My little bit of heaven in Nicaragua is a community called Rancho Santana — 1,600 acres of very beautiful country, along a remarkably stunning stretch of the Pacific Ocean. It’s about 90 minutes from Managua by car and 25 minutes by helicopter. The weather is perfect. The local people are very nice. And the views are amazing. The lot I “claimed” sits on top of a hill overlooking a grand expanse of ocean to one side and a wide plain backed by a mountain range on the other.
Below, the sea crashes against volcanic stone. A quarter of a mile further is a lodge, tennis courts, and stables. A five-minute walk to the other side of the mountain gets me to the community spa, a place to exercise and enjoy another great view of the ocean, a bar, swimming pool, etc. Rancho Santana was, five years ago, a bit of a crackpot idea cooked up by me and a few business friends. We wanted to finance our own retirement nests by creating a private tropical Eden for the people who read our newsletters.
Although it may have seemed like the quintessential development pipedream four years ago (when I trekked through a jungle on horseback to find the beach), it’s a very real and wonderful place right now. I went there last week with my family to enjoy, for the first time, my completed beach house.
Five of us stayed for seven days, completely and happily occupied with everything the ranch has to offer: great swimming; challenging hikes; long, relaxing horse rides; world-class surfing; an assortment of water sports; tennis; basketball; badminton — even horseshoes. And that’s to say nothing of lingering sunny afternoons sipping cocktails by the pool and cool evenings eating and drinking like local kings.
There are now 10 homes built and ready for rental at Rancho Santana plus five rooms in the Oxford Club bed-and-breakfast facility to accommodate larger parties. The Ranch has a full-time manager, eight round-the-clock security guards, and dozens of maintenance workers to keep everything up to snuff. From the ranch, it’s a 70-minute drive to Granada — the second oldest European city in the North American hemisphere. (Only St. Augustine, Florida, is older.) Granada is a Colonial town with a beautiful town center.
You can sit on the porch of the hotel and sip Victoria beer while watching the residents of the city stroll by. You can live like royalty in Nicaragua for a pittance. The cost of food is negligible. A housekeeper is five dollars a day. Same for a guard. You can build your house — very nicely — for $48 a square foot. (About half of what you’d pay in the States.) There are lots available in Rancho Santana for as little as $52,000. Someday — and I don’t think it will be long — these might be selling for two or three times that amount. And still they will be a tremendous value.
The same lots on the coast of California would cost between $2 million and $5 million. (You can’t get lots that nice in Florida. You just don’t get the views.) My partners and I have worked out a deal whereby you can pay for these lots without putting down a lot of money. I don’t know what the down payment is, but it’s small. Probably less than five grand. I get a small share of every lot sold, but I’m not trying to sell you. Come down and take a look at this place. You will sell yourself.
I plan to spend as much time as I can down there. Fly down and spend a long weekend or a few weeks working half-days and spending the afternoons writing my novel and staring at the ocean. This may be the perfect place for you to spend some of your unretirement years, too. You can arrange to go on a tour of Nicaragua, which includes a visit to Rancho Santana, through Agora Tours. If you’re interested, contact Barbara Periello at email@example.com be sure to mention that you are an ETR reader.