“In the U.S. and Canada, people are driven to accumulate things, to work all their lives, to hold on and amass more and more, to own their house before they die. And for what?” says Cheryl Lafond. “All I wanted was a way to live a simple life, to be happy, and enjoy my surroundings,”.
The Canada native was in her early 40s when she lost her job as a safety officer in the oil and gas industry. Although was wasn’t near retirement age, she didn’t feel like scrounging for a job along with everyone else during such a bad economy in her hometown of Calgary.
So instead, she decided to retire early…to Nicaragua.
Cheryl now lives in a one-bedroom, one-bathroom apartment in the beach town of San Juan del Sur, and she feels right at home. She especially likes her rooftop patio for relaxing and she’s only three blocks from the beach. For $400, plus electricity, she has everything she wants here.
In Canada, Cheryl’s mortgage alone was $2,000 per month, which was cost-prohibitive without a job. Her total cost of living each month was coming to $4,000. In San Juan del Sur, Cheryl can live off her savings and she generally spends around $1,000 a month.
Cheryl has made lots of friends in San Juan del Sur and she enjoys meeting them for drinks and meals. And with over 60 restaurants in town, she has plenty of choices. But her favorite way to spend time with friends is lounging at the beach, where they can get fish carpaccio, chicken wings, or a veggie wrap each for $1 and a beer or rum drink for the same. And the killer sunsets are free.
“I’m an outgoing person, so it was very easy to make friends here,” Cheryl says. “But even if you’re not, there are so many activities to join…and that’s where you start meeting people. I participate in water aerobics, trivia, happy hours, and I do it more often now that I’m retired and don’t have to get up for work the next day. Who would have ever imagined that I could live a retired life when I was so young?”
Nicaragua’s warm weather was a big draw for Cheryl. “Who enjoys shoveling snow, walking in freezing rain, staying at home because it’s simply too cold to go out?” she says. “Here in Nicaragua, I live in a beautiful beach town where the weather is sunny and warm all year round. I’m surrounded by palm trees, plants, and flowers. Every now and then I see monkeys playing or beautiful birds flying by.”
A piece of advice that Cheryl offers to anyone considering living in Nicaragua is to learn Spanish. “I only speak a bit but I’m learning all the time and it’s important to learn the language of the country you live in,” she says. “Then you get to know the locals as well and that makes such a difference…wouldn’t you always want to have friends from the country you adopted?”
Cheryl is loving her life by the beach in Nicaragua. “For me, I couldn’t have found a better place to retire so young,” she says. “Everything is so simple here. I do what I want. No one bothers me. I wear shorts or summer dresses and flip flops all the time.
“Sometimes I feel like I’m in a dream, it’s so surreal to be here. The weather and simple lifestyle are perfect for me.”
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