Matagalpa Nicaragua Cost of Living

In this report, I share my Matagalpa, Nicaragua cost of living including estimated rents, utilities, groceries, restaurants, transportation, and entertainment. But first, I will show you around town so you get a feel for whether or not you are interested in Matagalpa.

Matagalpa is our fourth stop in Nicaragua. Some of you asked us whether there was a cooler mountain destination in Nicaragua. So that is why we came to Matagalpa.

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Matagalpa is Nicaragua’s 7th largest city with a population of about 110,000 people. Matagalpa is known for its spring weather all year which is based on its high elevation 700 m (2,297 ft) above sea level with the average temperature ranging from 26 to 28 °C (79 to 82 °F).

The bus to Matagalpa from Nicaragua’s capital city Managua takes about 3 hours and costs about $3 USD. Google Map.

First, I will share my estimated costs of living in Matagalpa, Nicaragua.

After that, I will show you our favorite restaurants, grocery stores, local markets, nightlife area, things to do, our livability factors and overall retirement desirability score, and where we stayed.

Cost of Living in Matagalpa Nicaragua

Here is my estimated cost of living if Qiang and I were to live in Matagalpa Nicaragua. But we are all different, so you will have to visit Matagalpa in order to determine your estimated cost of living here based upon where you would live, shop, and eat.

Rents: To rent an unfurnished 1 bedroom apartment, you will have to pay around $150 to $350 per month for a local-style apartment. I will use $250 per month for rent which does not include utilities. If you want a western-style apartment you could easily pay a few hundred more dollars depending on how much space you wanted and amenities. I also provide a link to my report about how to find perfect apartments around the world.

Utilities: This is at a higher elevation level so you may not be using much air conditioning. I estimate my electric bill would average around $35 per month which includes water and gas.

Groceries: Based upon our time here and the money we spent on groceries, we estimate about $250 USD per month on groceries for two people.

Restaurants: If we went out to eat twice per week, once for date night and once for a lunch somewhere, we would spend about $30 per week or $120 per month in restaurants for the two of us. We would eat mostly in the mom-and-pop local restaurants like you will find elsewhere in Nicaragua rather than the expensive expat-style restaurants. Definitely try some of our local-style restaurants below before you decide you must pay ex-pat prices.

Cell Phone Data: The cost to recharge prepaid service is about $20 USD per month. My android phone will act as a hotspot so we can both be on the internet at the same time when we are out of the house together.

Laundry: We could send our laundry out once per week for about $7 to wash, dry, and fold, so about $28 per month.

Water: We would spend about $20 per month on bottled water.

Internet: The Internet will be about $50 per month depending on how fast you need your service.

Transportation: Everything you would want in Matagalpa is fairly walkable. We would need a car. So we would pay about $30 per month in transportation since we would ride our bikes and local buses mostly, and take a taxi here and there to get groceries home.

Alcohol (Optional): Local beers are about $1.00 USD in stores. If you watch and buy in bulk on sale you may save a little. But in bars and restaurants, beers run about $1.50. So for two people, we estimate about $100 USD per month for alcohol since we would drink more at home.

Entertainment (Optional): We would budget about $100 per month for entertainment for the two of us.






Expense (USD)



















Recurring Total




Alcohol (Optional)


Optional Total




Entertainment (Optional)


Optional Total


The above cost of living is for 2 people but is just an estimate on the low end. For a full understanding of what it would cost you to live here, visit Numbeo Matagalpa and add anything you spend money on in your home country that is not mentioned in the table. Our costs of living are generally much lower than a new traveler’s because we are great bargain hunters but there are a few people that live cheaper than we do.

Never move anywhere until you have visited first personally to verify the living costs for your lifestyle and needs. I am not guaranteeing these prices. These are just my notes and estimates from the time of my visit and this post. Your costs will likely be drastically different depending on your lifestyle and the time since this post.

More typical living costs in Matagalpa range from about $1200 to $2000 per month. But people spending that much also have higher incomes or pensions. They often report spending more on entertainment, eating out, and alcohol. Many also have more expensive cars, houses, or apartments.


If you are going to try to retire cheap offshore, make sure to read my report, the Two Biggest Risks of Retiring Early for Cheap Offshore, which explains why you should have emergency funds available for unexpected large expenses.

Matagalpa Nightlife

There is a very centralized nightlife in Matagalpa with people of all ages so it felt relatively safe to us so we enjoyed the music and the people watching. Happy hour beers were around $1.50 USD so check prices to make sure you find a reasonable happy hour. Here is the walking street where the nightlife is the most active. Just click this map to enjoy this walking street. Start walking and listen for a place playing the music you enjoy most.

Google Map.


Matagalpa Best Restaurants, Markets, Groceries


Best Restaurants in Matagalpa (Comedor Los Coco): A family-owned local-style restaurant with amazing delicious meals that include your drinks. We ate here multiple times and loved every meal. Make sure to try the Nicaraguan instant coffee in warm milk as shown in the above video.

Mana Del Cielo: This is a Buffett style lunch. They have decent food here but try to make it at the traditional times for each meal so the buffet is fresher. It is about $3 per meal.

Asados La Casota: Qiang had a barbeque chicken lunch here she really enjoyed that included vegetables and a drink for 110 C ($3.10 USD).

Buffet Delicias: Qiang had a nice chicken dish here with vegetables and a drink for about $3 USD.

Famous Pastry Shop (Reposteria Gutierrez): This is where we bought the delicious cake, lemon meringue, and other pastries (for about $2 USD) shown in the above video.

Restaurante La Vita è Bella: You are going to pay more for this place because it is authentic Italian, but we loved the Pizza here. Go to where Google Maps takes you and then walk south on a side street about half a block and walk down the alley to find this place. It is worth the hassle of finding it. Sometimes you just need some respectable Italian! We had pizza at a few other places in town and we would only recommend this one. Amazing!

Gato Blanco: We didn’t try the food here because we had already eaten when we found it but it had a noise ambiance and has relaxed acoustic guitar players here from time to time. It has food, beer, coffee, etc.

Favorite Markets:

Grocery Store 1, 2: These two grocery stores are next door to each other so you are bound to find what you are looking for in one trip. Here is another one we shopped at across from the less crowded southern park. Grocery Store 3.

South Municipal Market: This is a local-style market in the south part of Matagalpa. Incidentally, this is also where you can catch the bus to and from Managua. You will see other local-style markets around but this one seemed like the biggest.

Tienda MI FAVORITA: This is a department store with clothing, non-perishable food, ad some electronics, gifts, and toys.

Matagalpa Livability Factors and Retirement Desirability Score

Here are some of the factors I think about when I consider a place for early retirement potential. After I discuss each factor I will assign an overall retirement desirability score to Matagalpa.

Walkability: High Desirability I love living in walkable areas of the world where you can walk to restaurants, grocery stores, nightlife, parks, and other interesting things to do. Matagalpa is completely walkable. We would not need a car.. We would probably just purchase cheap ugly used bicycles if we lived here and ride the local buses. You may need a taxi from time to time to get groceries home.

Internet: Medium. The Att Speed Test in our apartment WIFI was 6 Mbps download speeds and 2 Mbps upload speeds. So the Internet speeds were our purposes for our purposes but make sure to test WIFI before you close any long-term lease.

Food: Medium. There are only a few international restaurants from around the world. But for a town this size that is not catering to a large ex-pat population it is about average. They do have a nice selection of high-quality local-style restaurants with local pricing for everyday meals that help keep the cost of living down here. So if you like smaller less touristy towns in the mountains, this is about right.

Weather: High. Matagalpa is known for its spring weather all year which is based on its high elevation 700 m (2,297 ft) above sea level with the average temperature ranging from 26 to 28 °C (79 to 82 °F). The relative humidity is between 75% to 85% and the average rainfall for the year is 1,000 to 2000 mm (45 to 79 in).

Things to Do: Medium. Fishing, biking, bar hopping, cooking, gym, yoga, martial arts, dirt bike riding, restaurants, running, coffee shops, and hiking.

Healthcare: Medium. Nicaragua ranks 71st of the top 100 for healthcare according to this international survey. There are two small hospitals in Matagalpa that should be able to help with many routine problems. But for more complicated issues you will need to see a specialist in one of the better hospitals in Managua: Vivian Pellas Metropolitan Hospital, Hospital Bautista, and the Military Hospital. Some ex-pats purchase medivac insurance for around $260 per year in case they need to be airlifted to the USA for even more complicated procedures. Do not be surprised if your cost of care is 70 to 90% cheaper than it would be in the USA.

Social Considerations: Medium. If you decide to retire in Matagalpa, you will want to learn conversational Spanish. The businesses here do not have enough English-speaking ex-pats as customers so most are unwilling to pay the higher costs of hiring English-speaking employees. Google Translate will help you get things done in everyday life, but you will need to learn some conversational Spanish to have meaningful relationships here.

Expats: Medium. There are two Facebook groups for ex-pats living in Matagalpa but very little daily activity (posts and responses) is going on there: One, two. I suggest people join these groups to ask questions and get answers to questions that only an ex-pat would know. But make sure to make friends with both locals and ex-pats for a richer experience living here. I explain why in my report, The Top 10 Mistakes International Retirees Make.

Real Estate: High. On the day I wrote this report, I was curious how much a small house or Condo would cost in or near Matagalpa. So, I used Google to translate “Homes for sale in Matagalpa, Nicaragua” into Spanish, “Casas en venta en Matagalpa, Nicaragua” and I was able to easily locate this 4 bedroom 1 bath house for sale for $55,000 USD.

But I never recommend buying real estate until you have lived somewhere for at least 2 to 3 years. In fact, I have a report explaining Why Retired Expats Should not Buy Real Estate Overseas for the first 2 to 3 years of living somewhere new overseas. Make sure to read that before deciding to buy real estate overseas.

Visa: High. Citizens of many countries are given a 90-day visa-free tourist stamp upon arrival in Nicaragua. If you fall in love with Nicaragua during your exploratory visit and decide to stay you will need to apply for residency. The retiree residence age is 45 years old if you can show $600 monthly pension or more, but some have been able to gain this residency before age 45 by proving financial stability. Each additional dependent requires showing an additional $100 pension.

Safety: High. In general, I would stay away from Managua unless you are going there for medical treatment. But, we felt safe in Matagalpa in the central area of town. Nicaragua was ranked 120th in safety on the Global Peace Index for 2021. But make sure to read my report on how to travel the world safely, including in your home country. I provide all of my tips and tricks that have kept me safe for 15+ years traveling the world.

Matagalpa Overall Retirement Desirability Score: High. Assuming you are looking for a cooler mountain town with a lower cost of living, you should investigate Matalgapa before settling down in Nicaragua. We will rank our top spots in Central America in the next few weeks and I suspect Matagalpa will have a decent ranking in Central America for cooler mountain towns. The cultural immersion, the low cost of living, and the cool spring-like weather combined to help us rank Matagalpa favorably.

Where We Stayed

We stayed in an Airbnb apartment that we are recommending for the first few weeks in Matagalpa. However, you should be able to find a lower price point once you have your feet on the ground here. To help find a nice place at the $250 per month we estimate above, follow the process we describe here: How to find perfect apartments around the world.

How we got to Matagalpa, Nicaragua

Matagalpa was our third stop in Nicaragua. We came to Nicaragua from Costa Rica. We took a bus from the bus station in Liberia, Costa Rica to the border (Frontera Bus) of Nicaragua for about $3 USD. From the border on the Nicaragua side, we took a private taxi to San Juan Del Sur with Daniel (WhatsApp) for $30 USD. Here is Daniel’s number: +505 8776 9376.

We next spent a week in Ometepe Island. Daniel (same one) also drove us to the ferry to Ometepe Island for $20.00. Finally, when we left Ometepe, Daniel drove us from the ferry to Granada for $25.00. So Daniel is a one-stop transportation solution for the southern part of Nicaragua.

We took a taxi from Granada to Matagalpa for about $75 USD so we could skip the bus exchange in Managua. Ask your landlord in Granada to set that up rather than flagging down a taxi.

When we left Nicaragua, we took a bus from Matagalpa to Managua. We used this bus service to go from Matagalpa to Managua. Text him, he speaks English: Gutierrez: +505-8827-0773. Here is where the bus leaves for Managua.

Thanks for reviewing my report, Matagalpa Nicaragua Cost of Living.

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