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 In Nica Now

We're Gordon and Elisha. A Canadian couple living a relaxed life in the colorful beach town of San Juan del Sur. If you're looking for information on life & travel in Nicaragua you've come to the right place!

Posted on May 14, 2012, in Cost of Living and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 46 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

      • Ok what does it take to get citizenship I’m Nicaragua?

      • Hi Chris,

        Like many expats we are still here on tourist visas that we renew every 90 days. There are posts on the Nicaliving website that can answer your residency question.

        Thanks,
        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. Hi Gord and Elisha,

    Many thanks for your wonderful posts. Do you know if you can pick up your Canadian pension whilst living in Nicaragua?

    We are living in Vancouver and was looking for some real estate investment that we could rent out to help cover the costs. Do you reccommend some good new developments and a great realtor to help with our search?

    I saw a Sean Dennis on HGTV a few weeks ago.

    • We don’t have any information about collecting Canada Pension while out of the country.

      We do know Sean Dennis. He is a good guy who works through Century 21.

      Some of the best deals on real estate can be found through word of mouth. Have you checked out our Hot Deals page? The development of Las Lomas Verdes is still at the top our list as a preferred property if you are looking to build. Alternately Villa Viscaya is a great move in ready home. It is priced well and is great as a rental.

  22. I’ve read that inflation is very high in Nicaragua. How much have noticed things going up per year? Thanks

    • We have been living on the same budget for close to two years so inflation isn’t a major factor for us. The sliding scale of the Cordobas does help though. It was 22.5 cordobas per US dollar when we moved here two years ago. The current exchange rate 25.2 cordobas per US dollar which means we have almost 3800 extra cordobas to spend per month.

  1. Pingback: Granada, Nicaragua, as an expat destination | yucatango

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