Places to live in Nicaragua

Another reader submitted a question I’m sure that many of you would like to know the answer to – where to live, should you desire to retire in Nicaragua. Ryan is not a retiree, but he is looking for some liveable location in Nicaragua, not too expensive, offering a simple life, with no TV, minimal internet and low costs. So, in answering Ryan’s question, I will be answering the questions of other people who share the same interest of moving to Nicaragua, whether retired or not. I won’t suggest Managua at this time. It’s chaotic, busy and sometimes dangerous, though we had no problems when we were there. You need more caution and security to live in Managua and there are safe neighborhoods to live. It’s not, by my estimation, a peaceful place, whether you are 22 or 62 years old. Also Managua, being the capital of Nicaragua, is more expensive to live in and it does provide the best and most modern services and amenities including healthcare  that people from other countries have come to expect.

Here is Ryan’s question:

Hello, I stumbled upon your website while searching for livable areas in Nicaragua.

Truth be told, I am not looking for a retirement home, in fact quite the opposite. I am a young guy, 22, and would like to spend roughly six months in a foreign country. I just want to be by myself in a small apartment, perhaps close to the beach, and live a very simple life style. No TV, minimal internet, minimal spending etc.

After looking around on the internet Nicaragua seems like a good place and, from what I have read, small apartments can be rented quite inexpensively in the north of the country.

If you could recommend some communities, preferably on the west side, that are a mix of safe and cheap I would greatly appreciate it. The area doesn’t need to be exciting.

He wants to live a simple life, in a small apartment, maybe near a beach community on the west side of Nicaragua. Sounds like the life for a retirement. Well, I’ll start with my recommendation of San Juan del Sur and work up the west coast of Nicaragua, to the places I’ve been.

San Juan del Sur is one of the most developed beach communities of Nicaragua, largely in part due to the high ratio of Americans and Europeans who’ve moved there and developed the tourist industry. Some people find it too touristy and too developed and it’s also one of the most expensive places to live in Nicaragua. However, compared to just about everywhere else, life is still going to cost you less. There are all the modern conveniences of life if you want to pay for them. You can find an apartment, a small one for about $375 – $700 a month.  The housing costs are higher in San Juan del Sur because the real estate market is very active. Everyone goes to San Juan del Sur, so it’s busy with tourists and is a very pleasant place to live. You can also see that the money from tourism has helped the local people to economically to improve their standard of living.

On to Granada another town well developed by tourism, but still affected by poverty. Granada is perhaps the most charming Colonial town of Nicaragua apart from Leon, further north. A two bedroom apartment can cost you as little as $250 to $400 a month. It can get a little touristy as it is a very popular place to visit, but it has services, lots of restaurants, bistros and a lively nightlife.

I like Leon which is another charming Colonial city in Nicaragua, but take it as a warning, it can get very hot and humid here and you will certainly need an air conditioner for at least the night time. Electricity can get expensive in Nicaragua, just warning you. Again, you can live inexpensively just about anywhere in Nicaragua. Live like the locals, shop in the markets with the locals and eat local food. It’s also a town filled with university and college students, so you’ll find lots of places to visit in the evenings, such as restaurants and Nicaraguan nightlife – it’s a young people’s town. It’s a busy, bustling and attractive town and just a half hour drive away from the beaches on the west coast of Nicaragua.

Beach communities I would recommend are:

Masachapa, – lovely seaside town based on a fishing community. Great beaches, just enough restaurants and shops to keep you busy. Masachapa has a few small hotels and is near to the famous Montelimar Resort.  Rental fees for apartments are pretty cheap. Not as touristy as San Juan del Sur. You’ll find near Masachapa, there are other similar, small beach communities which haven’t been developed by foreign investors yet.


Las Penitas – less busy than Masachapa. This beach community is based on surfing. Nicaraguans come here to surf. It’s perfect for long walks on the beach and admiring sunsets and sunrises. Very laid back. It’s just a half hour drive from Leon, if you yearn for the city life once in a while. There are a few tiny surfing hotels, and other backpacker type hotels and if you need a restaurant, people drop into the various beach hotels for a delicious meal of seafood or what have you. Las Penitas is an inexpensive place to live, but also lacks services and is less developed than either Masachapa or San Juan del Sur. There are sometimes blackouts of electricity so be warned, but blackouts can occur throughout Nicaragua. Also, the beach, although very attractive, has very wild surf and is not the safest for swimming in. Yes, you could live the simple life here whether as a young person or someone who’s decided that a Nicaraguan retirement is for them. Las Penitas is quiet and laid back and gets busy during the Nicaragan peoples’ holidays when everyone heads to the beach.

Poneloya Beach – another small beach quiet beach community and like nearby Las Penitas – it’s not very developed – at least not as developed as, say, San Juan del Sur or Granada. You’ll find a lack of many services here, but as with Las Penitas, people drive to Leon, a half hour away to get the things they need. There are many vacation homes, deserted homes and houses for sale in Poneloya. Rents are inexpensive. It’s also very quiet and laid back and also gets busy during Nicaraguan holidays.

My suggestion to Ryan and others who want to retire in Nicaragua is to find out the facts about Nicaragua and stay for an extended period of time and explore the country and find your place. Before deciding where to live in Nicaragua, investigate the weather, the services and see if you really like Nicaraguan culture. The above places are just my recommendations for retirement or just plain “escape.” When you find a place you love, you will know and you can begin to put down roots.