Be it due to one’s retirement, the overall cost of living, or simply a desirable change of pace, Nicaragua has seen a surge in popularity in recent years as a relocation destination. This Central American country does offer many considerable allures, both culturally and functionally; from recreational facilities and idyllic beaches to a welcoming culture and a pleasant tropical climate, it stands to reason that Nicaragua has found such appeal. The most practical concern with any such endeavour, however, remains the cost of living – whether one’s relocation is financially both sustainable and preferable. In this regard, comparing the cost of living between the United States and Nicaragua can yield both interesting and useful results.
Accommodations and real estate; renting and buying
Nicaragua offers much more than beaches alone; it offers a low cost of living as well
In such analyses, it is imperative that housing costs receive their due focus. Monthly expenses add up and can be a determining factor, but all such endeavors must begin with residence acquisition. In terms of rentals, it is important to divide varying residence types into categories:
- 1 bedroom apartment – within the city center
- 3 bedroom apartment – within the city center
- 1 bedroom apartment – outside of city center
- 3 bedroom apartment – outside of city center
This distinction is important for an understandable reason; in all markets, prices will vary based on both residence size and features, and proximity to — or location in —the city center. The same could only be true for Nicaragua.
As of February 2020, rental prices in Nicaragua are massively lower than in the U.S. for comparable residences. Within Nicaragua’s city center, prices tend to average at $215 for 1-bedroom apartments and at $448 for 3-bedroom apartments. In New York City, 1-bedroom apartments average at $1305 and 3-bedroom apartments at $2100; that’s a respective difference of 507% and 368%. The same trend holds true for apartments outside the city center; Nicaragua sees 1-bedroom apartments averaging at $171 and 3-bedroom apartments at $331, while those outside of New York City experience 1-bedroom apartments average at $1041 and 3-bedroom apartments at $1654; that’s a difference of 508% and 400%, respectively.
Real estate prices are often very reasonable, especially in more remote locations as such
For those who would rather buy than rent, the same trend persists; the price of buying an apartment in the Nicaraguan city center is $980, and $428 per square meter outside the city center, while in New York City the respective prices are $2624 and $1916. These prices mean a difference of approximately 167% and 346%, respectively. Nicaragua does offer solid financial foundations for relocation, and trained professionals such as the ones at usmovingexperts.com can make the process all the easier.
After housing, a primary expense is groceries, a considerable monthly expense for all households. Closely following would be restaurants; even more so since their prices are also an indication of food option expenses. Starting from basic groceries the trend continues; in Nicaragua a 500g loaf of fresh white bread costs $1.70, whereas in New York City it costs $2.62 – an approximate 35% difference. Other costs in Nicaragua include 1kg of white rice costing $1.16, 1kg of local cheese costing $2.60, and 12 eggs costing $1.87. The respective prices for the same, or equivalent, goods in New York City are $3.82, $10.43, and $2.26, respectively – a difference of approximately 70%, 75%, and 17%.
From these and other product comparisons, it is rather safe to deduce that local products tend to be much cheaper overall. There may be fluctuations in the exact price difference but in most cases, they do remain less expensive than equivalent products in the United States. Certain exceptions to this can be seen for products that are not grown domestically or that cannot be grown in large quantities in the location; factors include market demand, local climate, and a multitude of others.
Restaurant prices also follow suit, with meals and beverages being universally cheaper. A meal at an inexpensive restaurant in Nicaragua costs $5, whereas in New York City it costs $15. A three-course meal for 2 people at a mid-range restaurant costs roughly $25, while in New York City it costs $50; double the price. The same holds true for beverages such as coffee, beer, Coke and Pepsi, and even 0.33-liter water bottles (all the aforementioned products cost nearly half in Nicaragua, and notably Gran Pacifica as well).
Transportation costs are also seen to experience this exact trend. For local transport, a one-way ticket costs $0.10 and a regular price monthly pass costs $9.57 in Nicaragua, compared to $2.25 and $70 respectively in New York City. The same applies to taxi tariffs; from a $1 taxi start against $3.50, to a 1km cost of $0.95 against $1.71, and even to a 1-hour wait cost of $6 against $28. The only notable exception in this front is gasoline, where 1 liter costs $1 in Nicaragua against an average of $0.73 in the United States. It is therefore noteworthy that personal transportation could end up being more expensive in theory, but that too depends on distances – where Nicaragua will likely not be as demanding.
Especially among closer communities, transportation is often not a concern in Nicaragua
Looking at the metrics, it should quickly become apparent that the cost of living in the United States is considerably higher than that of Nicaragua. In most measurable regards, the cost of both total monthly expenses and individual items and services is drastically higher in the majority of cases. These differences can vary in percentages; from a modest 20% for a pair of men leather business shoes, to a staggering 85% for monthly preschool service, or even to an equally impressive 95% for a one-way ticket for local transportation.
Some specific items or brands may not adhere to this trend and this can be for a variety of reasons including supply lines, customs, tariffs, and overall supply and demand. Some such examples of this could be mid-range Nike shoes, that are approximately 8% more expensive in Nicaragua than in the United States, or a Toyota Corolla that is almost 11% more expensive. However, such cases are generally both rare and marginal; it is not unlikely that there will be market alternatives that are still cheaper, such as a Volkswagen Golf which is 27% cheaper than its American counterparts.
How such differences can be summarized and translated into effective cost of living does go beyond raw numbers, of course, so research is always invaluable in this regard. If Nicaragua interests you, a free handbook with additional information can be found here. On the other hand, if you feel like a country such as Belize would be a better choice, make sure to check out this free handbook in order to learn everything you want!
ECI Development delivers affordable luxury residence and resort communities in Central America, providing our clients with various premier lifestyle options from the Caribbean to the Pacific. ECI delivers inspired residences for adventurous souls.
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