The cost of living in San Juan Del Sur is not dependent on how much you earn but on where you earn your money because goods here cost the same for everybody but people who earn locally may find it expensive and expats who earn their money elsewhere may find it cheap. The minimum wage here in Nicaragua is about US $1 per hour and in Canada or the US, it is $12 per hour.
I lived in Canada for 25 years and if I would compare the cost of living here in San Juan Del Sur to the cost of living in Canada, I can say that it is more expensive here. The cost of living depends on how much you get paid and how much your expenses are. Expats may think that it is cheaper because they usually come here with US dollars so everything tends to be cheaper because of the conversion rate. Locals may think otherwise because of how much they get paid here.
Latin America is not cheap. It only appears so for us who come here with money that we have earned elsewhere. However, for the people who earn and live here, it is not cheap at all. They cannot afford to go out and eat in restaurants.
For example, if you are a gardener here in San Juan Del Sur who earns US $10 per day, you definitely will not buy a $7 lunch, whereas if you were an American, with American dollars that you earned in America, you would probably have no problem buying a lunch for $7. The cost of living here is about the same where I lived in Canada if you would compare local wages to the local costs fo things. However, if you come here from North America and you are paying with Canadian dollars or American dollars, you will find that, compared with what you would have to pay for the same items in North America, things are really cheap here. This is one of the reasons why North Americans love to come down here to Nicaragua.
There are things that are more expensive here in San Juan Del Sur than in the US. Things like clothing, electronics, and even some foods are more expensive here than in the States. What compensates for the cost of living is the big picture. Out here, we do not have some expenses that you normally would have in North America.
If you are a Canadian who earns $1,500 per month, you can absolutely live well in San Juan Del Sur and that is even if you have to rent a house or apartment. You can rent a really decent apartment for $300 per month. Electricity, if you are a single person, would cost about $20 at the most. If you cook your own meals, you can spend about $30 per week on food. You can even go out on weekends and have a few beers. You can live well with $1,500 per month. A single person who earns $2,000 per month can live in a better place and could even finance a car with this income.
A couple who earns $1,000 per month can still live well here in San Juan Del Sur. The rent will still be around $300 and electricity will cost about the same amount, too, as it would for the single person in the example I just gave. They will just double the amount they would spend on food. A couple may spend around $60 per week on food. So a couple on $1,000 per month can still have a pretty nice life here in San Juan del Sur.