One Month’s Living Expenses 2015: San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

Cost of living continues to be the most popular searched topic on In Nica Now and since it’s been over a year since we published an up-to-date expense report we thought it was time we do so. 

Last month (April 2015) we diligently tracked every single cordoba we spent.

Our targeted monthly budget is $1400 USD. Total living expenses for the month added up to $1513.48 USD.

Below is a summary by category that shows where our cash went. Exchange rate is based on 26.7 cordobas per 1 USD.

One Month's Living Expenses: April 2015

For a more detailed in-depth look at our expenditures click on the link to view our daily spending.


We incurred two major expenditures this month that are NOT listed on our summary or our detailed expense report.

1.  PASSPORT RENEWAL: 2 passport photos, 1 – 10 year passport. $230 USD
2.  TRUCK REPAIRS: Diesel engine rebuild, injector & fuel pump service, purchase & installation of new clutch pump. $1700 USD

The truck repairs and passport renewal were done in Managua and therefore we made two trips (1 day trip and 1 overnight trip) to the city.

We were also without a vehicle from the beginning of the month through to April 24 and were using taxis as our mode of transportation.

This month was not at all a typical month of spending, but since we took the time to track all purchases and expenditures we still wanted to share the information with you.

We are tracking again this month and will have another expense report to share with you at the beginning of June.

You may also be interested in the following posts:

One Month’s Living Expenses: Leon Nicaragua
One Month’s Living Expenses 2012: Granada, Nicaragua
One Month’s Living Expenses 2012: San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua
One Month’s Living Expenses 2014: San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

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Posted on May 12, 2015, in Cost of Living and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 20 Comments.

  1. Thanks for the disclosure. I personally love the template you used.

  2. Vassil Yanco

    Excellent assessment! You have been so helpful. At last I will be visiting Nica towards the end of July and will definitely contact you, that’s if you have the time to meet for lunch or dinner.


    • For sure, Vassil. Just drop us a line once you get to town and get settled and we can figure out a day and time to meet up.

      And in the meantime, let us know if you need any help planning your trip.


  3. Fantastic post! Thank you for this <3

  4. Great share! Thank you.

  5. Great info!! We are in the process of researching our options. This post was so helpful to us! We will let you know when we have plans to visit.

  6. Great detail – thanks. We have just moved here for at least the next year and were estimating 1500$/month. Glad to see we might be on track! But where is this local distributer for Toña and is it cheaper than buying at PALI?

    • Hi Anne,

      Welcome to San Juan del Sur!

      There are various local distributors around town. The one we use is on the main road as your coming into town. It’s right before Dale Pues sandwich shop and the sushi restaurant.

      And yes, Toña is a lot cheaper if you buy it at the distributor, compared to purchasing at the Pali. I believe a case of 24 bottles at the distributor is just C$360 (approximately $13 USD). You will need to pay a deposit for the bottles the first time you purchase though. And if my memory serves more correctly the cost for the deposit is around C$150.

      If you want to save even more go for a case of Victoria Clasica which is only C$328. Litres are also available for even less!


  7. Wow. You are an amazing couple! My husband and I are talking about this same type of adventure. Your May 2015 expenses are SO helpful, it may be the main tipping point to make this seem realistically do-able. We live in Denver, Colorado and not sure I even know where to start our planning, I did mention to my hubby that we could start by tightening our financial belts as we begin to plan. But overall we have a good financial base with rental incomes. Can you pls help me understand how much reliable in-home daycare would be for a 3 1/2 year old and a 1 1/2 year old. Need to factor them in! Any help would be much appreciated!!

    • Hi Margarita:

      We have four friends from Denver living in SJdS that I can think of right now. You should feel right at home here. SJdS is chocked full of families with young children and we have a great school.

      We asked some of our local experts about the cost of a full time (Monday to Friday 8 hrs per day and a half day on Saturday) nanny.

      All employees in Nicaragua need to be registered for social security and health and safety. Employees are paid two months salary in December (based on a full year of work) and one month of paid vacation time per year. You should also budget one month liquidation per year, in the event the employee leaves or you have to terminate them.

      If you take the base monthly wage times 15 months and divide that number by 12 months then add the percentage paid for social security and health and safety you come to a number around $250 USD per month.

      Don’t forget to budget a little extra to add minutes to their phone plus all sorts of minor incidentals.

      Hopefully this helps with your budget planning.

      Let us know if we can help with anything else.


  8. Hi! Wow thanks a ton. What does liquidation mean? And that is nanny care in our house, right? Would nanny do other household work when kids are napping? We actually would have a 1 and 3/4 year old and 3 and 3/4 yr old. (Other type of incidental expenses with that age.)

    • Hi Margarita

      Liquidation is the Nicaraguan term for severance pay. They receive it if they are fired or quit. It accumulates at a rate of one month per year.
      Most nannies will do some household duties like cleaning, laundry, cooking. If you want someone to do everything and be good at it you might need to pay a little more but it would be well worth it. We can definitely put you in contact with some good people once you decide to move to San Juan del Sur.


  9. Hello, excellent information. I have been in SJDS for about a week and a half staying in hostels. After reading you expense report I feel like I should be able to get a better place to stay in for about the same money. Im not exactly sure how long I will be staying but I am thinking a couple of months more would be good. Where do you recommend I search for a place to live for about 300 a month? I would be alone but I’m sure I could find a roommate if necessary.

    Thank you,

  10. Greetings:

    I signed up for your website yesterday and look forward to more articles. A question comes to mind as we’ve been traveling last Fall in Europe and I always feel abused by converting $ to Euros. How do you convert C$ into Cordoba without getting abused?


    • The official exchange rate is 28 cordobas per USD. The bank is offering 27.8 per USD. Some businesses will even give the full rate. Banks in North America typically charge 2.5% or higher for simple currency exchanges. We are definitely not abused in Nicaragua when it comes to exchange fees.

  11. Stephanie Terry

    Hi Elisha,
    I am planning for a move sometime in the 3/5 year range and looking at my options. I am a healthcare worker and because retirement is still a ways away, wonder if you could help me navigate job opportunities in the operating room, hospital arena. I have been looking in Costa Rica but things are starting to become more expensive. Are you able to be employed in Nica as US citizen and what other job opportunities might there be for a women in her 50’s?

    • Hi Stephanie

      It is very difficult to obtain a work permit as a foreigner in Nicaragua. Our unemployment rate is high and our under employment rate is very high. There are very few job opportunities in Nicaragua and most don’t pay enough for you to survive on. A well paid teacher averages around $600 per month which wouldn’t cover my rent. Most foreigners that move to Nicaragua either have funds to retire, work online or start a business.

      Sorry this probably isn’t the answer you were looking for. Come for an extended vacation and live like an expat for a month. You might come up with some great business ideas. Most businesses are cheap and easy to set up. Just like anywhere in the world you need to do your homework. Many businesses fail due to poor planning and execution.


  1. Pingback: One Month’s Living Expenses 2012: San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua | In Nica Now

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