Nicaragua can be cheap – almost as cheap as Southeast Asia – if you go to the right places. The key is to not stay in the popular Western-owned ‘party hostels’ such as Bigfoot, Pacha Mama or Naked Tiger which charge at least $10 for a dorm bed; walk a few blocks further and you can get a private room for the same amount(US$10).
In most respects, Nicaragua is the cheapest place to travel in Latin America, which makes it the cheapest destination in the Americas period. Naturally, you have to give up a little comfort in the process though. You’ll be on a “chicken bus” now and then if you get off the main tourist track. Budget hotel choices are a good value, but the selection and overall level of quality are not always up to what you find in Guatemala or even Honduras (outside the main tourist towns that is).
Most food is very affordable in Nicaragua and you can eat on average for around $4 per plate. As always, pizza and pasta are notorious for being the most expensive food options around.
English is spoken among educated Nicaraguans, expats from the United States and Canada, and widely spoken by the tourism sector. In the Caribbean coast (due to the African and English heritage) cities like Bluefields and Corn Island speak a form of English creole along with other indigenous languagest.
RULES OF THUMB:
When you arrive in a strange country it is helpful to have some ‘rules of thumb‘ to ensure that you don’t get over-charged.
Transport costs should be as follows:
Town Bus (around town): N$10 / trip.
Chicken Bus (between towns): N$1 / km.
Luxury Bus / Shuttle Bus: N$3 / km.
Taxi (urban): N$15 for up to 2kms within the town limits.
Taxi (rural): N$20 / km.
WHAT YOU CAN EXPECT TO PAY:
Expect to pay N$450-600 / night for a GRANDPAcking Double with fan and cold water ensuite. Breakfast is usually NOT included.
HOW TO GET A BETTER PRICE:
If you get on the internet and search hard across multiple hotel search sites you should be able to find a deal that discounts these rates down to N$350-500 respectively. In Nicaragua, I recommend that (for short term Hostels & Hotels) you try BOOKING.COM.
CABLE TV or GOOD WIFI:
Many hotels offer Cable TV with 50 Channels or more. Unless you speak good Spanish, this is of little use / value … all of the channels are in Spanish or ‘dubbed’. You may be lucky and find 1 English speaking channel … this is, usually, a news channel.
You are better off getting a cheaper room WITHOUT Cable TV but with GOOD WIFI. With the latter, you can stream programs and movies off the internet.
FOOD & DRINK:
Breakfast: A Desayuno Tipico / Traditionale on the street or in a Comedor Economica should cost N$70 including a coffee. An extra black coffee should cost N$10.
Lunch: A simple lunch on the street or in a Comedor Economica should cost N$50-60.
Dinner: A 2 piece Fried Chicken meal on the street or in a Comedor Economica should cost N$70. A whole Fried Fish meal N$120.
A 350ml Tona beer should cost N$25. A 1 liter Tona N$55.
A typical meal from the ‘lower quartile’ of the menu: N$80
An ‘average’ meal: N$110.
- A typical meal from the ‘lower quartile’ of the menu: N$120
- An ‘average’ meal N$150.
TIPS, TRICKS, AND TRAPS:
Here are a few useful titbits …
Forget them. The only TTs that the Nicaraguan banks will exchange are American Express … and, even then, you will have to go to quite a few banks before you find one that takes TTs.
If you have any other sort of TT on you … they are just dead luggage.
Never accept transport from touts inside an Airline or Ferry Terminal.
Always walk out of the Terminal to get better prices.
Often, you will find a Bus Terminal or Minivan Terminal within walking distance of a Ferry Terminal.
Always negotiate and agree a price BEFORE getting into the Taxi.
Movistar and Claro are the main service providers.
A SIMcard should cost you N$50.
GRANDPACKING RETIREMENT LOCATIONS:
When it comes to retirement locations in Nicaragua, you have several options. Each has its own unique and attractive features.
Geographically, Nicaragua is blessed, with two long coastlines and two big lakes, plus volcanoes, highlands, rain forests and rivers. In this regard, it’s got everything Costa Rica and Panama have got … all less discovered and developed and available for the adventurer and eco-traveler at reasonable rates.
One of the greatest things about Nicaragua, is that it’s still relatively ‘off the radar’ for many travelers and retirees. As the country continues to attract tourists and expats, its list of amenities is likely to keep growing. Among the least expensive places to live in Latin America, Nicaragua is also one of the safest.
If you are looking for first-world comforts, exciting culture and nature adventures, the colonial city of Granada is an ideal place to live. Other areas of Nicaragua offer all the conveniences retirees look for against the backdrop of beautiful natural wonders.
The secret of enjoying a wonderful retirement here won’t last long.
Sales aren’t as brisk as before Ortega’s re-election, but they are trending up, especially near the tourist hubs of Granada and San Juan del Sur. There are an increasing number of ‘planned communities’ on the Pacific Coast.
Have a look at: