Expat Interview - Canadian Expats in Pearl Lagoon, Nicaragua

Published: 1 Jul at 2 PM
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Filed: Interviews,Nicaragua
Pat and Debbie Polden wanted to retire early. After looking at their financial picture they soon realized that with no investments and little money in the bank the only option for them would be to move abroad where their money would stretch further. After taking early retirement in 2012 they moved to Nicaragua. After spending almost a year in León they have recently moved to Pearl Lagoon, on the Atlantic side of Nicaragua, where they are enjoying a more Caribbean lifestyle. Pat and Debbie's expat blog is called Crazy Parents In Nicaragua (see listing here)

Meet Pat - Canadian expat in Nicaragua
Meet Pat - Canadian expat in Nicaragua

Here's the interview with Pat & Debbie...


Where are you originally from?
Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

In which country and city are you living now?
We are living in Pearl Lagoon, Nicaragua (on the Caribbean Coast)

How long have you lived here and how long are you planning to stay?
We have been in Nicaragua for over a year (first year in Leon). We have been in Pearl Lagoon for 3 months. We currently have no plans to return to Canada.

Why did you move and what do you do?
We wanted to take early retirement while we both were in good health and still had a sense of adventure. We knew that we wouldn't be able to manage financially in Canada on a small monthly income and did a lot of research on where we could move to. We liked the possibilities that Nicaragua had to offer - low cost of living, two coastlines, a warmer climate than Canada with cooler mountain areas if the heat was too overwhelming.

Pancho our orange chinned parakeet
Pancho our orange chinned parakeet
Did you bring family with you?
It's just the two of us.

How did you find the transition to living in a foreign country?
We found the move was relatively easy. We had visited Nicaragua on vacation prior to moving and had a good idea of what life would be like. In order to get a better perspective on what "real life" would be like, while on vacation we had opted to stay in B&B's and apartments in local neighborhoods rather than staying in the main tourist areas. We also did a LOT of research - read forums, blogs, books etc - to try and gain an understanding of what life would be like (the good and the bad).

Was it easy making friends and meeting people; do you mainly socialise with other expats?
We socialize with both locals and Expats and have a good social life.

Riding our bikes
Riding our bikes
What are the best things to do in the area; anything to recommend to future expats?
Pearl Lagoon is like a step back in time - a simpler way of life - free from the clutter of big city living. The Pearl Cays are beautiful (although we haven't been there yet) and sport fishing is popular. Visiting Awas, a local Miskito village, is popular and is a nice place for a swim. The famous Corn Islands are just a short flight from Bluefields where you can dive and snorkel.

What do you enjoy most about living here?
Slow pace of life, friendly people, warm weather. We have adopted an Oranged Chinned Parakeet that keeps us entertained - who knew birds could be so funny!

How does the cost of living compare to home?
In Nicaragua we are trying to live on about $600 a month, although we generally spend around $700. We couldn't live this well in Canada. Our house is $250 US for a 3 bed, 2 bath home with large kitchen and living area. Food is much cheaper and fresher.

Sun setting in Awas
Sun setting in Awas
What challenges, if any, are there to living here?
We are living in a tropical area and so the heat can be overwhelming at times. Also, there are bugs of "unusually large size" and ants are everywhere. Cockroaches are a way of life and they are a challenge for us who have never had to deal with such critters. Pearl Lagoon is also very remote - 1 hour by boat from Bluefields, or a 5 hour bus ride from El Rama; there are no "supermarkets" to buy groceries and no ATM. Power and water outages are a frequent hassle.

If you could pick one piece of advice to anyone moving to Nicaragua, what would it be?
Different cities have a totally different feel to them. If you rent for a while you can easily move around and find out what area/city works best for you. If you don't like the initial area that you moved to check out another. Even a few blocks away can make a big difference.

What has been the hardest aspect to your expat experience so far?
Not being fluent in Spanish in a Spanish speaking country has been difficult. We know enough of the language to buy things at the store and to travel around the country but we don't know enough Spanish to have a really in depth conversation.

View from our favorite restaurant
View from our favorite restaurant
What are your top 5 expat tips for anyone following in your footsteps?
  1. Be patient - with yourself and others. Things are done differently here and may take a lot more time than you are used to.
  2. Learn the local language.
  3. Bring reminders of home and your past life (pictures, mementoes, etc.)
  4. Use Skype, email, GoogleTalk to connect with friends and family back home
  5. Get involved in your community - get to know your neighbors.


Tell us a bit about your own expat blog.
Crazy Parents in Nicaragua offers our insight into how to adjust to life here in Nicaragua. It offers help in accomplishing even simple tasks such as paying your electric bill. Since we enjoy traveling we also offer advice on where to go and how to get there safely using local, public transportation.

How can you be contacted for further advice to future expats coming to your area?
People can comment on our blog if they want to get in touch with us.

About the author

Expat Blog ListingPat is a Canadian expat living in Nicaragua. Blog description: Please experience the ups and downs of expat life with us as we live the simple life in Nicaragua - the land of lakes and volcanoes.
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Comments » There are 3 comments

CMT wrote 8 years ago:

Wonderful story, wonderful blog. Amazing, adventurous tale. Loved visiting your blog and reading more about your journey.

Jeff wrote 8 years ago:

Very interesting blog.the climate sounds a lot like neworleans.LOL (where I live) I wood think knowing the language would be an asset.Good luck on your adventure..

Deanna wrote 8 years ago:

Hi Pat and Debbie: I am Canadian (Ontario) and recently retired. Thinking of moving to Nica with my son and his girlfriend. possibly opening a B&B? My one concern of many is about this canal going thru Nica. What is the vibe down there and would there be areas to avoid because of the possible canal. Our preference at this time is on the Pacific side (surf. Do you recommend renting or buying? I look forward to your input. Deanna.

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