If you enjoy fabulous sunsets, the sound of the surf lulling you to sleep, a great choice of international restaurants, a laidback lifestyle, and no stress, put San Juan del Sur on your list of places for retirement.
Few beach locations are as charming, quirky or as fun as this town on Nicaragua’s Pacific coast. Some people say that they hear the Pied Piper as he invisibly walks the shores, luring people to stay forever; based on the number of people who arrive and never leave or who visit once and are back permanently in a couple of months.
My own story resonates. I was sitting on the San Juan del Sur beach one night viewing the most spectacular sunset ever. The next day I bought a house and came back in 90 days to live in San Juan del Sur. I packed up everything in San Diego, rented out my house, and left. Forever. That was 10 years ago. It was the best decision I ever made.
So what draws people to retire in San Juan del Sur?
Two things come to mind immediately: the lifestyle and the cost. You may think that all beach towns have a similar draw, but this isn’t necessarily so. Some beach towns are large and you’ll need a car just to get to the grocery store. Others have built-up marinas and fancy seaside dining restaurants that cost an arm and a leg. Often, by-the-shore residences are out of your budget or in gated communities that have many rules.
This isn’t the case in San Juan del Sur. Here you can live in the tiny city or just outside of town and never have to own a vehicle. Three square blocks of city-living provide all the basic needs: an open-air market with non GMO produce, economical meals, and 68 International and Nicaraguan restaurants to choose from, a store that caters to foreigners with their comfort food from home, a first-class dental office, a clinic and a brand new hospital at the end of this year, regular as well as alternative medicine pharmacies, and lots of places to have a cappuccino, a cold beer, or glass of wine.
And there is no shortage of entertainment either: 22 beaches to enjoy, many upscale resorts where you can while away the hours poolside, with great restaurants, good company, and live music any night—including salsa, merengue, Latin pop, rock ’n roll, blues, jazz, funk, swing, and reggae. You name it, we’ve got it.
Bus transportation to other cities is affordable and easy to use too. And while there are some upscale restaurants in San Juan del Sur, a lobster meal with all the trimmings and a glass of wine in the finest places on the beach will never cost more than about $22, including tax and tip. If you visit one of the regular restaurants, you usually dine well for about $10. And if you eat in the market, you’ll have a large and great meal for $3 that includes chicken, beef, pork, or fish, sweet plantains, a cabbage salad, rice and beans, tortillas, and cheese. Add a fresh smoothie of passion fruit, watermelon, cantaloupe, hibiscus flower, chia seeds, or mango and you’re set for the day.
You’ll Never be Bored if you Retire to San Juan del Sur
San Juan del Sur has a large expat community with several social activities during the week. Go to Take-It-Easy Monday at El Timon for cheap appetizers and top 40s hits from the 60s through to today. Trivia Night or Name-That-Tune nights at Republika remain popular and fill up fast. Big Wave Dave’s Saturday morning market and Wednesday Wine night with James bring many Americans, Canadians, Brits, and others together.
There’s also water aerobics at Pelican Eyes, “Big Band” dance night at La Carreta, or afternoon pool get-togethers at the various resorts. Spend an evening at Art Night in El Timon, take a painting class, or marimba, guitar, voice, dance lessons. For such a small town, there’s plenty of expat social activity.
Few beach locations are as charming, quirky, or as fun or colorful as San Juan del Sur on Nicaragua’s Pacific coast. There’s something special about this place and no one seems quite able to describe what it is.
And then there’s the cost. A couple on a budget can live here for $1,500 a month. A single person can count on about $1,200. There are many people here living on just their social security check. And these prices include everything—furnished, one-bedroom apartments a couple blocks from the beach, food, and utilities (including WIFI)—everything you need to live in Paradise. The weather is warm and sunny year-round. Rainy season is not the rain-all-day-for-six-months weather that other countries have. In fact, it usually only rains at night.
And finally, something more esoteric, but important when considering a retirement location. No day is like any other under the San Juan sun. You may wake up in the morning with a plan, then something happens along the way to change it. And guess what? You don’t mind. Because you just had another fabulous day…even though it wasn’t the one you planned.
It’s not like home where things can be predictable, where habit forms the backbone of your day. Where going out to dinner with your friends each week, exercising on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, doing errands on Saturday and cleaning your house on Sunday becomes your existence. San Juan del Sur will never do that to you. You will never be bored here. Living in this lively city keeps you on your toes, challenges you, makes you think, and keeps you young. So visit San Juan del Sur, and when the Pied Piper calls, follow his tune straight to your retirement dream life.
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