Who wouldn’t love to live in a small surfer town by the beach? Isn’t that the dream? When Chris and I decided we wanted to escape the Canadian winter, we knew we’d be back in Central America. We loved it here last year and were ready to explore a new part of it. Originally, we had planned to stay in Costa Rica, in Tamarindo or Playa Coco, but we weren’t able to find a place to stay in either of those towns. But we had a backup plan: San Juan Del Sur, Nicaragua. If we weren’t able to find anything in our budget in Costa Rica, we knew it we would in Nicaragua. So after looking for a few days, we crossed the border and completely fell in love with San Juan! It’s a great thing we also found an amazing house on our second day there. If you need some help finding your own apartment, I wrote a post with some tips on how to find a place to stay.
Note that the currency exchange at the time was 28 cordobas for $1 US.
Getting To San Juan Del Sur
We landed from Quebec City in Liberia, Costa Rica. We flew in with American Airline and were able to find flights for $420 CAD each. It’s not the cheapest, but it wasn’t crazy expensive either. Flights to Managua as usually a bit more expensive, though. The only reason we landed in Costa Rica is because we thought we’d be staying there.
We later had to cross the border, from Libera to San Juan Del Sur. We took a bus to the border for $3 US each, paid $8 US to Costa Rica as an exit tax, paid $12 US to enter Nicaragua and took a taxi for $40 US to San Juan Del Sur. You can actually get a taxi for $20/$25 US. It’s the normal price, we just got ripped off because we didn’t really know what the actual price for the ride was. If you’re crossing the border, it’s also good to have US dollars on you, as for some reasons, Nicaragua doesn’t take its own cordobas when you have to pay the entry tax.
We found a great two bedroom house a bit outside of town for $500 US + utilities. These are usually in the $50 US, as it includes the internet, electricity and water. We don’t have AC, so electricity isn’t very expensive for us. It’s not the most modern house there is, but it works great for us as we don’t hear the loud party music downtown. But even though we have to deal with chickens, we’ve got a great view and a cool patio on top!
If you want to eat for really cheap, Nicaragua is a place where you can do it! Chris and I, though, prefer to indulge when we can. That’s why we ended up spending around 12 600 cordobas ($450 US) on food, including restaurants. We actually go out quite often, generally twice a week. 2 000 cordobas ($70 US) go on restaurants, the rest is things we cook on our own. I have to admit, some meals are actually more expensive than if we’d decided to go out! But we like Asian food and avocados! (Both are a bit expensive here)
Because we’re back in Central America, there are expenses that we don’t have anywhere else, like water delivery and laundry. We buy big jugs of water from down the street, which are 60 cordobas ($2 US) each, every three days. That ends up being 600 cordobas ($20 US) per month for drinkable water per month for drinkable water.
We also don’t have a washing machine at our house, so we have to go in town to do that. Our average cost is 150 cordobas ($5 US) per week, which isn’t cheap, but it’s the only place that doesn’t lose a pair of underwear every week. Monthly, it’s another 600 cordobas ($20 US).
Note: Our budget in San Juan Del Sur is VERY close to what we were spending in Sofia, Bulgaria. What’s the difference then? We were watching were our money was going in Sofia, but we don’t in San Juan. Here, we like to have fun and go out often. In Sofia, we stayed in our apartment working most of the time.
So every month, we spend on average $1 040 US on food, rent and other expenses for two people. I don’t count transportation or any kind of touristic activity in that price. Only what comes back every month.
- Small Watermelon: 50 cordobas ($1.77 US)
- Avocado: 35 to 70 cordobas ($1.24 US to $2.50 US) each (depending on the season)
- Bananas: 6 for 10 cordobas ($0.35 US)
- Green Pepper: 10 cordobas ($0.35 US)
- Pineapple: 30 cordobas ($1.06 US)
- Pipa (Coconut): 20 cordobas ($0.70 US)
- Bag of chia seeds: 50 cordobas ($1.77 US)
- Bag of dry hibiscus: 10 cordobas ($0.35 US)
- Chicken Boneless Breast: 80 cordobas ($2.85 US) per pound
- Plantain Chips (large): 40 cordobas ($1.42 US)
- Nachos Chips (180 g): 30 cordobas ($1.06 US)
- Peanut Butter (40 oz): 235 cordobas ($8.36 US)
- Heinz Ketchup: 68 cordobas ($2.42 US)
- Coconut Milk in a can (14 oz): 90 cordobas ($3.20 US)
- Salsa (415 g): 98 cordobas ($3.49 US)
- Spaghetti Roma (250 g): 16 cordobas ($0.57 US)
- Barilla Pasta Sauce: 105 cordobas ($3.74 US)
- Rice 96% (2 kg): 75 cordobas ($2.67 US)
- Olive Oil (2 L): 495 cordobas ($17.61 US)
- Black Beans (10 oz): 49 cordobas ($1.74 US)
- Pinto Beans (10 oz): 54 cordobas ($1.92 US)
- Flour (2 kg): 60 cordobas ($2.13 US)
- Milk (1 L): 39 cordobas ($1.39 US)
- Komplete Cereal (460 g): 138 cordobas ($4.91 US)
- Bimbo Bread Grande: 39 cordobas ($1.39 US)
- Stick of Butter: 35 cordobas ($1.25 US)
- 12 Tall Toña Beers: 269 cordobas ($9.57 US)
- Vina Maipo Wine: 175 cordobas ($6.23 US)
- Flor de Cana Rum (1750 ml): 323 cordobas ($11.49 US)
- Colegate Toothpaste: 50 cordobas ($1.78 US)
- Banana Boat Sunscreen (236 ml): 365 cordobas ($12.99 US)
- Dove Soap: 35 cordobas ($1.25 US)