1. We’re Not In Kansas Anymore!
Often expats forget they are in a different place, with a different culture, language, customs and ways of doing things. You need to consciously embrace the differences of where you are each and every day to avoid those frustrations. Living in Nicaragua requires a lot of patience and the more you have the better acclimated you will be.
2. Be Open And Don’t Look Back to compare
Be comfortable to be alone, be open to surprises and don’t look back at your home country for the first couple of months. Avoid socializing with too many expats and make as many local friends as possible!
3. Visit, Experience, THEN Decide To Live here Or Not
Some good Advice … take a short trip to Nicaragua and spend 3 to 4 weeks in an apartment to see if the local way of life fits you. Too many folks move because of one aspect–such as low cost of living–only to find they don’t enjoy other aspects of life they hadn’t considered from afar.
4. Embrace Minimalism
When you decide to move less will definitely be more. Sell everything except for the essentials and mementos; paying for a large monthly storage unit is money better spent on getting things you will need to lie here and that money will often go a whole lot further here. You would be surprised to find many of the items you thought you couldn’t live without you will manage just fine without them. It is also great to know that many of the items you have back home, you can find here.
5. Find an Expat Community
Find a place where other expats live. Especially if you will be coming alone. If you speak Spanish, you’ll be able to mingle freely with the natives. Although it is super important to integrate in your local community you will no doubt enjoy the company of like-minded foreigners.
6. Learn The Language To Love The Destination
You will need to spend at least 1 month here before you will begin to know what you like and don’t like, and whether it’s a place that you would consider living. This will go a long way in helping you to help you appreciate the culture and have better relationships. This will improve your security and ability to learn the best places to shop, eat and visit.
It is highly recommended you register with a language school to learn Spanish and some of the culture as an affordable way to discover your destination.
7. Get Real
Don’t base your plans on what you think is going to happen. Get realistic about life abroad, not as a tourist but as an expat. Joining expat forums on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/groups/ExpatsinLeon/and other platforms is a great way to engage with expats who already live here.
8. Forget About The Lobster And Enjoy The Coffee
Keep an open mind, because many things will be different from what you are used to and it’s easy to focus on what you are missing, rather than what you are gaining. You may not be able to find your favorite Chocolate truffles, but Nicaragua has quite an array of imported items and you will be surprised to find just how many comfort foods from back home you will be able to find.
9. Don’t be Isolated
Moving to a foreign country is very exciting. New people, cultures, experiences and adventures are around each corner. While this can all be great for the first month or so, after awhile it’s natural to begin missing your life back home. Soon you find yourself wishing you could talk to the cashier while at the store, or being able to ask for directions without stumbling through your high school Spanish. Many people end up feeling isolated and alone, even in the largest, most exciting cities. This is commonly referred to as “culture shock” – and can quickly turn your adventure into a nightmare, making you count down the days before you return home. The best way to avoid falling into this trap is to embrace your new city – did you play sports at home? Find a league you may be able to join in your new city. Many cities with expats have monthly meetings and events you can attend.
10. Learn to Adapt!
Americans and many other foreigners already have the reputation for being ignorant (we don’t speak any foreign languages) and arrogant (won’t bother to learn any).
The best advice is learn to adapt to social differences asap. Find other Expats who have lived here a while and ask them what you need to know. There are little nuances that you would never think are different. We think “everyone in the world does it like us” – this way of thinking will severely set you back on your path to integrating into the Nicaraguan way of life.