It’s Been Grand

26 Feb

We’ve been busy with a visit from Grandma and Grandpa, but I hope to get a new post up soon!

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6 Responses to “It’s Been Grand”

  1. Meagan Francis March 27, 2012 at 1:03 am #

    Sarah, I’m trying to find an email address for you, but can’t. Can you shoot me a message? I have some questions about expat living 😉 thanks!

    • Sarah March 31, 2012 at 8:19 pm #

      Hi Meagan – check your inbox!
      Sarah

  2. Raquel Higgins April 11, 2012 at 3:54 am #

    Dear Sarah,
    Wow! The blog on your 4 year anniversary was so well written. I felt for a moment that I was in your shoes. My husband and I are considering a move to Nicaragua. We would love to open a B & B in San Juan. Many articles and forums suggest this area has great potential and I wanted to know your views. I believe you mentioned that you work within the hospitality industry so I thought you would be the right person to ask. I do have a few questions about this area. How far is the nearest hospital? What types of schools are available as we have a 1 year old, Are there reasonably stocked grocery stores and easy access to banking, etc.

    • Sarah April 12, 2012 at 3:43 pm #

      Hi Raquel,
      Thanks for visiting and for your questions! I try to avoid answering questions about running a business here, as I haven’t done it personally and don’t want to provide misinformation. I can tell you that San Juan is certainly becoming a hotspot for tourism in Central America, but I think you would be smart to do your due diligence before jumping in and opening anything. Spend some time looking at your competition, your market, do a SWOT report, etc. If it still seems like the right fit for you, make a budget, think about your monthly expenses and then compare those expenses to the ebb and flow of tourism here. May and October can be dead, but November thru February often rock. San Juan still caters primarily to backpackers, so you would want to decide if that clientele could afford B&B prices or if you want to go after the more affluent, but smaller mid-30’s – 60’s demographic. When all that’s been reviewed, you then decide if you want to buy or rent a business. If you get to that point, I can definitely point you to some people who can help 🙂 Posada Azul is a great example of a beautiful and seemingly successful B&B here. Check it out to see what they offer.

      So on to the life questions! There is a health center here in town. Most of the locals use it and some of the expats. You might go there for stitches or antibiotics, but probably not much else. There are hospitals in Rivas, appx. 30 minutes away, but I don’t have experience with them. We use Vivian Pellas Metropolitano Hosptial, a private hosp in Managua, about 2 hours north of here. I delivered my daughter there and take her there to see the pediatrician and we love it! Managua also has large groceries that stock many local products, as well as imported goods (peanut butter, cereals, etc). There is also a PriceSmart, which is similar to a BJ’s or Sam’s Club for your bulk needs (diapers, wipes. etc). We typically go to Managua once a month and visit the doc and load up on goods. Here in San Juan, we have a Pali grocery store. It has your basics – produce, bread, rice, beans, toilet paper, tuna, eggs, milk, etc. You can supplement your shopping with visits to one of the Pulperias which tend to carry items also sold in Managua, i.e. Hunts Tomato Sauce or Hershey’s bars or curry powder, etc. There are certainly things I miss – blueberries and pretzels! – but you can get by on what San Juan has to offer. There are also 2 or 3 butchers, a small deli, a fabulous bakery, and a small market with produce.

      Banking – I know less about this area, as my husband dealt with it when we first moved here. The rules change frequently regarding what you need to have to open a Nica account. We were only able to do it with Banco Pro Credit, which then closed its branch here in San Juan. There are a few options for banks, including BAC, BDF, and a few others that I can’t remember. We keep an account in the US and transfer money home to pay any U.S. bills. If you decide to get your residency, that might help you in opening an account, as well. Speaking of residency, that’s another thing to research when thinking about opening a business. To officially register your business (and be permitted to hang signs, etc), you may need either residency or a Nica partner. I’m not 100% certain on this one and I know there are ways around it, but not quite sure what they are.

      And finally – schools…you’ve got three options: public, Catholic, and private. For a one year old, your only choice will probably be private. There are two private schools here: Explore and Adventures in Learning. Both are run by American Expat Women. I know that AIL takes kids starting at 18 months, if they are developmentally ready to join the group. I know the teacher personally and she’s fantastic. I don’t know as much about Explore, but the teacher there is also a lovely woman. I don’t think that either have websites, but you might be able to find Explore in Facebook.

      I hope that this is all helpful and not too overwhelming! I can tell you that I’ve really grown to love this place, consider it home, and love having my daughter here! All the best to you in your adventures!
      Sarah

      • raquelhiggins April 13, 2012 at 12:49 pm #

        Sarah,

        Thanks for taking the time to answer my post. I truly appreciate the info given. Now that we have a little more info about San Juan we believe this area may be the place for us. However, we will take a trip sometime this summer and conduct a thorough review of business opportunities before we commit to a purchase of land or existing business. I would be most grateful if you would permit me to write you with further questions (only when necessary). I think the best source of information is from a direct source. Thanks again, Raquel

      • Sarah April 13, 2012 at 4:12 pm #

        You are very welcome, Raquel. Feel free to message me anytime. If you do decide to come for a visit, let me know. I can help you plan your trip and find a place to stay. My husband, Justin, is a real estate agent here with Aurora Beachfront Realty. Feel free to contact him about property: fahey.justin@gmail.com.

        All the best!
        Sarah

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