Expat Advice: Retiring in Granada, Nicaragua 1

Submitted by bushamy13


Stunning View of Granada, Nicaragua

Bushamy13 chose to retire to Nicaragua because of the low cost of living, the friendly people and the beautiful country. Bushamy13 says that a retiree can live like a Nica on $500 a month or buy your expansive colonial home and entertain lavishly. She lives on approximately $1500 a month, which does not include flights back home.

What is the name of the city or town that you are reporting on?

Granada

Why did you choose to retire abroad?

We always planned to retire overseas. We have traveled extensively around the world. Low cost of living made a better retirement possible.

Are you retired abroad all year or part of the year?

Permanent residents of Nicaragua now.

Why did you choose the country you retired to?

We had narrowed it down to Central or South America and just kept visiting countries to narrow the decision. We kept coming back to Nicaragua because of the low cost of living, the friendly people and the beautiful country.

Did you ever live abroad before you retired abroad?

No though military service provided some experience in living abroad.

How long have you lived abroad since you retired abroad?

Five years

How many countries (other than your home country) have you lived in as a retiree?

Just here in Nicaragua.

What have been the most challenging aspects of being retired abroad?

Language has been a challenge though it is getting better. It is harder to teach an old dog new tricks.

Bank ATMs and the Internet has certainly made living overseas easier. It is a challenge to get documents sent from the USA reliably.

Expats that move to third world countries tend to be type A personalities so relationships are a bit more difficult to develop.

What have been the most rewarding aspects of being retired abroad?

Living here has been a rewarding experience. We work with several foundations to help the people here and are very active in the developing expat community. I think just knowing we actually moved away from our home country has provided a positive aspect.

What would you do differently if you were just starting the retire abroad process?

Learning the local language is so important. In my next life I would learn the language by total immersion with a local family for at least six months. It would have greatly accelerated the cultural transition.

What is life like for a retiree in your city and its surroundings? (Is there an active expat community? Cultural Attractions? Recreation? Nightlife?)

We do miss the symphonies, plays, golf, tennis, etc. but not so much that we would return to the states. And some of that exists here and certainly in different forms.

The community activities are increasing here as the expat community grows. With the low cost of living, we don't always get the cream of the crop from other countries but more and more normal couples seem to be arriving.

Nicaragua has a rich culture and there are so many outside activities. It is not far to other Central American countries and Miami or Houston is only a 2 hour flight away. There are many foundations here if you wish to help the people of Nicaragua.

What residency documents or visas did you need to obtain to retire in your host country? How difficult was this process? (Please describe)

Many of the expats live here on a 90 day tourist visa which can be extended to 180 days. At that time you must leave the country for three days.

You can become a resident as we did which makes things like opening a bank account easier. You can get a one year or five year residency. The needed document list is too long to list here but there are many benefits such as up to $20,000 household goods imported for free and up to $25,000 tax free on an imported car or one that is purchased here.

Nicaragua wants you to move here but that does not make it easy. Average time to complete the process is 3-4 months and that assumes you arrive with all of the necessary documentation. I have a website that helps answer these questions at www.nicaragua-guide.com.

Becoming a resident does not affect your USA citizenship. Yes, you still must pay USA taxes.

Did you buy a home or apartment, or rent one? Is this a difficult process? (Please describe)

We bought a home but I recommend you rent first for at least six months. Not everyone likes it here.

You do not have to be a resident to buy a home or own a business in Nicaragua. It is fairly easy to buy a home but be careful! Everyone will try to sell you property and many of them are not stellar examples of character. Work with a known real estate agency. It is easy to forget to do the normal due diligence when you are looking from your potential property watching the sun set over the ocean.

Financially, has living abroad in your host country met your expectations? Exceeded them?

It is easy to live simply and inexpensively here but it means no more traveling extensively unless you have a good retirement income. The question is the lifestyle you want to have.

What are the most important financial considerations for retiring to your host country?

We sold everything we had in the states and just kept one domestic bank account to receive any domestic transfers like pension or social security. Also for the one credit card we have.

Nicaragua is a cash society. We have no loans or credit card balances and it feels quite good. I go to the ATM when I need money and even pay utilities with cash. Owning our home eliminates the biggest bill which is the rent. Food is the next greatest expense. It makes purchase decisions so much easier. If we do not have sufficient cash, we do not buy it.

How much can a retiree live on comfortably in your host country?

Live like a Nica on $500 a month or buy your expansive colonial home and entertain lavishly. We find we can live on around $1500 a month but emergencies do happen and that does not include flights back home. The world is different now with many things being fairly expensive now like gas, flights overseas, rising food costs, etc. We do have concerns on the falling dollar.

Do you have access to quality medical care? (Please describe - is it close? Expensive?)

One of the most modern hospitals in Central America is 45 minutes away. We do not have health insurance which will shock many people but the USA is one of very few countries without universal health care.

We love our doctor who we feel is better than any doctor we have had in the states. He speaks English and we trust him completely. The office visit is $15.

Medical costs are low enough to pay as you go. Our prescriptions are less than the co-pay amount was in the states. How can that be? They are the same drugs.

Is there a lot of crime where you live? (Please describe)

It is relatively safe and we have experienced less crime here than in the states. We use common sense such as using taxis after dark, not driving at night, etc. Having said that, Nicaragua is a poor country and there is more common theft. For example, if you lay your phone, IPod, laptop on your table at a restaurant and turn away, it will be gone. It is important to have good neighbors and to form friendships with them. Our home has never been robbed in the past five years here.

Describe available transportation where you live. Do you need a car? Is there access to safe public transportation?

Most expats do not have vehicles and walk everywhere or use a taxi. Taxi to anywhere in Granada is 10 cordobas (23 cordobas = 1 US dollar).

We have a SUV and a motorcycle but it would be cheaper to just hire a driver when we needed one.

Is there high-speed internet access where you live?

How fast is fast enough? We enjoy speeds greater than the speeds we had in the states when we left five years ago. I just updated it again at a cost of $25 a month and have wifi in my home.

We do have times when the electricity or water is out. As I tell people, you can run an Internet business here but if it requires you to be on a 3 hour webinar every day you may have issues.

Do you have any other thoughts you would like to share about retiring abroad?

I do have a website to help expats considering Nicaragua at www.nicaragua-guide.com. Needs updating but it is a wealth of information.

We love being overseas.

More Expat Advice about Retiring in Nicaragua

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Comments about this Report

guest
Sep 19, 2011 16:24

Good report. And I've seen the nicaragua-guide.com several times before, and it is super! His website is so well organized, so easily used, and chock full of just about everything you'd care to know. My income is low, so there are few foreign countries that would accept me as a retiree. I believe the requirement for income to live in Nicaragua is very low, and it is one of the few places where I could qualify. So naturally, I have to consider Nicaragua for first place. I don't trust using ATMs to get money (and that can be expensive anyway) so I'd need to be a permanent resident to get a bank account.

guest
Oct 11, 2011 23:18

Weather in Nicaragua can get hot and humid! Jan and Feb I was told had the hottest weather. Interesting backpackers there, mostly from Europe. Laid back place and enjoyable.

guest
Oct 14, 2011 13:24

Great info.!!! But why not buy new or antique furniture once you settle in there?

howlinwaters
Nov 12, 2011 20:56

Very useful non-alarmist viewpoint I appreciate.

guest
Jan 24, 2012 03:55

Thank you so very much for the information. I am thinking of moving to the central American area. After retiring about six years ago and stablizing things here on my ranch in California, I feel the need to experience living part of the time in a more tropical climate. What difficulties might a single older women experience.

guest
Jan 24, 2012 13:28

Thank you for the report. Besides having a good family doctor, how would you rate the hospitals? Would you feel comfortable with evasive surgery?

obi
Jan 27, 2012 14:14

This was great and very informative. I'll definitely check out the web site. My husband and I are considering South and Central America as retirement homes. Granada is on the list to check out and any current information is appreciated.

guest
Feb 3, 2012 00:36

how can a taxi ride cost less than a dollar when you say gas is expensive? How is the climate in Granada?

guest
Apr 3, 2012 13:52

Thank you for your information. I was in Nic. and was wondering how you deal with the dust and the plastic bag everywhere? Did it bother you as much as it did me? I love the people they are wonderful.

guest
May 30, 2012 16:38

Thanks so much for this very useful information. We will be traveling to Nicaragua, April, 2013. Would love to keep in touch. First to El Salvador. earlene47@yahoo.com

guest
Jul 20, 2012 04:39

Thanks for sharing your first hand experience in Nicaragua...one step at a time as I transition to retiring there...

koalagirl13
Jul 29, 2012 17:44

Thanks so much for the info. I am considering a move to Panama or Nicaragua (Granada) early next year. You have helped me considerably. I plan to lean more spanish and also to check the websites you have mentioned. Take care.

koalagirl13
Jul 29, 2012 17:51

I am considering a move to Panama or Nicaragua early next year. I plan to lean more spanish and also check the websites you have mentioned. How hard is it to find rentals, and is there any fear when being by one's self and living in Nicaragua? How is Leon in comarison to Granada? Would appreciate any hints/ideas you can pass on to me. Thanks, judib13@yahoo.com Take care.

koalagirl13
Jul 29, 2012 17:52

I am considering a move to Panama or Nicaragua early next year. I plan to lean more spanish and also check the websites you have mentioned. How hard is it to find rentals, and is there any fear when being by one's self and living in Nicaragua? How is Leon in comarison to Granada? Would appreciate any hints/ideas you can pass on to me. Thanks, judib13@yahoo.com Take care.

koalagirl13
Jul 29, 2012 17:52

I am considering a move to Panama or Nicaragua early next year. I plan to lean more spanish and also check the websites you have mentioned. How hard is it to find rentals, and is there any fear when being by one's self and living in Nicaragua? How is Leon in comarison to Granada? Would appreciate any hints/ideas you can pass on to me. Thanks, judib13@yahoo.com Take care.

pato23
Jul 31, 2013 03:20

Excellent report and will give anyone wishing to retire in Nicaragua a good perspective.

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