Is Living in San Juan del Sur Right For You?


Think of any location in the world and you’ll come across a divide between people who love living there and people who don’t.

San Juan del Sur is no exception.

On the one side of the divide are the fans. They love the affordable lifestyle, the easy going vibe, the good value real estate, the proximity to nature, and yes, probably also the in-house help. Some will be evangelical about the surfing, some the nightlife and others the jungles and volcanoes. This group will be plugged into the local expatriate network, involved in local community activities and they’ll probably be able to get by with a little Spanish.

On the other side are the frustrated. They miss the conveniences of back home and find it hard to get things done in Nicaragua. They wish they could access all the foodstuffs they are used to and get bored when life moves slowly. If they are running a business in a remote region they may get frustrated with poor infrastructure, patchy services and difficulty hiring the right people.

But here’s the thing; these two camps are not static. In over a decade of living in Nicaragua, I’ve seen raving fans become frustrated and the frustrated turn into raving fans.

I’m more interested in the latter.

Becoming a fan does not mean that all your frustrations disappear, but it does mean you decide to take them in your stride.

I’m convinced that managing expectations is at the heart of living happily overseas. Realizing up front that no culture is 100% perfect, no climate is comfortable 100% of the time, no location is 100% free of crime and no community is 100% welcoming.

Living overseas, like most things, is what you make of it. If you engage with what is going on, become more accepting, open-minded and adaptable, you’ll find yourself naturally heading towards the camp that’s full of happy fans.

Here are some tips that I learned on my journey to become a fan of living in Nicaragua:

  • Put in the effort to learn some Spanish.
  • Get involved in local community activities. (Maybe even set up a new initiative.)
  • Start a hobby. (Learning to surf is a good one.)
  • Surround yourself with positive people.
  • Stock up on your favorite foods when you visit Managua.
  • Take advantage of the affordable cost of home help. (A real plus if you are raising a family.)
  • Get out there and make some new friends. (Even if you don’t speak their language.)
  • Learn about the local culture and history. (It will put the differences in context, and take the “shock” out of culture shock.)
  • Read books about Nicaragua written by local authors.
  • Slow down.

Have tips of your own? Let’s hear them in the comments, we’d love to have your thoughts.



  1. Luis Contreras says:

    Excellent advice. I have also seen the dynamic you describe and your take on it is valid in my opinion. Your list is excellent and cant think of anything to add. I have been living here for ten years (migrated from US) and I am in the third category. I loved it then and its even better now!

    • Editor SanJuanDelSur.Org says:

      Hi Luis, Thanks for stopping by. A third category: a fan who becomes even more of one. I like it.