Humans of Nicaragua: Single Women


“Some steps need to be taken alone. It’s the only way to really figure out where you need to go and who you need to be.”
― Mandy Hale, The Single Woman: Life, Love, and a Dash of Sass

I am starting another monthly series called Humans of Nicaragua. My first post in the series may seem like an ad for singles, but instead it is an interview with a strong, single woman who decided to retire to Nicaragua.

Sharon and I met in Granada, Nicaragua over 10 years ago. We became instant friends… I think because we are both partners in mischief and enjoy sharing our quirky stories of Nicaragua.

When I was invited to speak to a group of single women who were exploring the possibility of living in Nicaragua, I realized that very little information is available for single women who want to live abroad. So, I interviewed Sharon, a city gal, living in Granada, Nicaragua. Next, I’ll interview Theresa, a country gal, who lives on Ometepe Island and raises pigs.

profileBelow are the questions I asked and her responses.

1. Why Nicaragua and in particular why Granada?

The main reason for my move , was being able to retire at 54 , to avoid long winters and to have a simpler life. I have visited Nicaragua almost yearly for over 10 years, I have many friends there and I speak Spanish-so Nicaragua seemed like a good choice. The cost of living in Nicaragua is quite minimal, and the flying times to get back to see family in Canada were decent (I LOVE Cambodia as well, but being a 2 day flight away from my children seemed too much). Granada was chosen as it has a wealth of opportunities for social interaction. Being a single female, life in a more rural location might have been lonely. In Granada, I can enjoy my solo time in my house, but have access to so many events, people etc. I am never “alone” unless I choose to be!

2. Where are you from and what did you do for a living?

I am from Canada. I had many jobs throughout my life, college teacher, restaurateur, caterer, retirement home owner, construction company owner, and finally counsellor/social program manager.

3. What has been your biggest challenge in living in Nicaragua as a single woman?

The biggest challenge has been to set myself up with a safety net. Living alone can be tough if you get ill, or something. Developing a good network of reliable friends is crucial!

4. What is your biggest accomplishment in Nicaragua?

My biggest accomplishment would have to be finding and renovating a good rental property. Rents in Granada are skyrocketing and I could see where it might be impossible for me to continue to live here in very few years. I found a run-down rental property, negotiated a 5 year renewable lease at a very good price. The house was basically unlivable but with careful renovations and a lot of hard work, I know as long as I want to stay, I will have an affordable, comfortable home here.

5. Are you involved in different activities…volunteering, clubs, etc? Are there many single expat women in Granada?

There are a huge number of single women expats here in Granada. I am involved in discussion group, a book club, a dinner club and a travel club. I have many friends that I meet up with a few times a week. I am also involved in a few volunteer groups. I took a long time choosing how I would like to volunteer, as I do not want to commit myself too strictly to specific days etc.

 6. What advise do you have for single women thinking of moving to Nicaragua?

Nicaragua is not always “easy”, especially for a single woman. You must be very strong (mentally and physically) and able to go-with-the-flow. Nothing ever happens on-time, daily mishaps are the norm, not the exception. Nicaraguans have their own unique culture and it is often completely confounding, but I respect that. Learn about the culture and do not expect Nicaraguans to conform to your way of doing things!

I would also suggest that you learn even basic, conversational Spanish. Limiting yourself to only interacting with other expats is unrealistic. You will need to buy groceries, pay utilities, give directions to a taxi driver, if you do not speak the language you will have a difficult time.

There are many things that are not readily available here, you will not be happy if you insist on a special brand of something, or do not know how to make substitutions for cooking. Being inventive and figuring out how to make do, very necessary!

There is also a balance needed between assuring your safety and enjoying life. I am very careful with my own safety and security, but I am not afraid to do things. One of the best ways to ensure your safety is to get to know neighbours, smile, let them know you want to be part of the community. I am the only foreigner who has ever been invited to the yearly 4 am parade for my street ..NOT something I particularly like doing- but I do it to show that I am part of the community, part of daily life here.

“Some steps need to be taken alone. It’s the only way to really figure out where you need to go and who you need to be.”

Sharon is a perfect example of this quote. She has taken her steps alone and mastered the art of giving, living, and retiring abroad with grace, humor, and a dash of sass.

Muchisimo gracias, mi amiga.

If you are a single woman thinking about retiring abroad, what questions do you have for Sharon? I am sure she would be happy to answer them.

11 thoughts on “Humans of Nicaragua: Single Women

  1. If anyone wants to move here, rent for a year (one expat in the region is now the poster child for yet another reason that buying and not renting and learning from the neighbors is a bad idea and why trying to start a business without being fluent in Spanish is an even worse idea). Expats who haven’t lived here long are full of sometimes spectacularly wrong-headed advice.

    Anyone who promises a grand influx of retiring baby boomers is promising something that can’t really be predicted. The typical hustle here is to encourage you to imagine what Nicaragua will become. If you like it, buy after you’ve spent time here. Nicaragua has changed since I moved here in 2010, and it’s likely to keep changing, hopefully for the better, but Jinotega still has zinc fences and no hanging baskets and no tasteful neutral colors covering the red and the black, and Apanas Lake Estates doesn’t have a website anymore and has been converted into a cattle operation.

  2. As a single woman, I’m drawn to Nicaragua especially after meeting you Debbie and so many other inspiring women along the way. Nicaragua is close to the U.S., inexpensive, easy laid back lifestyle and beautiful, so much to explore! One of the ladies on our Nicaragua Group Journey has decided to move there and has found her Shangri-la, raison d’etre in Matagalpa. The cool weather lured her so looking forward to hearing more from her on this. There are many great places to call home.

    Loved this blog post Debbie and hope our FindingMyPlace.net group inspired you to write this. Your comments and interviews are amazing!!!! Keep up the great work lady. Hugs, Ingrid

    • Yes indeed, Ingrid. Your group of lovely women from FindingMyPlace.net inspired me to write this post. For that and having the opportunity to meet you and the other women, I am very grateful. Hugs to you my friend. I can’t wait to talk to the woman who is moving to Matagalpa. That is a wonderfully cool and tranquil area.

  3. Granada’s expat community is terrific and one of the main reasons we seriously considered making it our home. I remember meeting Sharon when we were there a couple of years ago as well as many other expats. What impressed me most was how outgoing and adventurous the people we met were, eager to become a part of their adopted city by learning the language, getting involved with various groups and showing an interest in the culture and people who live there. Anita

    • That’s so true, Anita. The expats that become involved in volunteering, learn the language, and are eager to be a part of a large community of locals and expats are the ones who have successfully integrated into their adopted communities. I didn’t know you met Sharon. She is a jewel of a friend. Hugs to you.

  4. Well,,,,this is an interesting subject ,,,and right up my ,,,,new path ,,,,,!!!
    I’m 4 years divorced and moving to Nicaragua ,, Im super independent , strong ,outgoing and social, into cooking , baking ,decorating and will be building/creating 2 cob… sustainable, eco .. tiny houses ,,,cottages..that will be off the grid …
    10-30 minutes away from Granada,,don’t know yet ,,,looking for my land now.
    Cob is a combo of mud , sand and straw ,,and is “hand sculpted” ,,its a community event ,,,and will open the eyes of many on how to do something super cool and super cheap!! Im auditioning for HGTV with my concept.
    My 82 year old mom and my 5 year old dog are also going to be going …hows that for ,,,different?
    I’m also a fashion/destination wedding photographer ,,,and shoot events too.
    Been in the fashion biz since I went to NYC in 1973 from a small town in Wisconsin., and became an international model. Im courageous , unique , and want to guide women to weave their own unique tapestries ,,,soo
    I created and wrote a tv program called AWAY WE GROW,,,which is being considered for a series on cable , in the states .
    Why Nicaragua ? After traveling to many countries ,,it has what I’m looking for in general and I like the people and culture , and its a new frontier….
    I speak a bit of Spanish and look forward to taking a lot of classes ,,,and doing service work ,which Im super into doing and have done in Miami for 16 years .
    Im 61 years old and love my age , I look forward to challenges ,,it makes me ….grow…and ,,it keeps me young , and strong ,mentally and physically.
    I’m a Christian and love being in the word , I’m always on an adventure of being ,,,led ,,,,and I love the Lord with all of my heart .
    I work out 4-5 days week and also am into yoga for the stretch,I love the beach,I love people , and animals and food and red wine,,,, malbec….. I love traveling….

    So, now ,,,you can start a dating service ,,HAHAHAHAHA,,I will send a photo…..

    The first dating service on Ometepe,,,,HAHAHAHAHAAAA…!!!!!!!

    There’s many single women out there ,,,were not looking for a man …to complete us ,,
    were looking for a cool country that will help!!!!

    Light ,
    Heidi

    • Heidi, you make me laugh and you don’t know how much I need to laugh lately. Thank you for that. I could start a dating service…lol. Maybe that is why I had so many hits on this post. But, I am sure I disappointed a lot of them. Jee Jee. I had no idea you have led such a fascinating life. I can’t wait to meet you in person. Soon mi amiga…soon.

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