“Nicaragua has everything I need: warm, friendly, family-oriented people and a good yoga-and-wellness community. It’s full of colorful and quirky individuals who have also chosen an off-the-beaten-path existence, and the sunny tropical climate is year round. I love that,” says Adrienne Greenwood.
“Here in San Juan del Sur, on Nicaragua’s Pacific Coast, I live a six-figure lifestyle on $1,500 a month. I can live here for much less, have a better quality of life, and have full-time help for $200 a month that would have cost $2,000 in Vancouver,” says Adrienne.
Adrienne made the move to Nicaragua with Pax, her one-year-old son. As a 41-year-old woman, she still had to create an income. Back in Whistler, Canada, she had a successful nail salon business that she sold in 2012. When she arrived in Nicaragua, she had just under $10,000 to invest.
Rather than starting from scratch, Adrienne decided to buy an existing business—a gift shop called Santosha OrgáNica, located right across from the beach in the heart of downtown San Juan del Sur. It’s a busy tourist area and nearby you can find Nicaraguan restaurants, a gelato store, tour offices, and more.
Describing the style of the shop as “young bohemian chic with a little surfer girl mixed in,” Adrienne sells an eclectic array of products including handmade brass, copper, or beaded jewelry, dolls, soaps, scarves, dresses, t-shirts, and more. The coffee, chocolate, raw honey, and coconut oil are all produced locally. And there are blankets from different cooperatives around Nicaragua, which helps artisans who live in rural areas get their products to market. She’s always looking for new things to offer her customers.
Adrienne feels that San Juan is a beach town with lots of opportunity. “It’s now on the edge of really becoming a huge tourist destination—not just a stopover for partying backpackers and surfers en-route to elsewhere,” she says. “I am seeing really cool brands being established here, and I want to be a part of that.”
Adrienne has no regrets about moving overseas. “I have met incredible like-minded people who are striving to make real changes to the structures and systems that keep us enslaved in the West,” she says.
“Here I see opportunity to create personal autonomy and a sustainable economy that supports communities and the environment. I doubt I could go back.
“Here, I can afford to operate a small business without it taking me away from my children or my enjoyment of life. I can surf, do yoga, and go to work…and I can afford full-time help at home and with the baby. My business life back in Canada and other responsibilities left me with little time for myself and for my kids and led me to adrenal exhaustion.
“And I get to sit in the store, gaze out at the beautiful ocean and people-watch. Who has that kind of job?”
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