Nicaragua and Costa Rica Find a New War to Fight


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There is no doubt that real estate in Nicaragua is vastly cheaper than its southern neighbour Costa Rica, and the recent upturn in interest in Nicaragua has led potential investors to question both markets, and rightly so. However, when buying property in any country, whatever its economic stance, one would be wise not to rush too quickly into handing over hard earned cash before weighing up cost versus location.

In Nicaragua, you can buy a beachfront property of approximately 3000 sq. ft. , with 4 bedrooms and 4 bathrooms just under US$300k. In comparison, a 4 bedroom, 4 bathroom beachfront property on the Pacific Coast in Costa Rica will set you back around US$389k. Sizeable difference you might agree. But look at what you are paying for – it could prove to be a price difference worth investing in.

Costa Rica and Nicaragua are polar opposites in their projected images to the rest of the world. Nicaragua has long suffered a negative image, not helped by the fact that it is persistently compared to its wealthier neighbour.

Nicaragua continues to be one of the poorest countries in the Western Hemisphere. Its employment issues are rife, and its external debt amounts to almost $3.2 billion. Nicaragua has one of the world’s most irregular income distribution and crime is widespread.

In comparison, Costa Rica’s economy is positive. According to a recent press release by the International Monetary Fund; “Over the past 18 months, Costa Rica's economic performance has been strong. Despite the oil price shock, growth has been higher than expected, supported by sound economic policies, strong external demand, and favorable conditions in international capital markets. ” However, despite this good news, inflation remains high at 12 percent. It went on to say that the country’s main challenge is to promote steady and economic growth, coupled with a significant reduction in inflation. The authorities said that a “multi-pronged approach” was necessary to achieve this goal.

In other news this month, Hewlett-Packard (HP) has announced its plans to expand its offices in San Jose, the capital. HP currently employs almost 3,500 people and aims to practically double this figure by 2007. This news certainly indicates that the current positive economic climate in Costa Rica is set to continue.

There is certainly a wealth of information, statistics and percentages available to help you make your decision but this tiresome process will ultimately lead you to one burning question, who really wins the debate, Nicaragua or Costa Rica? The real answer to that question is neither.

Personal choice is the key to figuring out which country is more suitable for your needs and budget. Nevertheless, keep in mind, while you shop for your Central American dream home, that there is no such thing as a “bargain” and that you pay for what you get; location, location, location.

Catherine Cunningham is a copywriter based in Costa Rica. She works full time for a web design company and writes articles and site content for clients. You can contact her on


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