What would it cost YOU to live in Nicaragua?
http://www.nicaliving.com/node/21655 has been an interesting thread about why retire in L.A. As is typical, cost of living comes up with a typical array of opinions. I would like to assert that attitude and experience have a lot to do with the answer.
When I wrote Living Like a Nica I was not trying to tell you that you should live really cheaply. I was trying to tell you that the option exists -- in ways that just are not possible in temperate climates. I say temperate climates simply because heating, cooling and fresh food costs are going to be high for at least part of the year. Living where no heating and cooling is required, required inside space is decreased because of moderate outside temperatures and there is always fresh fruit and veggies growing makes a difference.
Attitude and experience are going to be what drives your costs. For example, if you always have had the nicest house, nicest car, ... then you are going to have a lot more expenses than a person who is happy to walk or take a cab and just live in an ordinary house. That nice car will cost more to buy and more to operate in Nicaragua. On the other hand, you can take a cab to anywhere in Managua for less than it costs in most big cities to take a cab from the terminal to the street outside the airport.
Another common problem are when people want to eat exactly what they ate back home. Imported food is expensive and your favorite brand of bacon or whatever is going to be very expensive in Nicaragua. But, Nicaraguans eat and if you can adjust to local cuisine or even typical dishes you make but made with local ingredients, the picture changes a lot.
Another area where not thinking locally significantly increases your costs is with devices. To take gardening as an example, you can pay a muchacho with a machete to do everything you used to do with your lawn mower, edger, hedge trimmer, sprayer, ... for years for what your devices cost. As I have said before, "when estimating costs, assume labor is free". That gets you pretty close.
So, can someone live in Nicaragua for $200/mo. Yes, for a certain value of someone. On the other end we have the person who was living on maybe $10,000/mo. What will it cost them to live in Nicaragua? Possibly more than $10,000/mo.
The weather is one ingredient. The socialism that is just there is another. That gets you graduated electrical rates, inexpensive bus service to almost everywhere, low-end medical care and lots more. These low-end services are delivered with low overhead and are likely to be used by that guy with $200/mo income but those who want better (or at least more expensive) have many options.
Thus, you are never going to see agreement on "What does it cost to live in Nicaragua?"