Melinda escaped the 9-5 grind to discover the ‘Pura Vida’ life in Nicaragua

Our customer Melinda Balazs left her comfortable, settled corporate life in Australia in favour of a stint exploring the world. Born in Hungary, Melinda had spent most of her adult life in Sydney, Australia, when she realised that the life she was living wasn’t meant for her. 

She explained, “I was just about to turn 40 and was hit by the thought ‘this can’t be it’. I was spending my days sitting in front of a computer screen, working for big corporate companies, doing the extra hours, while not living my own life. So, just like that, I quit, packed up everything I owned and set out to backpack around the world by myself.”

moving overseas

After a year of travelling through South America, a bit of Europe, and Central America, Melinda’s life was destined to change again. She met a Nicaraguan surfer, Alex, and her one-year trip in pursuit of adventure suddenly turned into a love story.

“Nicaragua was one of the last stops on my travels. I had an unfortunate motorbike accident in Ometepe - a chicken ran across the road and we couldn't stop – and I had to get 4 stitches in my knee. Since I couldn’t travel on the bumpy chicken buses any longer, I went to San Juan Del Sur to heal and rest up – it's a beach suburb famous for great surf. I went out one night, and that’s when I met Alex.” 


moving overseas

Meli and Alex now live in San Juan Del Sur where they opened a surf shop; Alex’s Surf Shop, teach surf lessons, and create their own home branded surfboards; Alvarez Surfboards

“I think that if someone had told me a few years ago that I was going to live in Nicaragua, open a surf shop (3 years ago I couldn't even surf) and make surfboards together with my local boyfriend, I would have laughed. That’s crazy."


The couple have also designed and built their own house on a beautiful patch of land only ten minutes from the beach. 

“We had been looking for a nice lot for months, and then one morning I felt like exploring instead of going to the surf shop. I accidentally found a street where I saw our land, and immediately fell in love with it. It’s in the middle of the valley, with just a few neighbours around. The area is super green with horses and cows grazing outside, and howler monkeys in the trees. There are some scorpions and tarantulas too, but I just pretend they don’t exist!”

moving overseas

Melinda managed to track down the land owner and convince him to sell them the land. She had no experience in building houses, and didn’t speak Spanish, but decided to give it a go. “I learnt how to use SketchUp and designed everything from scratch. I only engaged an architect to create a professional plan based on my 3D design, and the measurements we handed in to the council for the permits.” 

“Since I designed my own house, I was at the construction site every single day to check up on the work. The guys really worked hard for their money. The climate is super-hot over here - imagine carrying all the cement blocks and heavy materials in this heat! And they worked for $10-15 a day!”

Despite the challenges of building a house from scratch in a new country, the project went well and there’s now a small, cream-colored house on the lot.


“The house is finished. It’s not perfect, and a lot of things are still missing, but we are happy. We live in comfort, we are close to the beach, and every day we wake up with the sun and the local wildlife (when the birds and howler monkeys start going crazy at dawn).”

moving overseas

While living in a beachy Nicaraguan paradise sounds like a dream, it’s not always easy, and Melinda has sometimes struggled to adjust.  

“You have to let go of all expectations, and the level of quality that you’re used to. I needed to go on a long journey to have an open mind and to be able to accept simplicity, a different culture, different everything. During my travels, I learnt some life changing lessons, and my world turned upside down. When I see my friends on social media, and how easy their life is in Australia, and how challenging my life is here in Nicaragua, I still struggle a bit and wonder whether I have made the right decisions or not. But then I go home for a visit, and realise how we take everything for granted and forget to be happy, to be grateful for the little things.”


“I do miss Australia, but I chose love instead. And I will let the universe decide what we do next.”

Check out Meli and Alex’s website alvarezsurfboards.wixsite.com or follow them Facebook and Instagram at @surfwithalex. And if you are ever in San Juan Del Sur, make sure to pop into their surf shop and say ‘hi’!