Nicaragua: Save on Property Costs
For house buyers or investors, Nicaragua offers the lowest cost of living and business opportunities. You could live here in a $2-million mansion with everything you would ever want in a home if you are willing to pay for it. But the great thing about this tropical paradise is that you don’t have to. You can still feel like you’re living the life of Reilly—on a very low budget.
The items you save on add up. Real estate taxes are low—you’ll pay around $150 a year for a $130,000 house. The cost of rentals are low, too. Friends of mine live in a modest three-bedroom home overlooking the bay of San Juan del Sur for just $200 a month. Electricity, water and WiFi are extra and cost an additional $100. Many one or two-bedroom rentals in town go for $250 to $400 a month, depending on amenities.
I spend about $25 a week for food. If I must have peanut butter, almond milk, gouda cheese, teriyaki sauce and cuts like filet mignon, my food budget goes way up. You can also save quite a bit of money enjoying your dinner at one of the many happy hours with $1 or $2 appetizers. And you can hire someone to clean your house for about $10.
Some things are more expensive in Nicaragua. Electronic items are double the price, for example. Gas hovers around $5.50 a gallon. New cars and trucks in Nicaragua have sticker prices of about a third to a half higher than the U.S. A large jar of Jiffy peanut butter can set you back $12. A small piece of cheddar cheese might cost over $5. You get the idea. If you are willing to live the good Nicaraguan life and forego some of those old necessities that aren’t really necessary, a single person can easily live on $1,000 or less a month and a couple can maintain a comfortable lifestyle for $1,200 and $1,400.—Bonnie Hayman
This is International Living, a somewhat infamous “rose-colored glasses” type of media company, so take this report with the biggest grain of salt you can find…
However, that’s not to say that they are incorrect in what they tell you here, rather that an outfit like IL really does not address much of what really faces an expat. IL focuses on cost of living and lifestyle mostly, with not too much on such things as integrating into your new culture and country, how to be a productive member of your new community, or how to make local friends and become fluent in the native language.
IL really caters to the person who fits in quite well in the expat enclaves of Granada and San Juan del Sur; not so much Managua or Matagalpa and much less so Puerto Cabezas, Siuna or Bluefields. What I mean is that in most other areas of Nicaragua, the locals really don’t cater to you very much.
Sure, they might be neighborly and are certainly curious about expats, but mostly that is just a general human response to a new person moving into a neighborhood. Especially if they are different from the norm for that area, folks will take notice and most will wait to see what type of a person you are before taking the time to get to know you.
How that might express itself could vary of course, but as an example, in tourist and expat areas, learning English is clearly a good move for a Nicaraguan to want to make their living from tourism and providing services to expats. In other places, not so much. While most urban areas have some bilingual non-native English speakers, especially in the countryside you can basically forget about finding someone who speaks English.
So, as a potential expat, you need to ask yourself (among a multitude of questions), “do I want to learn Spanish or live where the locals will be learning English?” That will influence not only where you may choose to live, but how you will live too. Will you be living in an English-language bubble or not? As always, comments welcome!