Live on a Lake in Nicaragua: Just $1,089 a Month

Ron and Debbie Goehring consider every single aspect of their lives better in Nicaragua than in their hometown of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. “We eat home-grown food, exercise, volunteer in our local community, and live a simple and fulfilling life immersed in the local culture. We have never regretted our decision to retire in Nicaragua.”

Both teachers, they were travelers from the start. “Throughout our married life, we explored the U.S. and traveled abroad extensively. When it was time to retire, we wanted something quirky, inexpensive, and adventurous, with a simplified lifestyle—abroad. Nicaragua fit the bill.”

Unlike many people, who choose city areas, these two country folks decided on Ometepe Island. This hourglass-shaped island is a world biosphere reserve and hosts two volcanoes: Concepción, which is still active, and lake-filled Maderas. The island is a nature haven and home to many indigenous people.

Since Debbie and Ron are passionate about cultural immersion, they decided to plant their feet in a small Spanish-speaking community where they are totally involved. According to Debbie, their new neighbors are “vivacious, friendly, and giving, which is the main reason we live in Nicaragua. The local people sold us on Nicaragua the minute we arrived.”

On Ometepe they purchased 3.45 acres of beachfront property, remodeled an old beach shack, and built a guesthouse. Debbie started a mobile lending library for the elementary schools on the island. She volunteers wherever she can and writes a blog about their experiences. She goes hiking every day and also collects pre-Columbian pottery shards. Ron spends his days fishing, gardening, and cooking.

“We spend a total of $1,089 a month to live on this beautiful island. With a huge garden and tropical fruit trees in our yard, we spend only $25 a week on groceries. For health care, we opted to join the Vivian Pellas Metropolitano Hospital health discount program in the capital, Managua. Built to U.S. standards, this hospital provides excellent services to expats at about a quarter of what it would cost in the U.S.” says Debbie.

They got their Nicaragua permanent-resident cards as pensionados (retirees) as soon as possible and recommend this for everyone. In addition to the benefits, they don’t have to get their passports stamped every three months, which can be a hassle.

Debbie says, “Except for our morning coffee on our porch, when we watch the ferries pass by our house, life is anything but routine. We don’t follow a schedule. Horses and cows meander the volcanic-sand path in front of our house, chickens peck our sweet potatoes, and daily vendors arrive at our house to sell vegetables or ice cream. Cowboys herd their cattle by our front door. With all of our fruit trees and massive garden, it means we have lots of homemade jams, jellies, pies, cakes, breads, and cookies.

“If it’s a really hot day, we swim in the lake or take our kayak out for an early evening paddle to watch the sunset. We volunteer in many programs, which keeps us busy throughout the year. Life is never dull on Ometepe Island. We wouldn’t trade it for anything.”

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