Managua, Nicaragua Report of what it's like to live there - 12/03/21
Personal Experiences from Managua, Nicaragua
1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?
No, I've also lived in Cartagena, Colombia; Seoul, Korea; and Tokyo, Japan.
2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?
US. Usually pretty easy non- or one-stop travel home, but right now there are fewer flights. Also, right now it is very, very difficult and/or expensive to return due to COVID testing requirements
3. What years did you live here?
4. How long have you lived here?
5. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?
Housing, Groceries & Food:
1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?
All housing is moving to single family homes (for earthquake safety). We live in a beautiful apartment that will no
longer be in use after we leave. A shame, really. Commute times are 15-40 minutes to anywhere in
Managua, depending on traffic. Main roads are excellent, secondary roads are often not excellent.
2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?
You can find pretty much anything you want here. PriceSmart is a Costco clone that has most of the
same things as home. La Colonia is a high-end, Western-style grocery chain. We get all our fruits and
vegetables delivered by a restaurant supply company for $10-15 USD per week.
3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?
The only thing I still have to get shipped is contact lens solution for gas-permeable lenses. So few people
wear them that the optic shops and pharmacies in Managua don't carry it.
4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?
Nica cuisine is simple and tasty. There is good Peruvian, Mexican, Spanish, seafood, and steakhouses.
There is adequate Chinese and Japanese. Not much Indian or Thai. A number of fast food places and
American chains (think McDonalds and Hooters).
Hugo (and a couple of others I haven't tried) will deliver all kinds of food and sundries from about 100
restaurants and stores.
5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?
Very little in our apartment. Stand alone houses can sometimes have ants or geckos.
1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?
Local mail kind of exists, but mostly you just pay a guy on a motorcycle to drop your item where you
want it to go. DHL and FedEx are available for international mail.
2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?
Help is very inexpensive. We hire a woman two days per week to clean and cook, and pay the equivalent
of $20 USD per day. The daily rate is a bit lower if you have someone full time, live in. It is easy to find
gardeners, pool maintenance people, drivers, and guards.
3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?
There are a number of Western style gyms around, although they tend not to be air conditioned. They
are insanely cheap right now and on a sale you can get a membership for $9 USD per month.
4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?
5. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?
Best to have some Spanish. Locals are friendly and will go out of their way to figure out what you're
trying to say in Spanish. Not a lot of English except for the few wealthy Nicas.
6. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?
Yes. Sidewalks, ramps, and elevators are few and far between.
1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?
Local buses are inexpensive, but crowded and hot. Not recommended. Inter-city buses can be a bit better, but hiring a transfer service is a better way to go. Lots of taxis, just negotiate the fare before you get in. No trains.
2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?
Everyone will tell you that you have to bring/buy an SUV, but unless you're an avid hiker/surfer it isn't
necessary. I have a small sedan and I do just fine. Slow and steady sometimes, but I get there!
Phone & Internet:
1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?
Yes, decent speed and fairly quick install. Claro or Tigo are the main providers.
2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?
The same Claro and Tigo that do internet also do phones. It's a contentious rivalry, to the point where
some businesses have two lines (one each) so customers don't have to pay extra to call a number owned
by the other company.
Most people just use WhatsApp for voice and text.
My husband has a Google Fi plan that works perfectly.
Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:
1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?
Mostly telecommuting. Local jobs pay very little.
2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?
Dress is typical hot weather clothes. Very rarely will you see a suit jacket.
Health & Safety:
1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.
This is a very poor country and unemployment has skyrocketed with the pandemic decimating the tourist industry. You definitely don't want to flaunt your wealth here, and there are certainly places you want to avoid at night. However, if you are aware of your surroundings you should not have any issues. I have never felt unsafe here.
2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?
There is an excellent hospital in Managua, and many doctors and dentists in the country are US-trained.
3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?
Air quality is generally very good. There are a number of active volcanoes, so in some places the air can
be impacted by the constant small eruptions.
4. What do people who suffer from environmental or food allergies need to know?
Learn the Spanish words for your allergens. Shellfish allergies would be the hardest to avoid here.
5. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?
Two seasons: hot and wet (May to December) and hot and dry (January to April).
1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?
Much smaller than it was prior to 2018 and the unrest at that time. Then the pandemic hit just as the
economy was recovering. A number of NGOs have been decertified in the run up to the national election
in November of this year. In general the expats that are here are happy.
2. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?
Currently it is mostly small house parties.
3. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?
The single scene is a bit slow, but the only group I would not recommend Nicaragua for is families with
older children. There just is not enough for the teens to do.
4. Is it easy to make friends with locals here? Are there any prejudices or any ethnic groups who might feel uncomfortable here?
Generally Nicas are very friendly and welcoming. There is less machismo here than many other Latin countries, oddly.
5. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?
The country is beautiful. Food is fresh and cheap. We have met some lovely people.
6. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?
Lots of nature and hiking. Granada is a cute, touristy colonial town. Corn Island is a great getaway on the Caribbean side.
7. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?
Woodworking, pottery, textiles, coffee, chocolate, and flowers are all excellent.
8. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?
Words of Wisdom:
1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?
I wish I had known how stressful international travel would be from here. We had grand plans to see the region and it just isn't working out.
2. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?
3. If you move here, you can leave behind your:
Coats and high heels.
4. But don't forget your:
Sunscreen and mosquito repellant.