Nicaragua is known as the “Land of Lakes and Volcanoes,” and in Granada, the reason why will be obvious upon first glance. The vibrant pride and joy of Nicaragua, this perfectly preserved colonial town is settled along the coast of Lago de Nicaragua, and wedged between the volcanoes Masaya and Mombacho. With a quieter and more laidback character than the northern towns of Managua and León, Granada is a city that provides the best of the New World—and an excellent environment for teaching, to boot. Pack your bullwhip and fedora, and teach abroad in Granada, Nicaragua!
What you need to know to teach in Granada
Affordable, safe, beautiful… Granada will leave you wondering if you died and went to TEFL heaven. But it won’t be all drinking mojitos on the beach, ziplining past macaws, and hiking volcanic trails (although, that is definitely part of it). To teach English in Granada, you will need to bring your patience, creativity, and motivation with you.
Popular ESL jobs in Granada. It doesn’t take more than a TEFL certificate to teach English in Granada. Jobs in public schools are abundant, and the demand for native English speakers is high right now. Salaries are on the lower side (around $300-$500 USD per month), but the great news is that the cost of living is even lower. If you keep your budget tight, you can expect to save a fair chunk of your earnings, and there are always opportunities to privately tutor students on the side for some extra cash.
If you want to earn the (relatively) big bucks, a bachelor’s degree in education may be required to teach in universities, as well as demonstrated experience; expect the competition to be more stiff, too.
Short-term vs. long-term teaching jobs, and other tidbits on job structure. Due to high demand for English teachers in Nicaragua, jobs are available in Granada on a rolling basis. The school year begins in February and ends in November; once you accept a job, you will most likely be expected to stay until the end of the year. If you don’t have the time or money to teach English in Granada for a full school year, or just want something shorter-term, plan on arriving in July or later. It’s worth noting that if you stay for a full year, you will grow enormously, both personally and professionally, and you may even be eligible for a raise for the next school year.
Teaching English vs. teaching other subjects. While teaching English is most popular in Granada, opportunities do exist if you’re interested in teaching a subject other than English. It will require a strong command of Spanish and a degree in education (or your chosen field), but the upside is that your earning potential will be much greater. Nicaragua is the poorest country in Central America, and some children and citizens have difficulty accessing education, so there is a general need across the board for educated, dedicated teachers; subjects to consider are math, business, and science.
Life in Granada for ESL Teachers
If you fancy yourself a spiritual Lara Croft or Indiana Jones, you will swiftly adjust to life amongst the misty volcanoes, pre-Columbian ruins, and azure lakes. In your downtime from teaching in Granada, there are endless possibilities for adventure in the nearby lush jungles and beaches that have remained surprisingly undiscovered by tourists.
The dormant Mombacho and active Masaya offer two different volcanic experiences, and both are downright lava-ble; Laguna de Apoyo and Las Isletas (both resultant of volcanic activity) are also must-sees on a free morning or weekend. If you want to get at the true heart of Nicaragua, however, rent a 4WD vehicle with some compañeros and plunge into the depths of the rainforests. We can’t wait for the blockbuster movie based on your hijinks.
While you’re still teaching, though, let’s talk accommodation. Teachers in Granada often rent apartments in or just outside the city center, either solo or together. Other accommodation options include homestays, hostels, and guest houses. In choosing, keep your salary in consideration, as well as what you want to ultimately get out of living and teaching in Granada. Nicaraguan cuisine emphasizes farm-to-table sustainability, so you can always feel good about what you’re eating. Food in Nicaragua has both Creole and Spanish influences, and delicioso rice and beans are staples. Western expats should drink bottled water only.
One last fun fact to consider is that in the 17th century Granada was famously sacked by Sir Henry Morgan of, y’know, Captain Morgan fame. Bring your peg leg and eye patch, and take a shot of rum in his honor, matey. (Note: not recommended before class.)
GoAbroad’s Inside Scoop for foreign teachers in Granada
As if you’re not already sold on the experience, there’s more good news—Nicaragua is the safest country in Central America. That doesn’t mean to completely let your guard down, though; Westerners are still usually targets for petty crime. What it does mean, though, is that your parents will sleep more soundly at night, and so will you. Nice!
There’s a well-known saying in Nicaragua: Hay mas tiempo que vida, or “There is more time than life.” What does that mean? That your students will be late, often. Time is not taken very seriously in Nicaragua, so go with the flow, and get creative if it starts affecting your lessons.
Visas are not at all restrictive in Nicaragua, so it will be easy enough to teach in Granada. Western travelers are able to purchase a tourist visa on arrival in Nicaragua, and they are valid for 90 days, which probably won’t be long enough to cover your teaching contract; border hopping into Costa Rica is common for renewing visas, but if you want to go a more official route, apply for a residency permit.
Quiet and colorful, safe and sandy—it will feel almost as if Granada, Nicaragua exists principal-ly for foreign teachers. ¡Buena suerte!
Check out our comprehensive guide on teaching abroad in Nicaragua.