By Patrick Hiebert
In the words of Monty Python, if you remember back that far: Now for something completely different!
Have you ever thought about investing in a second home, future retirement home, or just a nice place by a tropical beach to get away for vacations and earn rental revenue, too?
Has that place in your mind ever been Nicaragua? That’s right, I said Nicaragua. While some only remember Nicaragua as a land of revolution—that was many decades ago, by the way—today, Nicaragua is listed as one of the safest countries in the Americas.
Nicaragua is still quite undiscovered, but that’s changing quickly. This tropical paradise country has one of the fastest tourism growth rates in the world and is quickly becoming the new “it” place for travel. And from an investment standpoint, Nicaragua is seen as “the next Costa Rica,” which has seen an incredible growth in real estate value over the past decade and a half.
Let me tell you a quick story of my experience getting in—or, rather barely getting in—to the foreign real estate market. Maybe it will help you make a decision rather than procrastinating like I did.
In the very early ‘90s, I went on a vacation to Puerta Vallarta in Mexico. It was one of my first visits to Latin America and I immediately fell in love with the pace of life, friendliness of the people, and of course the climate. I stayed in a resort and decided to walk around and look at the neighborhood. I had no thought of buying a property; it had never crossed my mind. But I came across a for sale sign on a nice home that backed up against a golf course and faced the beautiful Pacific Ocean waves. I remember it like it was yesterday because I really loved the location and the home. It was designed in a Spanish Colonial style with lots of amazing tile work.
I asked what the selling price was and they said, “Well, amigo, it is only $142,000 and we’re quite sure we are going to see some big increases as more people discover our country.” First of all, I didn’t have $142,000. But more importantly, I thought I would never risk that amount of money on a property in a developing country, so I didn’t buy it.
Less than three years later, I came back to that same resort and went for pretty much that same walk. You guessed it, that same home was back on the market…but this time they were asking over $600,000. And the story doesn’t end there. A few years later, I made the trek back along that same street in Mexico out of curiosity. I couldn’t believe that the home was for sale again. They were asking over $1 million dollars this time. Not that many years had gone by from when I had first seen the home.
I told myself that if I ever encountered a similar situation, I would jump on it. Time went by and I didn’t have any luck. It took 20 years before I found those same raw ingredients again, this time in Nicaragua. The country is safe, full of friendly and happy people, and has some of the most incredible sites, like the only active volcano in the world that you can drive to the edge of and peer into. It also has some of the best surf breaks in the world, including one right in front of the resort I live on; amazing cultural cities like Granada, the oldest city in the Americas with streets lined with outdoor restaurants; and of course, tropical beaches and amazing climate.
The piece that makes it complete is the inexpensive real estate and low cost of living. Nicaragua is one of the least expensive places to find amazing properties, but that is changing. I’m glad I lived long enough to find this opportunity twice in my life. I missed the booms of Mexico, Panama and Costa Rica but I’m in on the “next Costa Rica” known as Nicaragua. You may want to consider it, too.
I now live full-time at Gran Pacifica Beach and Golf Resort in Nicaragua and I’m loving it. I go for weekends to Panama, Costa Rica, Belize and many other beautiful Central American destinations. I travel quickly and inexpensively since I’m based in the center of them all. It’s a great life and investment. Both capital and rental revenues continue to grow alongside the booming tourism industry.
Consider Nicaragua, and if you decide to go for it you can buy me a drink at the beach bar in trade for having done the many years of research for you!