After about 30 minutes of talking to someone new, usually the question that gets asked is, “So what do you do?” Those of us who have lived here long enough know that the real question being asked is, “How are you able to support yourself while living abroad?” Somewhat annoying, the answers often given are vague. “A lot of good luck.” I have heard. “I have a business.” I was told. I don’t know if this is because money is a taboo topic in North America or if people are worried the inquisitor is going to steal their job. Someone told me that those working in Nicaragua are sometimes vague because they never obtained their residency and therefore it is illegal to be making Nicaraguan income.
I feel like we are very forward with what we do for work and how we are able to afford to live abroad. In case you haven’t read through my other posts, here’s a run down: My husband worked remotely as a software/website developer for a marketing company out of San Francisco when we lived in San Diego. When we decided we wanted to make a move abroad for a couple years, he asked his company if that would be okay with them. They said yes, and for the first year we lived here he would fly back to California every 6-8 weeks for about a week. During his off time, he recruited a team of Nicaraguan website developers and once ready, he quit his job and launched a US company, SeñorCoders.
Never a person who liked to sit still, I dabbled in real estate for a little bit. I did not give it all the attention it needed, so I was unsuccessful at making enough to pay for the childcare and contribute to the cost of living. I now work for my husband’s company as a Project Manager. Although I don’t get paid, it saves us the money of paying someone else to do the job.
We are able to rent our house out in California for enough money to cover the mortgage and a large storage unit. We have amazing renters who have given us very little trouble in the year and a half we’ve been gone. We changed our mailing address to my mother’s house and Kharron’s father now drives and takes care of our truck we were unable to sell before we moved.
Well, enough about me, below are some of the jobs I’m aware of people doing that make enough money to support themselves while living here:
Real Estate Agent: If you are a top producer, this is the job that makes the most Nicaraguan money. If you are not, then you might work hard for only a few hundred dollars a month.
Owner of Construction Company: Once established and building North American style homes, a person can make a career out of owning a construction company. You do need to know a fair amount of Spanish for this to work.
Developer: There are many developers here in San Juan del Sur and most do quite well. Obviously you need to know what you’re doing and the lots need to sell once developed.
Business Owner in Nicaragua: The successful upscale restaurants that cater towards Gringos seem to make enough money to live on. From what I have seen, the owners of the smaller shops like bakeries, clothing stores, or less popular restaurants usually have another form of income. Whether its odd jobs, retirement income, investments, other businesses here, or a business in their home country.
Business Owner in Country of Origin: Online businesses are what most people manage from an off-shore location, but one family we met had a pool cleaning business and hired a manager to do what was needed on the ground. Since the cost of living is less here, skimming a little off the top can sometimes be enough to sustain a family here.
Rental Income: Earning rental income from properties here or in their country of origin can be fairly lucritive and allow for a comfortable living here in Nicaragua.
Work in Technology: Graphic Designer, Video Editor, SEO Expert & Software Developer are some of the professions my fellow Expats hold steady jobs in.
Hotel/Hostel Owner: Most of the hotel & hostel owners that I meet are living a lavish life. In fact most of them seem to have another form of income that keeps them afloat. Of course there are the exceptions, so I’m putting this on the list of jobs that can fully support living here.
Retired: I mostly meet retired military, fire fighters, and police in my age group, but there are all sorts of retired people who live very comfortable & happy lives here.
Sold Assets: I hear of people who sold their house in their home country and the profit was enough survive on a modest amount of monthly funds. Some have cashed in investments and are able to do the same. If it isn’t quite enough to survive on, then they do small jobs like Property Management or book keeping to supplement.
Teacher: Teachers don’t get paid very much here, but it is enough for a single person to sustain a life here. Maybe not with the luxuries of air conditionig and hot water though.
Here’s a list of other professions I have heard other people doing: Online Sales Agent, College Sport Recruiter, Non Profit Aid Organizer, Photographer, Gold Miner, Screen Writer, Branding Consultant, Wellness & Yoga Retreat Coordinator, & Tour Manager.
It is very hard to make enough money here to support a lifestyle you are probably used to in your home country. If you plan to move to Nicaragua, the best advice is its best to have a healthy amount of savings or better yet, income coming from outside Nicaragua. Or as I’ve heard it put, “The best way to make a million dollars in Nicaragua is to bring a million dollars to Nicaragua.”