An Update on Our Cost of Living

It’s been a long time since I did a cost of living post. So, here’s an account for the month of October, 2014.


I. Utilities

1. Electricity            1,235 c                                    $47.31
2. Water                    150 c                                     $ 5. 74
3. Propane                325 c                                     $12.45
4. Internet               3,025 c                                    $115.70
5. Sky satellite TV                                                   $  37.00
Total                                                                       $ 218.20

II. Repairs

1. New roof on our house in the states                   $5,000
2. Paint                                                                   $   100
3. Mechanical repairs for dune buggy                     $     50                                                                           _____________
total                                                                       $ 5,150

III. Groceries/gas
1. Gas for my dune buggy                                      $  50.00
2. Groceries ( average)                                            $400.00
total                                                                        $450.00

IV. Workers
We have two workers. One for our yard work and the other a general handyman.

1. Monthly pay for Alfonzo ( 3 days a week, 3 hrs. a day)         $45.97
2. Monthly pay for Jose ( 5 days a week, 3 hrs. a day)             $76.72
total                                                                                         $122.69

V. Volunteer and Charity 

1.  Los Ramos landslides                                                        $100.00
2. Monthly tuition for beauty school for a
local friend                                                                              $   19.15
3. Expenses for new elementary school library                        $ 100.00
4. Used bicycle for one of our workers                                    $   68.00
5. Food for a wake                                                                  $   60.00
total                                                                                        $  347.15

VI. Entertainment
1. Restaurants                                                                        $ 50.00
2. Kindle books                                                                       $   9.99
total                                                                                        $ 59.99

VII. Pet Care
1. food for cats and dog                                                         $  30.65
2. Vet expenses                                                                      $  40.00
It was a bad month for our cat Black Jack. He was
unable to recover from a UTI and we had to have him
total                                                                                        $ 70.65

Overall total for Ometepe Island expenses:                          $  1,418.68

We own two homes, one in Nicaragua and one in the states. We have a separate account for our home in the states. The rent goes into the account and pays for our repairs, property taxes, and miscellaneous expenses.

We also use our U.S. address, so we can keep a U.S. credit card and a shipping address. It makes it easier to order things online and have them shipped to our house in the states. When we return to the states for a visit, we can get the items we ordered and pack them in our suitcases to return to Nicaragua.

Our bank accounts are in the U.S. Our monthly income is direct deposited into our account and we withdraw from ATMs in Nicaragua. Nicaragua is mainly a cash society. The only bill we can pay online is our credit card bill. Our SKY satellite TV is billed monthly to our credit card. All of our utility bills are delivered to our house by men on bicycles. If we aren’t home, they either hang the bill on our fence post or deliver it to our neighbors. The internet bill is sent to my email address, but then we have to print it and take it to the bank in town and deposit into the company’s bank account. Sometimes, it is a game of hide and seek to find our monthly utility bills.

Travel is our passion. We try to take a trip at least once a month, but in October we were inundated with rain and natural disasters. We are planning our next trip to the Rio San Juan. We’ll be able to fly out of our local airport to San Carlos and catch a boat(s) for a trip down the river. We are also planning a trip to Cuba, but it depends on getting house sitters since we have two cats and a puppy.

Nicaragua is affordable, although challenging at times. We jumped and are living our passions. As you can see in the pie graph, we strongly believe in a trickle-up economic system. Much of our disposable income and time goes to helping others. Our investments of time and a little money go far in Nicaragua.

We are in the process of researching health insurance. We did have the discount plan for Vivian Pellas, but it did not meet our needs. We have residency in Nicaragua, so we are exploring our options for health insurance that will be accepted at all the major hospitals in Nicaragua. More about that later.

If I can answer any questions about cost of living, please let me know. Expenses will vary depending on the location and one’s needs.


22 thoughts on “An Update on Our Cost of Living

  1. Your monthly expense does not appear to include rent or mortgage payment. Could you estimate how much that would be on average?

  2. My wife and I just attended a conference on living overseas. We hadn’t considered Nicaragua until the presentation there. My wife was a college professor but is on disability due to migraines. She is 55 so still has 10 years before Medicare. I am 62 and would like to wait to apply for Social Security.

    We have spent some time in Mexico, a small island off of the coast of Cancun. The one short trip we made to the Hotel Zone convinced us that wasn’t the place for us. We prefer small, local living. We don’t want a huge town, but would like a hospital and a few amenities. We neither one like heat and humidity, but we think altitude might be a contributing factor to her headaches (we currently live at 7,500 feet). We are investigating Maligalpa in Nicaragua, as that seems to have not too hot weather but also not extreme altitude.

    • Trevor, we plan way ahead for flights and always book online with the browser set to private. It is amazing how much money we can save if they aren’t aware that we are searching for flights. Our flights average around $400 rt to Miami. But, we always need connecting flights, so it is usually around $500-600 with our connecting flights. If I fly alone, I fly from our airport on Ometepe Island to Managua and make a connecting flight in Managua. It is cheaper for one person to fly, than to take the ferry to the mainland and then a taxi to Managua.

  3. Electricity bill… Do you have/use A/C?

    Internet… Have you checked your upload and download speeds? ( Does it vary significantly based on time of day/week or weather?

    Water… is that metered or unlimited? Are you on sewer or septic?

    Propane… used for cooking stove and water heater?

    Workers pay… Are you paying them on the high end of the scale for that region?

    What is the cost of gasoline? Diesel?

    What about vehicle registration and insurance costs?

    Restaurants… Approximately how often do you go out, and for which meals?

    Thanks so much! 🙂

    • Thanks for the questions, Trevor.
      1. Electricity – no we do not have A/C. We have ceiling fans and we live on the beach so we always get a nice breeze. Electricity is expensive in Nicaragua.
      2. Internet- We have a microwave tower, GGnet, from Rivas. My upload and download speeds are consistently 3-4 mbps. The weather does not affect our service, and it doesn’t depend on the time of day. We have to have a direct line of sight to Rivas. I could have purchased less speed, for $30-$50-$75 per month, but I have a Roku box and I stream a lot of Netflix and Hulu Plus shows. Next week, GGNet is installing a repeater tower on Ometepe Island. It will reduce the cost of purchasing their service.
      3. Water- we have a water meter and water is supplied from the city of Moyogalpa. Unlimited water, but frequent outages, so we built a tall water storage tank and tower and have gravity flow water into our house when water from the city is out. We have two septic tanks on our property, one for the main house, and one for the guest house.
      4. Propane- for our cooking stove. A small propane tank lasts about 3 months for our stove. We don’t have hot water and it is refreshing taking cold showers.
      5. Workers pay- most of the workers receive 100 cords a day. We are paying them 100 cords for 3 hours of work. Alfonzo is a neighbor of ours and he is enrolled in the university in Rivas, so for 3 hours a day, 100 c, we are helping to support him through college. Jose, our handyman, works at least 3 hours a day, sometimes more. We pay him 33 c per hour. He needed work and we hired him to help us with everything. He paints, does mechanical work, trims trees, machetes, and he’s been helping me repair a few things for the La Paloma elementary school library I am starting.
      6. Cost of gasoline-for a gallon of Super it is $5.50, for a gallon of regular it is $5.11. Nicaragua has the most expensive pump prices in Central America.
      6. Vehicle registration and insurance: I don’t know about our dune buggy, yet because we are waiting to register it. For our motorcycle, the registration was less than $30, and the insurance costs about $25 a year. Plus, we have to buy a sticker from the mayor’s office for about $5 once a year.
      7. Restaurants- we rarely go out to eat. October was our anniversary, so we went out to eat a couple of times. We had a large homemade pizza at Bon Apetito for $23, that included 4 beers.
      Thanks for asking so many questions, Trevor. You have to remember that our cost of living is much cheaper on Ometepe Island than it would be in Granada or San Juan del Sur where there are much larger populations of expats. We try to buy from local farmers, and eat at local restaurants, which tend to be much cheaper.

      • Thank you for the detailed replies. They are really, really appreciated!

        I guess if one really needed/wanted hot water, one could install a solar water heater fairly inexpensively, and after that have free hot water well before noon most days…

        It will be interesting to find out how far across the island GGNet’s repeater tower will reliably reach, once it’s installed. (hint, hint for a future post!) 🙂

        Again, thanks SO much for your informative posts!

    • Si es verdad, Dean. But, I’m not complaining because I have to have fast internet. I am thrilled with their service. On Ometepe Island, we have two local neighbors who have GGnet internet. More and more local people are getting GGnet because it is much more reliable than Claro, and their service provides unlimited internet usage. Claro shuts you off if you go over their limited usage. I’m not very happy with Claro.

      • For some people, it is definitely worth paying a premium for good and reliable Internet. And when you consider how much you are saving in almost all other areas of your monthly costs, you realize it truly is only a small premium.

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