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retire

Finding the Best Places to Retire Since 2006!

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Retire in Granada, Nicaragua?

~By guest writer Edith Weiss, who is on a trip exploring expat life in Central America

Overview:   Granada is a small city of about 125,000 people in western Nicaragua and approximately an hour from the capital city Managua. It was founded in 1524 on the shores of Lake Nicaragua. Its colonial architecture, beautiful town square and parks make it a favorite for tourists and expats. The expat population is estimated at approximately 1,000 and comes from America, Canada, and Europe.

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The town square is the expensive part of town and restored colonial homes range from $95,000 for a 1000 square foot house to around $200,000 for a 1800 square foot home. It is worth noting that these two houses come fully equipped with furniture, kitchen equipment, linens, etc.

For apartment living, a couple can live comfortably on about $1,500 a month, including WIFI, food, and entertainment. Often electricity is not included. Nicaragua has the most expensive electricity in central America. To hire a maid or gardener/driver would cost about $200 a month for each.

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You can walk almost anywhere you need to get around. There are taxis everywhere, and they're cheap. Driving would take some getting used to - often a stop sign (ALTO) seems to be translated as Spanish for IGNORE ME. Granada has not yet been 'Americanized' - other than a Subway sandwiches, which is the only franchise at this time.

There is a very active expat community here. They have book clubs, movie and dinner clubs, travel clubs. While some people have moved here because the living is cheaper, many expats start volunteer organizations and become involved in the community. Many have opened restaurants - you can get excellent Chinese, Andalusian, Italian, vegetarian and German food to name a few. The cost of these, while cheaper than what you could get in America, have gone up recently and entrees run $12.00 and up. Restaurants run by locals (Nicas) and street food are much less.

You'll find a laid back atmosphere. No one is in a hurry, and the living is informal. Because taxes are so low, emergency services are often slow to respond. There are no ambulances, although there are many clinics and doctors offices in town, and a new and modern hospital is about 45 minutes away. Another disadvantage is the lack of accessibility for the disabled. The sidewalks are not passable by wheelchair and often non-existent.

From almost everyone I've talked to, they still do their financial business through their American banks. ATMs are plentiful and if you're not a resident, Nicaraguan bank accounts are not easy to get.

There isn't a lot of crime - there's more in the States. There are also more homeless and panhandlers in American cities than there are here.

For the health conscious, you'll be glad to know the Nicaraguan government does not allow GMO foods, and forbids hormones and antibiotics in anything you eat.

Nicaragua welcomes expat retirees. To meet its Law of Resident Pensioners and Retirees requirements, you must to prove that you are a U.S. or Canadian citizen, in good physical and mental health, in good standing with the local police, and that you have an income equivalent to at least $600 a month from Social Security or a pension.

According to the law, expat retirees "cannot work in any industrial or commercial activity or hold a job paid in local currency," but officials sometimes overlook the law if an expat wants to open a business - for example, a restaurant - that will benefit the people of Nicaragua.

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