With more and more people relocating to Nicaragua finding a desirable and affordable rental isn’t always easy. But if you’re persistent, avoid getting discouraged and follow these tips you might just find your perfect rental today!
POUNDING THE PAVEMENT:
Since most locals rent their homes by placing a small “SE ALQUILA” sign on the front of the house get out there every single day and walk the neighborhoods that you’re interested in living in. Properties commonly rent on a month to month basis – so beware – a home that was occupied yesterday may be available today and then gone tomorrow. Remember – you aren’t the only one pounding the pavement – the best deals come and go in the blink of an eye.
WORD OF MOUTH:
Tell everyone you know that you’re looking for rental. Talk to expats and business owners in the area. Post messages in forums and Facebook groups such as Expats in Nicaragua, Expats in San Juan del Sur. When we were looking for a long term rental in San Juan del Sur we talked to so many people there were times when random waiters at restaurants would approach us as we were walking by to tell us they had a friend or family member who had a place for rent.
Typically classified ads for long term rentals are posted by foreigners or computer savvy Nicas who expect a higher price for their properties because they know how to market. There are some good deals to be found through classified ads, but the very best opportunities are almost always found through word of mouth or pounding the pavement. Listed below are a couple classified sites that are worth checking out.
REAL ESTATE AGENCIES:
Although most real estate agents and property managers deal almost exclusively with highly priced, short term vacation rentals occasionally they do have a gem in their back pocket. On occasion they may have a few sale listings where the seller wants to rent out their home while they wait for a buyer. Visiting local real estate agencies is definitely worthwhile, but consider this option a long shot to finding your rental.
Posting boards are commonly found in bars, restaurants, corner stores, laundry mats, hostels, etc. and are also a good place to find rentals. It’s not uncommon for the business owner to have a home for rent, so don’t forget to enquire with the proprietor and his/her staff.
NEGOTIATE A SHORT TERM RENTAL INTO SOMETHING LONG TERM
If you find yourself searching for a rental during slow season and you’re willing to sign a long term lease you may just be lucky enough to negotiate a fair price on a short term rental turning into an affordable long term option. It never hurts to ask.
Lately we’ve been receiving a lot of emails from followers with questions regarding real estate in Nicaragua. We are far from experts on this subject, but we have learned a lot in the last sixteen months that we’ve been here.
One thing in particular we’ve learned is that locale is paramount for us being happy long term.
Prior to making the move to Nicaragua our home was in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. We were a one hour drive from the beautiful snow-capped Rocky Mountains, but a ten hour drive from the ocean.
Our plan when arriving in Nicaragua was to move around a bit in the first year, so that we could get a feel for where we wanted to settle down. And that’s exactly what we did.
Our first rental home was situated on the tranquil beach of Poneloya. Falling asleep to the sound of the waves crashing on the shore was amazing.
But unfortunately it didn’t take long to learn that life in Poneloya wasn’t for us. This lovely little beach town was too tranquil for our liking. After a couple of weeks there we were already craving more stimulation.
We also learned that owning a beach house doesn’t come without drawbacks. Salt air does major damage to a home. It causes electronics to expire long before they should. And, unless you paint it multiple times throughout the year, metal will rust. Wood work also needs to be stained or painted annually.
After one month in Poneloya we moved into a guest house in the bustling city of Leon.
Although there’s a lot to do in Leon, there aren’t many expats living there. Getting to know a few locals was great, but we soon realized we needed at least a couple of friends with similar interests, outlooks and life experiences.
Another downfall of Leon is the unbearable heat.
During the last month of dry season temperatures soar upwards of 40 degrees Celsius (that’s 104 Fahrenheit for y’all Americans) with nearly 100% humidity and no breeze for relief.
When there is wind, it comes from the inland volcanoes rather than the ocean. It blows across the dry, dusty fields and into the city. There were days in Leon when we felt like we were standing in a giant hair-drying sand blaster.
Granada was the next city we called home. It’s similar to Leon in size and pace, but offers cool lake breezes.
We loved the location of Granada. It is close to Managua, the airport, Laguna de Apoyo and the National Handicraft market in Masaya.
Granada also offers more westernized options to coincide with the plethora of expats. But unfortunately for us, our parents fit in much more naturally with the age group of most expats who are currently living there.
Next stop? The coastal town of San Juan del Sur.
Originally we thought San Juan del Sur would be too small a place for us to settle down in, but boy were we wrong. Within a very short period of time the town had won us over.
Even though San Juan del Sur is touristy, there is a great mix of locals and expats in all age ranges. The expat community here is very diverse.
The house we currently rent is located in town about three blocks from the beach. We are up on a hill so we can take advantage of the cool breezes from Lake Nicaragua.
Sounds great? Right?
Well, it probably would be if dogs and roosters weren’t barking and cock-a-doodle-doing all day and night. Last week they were competing to be heard over parades, firecrackers and the techo beats of Semana Santa. It seems as though every second week there is a holiday accompanied by a celebration, that can sometimes last for days.
After sixteen months of moving around we think we finally have figured out it.
The San Juan del Sur area is definitely where we want to settle down. We have been (and still are) passively looking for a property to call our own.
In a perfect world our ideal location would meet the following criteria:
- Close to town
- On a hill (so we’ll have breezes)
- Ocean view
- Close to a beach
- Priced right
- Away from dogs, roosters, parades and fireworks
- Flexibility and options for house construction
Our list is long, but amazingly enough we think we’ve found something that gets a check in all the boxes.
We are super excited to be meeting with a friend (and developer) later this week to learn more about his plans for his 100 acre development located just outside of town.
For anyone that thinks that Elisha and I are care free and always ready for adventure I have a story to share with you. It goes like this…
On February 9, 2012 I received an email from a blog follower. It read as follows:
“My name is Cameron, fellow Canadian. 5 years ago some friends and myself bought a beachfront lot with a beat up house on it (sight unseen). Up until now nobody has been able to go down there and check it out. My wife and two young daughters 4 and 6, plan to drive to Poneloya in mid-March and stay as long as we can. 3 months or so.”
Cameron went on to ask us if we could take a look at the house for him as he only had pictures from when the house was purchased. His pictures showed a house that was rough around the edges. What we saw was a few walls, no roof and a lot of garbage. I guess what Cameron didn’t know was how hard the ocean and heat is on homes that close to the sea. We replied to his email explaining that the house was in pretty bad shape, but we didn’t include any pictures.
Fast forward to yesterday…
Elisha and I were visiting our friend Carlos in Poneloya when we decided to go for a stroll down the road. 5 minutes into our walk and we see a guy up the road a bit waving at us and calling my name. Oddly enough, this isn’t the first time someone we have never met recognized us from pictures on our blog and flagged us down on the beach in Poneloya.
This time it turned out to be none other than our fellow Canuck, Cameron Yee. We learned that him and his wife Ashlie have been on the road for three weeks, traveling with their two children Lila and ChynaMae in a big diesel van that they have nick-named Chocolate Charlie. They started their journey from their home in Oregon and have traveled through the United States, Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras to arrive here in Nicaragua with their two daughters.
When Cameron and Ashlie saw the house they were shocked and a little dismayed at the state that it was in. Their daughter Lila, ever the optimist declared,
“It’s beautiful Mommy!” and then ran toward the beach with her sister in tow.
It became abundantly clear that Cameron and Ashlie would need to switch to Plan B and find somewhere else to stay. Normally this would be easy, but since we are in the middle of Semana Santa celebrations every hotel, hostel and rental home is full. The short term solution is to park inside the gates at Carlos’ place Hostal El Pulpo, run an extension cord to an air conditioner in the van and camp out.
Over the last couple of days we’ve had an opportunity to spend some time with the Yee’s. As you would expect they are easy going and a lot of fun. Their girls are super cute and excited to try new things.
Less than an hour after landing on the beach ChynaMae spotted a huge Brahma cow, not too far from where she was building her sandcastle. She took off running after it with her Mom, running behind her. She eventually got close enough that the cow noticed her – stopped and swung it’s head around – and stared her straight in the eye. That was enough to stop her in her tracks. Mae’s selective hearing finally tuned in to her Mom’s calls and she turned back and ran for the water. This should give you a bit of a glimpse into the girls’ personalities and why they are so much fun to hang out with.
The Yee’s will be connected to the world again soon via a Claro 3G rocket stick. If you’d like to read more about the adventures of this super cool and fun family check out their Nica Bound.
Personally, we can’t wait to see where their adventure takes them next!
Approximately 2.5 hours after leaving Leon, making only one wrong turn along the way, we arrived in the town of Esteli and easily found the central park. Finding a place to lay our heads for the night warranted a bit more effort, but we eventually stumbled across a decent B&B called Hostal Santa Maria.
For a rate of $15 per night we were quite happy with our little room with “private bathroom”.
Our cuarto was super clean (much cleaner than my feet) and had a comfy bed with good pillows. I was quite excited about snuggling up under the thick comforter that night, much more so than I was about Gord going number two behind the green and yellow shower curtain.
It wasn’t until we registered and handed over our money to pay for our room did we realize that the nightly rate was actually $15 per person, not $15 per night. Not nearly the great deal we originally thought it to be, but we decided to spending the night just the same.
Later that afternoon we took some time to wander around and explore the streets of Esteli. The town was busy and bustling, but not nearly as fast paced as Leon. The cooler temperatures we felt were a welcomed change from the extreme heat we’ve been experiencing in Leon.
This being my first visit to Esteli with the afternoon light just right and a fully charged battery in my camera I was anxious to find some new and interesting subjects and objects to photograph.
Here’s a sampling of what I saw:
The city of Esteli may not be a photographer’s dream compared to the colonial cities of Leon and Granada, but as you can see I had no trouble finding the interesting subjects and objects I was looking for.
The majority of day two of our Esteli trip was spent exploring Somoto Canyon. To read about our experience click here.
We decided to spend night two at Hotel Cualitlan. We rented one of their cabins at a nightly rate of $40 USD. A full breakfast was included.
Although there wasn’t really anything extra special about Hotel Cualitlan our cabin was clean, quiet and comfortable and we had a good night’s sleep.
With all the exercise we got from exploring Somoto Canyon we had worked up an appetite. Ranked #2 on Trip Advisor we opted to try Pullaso’s Ole steakhouse. My chicken, beef, shrimp and chorizo sausage kebob was cooked very well. The meat was tender, juicy and very tasty. Gord’s flank steak was perfectly grilled to medium rare as requested.
Before making our way back to Leon on Sunday we took a drive up the hill through Tisey Nature Reserve. As you can see the view was pretty awesome! If you look closely at the photo (top right) you can actually see a Volcan Telica.
We really enjoyed our 1st road trip in the Galloper and are looking forward to wherever our road trip travels take us next!
When I shopped for clothing in Canada I looked for quality so that my clothes would last. In Nica my wardrobe consists mainly of t-shirts and shorts. In a t-shirt quality used to mean a nice thick, heavy weight cotton jersey. With Leon’s toasty hot weather I find myself wearing the thinnest, lightest clothing that I brought with me. I’ve been wanting to augment my hot weather clothing, but didn’t really care to buy into the local knockoff trends of Hollister, Aeropostale or Abercrombie & Fitch.
If you ever wonder where your summer clothing donations go to when they are out of season in Canada, well I can tell you. They are donated to countries like Nicaragua and then bought in lots by retailers and then sold to the locals. To kill some time one night Elisha and I went into one of these stores in Esteli. They had some of the most random clothing that you could imagine. Everything from high-end dress shirts to promotional giveaway t-shirts from fundraiser walks.
Shopping at the Nica Goodwill was super entertaining and something that I want to do again. In fact I think this is my new shopping venue. I found a super “cool” t- shirt. After doing some internet research I found out it is from a K-8 school in Oakville, Ontario, Canada. It’s a Maple Grove Griffins team shirt that must have been worn by a rather large chubby 8th grader because it fits me like a glove. It’s a little short in the sleeves which shows off the guns.
2 bank cards, 2 credit cards, 18 ATM withdrawals over two days, 90 minutes at a lawyer’s office, followed by the exchange of 350 twenty dollar bills, just 74 days after we arrived in Nicaragua we are now the proud owners of a fully loaded 2001 Hyundai Galloper 2.5L Turbo Diesel 4 X 4.
This tank should get us ANYWHERE we want to go in Nicaragua!