Moving to Guyana Guide

Guyana may be located in South America, but it is part of the Caribbean and this is echoed in the culture of the country. However, don’t be surprised to see Dutch, Chinese, Portuguese and Indian influences during your time there due to its history of colonial rule and slavery. Whilst many assume countries in the West Indies to be ideal locations for luxury beach holidays and absorbing Caribbean culture, Guyana offers more in the way of outdoor adventure. Dense tropical forests and cascading waterfalls give way to open dunes and oceans rich with diving opportunities. However, it is the diverse mix of Guyanese people that make the country such a unique place to live and visit.

Moving to Guyana as an Expat

Guyana’s identity is a mix of Indian, African, European and Caribbean influences. Colonial rule and the country’s history of diverse immigrant groups calling the country home means that life in Guyana is unlike anywhere else. Despite the citizens of Guyana having differences in culture, religion and beliefs, they are all united by sharing a similar way of life and love of socialising and relationships.

It will not come as a surprise that there are many languages spoken in Guyana. English is the official and national language of the country and it is taught in all schools. The second most common language is Guyanese Creole and there are a number of different variations of this language found throughout Guyana. It is a combination of English, Hindi and African languages.

Expats should not be surprised to hear Amerindian languages, Chinese, Hindi and Tamil spoken in certain parts of Guyana. Portuguese is also quickly becoming a second language in the south of the country on the border with Brazil.

What are the pros and cons of living in Guyana?

Like any location, there are both pros and cons of living in Guyana as an expat. Guyana can offer a relatively low cost of living, with a warm tropical climate and plenty of opportunity for outdoor activities. The scenery in Guyana is stunning, from golden beaches to lush green rainforests.

On the other hand, Guyana has had problems with political instability. Policial parties tend to be ethnically based, which can cause tension and divides in society. Guyana also has problems with poverty – around a third of its population live in poverty and the country ranks 164th out of 228 nations in terms of human development. Bureaucracy and administration in Guyana can be complex and lengthy, with even seemingly simple processes taking a long time.

Is Guyana a good place to live?

Guyana can be an excellent place to live for expats. Whilst it has some issues around safety and poverty, the country is taking steps to develop and make improvements. Its economy is fast-growing, which could result in more investment to improve infrastructure and living conditions for the poorest of the population.

Guyana has a lot to offer expats, with incredible scenery and rare and exotic wildlife. The population of Guyana is already diverse, with a range of ethnicities, so expats will find a society welcoming of different cultures, plus opportunity to submerse into new cultures.

Guyana Visa Requirements

People from some countries are able to travel to Guyana for a few months without a visa, but to stay longer than that will require a relevant visa. In some cases, you can apply for your working or residence visa on arrival to the country, if you are unable to access a Guyana Embassy or Consulate from your home country.

For a Guyana employment visa, you’ll need to have had your employer apply for your work permit prior to you travelling to the country. When you arrive in Guyana, you’ll need to show proof that your employer is a registered business, as well as their contact information. You’ll also need to bring your own ID and contact information, including passport, passport photos, and the letter of approval from the Ministry of Home Affairs.

There is a fee of $140 to apply for an employment visa. The visa will be issued for three years at a time, after which you will be able to renew. The fee will need to be paid every time you renew.

Employment in Guyana

The economy in Guyana is on the rise, and with it, job opportunities are also rising. There are various industries in Guyana where expats could find employment, including tourism, healthcare, education, construction, and engineering.

Salaries in Guyana are relatively low, but with a low cost of living, expats can still enjoy a good quality of life. The average monthly salary in Guyana ranges from around £251 to around £783.50. Telecommunications, public administration, and information technology are among the highest earning roles.

Can you move to Guyana without a job?

People from many countries can travel to Guyana without a job or a visa. However, you will not be able to stay for longer than 90 days without a relevant visa. To get an employment visa in Guyana, you will need to be sponsored by a business, so it is advised to secure employment before you travel.

Is it easy to get a job in Guyana?

Guyana has a high unemployment rate – 12.36% in recent years, with the global average at 5.77%. However, with a booming economy, increasing tourism and shortage of some professionals, such as teachers and medical staff, expats with the right expertise could find it relatively easy to find a job.

Cost of Living in Guyana

According to Numbeo, the cost of living in Guyana is considerably lower when compared to the UK. Consumer prices in the Guyana are 40% lower than the UK, and consumer prices including rent are 70% lower. Rent in Guyana is around 188% lower than in Guyana.

How much money do you need to live comfortably in Guyana?

Numbeo estimates the monthly costs for a family of four in Guyana at around £2,167, not including accommodation costs. A single person in Guyana would need around £600 to live comfortably, plus housing costs.

What is the average price of a house in Guyana?

The average price to buy property in a city centre in Guyana is £283 per square metre. To buy property outside of the city costs around £126 per square metre.

To rent in Guyana, a one bedroom home in the city centre will cost around £337 per month, and the same size property outside of the city will cost £202 per month. A larger three-bedroom home in the city centre will cost £750 per month, whereas the same size property outside of the city will cost £536.

Healthcare in Guyana

Healthcare in Guyana operates on a two their system, with public and private paths both available for residents.

Is healthcare free in Guyana?

Public healthcare is divided into five levels, ranging from Level I hospital posts to Level V referral hospitals. Treatment provided by public facilities is free for all citizens and residents in Guyana, however, there are limited services available, and patients will have to pay for a private room and also for an appointment with a doctor.

Do they have good healthcare in Guyana?

The standard of healthcare in Guyana is very poor and does not meet the standards set by Western medicine. There is a shortage of appropriately trained staff, with many emigrating to countries that will provide a much higher salary for their expertise and better working environments. Medical professionals in Guyana struggle with poor medical facilities and a lack of basic equipment. A lack of sanitation and poor ambulance service can also be a problem.

Emergency surgery and specialist medical treatment are sparsely available. Guyana has struggled to invest in new technology and research so equipment is archaic and poorly maintained. Those who seek these procedures and can afford it often head overseas.

There is a private medical sector in Guyana, with a few facilities in Georgetown. Private hospitals are responsible for their own finances and those who opt for treatment at these Westernised facilities will need to pay through private health insurance or out of their own pockets.

It is advised that expats invest in international healthcare insurance whilst in Guyana. At Expatriate Care, we provide flexible, comprehensive health insurance for expats in Guyana, and we also offer cashless health insurance for corporate customers.

Health Insurance for Guyana

Although healthcare in Guyana is free for a lot of treatment and care, many expats choose to get private health insurance to access the private facilities.

Do you need health insurance in Guyana? 

Health insurance is not mandatory in Guyana, but it is advised, due to the lower standards than some expats may be used to. Health insurance means individuals can access better quality care through the private system.

Can foreigners get health insurance in Guyana?

Foreigners will have a choice of health insurance in Guyana if they wish to access private healthcare. Expatriate Group is an expert in expat healthcare, with comprehensive policies and a range of benefits to suit you and your family’s specific needs.

Safety In Guyana

Crime levels in Guyana are high and the country suffers from a lack of policing. Murder and armed robbery are an issue in certain areas and muggings and burglaries can take place in broad daylight. In a country that suffers greatly with poverty and a huge gap in wealth between those at the top and those at the bottom, often crime can be out of desperation.

The government has taken steps to improve the situation and crime rates have reduced in recent years, albeit remaining relatively high. Day-to-day visitors and residents may find they are able to go about their business trouble-free, as, on the whole, locals are friendly and welcoming.

The only other concern expats and face is related to health. Before travelling, visit your doctor. They will ensure your vaccinations are up to date and also advise you to receive Hepatitis A, Tetanus and Yellow Fever injections. Others to consider, which aren’t compulsory, include Hepatitis B, Rabies and Typhoid.

It is also worth noting that Malaria and Dengue Fever are common to the country and cases of Chikungunya Virus have been confirmed.

Is Guyana safe for Expats?

Expats and visitors should be vigilant and keep valuable items well hidden, perhaps using a money belt. The capital, Georgetown, is where the majority of crime happens, and foreigners are sometimes targeted, especially if they are seen to be wealthy.

Guyana can be a safe place for expats, as long as they use common sense. Just like in any capital city, remaining alert and are is key to keeping safe.

Where is the safest place to live in Guyana?

There are secure, gated expat communities in Guyana, such as Happy Acres, Windsor Estates, and Bel Air, all located in the capital of Georgetown, which will be very safe for expats. However, there are also areas of Georgetown where it is advised expats steer clear, such as Tiger Bay and Albouystown, and extra vigilance should be taken in places such as South Georgetown, and Stabroek Market. There have also been assaults in the Botanical Gardens.

There may be less risk of crimes such as muggings and petty theft in more rural areas, but these can come with their own dangers, such as lack of polciing.

Money in Guyana

The Guyanese Dollar, shown as GYD, G$ or GY$ is the official currency of the country. Each dollar is comprised of 100 cents. Expats will often see prices shown as $ instead of G$ or GY$, but rest assured the price shown is for Guyanese Dollars, just without the extra letters. Notes come as $20, $100, $500, £1,000 GYD. Denominations of coins include $1, $5, $10, 1 5, 10, 25 and 50 cents.

Guyana has long been a cash-based society and has resisted the advancements shown in international financial systems around the world. The country does have has implemented the use of ATMs, debit cards, credit cards and online payments, but the infrastructure is nowhere near as developed as countries in Europe, North America and the Middle East.

Tax in Guyana

Residents in Guyana have to pay tax on income that is earned anywhere in the world. Non-residents only have to pay tax on income earned in Guyana. Residents have a personal allowance of GYD 1,020,000, or a third of their income, whichever is greater.

Residents who earn less than GYD 2,040,000 per year have to pay tax at a rate of 28%; those who earn over this amount have to pay tax at a rate of 40%.

Opening a bank account in Guyana

There are three options for expats wishing to open a bank account in Guyana. For some, using their home account is the best option. Others operate from an offshore account whereas others open a Guyanese account. Opening an account in Guyana means you can pay household bills, receive your salary in the local currency and have more freedom financially in the country. Services and rates vary between each provider so expats should consider the following when choosing:

  • Fees
  • Availability of online banking
  • Local branches
  • Language spoken in local branches
  • Services on offer
  • Paperwork needed to open account

Education in Guyana

Guyana’s education system is the same as the British model. For many years, Guyana had one of the best education systems in the Caribbean. However, it had issues with inadequate funding and families who could afford it began sending their children to schools outside the country. Despite budget cuts, Guyana is still championed for its schooling throughout the West Indies.

It is compulsory for children to attend school from the age of five to 16. Students will sit the NGSA (National Grade Six Assessment) for entrance into high school. A Levels were once offered in Guyana, but these have been replaced by CAPE exams. These are given in all Caribbean countries and offer three types of certification.

Lessons in Guyana are taught in the national language, English. Many expat children, even those who are not from the UK or America, have a grasp of the language and are free to attend a public school in Guyana. However, the majority of parents tend to send their children to international schools so that they can study for the internationally recognised IB (International Baccalaureate).

Georgetown International Academy is the most popular international school.  It is a bilingual establishment and based on the US education system. Tuition rates fall between $3,600 and $9,000 depending on the grade of your child.

Weather in Guyana

Those who visit and live in Guyana are blessed with a warm and tropical climate throughout the year. Sometimes, the rainfall and humidity can be overbearing, but coastal locations benefit from cooling sea breezes.

The country can be split into four geographical zones, each of which has a slightly different climate. The majority of Guyanese citizens live on the low plain along the Atlantic coast. The capital, Georgetown, is located here and temperatures average 27°C-28°C throughout the year. Inland a little is a white sandy region rich with is rich with sand dunes and areas of clay where very little vegetation grows. This area gives way to dense highland forests in the middle of Guyana, and rainforests and savannahs in the south and far west border. These areas tend to be much more humid and wet compared to the coast. Although the different areas of Guyana appear visually different, climatic changes are minor and there are also few alterations from season to season.

Generally, the north-western areas of Guyana near Venezuela tend to receive the most rainfall, at around 2500mm annually. Further east, this drops to 2000mm and down to 1500mm in the southern regions and Rupununi Savannah.

Fifty percent of Guyana’s yearly rainfall occurs in the summer, from May until the end of July on the coast and April until the end of September for inland areas. Coastal areas also experience a second wet season between November and January. Regardless of area, rainfall usually occurs in the afternoon as a heavy downpour or quick thunderstorm. You will never experience an overcast day in Guyana as, even before and after rainfall, the sky presents blue skies and bright sunshine.

Temperatures in Guyana can easily hit over 32°C, which can feel even hotter due to the humidity. July is considered the hottest month nationally, whereas February is the coolest with temperatures hovering between 23°C and 29°C. New residents and visitors to Guyana should be prepared for hot nights, with temperatures only ever dropping by a few degrees. Humidity levels average a staggering 70% annually, with inland regions hovering around 90%.

Guyana is rarely affected by tropical storms, experiencing just heavy rainfall in the summer months. Due to its location, Guyana does not have a hurricane season.

Georgetown Average Monthly Temperatures and Rainfall

Temp °C272727272727272728282727
Rainfall mm1858911114128632826820198107186262

Moving to Guyana Checklist

If you are moving to Guyana, you will need:

  • Valid passport
  • Money for flights and initial costs
  • To work out your monthly budget to cover accommodation, groceries, utilities
  • Flights to Guyana
  • Employment contract and valid work permit
  • International medical insurance policy
  • Enrolment in school for your children
  • Proof of accommodation (such as a tenancy agreement or property purchase)
  • Local SIM card or mobile phone
  • Arrange furniture for the new home
  • Arrange Wi-Fi for the new home
  • Tie up loose ends at home, such as closing utility accounts and informing the tax office