Living Abroad in Nicaragua
Moving to Nicaragua with Children
2006 © Randall Wood and Joshua Berman, from Moon Living Abroad in Nicaragua, 1st ed. Used by permission of the author(s) and Avalon Travel. All rights reserved. For more info please visit Moon's website, Moon.com, and GotoNicaragua.com, a site created by Wood and Berman for fellow Nicaphiles to come together, plan their trips, and ask questions.
While there is no obvious impediment to moving to Nicaragua with children, very few families seem to do so, and for the time being, Nicaragua remains the playground of retirees, foreigners who have married Nicaraguans, development workers, and people looking for a simpler (and possibly cheaper) lifestyle. But don’t let that stop you. Nicaraguans love children. They cherish them, adore them, dote on them, shine them up and show them off. It’s refreshing, actually, to participate in a society where children are so highly valued, and this alone should prove that the idea of bringing your own children to Nicaragua should not be dismissed.
From a practical standpoint, the single biggest challenge to living in Nicaragua with children is the weak educational system, which means right away you’ll have to find a school that meets your requirements for your children’s education (see the Language and Education chapter). As for health issues, with the exception of infants, you will find your children are no more susceptible to concerns all expats face in Nicaragua, and may even develop a better immunity to the local bugs than you will. Teach your children how to deal with the hygiene issues Nicaragua requires, like not drinking tap water, being careful to wash one’s hands frequently, not eating food that hasn’t been recently cooked (or that they find on the ground), and so on, and they will be fine.
One family of missionary expats we met in the North arrived for an extended stay in Nicaragua with a two-year-old boy who had just begun speaking. When they moved to Nicaragua, their son immediately clammed up again and stopped saying even the simple phrases and words he had begun to use in the States. About two months later, he began speaking again—this time in Spanish! Before the end of the year he was communicating in both Spanish and English; he’d just needed a couple of months to figure it all out.
It should go without saying, but it’s important to be sensitive to your older children’s needs if you are making the move to Nicaragua during their adolescence. They might not be as excited about the “simpler lifestyle” of Nicaragua as you. Ensuring they learn to speak Spanish immediately will be a vital first step to their cultural assimilation as it will enable them to make Nicaraguan friends that will help ease their transition. During this time period, help them resist the urge to stay locked indoors watching American television and pining for life “back there.” There are lots of adventures to be had in Nicaragua, from rafting to beach exploring to volcano hiking and more. Engaging in some fun activities with your children will help them learn to like their new home.