What it’s Like to Live in Guam (According to Milspouses)
Since Hil Meets Mil frequently pops up in search results for “living in Guam” I figured it’s about time I write a proper post on hafa adai living. But truth be told I’ve avoided writing this post. Guam is beautiful without a doubt and embodies island life. But as scenic as Guam’s beaches are, living in Guam doesn’t always feel like paradise.
Click here to skip to the best parts of living in Guam.
Click here to skip to the worst parts of living in Guam.
This blog is meant to support and empower milso readers. But I won’t paint a sunny picture over the difficulties that come along with living in Guam. And I also won’t claim that my experience living in Guam is every milso’s experience.
So to represent a communal perspective on what it’s like to be a military spouse living in Guam, I’m deferring to the opinions of the Guam Military Spouses Facebook page. I polled the over 2k member group, and the best and worst parts of living in Guam featured here are the their opinions.
I also couldn’t decide whether I should start with the “bad news” or the “good news” regarding what to expect when PCS’ing to Guam. In the end I’ve decided to start with the best parts of living in Guam. But I’ve added jump links, so you can read the worst parts about living in Guam first if you so desire.
Click here to read the worst parts of living in Guam first.
The Best Things About Living in Guam
1. The water sports. Both above and below the surface.
Guam’s diving is considered to be some of the best in the world. But don’t worry, you can enjoy the reef through snorkeling as well.
Personally my relationship with scuba diving is quite tumultuous. I can never really relax when participating in a sport where the first objective is not to drown. But I strongly recommend that anyone who moves to Guam get PADI open water certified, so you can figure out for yourself if you like scuba diving.
There’s also kayaking, paddle boarding and boat rentals available from Sumay Marina at Naval Base Guam. Plus jetskiing, banana boating, and charter fishing geared toward tourists.
2. The beaches
When you see pictures of Guam on the internet, it’s easy to think that those beach images are filtered. But that’s really what it looks like!
There are base beaches, and dog beaches, resort beaches, and secret beaches. And most the time they are all #nofilter needed. If you’re looking for a bucket list of beaches to visit, check out A Rundown of the Best Guam Beaches.
3. The scenic views
While Guam is best known for its beaches, the beautiful landscape doesn’t end there. There’s also jungle paths, river and ocean pools, water falls, and mountainous landscape.
And can we talk about the double rainbows?! I don’t think I had ever seen a double rainbow in my life until I came to Guam. Now that I’m living in Guam I see them all the time.
4. The hiking
All those scenic beaches, jungles, rivers, waterfalls, and valleys…yes, you can hike or “boonie stomp” them all. And there are hikes to caves you can swim in!
I’m trying to fit more hikes into my weekend schedule this year. Weekday hikes are the #1 thing I miss about the months I spent unemployed in Guam.
Related Post: Adulting Miracles of an Unemployed Milspouse
5. The community
I included “the community” in my poll as a reference to the tight knit military community in Guam. But I suppose I should have specified between the military community, and the local community.
Either way, both communities are awesome.
They say that overseas military bases have some of the best military communities. And while I can’t personally weigh in on the matter (as this is my first “real” military community), the Naval Base Guam community welcomed me with open arms.
PS – I don’t own the rights to this video. I found it on Jones Media’s YouTube Channel.
And the local community…I don’t think I’ve ever lived anywhere so family oriented. And I grew up in an Italian family in New York.
6. The travel centric location
Want to catch a flight to Japan, Thailand, Singapore, New Zealand, or any number of places without having to fly halfway around the world?
Well when you’re living in Guam you’re already halfway around the world. So traveling to those exotic places is a lot easier.
Unfortunately, this is the perfect segway to the worst parts about living in Guam.
The Worst Things About Living in Guam
Sorry I don’t have a screenshot to share for the Guam Military Spouses Connect Facebook poll on the worst parts of living in Guam. Apparently the topic was too controversial and my post was taken down by the admins. But I did take notes before it was removed and that is what is represented here.
1. The distance from friends and family
When you PCS from CONUS to OCONUS it inevitably means your friends and family are a half a world away. Want to go visit them? That’s going to be about $2k a flight per person!
While many people choose to fork over the $$$s and take the trip. Other decide to wait out the years without returning.
Pro tip: sign up for United Mileage Plus and Delta Skymiles before you PCS to Guam. That initial one way trip is worth about 9,000 United Plus miles if you fly from the west coast. That’s 36% of the way to Premier Silver status with United. One of the perks of Premier Silver status is that your luggage is unloaded off the plane first, and you don’t have to pull it off the conveyor belt. For more pro tips on PCS’ing to Guam please sign up for my mailing list.
The distance can be rough to say the least. And the different time-zones can make communicating with family and friends less spontaneous. Especially if you’re friends and family are on the East Coast.
2. The limited employment opportunities
When I received my welcome pack from fleet and family, I was shocked to see that limited employment opportunities for spouses leading to a decreased standard of living for families was openly called out. Talk about a buzz kill!
While I did eventually land on my feet, it was the longest employment gap I’ve had in my adult career to date.
If you have office experience and are looking for a Federal job email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Seriously.
I offer to share my lessons learned on Federal resumes and hiring all the time and basically no one takes me up on it. But it’s a very important first step to getting a government job overseas. I’m just trying to pay it forward. If it weren’t for one conversation with a fellow spouse at a function brunch, I wouldn’t have the job I have today.
3. The lack of animal advocacy
As someone who grew up in the states your probably accustomed to dogs as pets. But on Guam there are more wild boonie dogs than pampered pets.
Many of the island’s strays could be featured on that depressing Sarah McLachlan commercial. It’s not uncommon to see dead dogs on the side of the road, and sadly dog fighting and cock fighting exist on island.
Despite advocacy efforts from organizations like Guam Animals in Need, there are thousands of animals on the island in need of homes and care.
Now I’m not going to add a picture of a sad boonie here. So instead here’s a picture of my boonie Riley. She’s nine months old in this photo, but when she was 8 weeks old I found her living in a whole in Agat.
Click here for the best parts of living in Guam.