Monica Sedgwick and her husband, James, wandered into the laidback Nicaraguan beach town of San Juan del Sur about nine years ago. They were immediately hooked on its gorgeous beaches…colorful, yet less stressed lifestyle…fun people…and the fact that it was cheap to live there.
“Where else could we find this life?” says Monica. “We’re living in paradise, paying $250 a month for a three-bedroom house with a super view of the bay.”
“And there’s so much nature around. We have 22 beaches here, beautiful birds, monkeys, lakes and rivers. It’s a more simple life, but we also get to avoid all the negative things that we’d have living back home. Here it’s much safer to live. It’s like the old days when we were little. And it’s fun here. We have friends who come from all over the world.”
“Imagine that we only need a little to live here, but we’re living just as well—or better—than anywhere else. How much you make is really relative to your happiness, not to your bank roll or your status. And living abroad teaches you how wonderful a life you can have for so much less.”
Nicaragua has been good to them. With an easy-going day-to-day existence, they feel retired even though they are earning. Since we first met Monica and James, they’ve added two lovely daughters to their family, both of which are bilingual. Their six-year-old daughter attends a Nicaraguan school where only Spanish is spoken, and plays with both Nicaraguan and foreign children. The younger daughter is just starting to talk and can look at you and know what language to speak. This is one of the beauties of living in a foreign country—the children get a global education and become more understanding of cultures abroad.
“We really only need $1,200 a month to live on, but now we’re bringing in around $2,000 a month. James is singing and giving music classes and I’ve started a small business. We couldn’t be happier or in such a great financial position anywhere else.” With the kids getting a little older, Monica created a property management company to add to the family income. She cares for expat homes—particularly snowbirds who visit their paradise for a couple of weeks a year and then rent their home out the rest of the time. Monica finds renters, prepares and cleans the homes, takes care of broken items and other problems, receives the guests and tends to their needs while they are staying there.
James has formed a band that plays in various venues…and he also gives children and adults guitar and singing lessons for $10 an hour.
“The $40 to $60 I earn every night playing in restaurants, bars, and parties doesn’t sound like much. But most weeks I’m playing six nights a week, which averages around $1,200 a month. And the best of all is that I’m doing what I love every day.”
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