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Location, location, location!

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. 

Rocky Mountains

Canmore, Alberta, Canada

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. 

This way to the ocean...

– Having the sand right at our steps was even better

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. 

Dining Tables

– An affordable and comfortable housing option in 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. 

Granada, Nicaragua

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.  

Mojito Friday at Grill House

– Mojito Friday with the gang at Grill House was always a good time!

Next stop? The coastal town of San Juan del Sur.

The Bay of San Juan del Sur

The Bay 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. 

Location, location, location!

– Here in San Juan del Sur we have many great friends from all over the world

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
  • Jungle-”esque”
  • 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.

Near Perfect Packers

Initially Gord and I thought we would have a significant list of items that we should have left behind in Canada, but after some contemplation we have come the conclusion that we are actually deserving of the title,“Near Perfect Packers”.  

If you missed our post on “What We Packed in Our Suitcases” and would like to read it now click here.

As we packed up for our move from Poneloya to Leon we decided to leave a few things in storage with Carlos at Hostal El Pulpo.  Although our warm weather clothing will come in handy once we head up to the mountains, we definitely don’t need jeans and hoodies here in Leon.  Our linens will be used again when we get a place of our own, but for now, they too are in storage.  We aren’t sure when we’ll be using our snorkel equipment but are still happy we packed our masks and snorkels.

The one and only thing we figure we should have left behind was the misting system we purchased online before we left.  It’ll be great to have once we get settled into a place of our own, but seeing how that won’t be for awhile to save on weight and space in our luggage we should have left it behind.

As surprising as it may seem there isn’t any one particular thing or things that we didn’t pack in our suitcases that we feel we should have. A couple of things that would be nice to have include a sharp kitchen knife, my Spanish workbook, our bathroom scales (so we know when to lay off the gallo pinto and cerveza) and bug spray with deat.  

All in all we are patting ourselves on the back for a packing job well done!

Living in Leon

It’s day two at our new digs in Leon and we are settling in quite nicely. We have rented a room in a colonial guest house at a cost $300 USD for the month.

Finding a decent long term rental in Leon isn’t easy so we feel very fortunate to have found this place. With next to nothing advertised on the internet the best way to find more desirable rental property in Leon is by word of mouth.  Luckily one of the staff members at Lazy Bones Hostel gave us the heads up on this hidden gem.

From the outside our place doesn’t look all that interesting; not much by way of curb side appeal and notice there are no signs indicating that there are rooms for rent.

But as you open the doors and step inside what a world of difference.  Beautiful artwork adorn the walls with tasteful decor throughout.

In the front of the house there is a common area to watch television.

As you walk through the property towards the back of the house there is a beautiful, large and lush garden.

I love the contrast of the greens in the garden against the checkered tile floor.

We share a nice little kitchen with the other house guests.  It’s equipped with the basics, but not much more.  We have a cabinet to call our own where we store the little bit of groceries we keep.  To ensure we are the ones enjoying the Tonas we bought we use a permanent marker to put our names on the cans.

There are plenty of additional dining tables.  A great place to take some Spanish lessons in the evening.

We have no shortage of places to sit down, relax, read a book or enjoy a beverage.  Classic rocking chairs and seating areas are plentiful.

This is our favourite garden in the house.  There are two little turtles that live here.

As you continue through to the back of the house (getting closer to where our room is located) there is another garden.

The door to our room is on the right. This area is a great place to sit during the day, as well as the evening.  It’s nice and quiet with warm breezes blowing through.  Very tranquil! 

Finally we have our room.  The bed is very comfy and has great pillows.  The fan does an awesome job of keeping the room cool, both during the day and at night.  It seems like we may not even need to use the air conditioner.  I guess I should have listened to Gord when he said we probably wouldn’t need it and we could have saved ourselves $100.

We have cable TV with a couple of English channels which I’m quite excited about.  After not watching any television at all for over a month it’ll be nice to sit down and watch a show or enjoy a movie once in awhile.  Unfortunately I don’t think I’ll be able to get The Bachelor. 😦

The closet is a bit smaller than the one we had at our house in Poneloya, but combined with the space in the dresser we managed to squeeze everything in.

Not quite as fantastic as waking up to the ocean – but still not bad – this is the view from our room.

We hope you’ve enjoyed the photos and description of our place here in Leon. We are looking forward to starting Spanish classes, exploring the city during the day and night, discovering some hot spots for cheap eats, meeting more interesting people and continuing on and enjoying every moment of this amazing Nicaraguan adventure!

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