I visited Nicaragua for the first time more than 20 years ago. Imagine the incredulity I faced when I told my family and friends back then that I was traveling (alone…as a young woman) to Nicaragua.
Arriving on the scene all those years ago, I discovered a country not too far down the road from civil war. Barbed wire wound around the outside of every building, and men and boys walked the streets dressed in army fatigues and carrying automatic weapons. Managua was a shambles. The city had not been restored in any real way following the earthquake of 1972. After the earthquake came the civil war. In the early 1990s, when I laid eyes on Managua for the first time, this city was just beginning to pull itself together.
When I looked beyond all that, though, to the rest of the country and its people, I was won over immediately. I’m a romantic who prizes potential over anything else. In Nicaragua’s dramatically beautiful coastline…historic colonial cities…charming mountain villages…and irrepressible, resilient people, I perceived enormous potential.
In the two decades since, I have made many return trips to Nicaragua. I have invested in real estate in this country, big and small. I have operated an office here, in Granada. I have led tours, sponsored conferences, met a president, and made contacts. Most important to me, I’ve also made friends…who have also bought real estate, invested in property developments, built businesses, even raised families in this country. Now that I take a minute to reflect on it, my experience in Nicaragua has been not only long but also deep.
Based on that experience, I would say that this is the time to be looking at this country again. The dog days are history, but prices remain low, both for living and for buying real estate. Further, while the property market has begun to rebound, developers and sellers who wouldn’t have considered discounting or special offering back in the boom times are much more open-minded.
Tourists are returning. The nation welcomed one million tourists in a calendar year for the first time in its history in 2010 and continues to see more visitors all the time. Tourism was up a further 7.2% the first months of this year over last.
Not only tourists, but property buyers, retirees, and foreign investors are beginning to find their way back to this country, as well. Times were tough for Nicaragua 2008 through 2011, but times are changing. Friends and colleagues on the ground report that 2013 was a turnaround year…
and 2014 is more active yet.
It seems the world may be again ready to put this country’s politics aside and focus on all Nicaragua has to offer. When you do that, what do you have?
You have a long coast along which the Pacific Ocean crashes just as dramatically and just as beautifully as it does across the border in Costa Rica, where you’ll pay four or five times as much or more for the privilege of owning a little piece of it.
You have rolling, diverse countryside…and warm, welcoming people with a lot of heart. People intent on putting their troubled past behind them and getting on with the business of rebuilding their country.
You have a land of lakes, beaches, national parks, exotic islands, and charming colonial towns.
You have one of the world’s most pristine environments, featuring an enormous variety of flora and fauna.
You have a country that offers investor tax incentives and a competitive retiree residency program launched in 2010 that boasts the lowest minimum income requirement of any such program. You can qualify for pensionado residency status (and all accompanying benefits) in this country with an income of as little as US$600 per month.
If you’re a would-be investor, again, I’d say that this is the time to move back into this market, whether you’re looking for a second home at the beach, a rental investment or a renovation project in one of the world’s premier colonial cities, land for speculation, or a full-service, turn-key gated community where you could plan for the Pacific coastal retirement you’ve been dreaming about your whole life.
Regardless your agenda—be it to live, to retire, to invest, or some combination thereof—the point is that Nicaragua is a place worth paying attention to.
It’s possible to get a really smokin’ deal on a piece of Pacific coastline…a stretch of sandy Caribbean beach…or a colonial architectural gem. You haven’t seen prices like these in this country in more than a decade.