Bird-watching, hiking, swimming in natural pools under rocky waterfalls, exploring coffee and cacao farms… “Matagalpa is a nature lover’s paradise,” says Texas-native Rick Lester. “It’s for people who love to see green year-round and appreciate a temperate climate like San Diego.”
When Rick retired from the construction business, he and his wife, Amelia, began searching for a new home overseas. Looking for a low-cost haven where they could establish Amelia’s dream business, they chose the lush, mountain city of Matagalpa in Nicaragua.
“We wanted to live and work in a large enough city that would have a sufficient client base to have a salon/spa business. With just over 150,000 people, Matagalpa is perfect,” says Rick. “It’s an active city with its own hustle and bustle. A lot of small businesses dot the city, many of them “Mom and Pop” stores, rather than large businesses.”
“In our spare time, we enjoying working in our garden, grilling on our patio, and meeting new people. We always try to invite expats traveling through Matagalpa to our home for lunch, dinner, or a couple of beers. We enjoy driving up to the Jinotega area and buying plants from local growers. The Selva Negra Mountain Resort, a peaceful cloud forest retreat, is just 25 minutes away so we go there at least once a month to have lunch or dinner.”
While Rick, 67, was ready to retire, Amelia wanted to continue earning as she had done back home—running a spa and beauty business.
The couple paid $185,000 for 5,000 square feet that included two houses with a courtyard in between. The total cost for the renovation of the front house that faced the street (which became the spa) and shipping the spa equipment from the U.S. was $60,000. The business has only been open for one year, and they hope to see a return on investment this year.
“Amelia only works three days a week by appointment and grosses $1,000 a month,” says Rick. “We pay one employee $125 per month to assist with the services. We are a full-service salon/spa and offer many services that are not available in other salons, unless you go to Managua (two hours away).”
Rick uses his construction and management background to help Amelia. He manages the financial side of the business while she does everything else.
Rick and Amelia live a happy and productive life in Matagalpa. With a part-time business and a Social Security check, they have everything they need to live well and travel without touching their nest egg.
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