Guam is a beautiful island in the Micronesia subregion of the Western Pacific Ocean. The island is approximately thirty miles in length and between four to twelve miles in width, surrounded by stretches of white-sand beaches, tropical forests, and towering cliffs. This dream destination is a part of the United States territory but is unlike any state found on the mainland of the U.S.
Living in Guam is a dream come true for many U.S. citizens, offering a beautiful tropical lifestyle and a peaceful, rural setting, far from the hustle and bustle of more densely populated cities found on the mainland. Residents can enjoy scenic landscapes, a more relaxed lifestyle, and a selection of real estate ranging from quiet, countryside cabins and grand, luxury estates, all boasting stunning views out over the Pacific Ocean.
Many people only dream of living in such a beautiful, tropical region, this guide will offer a glimpse into the life of island-dwellers. Going into more depth, this article will cover Guam’s location, amenities, education, career opportunities, and more.
The remote island of Guam can be found in the Western Pacific Ocean and is the largest, most populated, and southernmost region of the Mariana Islands. Approximately 5,800 miles west of San Francisco, Guam is still a part of the United States, even at such a distance from the mainland.
Guam is made up of a mountainous coastline featuring steep cliffs and gorgeous, white sand beaches. The coastline is surrounded by deep channels and beautiful coral reefs.
Located east of the Philippines, north of Papua New Guinea, and south of Japan, the island is a popular vacation spot to many Asian countries who are looking to take in the breathtaking beauty of the seaside villages.
The proximity to the international date line gives the island an unofficial, but well-known, motto: “Where America’s Day Begins.” The island is definitely a great spot to get the day started, being surrounded by tropical beaches, approximately seventy-seven miles of scenic coastline, and an unending stretch of clear, blue ocean views.
Properties for sale all around the island of Guam consist of empty lots, detached, single-family homes, and small apartment or condominium buildings. People of all professions, budgets and lifestyles can find a place that perfectly suits them within one of the nineteen villages across the island. The median price for a single-family home has increased over the last few years, costing homebuyers approximately $325,000. Properties range from small plots of land full of potential for about $60,000-100,000 to grand coastal estates costing between $1-10 million.
Guam is known to have a beautiful, tropical, rainforest climate and is generally hot and humid all year long. There is little seasonal variation in temperature, typically sitting between eighty and eighty-two degrees Fahrenheit. The villages located along the coast are treated to beautiful breezes coming off of the ocean. The dry season in Guam usually falls between January through May and the wet season runs from July through November.
There are two official languages on the island: English and Charmoru. Another common language spoken is Filipino and many other Pacific island and Asian languages are not unheard of. Spanish was the main language for approximately 300 years, but is no longer a common tongue on the island, though many names are taken from the original language.
Approximately 3,500 years ago, the indigenous Chamoru people settled the island, who are related to the Austronesian peoples of Indonesia, the Philippines, Taiwan, Micronesia, and Polynesia. As of 2021, the Chamorus are the largest ethnic group on the island but are a minority among the multi-ethnic population of over 165,000.
Ferdinand Magellan was the first European explorer to visit the island in March of 1521. The Portuguese explorer was working in the service of Spain at the time, and Guam was colonized by the Spanish in 1668. The island became an important stopover for the Spanish Manila Galleons and during the Spanish-American War in 1898, the United States took over the acquisition of the island from Spain.
Ever since, Guam has been an organized, unincorporated territory of the U.S. and is a popular destination for many Asian tourists. The island has grown into a thriving economic contributor and host to many U.S. military installations.
The economic status of Guam is dependent on tourism, the Department of Defense installations, and locally run businesses. The average monthly salary in Guam is typically between $3,990 to $6,230 USD per month, offering a comfortable income for working professionals.
Due to its location along the western Pacific, Guam brings in a great deal of Japanese tourists, approximately 75 percent of all the incoming tourists.
The main destination for visitors is Tumon, the island’s tourist hub.
This thriving village consists of more than twenty hotels, a Duty-Free Shoppers Galleria, an indoor aquarium, Las Vegas-style shows, and a great selection of shopping and entertainment venues. Needless to say, many of the island’s service industry jobs can be found within Tumon’s borders.
One of Guam’s largest employers is Continental Micronesia, a part of Continental Airlines. This company produces approximately 1,400 jobs for the island locals and an annual payroll of $90 million.
Another major contributor to the job market is the military. The Joint Region Marianas has jurisdiction over installations covering approximately 39,000 acres, which is about 29 percent of the island’s land area. Among these installations are:
U.S. Naval Base Guam (Santa Rita)
Andersen Air Force Base (Yigo)
Marine Corps Base Camp Blaz (Dededo)
Ordnance Annex - formerly the Naval Magazine (South Central Highlands)
Naval Radio Station Barrigada (Barrigada)
Joint Region Marianas Headquarters (Asan)
Naval Hospital Guam (Agana Heights)
South Finegayan (Dededo)
Andersen South (Yigo)
Fort Juan Muna, Guam National Guard (Tamuning)
With so many incredible job opportunities and career options, those residing on the island of Guam have ample opportunity to work and create a wonderful lifestyle for themselves.
There is one public school district that serves the entire island: The Guam Department of Education. This fantastic school board is made up of twenty-five elementary schools, eight middle schools, and six high schools serving approximately 32,000 students.
Post-secondary students can take advantage of the nearby University of Guam or the Guam Community College, both of which are fully accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. Private options include the Pacific Islands University, a Christian liberal arts institution that’s accredited by the Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools.
Guam is divided into nineteen specific villages, each area offering a unique island experience. The majority of the population resides to the north on the limestone plateaus of the island, though there are some great villages spread out among the central and southern regions as well.
While there are many fabulous villages and neighborhoods found all over the island, a few of the top places to live in Guam include:
Hagatna is the capital of Guam and was once the most populous. These days, the village has become the second smallest of the nineteen villages, both in size and population. Despite it’s smaller size, Hagatna remains one of the top commercial districts on the island and offers fantastic residential options along the beautiful island cliffs.
The average cost of real estate in Hagatna is approximately $529,000, though homes can be found anywhere between $224,000 and $949,000.
Located along the southwest coast of Guam, Santa Rita overlooks the beautiful Apra Harbor. This quaint village is the newest on the island, established after the Second World War. The highlights of living in Santa Rita are the quiet atmosphere, the sense of safety, and the friendly community.
Real estate in Santa Rita contains open lots, ready to build your dream island home, and single-family homes. These properties range in cost between $68,000 to $825,000, averaging at about $300,000, making Santa Rita one of the more affordable neighborhoods in Guam.
Barrigada is an affluent neighborhood of Guam. Homes in this area are blessed with incredible views of Tumon Bay and some of the major cities found on the island. Though Barrigada is mainly residential, there is also a large commercial district found within the village, offering ample opportunity to a great selection of amenities to its residents.
Real estate in Barrigada ranges between $65,000 for basic, open lots, to well over $3 million for gorgeous, seaside estates. The average cost of real estate in this area is approximately $624,000.
There is so much to see and do on this incredible island from delicious local eateries to grand shopping centers to booming nightlife activity! Locals can enjoy a wide variety of each, experiencing so many different sights, sounds, and smells.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the top dining, shopping, and nightlife experiences of Guam.
Guam is a diverse island and locals can indulge in a myriad of delicacies from around the world! Residents can find something to suit all taste buds such as traditional American diners, flavorful Caribbean barbecue, exciting Asian fusion, and so much more! Here are just a few of the top restaurants found around the island:
Pika’s Cafe (American, Cafe)
Inspired by local Chamoru and California cooking, Pika’s Cafe is a family-run cafe featuring produce provided by local farmers. Using the freshest ingredients, visitors are treated to a unique menu catering to the breakfast and lunch crowds.
PROA Restaurant Guam (BBQ)
Fresh, made-to-order, Pacific-Rim delicacies can be found at PROA, offering daily specials and quality local cuisine. Famous for their excellent BBQ and dessert options, PROA is definitely a local favorite in Tamuning.
Jamaican Grill Chamorro Village (Caribbean, BBQ)
With locations in Hagatna, Tumon, and Dededo, the Jamaican Grill is obviously a fan favorite when it comes to Jamaican cuisine. Famous for their jerk recipes, this joint provides an excellent selection of chicken, ribs, burgers, and other Caribbean specialties.
Meskla Chamoru Bistro (International, Asian)
Classified as “Chamoru Fusion,” Meskla offers a unique blend of traditional Chamoru cuisine with a variety of exciting flavors and spices. Popular on the menu is their seafood selection combining Chamoru foods with an Asian flair.
Table 35 (4.0)
A fusion of a New American steakhouse and Asian flavors, Table 35 offers a unique dining experience using the freshest of ingredients from local providers. This lunch and dinner hotspot is the place to be if you’re looking for a fine dining experience, live entertainment, and a great bar selection made up of high-end spirits, wine, and beers.
Mosa’s Joint Restaurant (Mexican, Mediterranean)
Sampling from both the Mexican and Mediterranean cultures, Mosa’s packs plenty of flavor. This casual bar and grill offers a variety of delicious meats but also a hearty menu featuring vegetarian and vegan cooking.
Fisherman’s Cove (Seafood)
Boasting the freshest seafood on the island, Fisherman’s Cove is no stranger to lobster, crab, shrimp, and a wide variety of fish dishes. Each dish is carefully seasoned and cooked to perfection by talented chefs, offering the ultimate seafood experience to the delight of the guests.
Soi (Asian, Thai)
Located within the high-end Dusit Hotel, Soi is a semi-formal dining experience featuring delicious Thai cuisine. On top of a delicious meal, guests are treated to stunning views, particularly if dining at sunset.
Green Lizard (Seafood, BBQ)
Featuring Guam’s only tiki bar, the Green Lizard is the perfect spot to enjoy scrumptious island cocktails while taking in the beauty of the Tumon skyline. Nightly drink specials and a variety of live music keep guests satisfied with every single visit, not to mention the delicious menu of seafood and BBQ options!
Locals are no strangers to a day trip with the goal to shop until they drop. Everything from discount outlets to high-end designer stores can be found all over Guam. Some of the most well-known shopping centers include:
Micronesia Mall is the largest shopping facility in all of Guam. The center features over 100 stores, services, and restaurants, anchored by Ross Dress for Less, two Macy’s stores, and a 24-hour Payless Supermarket. Shoppers can also find popular brands such as GAP, Guess, Levi’s, and Foot Locker. Entertainment options include a twelve-screen theatre, Funtastic Amusement Park, as well as an arcade.
Agana Shopping Center
The Agana Shopping Center has it all: fun, fashion, and food. Exciting recreation options include Sky Zone, Guam’s only trampoline park, and Music & Fun, a fantastic karaoke and arcade center. All of the hottest fashion trends can be found at the multitude of brand names and local shops. There are plenty of dining options from quick and easy bites to sit-down restaurants.
Guam Premier Outlets
This enclosed outlet mall is the only one of its kind found in Guam. Ross Dress for Less anchors the shopping center and there are a collection of forty-seven big brand stores within and around the building including Calvin Klein, Levi’s, Tommy Hilfiger, Nike, and ABC Stores.
No matter where you live, you want the option to let your hair down, grab a few friends, indulge in a few beverages, and dance the night away. Whether it’s at a classy lounge filled with live, local music, a trendy club packed with plenty of locals to socialize with, or a thriving bar complete with music, games, and drinks, you can find it all in the major cities of Guam. Here is just a sample of the fantastic nightlife options found in Guam:
The Lobby Lounge is a staple of the popular Dusit Hotel, featuring a brilliant outdoor terrace, spectacular views, and artfully crafted cocktails. Guests can also enjoy the live music that adds to the incredible ambiance of the lounge.
Known as one of the top venues for local live bands, world-class bartenders, and a vibrant environment, Livehouse Guam is one of the island’s top picks to relax, get lost in incredible music, and enjoy a drink with friends. One visit to this exciting club will have you desperate for a repeat experience!
A great place to relax and unwind, Bernie’s offers great drinks, friendly staff, and the opportunity to dance the night away or enjoy various bar games such as pool or darts. Locals and tourists alike can join together for an exciting night of island fun, drinks, and socializing.
Although most residents of Guam choose to get around the island via their own vehicle, the Guam Mass Transit Authority provides bus routes connecting almost every village. There are nine routes varying between thirty minutes to two hours of transportation. Service can be accessed six days a week, Monday through Saturday, and is highly accessible for those with disabilities.
The standard public transport fare is a reasonable $3.00 per day or $1.00 per ride. Discounts are available to senior citizens, students, and passengers with any form of physical disability.
A lifeline to the island is the Port of Guam. Most products need to be shipped into Guam from the Hawaii-based shipping line, Matson, Inc. which connects with Los Angeles, California, Oakland, California, and Seattle. This port also ships and receives containers for the United States Department of Defense bases, including the Andersen Air Force Base, Naval Forces Marianas, and the Third Marine Expeditionary Force.
Another staple in the transportation to, from, and around the island is the Antonio B. Won Pat International Airport. Guam is responsible for operating and establishing its own customs and quarantine jurisdictions as the island falls outside of the United States customs zone. The airport is a hub for Asia Pacific Airlines as well as United Airlines and is also home to the former Naval Air Station Agana. It’s the only international airport in the territory.
Many of the holidays and festivals celebrated by Guam locals are similar to the holidays of the mainland United States including Independence Day, Martin Luther King Day, and Thanksgiving Day. In addition to these main holidays, Guam also recognizes unique religious, sports, and cultural festivities throughout the year.
The following are just a few of the exciting events hosted by the residents of Guam:
Marianas Cup Beach Volleyball Festival: This is Micronesia’s longest-running volleyball event, eliciting a great following and much participation from the locals. The Marianas Cup is not only a renowned tournament, but also a flurry of prize drawings, raffles, and other fun and festive activities. Top volleyball players from around the world flock to Guam annually to compete for a hefty cash prize and the glory of earning the title of Champion.
Guam Discovery Day: Celebrated on the first Monday of each March, Discovery Day is a national public holiday recognizing the discovery of Guam way back in 1521. This fantastic holiday kicks off Chamorro Heritage Month, or Mes Chamoru. This month celebrates the historical value and rich culture of the Chamorro people.
Malojloj Fiesta: One of the most popular festivals is the Malojloj Fiesta. Held in May, this three-day event is held in honor of San Isidro, the patron saint, and consists of traditional events such as water buffalo racing and eating competitions. Street parties are not uncommon during this time and locals get together to share food and beverages together.
Liberation Day: Guam’s biggest holiday is Liberation Day, celebrated every July 21st. This festival commemorates Guam’s independence from Japanese occupation and locals enjoy parades and pageants all over the island, ending the evening with a beautiful show of fireworks.
Gupot Y Peskadot: Also known as the Fishermen’s Festival, Gupot Y Peskadot is celebrated on August 12 every year. The Guam Fishermen’s Cooperative Association put together educational and interactive displays highlighting various fishing methods and the state of the coastal environment. Locals indulge in excellent entertainment as well as plenty of fresh seafood.
Pastries in Paradise: This is a most delectable festival featuring the desserts and confections created by some of Guam’s top chefs. Every October, the Guam Hotel and Restaurant Association organizes this sweet event and welcomes locals to indulge in these magnificent creations.
It’s clear to see that living in Guam offers the epitome of a relaxed island lifestyle! This guide is just a glimpse of the wonderful opportunities that this fantastic destination can provide. From the excellent career options to exceptional educational facilities, from the delectable dining establishments to the fun-filled festivals and events held throughout the year, Guam is a thriving and vibrant island, chock full of excitement and potential. Those lucky enough to call this tropical destination home are blessed with a tranquil, seaside existence surrounded by some of nature’s most stunning landscapes!