Living in Nicaragua and loving it!

by Debbie Polden
(Pearl Lagoon, Nicaragua)

It's true that Nicaragua isn't for everyone - but for us moving to Nicaragua has been a good decision. Who are we? We are Pat and Debbie Polden, two Canadians that decided to take early retirement and move to Nicaragua where we could live enjoyable lives but on a reduced income.

We had good, comfortable lives back in Canada - our jobs were "stable" and we could expect to finish our work careers in our place of employment at age 65. However, instead of waiting until we were of full-retirement age we wanted to move at a time in our lives when we still had relatively good health and had a desire to explore and help others at the same time.

After much research and a couple of vacations in Nicaragua we determined that León was where we would feel the most comfortable. We felt that the city had good infrastructure and that we would have a fairly easy time adjusting to life in our new home.

León is a busy place with a very "youthful" feel to it; likely because many young Nicaraguans come here to attend one of the many universities in the city. There is also a growing tourism industry that is drawing not just young backpackers but also young families and more "mature" travelers. With its close proximity to the ocean villages of Poneloya and Las Peñitas we were sold!

In March 2012 we settled into a small home in a barrio called Guadalupe. We enjoyed being in the middle of a community but at times found it overwhelming to be there. In short order we found that our pretty little house was next door to the local mill where very early every morning corn would be ground into dough to make tortillas.

It took us a while to get used to all of the noise in the early morning hours. That is one consideration when moving into a neighborhood rather than a gated community. There aren't as many regulations in place in regard to residences and businesses and the subsequent noise that they produce.

We found that at first we were treated as strangers but as the months passed we were treated more like part of the community. Even though we struggled with speaking Spanish everyone was very considerate and seemed to appreciate our efforts. We loved to support our neighbors with any of their endeavors and were frequent "purchasers" when they made food to sell. This also helped us to try many of the local dishes and treats.

Although the climate is very hot in León we found that we could adjust to the heat as long as we had a fan - we didn't use any air conditioner. For us, the hardest time of the year was during the dry, windy season when the dust would coat everything! Just walking around town would be difficult and you would come home covered in dust and feeling grimy.

In January 2013 we took an unexpected trip to the Atlantic Coast - to Pearl Lagoon. Maybe because we had lived our last few years in Canada in Halifax, Nova Scotia (the Atlantic Coast of Canada) we felt an immediate attachment to Pearl Lagoon and decided to make a move. Before our visit to Pearl Lagoon was over we had managed to find a 3 bedroom, two bath home to rent and so we returned to León and started to make arrangements for our move.

We've now been living in Pearl Lagoon for almost 4 months and don't regret the move at all. The climate here is very different - there is far more rain - but we love the breeze off the ocean. We also like the fact that we are surrounded by English speakers.

Living in Nicaragua has really awakened our sense of adventure and we love waking up each morning to see what the day will bring. We have been blogging about our experiences as well as sharing what we have learned during the past year. If you like, you can read about it at

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Reply to Bob V
by: Debbie Polden

Hi Bob,
No, sadly we are no longer in Nicaragua. Pat was diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma and we are back in Canada for treatment. Our plan is to return to Nicaragua as soon as possible. We loved our time on the Atlantic Coast and have no regrets!
Thanks for asking.

Still have no regrets?
by: Bob V

Hi Don and Pat,

Do you still live on the Atlantic Coast and do you still have no regrets?

Loved Your Comments
by: K.C.

We are from the U.S. and looking to retire in Nicaragua. I think we would prefer being near the water. I will be coming first on my own as my husband insists on working in the States until he turns 70. I have my own business and am hoping that I can find silversmiths who would work in jewelry to manufacture my pieces. Now they are manufactured in India. I think I could create something which would help me and the community wherever I am.

Any information on where to stay for a short time would be helpful. We are planning on coming in September. I am now looking into the area you are now in as it seems appealing.

Thank you so much.

by: Margit

@ Nicoyo

Unfortunately you cannot use Medicare in Nicaragua. According to the U.S. embassy in Managua, the Medicare coverage does not extend outside of the U.S.

There are very few and specific exceptions to this rule.

You can read more about it on this page...

by: Anonymous

I wish to move to Nicaragua,i am 71 years old.retired,wondering if we can used our Medicare in this country?

Reply to GuyH
by: Debbie

Hi Guy,
Thanks for your question. The humidity can be quite high here. In fact, we know that high blood pressure is a common problem for folks here.

Pearl Lagoon may not be the best choice in Nicaragua for you. We found that Leon was less humid than here and even Granada - but it can be quite hot.


medical weather questions
by: GuyH

What is the humidity like in Pearl Lagoon? I have congestive heart disease and too high heat/humidity is not my friend and will end my life sooner than later. What is the truth? Thank you in advance.

reply to Don
by: Debbie

Hi Don,
We rent a 3 bed,2 bath home for $250.00. There is no supermarket - not even a Pali. We buy most of our food from different little stores. We also stock up on things when we go to Bluefields to do our banking (there is no bank in Pearl Lagoon).

We have wifi internet installed in our house. There are also two cybers in town. A lot of people also use the Claro stick (pay as you go). We personally don't have cable but most houses have the satellite TV dishes.

There is a road from El Rama to Pearl Lagoon but it is really rough. Power is fairly stable these days since they have done some recent upgrades. Now that we are in the rainy season we have had less water outages as well.

The beach in Awas is very close. It takes us about 30 minutes to walk there - and is even faster if you have a bike, use a taxi or have a car.

I hope this helps. You can check out our blog for more information.

a little info.
by: don

i live in Rivas and would like for you to give some prices how much is your rent ? do you have internet,
cable , how often do they turn off the power .
do they have a lot of English speaking people, living their ?
and other info that will be helpful are you close to the beach ? how good is the road to get their ?
do you have a super market ?

thank you

A bold move... to the Atlantic Coast
by: Margit

Hi Debbie and Pat,

Thanks very much for sharing your Nicaragua story with us.

I haven't met many expats who are living on Nicaragua's Atlantic Coast. Hats off to your decision to explore the lesser known and developed Atlantic region.

If you come to Managua, I would love to meet up with you for a chat.

Just send me an email via my Contact form.

Saludos cordiales,

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