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Expat Life and The Cost of Living in Nicaragua

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What we like about Nicaragua is that there is truly something for everyone. If you’re looking for a cheap second residence and you like warm temperatures and Latin culture, Nicaragua should be high on your list. If you’re looking for someplace more laid back to escape the rat race, this could be it.

Nicaragua is a great lifestyle destination for Americans, Canadians, or even Europeans who want cheaper prices and a more Western living standard than some other equally affordable places in South America.

Getting to the capital, Managua, from the United States, is very easy. Flights from the southern US are barely three hours, making getting to Nicaragua as easy as visiting the grandparents across the states

United flies here from Houston, America flies from Miami, and Spirit Airlines from Fort Lauderdale.

When traveling from the States, it’s easy to get here in one stop; however, for those coming from outsides the States, that might be a bit more challenging. 

Like most other southern Central American countries, Nicaragua offers straightforward residency for foreigners who want to live here. 

Would you like more invaluable insights into expat life? Sign up for our Weekly Rundown for exclusive access to hand-picked insights on global investments, citizenship and residency, real estate, tax strategies, and diversified living. 

The Cost of Living in Nicaragua

While Central America isn’t as cheap as the likes of Southeast Asia, prices here are very reasonable. That’s even more so if you’re a more established couple or family with an expensive mortgage and other bills.

Housing Costs in Nicaragua

Renting a decent home in Managua costs about $500 a month. Go into the upscale Santo Domingo part of town (home to Nicaragua’s largest shopping mall), and prices go up from there. 

You could pay as much as $2,500 a month for a house that would sell in parts of the states for $2-3 million.

Outside of Managua, housing prices can be a little cheaper. The charming colonial city of Granada is one of Nicaragua’s safest and most expat-friendly cities and has an estimated 1,000 foreigners living there full-time. You can rent a respectable apartment for around $400-600 a month.

In the Pacific coastal city of San Juan del Sur, one-bedroom condos literally right across the street from the beach go for around $400-$900 a month, with the possibility of even shorter-term leases. 

Availability can be difficult at certain times of the year, as surfers descend in full force, but it would be relatively easy to lock down a condo year-round if you wanted.

Monthly Expenses in Nicaragua

Food throughout Nicaragua is relatively cheap, and you can easily find spots selling street food for around $3.

Of course, nicer restaurants are more expensive, where you will spend around $6 for a meal, which usually includes chicken, pork, beef, and vegetarian options. 

For example, the bill for a soft drink, a mojito, a large entree of chicken, rice, and beans, and a large dessert would cost under $15. 

If you were to live in Managua, you might prefer to eat your meals at one of the nicer eateries, as security in some of the poorer neighborhoods can be a concern. Nicaragua is safe overall, but petty crime is an issue.

As far as clothing and consumer goods, prices are a lot more reasonable than in the United States. You will pay about 30.4% less in Nicaragua on average. 

Where you won’t save money here is driving, with gasoline prices as high as anywhere in the West at a little over $1 per liter, or about $4.50/gallon.

Electricity prices vary greatly between $50 – $200 a monthOne expat we spoke to, who lives in a 2,000-square-foot house, says his monthly bill runs $300-400. 

Internet will cost you between $30 and $60 per month, and both price and quality of coverage depend on your location. 

The Bottom Line

Overall, a single person could enjoy a good quality of life here, whether in a colonial city or on the beach, for $1,000 to $1,500 a month, depending on the level of luxury desired at home and how often you prefer to eat at a sit-down restaurant versus a burrito shack.

For a couple, $2,000 per month would afford a good level of luxury, including a nice, furnished home.

Of course, Nicaragua is not a perfect place, and you have to do your due diligence to determine whether you want a city lifestyle, something in the country, or a place by the sea.

Although Nicaraguan banks are relatively stable, they may be less business and internationally-minded than an investor or entrepreneur would like. 

Are you interested in acquiring second citizenship or exploring investment opportunities in countries that offer a wealth of opportunities?

Maybe one of our best countries for digital nomads is worth exploring. To learn more about what other countries have to offer, contact us at Nomad Capitalist today. 


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