Here’s the deal… nobody can say whether or not moving to Nicaragua is a good idea for you. Only you can answer that, and the only way for you to know is to go check it out for yourself. But before you spend your time visiting a country that could potentially be a bad fit for you, you need to know the basics. That will help you gauge if moving to Nicaragua is a reasonable consideration for you or not.
As I do when considering a move to any foreign country, I suggest making a list of three to five countries that you consider potential good fits based on your needs and expectations. Once you have your list compiled, the ultimate thing would be to go visit each for an extended period of time to fully immerse yourself in the day to day life and culture of each location. That is not always practical and often times people will dive into a country head first having never even stepped foot on the soil prior to their move.
In that case, it’s not the end of the world either, however one rule should be adhered to above all others. Do not buy property prior to living in the country. I have seen expats moving to Nicaragua and other countries purchase property before spending time abroad in that country. In the end, a whimsical fantasy of living abroad on the cheap can turn into a nightmare. Buying land and building a house is a lot of pressure on anyone even in the states, much less doing it abroad. Buying abroad puts a lot of extra strain on moving abroad and could dampen your experience of living in Nicaragua. So much so, just one short year after moving to Nicaragua, she decided to return to the United States but only after having to waiting approximately 6 months to sell her property and reducing the price several times.
Now the important thing to note is just because someone else has had a bad experience, does not mean that you will too… you are going to do your homework. To get you started here is a little info to better identify whether or not moving to Nicaragua is a good idea for you.
Quick Facts About Nicaragua
Population: Just under 6 million
Capital: Managua (population just under 1 million)
Government: Presidential Republic
The majority of expats living in Nicaragua report feeling extremely safe, however like most Central and South American countries, however, theft and non violent crimes are not that uncommon in Nicaragua. It should be noted, this is generally the case in most if not all Central and South American countries and crime in Nicaragua is considered to be lower than most Central American countries.
The key to combat theft in Nicaragua is being attentive and aware of your surroundings. Don’t take unnecessary risks with your personal belongings.
Education is a department where Nicaragua has a lot of room for improvement. If you are moving to Nicaragua with children, your best bet is going to be putting them in a private school and most likely you will want them learning both English and Spanish. All of the private schools are located in the capital, Managua or Granada. Be warned, private education in Nicaragua will not be cheap so some people opt to do home school or possibly even classes online. Here is a list of schools to get your research started.
Mangau Private Schools
Granada Private Schools
Temperatures in Nicaragua can range from the mid 60’s to the upper 90’s depending on location and time of year. The lowland coastal regions have a warmer, tropical climate and the inland highlands have a cooler climate.
Nicaragua has two seasons, dry and wet. The dry season is January through May/June and the rainy season is May/June through October.
Proximity to USA
Nicaragua is located in Central America, sandwiched between Honduras to the north and Costa Rica to the South and is less than 2,000 miles away from USA.
Sample Flight Times to Nicaragua
Houston to Nicaragua: 3 hours and 15 minutes (non-stop)
Atlanta to Nicaragua: 3 hours and 45 minutes (non-stop)
New York to Nicaragua: 7 hours (1 stop)
Los Angeles to Nicaragua: 8 hours and 30 minutes (1 stop)
Cost of Living
The cost of living in Nicaragua is substantially lower than the average cost of living in the United States or Nicaragua. Typically, the largest expense most people have is housing. The cost of renting in Nicaragua on average is over 75% less than USA. Depending on where you choose to live in Nicaragua, rent will typically range from $400-$800 per month. Eating at the typical kind of restaurant you might go out to on a Saturday night for a date with your significant other, less than $25 versus, apx. $50 in the states. With the exception of a few items, groceries are typically significantly cheaper, like apx 50% cheaper. Public transportation is much cheaper in Nicaragua, however purchasing a vehicle will probably be more expensive in Nicaragua due to all the vehicles being imported in and much less consumption compared to the United States.
Time learn Spanish. Sorry, but there is no way around it, but you were probably already expecting that. Pretty much any country in Central or South America is going to require learning Spanish. It’s going to make your experience much better. Start now! I repeat, start now!. Don’t wait until you get down there. Build a foundation with particular keywords and phrases that you can build off of once you are down there. You will appreciate your ability to communicate even if limited once you are there. Not speaking the language will add frustration and stress to your experience.
Healthcare in Managua is reported to be very good with excellent care, knowledge and facilities at the three main hospitals in Managua. The US Embassy to Nicaragua has an excellent resource of medical resources to refer to.
Another thing to consider is with just a little over a 3 hour flight, you can be in a city like Houston and receive medical attention back in the states if you prefer.
For insurance, there is not an organized insurance plan, however one of the hospitals offers a program that works similar to the insurance plans we are accustomed to.
For additional coverage, you can check into a plan with international coverage or if you are not familiar with Christian Sharing programs like MediShare, includes international coverage and is a fraction the cost of traditional insurance.
So… Are You Moving to Nicaragua?
As always, I suggest visiting before taking the big leap and IF you decide moving to Nicaragua is a good idea for you, rent DON’T buy. I know too many expats that have made the move abroad, investing their life savings into the purchase of their new home abroad only to find out their new paradise was not everything they expected. It’s not to say that living abroad was a bad choice, just may not have been a good long term solution for them or perhaps they just chose the wrong destination. Don’t lock yourself in, not yet.