shipping, then compare it to buying a car on Guam. Once you consider how many years your current car has left, you may discover it’s a better idea to buy on-island once you arrive.
What If I Have Other Questions About Relocating to Guam?
We would be happy to assist! We’ve been helping families move to, from and around Guam for the last 30+ years. If you have any questions, just reach out to us. We’ll get you the answers you need.
Tell us about your move!