Lately we’ve been receiving a lot of emails from followers with questions regarding real estate in Nicaragua. We are far from experts on this subject, but we have learned a lot in the last sixteen months that we’ve been here.
One thing in particular we’ve learned is that locale is paramount for us being happy long term.
Prior to making the move to Nicaragua our home was in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. We were a one hour drive from the beautiful snow-capped Rocky Mountains, but a ten hour drive from the ocean.
Our plan when arriving in Nicaragua was to move around a bit in the first year, so that we could get a feel for where we wanted to settle down. And that’s exactly what we did.
Our first rental home was situated on the tranquil beach of Poneloya. Falling asleep to the sound of the waves crashing on the shore was amazing.
But unfortunately it didn’t take long to learn that life in Poneloya wasn’t for us. This lovely little beach town was too tranquil for our liking. After a couple of weeks there we were already craving more stimulation.
We also learned that owning a beach house doesn’t come without drawbacks. Salt air does major damage to a home. It causes electronics to expire long before they should. And, unless you paint it multiple times throughout the year, metal will rust. Wood work also needs to be stained or painted annually.
After one month in Poneloya we moved into a guest house in the bustling city of Leon.
Although there’s a lot to do in Leon, there aren’t many expats living there. Getting to know a few locals was great, but we soon realized we needed at least a couple of friends with similar interests, outlooks and life experiences.
Another downfall of Leon is the unbearable heat.
During the last month of dry season temperatures soar upwards of 40 degrees Celsius (that’s 104 Fahrenheit for y’all Americans) with nearly 100% humidity and no breeze for relief.
When there is wind, it comes from the inland volcanoes rather than the ocean. It blows across the dry, dusty fields and into the city. There were days in Leon when we felt like we were standing in a giant hair-drying sand blaster.
Granada was the next city we called home. It’s similar to Leon in size and pace, but offers cool lake breezes.
We loved the location of Granada. It is close to Managua, the airport, Laguna de Apoyo and the National Handicraft market in Masaya.
Granada also offers more westernized options to coincide with the plethora of expats. But unfortunately for us, our parents fit in much more naturally with the age group of most expats who are currently living there.
Next stop? The coastal town of San Juan del Sur.
Originally we thought San Juan del Sur would be too small a place for us to settle down in, but boy were we wrong. Within a very short period of time the town had won us over.
Even though San Juan del Sur is touristy, there is a great mix of locals and expats in all age ranges. The expat community here is very diverse.
The house we currently rent is located in town about three blocks from the beach. We are up on a hill so we can take advantage of the cool breezes from Lake Nicaragua.
Sounds great? Right?
Well, it probably would be if dogs and roosters weren’t barking and cock-a-doodle-doing all day and night. Last week they were competing to be heard over parades, firecrackers and the techo beats of Semana Santa. It seems as though every second week there is a holiday accompanied by a celebration, that can sometimes last for days.
After sixteen months of moving around we think we finally have figured out it.
The San Juan del Sur area is definitely where we want to settle down. We have been (and still are) passively looking for a property to call our own.
In a perfect world our ideal location would meet the following criteria:
- Close to town
- On a hill (so we’ll have breezes)
- Ocean view
- Close to a beach
- Priced right
- Away from dogs, roosters, parades and fireworks
- Flexibility and options for house construction
Our list is long, but amazingly enough we think we’ve found something that gets a check in all the boxes.
We are super excited to be meeting with a friend (and developer) later this week to learn more about his plans for his 100 acre development located just outside of town.
For anyone that thinks that Elisha and I are care free and always ready for adventure I have a story to share with you. It goes like this…
On February 9, 2012 I received an email from a blog follower. It read as follows:
“My name is Cameron, fellow Canadian. 5 years ago some friends and myself bought a beachfront lot with a beat up house on it (sight unseen). Up until now nobody has been able to go down there and check it out. My wife and two young daughters 4 and 6, plan to drive to Poneloya in mid-March and stay as long as we can. 3 months or so.”
Cameron went on to ask us if we could take a look at the house for him as he only had pictures from when the house was purchased. His pictures showed a house that was rough around the edges. What we saw was a few walls, no roof and a lot of garbage. I guess what Cameron didn’t know was how hard the ocean and heat is on homes that close to the sea. We replied to his email explaining that the house was in pretty bad shape, but we didn’t include any pictures.
Fast forward to yesterday…
Elisha and I were visiting our friend Carlos in Poneloya when we decided to go for a stroll down the road. 5 minutes into our walk and we see a guy up the road a bit waving at us and calling my name. Oddly enough, this isn’t the first time someone we have never met recognized us from pictures on our blog and flagged us down on the beach in Poneloya.
This time it turned out to be none other than our fellow Canuck, Cameron Yee. We learned that him and his wife Ashlie have been on the road for three weeks, traveling with their two children Lila and ChynaMae in a big diesel van that they have nick-named Chocolate Charlie. They started their journey from their home in Oregon and have traveled through the United States, Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras to arrive here in Nicaragua with their two daughters.
When Cameron and Ashlie saw the house they were shocked and a little dismayed at the state that it was in. Their daughter Lila, ever the optimist declared,
“It’s beautiful Mommy!” and then ran toward the beach with her sister in tow.
It became abundantly clear that Cameron and Ashlie would need to switch to Plan B and find somewhere else to stay. Normally this would be easy, but since we are in the middle of Semana Santa celebrations every hotel, hostel and rental home is full. The short term solution is to park inside the gates at Carlos’ place Hostal El Pulpo, run an extension cord to an air conditioner in the van and camp out.
Over the last couple of days we’ve had an opportunity to spend some time with the Yee’s. As you would expect they are easy going and a lot of fun. Their girls are super cute and excited to try new things.
Less than an hour after landing on the beach ChynaMae spotted a huge Brahma cow, not too far from where she was building her sandcastle. She took off running after it with her Mom, running behind her. She eventually got close enough that the cow noticed her – stopped and swung it’s head around – and stared her straight in the eye. That was enough to stop her in her tracks. Mae’s selective hearing finally tuned in to her Mom’s calls and she turned back and ran for the water. This should give you a bit of a glimpse into the girls’ personalities and why they are so much fun to hang out with.
The Yee’s will be connected to the world again soon via a Claro 3G rocket stick. If you’d like to read more about the adventures of this super cool and fun family check out their Nica Bound.
Personally, we can’t wait to see where their adventure takes them next!