A friend in Nicaragua writes in response to last week’s note on how to arrange a residency visa in that country:
“The details you published are very simplistic and don’t really reflect reality. It is true that a tourist visa is good for 90 days, and I know plenty of people who have lived in Nicaragua on tourist visas for years. You leave the country every 90 days, ask for an extension, or pay a fine when you finally move on. I believe the fine is about $1 for every day you’ve over-stayed your visa.
“Obtaining residency, temporary or permanent, has become more difficult with the new government. You must qualify as a pensionado or as an investor…or marry a Nicaraguan.
“There is a published list of documents required for each residency option, but, in practice, the requirements can be arbitrary…determined on the spot by the immigration officer you deal with. I’m married to a Nicaraguan. When I went to file my documents, the immigration officer told me I also needed a letter from my husband that detailed his salary and confirmed that he would support me. This isn’t a standard requirement; it’s not on any published list of required documents. But the officer I dealt with made it a requirement on that day.
“So I prepared and filed that document. Then I received a response saying that my card would be ready for pick-up on a specific date. On that day, I was told that I needed my civil marriage certificate (they already had my religious marriage certificate on file).
“I provided the new document. A month later, finally, I was able to collect my card.
“To qualify for residency as a pensionado, officially, you’re required to present: a birth certificate, marriage license, health certificate, police certificate, evidence of income (must be at least $400 per month), and a copy of every page of your passport. As a pensionado, you can import up to $10,000 worth of household goods duty free, plus you can import or purchase locally, again duty-free, a car worth up to $10,000 every five years.
“I didn’t receive these benefits, by the way, as a resident by marriage.
“You can read the official regs and requirements here: www.consuladonicamiami.com.
“I have heard that the new government is looking to do away with the benefits and incentives granted to pensionado and investor residents, which would be a shame for Nicaragua.”
— Tura L. Murdock, First American Title Company, Nicaragua
“I am looking for places that make sense for a single woman. I read all your wonderful letters and think to myself, ‘Yes, but you have the support of your husband.’ I need something that works for an active single woman. I am not a ‘feel sorry’ type. I am adventurous.
“And I’m caught in the current real estate situation in the States, wanting to semi-retire, needing house proceeds to do so, longing to sell and move on…”
— Joy K., United States
I don’t know your budget, but, speaking as a woman who has traveled much of the world on her own, I’d recommend Paris first. It’s a comfortable, safe place where a woman with an adventurous spirit would have no trouble making friends and finding interesting and fun ways to spend her time. Plus, living in Paris can be much more affordable than you might imagine.
On this side of the Atlantic, I’d recommend Mexico, specifically, for example, Puerto Vallarta. You want a place that’s not only safe, but that also offers developed services and support infrastructure…plus lots of things to do. Ajijic qualifies, too, and could make sense for you…though it’s a very gringo-fied community, like a U.S. suburb South of the Border.