Expats moving to Nicaragua will be greeted by its soaring mountains, beautiful beaches, lush tropical forests and mesmerising volcanoes. For new arrivals, a laid-back lifestyle in a beautiful country with an interesting and complex history awaits.
Nicaragua is primarily an agricultural country, with other sectors such as construction, mining, fisheries and commerce expanding over the years. Expats are rarely involved in these industries due to the country's high unemployment rate, the scarcity of available positions and the typically low wages offered by such jobs. Though the expat community in Nicaragua is small, most can be found close to Leon, Granada or the country’s capital, Managua. Foreigners generally relocate to Nicaragua to retire or to set up a business. Teaching English is another popular choice.
Spanish is the official language of Nicaragua and those who make an effort to speak it will make better headway in interacting with the locals and immersing themselves in the culture. The Nicaraguan people have a reputation for being friendly, warm and welcoming to foreigners.
Nicaragua is home to some of Central America’s most modern medical facilities and many of the country’s doctors have been trained in the US and speak fluent English. Private hospitals are still the preferred choice among most expats, but these are only found in selected cities.
The public education system in Nicaragua is underfunded so expats tend to send their children to private or international schools. Waiting lists at international schools are often long, though, so it's best to make applications well ahead of time.
The cost of living in Nicaragua is low compared to North America and Western Europe. The fact the domestic help is inexpensive and readily available in Nicaragua also leaves expats with lots of time on their hands to enjoy all the activities the country has to offer.
From surfing, hiking and mountain biking to relaxing by the Caribbean Sea or volunteering at a local charity, there is something here to suit anyone's interests. It won't take long for expats to feel right at home in Nicaragua.
Population: 6.5 million
Capital city: Managua
Neighbouring countries: Nicaragua shares land borders with Honduras to the north and Costa Rica to the south, The Carribean lies to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west.
Geography: Nicaragua is home to a variety of climates and terrains. The country's physical geography can be divided into three zones – the Pacific lowlands, the wetter, cooler central highlands and the Carribean lowlands.
Major religions: Roman Catholicism
Political system: Unitary dominant-party presidential constitutional republic
Main languages: Spanish is the official language of Nicaragua but English is widely spoken.
Money: The Nicaraguan Córdoba (NIO) is divided into 100 centavos. Most major stores and restaurants will accept credit cards. ATMs are readily available in most towns and cities.
Tipping: 10 percent of the bill is the customary tip in restaurants, but is not obligatory.
Electricity: 120V, 60 Hz. Plugs here have two flat blades.
Internet domain: .ni
International dialling code: +505
Emergency numbers: 118 (police), 115 (fire department), 128 (Red Cross)
Transport and driving: Cars drive on the right-hand side of the road in Nicaragua. Nicaragua has a fairly extensive bus network that can be used to travel between all the major cities.
►For a list of national holidays, see Public Holidays in Nicaragua
Are you an expat living in Nicaragua?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Nicaragua. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
Expat Health Insurance
With 86 million customer relationships in over 200 countries, Cigna Global has unrivalled experience in dealing with varied and unique medical situations and delivering high standards of service wherever you live in the world.
Sirelo has a network of more than 500 international removal companies that can move your furniture and possessions to your new home. By filling in a form, you’ll get up to 5 quotes from recommended movers. This service is free of charge and will help you select an international moving company that suits your needs and budget.