For Jay, Part-Time Retirement Overseas Was The Ideal Solution
What in the world is a nice, retirement-aged couple from Vermont doing in Granada, Nicaragua? Jay and Kathy Snyder get that question a lot.
“It started about 10 years ago,” Jay explains.
“After some 40 years building and operating the Landgrove Inn in Vermont, our thoughts turned to semi-retirement and change. We intended to sell our country inn business, and that prospect put us face-to-face with the big ‘What Next?’ question.
“About this time, I started reading articles online about Central and South America. I wanted to see these places. I wanted to know them firsthand. It was as though I could hear a voice saying, ‘Go south, old man.’
“Something you wrote, Kathleen, in particular, years ago now, really got to me.
“‘Live your dreams,’ you said.
“I made a list of countries to explore. At the top was Nicaragua, partly because it was the shortest flight time (!), but also because, by all accounts, it was a very inexpensive place to live.
“I planned a visit to Granada, where I enrolled in a Spanish-language immersion program. I lived with a local Nica family and went to Spanish classes (where no English was allowed…exhausting but also exhilarating) each day for a week. Then I took off to see the rest of the country-remote villages, coastal towns, planned developments…
“With only three days remaining on this first visit, I felt a strong desire to return to Granada. So I did. And, back in the city, I took the plunge. I began speaking with real estate agents.
“Walking around Granada with the agents, I realized all my senses were satisfied. I liked what I saw, what I smelled, what I heard, what I tasted, what I felt…
“I place a lot of value on the sixth sense, too—on intuition. And I liked what my gut told me about Granada. The place felt right, and I felt at home. Why continue looking and waste precious time? I asked myself.
“There was no reason I could come up with, so, the next day, just before leaving for home, I made an offer on a piece of vacant land in town.
“I didn’t come to Granada with the idea of buying land to build condos. Not at all. But that day walking around the city with agents, I asked each of them if they could show me condos with rental management programs in place. They all insisted that no such thing existed.
“I figured that I couldn’t be the only retirement-aged guy considering Nicaragua and interested in that concept. It’s really the most sensible option for active retirees and second homeowners.
“The truth is, retirees in the States right now face a serious dilemma. It’s impossible, really, for them to live on Social Security. And the cost of quality retirement living options has exploded. The current meltdown in U.S. housing costs doesn’t change this fact. Most retirees can’t afford a retirement home.
“I thought about all this walking around Granada during that first, life-changing trip. It seemed to me that I’d found an alternative…a viable, appealing option for Americans trying to figure out how in the world they’re going to make it in retirement.
“Nicaragua seems to offer exactly what people like me are looking for—an affordable, quality lifestyle bundled with the chance to start over…to make a significant change in your life.
“Plus, in Nicaragua, you’re not too far from the States, so you can get back and forth easily, and the medical care is both inexpensive and excellent (I speak from experience).
“I found a suitable piece of land, and I decided to design and then to build what I was looking for. If it works for me, I figured, it’ll work for others just like me. Something like, build it…and the retirees will come.
“Then I prepared myself for battle. I rehearsed responses to the incredulous stares and raised eyebrows I expected from my wife and family.
“But they disappointed me. Instead of, ‘Are you out of your mind?!’ my plans were met with enthusiasm, excitement, and encouragement. The support I’ve enjoyed from family and my friends has had a lot to do with my being able to follow through on the plan I hatched those first days in Granada.”
Today, this adventuresome retirement-aged couple from the Northeast divides their time between Granada, Florida, and Vermont. They make five trips a year to Nicaragua, staying two to six weeks at a time.
“I don’t have a solution to the problems facing Americans right now,” Jay continues. “It’s too frustrating to contemplate. I do feel, though, I’ve found an alternative that works for me and that could work for many, many others, as well.
“You’ve got to think outside the box—the box being the United States. I realize this isn’t a new idea, but it’s truer and truer. Statistics show an increase in the numbers of Americans leaving the States and a big increase in the numbers considering the idea.
“It’s tempting to continue living the way you’ve been living. It’s easy. Certainly easier than making the kind of change I’m talking about. It can be very frightening to think about creating a whole new life for yourself in a foreign place.
“That fear can keep us from acting on chances for fun, for adventure, and for possible profit.
“All I can tell you now is that I’m thrilled with the choice we’ve made. It has been one of the most satisfying experiences of my life.”
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