Granada is where Nicaragua puts on its best face for visitors.
It sits on the shore of the vast Lake Nicaragua, just an hour’s drive from the country’s capital, Managua.
Centuries-old colonial architecture fills the historic city center surrounding the neoclassical-style Cathedral of Granada and the Parque Central. Red tile roofs, brightly-painted walls, and large, imposing wooden doors line the narrow streets. Some exteriors feature elaborate tile work, wood carvings, or stone accents.
But many are quite plain…from the street, at least.
Poke your head into an open doorway and you’re likely to see a large courtyard with a garden…maybe a fountain or swimming pool. The perimeter of the courtyard is usually covered by a tile roof covering large wooden beams. Often, kitchens and living areas are open air, with enclosed high-ceiling bedrooms.
Granadinos, as residents call themselves, are proud of their homes, which have often been in the family for generations. Don’t be surprised if you’re invited in for a tour if somebody catches you peaking in.
Grand restored historic colonials are not just homes though. Many have also been turned into boutique hotels, hip clothing shops, restaurants and cafes, art galleries, and more. There’s nothing better than enjoying a cool drink in one of these courtyards, escaping the heat of the day thanks to great cross-ventilation (a feature of their design) and ceiling fans turning lazily.
The architecture and history have long attracted tourists to Granada—better bring an extra memory card for your camera.
And in the past several years, more and more long-term foreign residents have come to call the city home as well. They’re eager to take advantage of Nicaragua’s low cost of living in a beautiful setting.
If you’re going to call Granada home, the best way to experience it is by living in the colonial quarter, of course. A great many expats have already bought restored colonial homes. And they’re available at all price points and states of repair.
You can buy virtual ruins for $30,000—untouched for decades—and do a full restoration at $50 to $75 per square foot for high-end finishes. Or go high-end with a fully restored home with a pool and luxury finishes in the $250,000 and up range.
On my recent trip to the city, I saw both extremes and everything in between.
One property in particular caught my eye—a restored colonial with the classic tile floor and garden courtyard. The former owner was running it as a bed and breakfast. It’s ready to go if you wanted to open it for business again.
But with a roomy courtyard and outdoor living area and kitchen, as well as four bedrooms, and a separate two-story “owner’s apartment,” it could easily be a large home. It’s furnished too.
It’s located just a few blocks from La Calzada—the main pedestrian avenue full of restaurants and shops, and the central park and cathedral.
And Granada’s main market is right down the street—a great place to get fresh fruits and vegetables…and just about anything else you need as far as food and household goods.
At $165,000, it’s a great deal.
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