5 Money Saving Tips for the Nicaraguan Expat

5 Money Saving Tips for the Nicaraguan Expat

We moved to Nicaragua nearly two years ago. Along the way have discovered a plethora of ways to save a buck.

We now live in a nicer home and own and maintain a vehicle.  Overall of our quality of life is better. 

The interesting thing? Our budget hasn’t really changed.

Here’s how we do it!


No matter where you buy it in Nicaragua beer and rum is cheap, but purchasing it at our local distributor allows us to save more than 50%.

To put things into perspective…

A can of Tona purchased at the corner store costs $1 USD, while a bottle purchased at the distributor rings it at just 0.53₵. If you want even more bang for your buck you can purchase beer by the liter – at the distributor – for just $1.14 USD per unit. 

Another plus purchasing from the distributor? They’ll deliver the goods right to your door … for FREE!


When we arrived in Nicaragua the food was new and impressive, but within a couple of months it became very unexciting. 

With access to fresh ingredients and more time to cook we prefer to eat most of our meals in. Eating more meals in allows us to save a decent amount of money, which in turn means we can afford to splurge on a special dinner out now and again.


For the first few months after moving we shared a cell phone. During that time we were spending an average of $20 USD per month and we were constantly running out of minutes.  

With a bit of research and some trial and error we now average $12 per month for two phones and we rarely run out of minutes.

We purchase minutes on promotional days where the carrier sometimes gives us up to six times our minutes. And instead of paying for individual text messages, we purchase packages. 


In Canada we bought most of our fruits and vegetables from the grocery store. Occasionally we would go to a Farmer’s Market for better quality produce. Ironically the prices were even higher.

Here in Nicaragua fresh produce is available at our local Pali (grocery store), but the freshness and quality of our local vendors is far superior, not to mention much cheaper. We actually prefer to support our local entrepreneurs – and 9 times out of 10 – that is exactly what we do.

Depending on what we buy and where we buy it, it’s possible to save as much as 50% on produce.

Here’s an example:
At the grocery store one medium avocado is 40 cordobas or $1.66 USD.  At the local market the same sized avocado can be purchased for 25 or 30 cordobas. If we purchase from the fruit truck that visits our neighborhood daily we can get an avocado for 20 cordobas.  And if we’re lucky enough to be around when a vendor comes to our door an avocado may cost as little as 15 cordobas.


I sometimes crave familiar brands from home, but have learned to limit myself to one or two treats (pretzels, peanut butter, chocolate chips and extra sharp cheddar cheese) now and then. 

I’ve given up my Redken shampoo for a brand I can buy here. We snack on Ranchitos, instead of Doritos and when we want a little spice in our life we use Chilero instead of Sriracha.

By learning to live without some of our favorite and familiar brands we’re able  to stay on budget. 

BEWARE:  If you insist on buying imported products from your home country you will significantly increase your living expenses.

These are just a few of the ways we’ve learned to save while enhancing our lifestyle.  
We’d love to hear from other savvy expats who’ve found additional ways to save.  Leave a reply in comments section below.

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 August 12, 2013, in Cost of Living and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. Charlotte Fetzer Lynch

    Hi, Elisha! I don’t use the AC at night unless it’s 100 degrees as it was in May. Then the electric bill shot up at least $70 more!
    Thanks for all of your info! Very informative!

    • Charlotte,

      Same goes for us. We only use A/C in April and May, and even then we use it sparingly. Our monthly electric bill averages about $60 USD per month.

      Thanks for your input.


  2. Thanks again for great information..James

  3. Great post as we still try to plan our move down there, these are my fav topics. I can’t get over the cell phone cost, here in Canada we pay about $230 per month for 3 cell phones on the family plan, unreal!

  4. MandyAndLouis DeSouza

    As a Canadian coming to stay in San Juan del Sur from Nov to end Mar 14, do we require to take Malaria tablets, &amp do we need to take a yellow fever shot?


    • CDC says that there is no risk of Yellow Fever in Nicaragua.

      We have lived in Nicaragua for 2 years and we do not know of anyone taking Malaria pills and have not heard of any cases on the West coast. Your entire trip is in dry season, so there will be very few mosquitoes and therefore very little chance for transmitting malaria or dengue.

      Hepatitis A and B are great immunizations to get even if you never leave Canada. You get one shot now, one in a month and one in six months and then you are set for the next decade.

  5. Another cost-cutting measure is the free MagicJack app for phones. Calls cost nothing to US and Canada and you don’t have to pay for the USB thingie that seems to die within a year, The downside is no incoming calls, easily solved by having friends/family ring your Nicaphone once and hang up, leaving their number in the recent calls. Works for me!

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