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Granada, Nicaragua

Living in Nicaragua

By Joshua Wood, LPC

Last updated on Jul 27, 2022

Summary: Expats, digital nomads and retirees discuss what it is like to live in Nicaragua: Cost of living, Finding a home, Meeting People and more.

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What do I need to know about living in Nicaragua?

When we asked people what advice they would give someone preparing to move to Nicaragua, they said:

"Standard advice is to visit Nicaragua before committing to anything - that is even more essential in your case. Visit areas you might want to live, local stores, etc," said another expat in Managua.

"I would suggest to come with an idea of how to help the community further itself. Creating a business is an obvious start, but a business that is centered on giving back to the community would be the best way to progress the area. A community farm, a non-profit school, a manufacturing plant, any of these would bring growth and positive investment to this quietly suffering community," added another expat who made the move to Playa Miramar.

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How do I meet people in Nicaragua?

When we asked people living in Nicaragua about club and activities where newcomers can meet others, they responded:

"Miramar is a small village of about 1000 locals and the town plays host to 5 surf camps because of the proximity of good waves. This close knit community of surf camp/hotel operators means we all know each other and we all collaborate on our business and the community in general. At the same time, there are some resources for expats, but most of those resources are focused on the Rivas/Tola areas which are 3.5 hours south of us. There a much (much) larger ex-pat community exists," mentioned another expat in Playa Miramar.

"Online sites, if you are an American citizen, go to the Town Hall meeting in your area," commented one expat who made the move to Mechapa.

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William Russell Health Insurance

William Russell's private medical insurance will cover you and your family wherever you may be. Whether you need primary care or complex surgery, you'll have access to the best hospitals & doctors available. Unlike some insurers, we also include medical evacuation and mental health cover in our plans (except SilverLite). Get a quote from our partner, William Russell.

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What is life like in Nicaragua?

When we asked people living in Nicaragua what life is like and how people spend their time, they said:

"Miramar is a subsistence community in that most of the population lives day to day. They've been at such a low economic level for a century and that has led to a socio economic belief that there is no value in investing in the future. Often children are encouraged to leave school early to begin looking for work, as an education is not a valuable investment in the future. So day to day life here is finding whatever small resources can be gathered to feed the family for a day and they worry about tomorrow, tomorrow! With that said, there are those locals that see the influx of foreign investors as an opportunity for stable work and see it for the possibilities of climbing the economic ladder. The business owners foster this thinking and we do our best to encourage and support the families development and especially the idea that education is the most important opportunity for their children," said another expat in Playa Miramar.

"Mechapa is a very small fishing village in a remote part of Northwest Nicaragua. It can be considered the polar opposite of San Juan del Sur, Granada and points South. Life here involves the same mix of priorities that we found in Chicago - work hard, spend time with family, an occasional party or gathering and time spent on the weekends for a sports game or special sporting event (Superbowl, World Series, etc.) This area doesn't have any tourism so very little time is spent peddling goods and no time is spent opening tourist shops and the like," added another expat who made the move to Mechapa.

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Is there a lot of crime in Nicaragua?

We asked people if there is a lot of crime. They answered:

"It is relatively safe and we have experienced less crime here than in the states. We use common sense such as using taxis after dark, not driving at night, etc. Having said that, Nicaragua is a poor country and there is more common theft. For example, if you lay your phone, IPod, laptop on your table at a restaurant and turn away, it will be gone. It is important to have good neighbors and to form friendships with them. Our home has never been robbed in the past five years here," remarked another expat who made the move to Granada.

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Is there a lot of diversity? Are people in Nicaragua accepting of differences?

"Having lived here for 7 years, there's hardly a face I don't know. There exists though, an invisible barrier, an almost inherent racism in the culture. Given a long history of foreign intervention, particularly by the United States, it's a common assumption that foreigners don't deserve the same rights as Nicaraguan nationals, there's no other word for it than racism/nationalism, it can be a culture shock, but you get used to it and it's an opportunity to start to enlighten those you can about having a more worldly mind;-)," said another expat in Playa Miramar.

"Mechapa is a generally homogenous village. Most people go to the Apostilica church, but not all, and everyone is Nicaraguan (except for Mike and me!)," added another expat who made the move to Mechapa.

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William Russell's private medical insurance will cover you and your family wherever you may be. Whether you need primary care or complex surgery, you'll have access to the best hospitals & doctors available. Unlike some insurers, we also include medical evacuation and mental health cover in our plans (except SilverLite). Get a quote from our partner, William Russell.

What are the schools in Nicaragua like?

"The American Nicaraguan School children and parents are not friendly nor acceptable to foreigners or diversity. If you are a foreigner DO NOT enroll your children in this school, it doesn't matter what grades they are in. I had children in elementary, middle and high school, and they all experienced the same treatment as well as with the parents. It will make your children suffer of severe depression and low self-esteem. I had to withdraw them from this school. My children were not the only ones suffering and even though we parents spoke to the director this is not on their priority list. The administration is very much aware of the problem but doesn't do anything because the foreigners leave within 1-5 years. What they don't understand is that others are coming and the treatment towards us does not change. A requirement to enter this school should be native born Nicaraguan with a very well known last name. They claim the school has an American environment but it's not, it's a Nicaraguan environment. If you don't speak Spanish you are not accepted by your peers and become an outcast. OVERALL, THIS IS A VERY POOR SCHOOL!!!!! Saint Augustine Prep School, Nicaragua Christian Academy, Notre Dame and Lincoln can be potential options. LOOK AROUND!!," said another expat in Managua with children at American Nicaraguan School.

"This is a good choice for someone looking for a strong academic program, a small school atmosphere where everyone knows each other and a traditional Catholic environment," remarked another parent with kids at St. Augustine Preparatory School in Managua.

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Is the cost of living in Nicaragua high?

We asked people how much they someone comfortably live on in Nicaragua, they wrote:

"Live like a Nica on $500 a month or buy your expansive colonial home and entertain lavishly. We find we can live on around $1500 a month but emergencies do happen and that does not include flights back home. The world is different now with many things being fairly expensive now like gas, flights overseas, rising food costs, etc. We do have concerns on the falling dollar," remarked another expat living in Granada, Nicaragua.

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"As in most foreign countries when it comes to the cost of living, you can pretty much find what you're looking for. Nicaragua is no exception. You can find moderate to expensive pricing options on most things from food to lodging, but the LOW cost items are more easily found in abundance here than in most places. Food is obviously less expensive here. It is not difficult to find $2.00 USD lunches. There are many hostels and hotels that seem to cater to the budget-minded traveler as well. Even retiring in Nicaragua is very low cost and stress-free: In order to qualify for Nicaragua's "Pensionado Visa" you must prove a monthly income from retirement or a pension or from any investment of only $600 USD and you're good to go! That's the LOWEST retirement income requirement of any country in the world," commented one expat who moved to Granada.

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What type of recreational facilities are in Nicaragua?

When we asked people living in Nicaragua about recreational activities, they mentioned:

"Going swimming in a nice clean swimming pool is an option open to anyone in Granada. At least 2 hotels I know of offer this. For about $5 you can spend the day at the pool or pool-side bar and enjoy the company of other expats or locals. The ChocoMuseum in Granada is one of my favorite places to do this. The Hotel Granada on Calle la Calzada down by the lake is another great option. It has a beautiful pool," said an expat in Granada.

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What is the weather like in Nicaragua?

"Granada is hot and humid but not as much as Leon. It is quite bearable. Living in a home with only a fan is do-able too as I found. But A/C is a much nicer option," commented one expat who moved to Granada.

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Are there good restaurants in Nicaragua?

"I found that just about everything I could ask for was either along Calle la Calzada or within a few blocks of this most popular street. Restaurants owned by expats and locals, as well as bars and nightclubs with live entertainment were all very easy to find," said one expat living in Granada.

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Where will I buy groceries and do other shopping in Nicaragua?

"In Granada I found small mom and pop stores as well as decent grocery stores all within walking distance of central Granada. As a bonus, a car is not needed in Granada. It's very easy and fun to be able to walk to everything you need here. A small backpack is all that's necessary to take to the store and load up with a week's worth of items," remarked another expat in Granada.

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What are the visa & residency requirements in Nicaragua?

"As mentioned earlier in this report, retiring in Nicaragua is very affordable: In order to qualify for Nicaragua's "Pensionado Visa" you simply prove a monthly income from a retirement, pension or any investment of $600 USD. That has proven to be the LOWEST retirement income requirement of any country in the world," mentioned another expat living in Granada.

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About the Author

Joshua Wood Joshua Wood, LPC joined Expat Exchange in 2000 and serves as one of its Co-Presidents. He is also one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. Prior to Expat Exchange, Joshua worked for NBC Cable (MSNBC and CNBC Primetime). Joshua has a BA from Syracuse and a Master's in Clinical and Counseling Psychology from Fairleigh Dickinson University. Mr. Wood is also a licensed counselor and psychotherapist.

Some of Joshua's articles include Pros and Cons of Living in Portugal, 10 Best Places to Live in Ireland and Pros and Cons of Living in Uruguay. Connect with Joshua on LinkedIn.

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