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Work & Costs

No one would blame you if you liked Nicaragua enough to want to stay put there for a while. The norm for gringos living in Nicaragua, though, is that they have brought their savings down with them, that they have bought a colonial mess in Granada or a parcel of beachside land in San Juan del Sur, and that they are planning on opening an alternative café or bed and breakfast. If this doesn’t sound like you, be warned of two things: if you’re working in Nicaragua your pay is going to be shit, and you’re going to be depriving some local of a job they could probably really use.


Volunteering is far more common than earning a crust for non-property-owning foreigners in Nicaragua, particularly in the north around Estelí and Matagalpa. There are plenty of small NGOs and initiatives in need of skilled help. Skilled is the vital word here. If you fancy doing two weeks of life-changing volunteering on your way to Costa Rica don’t expect to be met with countless glamorous job offers. You might want to go get a nursing degree or some experience with microfinance first. Coming with an organisation rather than looking for one once you have arrived is a very good idea. Otherwise it’ll be token English classes to disinterested street kids.

Hostel Work

If you are looking to extend your stay there are always hostels willing to exchange a bed and maybe some meals for your English-speaking help on the front desk. León is particularly good for this, having a lot of scruffy hostels looking to fill dorm rooms and volcano boarding tours. Your chances of getting taken on are far higher if you’re female, and your duties will range from kicking drunken Australians out of dorms to tolerating the advances of your boss’s drinking cronies.


It’s also possible to find work in some of the bigger and more international bars, especially in San Juan del Sur, which caters to passing cruise ships and a clientele that prefers to order its cerveysahs in twanging English. The hours will be long, the pay will be low, and the tips will only add up to anything when a ship is in town, but you will be working right on the beach, and will be almost guaranteed a free ride out to the better beaches whenever you want it.

Managua – Where the Work Is (but not much else)

All the serious business, as well as most of the English teaching if that’s your poison, goes on in Managua. Even the resident foreigners doing time in lucrative UNESCO postings don’t have anything particularly positive to say about Managua though.

You don’t exactly need to find work to stretch out your time in Nicaragua anyway. Just stay away from anywhere with prices given in US dollars.

Phil Johnson

Phil Johnson is an editor at Road Junky and more of his work can be read atHe keeps a his blog. You can also enjoy his bountiful wit via Twitter.