On the move
Although our house was priced well at $1,000 per month for a North American style residential home with a pool, we were surprised to see our first month’s utilities equate to almost $650. This was an unexpected, unbudgeted for cost. We did what we could to lower the payables in the next months by cancelling cable, raising our air conditioners to 30°C (86° F) and being aware of the amount of time they were on. Our son Titus, took most of his naps without A/C except for the hottest days. We also unplugged our hot water heater and stopped using the clothes dryer. We asked the gardener only to water 2 days a week instead of 5 and explained that the pool didn’t need to be filled to the edge. We were able to cut our initial $340 electricity bill down to about $260 and our water bill from $114 to $107, but the bills still added up to more than we were willing to spend.
The higher cost of living was causing us to have to restrict our spending in ways that weren’t in line with the goals of our move. One of the reasons for our move to Central America was that it would be easy to visit the surrounding countries, so we had planned on spending three days in Costa Rica over Memorial Day weekend. This was about the time that we needed to renew our 90 day tourist VISAs so we’d be getting that taken care of and enjoying a neighboring country. Sadly, because of a depleted savings account, we opted to do a quick in & out of Costa Rica so that some money would remain in our savings account. It became clear that we couldn’t afford our beautiful home if we wanted to accomplish all the things we desired while living abroad.
We started putting feelers out for other housing options, hoping to find a place with a pool that was priced unusually low. We signed a 6 month lease and were prepared to stay in our home until it was up, but thought we might be able to find someone to take it over if we found a new place. I saw something posted for only $550 on one of the Facebook pages. It included all utilities except electricity, we jumped at the chance to have a look if for no other reason but to see what other options looked like. It was a beautiful home with lots of windows to open up and take advantage of the breezes. Every room had a ceiling fan and every door and window had a screen. The home was available immediately and at such a low price we knew we didn’t have much time.
We started searching for someone to take over our lease right away, but the task was harder than expected. This time of year (the start of the rainy season) there seems to be more available than people to rent. The next night the owner of our house called to just chat and my husband, Kharron mentioned that we were looking for someone to take over the lease because of the utility bills being so high. The landlord is a nice man and said he wanted us to enjoy our time in Nicaragua and not to worry about it. Kharron hung up and we smiled at the possibility that we’d get to move sooner than the 6 month lease. We wanted to make sure that the owner was serious about letting us out of the lease and that he was agreeing to letting us move in 4 days. He told Kharron yes and we immediately contacted the owner of the new home.
The owner surprisingly said the place was still available and unlike in the US, we saw and home and planned a move in 4 days. Luckily we had Juanita to help us pack up and thoroughly clean the home after our move! She is the only reason this quick move was possible without much stress.
The new place is furnished, but did not come with linens, dishes, towels, or cleaning supplies. The first day in the home, Juanita and I (and a friend) took an expensive trip to Rivas to buy all our household items. Unfortunately, as is always true in Nicaragua, basic items can be harder to find than you ever thought possible so little things like pot holders and ice trays remain on my To-Buy list. It was kind of fun picking out our own dishes, bath mats, and beach towels!
So now we’ve officially been in our new home for 4 nights and it already feels like home. I feel very safe knowing we have a cuiador (person who watches the home or property). The property is completely fenced in so the dogs and Azalea are able to roam without any worry of cars. There are only 3 homes built and 26 empty lots so its very quiet & peaceful. I do already miss having a pool to dunk my feet & body into on the hot afternoons, but for what we expect to be more than a $1,000 monthly savings, it is worth instead visiting the local restaurants that have public pools.