Nicaragua Is Cheap, Yes, But
Sept. 15, 2014
It's Also So Much More...
Dear Live and Invest Overseas Reader,
I traveled to Nicaragua this past weekend for the first time since 2006. That's the year, coincidentally, when Daniel Ortega was re-elected this country's president. He's since been elected for a second consecutive term in 2011 and sits as Nicaragua's president today.
It was lack of time that kept me from returning to Nicaragua these past eight years. Just too many other places I had to be. For many, though, Ortega has been the deterrent. He was, after all, the leader of the Sandinistas, the group that ousted the dictator Samoza back in 1979, and the same guy who, then, once in power, confiscated land and redistributed it to the poor. Investors had concerns.
Then came the global downturn that started in 2008. In its wake, both investors and tourists were even thinner on the ground in this country.
Seeing the volume of traffic in Granada this weekend, I think it's safe to say that the tourists have returned full force. A new (well, new to me) pedestrian street lined with restaurants extends now from Granada's main square toward Lake Nicaragua and was crowded with people every time I passed. Many new hotels have opened in this city in the last eight years. However, more important, the hotels I remember from 2006 are still there. They survived the downturn.
I don't think this little colonial city has seen as much activity as it is seeing right now at any other time during its almost 500-year history. Based on my conversations over the three days, it's not only tourists who are feeling comfortable enough to give Nicaragua another chance. It's investors, too.
Everyone I met with—expats, business owners, and those in the real estate industry—assured me that the market is returning. Sales are being made at greater rates than at any time since 2008. After almost eight years in office this time, Ortega hasn't made a move against anybody's property. As the book I'm reading on Nicaragua's history over the last 100 years puts it, today's Ortega is not 1970s Ortega. Ortega today is the capitalist version of a Sandinista, with an appreciation of the importance of personal property rights.