One Month’s Living Expenses 2012: San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

Rarely a day goes by when “cost of living”  is not on the list of daily search engine terms for In Nica Now.  

Everyone wants to know how much it “really” costs to live in Nicaragua…
…so we’re going to tell you!

For the month of October we tracked every single cordobas we spent.  Despite the fact that we ate out a lot, drank a bunch and took a road trip to Managua we still managed to stay within our $1400 budget.

The table below shows a detailed summary of our expenses by category.  Please note that the exchange rate is based on 23.65 cordobas per $1 USD.

Expenses by Category

To view a detailed line-by-line list of our expenses for October 2012 click on the link below.

In Nica Now: Expenses – October 2012

As always if you have any questions feel free to send us an email.

About In Nica Now

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 January 12, 2013, in Cost of Living and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 44 Comments.

  1. Thank you for sharing. All I can say is “WOW.” Good for you.

    I know you guys are younger so medical issues are probably not high on the “things to consider list” but have you ever looked into the medical plan provided by the Vivian Pellas Hospital? Or have you considered any other medical insurance options that the local hospitals, MDs will accept? I see that med. insurance is not on your list?

    Mark

    • Hi Mark,

      We have looked into the medical plans provided by Vivian Pellas Hospital, but since a regular visit with a doctor in private clinic costs only $16 we decided it’s not something something we currently need.

      For $50 per month you can purchase the Gold Plan at Vivian Pellas.

      The plan offers the following:

      – Discounts of up to 100% in some emergency services
      – Discounts up to 80% in tests diagnostic aid, hospitalization, surgery and intensive care
      – Discounts up to 60% on preventive medical checkups
      – Discounts up to 50% on regular replacement materials
      – Discounts up to 30% on drugs
      – Care and cesarean births with hospital coverage to 50%
      – Medical consultations valued at $10.00, with specialists enrolled in the program
      – Discounts up to 65% on medical fees, doctors enrolled in the program.

      * Does not include periodic replacement materials or medicines.

      Fortunately we haven’t experienced any major medical issues since arriving in Nicaragua. We have heard great things though – and if anything major were to go wrong – it’s where we would go.

      Elisha

  2. i love it–keep it up—i like the fact you ate and drank a lot and still stayed in budget—means to me you are enjoying life—duncan

  3. What’s your guess for one person to rent a studio apt. or similar ‘nice’ space? How much are rents for those kinds of spaces? I imagine that I could cut medical, etc. in half and have a number that’s real?

    Thanks so much!

    • Hi Helena,

      We have lived in one and two bedroom places, but never a studio apartment.

      Our friends rented a small one bedroom apartment here in San Juan del Sur at Elizabeth’s Guest House for $250. It’s not hard to find an entire house for rent $300.

      Our costs for medical expenses in October were for simple things like cough syrup, ibuprofen and allergy pills.

      You can spend a lot less on groceries if you don’t buy things like peanut butter, olive oil, cheddar cheese and other items that have been imported into the country.

      San Juan is the most expensive city we’ve lived in Nicaragua.

      Cheers,
      Elisha

      • Thank you! I have one more question. Do you know any single women living in Nicaragua? How is it for them? Safe? Hassled? Thanks so much for the information. I hope things are going well!

        Helena

  4. My husband and I are researching places to stay this summer in SJDS. We are familiar with SJDS since we were there last summer for two weeks. I notice your rent is $300 for the month. Can you give me an idea where you are staying?

    • Hi Sarah,

      This blog post was based on the first house we lived in in San Juan. It is located two blocks south of the back of the church. It has two bedrooms, one bathroom and a nice deck.

      Take a look at the post here.

      If you are interested we can send you the landlord’s phone number.

      Cheers,
      Gordon

      • Hi,

        My name is Cleo and I will be in Nicaragua with my boyfriend Jason for the month of March. We are looking for an affordable 1/2 bedroom house or apartment to rent where we can work in a quiet relaxed environment. Does anyone have any leads on places available without the vacation rental pricing?

        Thanx!:)
        Cleo and Jason

  5. Thanks for creating this website and for answering questions from individuals. Making a move abroad is a very big step and I am sure we appreciate all the info we can get. (Some of us overdose on info and underdose on action, to be sure.)

  6. Can you say why you have moved so much? Is it to upgrade each time or is it landlord problems or other reasons?

    Thanks,
    Duncan

  7. Hi! Nice list. Just one question, is that for 2 people? I m assuming so because you refer to yourselves as “we”, but maybe its more. Thanks

    • Yes, it is for two people!

      Cheers,
      Elisha

      • Looks to me like that couple is living “high on the hog” as my parents woulda said.

        I saw an article recently where somebody living at Lake Atitlan (Guatemala) has a budget of $250 per month, and that includes rent on a nice two-bedroom house. Now I’d go to Guatemala in a flash, but I understand they have some crime problems.

        • Hi Mark,

          Generally Nicaraguan living expenses are lower than in Guatemala. We have a friend here living on $300 per month, but he rents a bedroom in a shared home and barely leaves the house. He also eats the same two basic meals each day.

          We researched Lake Atitlan before moving here and expats average $1000 to $1500 per month living expenses. It is a beautiful area that we plan to visit.

          We do live well, but I would be interested in reading your blog if you started living on $250/month. You probably wouldn’t have a blog though because a computer and Internet wouldn’t be in the budget. LOL

          Cheers,
          Gordon

  8. Helena, I am interested as a single woman too. I’ve found a beautiful place (on-line) that is renting for around $300 per month but who knows if it will be available when I get there in August? We’ll see.

  9. Hi,

    I am looking to buy a business there. Are there any local business brokers online? Don’t want those ads targeting outsiders because of the inflated pricing.

    • There are not enough businesses for sale to have business brokers here.

      There are the occasional B&B listings on the real estate sites. We also have Nicaragua’s version of Craigslist. It is called Encuentra24. That being said most everything is sold through word of mouth here.

      What kind of business are you looking for?

  10. Mandy & Louis DeSouza

    Hi there my wife & I will be arriving in SJDS on 1 Nov from Nova Scotia, & will be staying at the Park Ave Villas, we will be staying there for 5 months, how do we get to meet other Canadians living there?

  11. i have read that expat that do the 90 day turn around are having problems getting back in to nica—-have you had any trouble or have other expat had problems –thanks james

  12. Hey there,

    I just came across your blog while I’m sipping on a Cuba Libre! It makes for great reading while having a cocktail. I usually spend two months per year in Cuba, but I’d like to broaden my horizons a bit and I heard Nicaragua was a safe and nice place to visit. It’s nice to read about a fellow Canadian who is living the life there. I am currently operating a seasonal business here in Ontario and was interested in possibly doing something similar there.

    Is there any way you would send me an email so I could ask you about this? I’m enjoying reading your blog as much as the Havana Club and Coke!

    Take care,
    Mark

    • Hi Mark,

      Thanks for your interest in In Nica Now.

      We too have spent a bit of time in Cuba. We look forward to returning for a visit in the future.

      Feel free to send a private email message to Gordon at nicagmac@gmail.com to get some answers to your business questions.

      Cheers,
      Elisha

      PS. If you enjoy Havana Club I’m quite sure you you’ll also like Nicaragua’s rum Flor de Caña.

  13. Does Nicaragua require a minimum monthly income to move there from the States (for an individual)? Thanks.

    • The Nicaraguan government does not require a minimum monthly income to be here on a tourist visa, which is good for 90 days. It does however, require a minimum monthly income of $750 USD for an individual to qualify for residency as a retiree.

      Cheers,
      Elisha

  14. Robert Garmany

    Hi Guys!

    Was wondering how the crime rate is there? Obviously you feel safe or you wouldn’t be there, so probably a silly question. Also I have private medical insurance through my retirement so I’m wondering if they would allow me to use that. My pension is around $1900 monthly so this sounds doable. So happy you guys are living the life!

    Thanks,
    Rob

  15. How are your living expenses now in 2015?

    • Other than home rental prices going up, we haven’t noticed much of a difference in our day to day expenses.

      Nice places that used to rent for around $500 or $600 USD per month here in San Juan del Sur now seem to be going for around $650 to $800.

      Stay tuned for an updated cost of living post coming soon!

      Cheers,
      Elisha

  16. Hi,

    That’s a very low utilities bill. I gather you don’t use a/c? Isn’t it very hot and muggy in San Juan? Or perhaps it’s just hot, and not humid, so a fan is good enough?

    How’s the petty crime situation? Can you leave your house unattended? Can your wife walk alone to go shopping and not be hassled? Does she feel safe?

    Thank you for an informative blog!

    John

    • Hi John,

      The only months we use air conditioning are in April and a bit in May. Even then we set it to 25 or 26 and sleep with a floor fan at the foot of the bed (like we do for the rest of the year) and have it on for an hour or two to cool down the room.

      The key is to find a house that has good airflow, which makes all the difference in the world to how comfortable you can be without air conditioning.

      Electricity if very expensive in Nicaragua and therefore we try to conserve as much as possible.

      Yes, we leave our house unattended, with doors and windows locked of course. However, we NEVER leave valuables unattended in our vehicle. In 3 1/2 years the only thing we have had stolen was a tail light from our truck.

      I am totally comfortable walking and driving around town on my own to shop, go for walks, etc. and I always feel safe. As good practice Gordon will walk me home if we are out later in the evening and I want to go home and him stay out.

      Cheers,
      Elisha

  17. How about car rentals? It appears you have a car. Is that true?

  18. Hi. Would this be a good place to raise children? How are the schools? I understand it is only the two of you, but perhaps you know people with children. What is the going rate for a 3 – 4 bedroom home? What kind of jobs are there for people without a college education? And is there a minimum wage set?

    Thanks,
    Shannon C.

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