1 August 2016

Margit Streifeneder - Expat in Managua, Nicaragua

Margit Streifeneder - Expat in Managua, Nicaragua

Q: Where are you originally from?
A: Germany

Q: In which city are you currently residing?
A: Managua

Q: What do you do in your new city?
A: I brought my job with me. I am an eBusiness and Social Media Consultant, currently working for a Canadian Company (SiteSell Inc.). All work is done “virtually,” via email, Skype and the Internet.

Q: How is the quality of life in your new city in comparison to that of your home city?
A: It’s a different quality of life. I can afford a much bigger and nicer house than in my home country. We have a pool in our condominium. I can afford household help. Activities for children are cheaper and easier to organize. The climate plays a big role too. In Nicaragua you have sunshine almost every day. That alone improves quality of life enormously, at least for me. On the other hand, you don’t have a good public transport system. There’s no pedestrian zone and no real city centre in Managua. Shopping and cultural events are limited. Overall though, my quality of life has improved compared to my life in Germany and Ireland (where I lived before coming to Nicaragua).

Q: How would you rate the healthcare system in which you are currently enrolled?
A: So far I am satisfied with the quality of healthcare I received. I haven’t been to any hospital yet, only to a general practitioner, eye specialist and a dentist. What I really like is that the doctors take their time here to listen to you. You are being treated as a human being, not just a client with specific symptoms. I am not enrolled in any local healthcare system. I have an international health insurance that covers hospital stays and expensive treatments. The rest I pay myself.

Q: How does the cost of living compare to that of your home city?
A: Labour, rent and food bought at the “mercados” are cheaper than in Germany and Ireland. Clubs and restaurants are much cheaper too. Food bought in supermarkets, especially imported goods, are more expensive. My prime example is a glass of Nutella, which currently costs 220 cordobas (that’s about US$ 9).

Q: Did you use a relocation company to help you with your move?
A: No.

Q: How easy or difficult was the relocation process?
A: It was easy. We just packed our suitcases and said we’d test drive Nicaragua for 3 months. If we liked it, we’d stay there. If not, we would have gone back to Germany and worked out “Plan B.”

Q: Did you move here with any family members?
A: Yes, with my daughter (now 11 years old).

Q: Did your spouse and children find it difficult to adapt to their new job and schools?
A: My daughter adapted very well to the new school. She found more friends here within 3 months than within 3 years in Ireland.

Q: How did the family, including you, do in acclimating to the new culture and surroundings?
A: As it has been my dream to live in a tropical country since I was 18, it was easy to adapt. Same goes for my daughter, as I explained above. There are of course things you need to get used to. For example, to get a contract with Claro for my Internet connection, I had to go to different Claro offices 3 times. The first person told me I had to pay for a whole year in advance, as I have no residencia (residency permit) in Nicaragua. The second person told me I can’t get any contract at all. The third person said no problem, we have a special contract for foreigners.

One of my biggest frustrations is that I still don’t speak and especially understand enough Spanish. My daughter speaks much much better than I do. She practices and learns every day at school. I don’t practice much, as my work environment is English and many of my friends here are either Germans or other expats who speak English. I find it hard to build up friendships with Nicaraguans. They are so embedded in their network of family and local friends that it is difficult for a foreigner to get close. At least that has been my experience.

Q: What is your favourite mobile app which you use to aid you in your expat life?
A: My favourite app is Skype. Not necessarily on my mobile though, but rather on my laptop. It makes it so easy and cheap to have video calls with friends and family back home.

Q: What is one piece of advice you’d like to offer a new expat in your new city?
A: I would suggest joining Internations.org. InterNations is an online expat community with a presence in over 300 locations worldwide. Their free membership is invitation-based, making it a network of personal trust. They organize monthly events in Managua, a great opportunity for newcomers to find like-minded people. Anyone who’d like an invitation can contact me via my website www.RetirePedia.com, where I write about the best countries to retire and live in.