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Doc8404
1/21/2018 11:47 EST

Good morning,
I am looking to move my wife and child to Nic later this year. I was thinking of doing a tour but also wanted to see if I could connect with a local expat for some time during our visit. I have been reading anything and everything about Nic and I honestly feel like the opinions are equally mixed. I am retired (although only 32) and make 3k plus a month for the rest of my life. I only mention that because it seems that everyone is compari by their experience on a 1200 to 1500 a month budget. My key questions are:
- Is a 3k a month budget ACTUALLY something that my family can live on?
-My son is school age and I have looked at a number of schools that cater to families such as hours. However, can anyone tell me the actual cost and quality of homeschool?
-healthcare is another concern. I have read that modern healthcare is available but I want to know what Is considered "modern" in the since of treatment options? Also, is dentistry something that is "modern" as well?

I understand that no place is without it's poverty and from what I have read, a large portion of the Nic population is poor. On this post, please do not comment with the "scary" stuff. I don't need to know that theft and robery are high and that without a support system you will struggle. This is true in most countries that have high poverty rates. Some things take time and that's why I am here. I would like to connect with a couple of expats and really dig into the true costs and reality of living there. I never have to work again, so finding work or starting a business is not even on my radar. I simply want to live and enjoy my family and life in a way that the U.S. can no longer provide me.

Thank you in advance for responding and I hope that we connect soon.

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atz111
1/21/2018 12:15 EST

3K a month and you can live a very, very comfortable life.

Decent schools for English speaking kids in Granada and MGA...not sure about rest of the cities...likely Leon as well and SJDS, but that IMO may be it.

Good dental care at 1/3 the price...orthodotics, implants the whole works...I am a guy with bad teeth so i know from experience.

Some good hospitals in MGA for all but the worst of stuff....and diagnostics can be a problem. Many local samller cities have decent docs and clinics for medium care stuff...broken arm, cuts, etc.

Costs in the good hosps/docs are less than USA but still for major stuff will mean a lot of money...like a 40K operation in USA is 6-10*k here, but still a lot. Expat insurance is available but pretty expensive...but because you are young may be afforadable...CIGNA offera and others..look on line.

Most of the people here are not poor...they just do not have a lot of money...and get by. There are some truly poor, but this is not like Africa or Haiti poor.

I been here 9 years and think its OK if you come with enough money to live and with your eyes open.

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elduendegrande
1/21/2018 12:59 EST

With 3k you should live fine, private schools, gated community, foreign vacations with limits--CR is real handy.

Your main problem will be boredom, deal with it.

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Doc8404
1/21/2018 13:26 EST

Thank you for your reply. I will look into the medical insurance options. Since you have been there 9 years, is the weather pretty consistent? Any natural disasters or anything common? I would also guess that outside of mosquito issues there are a lot of bugs due to the countries heavy rain. Are bugs and mosquitos as bad as the other forums I have read make it seem?

Also, i have a lot of tattoos, and by that I say about 70% of my body. This includes my neck and hands (mostly military related). I worked in a corporate setting at a fortune 50 company so I wouldn't say that they are distasteful, but they are there. Is this going to be a problem for me?

Last question I have is etiquette. How is the culture in Nic, truly? I tend to be over polite in the U.S. but that is because my stature can be perceived negatively (the tattoos don't help ha). Should I keep the same attitude?

Sorry for the Novel, just can't find answers to those things online.

Thanks again for replying.

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Doc8404
1/21/2018 13:28 EST

Thanks for the reply and assurance.

I'm sure I can handle the "boredom."

All the best

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iguanalover
1/21/2018 17:30 EST

There is very little scary stuff to comment on. There is almost no crime where we live. You can live at any economic level you want, which is nice. We think health care here is better than in the US and doesn't cost much. What I would comment on is your kid.

We recently lost a friend (she and her kids moved back to Canada)who lived in Granada for many years raising four kids. When her oldest daughter, a really nice young lady, graduated from high school she got a job that paid about $200 dollars a month. That is a good salary for Nicaland, especially considering she did not have a college degree and she was an illegal, no work visa. We know Nicas with degrees that barely make $300 a month. An attorney friend of ours works for the state and makes $700 a month. She has a great job. The daughter wants to become a lawyer but could not get into a Nicaraguan university. Even if she did, what good is that degree outside of Nicaragua?

Then there was the high school age son. He was quite a nice young man and very good looking. Every time we saw him, a Nica young lady was clinging. The young women in Nicaragua start having babies at 14 or so, many are grandmothers in their early thirties. I think his mom got scared and wanted to get him away from that atmosphere. As far as we know, he didn't leave any babies behind but we do not doubt that he was sexually active before he lift. I think he was a junior in high school last time I saw him.

We have another expat friend who operates a very successful business. I asked him how his kids, elementary ages, were doing over Christmas vacation. He said they were very bored and that there is little for them to do. He bought each a play station and now they are glued to the screen. The kids go to a good international school. I think it costs about $300 a month.

You need to visit and take a serious look. You also need to think seriously about your child's future. We talk to lots of parents who are raising kids in Nicaragua who want their children to learn to speak Spanish and have a cross culture experience but have given little thought to what their children will do when they come of age.

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Doc8404
1/21/2018 19:37 EST

Iguanalover,

Thank you for the post. You have actually eased my mind in regard to the "scary stuff." a lot of things I read have something about not trusting locals in some sort of way. Or warning you that you have to lock your doors at stop lights in fear of someone reaching in your window or getting in your car.

As far as my school age son, I agree with what you are saying. I am extremely fortunate to be able to provide all that I am to him. I looked at the international schools and 2 have an extra year of curriculum (12 years instead of 11) that give some kind of degree or cert that is universal in regard to college internationally. I certainly plan on contacting them to get facts. As far as being sexually active and all of that, my son has quite a ways to go. As a default I can always move back as can go to any state college in Az free because of benefits I have earned via the military. He really is set either way. The boredom thing is something that I believe depends on the person but I am not taking it lightly. Sending him back home for periods of time has been a conversation between his grandparents and I since my family decided to do this.

How is banking by the way. Should I keep my U.S. account or should I have both?

Thanks for the post.

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waltermboyles
1/21/2018 20:09 EST

Maybe this is too much info, but in the US when I enter a restaurant, I do not impose myself into others' private conversations. In the capital San Salvador we always greet such people. Out of the capital in NI few greet anybody anywhere; I suspect it is a class thing: the upper class does not stoop to greet the lower class, & the lower class does not get out of its place......but that is my personal observation.....NI is keeping out the gang members from Guat/El S/Hond, so tattoos are not welcomed.....H2O 212F

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waltermboyles
1/21/2018 20:13 EST

We usually have LOTS of flies (because of fruit trees?), but not many in 2017, in spite of more rain than usual......I have not figured out why.....H2O 212F

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waltermboyles
1/21/2018 20:19 EST

Banking is kind of normal. You need to kiss their butts to get them to take your dough.....Get a Charles Schwab account in the US.....they absorb your ATM fees worldwide. You cannot deposit CASH at their offices......H2O 212F

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johnchip
1/21/2018 20:38 EST

Iguana's advice about kids and their future here is spot on! Consider their future before yours in the long haul. At 15 they are targets for baby-making with privilege. Once college age, they must go north if you want them to have a future.

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iguanalover
1/22/2018 09:50 EST

Keep your US account and ask around about banks once you are in country. What I would tell you is to have as many ATM cards as possible. Things happen. We have seven cards for different accounts. If something happens to one card, we transfer money on line, order a new card, and keep on truckin. We have our money in two different US banks with two accounts in one bank and three in another. Talk it over with your wife and see what works for you. We do banking business on line and on skype.

We live in a solidly middle class neighborhood. We are the only gringos. Our neighbors are hard working and very nice. The kids play street ball at night. The Nicas look out for us and will tell us if we are doing anything stupid, no political correctness here. We apreciate their neighborliness. We feel a part of the neighborhood.

We took part in a food giveaway in an ultra poor neighborhood at Navidad. I worked crowd control while the baskets were being handed out. The people were extremely well behaved: lined up without being told, waited for their names to be called, got their basket and went home. No behaviour problems at all. If you are out drunk, at midnight, standing on a dark corner using your smart phone, you will have problems and grandma doesn't want to hear about it. Nicaragua is the same as anywhere else, use your common sense.

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elduendegrande
1/22/2018 10:08 EST

Crime is endemic, that's why you live behind a big wall and have a housekeeper so somebody is always home. some small towns are a little different, but every one has its vagos. Good news is most of crime stats involve poor and young Nicas, not foreigners except dummies who walk around at night or fall for scams.

Middle class Nicas are very picky about where their kids go and who they spend time with. Alcoholism and drugs are big time here, not to mention the sexual mores.

Come rent for a couple years and check it out. When you know the turf, you might want to start a business to give yourself something to do and set your kids up. Nic is a (dual) oligarchy, not a meritocracy. Connections far outweigh talent.

Have your kids bone up on the voyages of Columbus and the Catholic saints so they will excel at skool, but plan on sending them abroad for college or tech school.

Do a search and look at blue titles at the left of the screen about medical care. Great doctors can be found as well as great labs, even in the provincial capitals, but the best hospitals are in mga.

Most tats are on returning druggies and foreigners. Act polite but not patronizing and cover them up as best you can.

Banks are ok, my prefereence is Lafise, but by all means keep a US account and a US credit card.

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atz111
1/22/2018 13:35 EST

Crime is endemic all over the world. I cannot speak for all over Nicaragua, but in Granada city the houses are left unattended all the time and do not get broken into.. yep,you need locks and excercise caution but it sure is not as bad as portrayed. Streets are safe here night and day. People do make it on merit...it is a changing place here and in such a place being good at what you do counts. In he normal population, drugs and alcohol are no more a problem that anyplace. It actually is a pretty"normal" place to live...you need to feel your way around a bit but its pretty ordinary if you are a person with a bit of verve.

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johnchip
1/23/2018 09:43 EST

Natural disasters mostly consist of some regularity with earthquakes. But for the most part, you'll get more bang for your buck for a quarter in the 'magic fingers' box on a motel bed. Most mortalities from earthquakes are attributed to heart attacks in people over 90 in remote areas.
Mosquitos are more of a problem in jungle beach areas and in most towns they spray. 'Off family spray', sold in most markets, is a staple if more active. Other than ants, insects don't present much of an issue. The bigger they are the slower they move giving you plenty of time to move or 'batter-up'.
As to the tats, you will stand out. As a gringo, you will stand out. The younger the more curious, and their staring is unfiltered. Once you find yourself ensconced in a part of your community, Nicas are very friendly and will accept your differences.
I agree with the other comment, do not be patronizing, just natural and inquisitive. You are the guest. People like to feel needed, not used.

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