Finding a good Rental in Nicaragua: How to rent a house or apartment in Nicaragua without paying the “Gringo” price
Are you thinking of coming down to Nicaragua for a few months? Is a house or apartment Rental in Nicaragua in your future? This article will help you make sense of how rentals work in Nicaragua and give you some tips on what you can do prior to coming down in person and what you can do when you finally arrive in-country. The goal is to ensure that you are paying the going rate, not an overly-inflated “gringo price.”
If you look like something like the Cobb family below and start asking about real estate prices, you won’t get the best prices. (Of course, Mike Cobb runs the Gran Pacifica resort and residential development so he and his lovely family don’t have this as a challenge!)
Cobb Family Enjoying Nicargua. Copyright mikesgringolife.com
Would you like to rent a place for the majority of the time you’ll be staying in Nicaragua instead of moving around from town to town? That’s a great idea as you’ll really get to know the area and will be able to get a better feel for living in Nicaragua as opposed to just visiting as a tourist. This is also an excellent step to take if you are seriously considering relocation here.
As you might imagine, visiting a place on vacation is different than living here. Even if it’s just for a winter or a summer, renting a place for say three months will give you lots of insight as to what it’s really like to live here. There’s not doubt that this step will give you plenty of opportunity to have the sorts of experiences that separate the wannabees from the folks with true expatriate abilities and suitability. Not everyone is cut out for expat life!
Expat central, La Calzada, Granada at night
If you are back home scouring the Internet, you’re not likely to see too many bargains, and some of the listings probably don’t even show photos, so it might be a bit difficult to judge whether or not a place looks suitable for your needs. Sure you can look at encuentra24.com for some decent listings, but even so, very few rentals in Nicaragua are listed on the Internet. The standard advice is to come down to Nicaragua and, if you have an idea already as to where you would like to live, go there.
This could be yours for $1,200 a week! Think you can do better? Let’s hope so…
Sometimes advertisements don’t have any photos!
If you’ve never been to Nicaragua and don’t have any specific place in mind that you would like to live, then you have some basic homework to do, which mostly consists doing your research. (Check out this article by Darrell Bushnell for help on Where to Live in Nicaragua?) If you haven’t already, consider going around the country and seeing the main towns and villages. You need to find out if you really are a beach person, city person, country person, etc. and only by moving around frequently can you figure that part out.
Lots of options, especially if you speak Spanish and want to integrate with Nicaraguan culture and peoples.
For purposes of this article, let’s assume you have decided on a place you like. Once you are in your location, take a room at a cheap hostel or rent a room in a private house for a week or so. For your short-term housing, in addition to the usual sources of information like TripAdvisor for reviews of your lodging options, you might also look at airbnb.com which offers excellent social content in the form of reviews from past guests. You might also try the Nicaragua craigslist.
You can at least get an idea as to the prices you see on the Internet for places in Nicaragua on the local Craigslist website.
Now that you have your place for the week, here is some advice and tips to help you find a couple of possibly good places for you to rent:
- Hit the streets!
Walk the streets of the town, or hire a driver if you are looking for somewhere out in the country or outside of the town or village and look around.
- Bring a person to translate for you if your Spanish is not up to snuff.
Tip: Don’t just talk to other foreign expats. Get out and talk to Nicaraguans. If you find this step to be uncomfortable, then you may not be ready for expat life. Word.
- If you find a neighborhood you like, walk the streets. If you see someone sweeping the sidewalk or coming in/out of the front of their house, stop and ask them if they know of a anyplace for rent in the area.
- Talk to your host or landlord of your short term lodging. Tell them what you’re looking for, they might be of some help. But if they are fellow expats, just be aware that they may only know of places for rent that are owned by other expats, so you might be paying “gringo prices.” Also, they may want you to rent one of their properties, even if it isn’t suitable for you.
However, since your host or landlord obviously already lives in the area, and if you like the general vicinity, he or she may be uniquely situated to be well-informed as to what is available in the neighborhood.
- Don’t talk to a realtor, real estate agent, or property management company unless paying the gringo price is what you want. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen prices doubled and sometimes tripled when you go this route.
Realtors and agents, this is just my opinion and everybody needs to make a living, so feel free to chime in here to let us know why your services are so valued. Comments are welcome!
Now that you have a couple-three places identified, here are some more tips:
- Walk the area at different times of day and different days of the week. You might find the place quiet on a Sunday afternoon but Friday night might be a whole different story!
- Hire a Nicaraguan to go and scope out the rental(s) for you.
Note: You may also have to hire a translator for this part if your Spanish isn’t up to snuff. If they are one and the same, all the better! We’ll call this person your helper.
- Show your helper the places in which you are interested. Let him or her know where the places are located that you want to look into, (maybe do a drive-by first to familiarize your guy/gal with the area) and ask them to go to the locations later, preferably on foot, and make phone calls and knock on doors.
- Helper goes alone and asks questions. When your helper gets ahold of the owners/landlords, have them ask about the availability, the price, terms, and what the neighbors are like.
- Helper reports back their findings. Schedule a meeting later that day or the next day so that your helper can tell you what they found. Take notes!
These steps can be very helpful in that you will find out what the “real” rental price is, and a local will be better equipped to find out the real deal with both the specific location and the larger neighborhood.
For example, it’s good to find out ahead of time:
- If there is an evangelical church nearby, there will be lots of loud singing and music several evenings a week in addition to Sundays.
A village evangelical church near Merida on Isla de Ometepe, Nicaragua.
© Uncorneredmarket.com, 2009
- If there is a “cantina” “taverna” or bar in the area, there will be music at night, especially on weekends, and probably drunks staggering about and possibly peeing in your front yard.
Bars get full and rowdy, especially during big football (soccer) matches.
Once you get this “inside scoop” information, you’ll be in a much better place to make an informed decision. Good luck finding the perfect Rental in Nicaragua for you and your family! Please add any of your tips or comments below.