life in nicaragua

Moving to Nicaragua

Nicaragua Score
Shithole Paradise

What is Nicaragua?

moving to nicaragua flag

Nicaragua is a gorgeous Central American nation, with plenty of lakes and volcanoes

The Republic of Nicaragua is a decently sized Central American country, most commonly known for its beautiful nature, poverty and volcanoes.

It’s the largest country in the area, and it borders Honduras and Costa Rica, with the Caribbean in the east and the Pacific Ocean in the west.

Only about 6 million people live here, and as is usual in Latin America, Spanish is the official language.

It used to be largely a Spanish colony, until it gained independence in 1821.

A small part of it, however, was actually a British colony, and turned into an autonomous territory in 1860.

Again, as is the rule with these kinds of countries, after gaining independence, Nicaragua has seen dictators, civil unrest, occupations (by the beneficent US), and all kinds of crises – even in recent history.

Currently, Nicaragua is a presidential representative democratic republic, with the president having quite a lot of power.

Speaking of which, president Daniel Ortega neatly circumvented his supposedly last term in government in 2012, and is currently still in power – amid reports of large-scale voter fraud, arrests of dissidents, and so on. Of course.

Since Ortega’s rise to power, personal freedom has gone down significantly, and this factor alone makes Nicaragua a very iffy option to permanently move to – but that’s not to say there aren’t good sides to it.

Nicaragua is one of the poorest countries in the Americas (second behind shithole Haiti), which sucks for the locals, but seems like a decent situation for people like us with a western-sized international income – on which you don’t have to pay taxes.

If you’re a fan of beautiful tropical nature, Nicaragua is right up your alley.

It’s known as the “land of lakes and volcanoes”, has the second largest rain forest of the Americas, and plenty of interesting animals and plants, lakes and beaches.

Nicaragua can be divided into three geographical regions: lowlands, highlands and the coastal areas.  

As you can imagine from a country with dozens of volcanoes, earthquakes can and do occur, and even nearly destroyed the capital of Managua on multiple occasions.  

While Nicaragua scores surprisingly well regarding gender equality (5th in the world in 2020, what the fuck?), there’s nonetheless a serious issue with violence against women, and it has one of the highest rates of sexual violence against girls in the world.

Gays don’t have it easy, and they’re being discriminated against on all levels.

moving to nicaragua map
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Moving to Nicaragua requirements

The requirements for moving to Nicaragua are very mild, and should be within reach for anyone wanting to escape the West.

You can enter the country visa free for up to 90 days if you’re from a Western country, and you can get a residence permit through investment or when you retire here.

The cost of living is pretty damn low, considering half of the population manages to scrap by on $1 a day.

English proficiency in Nicaragua isn’t great officially, but if you move to the eastern coastal area, English is actually an official language there.

If you know Spanish (which isn’t hard to learn), you should be fine everywhere in the country.

As usual, the main and only true requirement for moving to Nicaragua is having your own source(s) of self-employed, location-independent international income.

Benefits of living in Nicaragua

  • Beautiful nature

    Nicaragua has gorgeous beaches, jungles, volcanoes, parks, lakes, and all kinds of other natural vistas

  • Low cost of living

    Nicaragua is very cheap, and if you make $1,000 a month you should be absolutely fine

  • Spanish

    Nicaragua is a Latin country, and Spanish is its official language – which is easy to learn and can be used in most other surrounding countries

  • Real estate

    You can purchase real estate here at a low price, which allows you to get permanent residence

  • Good logistics

    Moving to Nicaragua is easy due to not needing a visa in advance, and a pretty easy permanent residence option

  • Delicious food

    Nicaraguan cuisine is rather tasty and healthy

  • Growing economy

    Its economy isn’t booming like countries such as Vietnam, but is most definitely on the rise

  • Pleasant climate

    Do you like sunshine, warm weather and high temperatures? Then you’ll love Nicaragua

  • No taxes on international income

    No taxes on international income

living in nicaragua

Disadvantages of living in Nicaragua

  • Natural disasters

    Nicaragua has quite a lot of volcanoes, many of which haven’t erupted in eons, but plenty which are still active and have erupted in recent history

  • Political instability

    Nicaragua’s ruled by a dictator, and you can guess the kind of shit this brings along with it. It usually won’t affect your personal life – unless you mess with the government

  • Low English proficiency

    Nicaraguans score “Low” when it comes to English proficiency, but this is alleviated by the English speaking region in the east, and the fact that Spanish is its official language

  • Poor

    Nicaragua is a pretty poor country, which is great in terms of a low cost of living, but sucks when you consider the average level of education, infrastructure and so on. A poor population is also more likely to resort to crime

  • Iffy safety numbers

    While Nicaragua doesn’t have a terrorism problem, other crime rates above average. Especially rape against (young) girls is prevalent in this society, and while this may not affect you, it might if you have children

Moving to Nicaragua - by the numbers

Nicaragua Score
Shithole Paradise

Climate: 7.3/10

Hours of sunshine (9/10) Temperature (6/10) Rainy days (8/10) Humidity (6/10)
33 C – 90 F

Level of English: 4/10

Low Proficiency

Cost of Living: 9/10

Minimum Annual Wage Average monthly cost single person

Taxes on international income: 10/10


Foreign sourced income isn’t taxed.

If you earn income from Nicaragua, you’ll be taxed up to 30%.

Economic growth: 7/10

Average GDP growth over the last 10 years: 3.2%

It usually hovers between 4 and 6%, but 2018-2020 saw a dip in the market, somewhat alleviated by the +10% in 2021.

Safety: 6/10

Global Terrorism Index (10/10) Intentional homicide rate (5/10) Rape rate (3/10)

Visa: 8.5/10

  • Visa (9/10)

    Most westerners can enter Nicaragua visa free, valid for 90 days within 180 days. This could be extended in theory.

  • Permanent Residency (9.5/10)

    If you want to stay longer than 3 months, you usually have to apply for a residence permit, which allows you to stay here for 1 to 5 years. This is their version of “permanent” residence. You can get this through Investment, such as in your own business or in real estate (minimum of $30,000) or a Retirement Residence Permit (45+, $600 per month income, $1,250+ of monthly passive investment income).

  • Citizenship (7/10)

    After a few years on a residence permit, you could go for citizenship. This is usually 4 years, but it could as fast as 2. Unfortunately, for most Westerners, dual nationality isn’t allowed (unless you’re from Argentina, Central America, Italy or Spain)

nicaragua as foreigner

How is life in Nicaragua for foreigners?

Life for expats in Nicaragua can be surprisingly good actually.

I didn’t have high hopes for this country upon embarking on my research, but as you can tell from the benefits and the score it gets, Nicaragua’s really not that bad.

There are the obvious upsides, such as the low cost of living, no taxes on your international income, affordable beach-fronted real estate, the great climate, decent logistics and beautiful nature.

For some, these might already be enough to convince them to move to Nicaragua, but keep in mind the obvious downsides as well, such as the political situation, natural disasters, iffy crime rates, and the fact that it’s a poor country.

That being said … there aren’t any major red flags which would exclude this country from my recommendations.

Nicaragua seems like a really decent option for setting up some Bases in, especially Assets (real estate) and Residence (through real estate).

I wouldn’t live there permanently, but having it as one of your Bases to visit sometimes and explore the beauty this country has to offer seems like a valid option.

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