Conference will highlight expat life in Nicaragua

For whatever reason, Nicaragua is generally not on most people’s shortlist of places to visit.

I felt the same way 13 years ago before my first visit here.  But now, having lived here for 10 years, and watched many folks become excited about the country after seeing it, I’m encouraging others to set aside pre-conceived notions and come on down and see it for themselves. 

Nicaragua is truly a country you have to experience to believe.  Even well-travelled executives and professionals have a hard time getting their heads around this concept.  Just recently, David Kidd, a world-renown golf architect famous for his Castle Course at St Andrews, said he had no idea what to expect from Nicaragua.

Kidd didn’t know what to expect when he first crossed the border from Costa Rica into Nicaragua. He said he was naively worried about guys with AK-47s and civil war.

“But then I thought, ‘You dumbass, there is nothing like that here; the place is full of surf bums’.”  –The Nicaragua Dispatch, February 28, 2012

Surf bums and billionaires and everything in between. You see, old perceptions can be deceiving.   When you look at the facts, Nicaragua is a fantastic place to invest, do business, vacation, own property, and retire.  

 What do all these people know that you don’t?

1.     Nicaragua is safe

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.

2.     Nicaragua is an exciting place to vacation

Whole lotta lava in Nicaragua. Ashboarding… – – October 17, 2011

Horseback riding in San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua – – October 10, 2011

3.     Nicaragua is a comfortable place to call home

The 5 Best Places in the World to Retire – – November 1, 2011

Nicaragua, the Dollar Goes a Long Way – AARP – November 26, 2010

Is Nicaragua the Next Retirement Paradise? – Forbes Retirement Guide 2009

4.     Nicaragua is Open for Business

The World Bank’s “Doing Business Report 2010”  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 World Bank’s “Doing Business Report 2010” has ranked Nicaragua as the fastest country in which to start a business in Central America. 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.

5.     Nicaragua is an awesome place to surf

Southern Swell –
New York Times MAY 16, 2011

Holly Beck:  Tubes and Surfing with Amigas
Surfgirl on February 14, 2012


You see, Nicaragua is a changed country from the 1980’s. Independent analysis demonstrates this.   You need to see this country for yourself and make your own judgments.  Misperceptions about Nicaragua are a window of opportunity. And we want to help people jump on it. 

The world is changing quickly and more and more people are considering moving and owning property overseas.  Or perhaps they want to open a business. There are lots of reasons people are making the move.  

Retirement, a better quality of life on a limited budget, and the opportunity to serve others in business or charity are the most popular reasons.  There are others too, like political reasons, marriage, and job transfers. For whatever reasons, the numbers are growing rapidly and more and more North Americans are coming to Nicaragua and Latin America.

While we who are here welcome those on the way, we also know the dangers and pitfalls many of us have made.  They are the same ones that you are likely to make without a good sense of the legal, cultural, and political differences.   Many of these “opportunities for growth” lay hidden in the familiar and will trip us up before we even know what has happened.   You should arm yourself with facts and knowledge so that you can spot these legal, political, and cultural tripwires and avoid as many of these missteps as possible.

The Central American Advantage Conference on May 15-19 in Managua, Nicaragua will be an opportunity to explore these issues with expats and entrepreneurs in a one-stop shop format for all your questions about living, investing, running a business, and retiring in the region. You will see, hear, and meet more 30 expats living in Nicaragua, many of whom have started and run business here too.

This 4-day event is designed to cover the critical data you need to know before you move south of the border.  Additionally, you’ll have the opportunity to participate in a day of social service alongside your fellow attendees and celebrities from Nicaragua. Plan to stay on a few extra days to tour properties, businesses, and meet with lawyers, advisors, government officials, and individuals who can help you create the opportunity you envision.  

Day-1 of the conference will cover the basics of living and investing in the region with a specific focus on Nicaragua. Topics will include opening and running a business, legal issues in a Civil Law system, property ownership do’s and dont’s, and the basic rules and procedures for becoming a resident.  

For many folks, opening a business in the tourism sector is the first field they explore.  This conference has dedicated the afternoon of the first day to a specific focus on opportunities in tourism.  While the topic is tourism, the general lessons of running a business offshore will come through loud and clear.  In all, 15 expat business owners will serve on four panels discussing not only the traditional tourism sectors like hotels, condos and bed & breakfast, but also the alternative sectors of tourism including Agro-tourism, Sustainable tourism, and Medical tourism.  These business leaders will be invited to join you at the poolside cocktail party so you can grab them one-on-one and dig into the details of what it’s really like to start and operate a business overseas. 

Please Note: On this first day of the conference, you will also hear from International Asset Protection and Tax Attorney, Joel Nagel.  He will lead a special session on the HIRE Act passed by the US Congress and signed into Law by President Obama in 2010.  This law has immediate and profound effects on US Citizens and business people with assets overseas.  New filing and reporting requirements are now in effect.  Penalties for non-compliance are severe including possible jail time.  Understanding these changes before January 1, 2013 is critical to stay in compliance.  Mr. Nagel will explain this law and what it means for US Citizens with offshore assets.

Day-2 of the conference is reserved for a discussion of the opportunities awaiting business people and property owners at a regional level. Several presenters will highlight opportunities available to investors both inside and outside of Nicaragua. Industry leaders will discuss your options for international banking, asset protection, privacy considerations, and tax issues facing the international business community and foreign residents. 

Day-3 of the conference will focus on due diligence.  Multiple panel discussions are included to highlight the variety of expats, retirees, expat entrepreneurs, business owners, and service organizations.  You will hear first hand from 18 expats exactly what it is like to work and live in the region.  These panels are a way to see who is doing what quickly and let you identify those folks with whom you’d like to meet one-on-one over cocktails or work alongside in the day of service.

In the afternoon, we break for an excursion to the 475 year-old colonial city of Granada and a former monastery, now a museum and grand cultural center. After a short walking tour of the town’s Central Plaza, attendees will enjoy cocktails while touring the exhibits and artifacts in the museum.  Dinner will be a traditional specialty.   Entertainment will feature dancers in “Traje Tipico” highlighting Nicaragua’s impressive and multicultural heritage. 

Day-4 of the conference is a day of social service working in the community along side local and international celebrities.  Two Nicaraguan NGO’s will offer a special opportunity for attendees and speakers to participate in a hands-on day of service choosing from either a project in Education or Environmental Preservation.   Everyone will then work alongside volunteers and beneficiaries for a wonderful day of giving back and connecting to Nicaragua in a special and unique way.

If you wish to register, please fill out the form HERE

Michael Cobb
Conference Co-Host



  • Frank Ingram

    Great Blog Jim. I agree. I have been here for 8 years and I feel more at home here than the USA.
    The one thing I disagree with is the article on Costa Rica being the safest. Me and my friends rate Nicaragua the safest in CA.

  • Wish I was ‘in country’

    Even though my wife and I have made the move to purchase a home in Granada I’d have loved to participate to understand more about business opportunities.

    The local people in Granada are warm, friendly and helpful. Sure I’m scrambling to learn Spanish so I don’t have to rely quite so much on sign language but loving the place more with each visit.

    Going to be very interesting to see how things develop over next few years as Nicaragua plays catch up to Costa Rica and Panama.

  • Colinsito

    After seeing what they did to the owners of Joluva Hotel, I would never dream of becoming an expat in Nicaraugua. I hope the international gay community shames the country and puts disuades tourism and investment. With treatment like that, they will never play “catch-up” to Costa Rica.

    • Bio B

      Great comment! You are absolutely right. Once you make yourself above the crowd, they steal from you. SUPPORT JAN & FRANCIS

  • Al Fisk

    Why would you look at the info of Doing Business with Nicaragua 2010 when you have the information of 2012 available

  • Map of Central America Countries

    Interesting and great written by you. I enjoyed reading this.