Thinking about a move to San Juan, but don’t know how much to budget for a rental? Your monthly rent will vary widely depending on your needs, comfort level, and amenities. Here are a few examples:
When we first moved to San Juan, we rented a small one-bedroom, one bath home in Nicovale, a quiet community of 8 or 9 homes owned and managed by a Nicaraguan/Italian couple. Located up a rather steep hill, the neighborhood was still walking distance to town (under 10 minutes), and a great workout on the way home. Though we didn’t have a view, we loved the area for its proximity to town without being right on the main roads. We could still hear the bumpin’ Semana Santa parties, but we were far enough removed from the main streets to escape the hourly announcement from the fruit and veg/scrap metal/politico trucks. The owners were also very dedicated to their properties and managed repairs and ongoing maintenance swiftly. Five years ago, we paid $450 per month, which included rent, electric (no a/c), water, twice weekly cleaning, security, parking, cable tv, and wifi. The house came sparsely furnished, with basic kitchen utensils, and also included linens that were washed and changed twice a week. The landlord also had a backup generator that he turned on during nighttime power outages. The apartment served us well until we outgrew it and moved here:
When I learned I was pregnant, two years later, we upgraded to a 2-bedroom, 2-bath newer construction unit in the same neighborhood. This home had modern appliances and nicer furniture, as well as air conditioning in both bedrooms. It also had the added bonus of a large balcony overlooking the bay. We paid $700/month, which included all of the above amenities, minus electricity. We averaged approximately $150/month on our electric bill, running both a/c units nightly.
Two years later, our growing family prompted a third move – this time to a 4 bedroom, 2 bath house that also includes a fifth bed/bath in the pool house. And it goes without saying that a pool house also suggests a pool (a large lap pool). The house is a stand alone with large rancho, grill, as well as a two-car garage (we use one side while the other is reserved for the owners). It sits in a small development of other standalone homes, each with different owners. It’s nicely located within a 10-minute walk to the town beach and a 20-minute walk to town center. Rent is $1,000/month and includes water, satellite tv, wifi, caretakers who maintain the grounds (excluding the pool) and provide security. The house does not have backup and the water is on a pump system, so when the power goes out, we not only lose power, but water, too.
To find out how we achieved the rental rate that we did, check back soon. I’ll be offering more details and info on how to get the best rate for your rental.
To give you a sense of other options:
These 1 bedroom, furnished apartments, located right in town, rent for $350/month
This small development offers a variety of options sleeping 2-6 people and renting for $400 and up.
This studio, located just a few minutes walk from the beach currently rents for $550/month.
This 3 bedroom, 2-bath stand-alone home, in-town, rents for $600/month.
This 2 bedroom, 1 bath is a short walk to Playa Marsella and rents for $800/month.
This 2 bed, 2.5 bath condo, located a few minutes north of town rents for $1,200/month.
This stand-alone three bedroom home, located in the hills of the Pacific Marlin development, appx 10 minute drive from town rents for $1,500/month.
Ultimately, your decision on where to live will come down to your priorities. Do you need a room with a view, a yard with a pool, or are you willing to sacrifice space for location and be closer to town? How many rooms does your family require? Can kids share bedrooms? What amenities are you willing to give up and what are deal-breakers? Do you want to live in a community or a standalone home? Do finishings matter or can you make anyplace a home? Keep in mind that power is expensive in this country. You may think you want a home with central air (which is actually not too common here) until you receive your first electric bill. Pools are fantastic to have, but you may prefer a rental with a shared pool that doesn’t require your time and energy. Stand alone houses are great and private, but would you be happier in a neighborhood setting?
There are myriad ways to find your perfect rental. When we moved here nearly 6 years ago, no one had long term options listed online. We were lucky to find vacation rentals at that time. But a lot has changed since 2008 and now you can do a large chunk of your search online at one of the many real estate/rental companies. If that doesn’t work for you, it’s worth your time to skim the vrbo.com listings. More often than not, owners there are looking for short-term vacation tenants, but you might get lucky. Don’t forget to check local classifieds found in the Del Sur News. You might even have luck checking Craigslist Nicaragua and Encuentra24, but these sites tend to focus on Managua and not San Juan del Sur. And while it’s hard to imagine moving to a new country without home base, if you are traveling solo or have some flexibility, your best bet may be to stay in an inexpensive Guest House your first few weeks and spend some time simply wandering the streets. You’d be amazed at what you can find just by asking around and showing up.
When you do find your dream spot, don’t forget the details. Most rental companies will have you sign a rental agreement and pay some form of deposit. If you rent direct from a homeowner, they may require a lease, but many don’t. And be sure to ask the right questions:
-Is electricity included? Find out if they have old bills or can provide estimates of monthly usage if you will be paying this bill.
-What else is included? wifi, cable, water, security, parking, housekeeping, pool maintenance, etc.
-Any recent security issues?
-Who pays the caretaker salaries? What happens if I am unhappy with the caretaker?
-Do you have backup power/water?
-What kind of water system does the house have, i.e. gravity tank, pumped well, town water. This is important to ask because the type of water you have will determine when and how often you could be without.
-Are pets allowed? Children?
-Who manages the property and to whom do I report maintenance issues?
-Who pays for repairs on the home?
It may seem complicated at first, but once you’re settled in your new place with a Nica Libre and the most beautiful sunsets, you’ll know that it was all worth it. To learn some tips on how to save on rentals, check back soon for more exclusive info.
Nicaragua’s Independence Day is upon us (September 15). For more on the history and celebration of this important day, you might hop over to ViaNica. In the meantime, enjoy the festivities:
Don’t miss this exciting opportunity to live abroad in paradise while working with fantastic teachers and students. San Juan del Sur Day School, located in San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua is looking for a highly trained, experienced primary school teacher from the United States or Canada to work part time in a multi-age English immersion class of 18 students ranging in age from 4-8 years old. Fluency or familiarity with the Spanish language is desirable, though not required. A minimum of a one-year commitment is expected. In addition to teaching, candidate will have the opportunity to study/improve Spanish, practice yoga, and surf. Applicants should submit a resume, cover letter, and two letters of reference to the school’s director Julie Speier at julieaspeier at hotmail dot com. To learn more about San Juan del Sur Day School, please visit our Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/pages/San-Juan-del-Sur-Day-School/109137455588?ref=ts&fref=ts“
Each year, our friends, Blue and Jamie, hold a Christmas Bucket Drive to raise money to fill buckets with supplies needed most by the local communities near their ranch in San Juan del Sur. The cost to purchase is just $25 and provides a family with 5 gallon buckets with household items that the families would buy with what little money they have. This includes items such as:
Let the spirit of giving begin and happy holidays!
I had some minor [major] car troubles yesterday, while Justin was out of town, and it reminded me of this early experience I had in Nicaragua…
Shortly after Justin and I moved to San Juan, he took off for a weeklong bachelor party in Colombia. I knew the trip was planned before we even set foot on Nicaraguan soil, but I don’t think I truly believed that Justin would actually leave me sola in Nicaragua just 5 weeks into our adventure, until he did. Nevertheless, I wasn’t going to be the girl who stood between Justin and his best buddy’s bachelor party, even if it was 1,000 miles away.
We had just purchased our new (old) car – a 1997 Isuzu Trooper, so I drove Justin to the airport in Managua and then planned to drive back to San Juan on my own. Even now, after 4 years of life here, I can’t believe that I actually agreed to drive back from Managua, on my own, with absolutely no knowledge of Managua, the route to San Juan, or the transit “laws.” I did it anyway. Thankfully, our new friend, Baldo, was in Managua the same day and offered to ride back with me. So after leaving Justin at the airport, I went to meet Baldo at Metrocentro, a mall just 15 minutes away and also a place I’d never been, but was certain that I could find easily. A mere 4 hours later, I pulled into the parking lot and we were on our way.
I handed the keys over to Baldo, exhausted from my half-day trek around the winding streets of Managua, and we set off for San Juan. As we neared Rivas, and dusk, our new (old) car began to show signs of distress. First the interior dashboard lights began to dim and shortly thereafter, the radio stopped working. Baldo assured me that we were fine, so we continued on our way. We rounded the corner at La Virgen and embarked on the final passage home. These days, that last stretch of road takes about 15 minutes to cover, end to end, but 4 years ago, that tiny stretch of highway required a 45-minute commitment thanks to giant potholes and endless desvios (detours). So, it should come as no surprise to anyone that shortly after we made that turn, the sun set, the car stalled, and our headlights went out.
I encouraged Baldo to pull over – perhaps we could call a tow truck, I suggested. Baldo just laughed and pointed out that not only were we in the black hole for cell phone signal, but it would be a long wait for Triple A. Instead, he hopped out, push-started the car, jumped back in and we continued down the highway. This time, Baldo only accelerated when climbing a hill. The rest of the journey, we relied on dear old Newton and his Law of Motion, chugging up hills, using the gas, and coasting down hills using sheer momentum. He did his best to get behind other vehicles (which were few and far between) to light our way home.
To reassure me [and to calm my intermittent hysterics and quiet my naïve mechanical suggestions], for the remainder of the ride, Baldo regaled me with stories of his teenage years. He’d been in this very situation before, except that when the headlights went out, his buddy walked alongside the car, illuminating their way home with a Bic cigarette lighter.
At one point, the wind picked up, swirling dust into the car, so [naturally] I closed my [electric] window for protection to which Baldo sighed loudly and reminded me that we were trying to conserve the car’s energy, not deplete it. You can imagine how thrilled he was when, a few minutes later, I began to lower the window to relieve my forehead from the beads of sweat forming across my brow.
Eventually, we rolled [quite literally] into town, stopping at the Texaco to charge up the Trooper’s battery for the final push up the giant hill in Pacific Marlin, where we were staying with friends. Barely in the door, I burst into tears, cursed Justin and our dear Trooper, and fell into a dead sleep.
The following morning, I rose early in an attempt to get a jump on the day and a jumpstart for the car. I walked out the door only to find a flat tire and decided it was the Trooper waving her white flag in surrender. I laughed to myself, turned around, walked back inside the house and gave her a nice 7-day rest. Because a Trooper she is.
Here is a great video tour of San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua, shot by the guys over at The Surf Ranch