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4 Things I Wish I’d Known Before I Moved Out of the US

San Juan del Sur Nicaragua | Moving Overseas | Expat Living [Photo by Lauren Stocker]

Photo by Lauren Stocker

You’ll know what to do when the time comes. Just follow your heart and what will make you happy” wrote my grandmother in an email to me three months before I made one of the most defining decisions of my life: The decision to quit my job with a Fortune 300 company and move to Nicaragua.  

My mind was a wrestling match between excitement and fear.  Fortunately the lure of adventure beat out the fear… just barely.  

I didn’t leave California and take a 75% pay-cut in my salary thinking I wouldn’t return for years, or maybe ever. I left thinking that I could come back home at any time.  That I’d return just as soon as I checked off a few personal goals – such as volunteering in an orphanage, learning to surf and speak Spanish.  That mindset was enough for me to take the next step and buy a one-way ticket to Nicaragua. 

That was back in 2007, and to this day I can honestly say that I have never, not even once, regretted that decision.  Note to reader: That does not mean there haven’t been moments over the years when I’d miss my friends or crave first world conveniences like super fast internet and fancy restaurants. It just means that the highs always outweigh the lows.  

So given the choice to do over, I’d choose a lifestyle of freedom and service again and again. Here are a few things I wish I’d known before I made the leap of faith. 

[Read more…]

Travel Tips from Expats who live in Nicaragua

Travel Tips from Expats in NicaraguaWhile we like to keep a glass-half-full perspective at San Juan Live, we also know that life isn’t a never-ending happy hour.  Nicaragua can be a little rough around the edges and San Juan del Sur has experienced some “growing pains” over the years.

But we think it’s all about your expectations.  If you expect the sun to shine 365 days a year, October in San Juan del Sur will disappoint you. If you expect the ocean to always be warm, you’ll be surprised in February when the windy season makes the temperature drop… a little.  The power does go out occasionally, but the beach is always open.   So if you’re considering a vacation, a wedding, or even a long term relocation to Nicaragua, we suggest you do your homework first.

To help, we’ve curated a shortlist of travel tips from local expats who are knowledgeable about the country and provide trustworthy information.

[Read more…]

San Juan del Sur Cervecería: Hopps Trail Blazing

San Juan del Sur Cervecería, Craft beer and music in San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua | Photo Credit : Mathyas Kurmann

Photo Credit | Mathyas Kurmann

Nicaragua is not known for its innovative brews and you won’t find many craft brewmasters in this part of the world.  In fact until recently, you’d be hard pressed to get your hands on anything other than a Toña or Victoria. Occasionally a seasonal variety would find its way to San Juan’s popular bars, but really Nicaragua is ‘rum country’ and Flor de Caña pretty much has the monopoly. 

But we’ve got good news for beers lovers.  All that’s changing.   The craft beer scene is slowly, very slowly, finding its way down to our beloved beach town.  And San Juan del Sur Cervecería owners Brendan DeBlois, Matt Greenberg and Bobby Hottensen are leading the way.

[Read more…]

Video Interview: What you need to know before you build a home in Nicaragua

video-optin-will-grupomax

You want to design your dream home in Nicaragua, and take advantage of the lower construction costs. But you live in the US and can’t just hop on a flight every time you want to see how the building is progressing.

You want to feel confident in the builder, confident in the construction supervisor and confident of the construction methods.  Fortunately there are ways to navigate the home building process and we’ve asked Will Pattison from GroupoMax, for his best advice to ensure a smooth experience.

GroupoMax has built over 50 projects in the area from custom homes (like these lovely ocean view casitas) to multi-level commercial buildings and hotels, so he’s the perfect person to get your questions answered.

Will ends the interview with some great insights on starting a business here.  So make sure you watch until the end.
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Día de Los Donuts: Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth

Graphic Design by Bryan Clark Design in Nicaragua

Graphic Design by Bryan Clark Design in Nicaragua

There’s a sweet new aroma in town that’s difficult to resist.

Día De Los Donuts, San Juan del Sur’s first ever donut shop, opened it’s doors on March 15, 2015.  Artfully decorated with brightly colored walls and a beautifully hand painted Day of the Dead themed mural, the cozy storefront entices locals and travelers alike.
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How much is a Nicaragua property worth in this market?

appraisal-report-cover-outlineIf you’re looking to buy a property in Nicaragua, market comparables (or “comps”) will help you determine will help you determine what’s good value (and what’s not) to ensure you get a good deal.

And if you’re going to sell your Nicaragua property quickly the first thing you’ll need to know is how much your property is worth compared to other properties in today’s market.

It’s obvious really… Reliable market comps help both sellers and buyers make better decisions and move forward with confidence.

Trouble is, in Nicaragua official market data is not available. So savvy buyers and sellers need to find different ways to plug the data gap.

If you’re interested, we’ll show you how to do just that.

How to plug the real estate market data gap in Nicaragua.

Take a look and you’ll see what we mean.

Why Natural Building Techniques Matter In Nicaragua

A multitude of factors are converging to make natural building techniques the right choice for construction in Nicaragua.

But are these techniques right for your dream home?

In this video, Austin Drill of Casa de Tierra explains the reasons why natural building is taking off in Nicaragua and walks you through some of the specific techniques that he has used with great success in San Juan del Sur. [Read more…]

Moving to San Juan del Sur with school-age kids? You’re in luck.

When you’re a parent with school-age kids, moving to San Juan del Sur as an expat has an added challenge: How do you ensure that your kids get a good education?

In fact the list of things you want your child to learn at school is a long one. So long that you may be worried that you might not find the right fit for your family’s needs.

If this is something you’re anxious about, spend a few minutes watching the video below because it will help put your fears to rest.

In the video Brooke talks with Julie Speier, founder and director of San Juan Day School about the kind of experiences and education that kids have at the school. [Read more…]

6 Reasons to Choose Nicaragua for your Destination Wedding

Photographed by the talented Two Of You Photography team, Nicaragua provides stunning natural backdrops and charming antique architecture for the perfect destination wedding.  Click to view 6 Reasons to Choose Nicaragua for your Destination Wedding. #SanJuanLive http://sanjuandelsur.org/reasons-to-choose-a-nicaragua-destination-wedding/

Two Of You Photography

Getting married?

Why not consider tying the knot in an exotic locale away from your hometown?

Nicaragua’s got my vote and here are 6 great reasons why:

1. Do the Math

You can’t ignore the low price tag of a destination wedding in Nicaragua.  Run the numbers and you’ll probably find that traveling to Nicaragua with your partner and close loved ones will cost much less than the typical 150 guest wedding on your home turf.  Many resorts in Nicaragua offer attractive all-inclusive wedding packages combining lodging, dining, wellness services and a memorable celebration. Even after you add the cost of air-fare for friends and family, the expenses could easily be less than saying “I do” in the US.  For example, check out this unbelievable wedding deal from Villas de Palermo starting at just $1,000.

[Read more…]

Escuela Adelante: A New Kind of International School

Free smiles.  Giving time and money to making a difference in the world.  Check out this A New Kind of International School : http://sanjuandelsur.org/escuela-adelante-school/  [Awesome photo by Jessica Gildersleeve]

Photo Credit : Jessica Gildersleeve

Escuela Adelante developed organically from free English classes based out of the Biblioteca Mobile. Co-founding director Carrie Valladares, an attorney for Microsoft in Seattle, envisioned bringing international education standards to San Juan del Sur in the form of a new type of international school. With program guidance from co-founding director Jamie Hunter, an American teacher and San Juan del Sur resident with a masters degree in education and child development, and the support of a dedicated teaching staff, the program has blossomed into the vibrant bilingual language learning center that it is today.

Free Bonus: Are you interested in volunteering at a non-profit like Escuela Adelante? Don’t forget to grab our list of charitable organizations active in San Juan del Sur so that you can volunteer on your next visit.

The program is a 2 year English language course taught in congruence with the ESL course at UPOLI (Universidad Politecnica de Nicaragua) with books sourced from the Oxford University Press.  The school is accessible and has a locally tailored fee structure to establish a sense of worth to the program but without prohibiting attendance from any eager local student. [Read more…]