Getting ready for the big move.

My name is Ralph and I am currently 56. My only income (that I would have down there) would be a military pension of $700 USD until I turn $62. At 62 my income will jump up another $1000.

After much research I selected Esteli as the best place for me to move (mild temperature).

I don't drink, smoke, or "party". I just want a quiet place to live, learn Spanish and get on with life. Obviously, $700 a month is not going to go very far in the US but it appears that it would be enough to sustain a moderate lifestyle in Nicaragua.

I am not a social person (I am such a guy) and pretty much live my life through the Internet so having a rock solid Internet connection is priority #1 for me.

Would it be better to live in town without a vehicle or outside and buy a small truck to make supply runs a couple times a month?

I would like to eventually purchase a hectare of land and erect a shipping container dwelling (or two or three) on it. If you don't know what a shipping container house is just Google it. You will be amazed what they are doing with them. Very exciting. Won't happen till I am 62 for sure.

Any retired US military peeps out there? I have some questions on getting medical coverage/reimbursements from Tricare.

Any chance I can open a bank account and start sending down a few bucks every month just to establish myself? Without a passport number and permanent resident status it does not look like I could so this. So stupid.

Any comments would be appreciated.

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Hello Ralph, with $ 700 for pension you will be able to apply and obtain Residency as retiree for 5 years, you can check this link for more info:

Best Regards

Paul Tiffer Attorney at Law


Dolores, and Diriamba are good choices both for the weather and the proximity to Managua, SJDS, Granada, etc. Cheap: in Dolores rent can be as low as 100 dollars for a comfortable place. in know many expats that live on less than Us$700/per month here.

American legion post

There is a post in Granada. You can find information about it on the Nicaragua Dispatch site with an email address. They can be very helpful.

easy, easy, easy

Moving to Nicaragua was very easy. Life here is easy. People are friendly and we are preferred customers almost everywhere we go, especially since we smile, say adios to everyone (the Spanish here is very local), have small change and bring our own bags. We ride the local buses everywhere and walk to any place we can. Even the street dogs are friendly. Please don't tell any rich people how nice it is here, the only people we have seen that aren't friendly are the rich foreigners, we want just plain folks...


On your decision to move here. On U$700 you will be able to live comfortably, not like a Sultan but not like a pauper either.

Going down your list

First, yes, you can live fine here on $700/mo based on your described lifestyle. That should be a non-issue.

Your best Internet connection options are in or close to town:

  • In town, both DSL and cable are available. I had DSL and it was very reliable. The few times it was done it was usually just Enitel's DNS server was sick—the connection itself was still up.
  • With a clear view of Enitel's south tower (near to public market) you can get up to 512Kb wireless connections. They used to be saturated but that was before DSL was available. I expect they are fine now.
  • Movistar offers 3.5G wireless from their tower near the central park.

As that was your main consideration, that may guide where you decide to move. Besides in the city, there are wireless connections available in Santa Cruz (about 10km south of Estelí on the Pan American highway) and in San Nicolas (about 10km west of Santa Cruz). There is little reason to consider a vehicle. Bus service is pretty amazing and cheap. Taxis in town are about $0.35 a trip and the Urbano buses are less than half of that.

Where it is noisy (and polluted) is pretty obvious—near the Pan American highway. Rentals will probably be easier to find in town (because there are more of them) but cheaper as you get away from it. As an example, I had a 2-bedroom, 1.5-bathroom house with garage about 2km north of the center of Estelí that cost $250/mo. You can easily pay more but you can also easily pay less.

As for buying land and such, that will be no problem. Just don't worry about it or jump into anything. You will build connections while living here and the right thing will come along. Word of mouth is king here.

You can open a bank account in at least Bancentro and Banco ProCredit with your current Passport and a couple of references from Nicaraguan legal residents. But, to do that, you will need to be here. As for deposits, wires work but most US banks don't seem to understand they are the norm in the world. I would expect you could mail checks to Bancentro but I am not sure. Banco ProCredit, last time I talked to them, were not dealing with international checks.

I am not sure why you find banking requirements so stupid. Try opening an account in the US without a pile of ID documents.

When you plan to head down, feel free to PM me about housing. My wife has lived in Estelí all her life and tends to know about places which are for rent and, being Nicaraguan, is more likely to avoid any Gringo prices.

Thanks for the info.

Why I stress Internet connectivity: I no longer have a TV connection (becoming common up here). All my entertainment comes through the Internet. When I hooked up with Netflix and started streaming HD shows my Internet usage went up to 350 GB a month. Comcast said, “We need to talk.” We settled on my going with Business Class Internet which is unmetered and costs an extra $15 a month. Yeah, I just threw money at the problem to make it go away. Using a VPN (Virtual Private Network) I can access exactly the same services anywhere in the world the same as I can right here in Vancouver, Washington. Obviously, the more bandwidth I have available the better. While I can “make due” with DSL a unmetered Cable connection would probably be a better solution. As a radio technician I understand all the limitations of a radio connection and I do NOT want to go there.

I do not want to live in a noisy area. It sounds like a out-of-town location would be best as long as I can get good Internet connectivity. I keep forgetting that taxi’s are so inexpensive so they could certainly supply all my transport needs cheaper than having a private vehicle.

It does not sound like opening a local bank account is worth the hassle. As to opening a bank account here in Vancouver, I recently did so with just my Drivers License. I would not call that a ton of paperwork. When I move to Nicaragua all I will need is an account number and routing number to have all my income direct deposited. I would prefer to have that already established before hand but it appears that the Empire of the United States is still going to be interfering in my life even before I move.


I could not get Netflix to stream here. I have a house 1 mile north of Esteli you might be interested in living in. You can use 3G there. PM me.


to get Netflix to work you need a USA IP addy(or if u have a Canada Netflix acct a Canada IP Addy)!! I'm sure there are black market ways to do it, or use a VPN such as that way t too u can watch USA channel legally!

My arithmetic

I did it really fast but came up with about 10Mb of connection. Good luck. No clue how much bandwidth cable TV will give you. I did go to Enitel's web page ( but did not even see that service mentioned. The fastest non-business aDSL is 4Mb. You can see all the info and rates on the same page.

In the US people are benefiting from the over-building of infrastructure during the dot-com boom. Broadband connectivity is new here. When I moved to Estelí my only option was VSAT.

In any case, you have pretty much limited your choices to either in-town or doing your own wireless link from someone in town.

It is the Empire of the United States which controls what Nicaraguan banks do. (And, yes, that is explained on this site.) I'll bet you needed an SSN. Well, here, your only real ID number is your cédula number.

Just use the Vancouver account but bring a spare ATM card

To start with anyway.

I'd get all the documents needed for residency

...ready after you make a preliminary trip here. I visited Esteli and Jinotega.

Internet seems to be better in town if you can get a wired connection. I'm renting, so I have a 3G modem. I had to have a cedula for a post-paid 3G modem, but I've read elsewhere that people have gotten that without a residency card (cedula).

I love being able to live without a car and everything I really need is in walking distance. If you're not adverse to the local buses, there are areas in the country that have hourly buses, and almost all areas on the Pacific side have one bus a day. Gas is expensive -- many people ride motorcycles and a lot of Nicaraguans ride bicycles, and horses are also in the mix.

Friends here put up a house built with local materials for under US $10,000, not counting land cost. I'm not sure you could put up a shipping container house any cheaper, especially considering hauling it to the site. Places on paved roads will be more expensive than places off, and getting containers to a site off might be interesting.

Word on the street is check out San Raphael del Norte, too. I haven't been but it's an easy bus trip from here. High pine forest area, not as many gringos.

You can have your pension deposited in a Nicaraguan bank, but I'd wait until you had residency and knew you were going to stay. There's an earlier thread on bank issues now that the US is leaning on non-US banks to tell them about Americans who have foreign accounts (and until you have residency, you're an American resident with a foreign account for IRS purposes). ATMs are all over the cities, but international rates have gone up recently with my US bank.

If you haven't visited, visit first if you possibly can. All cities in Nicaragua are full of advertising and funeral sound trucks, motorcycles with no mufflers, and barking dogs (mine was one of them last night), plus roosters and 4 a.m. major haulage trucks coming into town. I'm not bothered, but some people really are.

Rebecca Brown

"pretty much live on the internet"

I see another dome being built at Cool Top . . .

The Geek Ranch grows ---slowly.

Long live the geek!

I was one of the kids that played chess at the school library at lunch. All I read are SiFi books. I got into electronics with Heathkit and ended up fixing 2-way radios for 20 years in the military. Got into computers in 1985 and that's still 90% of what I do 26 years later. I wear my GEEK button proudly!

So... what is this Geek Ranch that you speak of?

p.s. Found some info: I think covers what the Geek Ranch is pretty good.


Maybe we can play chess sometime. I live in Ocotal, which is about an hour north of Estelí on the PanAmerican Highway. I live in the center of town and get around fine by foot in Ocotal and by bus to Esteli, Managua and other points.

The Geek Ranch is CoolTop

Just search this site for it. You won't miss it since the same guy, Phil (fyl), that owns the site also owns CoolTop!

It's what you have been dreaming of all your life King Ralph....

His Domeness will fyl you in on the details.

No more flush toilets for you. "You're with the barmy now".

haha, can I do a "Like" here?

punny comment Juanno!

Doors of hope fly open when doors of promise shut. -Thomas D'Arcy McGee

Come visit

I, too, moved to Esteli for the weather. It is an exceptionally bad choice for somebody who wants peace and quiet. Air pollution is another issue if you are sensitive to such things. It is also one of the most expensive places in live as far as housing goes, especially id you factor in quality. Shop around, there must be some other place that has internet connections. I would look at Somoto, but Condega is also worth a look. If I had it to do over again, I would probably look at the southern mountains in Chontales.

You can live just fine on $700 a month. To get comfy, bring down a quarter mil. If you view your life in Nic. as some sort of an extended camping trip it will help.

On your initial budget, a vehicle is a bad idea. You can get around just fine, sort of, on buses and cabs. When your social security kicks in you can access your need for a vehicle.

Come visit, see what you think.

"You can avoid reality, but you cannot avoid the consequences of avoiding reality." Ayn Rand


I have lived near Interstate 5 for many years. When I go away for a couple months my sinus problems go away. When I get back near it, they come back. If there is noticeable pollution trapped in the valley (similar to LA in California) I will probably steer clear.

A reader here sent me a PM suggesting San Jose de Los Remates. It actually looks just like the place I grew up in. We had 1200 people in town back there and it was just fine. Not much information on the Internet about it though. Looks to be about 1 hr drive East of Managua on a well paved road. Well within driving range, yet still up in the mountains a bit for cooler weather. Typical sleepy mountain village. Works fine for me.

To access US specific web sites you simply need to use a VPN to "pop up" on the Internet with a US IP address. I use this method to access England only web sites all the time, no problem.

I went to many countries while I was in the military. I have no hesitation about going to a place that I have never been to before and don't speak the language. With the hand held translators available for under $50 these days language is not going to be any concern what so ever.

I will also be looking for female companionship. I will be offering multiple High Def TV's and computers with speedy Internet as well as a comfortable house with everything that you would expect to have in the USA. From what I read I will probably have every available female within 500 miles trying to catch my eye. Such a hard life!

I have been chatting with Phil and I am afraid he lives too much off the grid for my tastes. I spend way too much time living in tents and eating MRE's to to want to be doing it at my age.

As far as getting a moving container ( where I want it... I still have my Class A license and a few years of experience. It will go where I tell it to go!

When I would be moving is a big question. My family owns a couple restaurant's ( When dad dies (79, in good health but both his sisters died this year) or if my brother dies (53, recently got cancer for the 2nd time) we will be selling off the business and I will be heading south. Might be next week, might be years. Just no way of knowing but as long as everyone hangs in there I am needed up here (Vancouver, WA).

"looking for female companionship"

There goes the budget. . .

Easy fix

marry up! It worked for George Washington, among others! jejeje

"You can avoid reality, but you cannot avoid the consequences of avoiding reality." Ayn Rand

What a let down...

Just as I was beginning to think that Ralph had a simple plan with simple needs, it all turned into a black humor Monty Python sketch with the whole plan revolving around loved ones dying!

Ralph, get a Mail Order Nica Bride and she can work the restaurants while you wait for the family to die off!!

And before you all start, how many people would have responded, or responded in the way you did, if his last post had been first?

As several of my friends tell me...

Not being able to stream video is a First World Problem.

I almost feel like finding the link to something about the 17 year old girl who killed her 50 something gringo lover a few years back who is out of prison now (like some others, I suspect that he told her that he was staying with his wife and the family killed him and cut him up with a chainsaw and put the pieces in various cow pastures).

I have heard of a Nicaraguan wife who married an old gringo becoming frustrated when the old gringo wasn't dying fast enough. The local term for what some women do is called "The funeral lottery."

I'm certainly an abuser of Google Translate myself, but I giggle imagining people taking a hand held translator to bed with them. Without a common language, it's not a relationship. Last year, I saw a gringo guy get terribly upset that his beloved told him she didn't love him. And he had less Spanish than I did.

Most of my Nicaraguan friends are bilingual, and two have arranged that I teach English lessons to improve my own Spanish. Moving here requires knowing enough Spanish to buy food and clothes, ask about people's health, understand basic warnings, and negotiate a Claro contract. And that's the minimal requirement. Otherwise, you're replying on the kindness of bilingual Nicaraguans who happen to be standing around, and sometimes they're not available. Plus the local dialects are different (I can hear the differences even without really knowing Spanish well).

I still think he should visit, and talk to old gringos who've married the young women. Maybe see about looking up the chick who killed Ken Kizer. She's still young, not quite 30 yet. Or talk to the guy whose girl friend that he was planning to marry cleaned him out while he was back in the US (post here, I think). His comment at the time was "She could have had so much more if she'd waited." My thought was that she knew what she was and didn't think he'd really be stupid enough to marry her, but overestimating gringos isn't that common.

Happens to women, too, as one expat woman here was partially cleaned out by her younger crackhead Nicaraguan boyfriend.

Your marriage seems to be one of the ones that worked, but I get the impression that not all of them do, and the women who go for guys because of the stuff can arrange to have the stuff leave with them, one way or the other. Indigenous cultures tend to produce really strong women. That Nicaragua wasn't what I expected was a delight for me, but for the guys who are expecting compliant submissive women, please, please, come on down. You'll be well taken care of.

Rebecca Brown


..I have heard of a Nicaraguan wife who married an old gringo becoming frustrated when the old gringo wasn't dying fast enough. The local term for what some women do is called "The funeral lottery."

When I die all income stops. She now has no provider and no place to live. It would be entirely my fault if I did not ensure that she knew this from day one and demonstrate that keeping me alive for as long as possible is highly desirable. I plan on living to 110 BTW!

Also, I do not believe I ever mentioned marriage. I said companionship. A live in domestic could easily be all the companionship I am looking for. And when did I say I wanted someone young?! Egad, I shudder at the very thought!

Anyway, even if she ends up taking all the electronic toys and runs I can replace everything in a couple months, including her! Since I replace all that stuff every couple years anyway I don't see it as all that much of a hardship. I wish her well, bring on the new shiny!

..but I giggle imagining people taking a hand held translator to bed with them. People talk in bed? Also, now days you push a button, say your phrase, push the button again and it speaks it back translated. Not quite up to the Star Trek Universal Translator but it's getting there!

..Without a common language, it's not a relationship. Lol, women and their relationships. Men are just not that complicated. They only want a few things and just let everything else slide. A clean home, the occasional meal and some entertainment (yes, sex falls in this category). That's it! (Poking fun here) Not understanding her when she is yammering on about her 2nd cousins daughter just got the cutest puppy does not sound like a negative in my book!

..Happens to women, too, as one expat woman here was partially cleaned out by her younger crackhead Nicaraguan boyfriend. This happens every single day, in every country of the world, to both sexes. I won't say "Be ready for it" but I will say that it does happen and you can at least have a mental checklist of what to do if it happens to you.

..Your marriage seems to be one of the ones that worked My marriage worked? Hardly. After 26 years she got the house, everything in the house, the car and the bank account. I got to keep my books, one computer and one half my pension. That is why I would only have $700 a month income. If I had the full pension I would be living in Nicaragua already!!!

My marriage worked? Hardly....

Well, it seemed to have "worked" for one of you? And, you already have experienced the "funeral Lottery" following the death of the marriage. So, once bitten, twice shy?

I was reply to Juanno, who actually does have

a happy marriage.

$700 a month here basically makes you slightly better than lower middle class Nicaraguan if you're living in the cities, and not really remarkably well off in the country (there are some seriously rich people in Nicaragua, and now some who have technical jobs for the power company or the telcos who make about what you're getting as a pension or more).

Rebecca Brown

21 yrs ago....

" , say your phrase, push the button again and it speaks it back translated. Not quite up to the Star Trek Universal Translator but it's getting there! "

This was my wife and I... Casio pocket translator with 10,000 words some $ 180CDN in 1990... She would type in a word at a time and scribble an english sentence.. Then I would type in word for word and create my Spanglish sentence...

But it all worked out in the end (so far) ...

But by far the best info you have received is to visit... Visit once, return home, reflect upon the visit. Return to Nica a second time to confirm your reflection and if it works you will be hooked..


Yeah it's black humor but that's the way it is. The reason I brought it up is that people kept sending me PM's asking when I was coming down, that they would meet me at the airport, that (insert town name here) is without a doubt the best place to live bar none!

Last Tuesday a blood vessel burst in brothers throat. His wife woke up to his gasping and spewing blood. The Doc said it was a miracle he made it to the hospital. Two days ago dad's 2nd sister passed away (so both went this year). Today bro was in the hospital to have skin taken off his arm and made into a lining for his throat. Bro's 16 year old daughter is in Japan as an exchange student and we are not telling her he has cancer again. (Not my decision to keep it secret.)

I am putting in 60 hrs a week doing nothing but critical jobs that no one else can do without weeks of training. I only get paid for working Saturday and that is only because the IRS insisted that I have some kind of reported income and pay some taxes.

Ralphie is wanting a quiet, even boring lifestyle at this point.

p.s. And I have thought a lot about going the mail order bride route but there are so many problems (besides language) with that it's just not worth it right now.


I was pointed to a blog at

He pretty much hit all my buttons with costs, safety, medical availability, the the ability to get stuff if I really want it.

Being retired military I have medical coverage (no medical problems). I would have to pay up front but I have all the information needed to get reimbursed (eventually) so I have no concerns about that... as long as the treatment is available. If I was to get married the wife would also get the same medical coverage (reimbursement) as myself .Most people consider this a BIG plus, and it will go away when I die so I am not too concerned about this lotto thing.

I have no concerns about wandering into someplace with no advance warning. As long as I can get a place to sleep and eat it's all good. The above blog demonstrated 2 people living WELL for $700 a month.

I don't drink or smoke, will not own a vehicle and eat very simply at home. I am converting my diet to mostly veggies (dang high sugar/starch american food!) and if it will ever quit raining here I will get back into my 3 mile walks (lifting dumb bells while I walk).

Brother died on 2 January. Looks like I am stuck here as his wife wants to keep the business going for now so I am covering about 80% of the stuff he used to do. Family, what ya gonna do?

Lol, I can still dream while waiting for my situation to change. :)

If you marry, benefits do not stop with your death

Then you become a "lottery" pawn. If that is a concern to you. Health Care benefits, life insurance, even a retirement check can accrue to the surviving spouse. Caution.

More power to you

if you're looking for female companionship, you hit the lottery, just stay away from that guy Kinsey's chick, what a wackoo murderer, remember there are a lot of gold-diggers out there, try the churches for a nice girlrl/lady



And so another thread on Nica Living

Goes off into Cuckoo Land.....

Yeah But It's

cheap entertainment, and included a few nuggets of information.