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What about living in Nicaragua?
Old 01-06-2013, 01:26 AM   #1
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What about living in Nicaragua?

We have a member with personal experience living in Nicaragua. Does anyone have experience they will share? How about questions?

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Old 01-06-2013, 10:30 AM   #2
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I spent probably 15-18 months total Nicaragua from '09-'12 and these are my personal experiences and opinions. The next person you ask will have different experiences and feelings about it.

A short travel bio so you can know where I am coming from. First 18 years in the USA. After one semester in the university, I left and started traveling. Spent several years in London and and Europe, then moved on to the Middle East, Southern Africa, Mozambique mostly, and in between spent some time in SE Asia. Around age 35 came back to the USA for a few years and traveled only sporadically. During this time I did numerous cruises and visited Mexico and the tourist hot spots in Latin America. I was invited by a friend to Argentina in '05 and spent some time with her family there. Fell in love with the country and the lifestyle. I decided then to explore SA and CA more. I went up to Peru with some people I met in BA who wanted to do Machu Picchu but ended up staying in Cusco for awhile and then after a few weeks ended up in Lima. I never did make it to Machu Picchu sadly. Next went on to Santa Cruz Bolivia where I stayed for short awhile. Very interesting place. Costa Rica, spent a while there, then Belize for a very short while. Back to the USA for about a year. Then in 2009 was invited to Granada, Nicaragua with a friend who was going down. It was love at first sight. I spent 3 solid months there, and left only when my visa ran out. I went up to Antigua, and while I liked it, it was not as interesting as Granada to me. So, for the past 3 years I have been in and out of Nicaragua, while traveling back and for to the USA, and other parts of CA and Mexico. As I said, I have a love/hate relationship with Nicaragua. This past summer I moved to Mexico City after Nicaragua seemed to have lost it's luster to me. The hate part overcame the love part and it was time to move on. Perhaps one day I will return, but it will probably be long in the future.

First, it's HOT. If you don't like HOT weather, look somewhere else. Yes, there are cooler locations, but in general, it is a hot, miserably hot to some, country. Electricity is extremely expensive if you use much, it is on some type of sliding scale, and if you use AC in your home, you are going to be looking at $300+ power bills. If you cool your entire house, you are looking at $500+ power bills. So, if you are on a limited budget, just get used to sweating. It rains almost every single day from June-November, and in September and October sometimes it doesn't stop raining for days and days. The good news is that from January to March you will not see rain at all except for the very rare, very small sprinkle.

Money: Dollars are accepted everywhere from the mall to the taxi although you will receive change in the local currency and are often not to your benefit, make sure your phone has a calculator and use it. Dollars which are worn, torn or written upon are normally not accepted so make sure any money you want to use is in like new condition. Big ticket items, cars, houses, rents, etc etc are normally priced in Dollars. The dollar keeps going up against the local currency. When I first went to Nica the dollar was at 18-1 now it is 24-1. It is a slow steady rise. Dollar changers in the streets give the best exchange rate and are legit. The other good place to change money is at Western Union which will give you almost the exact exchange. Inside Banks are some of the worst.

Housing: you can find housing to American standards but you will pay more in Granada or Managua for this house than you would in say Atlanta. Even if you get a house to US standards, water may very well be off more than it is on, and electricity will not be on all the time. Get used to it.... or get a water tank and a generator. In our part of Managua, we had water for about 6 to 7 hours per day, sometimes less in the dry season.

A good place to look at housing trends is to look at the website locals use

Clasificados de bienes raices y autos usados en Panama y Costa Rica

Once there, you have to choose Nicaragua then English if your Spanish is not too good.

If you are on a limited budget, or are OK living more like the average local, the good news is you CAN find housing in the range of $50-$200 but you may only have water for a few hours twice a week and your bathroom may be outside.

Nicaragua is basically a very safe place but do NOT leave a pair of shoes sitting out on your window seal to air dry for even 5 minutes. I can pretty much assure you that they will NOT be there when you return. Violent crime is pretty rare, but anything not nailed down is fair game. And the nails better be pretty good.

Phone service: mostly prepaid cell phones, everyone no matter how poor has one but no one ever seems to have time on their phone! Incoming calls are free. Outgoing calls can be VERY expensive, somewhere around 30 cents per minute without promotions. There are 2 main companies, and many people carry a phone from each as it is much more expensive for a Claro phone to call a Movie star phone or vice versa.
Internet: widely available around $25 month
Cable TV: widely available around $25 month probably 10 English speaking channels. Calbe TV is often "shared" among poorer families. They just split the line and if you "tip" the guy setting it up, he will even do it for you.

The people: mostly wonderful. You will have many many many new friends. Most will want "something" from you however. After all, you are a rich foreigner, you will spend more on airfare back and forth than many will earn in a year. Money grows on trees in the USA and you should share it with them. At least that is their feelings. They will lie to you, steal from you, and they are incredibly good at making you feel sorry for them. You will have to work all that out as to how you are going to deal with it. It is hard to see the poverty around you. However, If you had walked in their shoes, you might do the same thing. It was the most difficult thing of all for me about Nicaragua.

Trash: everywhere. No one bothers with trash cans. When you finish that drink or candy, just toss the can or wrapper into the street. Very sad to see... and I don't see this changing anytime soon. Granada is the exception. It is reasonably clean, especially around the touristy areas.

Everyone buys here one at the time. You do NOT see 12 packs of pepsi or large rolls of toilet paper. You buy one roll at the time from the local tienda. One can of pepsi costs about 35 cents. a roll of TP about 50 cents for the terrible stuff, a dollar for a soft charmin like roll. The only place to really buy in bulk is Pricesmart which is owned by, and very similar to Costco. Membership is $35/year. Prices tend to be about 25% more than Costco in the USA for name brand products. The larger grocery stores in Managua and Granada will have many of the products you expect to find in the USA such as frosted flakes or Duncan Hines but expect to pay double the USA prices. Some, like my beloved Dt. Mt. Dew can't be found at any price. If you eat like a local, you can eat cheap. If you don't expect your food bill to raise a great deal from the prices you paid in the USA. Pet food. If you expect to find the high quality brands from the USA forget it. Purina can be had, but is very expensive.

Electronics: 50% to 100% more in general than the USA. Stick what you can in your luggage on the way down. If customs stops you, offer them a little tip to look the other way.

Police and government: corrupt in every way imaginable. I bought a car, which I drove and was often stopped. If you speak Spanish, a $2 tip and you are on your way. If you don't, plan on $20. If you want something done in the government, it is better to know someone to help you out, smooth the way. You can do it on your own, it is just much faster to do it the other way. I knew someone who did not have residency but wanted a Nica DL. I knew the Chief of Police in a large town. I introduced them. He bought him a few beers and gave him $200 and the next month had residency and a DL without all those pesky forms and such.... yep, perhaps wrong but often the norm.

The flip side of this is that it can be used against you as Jason Puracl and others have learned.

Managua has incredibly good theaters.
http://www.cinesalhambra.com/nuestros_cines.php
There is 2 VIP theaters playing the latest releases with recliners for seats and waiters to bring you dinner and beer or wine or your favorite mixed drink. Cost for an evening out would be somewhere around $50 for 2. $5/ticker and $20 for dinner and a couple of drinks.

Galerķas Santo Domingo

There is a nice indoor mall, the Galerias where you can pick up a $1000 (questionably purebred) puppy, a sealy mattress, your favorite Estee Lauder or Chanel makeup or a pair of Levi's. Prices are about 50% more than in the USA. They have a food court that has Burger King, McDonalds and Sbarro along with an amazingly good assortment of fine restaurants. The chair restaurants are priced about 20% more than in the USA but the local (better) restaurants are much cheaper. On the weekends, they have live music in the center of the mall and all the local Nicas from the upper class walk around with their iPhones and coach purses just like teenagers in the USA.

Driving down the street you can buy water, cell phone chargers, hot nuts, watch a juggling act (a 4 cent donation will get you a huge smile) or pretty much anything else you want. Just ask and you shall receive. You will also see some horribly sad things like a mom and her 5 kids sitting in the grass and the kids running up to cars begging for just one cord. (4 cents) and many disfigured people in wheelchairs or hopping along with their hands out.

Your average Nicaraguan woman dresses in such a manor that would make most streetwalkers blush. While generally very attractive, for some reason nica women all seem to think that wearing clothes 3 or 4 sizes too small is sexy. Mushroom tops rule.

I am sorry to say but Nica men are often quite lazy and seem happy to let the women support them. Many have 2 or 3 women at the time, quite openly, and I have met many Nica men who have dozens of children with a dozen different women, mostly contributing nothing to their expenses. The women make do somehow, mostly with the help of family.

Manana attitude: Hire someone to do something and you kind of expect them to show up, especially as much as they might need the money you think. Good Luck. I will give just one example but this is absolutely typical. We hired someone to paint the exterior of the house. Should have been a 5 day job tops. He says he will start next week. Friday comes and we have not heard anything. We go to his house and his wife says she has not seen him this week, he is probably off with "that woman" and tells us where she lives. We go there and is is indeed there, drunk as a skunk laying on the front stoop. His "other woman" tells him he needs to get his sorry butt out of the house and earn some money and she promises that he will be there Monday. of course Monday comes and he is not there. Sometime later in the week he does show up and starts painting, he paints for a good solid 3 or 4 hours before disappearing. He comes back the next day and again puts in a hard days work, this time maybe 5 hours, woo hoo... and then we don't see him again for a few days. Out of the blue he shows up again and starts painting but leaves for lunch and never comes back again. We hunt him down a few weeks later at a totally different GF's house and he promises he will be there the next day, he really needs the money. Never see him again. We hire someone else, and it's pretty much the same story. This is the typical mentality of the work force there.

We had several live-in maids and watchmen. One was great, the others, not so much so... stealing was constantly a problem. Average pay for a full-time live in or live out maid or gardner is about $150-175/month. 7-6 M thru F and Saturday half days. You are supposed to pay Social Security but hardly no one does. You DO have to pay an extra month in December and they do get paid holidays and the staff all seem to expect that. Do expect to be hit up quite regularly for advances that will never be paid back. Do so with caution...

I had several full-time translators when I was there, the last one worked for me for over a year and was actually really good and reliable. It was cheaper to hire him by the month and he enjoyed time off when I was not there. He had a degree from the university in English, spoke and understood me very well. I found him on the encuentra 24 website, monthly salary was about $220 USD. It was money well spent as he saved me that much over time by giving me insider info and access to local sources I would not have had otherwise.

The expats I met over the years were a varied group. Many were retired middle age men, often ex-military who moved there to live like a king on a salary of 2K or often less. They had teenage girlfriends and or wifes and strutted around town like peacocks. Others were people who had visited Granada and fell in love with its colonial charm. Many bought on the first visit and many regretted it in a few months or a few years when reality set it. Others, were bargain seekers, lured by the cheap living. Some were happy as can be, others bitter and hated it but will probably never leave. Child prostitution or exploitation is a problem. Many business in Granada have signed an agreement to not allow it in their business but they just go next door. Nicaragua, perhaps because of the extremely low cost of living, often attracts the people who are marginalized in other societies. I have heard many many times: Nicaragua, land of the not quite right.

Health care: There is a great hospital, Vivian Pellas, which is private and totally out of reach of the average Nicaraguan. I had a run in with a mad german shepherd who took off half my finger and chomped down on my leg. I made 5 visits to Vivian Pellas and was seen by very competent doctors who spoke limited English. I had a bit of reconstructive surgery on the finger and the total bill came to less than 5K. The first ER visit was less than $150 and included antibiotics, pain meds and x-rays.

On the other hand, public healthcare, while free to all, including tourists, is a sad state of affairs. I went to visit a friends son in a public hospital and it was not somewhere I would consider treating my dog the cleanliness was so bad.

I had teeth cleaning done in Granada by a dentist, a good cleaning, and it cost $15. However, If I had wanted more extensive dental work I would have gone down to Costa Rica.

Whew, I am tired.... so, I have covered a bit of this and that, but much of this can be found on the internet already, probably better to ask me direct questions that interest you. so any questions?
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Old 01-06-2013, 10:44 AM   #3
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It sounds like a great deal of fun and an interesting learning experience for someone with the energy and creativity to deal with the idiosyncrasies of Nicaraguan society. Reading this also made me really appreciate the good old US of A.

Thank you for taking the time to write this descriptive and evocative account JustMeUC.
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Old 01-06-2013, 11:16 AM   #4
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I would love to do more traveling some day. However, I think that visiting would be nice, but I would not do well living in some countries. There are some things that I value way too much. Not having water whenever I wanted or having an indoor bathroom, are deal breakers for me.

I really enjoyed reading about your experiences though and thank you very much for posting.
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Old 01-06-2013, 11:52 AM   #5
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JustMeUC,

Thanks for the in-depth review.

I plan to visit Nica, probably in December. Your insights will be extremely useful.

omni
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Old 01-06-2013, 12:10 PM   #6
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JustMeUC, what a great read that was! Thanks for posting.
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Old 01-06-2013, 12:19 PM   #7
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I would love to do more traveling some day. However, I think that visiting would be nice, but I would not do well living in some countries. There are some things that I value way too much. Not having water whenever I wanted or having an indoor bathroom, are deal breakers for me.

I really enjoyed reading about your experiences though and thank you very much for posting.
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Old 01-06-2013, 12:38 PM   #8
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Great response!!!

I've never been to Nicaragua, but have spent time in Chiapas (Mexico), El Salvador, and Costa Rica. The poverty and third-worldliness are something that Americans can't understand until they see it up close and personally. People are among the world's friendliest, just need to always be aware of your environment, because everything is not always as it seems.
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Old 01-06-2013, 12:42 PM   #9
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Forgot to mention Corn Islands. I stayed there for a few months and it as incredibly beautiful.

I want to give people an idea of what the houses look like there so am including some videos of what your money actually buys you: These are LOCAL DIRECT FROM LOCAL NICARAGUAN OWNER PRICES! If you go thru an American agent or thru someone specializing in renting to foreigners, You Will Pay More!

This house was $300/month including water and utilites including AC in the 2 bedrooms.

My House on Corn Islands - YouTube

5 minute walk from the house:
Corn Island - Picnic Beach - YouTube

This is where I spent most days:
Lunch (cheeseburger/fries and a couple of beers was $8-$9 including delivery to my cabana
Arenas Beach Resort Corn Island - YouTube

And this is how you get there:
Cost $170 R/T from Managua

Airplane to Corn Island - YouTube

This is Pochomil Beach 1 hour from Managua:
Pochomil - YouTube

This was a house I rented in a cooler area (San Marcos) for when I wanted to get away from the heat. Cost was $125/month including utilities.

La Concha House - YouTube

Sold now but where I lived in 2012 $240K purchase price or between $1200-$2000 rent per month

House for Sale near Managua Nicaragua - YouTube
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Old 01-07-2013, 08:59 AM   #10
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Ed,

Thank you for your thorough and insightful review of life in Nicaragua.

It actually sounds like much of the world to me (not just 3rd world): Interesting and enjoyable for a few weeks; likely not a good long term destination, at least for now.

Short post from me since I am off trying to fund my own FI, ER and travel this week.
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Old 01-07-2013, 12:15 PM   #11
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Thanks for sharing your experiences- and posting the videos.
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Old 01-07-2013, 08:37 PM   #12
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Hi, Tammy,

Thanks very much for sharing your experiences in Nicaragua! And your videos are great!

Cheers,

Ed
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Old 01-08-2013, 05:13 AM   #13
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I spent probably 15-18 months total Nicaragua from '09-'12
Interesting details. The part that I don't get is why do you like it there? It sounds like a hellhole.
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Old 01-08-2013, 05:16 AM   #14
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Fascinating report!
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Old 01-08-2013, 10:11 AM   #15
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Interesting details. The part that I don't get is why do you like it there? It sounds like a hellhole.

I am a bit negative on Nicaragua right now and that probably came across. There are many things to like about Nicaragua. The expat population, are interesting and most are interested in helping the Nicas to have a better life. There are really good, but inexpensive restaurants to go to, always a festival or something going on. There are stunning beaches, beautiful mountain volcanos, warm volcanic lakes to swim in...

The Nica people will proudly invite you into their homes, no matter how modest, and offer you the best seat in the house, which will probably be a plastic chair and they will serve you the best meal they can put together. They will stop on the street and inquire about your family and be genuinely interested. They take the time to stop and smell the roses every day (while neglecting work of course ) and you will have many many new friends. Again, many will have an ulterior motive, to separate you from your cash, but for most of them, once they realize you will not do so, will be your friend regardless. The Nica people are incredibly warm and friendly, genuinely warm and friendly, and they are what make this country so special.

It is a place I would advise everyone to visit, but for most, IMHO it is not a good place to live long term.
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Old 01-08-2013, 11:54 AM   #16
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I spent probably 15-18 months total Nicaragua from '09-'12 and these are my personal experiences and opinions. The next person you ask will have different experiences and feelings about it.

A short travel bio so you can know where I am coming from. First 18 years in the USA. After one semester in the university, I left and started traveling. Spent several years in London and and Europe, then moved on to the Middle East, Southern Africa, Mozambique mostly, and in between spent some time in SE Asia. Around age 35 came back to the USA for a few years and traveled only sporadically. During this time I did numerous cruises and visited Mexico and the tourist hot spots in Latin America. I was invited by a friend to Argentina in '05 and spent some time with her family there. Fell in love with the country and the lifestyle. I decided then to explore SA and CA more. I went up to Peru with some people I met in BA who wanted to do Machu Picchu but ended up staying in Cusco for awhile and then after a few weeks ended up in Lima. I never did make it to Machu Picchu sadly. Next went on to Santa Cruz Bolivia where I stayed for short awhile. Very interesting place. Costa Rica, spent a while there, then Belize for a very short while. Back to the USA for about a year. Then in 2009 was invited to Granada, Nicaragua with a friend who was going down. It was love at first sight. I spent 3 solid months there, and left only when my visa ran out. I went up to Antigua, and while I liked it, it was not as interesting as Granada to me. So, for the past 3 years I have been in and out of Nicaragua, while traveling back and for to the USA, and other parts of CA and Mexico. As I said, I have a love/hate relationship with Nicaragua. This past summer I moved to Mexico City after Nicaragua seemed to have lost it's luster to me. The hate part overcame the love part and it was time to move on. Perhaps one day I will return, but it will probably be long in the future.

First, it's HOT. If you don't like HOT weather, look somewhere else. Yes, there are cooler locations, but in general, it is a hot, miserably hot to some, country. Electricity is extremely expensive if you use much, it is on some type of sliding scale, and if you use AC in your home, you are going to be looking at $300+ power bills. If you cool your entire house, you are looking at $500+ power bills. So, if you are on a limited budget, just get used to sweating. It rains almost every single day from June-November, and in September and October sometimes it doesn't stop raining for days and days. The good news is that from January to March you will not see rain at all except for the very rare, very small sprinkle.

Money: Dollars are accepted everywhere from the mall to the taxi although you will receive change in the local currency and are often not to your benefit, make sure your phone has a calculator and use it. Dollars which are worn, torn or written upon are normally not accepted so make sure any money you want to use is in like new condition. Big ticket items, cars, houses, rents, etc etc are normally priced in Dollars. The dollar keeps going up against the local currency. When I first went to Nica the dollar was at 18-1 now it is 24-1. It is a slow steady rise. Dollar changers in the streets give the best exchange rate and are legit. The other good place to change money is at Western Union which will give you almost the exact exchange. Inside Banks are some of the worst.

Housing: you can find housing to American standards but you will pay more in Granada or Managua for this house than you would in say Atlanta. Even if you get a house to US standards, water may very well be off more than it is on, and electricity will not be on all the time. Get used to it.... or get a water tank and a generator. In our part of Managua, we had water for about 6 to 7 hours per day, sometimes less in the dry season.

A good place to look at housing trends is to look at the website locals use

Clasificados de bienes raices y autos usados en Panama y Costa Rica

Once there, you have to choose Nicaragua then English if your Spanish is not too good.

If you are on a limited budget, or are OK living more like the average local, the good news is you CAN find housing in the range of $50-$200 but you may only have water for a few hours twice a week and your bathroom may be outside.

Nicaragua is basically a very safe place but do NOT leave a pair of shoes sitting out on your window seal to air dry for even 5 minutes. I can pretty much assure you that they will NOT be there when you return. Violent crime is pretty rare, but anything not nailed down is fair game. And the nails better be pretty good.

Phone service: mostly prepaid cell phones, everyone no matter how poor has one but no one ever seems to have time on their phone! Incoming calls are free. Outgoing calls can be VERY expensive, somewhere around 30 cents per minute without promotions. There are 2 main companies, and many people carry a phone from each as it is much more expensive for a Claro phone to call a Movie star phone or vice versa.
Internet: widely available around $25 month
Cable TV: widely available around $25 month probably 10 English speaking channels. Calbe TV is often "shared" among poorer families. They just split the line and if you "tip" the guy setting it up, he will even do it for you.

The people: mostly wonderful. You will have many many many new friends. Most will want "something" from you however. After all, you are a rich foreigner, you will spend more on airfare back and forth than many will earn in a year. Money grows on trees in the USA and you should share it with them. At least that is their feelings. They will lie to you, steal from you, and they are incredibly good at making you feel sorry for them. You will have to work all that out as to how you are going to deal with it. It is hard to see the poverty around you. However, If you had walked in their shoes, you might do the same thing. It was the most difficult thing of all for me about Nicaragua.

Trash: everywhere. No one bothers with trash cans. When you finish that drink or candy, just toss the can or wrapper into the street. Very sad to see... and I don't see this changing anytime soon. Granada is the exception. It is reasonably clean, especially around the touristy areas.

Everyone buys here one at the time. You do NOT see 12 packs of pepsi or large rolls of toilet paper. You buy one roll at the time from the local tienda. One can of pepsi costs about 35 cents. a roll of TP about 50 cents for the terrible stuff, a dollar for a soft charmin like roll. The only place to really buy in bulk is Pricesmart which is owned by, and very similar to Costco. Membership is $35/year. Prices tend to be about 25% more than Costco in the USA for name brand products. The larger grocery stores in Managua and Granada will have many of the products you expect to find in the USA such as frosted flakes or Duncan Hines but expect to pay double the USA prices. Some, like my beloved Dt. Mt. Dew can't be found at any price. If you eat like a local, you can eat cheap. If you don't expect your food bill to raise a great deal from the prices you paid in the USA. Pet food. If you expect to find the high quality brands from the USA forget it. Purina can be had, but is very expensive.

Electronics: 50% to 100% more in general than the USA. Stick what you can in your luggage on the way down. If customs stops you, offer them a little tip to look the other way.

Police and government: corrupt in every way imaginable. I bought a car, which I drove and was often stopped. If you speak Spanish, a $2 tip and you are on your way. If you don't, plan on $20. If you want something done in the government, it is better to know someone to help you out, smooth the way. You can do it on your own, it is just much faster to do it the other way. I knew someone who did not have residency but wanted a Nica DL. I knew the Chief of Police in a large town. I introduced them. He bought him a few beers and gave him $200 and the next month had residency and a DL without all those pesky forms and such.... yep, perhaps wrong but often the norm.

The flip side of this is that it can be used against you as Jason Puracl and others have learned.

Managua has incredibly good theaters.
http://www.cinesalhambra.com/nuestros_cines.php
There is 2 VIP theaters playing the latest releases with recliners for seats and waiters to bring you dinner and beer or wine or your favorite mixed drink. Cost for an evening out would be somewhere around $50 for 2. $5/ticker and $20 for dinner and a couple of drinks.

Galerķas Santo Domingo

There is a nice indoor mall, the Galerias where you can pick up a $1000 (questionably purebred) puppy, a sealy mattress, your favorite Estee Lauder or Chanel makeup or a pair of Levi's. Prices are about 50% more than in the USA. They have a food court that has Burger King, McDonalds and Sbarro along with an amazingly good assortment of fine restaurants. The chair restaurants are priced about 20% more than in the USA but the local (better) restaurants are much cheaper. On the weekends, they have live music in the center of the mall and all the local Nicas from the upper class walk around with their iPhones and coach purses just like teenagers in the USA.

Driving down the street you can buy water, cell phone chargers, hot nuts, watch a juggling act (a 4 cent donation will get you a huge smile) or pretty much anything else you want. Just ask and you shall receive. You will also see some horribly sad things like a mom and her 5 kids sitting in the grass and the kids running up to cars begging for just one cord. (4 cents) and many disfigured people in wheelchairs or hopping along with their hands out.

Your average Nicaraguan woman dresses in such a manor that would make most streetwalkers blush. While generally very attractive, for some reason nica women all seem to think that wearing clothes 3 or 4 sizes too small is sexy. Mushroom tops rule.

I am sorry to say but Nica men are often quite lazy and seem happy to let the women support them. Many have 2 or 3 women at the time, quite openly, and I have met many Nica men who have dozens of children with a dozen different women, mostly contributing nothing to their expenses. The women make do somehow, mostly with the help of family.

Manana attitude: Hire someone to do something and you kind of expect them to show up, especially as much as they might need the money you think. Good Luck. I will give just one example but this is absolutely typical. We hired someone to paint the exterior of the house. Should have been a 5 day job tops. He says he will start next week. Friday comes and we have not heard anything. We go to his house and his wife says she has not seen him this week, he is probably off with "that woman" and tells us where she lives. We go there and is is indeed there, drunk as a skunk laying on the front stoop. His "other woman" tells him he needs to get his sorry butt out of the house and earn some money and she promises that he will be there Monday. of course Monday comes and he is not there. Sometime later in the week he does show up and starts painting, he paints for a good solid 3 or 4 hours before disappearing. He comes back the next day and again puts in a hard days work, this time maybe 5 hours, woo hoo... and then we don't see him again for a few days. Out of the blue he shows up again and starts painting but leaves for lunch and never comes back again. We hunt him down a few weeks later at a totally different GF's house and he promises he will be there the next day, he really needs the money. Never see him again. We hire someone else, and it's pretty much the same story. This is the typical mentality of the work force there.

We had several live-in maids and watchmen. One was great, the others, not so much so... stealing was constantly a problem. Average pay for a full-time live in or live out maid or gardner is about $150-175/month. 7-6 M thru F and Saturday half days. You are supposed to pay Social Security but hardly no one does. You DO have to pay an extra month in December and they do get paid holidays and the staff all seem to expect that. Do expect to be hit up quite regularly for advances that will never be paid back. Do so with caution...

I had several full-time translators when I was there, the last one worked for me for over a year and was actually really good and reliable. It was cheaper to hire him by the month and he enjoyed time off when I was not there. He had a degree from the university in English, spoke and understood me very well. I found him on the encuentra 24 website, monthly salary was about $220 USD. It was money well spent as he saved me that much over time by giving me insider info and access to local sources I would not have had otherwise.

The expats I met over the years were a varied group. Many were retired middle age men, often ex-military who moved there to live like a king on a salary of 2K or often less. They had teenage girlfriends and or wifes and strutted around town like peacocks. Others were people who had visited Granada and fell in love with its colonial charm. Many bought on the first visit and many regretted it in a few months or a few years when reality set it. Others, were bargain seekers, lured by the cheap living. Some were happy as can be, others bitter and hated it but will probably never leave. Child prostitution or exploitation is a problem. Many business in Granada have signed an agreement to not allow it in their business but they just go next door. Nicaragua, perhaps because of the extremely low cost of living, often attracts the people who are marginalized in other societies. I have heard many many times: Nicaragua, land of the not quite right.

Health care: There is a great hospital, Vivian Pellas, which is private and totally out of reach of the average Nicaraguan. I had a run in with a mad german shepherd who took off half my finger and chomped down on my leg. I made 5 visits to Vivian Pellas and was seen by very competent doctors who spoke limited English. I had a bit of reconstructive surgery on the finger and the total bill came to less than 5K. The first ER visit was less than $150 and included antibiotics, pain meds and x-rays.

On the other hand, public healthcare, while free to all, including tourists, is a sad state of affairs. I went to visit a friends son in a public hospital and it was not somewhere I would consider treating my dog the cleanliness was so bad.

I had teeth cleaning done in Granada by a dentist, a good cleaning, and it cost $15. However, If I had wanted more extensive dental work I would have gone down to Costa Rica.

Whew, I am tired.... so, I have covered a bit of this and that, but much of this can be found on the internet already, probably better to ask me direct questions that interest you. so any questions?
I agree with every observation here. Everything you've said is typical of every third world/poor country. I've lived for quite a bit in the third world. There is no comparison to any place in the US that I can think of; not even Chicago.
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Old 01-08-2013, 12:30 PM   #17
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I agree with every observation here. Everything you've said is typical of every third world/poor country. I've lived for quite a bit in the third world. There is no comparison to any place in the US that I can think of; not even Chicago.
We can certainly agree on the comparison part. Chicago is more dangerous, the weather sucks and it's a lot more expensive.

We must travel different paths because I have found mostly honest hard working people around Latin America with strong core values. Pretty amazing we find such contrasts.
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Old 01-08-2013, 12:45 PM   #18
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We must travel different paths because I have found mostly honest hard working people around Latin America with strong core values. Pretty amazing we find such contrasts.
In general, I would say the same thing for most of Latin America that I have spent time in. Sadly, and quite regretfully, I did not find this to be the case for the majority of Nicaraguan men. I would say that the majority are at the core a lazy bunch who have no motivation or work ethic. Many of them rely on family and remittances from the USA to provide for even the most basic necessities and many? most? have no desire for anything more than the next beer or chasing after the next woman who will accept producing another offspring that he will never support. I often would ask the women why they accepted the men and their ways, but they said that if they got rid of their man, the next one would be the same or even worse.

Still, while I no doubt sound quite negative, I do have very fond memories of my time in Nicaragua and I enjoyed most of my time with the people there.
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Old 01-08-2013, 12:46 PM   #19
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We can certainly agree on that. Chicago is more dangerous, the weather sucks and it's a lot more expensive.

We must travel different paths because I have found mostly honest hard working people around Latin America with strong core values. Pretty amazing we find such contrasts.
I am not saying that most of the people are not decent. However, I agree that the observations made about Nicaragua are typical of the third world. Also, while it's true that there's a lot of petty thieves and people are always begging and seem to want to get money from a 'rich' foreigner, this is more a result of widespread poverty. I must say that one is a heck of a lot safer on the streets of Nicaragua or for that matter, most third world countries than most big cities in the US.
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Old 01-08-2013, 03:56 PM   #20
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Nice warts and all portraits.

I have a simple yes/no test about long term living in southerly places. When flying low over the place, can you see lots of banana trees?

If yes, keep moving to another place. Bananas got some bad juju.

Ha
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