In Nicaragua, just like any other country, it is the rich versus the poor, with a few people in the middle class thrown in. Matagalpa had a higher quantity of middle class than other communities in Nicaragua, but there still was a lot of poverty. Some people lived in shacks while there was a lot of wealth in Matagalpa. The wealth came from families who own some parts of Matagalpa. There is the family that owns the hospital. There is a family that owns a coffee farm that goes back generations. It’s the same way with the pharmacy. These families live well, as opposed to the typical Nicaraguans who rely on gallo pinto for food.
It is a mixed bag, and, from our perspective, some odd traditions dealing for money. For example, if you are a poor Nicaraguan, and somebody hands you your change for something you purchased in cordobas, well, a lot of Nicaraguans do not like change or small coins, so they just throw it in the street and keep on walking. It’s incredibly strange. They hate coins. They don’t want to carry it around. Even when I shared my excess of coins that I collected for the poor, they were not happy to get it. They don’t want coins; they just want cordobas.
The standard of living amongst the expats is as good as you can make it. Everybody has a different budget and is willing to pay a different price for their living accommodations, whether purchased or rented. You get what you pay for and you get what you put in as far as effort in looking for a place. A lot of the places up for rent are long standing family properties that they decided to rent out to make income. The structures are either well taken care of and the people are gracious or they’re not well taken care of. But if you really did your homework and you really worked at trying to find a place, your standard of living can be really excellent compared to the US as far as comfort and size of the space that you want. Overall, it’s just different. It’s a simpler life. How do you compare apples and oranges, except they’re both fruits?
For example, in Nicaragua, you don’t have screened in windows and air-conditioning, but on the other hand, the home your in is pleasant, it’s well painted, it’s decorated nicely, or it isn’t. What you get, whether you decide to rent or buy, depends on what you put in looking for it. If you are in hurry to rent something, you might not be as careful and might end up at something where you will only stay for three months and then move on to something else. That will change your standard of living because you will have to accept what you just found.
The US is expensive compared to Nicaragua, so you can get a lot more for you money in Nicaragua, but it is different. There is no comparison since it is a completely different living structure. Here in Nicaragua, you will have a completely different style of furniture. Some items are less available; even the kitchen equipment. Living in Nicaragua is a simpler way of living that is significantly cheaper than the US, but you make compromises. You let go of one thing to have another. Living in Matagalpa is letting go of screened windows in order to let in open air and fresh mountain breezes. You let go of hefty, stuffed furniture for handcrafted, wooden ones that may or may not be as comfortable as what you are used to in your home in the States. It is a tradeoff. The US and Nicaragua are two different worlds.