Jinotega or Matagalpa?

Is there much difference between the two towns?

Other than Matagalpa being a little closer to Managua and a little bigger they seem identical.

Also, numerous people say you can find a decent place to live for under $200 US a month. With food so cheap how could it cost someone $600-700 a month just to live?


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Another Possibility

We bought a place here some years back (seller backed out of the deal). I liked it there very much. Kind of hard to get to . . .fly into Tegus, short flight to La Ceiba, then 6 hour drive.

There used to be an airport (still is, but you have to drive across it ((look both ways for landing planes)) so it doesn't meet current security requirements.

Area IS pretty! They grow apples up in the hills.


where in jinotega did it happen?

was reading the internet site "NICA GAZETTE" and saw a report of event happened around a week ago...it says unknown men armed with AK-47s opened fire with eight people shot or maybe 8 killed and some wounded...Dont count on my details accuracy here...i am all set to be in jinotega/matagalpa area when i get through panama/costarica....The report said jinotega- but seemed to imply the actions related to cattle disputes in norte autonomous region and the fear of rebel militants reforming after recent deaths of former militant leaders...Said something about the old myth of rebels in the woods being used by crooks to get away with cattle theft and such...i'm still coming that way, but wondering if anyone in jinotega town proper knows if it happened way out around the autonomous region borders?Or where?

I don't know how you came up with Jinotega on this story

But here it is in RAAS


Police suspect it was "Pasada de cuentas"

Settle an old score, old debts etc.



Correct my bad info

So my post about jinotega shooting was not really a good info source but more of inquiry on what i thought i read...I had hard time finding the web site again to read it carefully because i dint even get the name of the wbsite right..i thought it was nica gazette,but no,it took a while to find it in THE NICARGUA DISPATCH...the opening line said jinotega but the only clear event location was south autonomous region,so I am not clear if the writer was writing out of jinotega or alluding to one of 2 incidents happening in jinotega? I am mostly inquirey here and not giving the info,go to the web site if interested and if anyone cares to inform me better about if jinotega was involved,i would be happy.....I am still coming to Jinotega/Matagalpa area hoping to find people there alive and well...

Jinotega or Matagalpa

I just returned from 3 weeks in Jinotega and spent two days looking at rentals around and in Matagalpa.

Jinotega (J) has more trash on the streets. J streets and sidewalks are in much poorer repair and in M I saw several crews repairing roads and sidewalks.Not so in J. M has 3 or 4 banks, J has one. M has more restaurant and store choices. M has several neighborhoods in which most of the houses are nice and comparable while J is more one nice (painted, well kept, clean, good roof) house and then 3 run down next door. M is warmer by several degrees F. The J free hospital has a good staff but they are short of some basic resources. The pharmacy in the hospital is pretty limited but private pharmacies are well stocked unless you need certain psych meds like lithium, Aricept, Namenda, atypical antipsychotics which don't exist in either J or M (I'm in health care). I found very nice ~1600 sq ft, furnished homes, 3br, 2 bath in M for $500-600. Nicer rentals are harder to come by in J. I have friends who have been waiting for 4 months for theirs to be finished. Small fincas outside M, 3/1, recently remodeled $250.

J is obviously poorer in some infrastructure and has fewer Norte Americano-like amenities. The area and hills around J are prettier (I think) and it is cooler.

From my investigation...it would be hard to find a move-in ready unfurnished house ~900 sq ft mas or menos, recently painted, 2 or 3 BR, with ceramic tile throughout, indoor plumbing, a serviceable kitchen with a gas or electric stove (not wood), 1 or 2 bath with suicide shower for less than $300-400 in J or M within walking distance 10 minutes of el Centro. Go outside the cities and if you can find such a house, you will pay less. I did see apartments, very nice, 2/1 over a store in Centro for $250 in M. Remember most houses or apartments do not come with any appliances.

Regarding health care, Nicaragua spends $254 per capita per year on health care and has a life expectancy of 74 years. The US spends $7,500 per capita per year and has a life expectancy of 79 years. Add one year to the Nica's to offset their 3 times higher high infant mortality rate and I'm not sure less medicine is worse. My observation is the difference in life expectancy has less to do with medical care but cooking with poorly vented wood fires in the house (lots of pulmonary disease), less education outside cities and malnutrition (limited variety in the diet due to poverty). But off my soapbox.

In either J or M you will find kind, hospitable, friendly, generous people. Go and enjoy.

1 very important stat..

I read 2 years ago that Matagalpa has the highest hiv positive population in Nicaragua,followed by Jinotega.

Maybe too many days without light or tv??

If you're an retired elder(way beyond sexual desires), no need to worry, if you're out there looking for "love" watch out.

Giving my option on where to live, I would definitely choose Jinotega,I've always though Matagalpa was a $hithole,specially the way the city is laid out??? you have to see it from the highest point, it's a freaking hill with houses sprouting all over the sides of it. JMO anyhow.

The hills of Matagalpa

I was hoping having a house on a hill would increase by cardiovascular fitness.

Jinotega has more than one bank

BAC is on the main street going south, the other three are on the corner near the church and the park, northeast side, and one of those has a branch on the main street going south. I've used all of them at various times. There's also a coop bank of some kind that I've been to once, couldn't tell you where it was.

Given that you didn't see them, I wonder where in Jinotega you were for three weeks.

I found a house near me for $200 recently, but it was gone very quickly. The Jiinotega rental market is rather like that in NYC -- if the house is priced right for the location, it's gone in a day or two.

You bring your own stove, refrigerator, and sometimes do some minor plumbing and electrical work on these houses. Most people use gas cooktops rather than full stoves with ovens, though a significant minority have full ovens. I have a cooktop. If you're looking to have your hand held like a gringo, you'll pay gringo prices.

Many people start out with the $500 a month house and end up in something for $250 (friends who have a very nice two story house near the center of Jinotega). I know of apartment just outside the main part of town that were renting for $130 a month, still in the urban fabric, just not really close to the center of town. Nothing in Jinotega is more than 30 minutes away by foot.

I'm paying $79 a month for half a house.

Most of the houses, shabby or not, are amazingly solidly built.

Rebecca Brown

My mistake

Maybe I only saw one bank in Jinotega because it is the only ATM I used. My error on the banks. My apologies to the Jinotega financial community. As far as housing goes I was looking for something in almost gringo like conditions as I would be bringing my 90 year old Mom with me and she is a fall risk. So nice floors, one level, and an environment close to what she is familiar with would make the transition easier for her. By the way I am enjoying my beautiful black dress boots (roper heel, rounded toe) made for me by Mario. In Jinotega I stayed at Mision Para Cristo across from the north bus station.

So far in 6 years

I`ve seen one US type house here in the north, with a charming back yard with lawn. The excessive number of stairs and bumps in the houses here are a nuisance and hazard, and you are in for some serious remodeling if you want convenience and safety. Ramps with handrails might be your best option, but you will have to go through the learning curve with your workmen as these things are generally not understood here. Ceramic tile that is less slippery is available. They use it in showers--you will use it everywhere.

It`s a pity that there is no modern housing development here, but the cost of doing anything right would push the prices too high.

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

great write up!

can i get you to do all my nica research?

"Maybe, just once, someone will call me 'sir' without adding, 'you're making a scene." -Homer J. Simpson

Great if you like it all wrong

which is probably just the way you like it.

When someone gets a basic reality wrong, the opinions cease to matter. There is not just one bank in Jinotega.

If you're looking for a house where you have gringo expectations about things like having it painted and equipped with a stove and hot water shower head, then you'll pay gringo prices. If you look for a place with the understanding that you'll be the one putting in the stove and the hot water shower head (if you need one), you'll get a place closer to a Nicaraguan price. The cost of doing these things yourself is far less than paying $500 a month for being fussy.

I've been here now over a year -- and I've priced various things for rent and seen what sorts of things other people are living in. Some person who can't find the other three banks in town isn't likely to know what the best prices are for houses.

Rebecca Brown


Ms. Brown,

I'm disappointed in the harshness of your responses. "Fussy", "can't find the other three banks in town" , "opinions cease to matter" are mean spirited. I apologized for my oversight on the banks. I would hope ex-pats in the Nicaragua would offer advice and boots on the ground help, not chastisement, for people trying to figure out the transition to the country.

You are correct. I do not know the best prices for houses in Jinotega after only three weeks there. I wouldn't expect anyone to know the real estate market anywhere in 3 weeks. If someone pays a $100 more for a house than they could have, well, a lesson learned. Or maybe they choose to pay $100 more because the family renting the property clearly could benefit from the money and it is no big deal for the gringo. Is that stupid or generous? Perhaps we could reframe the situation in that you have specialized knowledge about rentals in Jinotega and it would be a kind service to offer your advice to me rather than rub my nose in my self-admitted ignorance.

Is there a competition in Nicaragua to determine who can live the cheapest with the fewest amenities (like paint)? I met ex-pats who brag about how little they pay their Nica help. Then I met one woman who told me she paid her father's caregiver $250 a month for 40 hours a week which, I learned, is significantly above the usual wage for such work. She explained that just because she could exploit her Dad's caregiver didn't mean she wanted to do so.


Rebecca, I don't like you.......

I love you! You are not all wrong, are you?

"Maybe, just once, someone will call me 'sir' without adding, 'you're making a scene." -Homer J. Simpson

im going to agree..

with u on this one..most people come down here..and want to live like they do in the states..well/// there not in the states..i live like a middle class nica. and am happy...off topic..but i havent heard anyone complaining about..i cannt get good dog food for me dog..down here..for awhile

At the north end of the small strip mall...

C. Masaya at the entrance to Vivian Pellas, I think it was a a vets with some hi-tec looking sacks of Beyer etc.

hi juanno..

i just threw the dog food thing in to be a jerk..i luv to here these guys come down and cry.about ..the suicide shower heads..i caant find this or that..or what ever they want to complain about..this is a 3rd world country..not the usa or canada..enjoy it like it is..for me its better living here than there

If I were going to put in something for hot water...

....I'd be asking the guys out at Jaguar where they got the gas point of use heaters -- those will get the water really hot. But my skin started flaking after an admittedly really comfortable hot water shower at El Jaguar. Like a lot of things, hot water is not as good for you as it feels, not that some mornings, I don't cringe a bit before stepping under the shower.

The most expensive house I've seen recently was $350 US a month, very big and quite elegant (couple blocks south of here) and the owner had another one for $250 that I didn't see. I don't know where those $500 a month houses in Jinotega are hiding, probably in houses that would go for $250 a month to a local.

Most people from the States would probably want drop ceilings. I've learned that they hide a multitude of critters and roof leaks, and dust. You have to live here a while and chase out some pigeons and bats to appreciate why you want a plain roof. I can get masonry and tile very clean, use a power hose on it, even bleach it. I don't think anyone can do the same with the cardboard and gypsum walls in the US or on wooden floors.

The $200 house I saw a few weeks ago had an interesting roof -- metal with a foam-looking lining, almost as if it was sprayed on or laminated to the roof.

Rebecca Brown


I got bit by one of those suicide shower heads in Managua and that's why I put in a hot water heater when the house was built.

alls u have..

to do is grabit hard and fast..and u wont get bit..its when u play with it u get bit

Old Nica folklore says check the water with your tongue...

If you get a good tingle, get under the shower!!!

Its kinda like Sopa de Marisco.

P.S. Don't try this on a 220 system.

Dog food: I can get Bayer and a couple of others

The Cargill-produced stuff is loaded with sugar -- the ants hit it about fifteen minutes after I put it down if Lola doesn't finish it off first. Alpo and the various others seem to be less loaded with sugar. When Lola was growing rapidly, I supplemented with raw chicken wings. What I've got right now is Pedigree. I think the Bayer brand is Vivo or something like that. I prefer the Alpo (as does Lola), but it's not always available in bags that look relatively new. Read the bag's labels very carefully. Cargill is in small print on their bags (the brand is something else), but they do list the sugar as a main ingredient.

For Jinotega: If people try to work through a real estate broker, they can be sure that they're going to hear the gringo price for everything. Most people in Jinotega would not bother with a real estate agent because if the price is right, they can rent the place and make money on it before the real estate agent could have it listed. The only reason to list with a real estate agent is to get gringos to pay more. There's a kid in town who has set up as a real estate manager and broker to the gringos but my impression of him isn't terribly good. He decided to skip our appointment even though he claimed to have some properties he managed that were going for $100 to $120.

If people want to live like they did in the US, Europe, or Canada, it's cheaper to live in the US.

Rebecca Brown


I just got back from Chiang Mai Thailand and can tell you that it is very possible to live inexpensively with a much,much,much higher level of infrastructure,diversity..some of the worlds best beachs..food. Great restaurants when you want them and live like a local when you want to. Some of the best doctors and hospitals in the world. Rent $300 month. Run your car cheap on LPG. Shopping as modern as anything anywhere. Unemployment at 2% great economy. If you are single its paradise. Best massage in the world ..inexpensive. Chiang Mia alone has 60,000+ expats. Cheap internal flights to island and beaches.

We are going off-topic here

We are going off-topic here ....whatever...

Re: Chiang mai.....easy to get fan-cooled 'studio' apts for 100$.....zillions around...

seems like

you have factored quality into the equation. Nicaragua is cheap only if you like to rough it. Quality -of-lifers need not apply.

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


what about myanmar?

"Maybe, just once, someone will call me 'sir' without adding, 'you're making a scene." -Homer J. Simpson

Nica Living at medium to high end,

I suppose if one really came here to live as cheaply as possible there would be no better place ... in my humble opinion to do that well (1) you speak, write and understand Nica spanish very well, and (2) have a very generous, hospitable, non-judgmental, flexible personality... the type of person who makes friends easily, is curious, values difference and spends more effort listening than advocating, (doesn't have a materialistic bone in their body, and (4) live outside a Department City in a very modest dwelling.

As for a "budget", since 2004 my monthly expenses have been roughly: gas $150/month, insurance, $120, utilities, $150, food $300, Pricesmart shopping $400, medical/dental $50, condo pmt / rent $450, TV and Cell/Internet $120, eating out $100, clothing $50, gifts $50, housekeeper $150, books and supplies $50, repairs $75, etc., etc., etc. another $250. Add another $200 a month to prorate costs of travel to and from Nicaragua and the US.

MN Tola y El Rosario

Med to high end

$2700 a mo. is a lot in Nica. You are fortunate. My wife, mother in law and I (w/dog & parrot) will be looking for a long term rental in either Jinotega or Matagalpa come January. 3 Br/3Bth. hopefully. If anyone knows of some places or people we should check out, please let me know. And by the way, we are retiring in Nica because I love the people. I have been vacationing there since the mid 70's. My wife is from Managua & I from New Orleans. We are doing this for a better quality of life. Money is realitive. Attitude is everything.

You can do that

in Jinotepe too! US$200 per month is not cheap. if you do not have basic expenses such as cable, interent, etc at home, then the following is are realistic figures:

1. rent - US$150 for a decent place. cheaper is also possible. Places like Dolores offer cheaper alternatives and are only 15 minute walk to Jinotepe and about 30 minute walk to diriamba. 2. Cable - US$20 3. Water US$5 (that's high) 4. Garbage : US$1.5 5. Light (Electricity): US$50(that is high average) 6. Internet US$50 7. gas $10 / month for 1 person

These are you basics:

Food: About $5 to $10 or less per day depends on what you buy and how you eat. (note that is much more than what the average Nica would spend on food)

I would thinkit would be the same in Matagalpa and Jinotega. but to me they are very far.

I think the distances between places are greater in the north

My electric is much less than that, but was that high for a while when someone was stealing from the house. Cheaper is possible here, but this is all a "it depends" thing. $300 gets something quite elegant (coffee finca owners had and sometimes still have money, so there are some very nice things around). $100 to $120 gets a basic house. I'm paying C$1700 for half a house, one bedroom, bath, kitchen, nice sized sala.

Internet is around $43 a month for a USB 3G modem connection. Until I get a house with a lease, I don't think it's worth the hassle of getting a fixed connection.

From Managua south, there are more towns closer together -- beyond that observation, I only spent some time in traffic in Masaya and an overnight at Laguna Apoyo. Managua is much closer to the southern town and cities, if getting into Managua is important to you, and the southern cities and town are also closer to each other.

Jinotega and Matagalpa are thirty minutes apart by bus, and those are the closest two cities.

I like the weather here. If anyone wants colder, there's San Raphael del Norte, about thirty minutes from Jinotega but much smaller, and some other places I don't know as much about (an acquaintence here living in SRdN). Matagalpa is supposed to be warmer; Esteli is warmer.

$5 to $7 a day is reasonable. I split the difference between eating Nicaraguan and eating gringo. I have a cook top that is economical enough that I buy a 25 lb. tank of gas about every six months, something like $4 a month last time I figured it. Garbage appears to be taken care of by the landlady's agents.

Needing a car or air-conditioning will raise the minimum nut required considerably. Gas is more expensive than in the US. While insurance is cheaper, the complications of seriously injuring or killing someone in an accident are greater than they might be in US.

At this point, the local free health system will take care of resident aliens (and perhaps tourists, but I don't know that for a fact). Most expats here don't go there; the expat who does has been quite satisfied by his care there.

Rebecca Brown

Health care experience

Mine's limited but here's what I've seen and heard:

On a blog online somewhere (I wish I could find it again) there was an ex-pat couple probably near SJdS who had a baby. One day said baby started getting really sick. Mom suggested they try to save money by visiting the local clinic. The local clinic's diagnosis was "an infection" and they supposedly prescribed an antibiotic shot. Mom immediately freaked out and ran away before the baby received treatment. She took said baby to a private practice and they diagnosed the baby with pneumonia. After about 2+ weeks of treatment (no shots if I remember right), the baby was finally better. A lot of these details are fuzzy to my memory but I distinctly recall that the public health clinic had misdiagnosed the baby with something less serious than what was wrong.

Unfortunately for the clinics' reputation, my girlfriend had a similar experience, but less serious. I was there for this one. She had a terrible pain in her head; between her ears and in and behind her throat. The doctor in the free health clinic in Managua told her that she had "inflammation of the ear" and it was most likely an infection. She got a prescription for antibiotics but didn't have it filled (seeing a pattern here with the clinic doctors?). Instead we headed to Esteli where she went to a private doctor to have it looked at. This doctor said that she had a nose or sinus infection and that her ears were dry in part because of the infection. The doctor showed my girlfriend how inflamed the inside of her nose was with a camera. She got a prescription for antibiotics from this doctor and had it filled. The problem went away within days. We suspect the second doctor was correct.

I have more experience with a private dermatologist but the jury's still out on that one.

BOTTOM LINE: I have limited experience. However I have not seen any evidence to suggest the clinics are worth your time.

Good and Bad Doctors Everywhere

I have had an "ear problem" twice since I move to Nicaragua. The first time I sent to the office of a doctor in private practice in Estelí and he cured it. Unfortunately with antibiotics which I personally feel was not called for.

The second time my mother-in-law made me an appointment at the dispensary a few blocks away. It is a non-profit operation where you pay C$1 (really!) for your appointment. The doctors volunteer. The doctor there was Dra. Molina who also has a private practice and works in the hospital. She takes six patients in the dispensary twice a week.

I expressed my anti-antibiotics position and her response was total agreement. She said that antibiotics were overused because "they were easy". She looked at the ear and came up with something which was not an antibiotic and pointed out I could get the prescription filled anywhere but the dispensary did have this and, as they were non-profit, it was probably cheaper. I bought it for about C$100 and it worked like a charm.

I have heard there is an excellent (Cuban) surgeon in the government hospital in Estelí. I have relatives who have had fairly serious operations for free there and are fine. Bottom line is that there is no one best solution. Word of mouth should be your guide.

Honey + Garlic

warmed up in a spoon over a candle and poured into the ear (minus the garlic). Old timers ear infection cure from Bluefields.

flor de jicaro

is what my aunt used to treat ear ache , it work fast and like a charm.

My impression is that it's going to depend on location

What I've needed to have taken care of has been taken care of by private doctors and costs have been around what co-pays would have been in DC suburban Virginia. (B) broad spectrum antibiotics take care of a range of bacterial infections -- all oral or injected medication is systemic, not topical. Antibiotics are useless for viral infections (pneumonia can be either).

Here many of the doctors who have private practices also work in the clinics, so what you get either privately or in the clinic can be from the same doctor.

I paid $17 US for diagnosis and meds to treat conjunctivitis. My co-pay would have been more in the US. Same guy works in the clinic. The Cuban-trained EENT doctor near me also works in the clinic and has a private practice at his house.

Rebecca Brown

Seems close

But my previous comment stands. You really need to be there to decide for yourself.

On your list, gas seems high. We are three here, virtually never eat out and use a chimbo about every three months. That comes out to more like $5/month for us.

As for food, it can vary all over the place. I doubt we spend more than $1/person per day but living in a rural area, things tend to be cheaper. For example, while eggs "in the city" are apparently something like C$40/dozen, they remain C$20/dozen here. If you want chicken, it comes (complete and alive) from the neighbor for C$100.

Again, doing a homestay would give you a good chance to see where your host family gets its food and what it costs. The main difference between here and Portland (or most other places in North America or Europe) is that you can opt to live cheap. You have no heating or cooling costs, lack of regulation means you can get your tortillas direct from "grandma" next door, food grows on trees year round and so forth. If, on the other hand, you get your food out of packages and cans from the US, you can probably just take what you spend on food in the US and add 50%.

Wait A Minute!

I get a complete roasted chicken ready to eat at Wal-Mart for $4.27

"If you want chicken, it comes (complete and alive) from the neighbor for C$100."

What a deal

Think of all those free antibiotics and such you get thrown it. The last chicken I ate (in about 1978) was organically grown. I was amazed how much different it tasted (OK, it tassted) than the factory chicken I had eaten before.

walmart is evil....

Bwahahahahaa..... evil i tell you....

"Maybe, just once, someone will call me 'sir' without adding, 'you're making a scene." -Homer J. Simpson

...it comes complete and alive....

How do you prepare the feathers?

Next subject

This is one of the many reasons having a Nicaraguan maid will more than pay for herself. She will probably make something out of the feathers and sell it. Or at least make something. In the US, money is spent to encourage/support recycling. In Nicaragua, it just happens.

Thanks GranadaSherif

This comment with details is helpful to us "out here" and not "of there".

Very different

In Nicaragua terms, it is the difference between a relatively big city and a town. They also have quite different climates. Their layout is very different specifically with Matagalpa being built up the hills in the valley.

I could go on but one could then ask the same question about Estelí vs. Somoto or ... and get a virtually identical answer. To take something to your area, could you tell something enough about Salem vs. Eugene that they could make an intelligent decision about in which city they wanted to live?

Even a decision to move to a country sight unseen seems pretty chancy. But, if you are going to do that, at least plan on some time the get to know about about possible destinations. The costs can be pretty low but the benefits high.

For example, if you Spanish is below par, enroll in a Spanish language school. There are quite a few in/near Estelí and I expect there are some in Matagalpa. Typically, a 1 on 1, 20 hour a week class is about $100/week and you can get room and board for another $40./week. So, for about $600/mo you get a class, room, board and a chance to see how things work locally.

If you did this in Matagalpa you could spend a week there getting to know the place and then take your first free weekend and spend it in Jinotega (or La Dalia or Somoto or ...).

The other benefit you get with this approach is that your host family will offer you some connections. For example, if you are staying in Matagalpa and decide to stay there or near there, they will likely know about decent deals on rentals. They also may be willing to let you stay on with them temporarily which you are rental shopping which gives you very cheap room and board while you are getting set up.

As for costs, seeing is going to tell you so much more than we can describe here. When I was doing the homework for Living Like a Nica I remember talking to a waiter about house rental costs in Ocotal. He described two options which were maybe 2 km from each other. Both were decent for some value of the word. One was about $30/mo, the other $700/mo.

"The other benefit you get

"The other benefit you get with this approach is that your host family will offer you some connections. For example, if you are staying in Matagalpa and decide to stay there or near there, they will likely know about decent deals on rentals. They also may be willing to let you stay on with them temporarily which you are rental shopping which gives you very cheap room and board while you are getting set up."

This can be some of THE MOST IMPORTANT ADVICE YOU GET! Getting to know the people in the area you are moving can be invaluable. Things work different here. Getting things done efficiently and on the cheap sometimes takes local connections.

If the local gringo community is mostly people with....

...mostly Nicaraguan friends, then that can be helpful. Expats who only know expats are not so useful.

None of the three northern cities are what anyone would call major tourist destinations. If Jinotega is Greenville, SC, then Esteli is Charlotte, NC, in the early 1960s, and Matagalpa is Roanoke, VA. Don't expect to be discovering Boulder, Colorado.

Rebecca Brown

Can anyone please answer the rest of Ralph's Question?

The differences between Matagalpa and Jinotega? I would guess services...but, that is an uninformed assumption. Also, local medical/hospital support perhaps? Juanno, your warm and inviting ways are showing ~ careful. Would not want new readers to get he wrong impression about you. (;-)

Matagalpa is about twice the size of Jinotega

Both have a local hospital and are the medical centers for their departments. I suspect that Esteli has a better hospital yet, and I really wouldn't advise moving to Nicaragua in late retirement with serious health problems unless you'll willing to be fatalistic. Jinotega's public hospital has dealt with a local girl's suicide attempt (shot almost to the heart -- she was stabilized here and transported elsewhere) and some cases of pneumonia (gringo guy I know).

Matagalpa and Jinotega have a long standing rivalry -- I'd take anything either side said with a grain of salt, except that Matagalpa doesn't have enough water to swallow it.

Jinotega is more basic -- fewer tourist attractions, half the population. It's got maybe three tourist attractions and the new local hotel says that they're getting a touris group a month, but lots of people on expense accounts in for business (full house again this week). If you like hanging out with the neighbors and reading, writing, painting, or are otherwise self-entertaining, to borrow Phil's expression, it's great. If not, not.

Matagalpa and Esteli are both about twice the size of Jinotega -- I'm not sure which is bigger. Matagalpa has an active feminist group who has held a Slut Walk and has an active gay community that holds the Miss Gay Matagalpa drag contest.

If you know you're going to need major medical support to keep going, I wouldn't recommend Nicaragua at all unless you're living near or in Managua. You'd be two plus hours to Managua from Jinotega and a bit closer from Matagalpa.

I've had minor medical issues and paid for them out of pocket. I had savings for the dental work.

Matagalpa has a La Colonia; Jinotega doesn't. If you're fixated on brown rice and organic veggies, Matagalpa would be better. It has more conventional shopping, as does Esteli. If you have more money than I do, that's great. Jinotega has everything I need and a few things I don't strictly need but rather like being able to buy in town -- fish tanks, aquarium supplies. It doesn't have any place that I've noticed that sells full out art supplies, but there are needle work supply places in town.

Matagalpa is hillier where most people live than Jinotega (not that the city/department isn't selling lots half way up the mountain north of Pena de la Cruz.)

Both of them have university branches -- I wouldn't be surprised if Matagalpa had more, but Jinotega has two branches of national universities.

Jinotega has radio stations, cable, very good water that hasn't been problematic since I moved here, and electricity that tends to be more reliable most of the time than a lot of places, but when it's not reliable, it's not.

I would suggest to anyone who wants to live in town rather than out in the country being the richest gringo in miles to look at department capitals. My impression is that they've got pretty good services wherever they are compared to anything else in their departments and that they're all pretty liveable depending on climate.

Jinotega has a new arts center, but Esteli's is longer established and has classes in musical instruments and art. I don't know about Matagalpa on this, but guess that it has something similar to Esteli. I don't know if any of them has live theatre -- all of them have some forms of live music. Jinotega doesn't have a movie theatre. Esteli, I believe, does. Swimming pools -- not here, don't know about the others.

I've got a Jinotega phone book and could check further.

Jinotega has rather broken sidewalks so would not be a good choice for someone with mobility issues.

Esteli seems to have the most expats in or around the city. Matagalpa might be second. Jinotega has a smaller expat community than the other two cities, not just in terms of being smaller.

Esteli and Matagalpa have immersion Spanish classes. Jinotega has a few people who will teach private Spanish lessons by the hour.

Bluntly, pick a reasonable place (based on whether or not you need a car to live there, the climate, the health services, activities you want to take part in or sports you want to watch), and make it work. Every place has some interesting people and some jerks, some drawbacks and some advantages. If you like golf or riding lessons under cover, look at Managua and areas near it. If you can't live without Sunday museum and galley crawls, south of Managua but close enough to get in to the city is a better choice than one of the northern cities. I don't think we have any tennis courts in Jinotega, so if that's important to you, Jinotega isn't your place unless you have enough money to build your own court.

Rebecca Brown

Did You Ever

find out what the city was selling the lots for?

That purchase might be a good investment for a future retiree . ..

Um, no

Give some other retirees' problems, I think I'd buy somewhere in town in a settled neighborhood if I bought at all. The Alcaldia's lots generally go to the poorer folks and the houses there (I've walked through the newer section of Barrio CentroAmerica) tend to be small stuccoless cinderblock houses on ground level (people here put houses up above street and sidewalk level if they can afford to -- the rain here can be really impressive). A few houses are better than that, but that's the average and I was not entirely comfortable in that part of Barrio Centroamerica, any more than I'd be comfortable in Barrio German Pomares after dark.

I've tried to take photographs of the road that's going over the mountain but better ones will have to wait until my longer lens shows up. One posted.

Rebecca Brown