Nicaragua may still be a place where a fisherman can lay claim to one of the most arresting views in town. But all signs point to those vistas soon belonging to vacation villa complexes, fish taco joints and kite surfing lodges. The people may not be here quite yet, but theyÂre coming. New York Times Magazine. Nov. 16, 2012
Charleton Heston isnÂt Moses but try telling my parents that. Similarly, NicaraguaÂs President, Daniel Ortega, isnÂt a villain but try telling the average U.S. citizen that. And so the reality vs. image crisis in Nicaragua continues. Since his return to power in a Democratic election nearly four years ago, President Ortega has become a caricature of what he is supposed to be rather than the leader he has become. News coverage tends to be focused on the relationships he maintains with world leaders opposed to US policy rather than on the positive substantive actions of his term as President.Â Â Listening only to these reports, one would assume the worst about this country and its leadership.
But this is only half the story.Â The fact is that Nicaragua continues to make good policy decisions when it comes to foreign investment and private property.Â A very pro-private property Coastal Law passed guaranteeing retirees and investorsÂ ownership of their coastal properties.Â First American and Stewart Title both continue to write policies here indicating that their fact-based due diligence shows a very high degree of comfort with property ownership rights in Nicaragua.
Risk Versus the Perception of Risk
Many people drive cars, yet are deathly afraid of flying.Â This is insane.Â We all know that statistically flying is between 60 and 200 times safer than driving depending on how you measure it.Â Yet many people talk on their cell phone and change lanes all while speeding in traffic on the way to the airport.Â Then feel fear as they plane rolls down the runway.
There are some great studies on why this is so, fascinating actually, but let it suffice, that this fear is irrational.Â But it is very real.Â Some people succumb to it and wonÂt get on an airplane.Â Most of us however, if we have that fear, suck it up and get on the plane anyway.Â It is possible to get past this fear and get on with the business at hand.
The Plane is Leaving, With or Without You, and Opportunity is on Board
How does this example tie back into property ownership in Nicaragua?Â Simply that what appears or feels risky, may actually be a lot safer than what we know. Â What if a small amount of due diligence on your part would uncover the facts and reality of an investment opportunity most people would simply walk right past? Â Â ItÂs easy to slough off Nicaragua, but what would you be missing?Â What if you examined hard data under the light of objective scrutiny and it showed that it was indeed less risky to own property in Nicaragua than property in many other countries of the region? Are you ready to take action and Âget on the plane anyway?Â
Nicaragua is Safe and Inviting
International rankings by prestigious institutions have recognized Nicaragua not only as one of the safest destinations in the region, but also as the fastest country in which to start a business and the country that best protects its investors.
The Economist Intelligence Unit 2010 (EIU), a global leader in business intelligence, positioned Nicaragua as the second safest country in Central America, only behind Costa Rica. In addition, the Global Peace Index 2009 (GPI) also placed Nicaragua as the second safest nation in the Central American region in its ranking of over 144 countries, which includes indicators such as the levels of military expenditure, its relations with neighboring countries and the level of respect for human rights.
Nicaragua has also been ranked as the fastest country in which to start a business in Central America by the Doing Business Report 2010, published by the World Bank Group. This category measures business regulations and the protection of property rights, as well as their effect on businesses. The study placed Nicaragua in the number one position within the Central American region, followed by El Salvador and Costa Rica.
This same report also positioned Nicaragua as the country that best protects investors, measuring transparency of transactions (extent of disclosure index), liability for self-dealing (extent of director liability index), shareholders' ability to sue officers and directors for misconduct (ease of shareholder suits index) and strength of investor protection index.
The country itself is home to UNESCO World Heritage Sites and some of the oldest cities in the Americas at nearly 500 years old.Â Granada and Leon date back to the early 1500Âs and display an impressive array of traditional Spanish Colonial architecture.Â Many of these ancient buildings have been lovingly restored and now are home to North American retirees. It is also common to hear English spoken in the many sidewalk cafÃ©s and galleries making a lifestyle transition easier than what otherwise might be imagined.
For everyone who loves the outdoors, Nicaragua is a treasure trove of special places, climates and geographies.Â Hundreds of miles of pristine beaches await, welcoming you to swim with warm, 80+ degree Pacific Ocean waters.Â Cool mountains offer coffee plantations, cloud forests and howler monkey laden trails to explore.Â The eastern region is home to the Western HemisphereÂs largest rainforest preserve outside of Brazil.Â ItÂs no wonder that more than 1,000,000 visitors came last year to partake in all that Nicaragua has to offer.
Nicaragua is for Retirees
For retirees, there are special benefits.Â In addition to secure title and fee simple property ownership, the country offers a vast array of incentives including tax exonerations and duty concessions for retirees coming to live part or full time.Â You are permitted to bring household goods, a car, and other items needed for your life here.Â Any income earned outside the country including pensions, social security and investment income is not subject to local tax.
Nicaragua also offers real choice in climate types.Â Some retirees prefer a coastal, semi-arid Southern California feel.Â Others rather enjoy the cool mist filled valleys in the highlands that some call Âeternal spring.ÂÂ A restored colonial home in a 500 year old city holds a special place in the hearts of many people.Â And because you'll be in a fantastic location, the kids and grand kids will always want to visit.Â Nicaragua is one country that can suit many tastes.
But quality of life is more than just weather.Â Cost of living, activities and amenities are vital for long term satisfaction.Â Nicaragua is a country where a couple can live very well on less than $1200 per month.Â This includes a half time housekeeper, part time gardener, and a round of golf 4-5 times per week.Â Homes in a developed beach and golf community begin under $100,000.
ÂJust DonÂt Call Me Late to Dinner.ÂÂ Â
ItÂs a different world today than it was in the 1980Âs.Â President Ortega himself recognizes this with statements such as, ÂOur goal is to eliminate poverty.Â We canÂt eliminate poverty if we eliminate foreign investment.ÂÂ Â Active policy decisions like the Coastal Law and The Retiree Incentives Act are tangible actions that support these words.
Retirees and investors must remember that risk and the perception of risk are two different things.Â Understanding true risk requires due diligence and in some
cases a trip to see the realities on the ground with your own eyes.Â Nicaragua is a country burdened by a tough history, but a bright future.Â Â Retirees and investors that take the time to see past the cloud of misperception will reap large lifestyle rewards and also importantly contribute meaningfully to the development of truly inspiring country.
If you are considering Nicaragua as a place to live, a place to invest, or simply a place to check out, consider attending a ÂChill Weekend.ÂÂ Â YouÂll basically enjoy 3 days of relaxing with other expats both retired and working here in the country so you can hear their stories and experiences first hand.Â Have fun at the beach enjoying one of the countryÂs premier resort destinations, play a round of golf, relax in the pool while watching the waves dance on the reef from the oceanfront clubhouse.
Take a few days to check out what life will be like for you in Nicaragua and talk with residents and expats in a relaxed seaside setting. Â In a nutshell, try the lifestyle on for size.
E-mail GranPacifica for more information about Chill Weekends or request a free Nicaragua Handbook with lots of details about the country.Â Â Remember, risk and the perception of risk are two different things.Â Â If you dig into the facts, you will discover, more profit, more fun, and more options.Â Â Start right now and
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