Many of us dream of living in a Spanish-colonial city and even of owning a Spanish-colonial home of our own, with its high ceilings, painted tiles, and private center courtyard. If you share this daydream, then you’ll find no better place to buy than Granada, Nicaragua.
In Granada, you’ll not only find one of the best-preserved Spanish-colonial centers in the Americas, but you’ll also discover colonial-style properties starting at just US$37,000.
Founded in 1524, Granada claims to be the first European city founded in mainland America…so it’s a truly old colonial city rather than a semi-modern lookalike. It’s named after the ancient city of Granada, Spain, and shares some of that city’s Moorish architectural influence.
Granada sits at the north end of Lake Nicaragua, with beaches near town and a group of small private islands just offshore. It lies just south of the well-known Lake Apoyo, Nicaragua’s largest volcanic crater lake.
The international airport at Managua is less than an hour to the north, and the Pacific Ocean lies just over an hour to the west. The weather is warm to hot all year, with average high temps running seasonally between 86° and 93°. Rainfall is moderate at 47 inches, and most of that rain comes between May and October, in the form of afternoon showers.
You can’t miss Granada’s rich colonial heritage. It’s obvious as soon as you arrive. This is one of most finely restored and preserved colonial cities in the Americas. As a result, it sees a good number of international travelers and has a sizeable expat community. These two things combine to account for Granada’s wealth of hotels, fine restaurants, and well-kept buildings.
Granada is built around a large, shady, and bustling town square, anchored by a stately, neoclassic cathedral at one end. The streets are narrow—built prior to the automobile—and lined with rows of cheerful, well-kept Spanish homes.
Granada is not only an appealing place to spend time (more on why this is true in a minute). It’s also an attractive property market. It usually has a good inventory of colonials in a good state of restoration. Granted, colonials can be found in plenty of places around the Americas, but a few things set Granada apart.
Why Granada Shines
Prices are very low compared with prices for Spanish-colonial properties elsewhere in Latin America. Completed homes are a great value, and fixer-uppers are downright cheap…with inexpensive remodeling costs.
#2. The Houses
The homes in Granada tend to be smaller than in many cities, with one-story houses commonly available. This makes the houses brighter, with the single story allowing for more direct sunlight. The relatively small size of many Granada colonials is due to the fact that most of them—more than 90% of those on the market—were originally second homes or vacation homes that were ultimately sold to expats and investors.
Many houses here also have pools in their interior courtyards, something I haven’t seen in other colonial markets.
#3. The Walkability Of The City
Granada is completely walkable. Everything you need is close at hand, over attractive, level streets.
#4. The Amenities
The fairly large expat community—along with an active tourist trade—brings Granada lots of amenities that a city of 120,000 would not ordinarily have. There are great restaurants, bakeries, hotels, and B&Bs that distinguish Granada from most cities of its size.
Lake Nicaragua, with its beaches, fresh waters, and islands, provides a great recreational opportunity and a pleasant way to escape the heat. It’s also great for boating and fishing, with a huge 3,100 square miles to explore.
Granada enjoys good connections to the United States from the nearby airport in Managua.
But best of all, Granada feels very authentically…Nicaraguan. You see old oxcarts lumbering through the streets, as well as the local delicacies, crafts, and pottery offered by Granada’s street vendors around the square. Looking down on it all is the towering cathedral.
Granada is a unique blend of native Nicaraguan city life and expat amenities.
The rental market is good in Granada, especially if your property has a pool. One home I looked at had an asking price of US$150,000 and rents for US$600 per week…another cost US$389,000 and rents for US$1,500 per week. Occupancies can run between 65% and 75%.
If there’s a downside to Granada it’s that it can be hot. I don’t really find it unpleasant, but I do sleep with the air conditioner running when I’m in town, as most people will want to do.
The least expensive houses currently available are priced at US$35,000, and they need a good bit of work. But for just a bit more, you can buy something that’s fit for living, as is.
Here Are A Few Examples From The Market Today:
One noteworthy property is listed for just US$37,000. With 1 bedroom and 1 bath, this corner property is ready to move into with practically no work.
If you’d like to own a rental, you should consider this one. It’s a 1,400-square-foot property that’s efficiently divided into two apartments, the larger of which has a separate full kitchen and a small patio. It’s a 10-minute walk to the square, and the asking price is US$80,000. Property management services are available.
The most attractive home I saw currently on offer is two stories, with 3 bedrooms, 3.5 baths, and more than 3,200 square feet of space. It has a lush, large courtyard, and it’s only four blocks to the main square. The asking price is US$165,000.
The best buy I found is a larger, two-story home with 3 bedrooms, 4 baths, a garage, air conditioning, and a swimming pool… located just four blocks from the central square. The second-story bedroom has a good view of the city rooftops, as well as the extinct Mombacho Volcano in the distance. The asking price is US$145,000…but I understand that this one will go out the door for around US$125,000.
My real estate contact in Granada is David Joyce with RE/MAX Colonial Properties. I’ve been working with David since 2004 and find him a pleasure to deal with. You can reach him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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