Nicaragua: A Future Expat Paradise
Living next door to tourism giant Costa Rica and the up-and-coming Panama, and due to the common misconception that Nicaragua is still unsafe for tourists, this little country hasn’t been receiving the attention it deserves when it comes to expats.
While it is true that Nicaragua has been getting more attention in recent years, having been featured on the covers of some travel magazines, Nicaragua remains one of Central America’s least visited countries.
But according to Jennifer Taylor-Jones, the Vice President of Product Development at JetSet Vacations, this somewhat forgotten Central American gem just might be stepping into the limelight.
As expats continue to look towards Central America as a possible place for retirement, many are searching for the next big thing, and in 2013, Nicaragua just might be that thing.
Tucked between Honduras to the north and Costa Rica to the south, Nicaragua was not always the expat friendly, land-of-plenty that it is today.
So what is it about Nicaragua today that is drawing expats in?
A sense of discovery
Many are coming to Nicaragua to get away from heavily tourist concentrated areas. They like the idea that Nicaragua is still relatively unknown and that it has not yet been pegged as a tourist hotspot, a definite negative attribute to those seeking peace and serenity.
The wonderful aspects of Nicaragua have not yet been revealed to the public on a global scale and in a way, it can be theirs to discover.
But although expats want to go somewhere new, they still want to go somewhere that is safe and expat friendly. Today, Nicaragua fits both criteria.
In recent years, Nicaraguan officials have been nominating significant funds in attempt to attract North Americans to their country. The end goal is to make Nicaragua the third most visited country in Central America behind Costa Rica and Panama.
Much of this money will go towards helping outsiders learn more about Nicaragua by educating them on the country’s current political and economical state, factors that have made tourists and expats wary about Nicaragua in the past.
In fact, according to a report published by the Financial Times, Nicaragua ranked third after Montreal and Toronto in the category of Strategy for Attracting Foreign Direct Investment.
And changes are being made. One expat lived in Nicaragua in 2007, and during that time, claimed that the road connecting San Juan del Sur to the Pan American highway was nearly un-drivable due to massive potholes. When she returned on a recent visit, she was welcomed by a smooth stretch of maintained pavement in place of the ripped up road.
Aside from the improved roads, she was also pleasantly surprised to find internet access across the country and that the capital city of Managua had expanded into an urban metropolis with everything and anything an expat could possibly need.
So what can an expat coming to Nicaragua for the first time expect today?
Perfect weather, beautiful beaches free of colossal resorts, towering volcanoes (including the still active Masaya volcano), Lake Nicaragua (the largest lake in Central America), surfing town San Juan del Sur, and colonial cities like Leon and Granada.
And best of all, it won’t cost an arm and a leg to experience all that Nicaragua has to offer.
Like many other Central American countries, the cost of living in Nicaragua is low and this is an obvious perk to any expat looking to retire on a budget.
Real estate in Nicaragua is extremely affordable. A colonial home in the city of Granada can be purchased for under $50,000.
Renting is also affordable, but of course prices will fluctuate depending on where in Nicaragua you choose to live. In San Juan, a relatively touristy area for Nicaragua, a 1-2 bedroom apartment can cost between $250-$600 a month, although, as the price goes up, things like utilities, internet, cable, and housekeeping are often included.
Covering rent, utilities, cable/internet, groceries, and entertainment, a couple could live comfortably in Nicaragua for around $1,200 a month, a meager amount when compared to prices back home.
On the other hand, a couple could live a simple life on as little as $750 a month and a life of luxury, including a spacious house and a maid, for around $2000.
Get there before the crowds do
As Nicaragua continues to gain recognition, it won’t remain unknown for long. If you have been thinking about heading to Central America, consider Nicaragua, the favored hot spot for expats in 2013. With all of the wonders of Central America, an exceptionally low cost of living, and a portion of the crowds, Nicaragua is the perfect spot to relax and live the laid back lifestyle that we all crave.