The Downside to Life in Nicaragua

Everytime I talk to someone back home it seems like the one question that always gets asked… ‘How is life in Nicaragua?… It makes me think… How many times have you been asked ‘How is life in Canada/United States?’ What would you say?

Canada/United States: ‘Life is good… we commute to work, the kids go to school, we have all the kids activities and school functions, we see our whole family together for dinner and bedtime… (some families don’t even get that). It made me think of my answer to people when I’m asked about living in Nicaragua.

Playa Maderas
Just Beachin’

Nicaragua: Our days are pretty simple… I hike up a mountain that overlooks the ocean 5 days a week. Most of those days are with my 40lb toddler on my back. I work in the mornings while my daughter attends half day kindergarten, and we have a lovely Nanny that comes to our house to play with my son while I work. She also cleans my house which is AMAZING because it’s something that I never had/could afford in Canada. My son is exposed to Spanish language all morning while he plays. My daughter has an abundance of friends in the community. In the afternoons we choose between going to the beach, spending the day in the pool or just enjoying our time together. We are looking at Spanish classes, and horseback riding lessons, surf lessons and music classes as potential activities to fill our afternoons, but we are in no rush to fill the time. We are outside every day… even if it’s just to swing in the hammock with a book.

So, what’s the downside? It sounds so terrible right? Social media doesn’t show you the things we struggle with… it’s not designed like that for anyone. It is designed for people to ‘put their best selves out there’. Well even though life is overall wonderful here in Nicaragua we still have struggles… Here are my top 4 personal struggles with living in Nicaragua.

Making the Most of our Circumstances

1) Maintenance… OMG the maintenance on things that break… EVERYTHING breaks here. In the last 3 months we’ve been without a vehicle more than we’ve had one. It’s been hard… relying on friends for grocery and water runs… taking taxis… walking everywhere we can… At first, it was frustrating, having to keep sending my truck back to the mechanic. Then I started to change my mindset… it’s 30 degrees outside every day, and we live in paradise so ‘put your sneakers on and get to walking’. It has helped me to appreciate when we actually have our vehicle and are not house bound. Having an amazing community of friends here helps immensely. Without them I wouldn’t make it.

2) The trash… unfortunately this little town grew very fast. With increased tourism came increased need for single use plastic items to accommodate the ‘North American comfort levels’ of the tourists. As a result, way more trash litters the back roads and fill the landfill than you would typically like to see. Don’t get me wrong, there are efforts like beach cleanups, roadside cleanups, and plastic art initiatives, but it’s hard to teach a community about things like recycling and composting when the problem didn’t originate from them. It absolutely is a result of North American culture invading a small fishing village at a rate it was not prepared for. My hope is that there is a solution that can be found to benefit everyone.

3) The animals… the number of animals that I see that give me a pit in my stomach is really hard to handle. From the street dogs (which increased in population when the political crisis arose and many foreigners abandoned their dogs as they fled in fear – unjustifiable reason to abandon your animals in my opinion), to the work horses that have clearly been put to work too young and are not properly cared for. As an animal lover it is really hard for me to see as I have that bone in me that wants to save ALL of them and it’s just not possible. Now, there are a LOT of animals that are cared for properly here, but the ones that aren’t definitely pull at your heart strings.

4) My Husband… the BIGGEST downside to us living in Nicaragua right now is the time we have to be away from my husband. In most cases if we were in Canada we wouldn’t get to see him very much with him working up in a camp but the amount of distance between us is difficult. It’s hard for me to solo parent our two kids for most of the year… it’s just as hard for him to be away and not get to be there for our kids for most of the year. Lately I’ve been reminding myself and him that this is temporary… because we made the choice to move to Nicaragua (where cost of living is substantially lower than Canada) by the end of 2020 we will be in a financial place to have him semi-retire and only work 3 months a year. 3 months a year will be amazing! Being able to have him here for 9/12 months is more time than we’ve ever gotten to have him home consecutively.

Our Hearts
Just a Beach Bum

So yes, there are downsides… just like any place you will live… but the positives outweigh the negatives for us, and we are focused on our family goals. When I weigh out the differences between living in Canada and living in Nicaragua all I see is the better quality of life that we have here, the very real possibility of reaching our financial goals just 1.5years after moving… and while being away from friends and family is difficult, I see my children thriving in this environment and my health has never been better.