You may not believe it, but you can live in Nicaragua for about $1,200 to $1,500 a month. That includes a one-bedroom furnished apartment (about three blocks from the beach), food, electricity, water, internet, and going-out money. Having a vehicle will add some extra expenses, but in the main cities of Nicaragua you can just walk or take public transportation and taxis.
When I go back to the U.S. to visit my daughter, I hesitate every time I go to the supermarket. Now that I'm acclimated to Nicaragua prices, I can't believe my eyes in San Diego at the cost of food alone. Where she pays $8 and up for a pound of good organic, free-range beef, I only pay $2, and mahi-mahi that goes for $15 a pound in San Diego would only cost $3 in Nicaragua. And the funny thing is that my nutritionist daughter pays outlandish prices to find healthy food, something that—while very hard to find in the U.S. with all the chemicals pumped into fruits, vegetables, and animals—is really all we have here.
If you buy from the farmers here, you get fresh produce for a much lower price than the U.S. and Canada.
Taxes are also affordable. I pay $141 real estate taxes a year for a $132,000 house, on almost an acre of land with an ocean view. Nicaragua does not require you to pay taxes on income earned abroad—like the U.S. does—so if you work online (as a writer, travel photographer, copywriter, etc.) you don't have to pay Nicaragua anything.
Healthcare in Nicaragua is cheaper too. A doctor's visit, an X-ray, or an ultrasound will set you back around $25. An endoscopy costs $200. A total hip replacement is $10,000. All of these prices come with no insurance. In fact, many expats choose not to continue with their U.S. insurance due to the cost of the premiums and co-pays, and instead pay medical expenses out-of-pocket in Nicaragua, because it costs less.
For those with children, a live-in nanny will cost $200 a month. A gardener or cleaner will cost $10 a day. A chauffeur, who will drive you in your car anywhere in Nicaragua, will cost $30 a day. In Nicaragua, expats, including very young couples, are able to make time to be with their family or do the things they want to do due to the low prices they pay for these services.
All in all, there is no comparison in the cost of living between the U.S. and Nicaragua. Here, you can have a higher quality of life, no financial worries, a better house, more fun, and less stress for a fraction of what you're paying now. Nicaragua literally saved my financial life and it can help you, too.—Bonnie Hayman