One Month’s Living Expenses: Granada, Nicaragua

Starting on April 1st Gord and I have tracked every single cordoba we’ve spent through to the end of the month.  To help us with this task we’re using a great little app called iXpenseIt. It’s available on iTunes for $4.99 USD and so far it’s worked great in helping us track our purchases and better manage our money.

Before you ask us why we would bother to take the time to do such a let me explain why. When Gord and I were researching our move to Nicaragua the burning question was,

“How much does it cost to live in Nicaragua?”  

We had difficulty finding the kind of detailed information we were looking for so today’s blog post is dedicated to those of you out there with the same question.

Before jumping right to the numbers I want to share a few important details regarding our lifestyle and the way we chose to live.

  • We are currently renting a brand new studio apartment in Granada, Nicaragua. It is fully furnished and our apartment complex has large saltwater pool, rooftop terrace and too many other amenities to mention.  Although our apartment offers hot water and air conditioning we choose to live without.
  • We own a 2001 Hyundai Galloper that we use for the occasional road trip and out of town travel.  Granada is a very walkable, so that’s how we typically get around.
  • We have no children or pets.
  • We prepare and eat most of our meals in house, but enjoy dining out at least a couple of times per week.  We are also big fans of ice cold Tona and Flor de Cana.

Our targeted budget for this month was $1400 USD.  We know some expats who are living on a lot less and others who are living on much more.  We are very pleased that we managed to end the month off at $1404.51, just $4.51 over budget.

Now onto the numbers…

The table below shows a detailed summary of our expenses by category.  Please note that the exchange rate is based on 23 cordobas per $1 USD.

And for those of you that want even more detail just scroll down the page to review every single purchase we made during the month of April.

If you have any questions regarding the Cost of Living in Nicaragua please feel free to drop us a line. We’d love to hear from you!

About innicanow

Hey there and welcome to In Nica Now! We're Gordon and Elisha. A retired Canadian couple who is living and loving life in beautiful San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua. Together we created this blog so we could share our Nicaraguan expat experience with you.

Posted on May 14, 2012, in Cost of Living and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 60 Comments.

  1. that is pretty much on the dot!!!!

  2. We had trouble finding specifics on how much it would cost to live in Nicaragua. Thanks for sharing this information. Also – how cool that you made an app for tracking expenses. Way to go!

  3. This is very helpful! I am a single mother and want to bring my son to spend a couple of years in Granada before he heads off to college. This is extremely helpful in gauging costs now I’m looking for some different options for getting him involved in social activities for teens. We are very excited!

  4. You wouldnt be staying at the Vista Mombecho would you? My wife and I got a tour from the developer back in December when it was still under construction. Looked like it was going to be a neat place. He said the rent was going to be $550 a month. Your description sounds like the same place we saw.

  5. As a retired senior in Canada I have been looking at Nicarague as a possible place to spend my retirement years. Do you recommend Granada for a senior from Canada? I so appreciate your detail on expenses as that information is just about impossible to find.
    Thanks again.
    Judy Bradbury

    • Hi Judy,

      I would definitely recommend Granada for a retired senior from Canada. In fact, pretty much all of our friends in Granada are retired seniors from either Canada or the US. Granada seems to have a great sense of community among the expats.

      We too found it next to impossible to find detailed expense information when researching our move to Nicaragua and that is what prompted us to do the post.

      Thanks for your interest in In Nica Now! Please do not hesitate to let us know if you have any other questions.

      Cheers,
      Elisha

  6. Hello and thank you for the information!! I’m living in California now – wondering how much I’d need to spend for a studio apt. / room? I’d like to come down for a couple of months and see how things feel. Best time of year for a visit? I’d like to live on a $1000.00/mo. in Grenada. Possible?

    Thanks!

    • There are lots of rentals in Granada in the $200 to $550 price range.

      The nicest we found was Vista Mombacho Apartments. They have a huge pool and rooftop patio.

      There are lots of people that do indeed live on $1000 per month. You need to make good buying decisions, but it can be done.

      In my opinion the only months to avoid are at the end of dry season. April and May are very hot.

  7. Howdy, Gord and Elisha!

    I’m very happy to have discovered your blog “InNIcaNow.com”. (I have a blog on WordPress, as well: LindsayEndureFort.com. Drop by, sometime.)

    I read, with GREAT interest, your article, “Reinvented at 37 and Loving Life in Nicaragua”, published in the January 2013 edition of INTERNATIONAL LIVING.

    I appreciate the information that you are sharing on your blog. It is VERY helpful to me.

    I just turned 62. I’m single, with four adult children and seven grandchildren. I love my family, but feel a definite need to change my life and do, at at last, the things that I truly want to do: discover and experience new cultures, write, photograph and “make a new life”. I’m not getting any younger…and there is no better time than NOW, while I enjoy good health and still have a keen sense of adventure.

    How would I go about getting in touch with Glenn (the developer of your apartment complex), or another person, where I could get more information about occupancy and renting there. I’m READY to make the move.

    Thanks again, for all that you have shared!

    Steve Lindsey

  8. Hello folks Me and my son is in costa Rica now. We are norwegians. We want
    to come to Granada , Nicaragua. I’ve searched the net for rentals but find only very expensive places- Dollars 550 like you pay, is Ok. Can you help ? My e-mail is: Regards and thanks ! Kari

    • There is a link on our side panel. It’s under “Places to Sleep” and is called Vista Mombacho Apartments.

      • I am 28 year old Canadian male looking to live in a better climate. Is out possible to secure a job there. And are the local woman ok with foreign man?

        • Hi Todd,

          Aside from a few very special circumstances, foreigners cannot work in Nicaragua. That being said this is the easiest country in Central America to start a business.

          I have many expat friends that are dating or married to Nicaraguans.

          Cheers,
          Gordon

  9. You have been so helpful. I enjoyed even all the comments. Thanks for taking the time to write this blog. It was awesome.

    Blessings,
    Butch and Olga

  10. Claire Winstone

    I was skimming your expenses list, so forgive me if I missed it, but I didn’t see anything for internet or phone service. Do you run a blog from cafes with free wireless? Or is it provided in your apartment?

    FYI, I’m another single Canadian (presently, and not happily, living in Southern California) and shooting to “retire” (though I’ll need to be doing on-line work for a few years to do it) in 2014-2015. I read somewhere that the Nicaragua coast is pretty dry and barren (which sounds like the Ecuador coast), but this baffles me since you’re right next door to Costa Rica and there are tons of lush-looking beach towns there. I realize CR is more developed (some would say over-developed) but what is the truth about the Ecuador coastline, because I may love Colonial cities, but much prefer to live near the beach–my lifelong dream?

    Thanks for this blog, by the way, it really helps with the long-distance research!

    • Hi Claire,

      Hi-speed wifi is included in our rent, as is cable. We use Magic Jack for phone service which gives us a Canadian number and unlimited long distance in North America. We got a deal and paid just over $100 for 5 years, which included the hardware.

      The Pacific side of Nicaragua is nearly identical in rainfall and topography to the Guanacaste Peninsula in Costa Rica. The Pacific side of both countries gets six months with rain and six without.

      Our last rainy season gave us an hour of rain every second day. Usually in the late afternoon. Most days were sunny before and after the rain storm. It does get a little dusty near the end of dry season, but I wouldn’t call it dry and barren.

      We are in the last month of dry season right now and most fruits are coming into their best part of the season. Mangos and avocados are nearly the size of the cantaloupe. The watermelon, cantaloupe and pineapple are super sweet right now as well.

      I don’t know enough about the Ecuadorian coast line to comment, but we sure love San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua.

      Cheers,
      Gordon

  11. Vacationed in Granada a few years ago and loved it. Thinking of retiring there and noticed that Retirement and Good Living just selected Granada as a top retirement location at http://retirementandgoodliving.com/best-retirement-locations-abroad-2013/

  12. I’ve a friend who has been talking to me about moving to sjds or nearby. What is the income for workers? I fear getting stuck there if I decide its not for me. I’m maybe just paranoid, but all I see is what international living posts. Thanks for your time.

    • Hi Chris,

      There really aren’t jobs here for expats. Unemployment and underemployment is a real issue for local Nicaraguans so they need the jobs. Most expats that want to generate an income start their own business.

      Cheers,
      Gordon

  13. Rachel Cleaves

    This is great; thanks!! How about car insurance?

  14. Stephen Lee Harney

    Thanks for such a splendid, meticulous explanation. Question for me is: What about medical
    insurance costs? I’m 65 & CALIF is getting expensive. Lived on Maui 15 yrs. Been eyeing
    Nicaragua, Panama, Costa Rica (more costly?), etc. Please assist. Can I live on $1590 to
    2350 US dollars until my IRA’s kick in? God bless you and thanks so much..Stephen &
    Ofelia 805-314-4588

  15. Wow, gracias por esse informacion! I am 45 and no plans to retire soon but I find this all very interesting. I would love however to visit with my 11 year old son sometime in the next few years. I am a former chef and serious “hispanophile”. 20 years in the restaurant business and now I speak better Spanish than French, and French was my major! May I ask what you two do for a living? You suggest there are no real “job” opportunities and that most expats start businesses so I am just wondering how you afford your frugal lifestyle. Anyone looking for a personal chef? Thanks again, y tenga buen verano.

    Pablo

    • Hi Paul,

      Thanks for your interest in In Nica Now.

      We invested wisely and as a result are able to live a comfortable life here.

      Before packing up and moving to Nicaragua I worked as an Executive Assistant for an Oil & Gas Company and Gordon worked as a Senior Manager for a Telecommunications Company.

      Sadly, we do not know anyone who is looking for a personal chef. Have you thought of posting an ad Craigslist? LOL

      Cheers,
      Elisha

  16. Me and my fiancé are getting ready to move from Arkansas, US after we get married in March. I have a buddy telling us that Granada is the cheapest/most beautiful place.

    We want to move somewhere for about 6 months and just experience life and new scenery.

    Is this truly a place worth leaving work and goin to see for half a year and spending all of that money?

    Or do you have a different location that would be better for us. We are 21 and 19 years of age. So I just want some opinions before I pack up and leave everything if its not worth it.

    Thanks,
    Hunter & Paige

  17. Hey guys, I´m loving your blog, its very helpful/informative. After living in Europe and North America I´m finally longing to go back to Nicaragua, how are the possibilities finding a job in one of the new hotel projects in the pacific coast? Can´t retire yet (40!!!) Thanks 4 r reply.

    • Finding work in Nicaragua isn’t easy. The unemployment and underemployment rates are very high and most Nicaraguans work for $5 USD per day. The easiest way for a foreigner to legally work in Nicaragua is to open a business. Small businesses are always welcomed!

  18. Elisha… thanks so much for your VERY insightful blog… one of the best I’ve ever seen! Keep it up! :)

  19. Thank you for this great informative blog. What is the health care like and the cost?

  20. Hi Elisha & Gord,

    I have read parts of your blog, really good job!

    My husband and I are in our mid 50s and just about had enough of British Columbia (Vancouver & South Okanagan) winters and jobs, we are working on researching what kind of business (we both are sales & marketing type people, Steve in the Motorcycle wholesale business, me Commercial Insurance) we could bring/start and live in Nicaragua.

    What are other expats doing that do work? What kind of business (retail/services) might work well there? If you can give any insight or thoughts it would be most appreciative?

    Congratulations to you two for your earlier than later in life insight to living well in a warm climate.

    Steve & Christie

  21. Thanks for the awesome info.

    My girlfriend and I are thinking of wintering on Ometepe Island. Do you know if the airport is finished yet? I’m a pilot, we are going to fly down from Canada to Ometepe, depending on the airport being finished. We are thinking of offering scenic flying tours around southern Nic. Do you know of the amount of the tourist flow on Ometepe?

    Thanks again.

    • We were on Ometepe two weeks ago and the airport was not open. Opening the business that you are describing may take more time and paperwork than timeline allows.

  22. Hello Gordon and Elisha, I am seriously considering to moving to Nicaragua and your blog and information have been very useful to say the least. I am in the process of researching and finding the right spot to relocate to. Thank you very much for your invaluable efforts and assistance to all.

  23. Thank you so much for all of the great information!! I am bringing my fiancé to Granada and San Juan del Sur in early April for an exploratory visit and vacation. (Yes, I know, hot… but that is worth truly experiencing if I plan to move there!!) I retire in 6 years, but I am considering buying a rental property/vacation home in the meantime. How has the rental market been recently? Any other thoughts/words of wisdom?

    Gracias!!
    Tamara

    • Hi Tamara,

      The rental market is totally dependent on how well you market and manage your property. You can plan to booked during the busy season with little to no reservations during slow season.

      We’ve heard (and seen) from home owners that it can be difficult to find really good property and rental managers.

      Cheers,
      Elisha

  24. Hi there! My boyfriend and I have spent the last two months in SJDS, and are looking to get away for the month of April. We are thinking of heading to Granada. Any thoughts on where we could start looking for a cheap apartment/ lodging for at least a month? Thanks for your help.

    • Hi Natasha,

      Cheap is a subjective word. The only place that we’re still in contact with is Vista Mombacho Apartments. They have ten one-bedroom apartments with a huge pool and rooftop deck. Monthly rent is $550 – $600 USD plus electricity.

      For rental listings for Granada you can check out the Classified Ads on Nica Nuggets.

      Cheers,
      Gordon

  25. I just came across your site; very helpful and unlike others (which shall remain nameless) you are not pitching costly (and unnecessary seminars, etc.) and provide a real and probably realistic expectation of the actual cost of living as opposed to generalizations.

    Presently we live in Vietnam (which has a wide range of life styles and expenses) and is a very interesting place, but my partner and I are thinking about Nica or some select regions of Mexico for “retirement” (whatever that means).

    I have been in Nica and most of Central America and did not enjoy Granada as much as other places (Las Penitas/Leon). There was too much gentrification (rich Westerners rehabbing colonial homes) and poverty/beggars/crime in Granada to feel comfortable – but maybe I am judgmental.

    We are thinking of Matagalpa – Ometepe – Leon as possible part-time retirement locations (but would give Granada a second look).

    Any advice?

    • Hi Roy,

      Thanks for your interest in In Nica Now.

      Have you given any thought to residing in San Juan del Sur?

      When planning our move San Juan wasn’t even on our list, but after spending a year and a bit trying out Poneloya, Leon, Granada and Laguna de Apoyo we eventually made our way here…and love it!

      There is a great mix of expats of all ages from all around the world living here. Our friends come from Australia, Belgium, Canada, England, Holland, Ireland, Switzerland, the United States and course, Nicaragua.

      If you up for it there are plenty of great non-profit organizations and causes here you can get involved with.

      And another plus…we have beautiful beaches both North and South of us all within a 10 – 20 minute drive, depending which one you want to go.

      My suggestion would be to spend a few months in each of the areas you are considering before buying a property and settling down. That way you are never “stuck” somewhere you don’t want to be.

      Thanks for taking the time to comment!

      Elisha

      PS. We have never been to Matagalpa, but are thinking about taking a trip there for soon!

  26. This was a great article. Thank you so much for sharing your experience!!

  27. I have read a lot of the comments and read the blog, so a lot of my questions were answered. However, I did notice that a lot of the people were a bit older. I am 22, and looking to leave home and want to explore the world. Would you say that it would still be just as easy for someone my age to make an adjustment living there for a couple of months?

    • San Juan del Sur might be a better choice for someone your age. We have lots of youth here running businesses, teaching and surfing. In Granada we were referred to as “the kids” at most of the expat get-togethers that we attended. I’m sure there is a young crowd to be found at the hostels but they will be very transitory.

  28. Hi Gord and Hi Elisha! (or the other way around, with no disrespect…)

    We’ve just donated some “coffee” to your morning endeavor and good will…

    I’m George, 52, and within 2 yrs (max 3 yrs…) I will come there with my wife to join you guys… (or, who knows, maybe there sooner…).
    We live in Ontario Canada.

    We’re fed up and words are useless… I cannot describe the frustration…

    I personally thank you for your time devoted to guiding people towards “beautiful”…
    Your work is priceless!!!

    We are thinking of doing some good on those lands… No, we’re not millionaires, we will come there with a $2000 CAD a month to start with and eventually do some magic…
    I am an artist, teacher (math, physics, chemistry, computer science etc…..) +++ inventor, visionary and humanitarian…

    My idea is to settle, open a business (maybe hospitality – my wife is an executive chef and I also have a few licenses to open ANY hospitality business around the world…).
    I would dedicate part of my spare time to teaching children the REAL “stuff”, FREE OF CHARGE.

    Cheers guys,
    george and carmen

    • George & Carmen,

      Thank you so much for your kind words!

      You should be able to live a very good life in Nicaragua on a monthly budget of $2000 CAD.

      There are many volunteer organizations in Nicaragua looking for people just like you! Sounds like you’ll be able to do some amazing work teaching and inspiring some of the children and making a difference here.

      A couple of organizations we’ve had the pleasure of working with here in San Juan del Sur are The Barrio Planta Project and Comunidad Connect.

      On Saturday Gordon got to spend his morning playing Frisbee Golf with some pretty awesome kids!

      All the best,
      Elisha & Gordon

  29. Kenpal
    Hello and I have enjoyed reading your comments on Nicaragua, I have been living in S.E. Asia for ten years and I am interested in Central America now, I took an immersion course in Spanish in Costa Rica in 1992 but did not keep up with it due to my living in SEA so I have looked on line and from what I have read there are more Spanish schools in Esteli and maybe cheaper than Coastal cities. I would like to spend a month or so immersed in the language as I like speaking the local dialect, Would be interested in what you guys have to say or learned while you lived in Nicaragua. My name is Ken and I will be heading to Nicaragua in the first week of December 2014.
    I am retired and living on only US $900 for another year and a half and then will make $2000 a month.

    • Hi Kenneth,

      Thanks for your interest in In Nica Now.

      Learning the local language is definitely a great idea. It will make your experience richer and life here easier.

      We have a couple of single friends that live on just over $600 USD per month, so I think you could live fairly well on $900.

      Cheers,
      Elisha

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