Managua, Nicaragua Report of what it's like to live there - 03/15/11

Personal Experiences from Managua, Nicaragua

Managua, Nicaragua 03/15/11

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

No, Geneva, Switzerland and Caracas, Venezuela

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2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

DC to Miami is about 2 hours and 40 mins and from Miami to Managua about 2 hours and 20 mins.

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3. How long have you lived here?

2 years

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

government

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

Most U.S. Embassy homes are 20 mins from work. The houses tend to be large and nice, though with small kitchens.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Many groceries are available here, though imports are expensive. We have a Pricemart (like BJ's, Sam's Club, ect) so we get more American products than I have seen in other areas. Veggies aren't great here.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

Toilet paper and paper towels (not very good here), cereal (extremely expensive), corn meal (can't get it here), wheat flour if you use it

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

McDonald's, Burger King, Pizza Hut, Papa John's, Domino's, one chinese delivery place, yes we do have delivery here. Cost is cheaper than the US.

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5. What kinds of organic, vegetarian and allergy-friendly foods are available, such as organic produce, gluten-free products, meat substitutes for vegetarians, etc?

You can get Silk at Pricemart, can't say if there are other organic, veggie, allergy-friendly things, though. I don't need them.

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6. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

mosquitoes

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

DPO

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

A full-time housekeeper will cost $200 to $300 a month. Gardener around $100 a month. Many people have drivers as well, though I don't know the cost. They are cheaper if they drive your car, expensive if you expect them to provide the vehicle.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

Yes but they are expensive, There is a nice gym at the embassy.

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4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

You need to be careful where you use these. The main grocery and Pricemart, good resturants are fine.

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

Yes, but not sure where.

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6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

We have Purtorican DirecTV, ($50 a month) which I love. The local tv has some channels in English ($25 a month).

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7. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

Spanish, most people do not speak English.

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8. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

There aren't alot of ramps and sidewalks. It would be very difficult to live here with a disablity.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

You wouldn't use the buses, they are packed and not safe for non-locals. Taxis you'd want to get the name of a good one from a friends, they can be dangerous.

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2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

4x4 or just an SUV is best. We have many pot holes (really large ones).Traveling to the beach alot of roads are just dirt.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Yes, $50 to $75 a month.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

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Pets:

1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

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2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

I have heard that there are good vets.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

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2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

At work it is business casual, outside of work is casual to really casual.

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

Crime is high here, but if you take normal precausions you shouldn't have a problem, it is non-violent crime. They would rather robe an empty home. Most homes have bars over windows and doors, good locks and alarms.

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

Medical care here is excellent, I had a baby here (c-section) and was very happy, though for hospitalizations the nursing staff is lacking. Doctors and dentists are very good and cheap (compared to the US).

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3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

moderate polution

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4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

It is 85 to 90 degrees F all year round. Rainy season starts in April and goes through November. It's a bit hotter in the rainy season than in the dry season. April and May tend to be a bit humid, maybe 50% until the rainy season really gets underway. Normally it's probably 10 to 30% humidity, very reasonable. It's normally breezy so in the shade it is lovely. Though the sun is very strong.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

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3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

Full time nannies are afordable.

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4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

large

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2. Morale among expats:

good

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3. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

Yes, for the U.S. Embassy, not sure about outside of it. There is a Nica Girl's night for expats, normally around 60 women there, most are not from the embassy.

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4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

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5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

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6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

Not that I know of.

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7. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

I love living here, the expat community does things together. There are many wonderful resturants and cafes. It's not true city living, which I love, it's more rural than a normal city. There is traffic, but not nearly as bad as many other places.

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8. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

Markets, volcanoes to hike, beaches, one theater (for broadway type shows), boat trips, wonderful movie theaters, great resturants.

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9. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Woodwork, hammocks, embroidered clothes, pottery

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10. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

You can save some money here, if you are careful. We have some very nice beaches close. The weather is lovely if you like it warm with minimal humidity (most of the time).The people are very friendly and helpful.

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11. Can you save money?

Yes, but you have to try

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Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

I want to stay, I don't want to leave, I absolutely love it here!

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2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

coats

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3. But don't forget your:

patience, it's a bit slower down here, things take longer to get done.

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4. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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6. Do you have any other comments?

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