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Gordon MacKay of InNicaNow.com – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Making new friends at Manos Unidos in San Juan del Sur – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingIn San Juan del Sur, you can get by just speaking English. We have lots of customers who move to San Juan del Sur and customers who only come to visit who only speak English. Not every local in San Juan del Sur speaks English, though. Only 10-20% of locals speak English well, and another 10% speak some English. You’re going to have a different type of relationship with locals if you don’t speak any Spanish- it’s going to be very rudimentary. 
 
We knew absolutely zero Spanish when we moved to San Juan del Sur five years ago, and now I speak like an inquisitive five-year-old but it’s enough for me to have good conversations with my Nicaraguan friends. It’s enough for me to make my Nicaraguan friends laugh at what I’m saying and how I’m saying it. 
 
Things are going to take more time when you’re learning Spanish, and you’re definitely going to look for help. In San Juan del Sur, if you go to a restaurant and you want to order food, or to the market to get fruits and vegetables, it’s pretty simple to use Spanish. It’s when you want to have a conversation with someone and make a friend that it’s going to be a little more difficult to use Spanish, but you can definitely get by and make things happen. 
 
A lot of businesses in San Juan del Sur that have to deal with foreigners have one person there who speaks English. I know if I go to the cell phone store in San Juan del Sur, to the pharmacy, or to the bank, there’s someone who speaks English. Not everyone does, but there’s always someone who can help you out when you’re absolutely stuck. Along the way, the more Spanish you learn, the easier things get. 
 
(Pictured: Making new friends at Manos Unidos in San Juan del Sur.)
 
 
Suyen Vargas of Aurora Vacation Rentals Nicaragua – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
feliz viernes – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingEverybody speaks English in San Juan del Sur, even the locals. You can definitely get by just speaking English. There are expats who have been living in San Juan del Sur for 10 years and they still do not speak Spanish.
 
As for dealing with the locals, the locals have been working with Americans or foreigners for many years, so it is very easy for people to not speak Spanish when they need to call someone. All the signs here are in English, especially if you need some service.

It is crazy to think that there are retirees and full time residents who have been living here for many years who speak only a little bit of Spanish, but not enough to use it to communicate with someone. 
 
("Feliz Viernes" --Happy Friday, written in the sand, pictured.) 
Daniel Snider of Snider's Realty Nicaragua – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
People standing on balcony in San Juan del Sur – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingYou can get by if you just speak English in San Juan Del Sur because it is a big tourist destination and so many Americans live there now that the average business owner understands English very well or at least understands enough English for everybody to get by. I personally recommend, however, for expats to try to pick up a little bit of the Spanish language and the Nicaraguan dialect. Not only is it fun, but it goes a long way towards getting around the country and getting the full experience of living in Nicaragua.
 
When you are having difficulties speaking Spanish, the average Nicaraguan will not make a big deal out of it. He will try to help you out. The average Nicaraguan will take his or her time to understand what you are trying to say and take their time in trying to explain themselves the best way they know how, so that you can understand them. It just comes with the average persona of the Nicaraguan characteristics of how they live and how they are as a people. They usually try and help out a foreigner.
 
(Family members on a balcony in San Juan del Sur, pictured.)
 
David Smith – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Foreign Office Minister Hugo Swire meeting Samuel Santos López, Nicaraguan Foreign Minister in London – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingYou can get by in San Juan Del Sur with English, but obviously nearly everything is Spanish. You will get on a lot better if you do speak Spanish or take some classes and try to blend in a little bit or a to integrate a little bit.
 
You would probably not be able to get by with just English on your day to day, but you might, if you get some help. There are lots of services for expats, run by expats who provide property management-like services.  They will pay your bills for you, pay your taxes, help run your property and manage everything for you for a very low fee of about $100 to $150 per month. A lot of people provide those services and a lot of people take those services.
 
If you are just going shopping, you do not need Spanish. I do not speak fluent Spanish. I took some classes. I am not fluent, but I can get by. When I first went to San Juan Del Sur, I didn’t speak any Spanish; not a word.
 
I have always loved the Spanish language. I love to hear it, so I wish I had learned it when I was younger because it is a lot harder for me to learn Spanish, being in my 40’s. I took classes several times and will continue to do so in an attempt to improve.
 
There are certain jurisdictions such as Quebec for example, where you might not get the best treatment if you do not at least make an effort to speak in French.  In contrast, the Nicaraguan people are very patient and they love to celebrate the fact that you are making an effort. It is wonderful.
 
The Nicaraguan people are very very friendly and just for a little bit of attempted Spanish, they would like to celebrate it and work with you. They would make you feel comfortable if you do not speak Spanish.
 
(Foreign Office Minister Hugo Swire meeting Samuel Santos López, Nicaraguan Foreign Minister in London, pictured.)
Eugenio Cortez of Hacienda & Ecolodge Morgan´s Rock – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
You can definitely get by in San Juan Del Sur with just English. It is quite interesting how San Juaneños know enough English to help expats or tourists who do not know Spanish. You can easily communicate with the locals, buy what you need, and get what you want. Between their low understanding of English and your low understanding of Spanish, you will meet half way, so you will be fine.
 
If you live in San Juan Del Sur and you do not speak Spanish at all, your first year will be difficult due to the language barrier, but it goes back to getting acclimated with the place. You will later on find out who knows how to speak English and who does not, but you will catch up on the Spanish, too.
 
The language barrier is not a serious issue.  If you are moving to Central Africa, then yes, you might have a problem if you do not know their native language. Here in San Juan Del Sur, since it is a tourist destination, most of the people know a certain amount of English. It might not be perfect English, but it is enough for you to understand and carry out a conversation.
Joe Lopes of las escadas condominiums – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Many people in San Juan Del Sur speak English, especially people who work in the restaurants. Most restaurants are bilingual, so ordering food in restaurants is not a problem if you only speak English.
 
I have noticed many North Americans, who do not speak Spanish at all, contract locals as drivers when they go to malls or somewhere else where they would need translation. Sometimes, the locals even work for the expats full time. The expats get by like that. I know one expat who pays his chauffeur/interpreter US $200 per month, as well as for housing and food. This expat is a guy who likes to drink so when he does, with his chauffeur, he does not have to worry about drinking and driving. So I guess, it is great for him.
 
If you do not have an interpreter and you only know English, people will still try to help you, so you will get by even with zero Spanish. Nicaraguans are nice people. They like expats to feel at home. San Juan Del Sur is a tourist destination so the people here are used to seeing tourists come over who do not know any Spanish, so the locals tend to be very helpful.
Ray Jackson of Secret Cove – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
I came to San Juan del Sur the first time twelve years ago and thought Spanish was the exclusive language.  Every subsequent time I visited I thought the number of bilingual individuals had grown.  This of course includes those who speak Italian, French, German and Russian.  Right now, San Juan del Sur is alive and well with bilingual English / Spanish speakers.   San Juan has been my home for eight years and many of my expat friends don't speak any Spanish at all other then the usual greetings and what I call restaurant Spanish.  Several expat business owners here have a limited Spanish vocabulary but have hired competent staff to handle communication.  English translators are common at community meetings in San Juan del Sur to accommodate the many non-Spanish speaking participants.  The local newspaper, del Sur, is bilingual and published weekly. 
 
I operate a small bed and breakfast in San Juan and asked my Spanish tutor to teach my employees enough English to interact with guests, particularly at breakfast time.  I have now taken over the responsibility of teaching one of my employees English, which has helped my Spanish.
 
There are many Spanish schools and tutors in San Juan del Sur and the community may be headed toward a reputation similar to Antiqua, Guatemala, known for its language schools.   People here are friendly and language is never a problem.
Gloria Pérez of García & Bodán – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Spanish is Nicaragua's official language. However, specially in cities like San Juan del Sur, as a tourist destination, you won't have any problems getting around if you don't speak Spanish since you will find a lot of people who speak English as a second language. Anyway, this is a great opportunity to learn a new language and locals will always be willing to help you learn new words in Spanish.

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