I have heard some great things about Guatemala and it is definitely one of the top 5 countries that I plan to live in over the next few years. Chris Mueller is living in Guatemala now and has the added perspective of starting businesses there. Christoph offers some information about his life in Guatemala in this interview.
Please tell us about your current life now. Where do you live?
I live in a gated community located in the woods, 15 minutes away from my office in the capital of Guatemala, Guatemala, Central America.
How do you earn an income?
I founded a company to create jobs in Guatemala. I am steadily looking for English speakers, Guatemalan nationals and also foreigners who need an income in Guatemala. My company gets or finds jobs for them, trains and sets them up. We help people build a career in a country which doesn’t offer much opportunity to grow professionally. We are offering web development, any kind of programming, HR services and virtual assistance or related BPO (Business Process Outsourcing) front-end services. What doesn’t end up in my employee’s salaries, sometimes pays me an income.
What do you like and don’t like about your life now?
I love the weather, the freedom I have being an entrepreneur, the people I am working with, the Guatemalan culture, my family, being able to chose between the Caribbean, pacific coast or a volcano lake every weekend, the laid back culture and being able to use all advantages of the Internet in the whole country. If there wasn’t such a high crime rate in Guatemala – it would be paradise and visas would cost thousands of dollars!
How much did it cost to move everything?
About $5000 for shipping my stuff in a container and taxes. I couldn’t bring all the European 230 volt electronics so they were left behind.
What are living expenses like in Guatemala?
Hmmm… to live $500 a month, to enjoy $1500, to feel like the king of the world $4000
What were you doing before you moved?
I was a strategy and process consultant at one of those well known companies. Lots of nights at hotels all over the world and learning a lot…
Why weren’t you happy in that profession? What was missing from your life?
I wasn’t aware of the fact that I was missing something. The change just happened. During a vacation I met my future wife and she didn’t want to leave Guatemala, so I had to figure out why. The great advantage of today’s companies are these sabbaticals. I took one so that I could figure out a new lifestyle for myself. Once the first step was done, I had no reason to ever go back to my old life.
What sacrifices and risks did you make in order to get to where you are today?
I quit my well paid job and career to live in a supposedly dangerous country. I started a company in a country where I didn’t have any experience with business customs, laws, culture or even the language.
What advice would you offer others pursuing similar career objectives?
Do it! If you aren’t ready to fail then you should stay where you are right now and just do what you have been doing the last year or the year before. If you want to grow as a person and find real opportunities, in whatever career you are in – then take the chance and discover a new environment. In today’s world there are many untapped and unknown markets. If somebody had told me five years back that I would be in Guatemala, happily married and own a business – yeeeeaaahhh, right – would had been my answer. One friend told me once: success is when preparation meets opportunity. I believe with a first class education and an open mind you are ready to live anywhere and make an impact.
Do you have any regrets about relocating?
Can you please relocate some Turkish people to Guatemala. I seriously need my first class 24 hour donair and kebab store still!
If you could do it over again, what would you do different?
Difficult one. Probably I would just cut the ties from the beginning and not try to move between two worlds. It’s better to make a clear cut then to have too many heavens to come back to. If you really need to earn your next month’s salary yourself – you will make it happen.
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