About the Expats

How did I end up in San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua? Where to begin? Well, my husband and I came down to visit some friends in March, 2007. If he had his way, we never would have left San Juan. I, too, loved the place, but we had one small detail to attend to first – our wedding – back in Boston. So, we returned to the States for a year, got hitched in August, 2007, wrapped up our jobs, had a farewell party with family and friends and hopped a Continental flight back to Nicaragua, with our dog in cargo, in January of 2008.

Prior to leaving Boston, Justin was working for a major tech research company and I was a school counselor for a prominent private school. We both have a ton of family back home and were living a pretty sweet life. So, why leave it all? Well, for one, it’s pretty nice to go to work in flip flops and shorts. Even better, at the end of the day, there’s nothing better than hitting the beach to watch the sunset. However, one of the greatest things about this move has been all of the wonderful people we’ve met, Nicas and Ex-Pats, alike.

Click here for an interesting reflection on our experience moving here!

If you’re thinking about making a similar move, don’t hesitate to post with questions or comments. I’d be more than happy to share my experience. ย For more detailed information and support, consider a relocation consultation with me. ย You can reach me by sending an email to sarah@expatlifeinnicaragua.com.

103 thoughts on “About the Expats

  1. Sarah,

    I have read your blog with great interest. My husband has an opportunity to work in Granada and we are looking at moving within the next few months. I laughed at your capri vs. shorts comment, so I decided you would be the perfect person to reach out to. I am curious as to how you handled the visa situation. are you just going on the tourist visa or did you get Nica residency? Is there any pro / con to either solution? It looks like we can come in on tourist visas – and renew. However, we will be there for at least 2 years, so perhaps this is not a good solution? I have seen many posts on this topic that are outdated now. Since you moved recently, I was curious as to your thoughts. Please feel free to email directly at kerryreisner@mac.com.

    Thanks!
    Kerry

  2. Getting residency is sufficiently frustrating, and getting extensions either in Managua or the border sufficiently cheap and straightforward, that there is little reason to get residency. Unless you want to legally carry a firearm, in which case it is a requirement.
    Peter Christopher
    central-america-forum.com

  3. Hello,

    How’s is the nightlife where you are?
    and…
    would you recommend investing in opening a lounge/restaurant in San Juan?

    thanks!

    • Hi Misha,
      There are a number of great restaurants here in San Juan, as well as a few good night spots. I would recommend coming for a visit before making any concrete decisions about opening a business. It’s a wonderful town and most people who visit, come back!

  4. I’ve been following your blog for sometime, now. My husband and I lived on Ometepe and we are considering moving back there soon. Since you are involved in real estate, maybe you can answer this question for me. Rumor has it that Ortega is in the process of making a deal with the Russians. He is planning on nationalizing the ferries that go to Ometepe. He plans on letting the Russians run the ferries (The old 1980’s ferries). Also, the Russians will be given land for a Russian military base…somewhere in Nicaragua. (Hopefully not Ometepe). Apparently, Ortega has decided that the ferries that are presently running are not doing it legally…thus the reason to nationalize and give the ferry operations to Russia. Have you heard this rumor?

    • Hi Debbie,

      I haven’t heard that…yet. My husband thinks Russia is one of the only options Ortega has left for money. EU and USA are pissed at him, but Russia loves him for recognizing Abkhazia, S.Ossetia. As a thank you, Russia promised to modernize the Nica military so I wouldn’t be surprised if they had a long-term presence here. I don’t think they’d be able to get away with having an actual military base here–US would really kick up a storm over that one and would never let that happen without a fight…

  5. Would love to communicate with you and ask questions regarding living in Nicaragua. My husband and I are currently ex-pats living in Belize and have found that living somewhere is definitely not the same as visiting.

  6. Hi!

    I’m a student at the University of Puget Sound, up in Tacoma Washington. I’m actually going to be traveling down to Nicaragua for two months this summer on a politics research grant. I was really hoping to hook up with some kind of volunteer organization while I’m down there (not one of the formal pay-to-volunteer groups) and I was wondering if you had any suggestions?

    Thanks so much!
    –Geoff–

  7. Hello,

    I found your blog after searching for info on San Juan Del Sur, which I will be moving to at the end of the summer for the next year working on health projects in the area for my master’s degree. I was wondering if I could get some inside info from an expat living there currently?

    What is the average price for a one or two bedroom apartment in the city? What about an average food budget? The organization that I am going down with said to plan on $20 USD p/day for housing/food but apprx. $600 USD seems a bit steep, just looking at the hotel prices.

    Do you know of somewhere online that has places listed of where to live? Is it easy to find a place once down there? Or do you know of people who rent out rooms in their homes?

    Any info/insight on the area you could give me would be great!!

    Thanks,

    Kimberly Calkins

    • HI Kimberly – Glad to hear you are coming down this way! It is a wonderful little town and the people are incredibly friendly. A number of people have emailed me with questions about cost, budget, etc., so I will create a new post to address this questions. Look for it in the next day or two and feel free to email with any additional questions.

      Sarah

  8. Hey,

    One more thing! …

    I am wondering about the vaccination issue, did you get any that the CDC or other orgs recommend? I am specifically wondering about malaria meds and the typhoid vaccination, I dont feel like they are necessary but according to WHO and a nurse I spoke with they are imperative, but I am leaning away from them. I have hep b/polio/mmr and all those basics and prob will get hep a which I don’t have.

    Any thoughts?

    Muchas Gracias!!

    Kimberly

  9. Sarah,

    I’m seriously considering relocating to San Juan and I’m intrigued by the eco-friendly homes in the Balcones de Majagual. Any input about that area?

    I’m a general dentist /land-locked former CA surfer nearing retirement. I’d be interested in setting up a little dental clinic there in SJDS because there seems to be a great need. I’d have a sign on the door “Surf’s Up, so Doc’s gone. Be back tomorrow.”Of course it would be in Espanol, por supuesto.

    Is there currently any dental care facility in the town? I found out that there’s an NGO from Newton, MASS. that sends dentists down every February, but I’m talking about providing year-round care except when there are decent sets coming in. “Man’s gotta have his enthusiasims”, Al Capone.

    Thanks,
    Mahlon

  10. Sarah,

    I too am a Boston person and was searching to see if there is an ex-pat Red Sox bar in Nicaragua and stumbled across your blog. I am down here for the next two months with two friends building a school in the village of Santa Maria, which is North of Esteli. We are looking to spend the last couple of weeks we are here surfing. It seems that San Jaun is the place to be in terms of surf, can you recommend any surf resorts that you think are better than the rest (not necessarily ammenities but overall experiences)?

    Thanks,

    Evan

    • Hi Evan,
      It’s always nice to hear from a fellow Bostonian. Glad to hear that you are enjoying your visit to Nicaragua! There are no Red Sox bars in San Juan, but there are certainly plenty of fans, so it’s usually pretty easy to convince a bar or restaurant to put the game on. Try El Pozo, Bambu, or Republika. There is also a new Irish bar in town, which actually serves Guinness!

      As far as surfing, there are plenty of local hotels that offer surf trips, including Piedras y Olas, Buena Vista Surf Club, Surf Zone. Nicaragua Surf Resort also offer custom packages that include hotel stays. You can also stay in a local hostel, like Casa Oro, and get rides out to the local beaches from any one of a number of surf tour operators. Have fun!

  11. Hi, My husband and I have been reading your posts on living in San Juan del sur, with great interest. We are going there for 8 days in Nov. and hopefully learn more about retiring there. We arrive on Nov. 20th. and are both so excited. If it’s as pretty in reality as it is in the pictures we have seen, we are in for a wonderful treat. Keep on answering everyone’s questions. You are doing a great Job! Betty Lou and Ron.

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    From your blog, you seem like the ideal candidate!

    Participating in our show is a lot of fun and then you have a professionally made documentary of your exciting move abroad! We also offer some compensation for your time.

    Please let us know if you’re interested at your earliest convenience! Contact internationalhunt@gmail.com.

  13. Hey there!

    My wife and I are thinking about visiting Nicaragua for a couple of months, most likely February and March of 2010. The kind of work I do can be done anywhere where there’s an internet connection, and it feels like a shame that I’m not using that freedom to travel. So, I’m starting to get serious about the idea, but have a lot of gaps to fill since I’m a really new traveler. I enjoyed reading through your blog and getting some insight into what life might be like for an expat resident, I imagine that our visit would feel somewhere between a working vacation and residency.

    My first question is if there’s any tricks to finding inexpensive tickets, or if you end up digging through a bunch of sites until you find something reasonable?

    We also have a child (he’ll be about 14 months by that time), do you know any expats with children that age that I might be able to connect with for some questions?

    I’m really trying to gear up, and am not entirely sure what I need to do to prepare. Is it more like pulling off a band-aid and you jump in, or do you spend a lot of time and energy planning ahead? I’m sure you can take both approaches, but having not had a lot of experience, I’m trying to guess what style would be best for us.

    We’ve gotten one recommendation for San Juan Del Sur as a good destination. I need a solid internet connection for work, and we’d likely be looking for a place to rend for the two months we were there. I figure we can do some shopping around and stay at a hostel or something for the first week, and then move over to a house. But, maybe that’s easier said than done?

    Any additional insight you can give as to what we should expect would be awesome, and any hub of discussion that might be good to hook into to learn more.

    Thank you!
    Chris

  14. Hey!!! But the million dollar question….. Is the “Secret” out about Nicaragua??? I been doing a little research and really all I can find are resorts. Does San Juan feel touristy?? When I tell people about Nicaragua, they look at me like I have crabs coming out of my ears, which is a good thing. Are we still ahead of the game about this little undiscovered gem??? I LOVE MY FRUITS,VEGETABLES and SPICES. Are there any markets/stands around San Jun?? I need to stop yapping and get my gringo butt over there. By the way, I love your site.

    JT

  15. Thank you, Sarah, for your blog. It is very helpful. I will be coming to San Juan in January and plan to spend at least a month there, more if I like it. I have not had much luck so far trying to rent an apartment/house. My only absolute requirement is Internet. Would you have any suggestions? Thank you in advance!

  16. Hi
    I’m from North Carolina and interested in moving to Nicaragua. I would like to know about visa to stay over there. Do I need a special visa to live there? How much US$ do I need monthly to be able to have a decent life style?
    I appreciate any information you can provide me.
    Thanks
    Virgil

  17. thinking about early retirement. Do you know of a site of rentals, Apartments ect for long term not vacation?

    Love your blog!

    Deborah

  18. Great blog!! You’re a wonderful writer!

    Not sure if I missed this in other posts (pulled up your blog on a google search for “medical care in Playa Coco, Nicaragua”), but what is the medical care situation there like?

    I currently am a surgery resident in the United States looking to start a practice in Latin America after graduation (rather than dealing with the increasingly frustrating US health care system). Would love to have some sort of clinic for ex-pats as well as turn money around into free health care for the local population.

    What kind of need or unfilled need is there in Playa Coco? (I know about Playa Coco from friends in the US, but can’t get a read on the medical situation there …).

    Any information would be greatly appreciated!

    thanks so much,
    Katrina

    • Hi Katrina,
      Thanks for your message! There is always need for assistance – medical mission trips make regular stops thru San Juan del Sur and the surrounding areas. However, you have to prepared for some of the standard red tape and government involvement. It helps to know someone on the ground here who can help you to get permits, etc. You might want to look into SILIAS, the organization that assists with this type of thing. Most locals here will go to the local Centro de Salud or to the hospital in Rivas, if they can afford it. I know that there are some women here who would like to see a birthing center open, for Expats and locals alike, so there may be some assistance in that area, as well. Check out the link to CORE Nicaragua on my blog – they are a good contact, as well. Good luck and keep up the hard work! ~Sarah

    • Katrina,

      If you end up following through with this, let me know if you need any nurses. I am a new emergency nurse in North Carolina looking to live and work in Nicaragua. I am very interested in your idea of opening a clinic for ex-pats that would turn money into free health care for the locals. I have been searching the web for opportunities but have found none that would be long term. I am going to continue to research the medical opportunities in Nicaragua and would love your input! If you would like to collaborate in any way or share any information that you come accross, please don’t hesitate to email me a hmgoodson@catamount.wcu.edu.

      Thanks,
      Hannah

  19. Hi Sarah!

    I like your blog! I have been living on the “other” side of the country for two years and decided to start a blog of my own about life on the coast. As you probably know, trying to put into words the crazy stuff you experience down here still doesn’t do it any justice, but I try!

    Check it out if you get a chance:
    http://coastalconnectionsguide.blogspot.com/

    Keep up the good work, Sarah!

    -Casey

  20. Hi – I will be moving to San Juan del Sur in 2 weeks. Is there any item you wished you brought more of? Is there any small item that’s easy to get in the US but wish you could find in Nicaragua?

    For instance, i heard that flea medicine like Advantix for dogs is a good thing to stock up on and bring with me. After a bit of travel I noticed it’s hard to find peanut butter in many places.

    Any items like that I should bring? Can I bring any small item to expats there that would be appreciated?

    • Hi Jaylin,

      How exciting that you are embarking on such a fantastic journey!

      In terms of what to pack for your move, I came up with the following list not long after we moved here, which you might find helpful:
      https://nicaragualiving.wordpress.com/2008/07/06/packingmoving-list-nicaragua/

      For me, books has been one of the primary things I miss. Kelly has a nice collection at Gato Negro bookstore, but if you are a reader, I would highly recommend bringing down a bunch of books, though they are heavy! Alternatively, consider a Kindle!

      I didn’t have any trouble finding Advantix for our dog – it is sold both in San Juan and in Managua. Peanut butter, while readily available, is more expensive, but you can find it in most of the pulperias and in the majority of grocery stores in Managua, as well.

      Managua has a surprising amount of “stuff” that at first you think you can’t find. After a little digging and asking, you’ll realize that you can find plenty here.

      Best of luck to you on your move!
      Sarah

  21. Hi, all of this is facinating. I’m retired military. I’m headed down at the beginning of 2011. Is it difficult finding an apartment to rent ? I am especially interested in any place near the water but San Juan sounds like the place. Any help you can give would be appreciated. Just me going down, wife passed away last year and frankly, I’m tired of Florida.

    Dan

  22. Hi. Love your blog. I am a Nicaraguan-American (my mom was born in Managua) who has been to Nicaragua twice. Both visits were during the dry season (March). This summer, my mom, sisters and our families are planning a trip to SJDS. With school-aged kids, June/July seems to be the best time for us. Would you mind telling me what the weather is like at this time of year? If we come late June vs. early July, is there really that much of a difference?

    I know it will be wet, but does it rain ALL DAY? I keep reading about bugs and bad roads. But the reality is that this is the only time we can take 2 weeks to enjoy our country.

    Thanks in advance for your reply.

    Envious in Oregon…

    Andrea

    • Hi Andrea,
      Thanks for your message.

      Nicaragua has two seasons, invierno (winter), which refers to the rainy season from approximately May to October, and verano (summer), or the dry season, lasting from November to April. November and December are typically the coolest months and are the most refreshing and lush time to visit Nicaragua. Daytime temperatures are pleasant, and the nights are distinguished by cool air and clear, starry skies. The temperature gradually climbs and the humidity increases from February until the first rains in mid-May. March and April to be hot, dry, and dusty. The rainy season traditionally starts around May 15 and is typically marked by clear blue skies in the morning and then clouds that gather until around mid-day, when the rain begins to fall. The rainy season continues through November or December depending on the region, except for an Indian Summer known as the canรญcula, which traditionally occurs from the middle of July to the middle of August, during which time the rains temporarily cease. This period of time, in July, is one of my favorite times of year to be here (second only to the month of November), as the landscape is gorgeous and green, but the rains are not consistent. Roads tend to be worse during the rainy season, but you don’t usually see its impact until September/October. We always have bugs, but the type of bug varies depending on the season. I would highly recommend a July visit if your calendar permits.
      All the best,
      Sarah

  23. Hi,

    I’m going to be living in Rivas for the next two years and I’m looking to get in contact with as many NGOs in the area as possible. I was wondering if you had any ideas. I know there is a Casa de la Mujer here, but I don’t know where. Also any ideas on integrating and meeting people would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks so much,
    Deanna

    • Hi Deanna,

      I would recommend getting in touch with our friends at CORE:
      http://core-nicaragua.blogspot.com/
      They have helped numerous groups here on dental, medical and eye care missions and may be able to put you in touch with the most helpful people.

      In terms of meeting people, my best advice is to simply come on down! San Juan is a very small town and after a few trips to the beach and drinks at the bar, you’ll know half of the expat community!
      Cheers,
      Sarah

    • Hi Amber,
      My husband, daughter, and I are still living in Nicaragua and would be happy to answer any questions you might have. Feel free to send them along.
      Cheers,
      Sarah

  24. This is a first for me asking questions about some place to retire. Sarah, would you say Nicaragua is a cheap place for retirees to come, or is it just a bunch of hype? We are five years away from retiring, but Nicaragua seems so intriquing. Do you own your housing or does your family rent? Is it hard to own property in Nicaragua? I have many questions, but will start with this one. Thanks, Jeri

    • Hi Jeri,

      Thanks for your message. Given the state of the economy in the U.S., I certainly think that Nicaragua is a cheaper place to retire as your US dollars go a lot farther here. It doesn’t hurt that the weather is beautiful and the people are incredibly friendly. My family and I currently rent, but there are plenty of Expats living here who have purchased homes or land on which to build. For further info on owning property, I will direct you to my husband, as he is a real estate agent here in town and better able to respond to many property-related questions. You can contact him at fahey DOT justin AT gmail DOT com.

      All the best to you,
      Sarah

  25. Hi Sarah,
    Are you still living in San Juan? I recently moved to San Juan several months ago and absolutely love it here. I would be interested in connecting with you, I also have a few questions I would like to ask you. Do you have a direct contact?
    Hope you’re doing well.

  26. Hey Sarah
    Great blog – I stumbled across it tonight. I visited Nicaragua in July with 2 of my girlfriends and our 6 kids and spent time at an orphanage near Granada and also time in San Juan Del Sur. The day we arrived back in Chicago our house sold. After a long night with my husband discussing the next chapter in our lives, we’ve decided to put everything into storage and move down to San Juan Del Sur for the rest of the year. We have 4 kids (9, 6, 3, 1). I have them booked into Spanish Ya for language classes (none of us speak spanish)
    So the kids and I arrive on September 8th (OMG – that will be an interesting day!)- my husband will join us at the end of the month.
    We are looking into renting a car while we’re there. Do you know of anyone who would be willing to rent their car to us?? Or are we better off buying one? Someone has offered us one for $50 per day but that seemed like a lot to me??

    I would love to connect with you for a coffee when we hit the ground. You can read more about me at http://www.hipmum.com

    Julie

    • Hi Julie!

      How funny that I jut stumbled upon your comment today after emailing with you yesterday ๐Ÿ™‚ I’ve been terrible at checking on this blog since I started the mom blog and I guess I missed a ton of comments! Well, I am glad that we were finally able to connect and look forward to that coffee in June!
      Enjoy your time in the States!
      Sarah

  27. Dear Sarah,

    I really enjoyed reading your fantastic blog.
    I like your interesting posts and I believe that your blog would be valuable and useful for the expat members in Nicaragua of my network as well.

    In case you are not already part of InterNations you are of course invited to join with your husband – just let me knoe and I will send you an invitation.

    I am looking forward to your response and would be happy to welcome you to our global expat community.

    Sincerely,

    Philipp

  28. Hi Sarah,

    I came across your blog as I was doing some searches for relocating to SJDS and I found your posts really helpful! I’ll be moving to the area within the next two weeks and was wondering how difficult it is to find an apartment to rent? I’m sure once I get to town and walk around the area, I’ll find something, but do you have any reccommendations? Any advice you could give would be oh so helpful!

    Thanks,

    Samantha

    • Hi Samantha,

      My apologies for responding to your question so late. Have you arrived in San Juan and if so, did you have luck in finding an apartment? If not, feel free to email me back and I’ll see what I can do to help.
      Cheers!
      Sarah

  29. Hi Sarah,
    I’m happy I found you blog. We have been researching retirement options for quite some time and Nicagua is a serious consideration. We are already retired, but want out of the US. A couple of concerns regarding health care and pollution. I have read there are clinics and a couple of good hospitals.

    Has anyone had experiences at the hospitals? My husband has some chronic conditions that will require regular doctor visits, and I have some medical history as well that requires follow up. How can I find out if they have a PetScan and what the pollution situation is as my spouse has COPD?

    • Hi Katheryn,
      Thanks for visiting! I have had wonderful experiences with the private hospital, Vivian Pellas, in Managua. You can read more about it here: https://nicaragualiving.wordpress.com/2008/10/20/visiting-the-doctor-in-nicaragua/ Since I wrote that post, I also gave birth to our daughter in the same hospital and continue to have nothing but great things to say about the medical care I received. They have specialists in many areas, with extensive training. You might want to contact the hospital directly to ask questions about specific health concerns, treatment, etc.
      Best of luck to you and let me know how else I can be of help!
      Sarah

  30. hello, your blog is so very helpful. i was just wondering if there are pockets of immigrant communities in nicaragua. for example, is there a korean community/neighborhood? thanks!

    • Hi Joanne,

      Thanks very much for your note! I honestly don’t know if there is a Korean community down here. If there is, my guess is that you are more likely to find it in Managua, the capitol, as there tends to be more diversity in the bigger cities (in my experience). I’ll ask around though and get back to you!
      All the best,
      Sarah

  31. We are planning to move to Granada in May. We have 2 small boys (3 and 1).
    We are looking to rent. Any suggestions on real estate brokers?
    I have been in Granada before, but that was 10+ years ago, when there were very few expats.

  32. Hello Sarah, thanks so much for this blog, I am looking into buying property in the central west coast area, Poleloya, how would you rate the crime in that area?

      • Thanks for the reply, I will contact him, many of my friends here have told me its dangerous there, I was there in the eightys, I know it was dangerous then, but that was a different type of danger, what people are talking about now is crime caused by poverty, would you say in general the citys and towns are safe to walk through in the day time?

      • Hi Matt,
        I have lived here for 4 years without incident. I feel comfortable having my 15 month old daughter here, as well. That being said, this is still a very poor country and there are opportunists. Utilizing common sense will go a long way in avoiding being the victim of crime here. Don’t bring expensive camera equipment to the beach, don’t walk around with a wad of cash in your pocket, and don’t walk alone at night. Most of my experience is in San Juan, so I can’t speak to the safety of other areas, but I comfortably walk from our house, into town, most afternoons for sunset. I go alone (with my daughter) to the beach in town, where there are plenty of other people and businesses. There was one recent incident of a daylight robbery when a couple was walking along the road out to the beaches, but that is unusual here. Most crime is petty theft. Hope that helps!
        All the best,
        Sarah

    • Hi Larry,
      I can’t really answer your question as I am not living on social security. Both my husband and I are still working. I would recommend that you make sure you have enough cash to make it thru the minimum of one year, with cushion. Often times, people come expecting to rent an ocean view apartment with a pool for $200/month and that’s just not the case here. While it is significantly cheaper than living in the States, you still need to plan and budget your finances accordingly. You can read more about an appropriate budget here. Best of luck to you!

  33. Love your blog. My wife and I went for a couple weeks and just returned. We will be living there this summer and will be taking Spanish classes. I will be staying in the city of Leon. Love that place with the cathedral and the old university.

  34. hi sarah,
    i will be headed to sjds in may and was wondering about dental work. i have recieived dental work in mex in the past and was wondering if that is common there or if you could reccomend a reputable dentist. i need a crown which is a fortune here in the states. also i am wanting to attend a spanish school for a week while im down there. i have found a few on line in and around sjds but was wondering if you had any inside info or reccomendations.
    thanks!
    rebecca

    • Hi Rebecca,
      I had a root canal in Leon when I first visited Nicaragua. Total cost was $100. Two weeks later, we returned to the States and my husband had the same exact procedure and paid $1,000 (with dental insurance). Needless to say, dental work is definitely less expensive here. We now use a dentist in Managua, who is great. Her name is Gabriela Gutierrez. We’ve been very happy with her care and her cost. You can find a list of Spanish schools in San Juan here. I’ve heard good things about the Latin American Spanish School,a s well as Spanish Ya. All the best!

      • sarah,
        i really appreciate your help. after consideration and research i have decided to do my spanish class in granada and than head to sjds when my sister arrives. therefor i am looking for a dentist in granada (as i am intimidated about the commute to managua) do you, or any of your friends recommend a dentist there? good english a plus… after much research your blog has become my one trustworthy source so i really appreciate any feedback. when we get to sjds we should have a drink!
        thanks sarah,
        rebecca

      • Hi Rebecca,

        Sounds like a good plan! Unfortunately, I do not know of any dentists in the Granada area. You might check the US Embassy/Consular website for recommendations. A neighbor of ours just did that and found some possible options.
        Enjoy your travels!
        Sarah

  35. Your blog is awesome. I have been traveling to Nicaragua since 2006 and I have been in love with this country since the first time I went down there with an NGO in Managua. Your blog is an inspiration to me. Every time I board a plan to come back to the States, I ask myself why am I leaving this place? I may join you guys one day! Good luck with everything down there and keep posting!! ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Hi Ashley! Thanks for the kind words! It has been a wonderful adventure so far. A move here isn’t as hard as you might think – keep it on your bucket list!
      All the best,
      Sarah

  36. Hello,

    I am writing you hoping you will help us finding some answers to our questions regarding Nicaragua.
    My name is Cosmin Duduc and together with my friend Stefan Angelescu are planing to move to Nicaragua.
    We are in the gathering info phase so any information will do good to our research about this.
    I am an Cultural Anthropologist and Philosopher and a musician in the same time and my friend is a professional photographer.
    We want to move there, eventually renting a place for the start and then we have in mind to develop a small business, maybe a bar or a small pub and/or in the same time something based on photography working, sound and video engineering.
    We didn’t pick up any specific town or area but we are open up to any suggestion.
    I am 33 and my friend is 27 but I don’t think this have something to do with all this ๐Ÿ™‚
    We want to move to Nicaragua because we are fed up living in the “civilized” world, being in the middle of the occidental living style and surrounded by people driven off by the money making philosophy.
    We are from Romania and our country is running out of any possibility to have a decent, free, way of life closer to the nature. We’ve got way to much concrete around us and sometimes this is getting too intense, too suffocating.
    Any info or suggestion would be of help. we are not asking for any favors but only for info: paperwork, housing, rents, any tips concerning the market (that would help for our small business ideas), etc..
    Talking about myself and my friend, we love the beauty of nature, in her untouched by man state, in her wilderness and splendour.
    You can check my facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/hultanu and as well do a google search on my name for more refferences. For my friend, Stefan you can either check his facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000103668946 or http://www.pentaxforums.com/news/atefan-angelescu.html.

    Thank you for your patience reading this and we are looking forward for your answer!

    Best regards,

    Cosmin and Stefan

  37. Hi Sarah Great blog, congrats I have 2 new houses in Managua that I will like to rent to expats, they are located in the best area of Managua. Do you know any one that can help me. Also I have a nice apartment in San Juan del sur with a beautiful pool in th center of town, I rent by the day week or monthly if you know any one interested let me know. Are you still in Nicaragua?

    • Hi Brad,
      Many people who move to San Juan open their own business, telecommute with a job back in the States/Canada/Europe, or fundraise ahead of time for mission work. Please keep in mind that the underemployment rate here in Nicaragua is significant and when possible, jobs go to Nicaraguans. Minimum wage tends to fall between $100 and $250 per month depending on the specific line of work. The best thing that you can do is to open a business that would then employ locals in need of jobs. Spanish knowledge is helpful, but you can also learn it here. All the best!

  38. Hi Sarah

    I wondered if I could ask your advice.

    I am a Brit living in London and living with my partner of 2.5 years,Oscar, who is a Nicaraguan. I met him here but he is wanting to return to Nicaragua in a year or so to start at aviation school in Managua. I would like to stay with him and am considering the move but have a few concerns:

    1-I am 23, have so far only a secretarial diploma and by the end of next year an interior design diploma from a reputable college in the uk- what kind of job opportunities am I looking at?

    2- my Spanish is rather poor at the moment, so I suppose I can assume full time study/language integration is a must for at least the first year. But what about having someone to talk to?

    3- safety, crime is obviously a bit of an issue in the country – how does this impact on lifestyle- can I literally not walk around Managua by myself?

    I have visited Nicaragua for 3 weeks over the Christmas and loved the countryside but was a little intimidated by Managua, Leon and Granada seemed much more my thing though I also stayed in playa el Coco, in casa Malinche, I think that was one of my favourites!

    What kind of advice might you give to someone open to an adventure but a little nervous about the longer term implications?

    Many thanks

    Sophie

    • Hi Sophie,

      You ask a lot of great questions. With regards to job opportunities, I will point you back to a post a wrote a few years ago that said “I would also note that if you are seriously considering a move here, it is helpful to have a minimum of a few months of living expenses already saved, as well as money set aside for a trip back home, if necessary. Do not operate under the assumption that you will be gainfully employed here, as Nicaragua currently has an unemployment rate of 3.9% and an underemployment rate of 46.5%.” Many people open businesses here – some succeed, others do not. If you can open a business, try your best to employ locals, creating jobs, rather than taking jobs. If possible, I would recommend looking into work that you can do remotely, i.e. something in the U.S. that you can do from here.

      There are plenty of Spanish programs here: http://www.sanjuansurf.com/learn-spanish.html. You can get by without knowing much Spanish, as there is a large expat community here and many Nicaraguans speak varying degrees of English. however, I would definitely encourage you to learn the language as it will help in your total immersion of the community and the culture.

      I haven’t lived in Managua, so I can’t speak personally about the crime there. We go about once a month to do shopping, have doc appointments, etc. I know both expats and Nicaraguans people who live there happily.

      The best advice I can give you is to try it out for a short period of time to determine if you want to spend more time here. Have savings that will cover your living expenses. Get involved either via volunteering, Spanish classes, surfing, etc. to meet people and to get a better feel for life here. Be open to a very different way of life that will be both challenging and rewarding.

      All the best to you as you embark on your adventures!
      ~Sarah

  39. Hello Justin & Sarah,

    Four years…incredible! It appears that you two have accomplished what I’m striving for: long term expatriation to Nicaragua. I’m hoping that you’re willing to offer a bit of advice to an aspiring transplant.

    I’ve been visiting the country once or twice a year for the last four years; specifically, visiting friends in Chontales. I’m dead set on moving there to establish my own finca; however, the “best case scenario” that I can foresee puts me five years away from doing so. Five years is too long of a horizon for my preferences ๐Ÿ™‚

    I’m currently working stateside, paying off student loans and building up savings in order to resolve all financial obligations prior to making the move. However, in an ideal scenario, I would be living in Nicaragua while still drawing a US-comparable salary in order to accomplish the same financial goal prior to a permanent move…”having my cake, and eating it too”.

    The only idea that I’ve come up with thus far that would allow for this scenario would be to take a foreign post with the US government (e.g. the State Department or the Peace Corps) or to go on assignment with a multinational that seeks to expand into Nicaragua.

    Hence the request for advice. Are you able to share any “success stories” of aspiring or current expats who have gone this route? If so, how did they identify the opportunities (e.g. networking, job boards, “boots on the ground” in Nicaragua), and what were the most important considerations that they had to address in their candidacies (e.g. dual nationality, security clearances, professional experience in a particular field)? Do you have any ‘general’ advice or cautions to share pertaining to this strategy? Are you willing to elaborate on the steps that you yourselves took in order to secure a position in-country?

    Any insight that you can offer would be much appreciated! I can be reached by e-mail at boozell DOT j AT gmail DOT com, or I’d be happy to set a time for a Skype call if your schedule permits.

    VBR,
    Jess

    • Hi Jess,

      Thanks for your message. It sounds like you have a lot of wonderful plans on the horizon. You ask a lot of great questions. With regards to job opportunities, I will point you back to a post a wrote a few years ago that said โ€œI would also note that if you are seriously considering a move here, it is helpful to have a minimum of a few months of living expenses already saved, as well as money set aside for a trip back home, if necessary. Do not operate under the assumption that you will be gainfully employed here, as Nicaragua currently has an unemployment rate of 3.9% and an underemployment rate of 46.5%.โ€ Many people open businesses here โ€“ some succeed, others do not. If you can open a business, try your best to employ locals, creating jobs, rather than taking jobs. If possible, I would recommend looking into work that you can do remotely, i.e. something in the U.S. that you can do from here. I don’t know how easy it it to obtain a job with the foreign service, but I imagine that it’s a lengthy process and then you would most likely be placed in or near Managua.

      Let me know how else I can help and best of luck to you!
      Sarah

      • Hi Sarah,

        Telecommuting is a great idea – thank you! Similar to on overseas assignment, it would allow me to continue to make progress on my financial goals (savings, resolving all stateside financial obligations) without having to delay a move abroad. If only I’d studied Computer Science / Application Development instead of Business ๐Ÿ™‚ Nonetheless, non-freelancer/non-IT telecommuting opportunities are probably out there for the taking; now I just need to dedicate a portion of the week to seeking them out (or creating them).

        The State Department has plenty of information online about the requirements to become, and the career path of, a Foreign Service Officer. I seem to recall that the testing and security clearance portion of the requirements can easily take up to a year, but access to worldwide postings is a nice reward.

        Other than the tips that you’ve already shared, please do keep me in mind should you cross paths with any expats who have successfully employed any of these strategies (int’l posting with a Gov’t agency, int’l assignment with a multinational, telecommuting) to expedite their moves abroad.

        Thanks again,
        Jess

  40. Hi, nice to talk to you, I am Carlos from Brazil and visited Nica in 2006 and loved the wild beaches and really good surfing.
    Back here now I have a wife, 5 y daughter and 5 months boy. I am 36 and have saved some money to do this movement but now I think much about kids such as helth, hospital and mainly education. Do you know how are schools at Pacific Coast (out of Managua and Granada)?
    Maybe close to Popoyo, San Juan del Sur or Leon? I appreciate if you could help us. Thank you Carlos.

  41. Hi Sarah
    My girlfriend and I are building a house just outside of town with the hope of someday retiring there. We will be in SJdS at the end of December to check on construction and do some surfing. We are staying at Hotel Villa Isabella, would like to pick your brain about relocating to SJdS if you have time to talk/grab a beer. We have enjoyed reading all your entries and you seem to have the area wired. thanks
    Tom and Dawn

    • Hi Tom and Dawn,
      Sorry to have missed your visit! We were in the States over the holidays. Hope you enjoyed your stay. Perhaps we will cross paths on your next visit.

      Saludos,
      Sarah

  42. Hi There.

    I couldn’t find an email address on your page so I hope don’t mind that I use the comments section here.

    I’m the editor of ExpatArrivals.com, a site devoted to developing comprehensive destination guides aimed at easing expat transition abroad. I came across your blog through the course of my research, and I was hoping I could convince you to share some of your expat insight with our site. Please let me know if you’d be interested in contributing, and do note that in exchange, I can provide you with promotional profile space on our site that you can use to levy exposure for your own pursuits (like your blog or business). Let me know if you’d be interested, and I can provide you with additional information.

    My email address is : shantalie@expatarrivals.com

  43. Hi Sarah and Justin,

    I wanted to let you know about a dog adoption drive we will be having on the 29th and 30th of December in San Juan Del Sur. Please let as many people know about it as you can, and if they are interested in meeting one of the dogs, we will bring him or her to their home.

    The dogs can be seen here.
    http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10151179304152321.447158.706497320&type=1

    You can have them email me at CJEliassen *at* mac.com, or call Heather at 505 8564 8871.

    Thank you so much!

    Cheers,
    C.J.

  44. Hey guys. I have had a blast reading your story and am so glad you are here. My names Jonathan and I have been here for over a year now. I am also from the Boston region. Right now I am living up and Leon and going back and forth to my new Surfcamp i own http://thunderbombsurf.com/
    I would love to meet you all and feel free to come up and say hi anytime. I also help run a hostel called Chilli Inn. Definitely some free drinks for the boston crew

    • Thanks, Jonathan! We look forward to meeting you. Let us know when you are in San Juan next – would love to meet up. And gooooooooo Pats! Hope you have a good place to watch the game today.

  45. Hello,

    I have been reading a bit of your blog and I just think it’s so amazing that you up and moved to Nicaragua. My husband and I have been talking about the possibility of moving to Nicaragua and buying a house. However, I’m worried about the employment opportunities in San Juan. I was wondering if you would be able to shed a little light on what kinds of places expats could work in and if you would know if they often hire expats. We were thinking along the lines of tour guides, hotels/resort staff, construction, eco lodge staff/guides or sustainability/environmental programs (I have a Masters degree in Sustainable Environmental Management). I’m worried that we would sell our house and most of what we own, move down there, never find jobs, and then return home broke and homeless :S

    Thank you so much for your help! I really appreciate it!

    Brienne & Ryan Bennett

  46. Hi Sarah-
    I’m originally from Rhode Island but I’ve been living on Ometepe for about two years now. My husband and I just bought some land out here and are building and preparing to have our family here. I’d like an opportunity to talk to you about your experience with prenatal care/ birth here. If you could email me so we could connect more that would be great. My email is aestheticgod@gmail.com. Look forward to hearing from you soon.

  47. Hi Sarah

    I have 2 bedroom apartment for rent in San Juan del sur, pool and furnish. If you know of any one looking please let me know and I will give you more details
    Thanks jenny

  48. Hello! Thank you for writing this blog. I am heading down next week to study spanish. I have left my email, I would love to grab coffee or something when I get into town. I am a graduate student coming to study spanish as I need to become bilingual to effectively work where I want to. I have been to San Juan del Sur only once before so I appreciate your pointers! All the best, Amy

  49. We are retired, and have lived in a small city in south India for the last six years. We are interested in NIcaragua, in part because it si much easier to get back to the US to visit our kids (* hr flight vfs 224 hrs). What about Esteli as a place for expats? Are there people you know that live there that we can ask?

    • Hi Richard,
      Sorry to say that I’ve only visited Esteli once, so I don’t have much information on it as a retirement location. I can say that the two largest havens for expats in Nicaragua seems to be Granada and San Juan del Sur. Best of luck in your search!
      Sarah

  50. Hi,

    Just found your blog and wanted to know if you would be interested in providing a guest post on our recently launched retirement site, retirementandgoodliving.com

    Many of the visitors to our site are interested in retirement locations overseas and a psot about life and living in Nicaragua would be great.

    Please email me if you are interested and I will forward additional details.

    Thanks,

    Simone

  51. Hey Sarah,

    Do you have to have residency status to open a bank account? Is it hard to open a bank account? My husband and I are moving down there at the end of December to Lease a hotel/restaurant in Playa Gigante and wondering any advice of things or documents we can bring from canada? Thank you, love reading your blog very interesting!! Nice to hear you are loving living there as we are quite excited to move there( and nervous)

    LK

  52. Thank you Sarah. All very informative. I`m thinking of going to San Juan in the near future to see if I`d like to move there. I would need to earn an income though. I`m thinking that I would search for a job once I`m there. Is this feasible or would they only hire a person who already has a “work permit”. If Nica. is to become my home, I`ll make sure to get in touch with you and use your Relocation Consultant services.
    Michelle

  53. Question about internet: I work from home and would love to keep my job if I did move to Nicaragua – but would require fast, dependable internet connection. Is this too much to ask?

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