Expat Interview: Living in San Juan del Obispo, Guatemala

On this post, the final in the series about San Juan del Obispo, I interview two expats that call this artisans’ village home and what someone can expect if they choose to do the same. First up is Kimberly, a teacher from the US.

Interview with Kimberly

Rich: Kimberly, how long have you been living in Guatemala and how much of that time in San Juan del Obispo?

Kimberly: I have been living in Guatemala for a year now – and all of that time has been in San Juan del Obispo. I visited Guatemala several times prior to moving, though, each time spending between 3 and 4 weeks here.

Rich: Why did you choose to live here and how much did you know about it before you moved in?

Kimberly: I chose to move to San Juan del Obispo because I had a good friend was already living there and because we found a house to rent for almost nothing. I had heard that an Juan del Obispo was pretty safe, that there were very nice people living there, and that they once (a few years ago) got together as a community and ran out a few gang members who tried to live there. Other than that I didn’t know anything about it, except it was on Volcan Agua, about 10 minutes outside Antigua.

Rich: What do you like most about the town? Anything you can’t experience anywhere else?

Kimberly: The people are VERY nice and helpful. They are very patient with me and help any time they can. I also like that, for the most part, it’s very quiet there at night – except for the dogs who bark at night. There is no nightlife there, except for the soccer games at the school, and that’s nice. It has a definite community feel to it and I appreciate that. I also like the view of the Panchoy Valley and, of course, the view of the volcanoes. I also like hearing Fuego (Volcano) boom!

Plaza San Juan del Obispo Guatemala

Fuego (left) and Acatenango (center) volcanos, as viewed from San Juan Del Obispo’s Main Plaza

Rich: What would you wish most were different about Obispo?

Kimberly: I wish it wasn’t so dusty! But, it’s something I live with because there’s nothing we can do about it. The ash from the volcanoes is the main culprit, I think.
Rich: If you knew then what you know now, would you move to Obispo again?

Kimberly: Yes, I would. I recommend it to everyone who is looking for a place to live around here. Of course, not many people look there (Obispo) because it’s away from Antigua, but I really enjoy it. If I didn’t live here, I don’t know where else I would live. Probably another village on the outskirts of Antigua.

Rich: Thanks, Kimberly!


Indeed, San Juan del Obispo has a very nice view of the entire valley. Those with good eyesight – or a good pair of binoculars, can easily spot a few well-known Antigua landmarks.

Mirador, San Juan del Obispo Guatemala

View from San Juan del Obispo – Click picture for larger image (new window)

Up next is Genesis, artisan baker, and owner of the Blue Tree Bakery. I gotta say I’ve tried some of her stuff and it’s delicious. Wife is a big fan of her banana bread. Bakery now closed :(

By the way, if you need pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving – or even if you’re craving one like I do – give her a call. She also does rolls, bagels, and other items, as well as take on special requests. Check out their menu here (opens in new window). If you think it looks good, it smells even better. Tell her Rich sent you :)

Bakery, San Juan del Obispo Guatemala

Banana bread – Blue Butterfly Bakery, San Juan del Obispo

Bakery, San Juan del Obispo GuatemalaPumpkin Pie – Blue Butterfly Bakery


Interview with Genesis

Rich: How long have you been living in Guatemala and how much of that time in San Juan del Obispo?

Genesis: I came to Guatemala in 2002, on my way to Brazil. I’ve been living in San Juan for 11 years of that since it’s where my husband’s family is.

Rich: Why did you choose to live here and how much did you know about it before you moved in?

Genesis: I actually didn’t plan to move to Guatemala at all, let alone San Juan. This was supposed to be a long backpacking trip, but I had to stop and learn Spanish here. I fell in love with the country and my husband and here I stayed. His father gave us a piece of land to build on and so we did. Prior to moving here, I had visited San Juan a couple of times for festivals, but that was it.

Rich: What do you like most about Obispo? Anything about it that feel one can’t experience anywhere else?

Genesis: San Juan del Obispo is a unique town in that it is very friendly and safe. Compared to some of the other towns that have gang activity, I have never felt unsafe here. The community has really accepted me as a part of the town. There is also a beauty here that is definitely worth seeing. From the old church to the nispero (loquat) orchards, it’s just gorgeous.

Plazuela de San Juan del Obispo

Fountain – Plazuela de San Juan del Obispo

Rich: What would you wish most were different about Obispo?

Genesis: I wouldn’t mind having more takeout options around here and I would love it if the streets were level, but those are pretty minor things. The town is perfect for me. It’s close to Antigua, yet is its own community and it is quiet and friendly.

San Juan del Obispo, Guatemala

Entrance to San Juan del Obispo

Rich: If you knew then what you know now, would you move to Obispo again? Where to if not Obispo?

Genesis: I would definitely move here again if I knew then what I know now. I wouldn’t move onto the same piece of land as my in-laws, but I would still look for a place to live here. It’s definitely home for me.

Rich: Thanks!


In Conclusion

San Juan del Obispo is about 2 miles away from the edge of Antigua and is easy to reach via car. It’s not really within walking distance to Antigua, so you’ll need a car or rely on public transportation – bus fare to Antigua’s Market is Q1.50 each way. There are stores and you can find fresh vegetables sold nearby, but you’ll have to head to Antigua if you want to do serious grocery shopping.

There are fairs and other religious activities throughout the year, but for the most part, San Juan del Obispo is a quiet town. If you’re looking for an active nightlife or tons of nearby dining options, look elsewhere. Although Antigua is close enough that this isn’t really an issue. The main tourist attraction here is Palacio del Obispo, the former home of Francisco Marroquin.

San Juan del Obispo, Antigua Guatemala

Paseo del Obispo – The town’s lone gated community

As far as rental prices, they’re lower than Antigua’s but higher than nearby villages, as it is a desirable location. If you’re looking for a gated community, Paseo del Obispo will fit the bill. The rental prices there start at $650US. Decent housing outside this gated community can be found for anywhere between Q1,500 to Q2,000 ($250US to $250US).


Live in San Juan del Obispo?

Share your thoughts in the comments!



  1. Hello. We lived in Honduras for two years and visited Antigua. Love the area. Considering moving there in a couple of years. Buena Suerte!!! Lee.

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