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Granada, Nicaragua

Real Estate in Nicaragua

By Joshua Wood, LPC

Last updated on Feb 18, 2023

Summary: An expat looking to buy a home in Nicaragua should begin by researching the local real estate market. It is important to understand the local laws and regulations regarding foreign ownership of property. Expats should also consider the type of amenities they are looking for in a home, such as access to public transportation, proximity to schools and shopping, and the availability of recreational activities. Foreigners are allowed to own property in Nicaragua, but there are certain restrictions. For example, foreigners are not allowed to own land within 50 kilometers of the coast or within 50 kilometers of the borders with Costa Rica and Honduras. Additionally, foreigners are not allowed to own more than one hectare of land in the country. Homes in Nicaragua typically include basic amenities such as running water, electricity, and sewage systems. Many homes also have access to public transportation, schools, and shopping centers. Additionally, many homes have access to recreational activities such as swimming pools, tennis courts, and golf courses.

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How do I find a place to live in Nicaragua?

We asked expats how they chose their neighborhood and found a place to live. They answered:

"One way to find a place to live in Nicaragua is by researching online. There are several websites dedicated to helping people find accommodation in Nicaragua, such as Encuentra24, Encuentra Viviendas and CercaCasa. These websites allow you to search for properties in different cities and regions in Nicaragua. Additionally, you can use websites like Airbnb where you can find apartments, houses, and villas for rent in Nicaragua. If you prefer to look for an accommodation in person, the best way to do so is to ask around in the city or towns you are interested in; many people rent or let out rooms or apartments through word-of-mouth. Facebook groups can also be a great way to find a place to live; many Nicaraguans join such groups in order to list properties for sale or rent," said one expat who made the move to Nicaragua.

"I worked with a realty company that I had found while at a conference. I went on the web to narrow down some choices and then spent a day looking at my short list. It quickly became apparent that I would not feel safe in all neighborhoods as a single female and so I chose the best and safest neighborhood in the city. This was a good decision as I can walk my dog at night with no fear," explained one foreigner living in Leon, Nicaragua.

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What is a typical expat home or apartment like in Nicaragua?

"A typical expat home or apartment in Nicaragua is likely to have tiled floors throughout, as this is a common feature in Nicaraguan homes. The walls may also be painted in vibrant colors, as this is a popular decorating aesthetic in Nicaragua. Furniture usually consists of wood framed sofas and chairs, with bright and cheery fabric to embrace the local aesthetic. Many homes also have built-in wardrobes and cupboards in their bedrooms, which make it easy to store clothing, linens, and other personal items. Additionally, a typical expat home or apartment in Nicaragua typically has a generous amount of outdoor space in the form of terraces, balconies, gardens, or verandas. This extra space is often used for relaxation or entertainment, and makes for a wonderful place to sit and enjoy the fresh air of the tropical country," remarked one foreigner who made the move to Nicaragua.

"I currently live in an apartment within a community. It's a one bedroom with hot water, washer-dryer and air conditioning, which is very unusual for Leon. This is another reason why I chose this neighborhood, the houses have more amenities. Next year I plan to move to a small home in the community because I miss having a yard and patio. ExPats here live in a variety of areas in the city, there is no one spot heavily populated by ExPats, in fact, Leon itself is not heavily populated by ExPats, which is why I chose it," explained one person living in Leon, Nicaragua.

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What is the average cost of housing in Nicaragua?

If you are thinking about moving to Nicaragua, cost of living in probably a key consideration. Expats commented about the cost of housing:

"The cost of housing in Nicaragua varies greatly depending on the size and location, but generally speaking, the average price of a one-bedroom apartment in the city is around $200 to $400 per month. Renting a room in a shared flat is even cheaper and most rural accommodations can be found for less than $100 per month," remarked one foreigner who made the move to Nicaragua.

"My housing costs are 1/4 of what I would pay in my old state of PA and 1/2 of what I would pay in the lower cost area of the southern US. You can rent a decent house in Leon for $300 a month. If you want air, a dryer and hot water, you will pay more. Also, when the listing says unfurnished, it means there is absolutely nothing in it but 4 walls and a toilet and sinks," explained one person living in Leon, Nicaragua.

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Should I buy or rent a home in Nicaragua?

If you have not spent a lot of time in Nicaragua, you should rent before even thinking about buying. We asked expats there about the buy vs. rent decision:

"I doubt that a typical home purchase in Leon, or anywhere in Nica, is a good investment at this time (2/2023), That is unless you really know what you are doing. However, due to the ongoing "issues" in Nica, you may be able to find real estate at discount prices if you know where to look. Stuff you see after a 2 minute google search will not be in this category. Prices online seem to have been set when the market was much better and conditions were good, and remain sticky at unrealistic levels. These online listings I see don't seem to reflect the new reality on the ground. If you're looking to buy in a gringo area from another gringo, go online. If you want a good deal, better to network extensively in the area you have targeted. The market is local, word of mouth, and fragmented, you will need a lot of contacts to get access to the best properties. Many properties never appear online, and searchable databases/sites are not the default sales method. I doubt there will be price growth for years or until there is dramatic political change," remarked one member in Leon.

"The decision of whether to buy or rent a home in Nicaragua depends on a variety of factors. It is important to research housing costs, local neighbourhoods and taxes in any location before making a decision. It is also important to consider how long you plan to stay in the area and how easily you can move if necessary. Buying a home can be beneficial for people who plan to stay longterm and want the security of owning their own property. However, renting can be a more economical option for those who plan to be in Nicaragua for a shorter period of time and want the flexibility of moving when needed. Ultimately, it is a personal decision that should be considered carefully before committing to a purchase or lease," explained one expat living in Nicaragua.

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What do I need to know when buying property in Nicaragua?

When we asked expats what advice they would give a foreigner before buying a property in Nicaragua, they said:

"First, it is important to thoroughly research the local market and understand the applicable laws in Nicaragua. It is also important to use a registered and legal real estate professional or lawyer with local expertise when purchasing property in Nicaragua. Understanding the local customs and culture is also essential when moving forward with the purchase of property. Additionally, it is important to obtain a property valuation from a qualified expert as well as consider the current political and economic stability of the area. Lastly, due diligence should always be conducted to ensure that there are no outstanding tax obligations associated with the property prior to finalizing the purchase," wrote one expat who made the move to Nicaragua.

"EVERYWHERE: rent for a year, be sure you are in the right country, the right state, the right city, &, most importantly, the right state of mind. This is not Las Vegas. Princesses need not apply," explained one foreigner living in Jinotepe and Diriamba, state of Carazo, Nicaragua.

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Are foreigners allowed to own property in Nicaragua?

When we asked expats what advice they would give a foreigner before buying a property in Nicaragua, they said...

"Yes, foreigners are allowed to own property in Nicaragua. Foreigners can acquire property through the purchase of existing titles registered with the Nicaraguan Government, through an inheritance or through a concession granted by the state. Foreign ownership is not subject to any special restrictions in Nicaragua and bearers of foreign nationality must comply with the laws and regulations applicable to nationals," wrote one expat who made the move to Nicaragua.

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What appliances are typically included in a rental?

We asked foreigners in Nicaragua what appliances are typically included in a rental, and, if there is anything else included or not included that a newcomer would not expect. Replies included:

"Rental properties in Nicaragua may typically include basic appliances like a refrigerator, oven, and washing machine. The property may also feature an air conditioning unit and a television in some cases. It is important to confirm what appliances are included before signing a rental agreement," wrote one expat who made the move to Nicaragua.

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Additional Information about Searching for a Home in Nicaragua:

We asked foreigners in Nicaragua what appliances are typically included in a rental, and, if there is anything else included or not included that a newcomer would not expect. Replies included...

"Expatriates may search for homes in Nicaragua by checking online listings of property for sale and by connecting with real estate agents and brokers familiar with the area. Additionally, expats can reach out to others who have already moved to Nicaragua to get first-hand accounts of their experiences and to ask for advice. Additionally, expats may take advantage of online forums and communities to ask questions, connect with others in the same situation, and learn more about the housing landscape in Nicaragua," explained one expat in Nicaragua.

"No MLS, of course. Visit the town, talk to the folks for info about everything. Search websites," explained one person living in Jinotepe and Diriamba, state of Carazo, Nicaragua.

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About the Author

Joshua Wood Joshua Wood, LPC joined Expat Exchange in 2000 and serves as one of its Co-Presidents. He is also one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. Prior to Expat Exchange, Joshua worked for NBC Cable (MSNBC and CNBC Primetime). Joshua has a BA from Syracuse and a Master's in Clinical and Counseling Psychology from Fairleigh Dickinson University. Mr. Wood is also a licensed counselor and psychotherapist.

Some of Joshua's articles include Pros and Cons of Living in Portugal, 10 Best Places to Live in Ireland and Pros and Cons of Living in Uruguay. Connect with Joshua on LinkedIn.

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