“When I was growing up I always wanted to live in a big city,” says Natalie Sullivan. “But when I did, it turned out I didn’t like it. I didn’t feel like I belonged to a community. That’s why I love San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua. Here I’m a big fish in a small pond and everyone knows me. I like the feeling of community and knowing that if I have a flat tire, someone coming down the road will help me change it.”
Fifty-year-old Natalie has lived in the hillside, beach retreat of San Juan del Sur for the past 12 years. With its golden-sand and horseshoe bay, San Juan del Sur is a postcard-perfect town, attracting tourists, beach-loving expats, and surf enthusiasts alike.
“My favorite vacation place used to be St. John in the Virgin Islands,” says Natalie. “But $1 million will barely buy you a shack there. San Juan del Sur, with its horseshoe-shaped bay, is just like my favorite bay in St. John. The country is just as beautiful, and yet the prices are about one-tenth what they were in St. John.”
Shortly after arriving in San Juan del Sur, Natalie landed a job managing the branch of a local real estate agency. She says that her income goes a lot further because of the low cost of living in San Juan del Sur. She now lives a higher quality of life at a much lower price.
“I live in a huge house across the street from the ocean,” says Natalie. “I literally look at a postcard photo when I look out my front door. My office is right across the street and I walk on the beach three to four times a week in the morning before work.”
Natalie loves the laidback Nicaraguan lifestyle and the fact that there’s less consumerism. “You don’t feel the pressure to buy more and more junk that you don’t need,” says Natalie. “You don’t feel judged because you’re not the perfect weight with the perfect figure crammed into the perfect clothes and perfect shoes. Nicaraguans accept you for who you are with all your imperfections intact.”
Natalie says her favorite thing about living in Nicaragua is how safe it is. “The bay, the friendly people, and the healthy food in Nicaragua attracted me here,” says Natalie. “But I love that I can actually hitchhike and not have to worry about it.”
“I like the sense of freedom I feel here. The U.S. is turning into a country where you can’t stand up for what you believe in because you might offend someone else. Nicaragua is the opposite. Live and let live…no one bothers you about anything.”
Natalie has some advice for those of you who are thinking of moving to Nicaragua. “Learn to be happy with what you have and not worry about what you don’t have. Embrace the changes and cultural differences, don’t be afraid…and enjoy the beauty and lifestyle that is Nicaragua.”
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