Saturday, March 19, 2011
Last year, Nicaragua featured regularly on television sets across the US. It was the setting for the Survivor show...and what a setting. Viewers caught a glimpse of Nicaragua's stunning and varied landscapes. This country boasts a long Pacific coastline, with sandy beaches in shades of white, cream, pink, and black... Caribbean beaches with powder sand lapped by turquoise waves...sapphire-blue crater lakes and majestic volcanoes...colonial cities with tree-shaded plazas and pastel-washed buildings...and mist-shrouded cloud forests.
Nicaragua's popularity as a tourist destination continues to increase. Last year, more than a million tourists came to Nicaragua, the highest number achieved to date. (That figure is triple the number who visited the country in 1995.) In January and February 2011, more than 98,000 tourists came to Nicaragua, a 7% increase year-on-year. This seems to confirm forecasts that tourist numbers will continue to grow in 2011.
Nicaragua's the hot new tropical destination according to Kensington Tours...and it's a top choice for budget-conscious travelers (Lonely Planet): they say you can get by on $15 a day here if you're careful. And thanks to a new, improved retirement residency program introduced in 2009, it's increasingly attractive as a retirement destination. The program offers tax exemptions on importing household goods and a vehicle, and you pay no taxes on out-of-country earnings. Plus, you can get residency with income of only $600 a month.
On Monday, Nicaragua was on TV screens again, this time in Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations. He tried grilled chicken in a fritanga (an eatery offering simple home-style cooking), local delicacies (iguana and bull testicles), and hearty meals from a bus station cafe. The show featured locations in the capital city, Managua, and in Estelí, a town in the north of the country. But the gem in Nicaragua's crown is in the country's south: a little city called Granada.
Sitting on the shores of a vast freshwater lake sprinkled with more than 400 volcanic islands, Granada has an unmistakable colonial charm. Red-tile roofs stand out against the dark-green cloud forest that covers the slopes of the sleeping Volcan Mombacho. Thick-walled adobe homes line the narrow streets, painted in shades of terracotta red and jade green. Grander buildings with spires and bell towers frame the brilliant blue sky. Horse-drawn carriages, festooned with flowers and ribbons, stand in the shady central plaza, waiting patiently for their next passenger.
In the tropical afternoon heat, Granada drowses. Mornings and evenings, the plazas fill with family groups, browsing the street stalls selling painted ceramics, hand-woven hammocks, and jewelry. Diners enjoy a leisurely meal on cool outdoor terraces, watching the world pass by. Granada has a magical feeling that washes over visitors and residents alike. It's as if time stands still, or doesn't matter so much. You won't live life by the clock here, rushing from one meeting to the next. You'll enjoy life to the full...
If your dream of an overseas property revolves around an old colonial, you get more for your money in Granada. Here are three good examples of homes on the market in Granada today.
A very spacious one-bed, one-bath home has beautiful tile floors, high ceilings, and an internal courtyard garden:
It's just three blocks from the central park. Furniture and appliances are included in the list price of $170,000.
A three-bed, four-bath home with 250 square meters (almost 2700 square feet) of living space is on a corner plot:
This 150-year-old house has a swimming pool and a garage. The asking price is $229,000. Annual property taxes on this house are less than $300.
A huge, 1000 square meter (10,760 square-feet) mansion one block from the central park could make a luxurious family home, or a B&B. The five-bed five-bath home has elaborate ceilings, a garage, a large swimming pool and a home cinema theater:
The $900,000 price tag sounds high, but works out to $900 a square meter/$83.64 a square foot, just for construction. The lot that the property sits on is 0.4 acres in size, which is very big for such a centrally-located property.
All three of these properties average less than $1000 a meter. Compare that to colonials in Casco Viejo, Panama, where the average price for renovated property is $2200 a meter...or Cartagena, Colombia, where they average $3000 a meter...and you'll see that Granada offers great value for money.
If you'd like to know more about these (and other) historic homes in Granada, contact David Joyce here.