Gypsytoes or Stickytoes

This says it all about our lives on Ometepe Island. We want the best of all worlds. How does one decide to stay or go? Is it possible to have Gypsytoes and Stickytoes  together? If so, how does that work?

Here are some of our considerations in deciding to stay or go.



We grow a lot of our fruits and vegetables.

In 2016, we traveled to Colombia, Fiji, New Zealand, Las Vegas, Tennessee, and Pennsylvania. We accounted for all of our expenses and income for 2016, and we actually saved money and came out ahead when we balanced income vs expenses.  We own two homes, we have no mortgages and no expenses for our home in the states. Our trusted friends live in our house, collect our mail, and they even took care of our old cat, Tokyo, until she passed away this year. The small amount of rent goes into a special account which we use to pay our property taxes, rental insurance, and for repairs on the house.

If we were to sell our house on Ometepe Island, we would be free to travel the world, but it would come with a price. We would continue to live only on our monthly income, and try not to dip into our savings, yet it would be difficult because we would have to pay a monthly rental fee, which we don’t have to now. Traveling is expensive. We aren’t backpackers anymore, and we like to stay in Airbnbs throughout the world. It is doable, but will take some work to stay within our budget.



Our dipping pool

The older we get, the harder it is for us to live in a tropical climate year-round. The rainy season brings toxic mold, mosquitoes, and all those nasty tropical diseases. The dry season brings the oppressive heat, the wind, and the bone-drying dust that infiltrates every  nook and cranny, even in our bodies.

We try to escape during the worst of the dry season. But if we can’t run away, we have our plunge pool and lots of fans. We sweat just getting out of bed in the morning, but we’ve gotten used to it and hide out in the house with the windows and doors closed to keep it a little cooler.

We spent the month of April in the mountains in Mexico this year. Sleeping on top of mattress warmers and snuggled under blankets was heaven. But, living there full-time, I would get tired of the wet and cold winters. As much as I dislike extreme heat, I wouldn’t want extreme cold, either.

Of course, we could move constantly to avoid the extreme weather, or we could take frequent vacations from Ometepe which require reliable house sitters.

House sitters, renters, or new home owners?

We’ve explored these options and have had many experiences with house sitters. Most of the time we have been very fortunate to have wonderful house sitters. Yet, occasionally, we get some doozies and that’s where the problems start! That is when I want to sell because sometimes it takes several months to fix the problems that occur after we return!

Plus, I feel like we are in maintenance mode, now. For 50 days in a row, after we returned in June, something broke everyday. Our internet tower was struck by lightning and blew out our router, we had leaks in our roof from huge downpours, our dune buggy broke down at least every other day, my iPhone died, the electricity from the mainland wrecked havoc with my electrical appliances because of the surges and brownouts…you get the picture, right?

We could rent our house and hire a property manager. That seems like a good option, but then again, I don’t want to deal with the hassles when problems occur…and they always do.

Another option would be to build a little house for like-minded people or a permanent caretaker. I really like this idea! But it entails finding the right people. That may not be so easy to do. The cost of building a small house wouldn’t be much and a caretaker could always be available to watch our house and pets when we traveled. I like the idea of a little boomer community, too where we could live inexpensively, yet share in the responsibilities of the gardening, and watching each other’s homes and pets when we travel.

My Library

I have made one decision! I am keeping my library whether we stay or leave. Maxwell, my librarian will graduate with a degree in English this year. I couldn’t ask for a better or more responsible person to run the library. He recently got married, and professional jobs are very difficult to find on Ometepe Island.

If we leave, I will set up a bank account for him where I can transfer money into his account for his pay and the library. If I need money or supplies, I can always have a fundraiser and Maxwell has been such a loyal employee. The tiny elementary school needs him!

Final Thoughts

Making life altering decisions of whether to stay or leave are never easy. Yet, it has forced me to clean out my house, recycle clothes and electronics, do house repairs, paint, and give away lots of things I do not need. It has been good for us to look toward the future. We are very fortunate that we have many options and have recognized the importance of not burning any bridges from our former lives.

If we decide to sell, we know it won’t happen fast, so we will continue to live our peaceful and simple lives here until that day comes. Meanwhile, we are planning our next trip to Uruguay and Argentina for next March. We will be looking for an adventurous couple to house sit for us on our island of peace. Let me know if you are interested.

Gypsytoes or Stickytoes? Is it possible to have both? What do you think? 

19 thoughts on “Gypsytoes or Stickytoes

  1. A conundrum for sure, Debbie and there’s no reason to make the decision any time soon. In fact, when we have an important decision to make and take some time, it seems like the right choice usually becomes a glowing neon sign! 🙂 It’s funny you should mention an expat community because we’ve been talking about renting a big villa, sharing it with one or two couples and splitting the expenses. Our reasons are similar to the ones you mentioned, too. We have friends we’ve traveled with (and what better way to learn about people’s stressors than traveling with them?) who like the idea and we’ll be thinking about this idea over the next few months. One thing’s for sure though, our retirement options look nothing like our grandparents, right? Anita

    • Exactly, Anita. We are in no rush to make a decision. Thank goodness we don’t have to sell quickly. Then we would really be in a bind because it usually takes over a year to sell property in Nicaragua.
      I love the idea of renting a villa! How exciting. How about a castle? We stayed in a castle with our friends in Germany. They lived in the basement in an apartment near the vault where the Lord and Lady of the Castle were buried. It was kind of creepy. I can’t stop laughing at thinking of what my grandparents would say about our retirement plans. Lol

  2. You will love Uraguay and Argentina. We did a few blog post on both countries when we were there. In looking back we would spend 3 – 4 days in Montevideo, 1 night in Colonia and take the ferry and spend more time in Argentina. We loved both countries and are planning a return trip for a month and see more of Argentina and Chile.

    Have you considered doing some house/pet sitting gigs? Or home swaps on a trial basis?

    • I remember your posts about Uruguay and Argentina. In fact, I was reading them again the other day! That is one of the reasons we wanted to explore those areas! Thanks!
      We wonder how home swaps work because we would need to swap at the same time to cover our pets. Have you done it? When I was in my 20s and got my first teaching job in Cape Cod, Mass. I wrote a letter to Ethel Kennedy and asked her if she would like me to sit her house in the Kennedy Compound for her since I lived nearby. Lo and behold, she contacted me, I went for an interview and became her house sitter in the Kennedy Compound for my school year. Oh the stories I can tell about the Kennedy family and my housesitting experiences. After that one experience, I decided house sitting is not for me! Haha.

  3. When one of the Granada expats decided to move, she was gone in less than a month (felt like less than a week). I think maybe you don’t want to go more than you want to stay, but you do want to travel. Finding the right caretaker is one solution; suspenders and belt solution would be caretaker and second house for another expats or expats. Maybe you don’t want to leave as much as you don’t want to be here year round?

    • I know who you are talking about in Granada. I think she wanted to be closer to her family, but you are right. It was fast! I like your belt and suspenders idea! Right now, at this point in our lives, we really want to travel. The problem is finding the right people to be our caretakers. My librarian and his new wife may be a good choice. They are living with her parents and it will take them a lifetime to save enough money to buy a piece of land and build a house.
      When I go to Managua, hopefully in September, for my second eye operation, they are going to house sit for us. If everything works out well, we many explore that option to build them a little house on our property. And yes, I think we want to stay, but not year-round. We renewed our cedulas in July. Just waiting for them to finish their process so we can go pick them up. So, we will have 5 more years to decide what we want to do when we grow up. Lol

      • Sounds like a plan. If I had more money, I’d probably spend three months a year in various parts of Mexico. Don’t have it, and where I am isn’t as brutally hot ever as the flat lands. Getting out of Nicaragua in April is pretty sensible.

  4. Deb! So sad you are leaving. Your blog has inspired me to finally make the move down to Nicaragua. I’ll be there mid October and ometepe is on my list of places. Planning on a permanent move in March. Wish I could meet you!

    I’m still fairly young (30’s) but looking for a place in which my parents can retire. They love nature. I am a pediatric nurse by trade and how wonderful would a small clinic be, next to your library?

    Good luck with your decision, I ca relate at the moment.


  5. I am so glad that I spent a lot of time on/near Ometepe, so now your images always give me comfort. The library is precious – what a great space for inspiring others to appreciate the written word!

    For the first time in a long long time, I’ll be renting, and I told the owner this past week that it felt like being a kept woman! Everything is ‘done’ – so I am not out in the yard daily to prune, weed, cut grass, water flowers, etc… The caretaker does a great job. I awaken in the morning, appreciate the birds/wildlife outside the windows, and when the bird activity gets quiet, I switch to painting… This is such a change for me, but it’s a good one – and it’s time. Like you, the dengue/chikungunya and various challenges are reminders that our health is important…

    It’s cooler there on the lake, so the heat is not like it is half an hour’s drive toward the coast. Temps are all but perfect – so far. It’s cool at night – a light blanket is appreciated…..

    The house has one extra bedroom, and if you happen to see affordable rates, come on down and visit!

    You’re on my mind often, and I hope that your vision is going to be ok.


  6. I know the mountains of central Mexico of which you write.While the winters may be nippy, they are definitely not wet. We may get a handful of days of rain in January if we’re lucky. Otherwise, it’s dry and cold from December until the first of March, and then it’s dry and hot from the first of March until the rainy season sets in around the first week of June. We definitely do have a change of seasons, but except for those dreadful months of April and May, the climate is close to perfect in these parts.

    I toyed with offering myself up as a housesitter, but then I came to my senses, recalling those March winds in San Jorge.

    • Keep in mind, although April and May are the “hot months” here, you enjoyed your stay in April. It wasn’t bad, now, was it?

      Our friend Ms RedShoes lives in Morelia, a 1000 feet lower in elevation than Pátzcuaro, although her home is on a ridge top high above Morelia’s hotter Centro.

      Sra. Cuevas and I dislike December and January more than other months. Daytime temps are tolerable pleasant but nights are definitely nippy. A week in Zihuatanejo provides welcome warmth but 3-4 weeks in Oaxaca are even more enjoyable. OTOH, we can if necessary tough it out at home. Just put on more warm layers and burn some propane room heaters during the coldest hours. Open the windows when the sun shines. Make soups, lots of soups.

      Don Cuevas

  7. A life for gypsies is never easy, now there is a new breed in the USA, RV gypsies! They live in an RV and migrate to where the weather is to their liking. When they want to take a trip, a vacation they simply park it in storage, completely safe and waiting for their return. It is easy to make friends this way also. You could do that and store it at your home. Internet is never a problem nor TV reception. With the money you sell your place for you could get a nice one and there are many types to consider. Used is much better than new also.
    I have considered this, but now after living in Ecuador for over a year have decided to be a gypsy traveling from Mexico to Costa Rica and back starting the 22nd of this month! So that means Debbie and Ron I’ll probably be seeing you on ‘la isla’….

    • Hi Dean! Haven’t heard from you in a long time. Funny you should mention RVs. Friends of ours that live on Ometepe just bought a Carriage Cameo 2004 luxury RV and they are going to do exactly what you talk about. We looked at some Carriage Cameos for sale. They are gorgeous, some even with fireplaces. We are considering that as an option, too. We travelled the U.S. for a year in an old camper van…many years ago, and stayed in the National Forests for free. That was a wonderful year. Hope to see you soon!

  8. Both! I don’t know how much land you have, but building two houses plus a guards house would be best. Sell the houses to two other expat retirees and you will make a small profit plus surly always have someone around. Make it a co-op so they pay monthly dues, used to maintain the common areas and the guard.

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