Here’s an unofficial list of items that current members wish they would have known before moving to Guam. Hopefully this will help you make your transition as easy as possible.
What to Bring
Cars (New, Used and Just Plain Boonie Information)
Life on Guam (Setting the correct expectations)
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WHAT TO BRING
- Free temporary furniture (boonie furniture) is available before your furniture arrives through the Self-Help office. However, you have to provide your own bed sheets. Available beds are in twin and full sizes only. Make sure you pack some sheets in your luggage or be prepared to purchase them while you are here.
- Free temporary items such as car seats, cribs, plates, pots/pans, irons and other household items are available as a loaner until your household goods arrive. These items are available through Fleet & Family Support. FFSC is a different department than Self-Help. After you go through the gates on Big Navy, make your first right. This will put you in the parking lot of FFSC.
- Leave most of your sweaters & sweatshirts in storage unless you plan on traveling from Guam to someplace cool. Also, leave any heavy comforters and blankets in storage; pick up a lightweight quilt or coverlet instead.
- Most housing options here have very little storage inside and things mildew when stored outside, so keep this in mind when deciding what should stay or go.
- There are not a lot of basic shopping options here (lots of high-end shopping). You'll find you'll do 95% of your shopping at the commisary and NEX for your every day needs. So you may want to stock up on summer clothing, specialty hobby items (for sewing, scrapbooking, cake decorating, etc...), specialty food (there are two very tiny natural foods stores), etc...
- The water is drinkable here, but it is debatable whether you actually want to drink it or not. Most people subscribe to a water service or use a water filtration system of some type. You may want to purchase a water dispenser before you come.Many people end up buying one at the NEX but sometimes there is a limited quantity and you have to wait up to a few months for their stock to arrive. Costco or Sam’s Club in the states might provide you with what you need.
- If you are planning on living on base you may want to purchase a generator before you arrive and ship it with your household goods. You need a least a 5500 to run just your 110 house items. If you bring one with you, get at least a 100 foot cord so that you can be flexible with where you put your generator. Most off base condo’s and apartment buildings have their own built in generators.
- If you have items you forgot to send with your property and you don’t want to pack them in your luggage, ask your sponsor if you can ship them to their address. Most sponsors would be more than happy to help with this request.
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CARS (NEW, USED AND JUST PLAIN BOONIE)
- If you are currently leasing a car or still making car payments on a vehicle, make sure you can bring it to Guam. Most leases will not allow you to bring a car to Guam. If you run into any problems with a purchased vehicle, you can refinance your vehicle through a military friendly lender like USAA or NFCU. If you have a lien on a vehicle you will need a letter from the lien holder stating you have authorization to bring it to Guam.
- Don’t purchase a NEW vehicle less than 120 days before moving to Guam or you will be subject to a 4% tax.
- Make sure your current car insurance & renters insurance will cover you in Guam. Also make sure your homeowners or renters insurance will cover your property while in transit. The military has caps on their liability of damaged goods.
- Renting a vehicle on Guam can be expensive (and you don't get reinbursed for this). If possible, you may want to consider shipping your car early so it is here close to your arrival date.
- Buying a cheap boonie car when you are here is mostly a myth. There are many military families selling their vehicles before they PCS off the island; however, don't expect any cheap deals (expect to pay at least 10K). You can check out the used car lot, which is located across the street from the Navy furniture store on base. For cheaper options, others have had luck buying used rental cars - just make sure a mechanic checks it out before you purchase it. And after many horror stories, be weary of buying used cars in town - really do your homework before you purchase and make sure you receive all the past mainteance records for the car. After all is said and done, it may be worth it to pay to ship your second car here.
- Price of gasoline at the Exchange is comparable to what it is on the mainland.
- The roads on Guam have a lot of potholes and at times it can be hard on vehicles.
- The rain can make the coral roads slippery like ice. Be careful while driving.
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LIFE ON GUAM
- If you plan to travel, make sure you obtain a regular passport too (the no fee passport is only good when traveling to a military installation, not for leisure trips)
- The hospital is NOT located on the main Navy base down south (nicknamed Big Navy). It is located in the central part of Guam about 15 minutes north of Big Navy and 30 minutes south of Andersen Air Force base. The high school is located on the central hospital base.
- We have minor earthquakes on Guam. If one wakes you up in the middle of the night don’t be alarmed.
- It can rain a lot on Guam, especially during rainy season, July through December. And it's pretty much the same season all year round, high of 87 and low of 77 with lots of humidity. Don't worry, you will get used to it.
- There is a USO in the royal Orchid Hotel (across from the Marriott) in Tumon. They provide free internet access, movies, video games for kids, and free long distance phone calls back to the states. For more information visit their web site at www.uso.org/Guam.
- Just about every place has a military discount especially when dining in Tumon. Don’t forget to ask.
- Guam is a rabies free zone. Just like in Hawaii, shipping dogs and cats can be challenging. Please check current immunization requirements as soon as possible. Guam has a large population of “boonie” (stray) dogs and cats. Many families adopt these animals from G.A.I.N., the local shelter.
Just like anything in life (especially in the military), Guam will be what you make of it. If you accept the Hafa Adai island culture and embrace Guam for what it is...a hot, beautiful tropical island in the middle of nowhere with a laid back culture, great diving, unique vacation opportunities (climb the Great Wall of China with your children) and friendly people with whom you develop a "family" away from your family - you'll love it.
So, let go of the rat race, mega-shopping options, "which family are we going to spend our holidays with this year?" conflicts and grab your swimming suit and family and hit the beach in January.
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