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Planning to retire in central or South America. Some advice :)

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eybaba7200
5/17/2020 16:48 EST

Hi everyone , I have started researching to figure out what’s the best place for us to retire. I am in my late 40’s but planning to retire in my mid 50’s. So far with no serious health concern :) I haven't been to Nicaragua yet. A bit about me :I am Canadian. I speak Spanish. Engineer/ musician. I’ve travelled to 8-10 countries in America’s. My wife is Colombian. I’m looking for a small city or decent pueblo close to a major city ( for health care...). With great climate. Not expensive. My budget will roughly be around $5000 US monthly. I am not much into western way of life so losing a bit of a luxury doesn’t bother me. I am coming from a very poor and humble background and have been raised in rough places in other countries so the crime and insecurity as long as it’s not to the point of nightmare doesn’t bug me much.
Also I’d like to know how bad are taxes in Nicaragua. Do expats pay income taxes for their pensions Or income coming from overseas ?

Is it possible to obtain residency in Nicaragua without investing ? ( I might buy a humble house there ). I won’t be commuting to Canada much so that won’t be an option.

How is the healthcare situation? Is private healthcare very expensive?

How do you rate your happiness level there compared to your home country?
How difficult is banking there? are commissions and transfers eating a chunk of the money coming in?

I know there’s much to consider but any pointers and info from you guys who live there and experience things first hand is super valuable. Thank you so much :)

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waltermboyles
5/17/2020 17:34 EST

Personal Message me with your e-mail, & I will send you my Welcome Wagon...not many people asking for it these days. H2O 212F

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allianz international health insurance

For expats in Nicaragua, choosing an expat health insurance provider is an important decision. Get a quote from our partner, Allianz Care. Their plans ensure that you have access to quality healthcare whenever you need it. Allianz Care's flexible solutions allow you to tailor your cover to meet your needs and budget.

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casaamarillo
5/17/2020 17:40 EST

i would love to get your welcome package...I own in Nica but also planning to buy another place there...

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eybaba7200
5/17/2020 18:30 EST

Thanks so much. Although I didn’t quite understand what you mean :)

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waltermboyles
5/17/2020 19:57 EST

If you guys want my Welcome Wagon, for whatever it might be worth, e-mail me at There is a system of private messages on this website, but I do not know how to do it myself. H2O 212F

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eybaba7200
5/17/2020 20:08 EST

Great. Thanks for the offer. I think the PM is only accessed through webpage.
Whereabouts do you live ?

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allianz international health insurance

For expats in Nicaragua, choosing an expat health insurance provider is an important decision. Get a quote from our partner, Allianz Care. Their plans ensure that you have access to quality healthcare whenever you need it. Allianz Care's flexible solutions allow you to tailor your cover to meet your needs and budget.

Get a Quote

mate31658649
5/17/2020 21:04 EST

Healthcare and cost of living are not expensive in Nicaragua. With the amount of income you have, residency will not be a problem.

Some expats love living here and stay for years; some hate it and leave within a year. I recommend you spend some time here travelling around, meeting some expats, and comparing the different areas.

Lifestyle varies depending on whether you want to live in the mountains, near the beach, in a big city, near expats.

Good Luck.

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KeyWestPirate
5/17/2020 21:35 EST

I've been here 12 years now I have a farm in the northern mountains. The elevation of 4000 feet means I don't suffer much of the heat.

I have 40 acres (well, a little less, I just sold a small piece to an expat who want to live there with his nica wife and family).

I have a house I rent in Estelí,, a typical Nica house, good sized, and I pay $150 month for it. Estelí is my business city, so I travel there often,, and the house comes out cheaper than a hotel and I can keep my stuff there.

With water and electricity, internet, it comes to $250 /month.

The north is much cheaper for housing. It's safer, there is much less crime than in MGA and the south.

But,, it's inexpensive to rent for a few months and see if you like,, where ever you find you like it.

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eybaba7200
5/17/2020 21:45 EST

It sounds nice. Thanks for taking time to write to me. Wow , it is cheap. If the covid19 situation allows us , I might’ve able to go down there in December. Maybe to granada Leon, do you have other recommendations in other locations which are relatively safe and have a decent infrastructure ?

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elduendegrande
5/18/2020 08:59 EST

First, with your income you should not short yourself. the British and Dutch islands, Portugal, and the Canaries are all open to you. Hell, for 5k you could go to Hawaii.

Currently, nic has at least 3 problems--politics, covid, and US sanctions. In any case, the next couple years will be dominated by covid and world recession and the political phantom of the elections.

Right now, there is no air service, the borders are closed, and there is no mail to/from the US. Impossible to guess how it will be in December, much less in 10 years.

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elduendegrande
5/18/2020 09:14 EST

At this time, Nic does not tax foreign income. I don't know how US sanctions affect Canadians, but banking is a little tight--you can suck money out of an ATM (usd) but not deposit a check. US credit and debit cards are honored.

Sanctions are aimed at the political elite, but there is a lot of trickle down.

Medical care is basic but be advised in the culture if you are in your 60s you are expected to die gracefully and not make a big deal out of it. Next day burial is a plus. Nic policies do not include terminal care and the last time I checked international policies they started at about $800 a month. People with a plan count on going to the US for serious stuff but currently that is a non-strategy.

Post coup, air service to Nic has been mediocre and not much incentive to improve it when the quarantine is lifted because there are just not enough passengers. No telling when the CR border will be open for better flights.

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waltermboyles
5/18/2020 09:56 EST

eyebaba7200, e=mail me, & I will send you my Welcome Wagon.
All of NI is hot. Look for cool.
H2O 212F

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paddyoperry
5/18/2020 09:57 EST

Which coup?

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eybaba7200
5/18/2020 10:17 EST

Oh boy I wish it was like that. But I think by that time my budget will dwindle to nothing :). Canadian currency can’t compete with USD and EUR.

Yes. Right now everything is up in the air. Hopefully the situation with your dictator president and His gang gets resolved by next election.

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eybaba7200
5/18/2020 10:22 EST

Thanks for the advice. There are valid points there. $800 a month shouzennnn

Things in Central America have always been in a volatile state. Hopefully from now on the volatility will be on the plus side.

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mate31658649
5/18/2020 10:29 EST

To give you a general idea of the cost of living in Nicaragua: Lunch in a restaurant $3. Haircut $2. Doctor office visit $20. Complete blood and urine workup at lab $50. Property tax on a small home $20. per year. Recently, I went to a dentist, and I was charged, for the exam and filling 4 cavities, $55. Nicaragua is very inexpensive. The most important consideration is whether you and your family would be comfortable living in a developing country. Nicaragua is very different from Panama, Costa Rica, or Columbia.

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eybaba7200
5/18/2020 11:13 EST

Wow that’s great. That would give expats some room to maneuver in case of any emergency to go overseas to obtain any service that is not available there.
How do you find the culture and attitude of the people. ?

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mate31658649
5/18/2020 22:35 EST

I find the people in Nicaragua to be very welcoming. They seem to like North Americans; I have never felt threatened in any way. I strongly advise you to come for a visit. You may love the country and want to call it home, or you may decide it is not the place for you, but either way, I am sure you will have a memorable vacation.

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eybaba7200
5/19/2020 00:29 EST

That’s one of the main factors for me to decide where to go. Genuine nice people. That’s great news. Looking forward for a trip to Nicaragua :)

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mnhockeyguy
5/19/2020 01:26 EST

Having lived in Nica off and on since 2009 and being married to a Nica I can advise that people are generally people where ever you go. There are helpful people and ones that will try to take advantage of you. Nicas are, in general, very family oriented and community oriented towards other Nicas in their barrio or city. But be advised, there is a Nica price for a lot of things and a chele price. If you move here and want to build a house it would be advisable to do your homework about the cost of land and building in your area. But in all honesty, Nica is probably on the verge of economic collapse due to numerous factors. It's a safe country but not a stable country by any means.. Another thing I've learned is move to a city that has dependable water flow. Living in Leon I had water generally every day and all day with few exceptions. Now I live in Matagalpa in the north and water is not dependable. You must have your own tank if you plan on living in the mountains in the north. With what your planning on retiring on I think you could find much more and still end up only paying a little more than you would pay living in Nica. There has been a mass exodus of foreigners from Nica for good reason, sadly.

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eybaba7200
5/19/2020 12:24 EST

True that. And where all these people emigrating to ? I can’t imagine starting from scratch again in my 60’s. That’s hard.

Does anyone have any idea about Guatemala ? Any info would help.

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waltermboyles
5/19/2020 13:30 EST

We are told that the traffic is TERRIBLE in Guat City.. H2O 212F

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JustSomeGuy
5/19/2020 15:20 EST

Definitely travel the country and see how you like different towns. Attitudes can be very different in different towns.
I, a nonresident foreigner, have a San Juan Del Sur library card, I checked out books, which I returned by the way. I walked in the library walked around, picked the books I wanted and checked them out.
A few years ago, in Matagalpa, the library had an armed guard in front who checked my passport before I could go in. Once inside I could not enter the room that had the books. The staff told me I had to tell them which book I wanted and they would look for it. I thanked them, left and haven’t gone back. I have not yet found a good bookstore in Matagalpa, in SJDS they have at least one bar/restaurant/ bookstore with walls of books.
I liked everyone I met in SJDS. I didn’t care for the town though, too noisy.

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mnhockeyguy
5/19/2020 22:07 EST

I know some have gone to Costa Rica butmany went back to the states. I agree that going back to the states would present a whole host of issues if you had previously rid yourself of your footprint there. That's why I think you'd be better off finding a place that's more stable or established as a retiree destination. San Pedro on Ambergris Caye is a nice spot. Costa Rica and Panama both, while more established are the often times more expensive than the states... at least that has been my observation while visiting those countries. Costa Rica is known as little Switzerland and that isn't because of the mountains, ha. I love living in Nica but I just couldn't recommend it as a retiree destination anymore.

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mnhockeyguy
5/19/2020 22:11 EST

If your wanting to check out Guat I hear Antigua is well known as a safe, well regarded expat city. Prices will be a little higher there, but it would only be the difference of a few hundred a month I would think. The reality is, most of the prices in the Northern Triangle are similar to Nica with the nicer places being a little more.

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eybaba7200
5/20/2020 00:43 EST

I do agree with your point of view on Costa Rica and Panama. It doesn’t take much to deduce and put 2 and 2 together to realize those places are overvalued. Hopefully someday countries like Nicaragua will rise out of current situation.

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johnchip
5/20/2020 11:42 EST

Lots of good advice. Yet no one has told you what you need to hear. Latin America is all about family ties. No one truly respects an outsider unless they have made a family here. In Nicaragua, you do not make 'friends' with strangers, you just are treated with a smile and you will never get invited to just 'join in'. So many gringos come and go and 'need' expat friends to feel they belong. All they then belong to is a group of discontents. Your wife is Colombian. That is a rather stable country now and has lots of opportunities. Why not just move 'home'?

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eybaba7200
5/20/2020 13:07 EST

It’s good that you mentioned that. We were talking about it last night. A support network is very important. Currently Colombian government taxes foreign income ( there are many rules though ) but if one doesn’t open a Colombian bank account can manage to get away. They are gradually opening up their economic environment to foreigners but so far there is a lot of burocracia for extranjeros. Hopefully things will get better tax wise. Cheers

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johnchip
5/21/2020 09:57 EST

Banking issues, unless you are a nephew of Pablo, should not overwhelm you as opposed to the advantage of having a safety net of an
extended family.

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johnchip
5/21/2020 10:05 EST

I keep my income in a US bank account. then I use my ATM to access my funds. No government is involved.

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johnchip
5/21/2020 10:11 EST

I should add, You only have to show minimum income pension/salary to gain residency. You do not have to show assets.

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KeyWestPirate
5/21/2020 13:43 EST

I do the same. I use PayPal, which gives me much the equivalent of a bank, an instant email whenever I make a purchase or use an ATM.

I've really enjoyed living in Nicaragua,, despite all the warts. If you do it right,, it's inexpensive living. I have a farm about 40 acres, less a small piece which I just sold to another expat. I'm up in the mountains in the north,, no mosquitos, never unreasonably hot, beautiful views.


It's remote, but only 5KM is unpaved. Many things that cost a lot in the US are reasonable in Nicargua.


Car insurance is 1/10th of that in the US, you don't have a yearly registration which for us, 2 cars in Arizona where we still spend part of the year is over $300


I rent a house in Estelí for $150 /month. $200 will get you something quite nice,, and $500 will get you a mansion. Prices in the north are much less for everything,, but probably half of Granada and SJdS.


Nicaragua will see some hard times ahead,, butt most of it is water off the backs of the expats. The north is very safe,, as opposed to say,, Managua and SJdS.


The one thing I do worry about is having to drive to CR or Honduras to get cash if the Nicaraguan banks are sanctioned by the US in the future.


I drive a lot and have the usual Gringo issues with Transito. They are a PIA, but only if you drive a lot. The police I have to be very friendly and helpful. They hitch hike a lot to save bus fare, and I always pick them up.


Spanish is a must,, but you don't have to speak much when you arrive. It's much easier to learn once you are there,, and there are any number of schools, private teachers. A quality teacher in the north will charge between $5 and $10 for a couple,, twice a week gets you up to steam quickly.

Residency applications are being processed very quickly now,, The cost is reasonable, and the residency includes help in getting your car and household goods into the country.


Hotels are available cheaply now, and would probably negotiate a week or more at a reduced price so you could spend time in all the potentially desirable locations.


There is something for everyone in Nicaragua. The politics are troublesome, but a good rule is to stay out of their business. It has not affected us expats in the past, and I see no reason why it should in the future.


Good luck,, and Bienvenidos

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novato1953
5/28/2020 10:19 EST

Nothing else will do for you what you can only do for yourself. Go out and look. There's really no way to tell where and who you'll like best until you get there and meet them. Nicaragua's so small it's relatively easy to check, but I'd include every other country in Central America, too, except El Salvador and Honduras. Mexico has become remarkably inexpensive these past few years, too. Take a long trip, and learn to make adjustments for the rainy seasons, the hurricane seasons, the volcanic cycles and the pulse of civic unrest. Spanish skills to be very, very helpful, especially if you get curious wherever you are about what the day's fireworks are celebrating.

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elduendegrande
5/29/2020 10:07 EST

Thinking about moving in 6 years is a case of arm chair adventurism. It is a changing world. The next year will be tied up in covid and world recession and some possible wars and civil wars. There will be winners and losers.

I also think of one of the first gringos I met here. He told his wife they were moving to Nic. and she immediately filed for divorce. Some women do not like being downsized!

Anyway, some good news. Tried the atm at bdf again. they had changed from their green machines to purple ones from an outside contractor but it worked this time with no service charge.
Now the bad news--my credit union in the US cut off my online banking. I called them up and they said Nic was on their list of countries not eligible for online banking. I tried to get a password for telephone banking (which I had not used for 15 years) and they said I would have to send them a notarized request. I explained that that would cost me 50 bucks and 200 miles of travel and there is no mail and she checked with the boss who said it would be OK to email the notarized letter.

Anyone with a US bank should may sure you have a phone banking password.

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johnchip
5/29/2020 10:57 EST

The old goblin makes a good point about banking here. The US has been increasing its sanctions on Nicaragua (God knows why). US banks and loan programs have limited internet access to foreign ISP's to access accounts and offers. Even one's Social Security account can no longer be accessed outside the US. I always had named one of my brothers in the US on one of my bank accounts to which I can transfer other funds to. In the event of any non-access to my ATM or Nica banking needs. He can always then access my funds and send them by other means, I would caution anyone living in a foreign country today, with the state of US foreign affairs, to keep an open channel to your money through a US contact. such as Xoom or any other money wire transfer.

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atz111
5/29/2020 12:12 EST

As of this week in my personal experience some of the things posted here about money access are not true in my experience.

1. You can access you SS account online.

2.Yep always good to have someone in USA to tend to your money should you need it....but if you have a USA bank with funds..SS or otherwise...you can simply transfer money to Western Union and wire it to yourself in Nicaragua....cost 9 bucks pr transfer. Don't need any help from a stateside person. I am sure there are other ways as ell but this is Tim tested and works

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elduendegrande
5/29/2020 15:52 EST

Some of the relatives are using Airpac now. I don't have the details, anyone use them?

Note: if your online banking gets cut off you are not completely flying blind. At an ATM you can get your current balance. I had alerts on before I got cut off and they still send me an email for every deposit and withdrawal so I can keep my own tally even tho I can't see the account or monthly statement.

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JustSomeGuy
5/29/2020 17:22 EST

Would a VPN help to hide what country you are in? Perhaps fool them into thinking you are connecting to the internet from the USA?

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shermanwc
5/29/2020 21:18 EST

JustSomeGuy: Yes, I use a VPN with a USA server and have no problem accessing my Social Security account, bank account, etc.

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johnchip
5/29/2020 22:04 EST

I never heard of a VPN so I googled it. (I am so fashionably old-school, I thought Twitter was a person until this week.... see why I fit so well into Nica culture?). It seems it costs $10 or more per month to join one of these VPN's. But does that mean all your information is on their server? Does it mean you are using them 24/7 rather than just my regular Claro connection?

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shermanwc
5/30/2020 10:02 EST

I use Strong VPN - their website states "StrongVPN promises to never track, store, or sell your data."

You do not need to use the VPN connection all of the time, but having two routers makes switching connections much easier. I have one router set up for direct connection to my local Internet Service Provider (ISP), and a second router wired to the first router but set up for my VPN provider. I can then change connection type by simply clicking on the router name via my WiFi icon.

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