I get the question a lot, “What made you decide to move to Nicaragua?” The answer is usually a list of things we wanted to get away from in the United States. The rat race, commercialism, over crowded, abundance of rules & regulations… But to me, what is more interesting is why I choose to stay and live in Nicaragua.
Besides working with Mango Rosa, one of my favorite things about living in San Juan del Sur is the focus on family and friends. When living in the United States, I barely found opportunities between work, household duties, and handling the kids’ needs to have quality time with my friends and extended family. In Nicaragua it is part of the culture to put family and friends first. Working and making money is not the most important thing in life, and with a much lower cost of living, it doesn’t have to be.
Affordable living is a big draw to living here and part of the reason why I and my family were able to exit the rat race and focus on the more important things in life. In Nicaragua my family spends the morning together until 8am when it’s time to leave for school, we get to be together daily to share lunches that our house cleaner prepares, and my husband is usually home by 6pm to spend the evening together as a family. Often times we meet friends at the beach for happy hour and a sunset or have dinner at a friend’s house or restaurant. Our lives are more flexible here because work doesn’t have to be the priority. Since we live in San Juan del Sur, where there is a high population of Expats there are many activities we can enjoy that are similar to what would be offered at home. My husband and I take boxing classes together a couple times a week, I have time to go on a spontaneous hike, yoga class, or paddle board session with friends, and we usually have a date night once a week.
There is a passion that comes with the Latin culture and it thrives here. Nicaraguans have a love for life and it is easy to see on the smiling faces and kind attitude of the local people. Nicaragua is also alive with traditions. There is always a reason for a celebration, loud music, dancing, and costumes. Holidays are for being with family, enjoying food, and relaxing.
There’s a certain amount of freedom here, mostly due to being less crowded than California where we moved from. There is more freedom to have a bonfire on the beach, carry an adult cocktail around town, let your kids play in a restaurant, and let your dog run without a leash. There’s way less judgement of what your children are wearing or how you keep your house, it’s more about the experiences than the outer appearance. There’s no keeping up with the Jones here. I don’t feel the need to throw lavish parties or have Pintrest boards filled with completed projects.
The warm weather and beautiful sandy beaches are what drew us to this country, but it is also a reason to stay. We spend at least one of our weekend days at the beach, relaxing, playing in the waves, collecting shells, looking at hermit crabs, drinking beer, and spending time with friends. The surf is outstanding here, and even though we are not avid surfers, we love renting boards and getting out in the waves. We go to the beach just to build bonfires, listening to our friends play the guitar and sing into the night.