The proposed Nicaragua canal hit the headlines last week when its main financial backer’s net wealth experienced a major nosedive. The Guardian UK reports that Chinese mogul Wang Jing, whose company HKND is set to build the 178-mile-long canal through Lake Nicaragua, lost almost 85% of his fortune in China’s stock market crisis. Meantime Bloomberg has identified Jing—who has, so far, poured US$500 million of personal funds into the Nica canal project—the world’s worst-performing billionaire in 2015.
Canal or no canal, Nicaragua has major advantages for retirees and investors. Yet it continues to be largely overlooked by the majority of U.S. expats going south. Here, in no particular order, are 9 reasons to love Nicaragua…
- Super-cheap cost of living
Here you can still retire on the beach for as little as US$1,040 a month. And, everything from shampoo, bottled water, and pineapples to electronics, duffle bags, and washing machines is cheaper in Nicaragua than in other Central American neighbors… and an absolute bargain.
- Colonial living
Granada is simply one of the most romantic cities in the Americas. Still, you can own your own property here for as little as US$45,000.
- Miles of Pacific beach
Yes, it’s similar to the stunning Pacific coastline of California… but far more private, unspoiled, and delightfully wild… with some of the best surf in the world.
- The sunsets
Especially if you live near the coast, the one thing you can’t afford to miss every day is the sunset. It’s dramatic… and best enjoyed with a cocktail in hand (see #9).
- Quality health care
Local health care is of an international standard. The country’s most popular and best-equipped private hospital is Hospital Metropolitano Vivian Pellas in Managua. It’s one of the most modern, state-of-the-art medical facilities in all Central America, and it’s only about an hour from Granada.
- Artisan markets
Masaya’s artisan market (that’s its entrance above), 14 kilometers west of Granada, is one of the most popular markets—and a great place to find all kinds of handmade items from beautifully-crafted wooden bowls to hammocks (again, all at bargain prices).
- Best pensionado program
No question, Nicaragua has the world’s most affordable retiree residency program. To qualify, you only need to show a monthly income of US$600.
- The Corn Islands (Las Islas del Maíz)
While these little outposts in the Caribbean wouldn’t suit everyone for full-time living, they make a top getaway for a long weekend. On Little Corn, especially, it’s easy to find a secluded stretch of white-sand beach and enjoy the Caribbean all to yourself. It’s also a top diving spot (watch out for those nurse sharks).
- Flor de Caña
Not a rum drinker? Then you haven’t tried Flor de Caña. Nicaragua’s award-winning local rum is renowned as the best in Latin America. Available in white and dark versions, and ages of 4, 7, 12, 18 (and more recently 25) years. If you can’t drink it straight, it’s delicious with fresh pineapple juice.
Editor’s Note: If you’d like to experience the best of Nicaragua, and get the low-down on life here—straight from our team of experts and expats already living here—don’t miss our upcoming Live and Invest in Nicaragua Conference.