We’re lying together in a hammock. The sun is shining brightly overhead, there’s a cool breeze, and I can hear the distant sounds of a carnival. Our garden is lush and full of blooming hibiscus and ginger plants. Our fountain gurgles and above us the banana leaves sway. Once a dream, life here in Granada, Nicaragua, is now a reality.
Only a few months ago my husband and I were buried under a mountain of past due bills watching our bank account drain faster than we could manage. I was working 50, sometimes 60 hours a week while my husband was at work before 5 a.m. and coming home too tired to eat dinner. We were in New Orleans, Louisiana, known for its parties and culture, but there was no time to enjoy life. We were slowly drowning.
One afternoon without thinking I half-heartedly mentioned the possibility of a better life, maybe in Central America. I had been to Nicaragua several times and dreamed of returning. I was surprised when my husband Shylow responded with an enthusiastic “let’s do it.” Could we really make the move? Could we afford to try this adventure? Would our house sell before we ran out of money? Were we really going to say goodbye to all our friends and start over?
The answer to all those questions was a simple “yes.” We quit our jobs, had some yard sales and put a “for sale” sign in the front yard. We hadn’t settled on a final destination, we just wanted a place where we could work to live, not live to work.
Our adventure began in Nicaragua, as I felt comfortable there and was familiar with the cities. I knew we could easily get around on public transport for a fraction of what a taxi in New Orleans would charge to drive me around the block.
We took off from Houston, Texas, with just a few bags. On our meager budget, we were able to spend comfortable nights in a hotel for $20. We drank world-class Flor de Caña rum for less than $2 a glass. My husband enjoyed carne asada for $1.50 while I ate ceviche for the same price.
After just a few days, my husband asked: “Why go anywhere else? I love it here.”
We rented a house in Granada for $450 a month while looking at real estate. We finally found our ideal property at the end of La Calzada, the most popular street in Granada, only 300 yards from the largest lake in Central America. The house once belonged to the renowned Nicaraguan poet, Joaquín Pasos Cuadra. It is a large five-bedroom colonial and fortunately for us, the fall in house prices means this magnificent house is less than $150,000.
We have been able to visit the beautiful Pacific beaches, enjoy sunsets in shades of purple and pink and spend time living near the crystal-clear Laguna de Apoyo, a volcanic crater lake only a 20-minute taxi ride from the center of Granada.
Our experiences of the health care in Nicaragua has been great. My husband had to have an emergency wisdom tooth extraction and was able to see a wonderful dentist for a mere $35 and returned for a $20 teeth cleaning.
And this month we’re having the grand opening of our small Bed & Breakfast, Casa Pasos por Susanna.
With new friends, a different culture, and now our own small business, we have everything we could ever have wanted from a new life, and more. We may be a little younger than some of the people who make this move, but when we saw and read about how happy people were who took the plunge, we said, “Why wait?” Now we are living our dream.
Editor’s note: We publish real-life stories like this all the time in International Living magazine. You can get a subscription here.