Cost of Living: March 2017

Since I am preparing envelopes for our house sitters with two and a half months of expenses, I thought I would give you an idea of our latest cost of living expenses for the month of March 2017.

We own our home, thus no rental expenses. This month, we paid our property taxes of $25 and I included that in the miscellaneous expenses along with gas, propane, and a few other small expenses.

The amounts are in dollars. The total monthly expenses are: $960.


If you are considering living in Nicaragua, it will depend on your location and your needs. Ometepe Island is cheaper for home rentals than most of the larger cities like Granada and San Juan Del Sur. But, there are some expenses that cost more, such as a rural internet provider since we don’t have cable internet available outside of the main cities. Our service provider is Ggnet and it is on the mainland. We built a tall tower in our backyard because we need direct line of sight to the mainland to receive a strong signal for our microwave internet system.

Our electric is a little cheaper because we are now hooked into the mainland by an underwater cable. It is more reliable, too. We have a Claro phone plan for two phones, which gives us unlimited calls to other Claro users with 10G of data on each phone.

Food is our largest expense usually because we like our peanut butter, wheat bread, and chocolate chips. I splurged this month and bought a can of whipped cream (almost $10).
The boys had never had whipped cream. Ron sprayed the chilled whipped cream right into their mouths. Hee Hee It was worth the expense to see the look of delight on their faces.

We are not penny pinchers, but we don’t live extravagantly either.  Therefore, we travel a lot because the cost of living is low enabling us to save money for our wanderlust. Plus, we enjoy helping others and a little goes a long way in Nicaragua.

A further breakdown:
Utilities:                                  $252
Employees and tuition:        $258
Food:                                        $250
Misc:                                         $200

From the breakdown, you can see that our expenses are evenly divided. If we didn’t have yard workers, my library, or pay for our god-daughter’s college tuition, we could cut our expenses by a fourth.

I read that 0.7% of our gross income is a good guideline for giving. For the average personal income in the United States, that would be approximately $26 a month. Living in Nicaragua is different, though. Our cost of living is about 1/4 of that in the states, so we can give more.

I’ll leave you with the following quote. Our lives are all about choices.

“Attitude is a choice. Happiness is a choice. Optimism is a choice. Kindness is a choice. Giving is a choice. Respect is a choice. Whatever choice you make makes you. Choose wisely.” ― Roy T. Bennett

16 thoughts on “Cost of Living: March 2017

  1. Hi,

    My wife,12 year daughter and I are thinking of making the big move to Nicaragua. Yikes! We are both 50 and looking for a change. We are both in between careers right now as neither of us was happy with what we were doing before so this seems to be the right time to make a change. The prospect of living a much simpler lifestyle and opening our daughters’ eyes to different worlds and culture is very appealing.

    We are considering buying a small hotel in Tola. We are finding ourselves overwhelmed with all the things we need to think of and worried about the things we have not thought of. We are trying to compile a list of expenses to make the move as well as what our living expenses will be and the expense of setting ourselves up with car, health insurance, schooling, resident status etc. We are concerned of the ramifications of leaving our home country ( Canada) with respect to giving up our medical coverage here ( free) and resident staus. What happens if one of us gets ill with something major like cancer?

    If we make this move, we are leaving everything behind. Selling our house is a big since we will need those funds to buy our place down there. We are worried that we may be underestimating so many things coming down there.

    We have not lived in Nicaragua for an extended period of time but have visited several times over the past 6 years. If we want to take advantage of this opportunity, we cannot afford to do a trial run of living in Nicarauga for 6 months. However, I think we would be ok with living the Nica way. We have visited the school that our daughter would be going to and we , including my daughter, feel that it would be great! In an ideal world, we would have a giant spread sheet that had a list of everything we need to consider and the associated cost of it, plus any ramifications that may go along with leaving our home country.

    Unfortunately, we are under a time crunch due to the fact that we may lose the property if we hesitate too long. In our hearts, we feel like we have already made the decision to do it but are terrified that we may be taking too much of a risk if we don’t have a rock solid plan. Having a rock solid plan is based on having as much “good” information as possible. We realise there are no guarantees in life but, if we screw this up we could really mess up our lives and our daughter’s life.

    Any insights you can give us wold be greatly appreciated.

    Thank you so much!


    • Hi Andy,

      Thanks for your informative comment, Andy. I wish I could say that jumping into a new life is risk free, but it isn’t and it takes courage to uproot your family and start again in a new culture. It is a challenge, but it sounds like you and your family are up for it. The best advice I can give is not to burn any bridges. Make sure that you have a back-up plan for unexpected expenses and emergencies. Properties take a long, long time to sell in Nicaragua. There is never a quick turnover. Most places for sale on Ometepe Island take 3-5 years before they sell meaning that if you buy a place, then find out that it isn’t for you, you may have a long wait before you can sell it.
      Have you read through my Let’s Get Real about series? I tried to include every scenario I can think of about living in Nicaragua. But, as you say, there are no guarantees in life. We have no regrets about jumping into a new life. Go for it! It sounds as if you have good plans. Of course it is terrifying! However, the opportunity to fulfill a dream is something you will never regret. I wish you the best. Let me know what you decide and if there is any specific information I can help you with. Buenos suerte mis amigos.

  2. You ask in the other place why we come and visit your page and who we are….
    I am lost as for the first time in my life I do not know, what is the right thing to do. I am entre espada y pared.
    I am a german late boomer, working in Latin-Am and my contract ends. I am terribly afraid of western Europe as all points to war between islam and christians. The crime rates incl the brutallity is x-times higher with these musels.
    I have not lived at home for ten years and I miss to speak my language, to eat certain food. I am ripe to spend some time with Germans again and to retire is maybe a little early. I read the words “retirement and Nicaragua” so I came to your page. But in the Americas life is not cheap if you think in Euro. And this crazy housing bubble makes me mad. In eastern Europe housing is cheap and life as well. But its cold and I do not speak the language.
    There is a voice in me saying “DON’T GO!” and “Leave at least your stuff here!”. Maybe the housing bubble will burst soon. But it is also my life-time-line which asks for change. This wonderful weather “destroys” my Christmas feelings. No baking cookies, no eating a big junk of fat meat – just another splendid sunny day. The gringos are everywhere and english is spoken by evbody. But I am without native tongue social contacts. I need a stopover at home, maybe just to receive the confirmation “What have you done, you fool? Run back to latinoland, quickly!”
    Isn’t that crazy? Do not come back to me – I am ok. Cheers to Nicaragua.

    • Perdito, I am going to use google translate to respond to you in German.Es klingt wie du bist sehr heimweh und das ist normal. Wir bekommen Heimweh für unser Land auch. Wir vermissen unsere Familie und unsere Sprache. Deshalb reisen wir oft in die Vereinigten Staaten zurück. Mit den Kosten des Lebens so niedrig, können wir unsere Familie und Freunde besuchen. Unsere Großeltern sind aus Deutschland eingewandert und wir haben Familie in Deutschland. Ich verstehe, was du meinst, gutes Brot, Käse und Bier zu essen. Wir verpassen auch gutes Essen!
      Ich hoffe, du wirst deinen Platz in der Welt finden. Manchmal braucht es viel Seelensuche. Vielen Dank für Ihren herzlichen Kommentar.
      Hoffentlich wird die Wohnblase bald platzen. Mittlerweile suchst du nach dem Ort, der dich zum glücklichsten macht. Beste Grüße in deiner Quest und danke für deine sehr nachdenklichen Kommentare.

  3. the quote touched my heart.. yes, it’s about attitude and choices….

    most of the pachamama group and i have been slammed with what must be a virus.. i have been awake onlly long enough to finish ‘tasks’ then surrender to slumber, which is what i’m about to do right now!

    thank you for your concerns for marcos.. a friend sent a photo that showed pres correa talking with marcos – i hope that means good news for marcos…

    in another day i hope to catch up and will get back to you…

    time to dash back to the bed before i faint!

  4. Loved the image of the first taste of cold whipped cream being sprayed directly into the boys mouths for the first time! That will be a memory they carry with them all of their lives! 😃 Great quote about choices and your cost of living pie chart was an eye-opener. Another great example about living a good life on your own terms. Anita

    • Anita, that cracked us up! They were fascinated with the spray can. I think I am going to have to find them that silly string spray, but I doubt I can find it in Nicaragua and I can’t pack an aerosol spray can in my luggage. It’s the little things. Haha

  5. Did I miss something? No expense for health insurance. Don’t know a lot about the Nicaraguan system, but have friends who reside in Costa Rica paying between$150-200 month to the Caja; and it’s not an option for permanent residents.

    • No Tom, you didn’t miss it. We pay for international health insurance once a year. Our policy is renewed in November and it covers us in 180 countries excluding the U.S. When we go to the U.S. I am covered under Medicare and my husband gets travel insurance until he is covered under Medicare. Thanks for asking. By the way, health insurance is not required in Nicaragua for permanent residents and under their present system we don’t qualify because they won’t insure anyone 60 or older.

  6. Is the $25 for property taxes a monthly cost, or annual cost?
    Presumably the low electricity cost means you did not use AC? Which months do you wish you had AC, if the cost were no issue?
    Thank you for this post! 🙂

    • Trevor, our property tax is a yearly expense. If we pay it before March 13th, we get a 10% discount. We don’t have air conditioning. We have ceiling fans and since we are on the beach, we get a nice breeze daily. March, April, and May are brutal because of the heat and the windy, bone dry months. Everything turns to dust. Now, you know why we travel during these months. 😜 We are spending the month of April in the mountains in Mexico where we can sleep under blankets! I am so excited! Haha

      • April and May are the “hot” months here in highland Michoacán, but easy to bear. I wouldn’t mind some additional warmth right now.
        We are getting early rains, although not deluges as usually come in the summer.

        Don Cuevas

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