New Guide on Living in Nicaragua a Great Read

February 17, 2006

Those of us who fancy ourselves old Nicaragua hands never thought we’d see the day: a guide to living, working and investing in the country is on the market, and is in its second edition.

Our very own Tim Rogers, editor-reporter for The Nica Times, the TT’s Nicaraguan sister publication, has revamped and penned a new edition of “Living and Investing in the New Nicaragua: A Guide to Inexpensive Living and Making Money in the Land of Lakes and Volcanoes.” The work is published by Christopher Howard’s Costa Rica Books. (Howard authored the first edition.)

The book lives up to its ambitious title. Rogers will soon mark two years living in Granada, an hour north of the Costa Rican border, and his experience translates into a thorough treatise on the ins and outs and dos and don’ts of being an expatriate in Nicaragua.

Rogers likens Nicaragua to that mysterious woman you encounter at a 20-year class reunion. She bears no resemblance to the student you remember from your school days.

Indeed, Nicaragua welcomed 700,000-plus visitors last year, an amazing figure given the country’s stunted past, and given the scarcity of printed material about the country geared toward the tourist. For anyone among the growing numbers interested in staying in the country long-term, this book is a must, with solid advice on obtaining residency, acquiring basic services, making investments, looking for things to do and buying property. (The rental market for foreigners is a relatively new concept there, but Rogers deals with that, too.)

To its great credit, the book does not fall into two common traps for much of what is written about Nicaragua: it does not dwell on or romanticize the troubled 1980s. Rogers states the historical facts and then moves on.

Times have changed, after all.

Nor does he dwell too much on comparisons with Costa Rica. It’s inevitable to view Nicaragua through the prism of Costa Rica, especially in this subject area –Nicaragua maintains the benefits and incentives for retirees and foreign residents that Costa Rica did away with years ago – but Rogers evaluates Nicaragua on its own merits.

He does not shy away from the negative, either. For all the trail-blazing excitement a new resident to Nicaragua will feel, remember that few pioneers have hacked away that dense foliage. This book serves as a preliminary machete.

Rogers has always reported with a social conscience, and that comes through in his book. (I’d expect nothing less of anything he writes.) One section, for example, deals with hiring domestic help, stating that a full-time maid can be yours in Nicaragua for $75 a month. But the book points out that market salaries equal starvation wages in a country such as Nicaragua, and suggests not gleefully rubbing your hands together (my words, not Rogers’) at how cheap you can find domestic help. Although other foreigners will advise you not to inflate the going rate, Rogers appeals to the reader’s conscience with a reminder that you won’t miss those few extra dollars a month, but they can make a world of difference to the local employee.

That’s solid advice that could and should be applied to foreigners living in any developing nation, and those are gems you normally don’t find in the living-in-anothercountry genre. They make for a great read.

Find “Living and Investing in the New Nicaragua” in Granada at the Maverick Reading and Coffee Lounge (505-552-4120), a half-block east of Bancentro, and on the Web-based bookseller amazon.com. It will soon be available in San José at 7th Street Books (256-8251), on Calle 7, between Avenidas 1 and Central.

 

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