Granada, Nicaragua: Live Well on $700 a Month

The lake breeze is blowing through my hair as I kick back with an 87-cent beer. Small white-tipped waves move across the water, palm trees rustle, and a group of tourists is stepping off a small fishing boat after an island-hopping tour. A perfect afternoon after a morning’s shopping trip to the local market.

Granada, Nicaragua, has plenty of vendors and lots to choose from. I bought a week’s worth of fresh fruit for our small B&B for less than $5—white pineapple so sweet you yearn for more, cantaloupe that waters in your mouth, and two dozen mandarins for fresh-squeezed juice, onions, tomatoes, and cucumbers.

Nicaragua’s best-preserved colonial city, Granada is a popular tourist attraction with a thriving expat community. My husband Shylow and I came here in May 2010 and fell in love with the beautiful architecture, friendly locals, and seriously low cost.

After leaving the U.S. and all that we were used to, we found a place where our hard-earned money could stretch past the house mortgage without giving up the things that were important to us. Our monthly budget is around $700. That includes our house payment, eating out or ordering delivery pizza, enjoying a day or two at the local pool, mingling with friends at our favorite watering hole, cable TV, and Internet.

Granada is a small town and, although the taxis are less than 50 cents, I generally choose to walk—it’s so pleasant. I say hola to friends and neighbors, check out the ever-growing restaurant scene, and do a bit of window shopping along the way.

This morning I saw a new breakfast place to try. I’ll often stop for a fresh fruit juice and pineapple pancakes. At around $3, it doesn’t break the bank…

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