Sorry to let you down, but you won’t find a moon pie in Nicaragua. Forget about finding a quality potato peeler or garlic-stuffed green olives. And it’s tough to locate flavored chia seeds or flavored vodka. Looking for Good and Plenty candies? Don’t look here.
No, there are plenty of things you’ve had all your life (or can easily get) in the U.S. or Canada that you just won’t find here, or in many locales you’ll read about in these pages. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
I live in my own ocean-view home that cost 1/10th of what it would have in the States. Here, different bunches of people call me “friend.” With the expats I belong to book clubs, I go to painting, music, and dance classes, to lunches, dinners, days at the beach, the spa, or the resort to relax, restore, and rejuvenate. With my local friends, the experiences are often more adventurous: Looking for waterfalls in unheard-of places, going to festivals, preparing a picnic on a virgin beach, singing Karaoke (adventurous for me, because I can’t sing), and dancing at the local disco, at my age…and loving it. It wasn’t always this way. I used to live a “regular” life in the U.S.
What happened to the American Dream?
Born and raised in Buffalo, NY, I never liked the cold and snow. I couldn’t wait to get out of there. After college and grad school, I finally settled in San Diego, California, which suited me well. My kids were born there, my best friends lived there. I was living the American Dream.
Or was I? I became increasingly bored with my life. It was OK, but it certainly wasn’t a riveting existence. I also became disillusioned with the direction of my country, the disappearing morals, the disrespect from younger generations.
Jump to 2006. After being told by a financial advisor that I would never be able to retire in the U.S. as long as I lived, I snapped. What happened to that American Dream I was promised? I had worked since the day I turned 16, followed the rules, bought real estate, and was never arrested. Where was my reward? My easy living status at retirement age? It was all a sham. More like an anvil on the head. So I moved to Nicaragua.
Yes, there are many things I don’t have here. I don’t always have electricity; it goes out from time to time. The internet also stops. I might be in the middle of writing an article or on a Skype call with my daughter. In these cases, I grab some cool white wine and continue reading the book of the month under the starlit heavens. You can see 86 of the 88 constellations in the vast Nicaraguan night sky.
If the electricity goes out during the day, I just call friends and we all go to the beach for a picnic. I don’t have canned coconut water—which is all the rage these days in the U.S. for a good digestive system. Instead, I walk about 10 feet outside my front door, pick a coconut off my tree, cut the top off and drink a full glass full of fresh, unadulterated coconut juice (something far healthier).
Then there are those “other things” I don’t have. I don’t have rush hour traffic. Just consider the relief of that. I don’t have to keep up with the Joneses. No judgment here. (And if there is, it’s from other expats who lived that way back home and haven’t yet learned that judging and evaluating others just makes you miserable.)
I don’t have any financial dilemmas, because moving here and lowering my monthly budget so dramatically has brought me financial peace. I can live here for the rest of my days on the little money I do have. I don’t have the stress I used to have every day living in the U.S.
Way back when I first announced to my friends that I had bought a house here, they thought I was out of my mind. One friend even talked to an international real estate guy, telling him that his crazy friend had purchased a two-bedroom, two-bathroom ocean view home on half an acre of land in Nicaragua for $132,000. The agent responded, “You have a very smart friend. Nicaragua has some of the best virgin beaches and deals on beach property in the whole world. It was a smart investment.” So yes, it’s not quite like the U.S., but that’s not a problem.
When you move abroad, you will not have everything that you are used to. So, you either come up with a plan to create what you are missing where you are, or you learn to live without it.
Every time I go to the U.S. I buy five theater-sized boxes of Good and Plenty candies and hide them from my daughter so she won’t yell at me. She is a nutritionist. They make me sick every time I eat them, but I love them. No, I can’t get Good and Plenty here at all, but really, they are not good for me anyway.
When you move abroad…you can create the exact life you always wanted to— and you can afford it as well. Make your hobby a business or make your business a hobby. Learn new skills. Start to fish, or paint, or dance. Become whatever you want to be. Don’t worry about the things you don’t have…embrace the things that you do have. You can make a better life than you had before…if that’s what you really want to do.
Your choices are up to you. Only you can create your dream life. By moving abroad, you gain options and opportunities out of your reach at home.