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One Month’s Living Expenses: 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.

“Reinvented” at 37 and Loving Life in Nicaragua

Gord and I are pleased to share with you our very first publication titled ““Reinvented” at 37 and Loving Life in Nicaragua”.  It’s a two page spread in the Lifestyle section of the January 2013 issue of International Living Magazine.  

To read our article click on the image below.

Screen Shot 2012-12-22 at 6.38.37 PM

We look forward to continuing to work with International Living in 2013 and hope to have more articles to share with you real soon!

To learn more about International Living click here.

Culture Shock in Canada

1 small bottle of water – $3
18 bottles of beer – $40
Haircut, color & brow wax – $170
Sushi – $40
A few groceries – $57

Cha-ching…cha-ching…cha-ching!  

It was day 4 of my 1st trip home to Calgary when I officially started to freak out about how much money I was going to spend during my 5 week stay. If I continued at this pace the MasterCard was in for a serious beating.

After spending 8 months in Nicaragua it didn’t take me long to figure out what I had missed most in Canada.

1.  My Nephew Aiden – How sweet it was to be reunited with my adorable 11 month old nephew Aiden. From camping, to going for walks, to seeing Aiden through his 10 & 11 month birthdays, to reading Llama, Llama Wakey Wake over and over again and being there as he learned to crawl the time I spent with him was definitely the highlight of my trip.

– Day 2 in Calgary with Aiden

Moyie Lake, British Columbia - Canada

– Hangin’ in the Hammock Swing – Moyie Lake, British Columbia

– A rocking chair & a shirt from Nica for Aiden

2.  My Girlfriends (especially my sister) – Getting together with my special gang of girlfriends and being able to pick up right where we left off was a great feeling.  Heart to heart talks with my sis was something I think we both needed.

– Good Times with Girlfriends @ Melrose Bar & Cafe

Canmore, Alberta - Canada

– My sister Sally & I  – Canmore, Alberta

3.  Shopping I know my stores and I know my sizes. I know where to find the best deals on my favorite products and I love a good sale. Planning my visit at the end of the summer season was a good move – EVERYTHING was on sale. I so miss being able to get good quality clothing and the products I love at great prices.

– Aiden was such a good little shopper!

4.  The Food – $40 on sushi (for one sitting) was a bit expensive, but I gotta tell ya, it was worth every penny. Strawberries, blueberries and Activia yogurt were part of my daily diet.  And although not technically classified as food, I couldn’t seem to get enough 5 cent candy from Mac’s.

Joey Crowfoot - Calgary, AB

– Mmm! Tuna Sashimi Salad

5.  My Hairstylist – Cassidy from Ca Va Bien rocks! After 8 months without a real haircut it felt great to have my hair cut & colored by a professional I trust. Now if only I could convince her to move to Nicaragua.

6.  TV – Specifically the Slice channel. I have to admit I watched quite a few episodes of Say Yes to the Dress and What Not to Wear and even caught a couple of episodes of Intervention Canada while I was home.  Hey – don’t judge me! 

As we pulled into the driveway at my sister’s house on July 26th I felt like I had never left. Aside from Aiden, not much had changed.  

But after spending two months in Calgary – 10 months after departing on a Nicaraguan adventure with nothing but a couple of suitcases, and my husband Gord – I realized I’ve changed.

I’m thrifty now. I’m more laid back. I’m less concerned or caught up in the minor details of day to day and I’ve realized not everything has to be perfect. I don’t need a fancy house, or a designer handbag to make me happy. More importantly, I realized just how special time spent with family, friends and loved ones is and how much it means to me.

My cousin Nicole & I – Canmore, Alberta

– Chowin’ down on hot dogs! – Eau Claire Campground – Kananaskis, AB

Unfortunately all good things must eventually come to an end.  

– Almost packed & ready to go!

– Just minutes after this photo was taken tears started to flow.

Saying goodbye sucks, but as the plane left the runway in Calgary – 285 days after my Nicaraguan adventure began – I was more excited than sad. This time I wasn’t leaving home – I was going home.  

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!

87 More Sleeps

Hands down one of the most difficult things for me in regards to living in Nicaragua is being away from my nephew Aiden.  A week and a half ago he sent me an email and some photos that I wanted to share with you.

“Dear Auntie E,

Thanks for sending me that bunny book awhile ago.  I had fun hanging out in Mommy’s bed reading it (& playing with my toes) while she got ready today.  I was a happy boy. 🙂  Miss you lots & lots.
 
Love your Favourite Nephew
xoxo”

Aiden was just two months old when I left Canada and will soon celebrate his 7 month birthday. There are no words to describe how much I love and miss this little guy!  Lucky for me he has an amazing Mom who always finds time in her busy day to Skype for a little while or send an email with some recent photos of her baby boy.  

I sure can’t wait to make the most of our visit together in Calgary in August in just 87 more sleeps!

Our Social Card

What’s a social card you ask?

Well, it’s similar to a business card, but used for social occasions. It is a convenient way to provide your friends, family and acquaintances the information they need to stay in touch. On it you can have as little as your Facebook address or email address, or if you prefer your home address and telephone number. A social card can be used when a business card is not appropriate. 

Tired of writing the URL address to our blog on a napkin or scrap piece of paper every time we made a new acquaintance Gord and I decided it was time to have some social cards made up. I spent a couple of hours on the design one day; followed by a few minor edits, tweaks and changes a few days later and then I was ready to go to print.

I placed a call to our good friend Carlos who told me where to go. We took our sample image to the local imprenta (print shop) here in Leon and three days later we had 100 really cool cards in hand.  I was pleasantly surprised with the outcome and especially pleased with the price. 100 cards rang up at 180 cordobas or $7.83 USD.

Our Lovely Little Apartment in Leon

After two months of waiting for the previous tenants to move out we were finally able to move into the lovely little apartment in the guest house here in Leon. Our monthly rent has increased slightly from $300 USD for the room we were renting to $360 USD.  

Our new pad has great curb side appeal and faces a nice little garden. 

We are set up in the kitchen with a few dishes, pots and pans, blender, small refrigerator and gas stove with oven. After two months of using a poorly equipped shared kitchen we are super pumped about having our own space to prepare meals.  

The espresso machine and toaster are ours.  The toaster is one of few possessions we’ve bought since we arrived three and a half months ago.  We picked it up last month at Maxi Pali for $12 USD.  Our friends Chad and Marnie brought our espresso machine to us from home.  Thanks so much guys; coffee never tasted so good!

We’re all set in the living room with four nice rocking chairs and a table.  Now we just need some company!  

Our bedroom is a good size with a huge walk in closet and the queen bed is comfy.  There is an air conditioner that can be turned on for an additional $100 per month, but since the ceiling fan works well enough we’ve opted to go without.

It’s nice to have the desk with a large mirror and an additional table with a couple of stools in our room. Cable TV is included in our rent and we still have free wi-fi in the common areas of the house. 

As per the usual in Nicaragua we are without hot water which means only cold showers for us. In Canada I wouldn’t have dreamed of having a cold shower but with the extreme heat here it seems like the only way to go.

Having spent the last two months anxiously waiting for the previous tenants to move out so we could move in it seems ironic that while spending time in Granada with Chad & Marnie last week we found an apartment we simply couldn’t pass up and will be moving in just a couple of weeks.

A Road Trip to Esteli

Approximately 2.5 hours after leaving Leon, making only one wrong turn along the way,  we arrived in the town of Esteli and easily found the central park. Finding a place to lay our heads for the night warranted a bit more effort, but we eventually stumbled across a decent B&B called Hostal Santa Maria. 

For a rate of $15 per night we were quite happy with our little room with “private bathroom”.

Our cuarto was super clean (much cleaner than my feet) and had a comfy bed with good pillows. I was quite excited about snuggling up under the thick comforter that night, much more so than I was about Gord going number two behind the green and yellow shower curtain.

It wasn’t until we registered and handed over our money to pay for our room did we realize that the nightly rate was actually $15 per person, not $15 per night. Not nearly the great deal we originally thought it to be, but we decided to spending the night just the same.

Later that afternoon we took some time to wander around and explore the streets of Esteli. The town was busy and bustling, but not nearly as fast paced as Leon.  The cooler temperatures we felt were a welcomed change from the extreme heat we’ve been experiencing in Leon. 

This being my first visit to Esteli with the afternoon light just right and a fully charged battery in my camera I was anxious to find some new and interesting subjects and objects to photograph.  

Here’s a sampling of what I saw:

A Potential Place to Live

Iglesia de San Francisco

Cowboys

A Colorful Baby Bird

Wall Murals

The city of Esteli may not be a photographer’s dream compared to the colonial cities of Leon and Granada, but as you can see I had no trouble finding the interesting subjects and objects I was looking for.

The majority of day two of our Esteli trip was spent exploring Somoto Canyon.  To read about our experience click here.

We decided to spend night two at Hotel Cualitlan.  We rented one of their cabins at a nightly rate of $40 USD.  A full breakfast was included. 

Although there wasn’t really anything extra special about Hotel Cualitlan our cabin was clean, quiet and comfortable and we had a good night’s sleep.

With all the exercise we got from exploring Somoto Canyon we had worked up an appetite. Ranked #2 on Trip Advisor we opted to try Pullaso’s Ole steakhouse.  My chicken, beef, shrimp and chorizo sausage kebob was cooked very well.  The meat was tender, juicy and very tasty.  Gord’s flank steak was perfectly grilled to medium rare as requested.

Before making our way back to Leon on Sunday we took a drive up the hill through Tisey Nature Reserve. As you can see the view was pretty awesome! If you look closely at the photo (top right) you can actually see a Volcan Telica.

We really enjoyed our 1st road trip in the Galloper and are looking forward to wherever our road trip travels take us next!

We Now Have Wheels!

2 bank cards, 2 credit cards, 18 ATM withdrawals over two days, 90 minutes at a lawyer’s office, followed by the exchange of 350 twenty dollar bills, just 74 days after we arrived in Nicaragua we are now the proud owners of a fully loaded 2001 Hyundai Galloper 2.5L Turbo Diesel 4 X 4.

This tank should get us ANYWHERE we want to go in Nicaragua!

In Nica Now Launches Online Forum

We are very excited to announce the launch of In Nica Now’s very own forum.  Nicaragua Forums is a friendly, online community for individuals who are interested in sharing information and experiences of living and traveling in Nicaragua. 

We recognize that it will take some time to build this forum up to where we want it to be and that is why we need your help!   Registration is free, quick and easy!  Visit the site now to register and become one of  In Nica Now Forum’s founding members. You can share your thoughts, ideas and ask for information.  You can also start a thread of your own or browse the questions asked by others and provide answers.

Thank you for your support!
Elisha & Gord

elisha_in_nica

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