A Relaxed Pace of Life and Rent of $550 a Month in Beach-Town Nicaragua

“I wanted to live well with less,” says Judith LaRoue of what drew her to a new life abroad. “I wanted to enjoy the life I love and believed I could do that better here in Nicaragua.”

Judith, 70, a retired educator, pastor, counselor, Montessori teacher, and self-professed “jack of all trades,” moved to Nicaragua last year. She’s always felt comfortable in Central America, having participated in mission trips to Honduras and visited Belize and Costa Rica. When she came to see a former student’s family in Ocotal, five years ago, she was hooked. “A perfect fit. I’ve never looked back. I only wish I had come earlier.”

When she arrived in Nicaragua, Judith planned to make her home in the colonial city of Granada. But one look at the bay and the sunsets of San Juan del Sur sold her on the Pacific coast beach town. “San Juan del Sur is a tiny city, so it’s easy to meet other expats and develop friendships quickly,” she says. “Art has always been important to me, and there is a new group here called Mil Colores, whose mission is to raise appreciation of the arts.”

The local food scene is pretty good, too. “Being from the food capital of the South, I love to cook but don’t do it very much. So it’s great that I’m living in a town in Nicaragua that has over 60 restaurants, with cuisine from all over the world, located in just three square blocks. Walking everywhere I want to is a must; it keeps me healthy,” says Judith.

Living in one of the most affordable countries in the Americas, Judith’s expenses are low, but she realizes she can do even better. Judith says, “I know I pay too much here ($550 a month on rent), though it’s still much lower than the $1,500 I had to pay in Atlanta. And I have a new apartment that includes everything, even my laundry. Food is much less expensive and fresher here; I prefer to buy from the farmers who come down my road with their handcarts than go to the local supermarket. Each month I take out $450 to $580 for all my expenses beyond my rent, and I always have money left over.”

Many retirees worry about what they’ll do when they move abroad. Not Judith. “I enjoy reading and working on projects. I am a Netflix junkie and I love to explore. So I am in my element. A slower pace of life means you take your time and do what you want. We have a decent library and no lack of intelligent conversation. Happy Hour at sunset at El Timón is a favorite, with their $1 Toñas (local beer) and appetizers. I meet there for dinner with friends now and then. I love entertainment, and where else can you have fire dancing, salsa lessons, live music, art shows, and new friends on a regular basis? Atlanta is very expensive, so I enjoy life here, because I can do more of the things I want to do.

“The things I like most about living here are the slow pace and the lack of unnecessary pressure. In Nicaragua, I have a much lower stress level. It is easier to be happy with who I am.”

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