Where to Retire: Nicaragua

Nicaragua is a great place to retire. The Central American country of Nicaragua is becoming more popular as a destination for retirees, with some calling it the "best kept secret" in terms of world retirement spots. Its days of Contras, Sandinistas and revolutions are long gone, replaced by a stable democratic system and a slowly improving economy. Thanks to a prevailing bad reputation, real estate costs in many of the country's incredibly beautiful locations are very low. And the government is offering a host of benefits to attract foreign retirees to settle there permanently.

Retirement Visa to Nicaragua

To qualify for one of Nicaragua's retirement visas you must be over 45 with a monthly income of at least US$400. Along with this visa comes a host of incentives meant to entice rich foreign retirees to the country. You won't pay any tax on out-of-country earnings and you can bring up to $10,000 worth of household goods into the country without paying any duties or taxes. You can also bring in one automobile for private use without paying a tariff, and sell that tax-free after five years.

Bad Reputation 'Undeserved'

Nicaragua suffers from an image problem, largely thanks to revolutions, counter-revolutions and international espionage in the 1980s. These days the country has a relatively stable government and peaceful elections have been held many times. Surveys show that Nicaragua is one of the safest countries in Central America, even though it is still very poor.

Nicaragua is a beautiful country of pristine beaches, volcanoes and charming colonial-era cities. Granada, located on the massive freshwater Lake Nicaragua, is one of the most popular destinations for retirees, thanks to its wonderful architecture and atmosphere. Waterfront real estate along the Pacific Coast is largely undervalued, largely because an out-of-date image of the country persists.

The country has a largely tropical climate, which may be a little warm for sun, and heavy rains are common. Hurricanes occasionally hit the country and have been known to cause a lot of damage. But inland there are some higher altitude areas where the weather is cooler.

Real Estate in Nicaragua

A real estate boom is underway in Nicaragua, and this is being touted as one of the most attractive aspects of retiring there. Pick the right spot in the right development and you could reap a big capital gain very quickly. In the most popular spots prices have already boomed, but you can still buy reasonably priced houses in most areas.

As with purchasing property in any developing country, it is necessary to exercise some caution. Property ownership in Nicaragua utilizes a freehold title registered in your name. You should seek the services of a good attorney to make sure the process goes smoothly - title is sometimes under dispute in Nicaragua so get this checked out thoroughly to ensure that you don't end up in a nightmare situation.

Once you've agreed on a selling price, you'll need to engage the services of a notary, who will draw up a promise to sell. After this has been executed, the notary will register the property in the public records in your name.

Cost of Living

It doesn't cost much to live in Nicaragua. For instance, you can hire a maid to help out in the house about five days a week for a mere US$100 per month, while a good meal with drinks at a nice restaurant will only set you back about US$25.  Health care is also relatively cheap with a doctor's visit costing around US$30 for a visit and a clean at the dentist just US$20 or so.

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