Dedicated to providing you with credible information about living overseas
Best Places In The World To Retire Community Questions and Answers about living and retiring abroad

Questions & Answers

Q & A Menu Q & A BY TOPIC
To navigate, use menu bar to the left
+505-8568-7984This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.About NICA
Jonathan Butcher of NICA – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
I'm an American (U.S. Citizen) living in Nicaragua, and I have not experienced any serious crime since I've lived here. I have been in Nicaragua since 2012, and I work with a non-profit that hosts volunteers from the U.S. quite frequently. We have spent many hours and nights in various cities throughout Nicaragua and we have never experienced a problem.
 
Just like any city in the U.S. you should take precautions. For example, you should not walk alone at night or carry a lot of valuables with you. The fact is that not a lot of serious crime happens in Nicaragua. Usually, if something does happen, it is petty theft. Just use your head, and you'll find things are generally about the same as the U.S.!
Mike Cobb of ECI Development – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Crime in Nicaragua exists as it does everywhere. However, as reported by the UNDP (United Nations Development Program) in 2013, Nicaragua had the second lowest overall crime rate in Latin America, only behind Chile. Crime against Americans is rare but does occur, usually in conjunction with the procurement of drugs and / or prostitution.
Marissa Gabrielle Lolk of Jireh Dental Care – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Clams for sale at the Oriental Market, Managua, Nicaragua – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingThere is almost no crime in Nicaragua against Americans, Canadians and other expats or foreigners. Nicaragua is the safest country in all of Central America. 
 
You would think that Nicaragua is communist, which would be a little scary, but it’s not. It is really safe. We don’t have gang members like in El Salvador or Honduras. The most that you would worry about here in Nicaragua is the most insignificant crime, which is petty theft, such as if you were walking and all of a sudden somebody just grabs your bag.
 
You have to have common sense. When you’re walking around, you’re not going to be flashing your phone everywhere because then you would be sending the wrong signals to people who are looking for an opportunity to rob somebody. There are certain times of the year that get a little crazy in terms of theft – it’s Christmas time, right before Christmas time, and right before Holy Week. The thieves are sort of on vacation as well!
 
The houses in Nicaragua have burglar bars, not because there are lots of thieves here but rather it’s the style here. I guess it had to do with the olden days when a lot of the city of Managua was still underdeveloped so there were lots of fields and open forests. Nicaragua is a mixture of forest and jungle and there were animals so people would put fences around their houses so that wild animals wouldn’t come into their property and eat their chickens or make it to their house. It is something that just became a part of their architectural landscape.
 
All the houses here in Nicaragua are walled because you don’t want people to see what you have in the house. It also depends on the neighborhood where you are going to live. If you are going to live in a very poor, dangerous neighborhood, like a favela (in Brazil), then yes, you would have fences and you would worry about people breaking into your house. But most of the time, if you’re not gringo-looking, if you’re a little bit tan, or if you look like you’re from here, then most of the time, if you move into one of those poor neighborhoods, people actually become really good friends with you. They give you a heads up. They would tell you if someone was trying to break into your house so you could keep an eye out for that. 
 
I have patients who actually work in the public market. They sell produce, etc. There were times when I would take out my phone there and take a phone call and sometimes the ladies there would tell me, “Hey, you know, that guy over there is a thief. Be really careful. Put your stuff away. Put your keys in your front pocket, and just walk out really normal. Try not to go around where he is.” Sometimes I’ve had it happen where they turned around openly and told the thief, “Back off my customer!” Point blank! They said, “Get out of here. You know who I’m talking to!” And then the guy just got up, walked out, and went. These things happen in the public markets but it also depends on what market you go to. There is a market where nothing will happen to you and there is a market that is really dangerous. 
 
You have to be savvy of where you are going just like you would anywhere; even if you were in the States. Just like in the States, you’re not going to walk into a ghetto and expect that nothing is going to happen to you. You have to be vigilant. If you are walking to the mall or to a restaurant or just a public eatery out on the street, you just have to be conscious during the summer, which is Holy Week and during Christmas; you have to be a little bit more vigilant.
 
My typical day in Managua compared to my typical day in South Pasadena, California, where I’m from, would be exactly the same. I wouldn’t experience any crime at all. It’s so safe here. I sleep with my windows open. You can walk on the streets here, go jogging, run with your iPod or iPhone on and you’re fine. I never had any problem being out with my kids or being by myself. I am the one who goes to the markets. If you go to the Huembes Market, which is one of the central markets in Managua, you will find that it’s very safe in there. You will see tourists walking in, there are natives, etc. You can buy your fruits and everything related to your home or whatever you need in there. It is “super super duper” safe and you don’t have to worry about anything.
 
(Clams for sale at the Oriental Market, Managua, Nicaragua, pictured.)
Carolyn Membreño of León Travel Bureau – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Children in Leon, Nicaragua – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingOverall, (and probably many people get shocked about this) Nicaragua has one of the lowest crime rates in all of Latin America. Specifically, in Leon, where I live, it is very safe. There have only been three murders in the entire year 2015 and there were none in 2013 and 2014. Leon has a population of around 200,000.
 
Nicaragua, in general, is a very safe country to live in. However, there are a lot of opportunistic or petty crimes here. For example, there are petty thefts of bicycles or personal items that are left out in the open. A lot of the crimes that happen here are familial crime – for example, a husband and wife, who are in a violent situation. But overall, the crimes here in Nicaragua are petty crime so if you are out and you are not careful, you might get pick-pocketed. That does happen frequently, especially during the holidays so you have to exercise caution.
 
Managua has some of the higher crime rates in the country because it is the capital and there are many more people there. Places like Leon, Granada, or Estelí have very low crime rates. As an example, we have moneychangers here in Nicaragua, where people go to exchange their dollars into córdobas because the money changers offer a better exchange rate than if you go to the banks. You will find these moneychangers on some corners and in parks, processing thousands of dollars all day and nobody bothers them. In the US, if there is a money changer exchanging money at the corner, you wouldn’t last five minutes and you’ll get robbed. Here in Nicaragua, money changers are so common and nobody bothers them at all. It is just a way of life. People here, for the most part, are very honest.
 
Overall, Nicaragua is not a violent country compared to the US. Where I am from in Elizabeth, New Jersey, if you leave your garbage can outside, it will be gone in 10 minutes if it is not chained to something. Elizabeth is near Newark, New Jersey, which is a major city. Here in Nicaragua, many people still leave their front doors wide open. You cannot do that in Elizabeth because if you do, you will be mugged within 15 minutes of somebody seeing your door open. If you are going out at night, you just have to exercise caution as you would anywhere. Nicaragua is a pretty safe country.
 
(Children in Leon, Nicaragua, pictured.)
Mario Robleto of SAENICSA Accounting and Tax Services – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Corn Island, Nicaragua beach – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingThe crime here in Nicaragua is non-violent and it’s mainly just someone stealing something from you, whether it be someone who stole your wallet, pick-pocketed you, or maybe the person that you were employing, stole money from you when you weren’t looking; it’s that kind of crime. The crime here in Nicaragua is generally not confrontational, especially when compared to what might be in the newspaper from New York, Detroit, California, Florida, or Texas.  Generally in Nicaragua you walk at night on the street and not be concerned, by yourself, or with your family. 
 
In Indianapolis, where I used to live, you hear a lot about homicide, car-jacking and home invasions where they point a gun at you while you’re there.  I’m not saying that these things never happened in Nicaragua, because they do, but against foreigners it’s very, very rare. The majority of time you won't hear hear about anything violent or a loss of life, unless it is an traffic accident or some kind of accident at work or something like that. Homicides don’t happen that much, and much less to foreigners in Nicaragua. This is the reason why, in the Central American region, Nicaragua is the safest country to visit compared to Costa Rica and Panama, and even more so when compared to Guatemala, Mexico, or Belize. 
 
(Caribbean beach on Little Corn Island, Nicaragua, pictured.)
Joseph Bowersmith – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Mr and Mrs Bowersmith outide their home in Nicaragua – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingI've had some bad experiences in the seven years that I’ve been here in the Jinotega area in Nicaragua. I was waiting for a bus when a guy who's a known drunk demanded money from me. I've also had a group of people try to extort money from me by trying to tell me they're going to make my life miserable unless I pay them to leave me alone. In both cases, I stood my ground and wouldn’t give my money, and in both cases, nothing happened. I stood my ground.  In the case of the drunk demanding money, some other guys came walking along, and ended up chasing him off.
 
Generally, the police do not take reports. They don't really have forms; they have notebooks. So there's no number, and no registration of police reports.  Rather than have the police write up the denuncia (a legal form used to write up a crime), I’ve had to use a lawyer. The lawyer can write up the report and take it into the police chief, who, if the report is about a friend of his, could throw it away.  It would be “borrado,” which means, “erased.”  I would not trust the government statistics on crime here in Nicaragua.  Crime happens.  It’s just a matter of having to learn how to deal with it. 
 
Living here in Nicaragua, my wife and I basically deal with the people that we know. Other people who have caused problems for us, we have nothing more to do with them, businesses we know that are associated with them or associates of theirs. 
 
Generally, crime doesn’t concern me. My wife is not scared of going out during the day. However, we don't go anywhere at night. There are definitely places I would not walk around here at night.
 
The police did suggest at one time that I beef up my security around my house. We have two nice German shepherds. We love them. Our neighbors are scared of them. The people here tend to be scared of dogs because they are more accustomed to dogs being used as guard and attack dogs. If you have a couple of dogs, take good care of them, so that they're not as prone to be poisoned by thieves trying get access to your property. Usually, having dogs keeps people away from your property pretty well. For example, there was a time when I was walking one dog and my wife was home with the other one.  The dog with my wife alerted her to someone being outside. Some guy was coming up to the house with a bit of rebar and if it hadn't been for the dog, I don't know what would’ve happened. Once our dog let him know he was there, the guy decided to leave. 
 
To me, the level of concern about safety here in Nicaragua is about the same as it is if I were in Colorado. You have to be aware of what's around you and you just pay attention. You had better have some street smarts. In Colorado, we had our house broken in to. Someone ransacked it and stole stuff. If we had come home while the guy was there, then there probably would have been an act of violence against us. My wife was running a business in Arvada, Colorado, and was robbed twice. Crime happens in both places.
 
(Pictured: my wife and me outside our newly constructed home in Nicaragua.)

Go Here Next

 
Best Places In The World To Retire Expat Stories contains text, video, and photos by people just like you who are already living abroadUse the menu on this page to go to categories of Stories.
Best Places In The World To Retire Community Questions and Answers about living and retiring abroadUse the menu on this page to go to other categories of questions.
The Best Places In The World To Retire Location Advisor makes personalized recommendations for where to live and retire overseasGet matched to your ideal location to live abroad.
Best Places In The World To Retire Community Questions and Answers about living and retiring abroadAnswers about living, working or visiting abroad.
Best Places In The World To Retire Expat Stories contains text, video, and photos by people just like you who are already living abroadStories by expats & others about their life aborad.
Best Places In The World To Retire - MarketplaceFind for profit, non-profit and religious organizations.
 

Our Pledge To You

Best Places will present information from the Community in a transparent way, unedited, except to conform with our Conditions of Use.

You can trust that Best Places does not manipulate content to sell you anything. All opinions in the Community Q & A and Expat Stories are those of its authors, not Best Places.

Get Known To The Community

Those who contribute to the Best Places Community are our heroes! And being a Best Places hero is fast, fun, and easy. Just go to Questions & Answers, find your first question to answer, click on it, and then click the Contribute Your Answer To This Question Button. If you’d rather enter a Story, go to Expat Stories and click the Contribute Your Story Button".

Contact/Support

Please contact us. We would love to hear from you! Customer Service
Technical Support
Business Development
Suggestions
Press
Phone: (US) 520-940-0481