Located on the shores of the large Lake Xolotlán, Managua is a city that sprawls out more like a small town that expands on and on. Flowering jacarandas drape from walls and climb over roofs, leafy banana and other tropical trees overhang the streets. On the horizon a majestic volcano is seen from most places in the city.
Managua is the capital of the beautiful country of Nicaragua. The advantage of living abroad in Managua over other popular expat locations like Panama and Costa Rica is that Nicaragua is still considered, off-the-beaten-path and relatively undiscovered. In the popular imagination, perhaps it’s the Contra war that lingers in memory and causes people to think of Nicaragua as an unstable Central American country, but the fact is, the civil war ended thirty years ago. A generation has gone by since Nicaragua was unstable, and now is your chance to be among the first to realize the opportunity to be on the forefront of rediscovering this beautiful country.
Managua itself offers all the amenities of being in a big capital city, but with a laid-back small-town feel. Managua is also a center of education, with many quality schools, so expats with kids can be confident their children will have good educational opportunities. Managua is also known for its high-quality medical services, which is a benefit retirees and those working abroad will take note of.
Cost of Living
You can rent a one-bedroom apartment for $300 a month, or a three bedroom for about $600 on average. The cost of living in Managua is about $1000 total, making it perfect for either a digital nomad trying to save their money while working abroad or a retiree trying to live on the cheap
Things to Do
The city has a very long history, having been founded in 1819. The new arrival will want to visit the National Palace and museum in old town. Another beautiful sight in the city is the Old Cathedral of Managua. Condemned after damage in the 1972 earthquake, the locals couldn’t bring themselves to tear down this beautiful landmark, so it remained standing though unused
There’s plenty of shopping in the downtown area of Managua, as well as many pleasant outdoor areas for you to enjoy the fresh air or to see natural wonders.
Right in the middle of the city you’ll find the Parque Historico Nacional Loma de Tiscapa, a volcanic lagoon with great views of the surrounding volcanos and the lake. You will also find hot springs within the city — At el Trapiche on the outskirts of the city, not far from the lake itself, large swimming pools have been built around hot springs and are a popular bathing destination.
Just south of the city you can visit Masaya Volcano Park, where you can admire the fascinating volcanic rock landscape as well as see local monkeys, deer and iguanas. Because of the volcanic landscape there’s plenty of hot springs in the area to visit as well.
Just an hour out of town you’ll find the beautiful Chocoyero y El Brujo forest reserve, with its stunning flora and fauna, hidden canyons, trails and waterfalls. Here you can see two types of monkey (howler and white faced), as well as numerous tropical birds. The chocoyo, which gives the reserve its name, is a green parakeet, and there’s also hummingbirds and motmots (which are distantly related to kingfishers). You can hike the trails by yourself or hire a guide who will make sure you see the monkeys and chocoyos. There are a number of trails in the reserve, from six-hour treks to short nature hikes, and you can even rent a tent (for $5) and spent the night in the reserve. There are reserve staff on duty 24 hours a day so you can arrive at any time and feel safe there throughout the day and night.
Visit the Beach or Take a Road Trip
In addition to natural parks and volcanism, if you fancy going to the beach, Pochomil on the Pacific coast is only an hour away. On this beautiful beach you can enjoy all your favorite beach sports, as well as visit the restaurants and bars that serve this popular destination. Make it a day trip or book a beachside accommodation for the weekend.
The two other largest towns of Nicaragua, Leon and Granada, are only an hour and a half and an hour away, respectively (they purposefully put the capital approximately midway between them) so they are also good for a day trip or weekend escape.
See all Managua activities
In conclusion, if you want to live in a mostly overlooked tropical country full of stunning volcanic geology and live cheaply in a city that has the laid back feel of a large town, Managua is the place for you!