Each day International Living uncovers some of the most desirable–and cheapest–retirement havens on earth, including Nicaragua. In International Living’s free daily postcards, you can learn about retirement, property, travel and lifestyle opportunities from around the world.
An article of mine was recently published as an International Living postcard and I’m pleased to able to share it with you!
Life in This Beach Town Keeps Getting Better…
By Elisha MacKay
With our toes in the sand and mojitos in hand, my husband Gordon and I clink our glasses to another spectacular San Juan del Sur sunset. The sky is a brilliant hue of orange, yellow and red. Our four-month-old miniature schnauzer puppy lies at our feet, spent from her romp on the beach. Sixteen months have passed since we left our home, our jobs and friends and family in Alberta to start a new life in Nicaragua.
Our Nicaraguan adventure began in Poneloya where we rented a lovely little house on the beach. From there we moved to a guest house in Leon. Three months later we were living large in a luxury apartment in Granada. Opportunity knocked and we found ourselves living with three dogs, two cats and a goat in a beautiful six-bedroom lodge in Laguna de Apoyo.
And finally here we are in San Juan del Sur.
Not long after establishing roots in San Juan we knew we had found the place where we wanted to settle down.
San Juan can be touristy at times, but maintains a great mix of locals and expats. Within a month of living in San Juan we had formed a large network of friends. And it’s easy to get by here with little Spanish.
A budget of $1,400 per month allows us to live very well.
Affordable rental homes are fairly easy to find—$500 covers our rent for a very nice three-bedroom, two-bathroom home; cable TV and Internet are included. Electricity is extra, with monthly bills averaging around $50.
Our monthly grocery bill averages between $250 and $350. We eat very well. In addition to the fruit and vegetables that are delivered to our neighborhood daily via a farmer’s truck, we enjoy fresh fish from local fisherman and grass-fed filet mignon.
We have a vehicle, but could certainly get by without one. Living in town allows us to walk almost everywhere we need (and want) to go. We spend an average of $60 per month on fuel.
Neither one of us surfs, but San Juan has plenty to keep us entertained.
Tuesday evenings are reserved for Trivia Night at our favorite expat bar, Republika.
The Saturday morning Farmer’s Market at Big Wave Dave’s is a great place to catch up with friends. It’s here where we pick up delicious baked bread, smoked ham, cinnamon buns and other tasty treats that we have difficulty finding elsewhere.
If we’re in the mood on Sunday evenings we can catch a flick under the stars at the newest, coolest place in town—Howler Bar. It’s also become our favorite place to go for live music.
When we want to cool off we visit one of many nearby beaches. Sometimes we head south to Playa Hermosa.
Other times we go north to Playa Maderas. Both are within 20 minutes from our home and have beach bars that serve some of the tastiest fish tacos around.
The “Palm Island Pool” and swim-up bar (literally a bar you swim up to) at the Surf Ranch resort is our preferred place to catch some rays while sipping cheap, frosty Tonas (the local beer).
Gordon and I have really grown to love the laid-back coastal lifestyle San Juan del Sur offers. And as each sunshiny day passes, life in Nicaragua just keeps getting better and better.
Other International Living Postcards that may interest you:
This year we celebrated St. Paddy’s Day much of the same way we would have had we been in Canada. We participated in a pub crawl.
The festivities kicked off midday from Big Wave Dave’s Bar & Restaurant. There were a couple of things that made this particular pub crawl unique – our mode of transportation and the cost.
We paraded through the city on a horse cart, two ox carts and a jeep. The fact that drinking and riding in an ox cart through the city is completely legal made for a very interesting day.
Locals lined the streets snapping photos of us as we paraded around town.
St. Patrick’s Day is a holiday that Nicaraguans have heard of, but don’t celebrate. To them it’s a day in March when they get to witness Gringos getting as drunk as some Nicas do on Sundays.
And at $20 USD for transportation, rum and beer on the cart, as well as drinks at each of the 4 establishments we stopped at the price was hard to beat.
Huge thanks to John Crilly of Classic Cruisers for organizing the event. Special thanks also to Dan & Cesar for allowing me to combine some of their photos with mine to create the large gallery of images shown below.