Nicaragua at a Glance
Living in Nicaragua
Nicaragua lies between Costa Rica and Honduras, with coastline on both the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean, making it a place of diverse landscapes and unique ecosystems.
The overall area of the country covers around 130,000 square kilometers, making it about the size of Greece, but around 26,000 square miles of this land is designated a protected area where development is restricted for the benefit of wildlife. As such, there are many beautifully unspoiled areas to discover while living in Nicaragua.
Healthcare in Nicaragua
It's a good idea to check out the National Travel Health Network and Centre's page on Nicaragua to find about inoculations and health risks before you travel, so you have plenty of time to prepare. Your GP should also be able to advice you on any necessary precautions.
Healthcare itself is quite cheap in Nicaragua, with the average visit to a doctor or house call costing somewhere in the region of 620 NIO (approx. 23 USD). Payment tends to be carried out in cash, especially outside of the capital, and you may have to pay before you receive treatment, so it's a good idea to have cash with you. In the capital city of Managua, you'll find the Hospital Bautista and Vivian Pellas Metropolitan Hospital, where payment by credit card is accepted.
As Spanish is the main spoken language, it's a good idea to memorize at least some basic words that might be relevant to a medical emergency (e.g. information on allergies) if you are not proficient already.
It is also worth noting that some areas of Nicaragua don't have easy access to the full range of medical treatment, but expats can take provisions to ensure they're covered in the event of needed expert medical assistance. It is therefore recommended that you take out an international health insurance, ideally one that gives you the provision of an airlift home should you need it. In Nicaragua, emergency medical assistance is available with a call to 128.
Transportation in Nicaragua
Driving is a good choice of transport in the more developed parts of Nicaragua and generally around the center of the country, with plenty of options to rent or buy vehicles, and an adequate infrastructure. On the Caribbean side of the country, the roads are of a much lower standard, and navigation can be difficult for those new to the local roads. The same is true for access to many of the Pacific beaches on the west coast, so it's a good idea to let public transport do the hard work for you around these areas.
Your national driver's license qualifies you to drive in Nicaragua, at least for shorter stays, but you will be required to take out local insurance cover as soon as you enter the country by car or buy/rent your own vehicle. This isn't expensive, and should cover costs in the event of an accident.
Local public transport varies from city to city. You'll find Rickshaws and Tuk Tuks in the smaller settlements, which offer very cheap fares and a novel way of getting from A to B. You'll also find the more conventional taxi cabs in bigger cities, but do be aware that more of these run a colectivos service — which means that they pick up other passengers along the course of your journey as they spot them. Alternatively you can pay a little more for a direct taxi between destinations — around 200 NIO (about 7 USD) for every 10 miles.
Safety and Security in Nicaragua
If you're taking a taxi, make sure to use one with red plates, and if possible use a radio dispatched option. There have been some 'express kidnappings' involving unregistered taxis, which hold people until they pay a ransom. You should avoid busses at night, and watch out for pickpockets during the day, especially around the tourist areas of the capital.
Road travel in remote areas is not advised due to the presence of bandits. Nicaragua has one of the lowest crime rates in this part of the world, but it still pays to remain vigilant. Expatriates should, for example, make sure the locations they are staying in are well staffed and have good security, and that transport services are legitimate.