Questions around the safety in Nicaragua always arise when you talk to friends and family about your idea to retire to Nicaragua. Isn't it a dictatorship? How about polictical stability?
Somehow those questions are understandable. After all, Daniel Ortega, the infamous Nicaragua Sandinista leader, was re-elected in 2007 and again in 2011.
After the 2007 election, real estate prices
plummeted and foreign investors feared for the worst. However, once the
initial period of panic was over, the Nicaraguan constitutional
democracy emerged to be as peaceful and stable as before.
Whilst President Ortega has not lived up to his promises in terms of creating new jobs and fostering economic growth, he achieved some positive developments, like re-establishing free education and health services.
What might surprise you: Nicaragua is reportedly the safest of all Central American countries today, at least according to a study by INCAE, the Harvard Business School affiliate in Managua.
In 2008 the NicaTimes reported the government's plan to train some 500 tourism police to more than double the existing tourist cop force. Despite those efforts, the Nicaraguan police force is rather unequipped. I've heard stories that police officers had to be picked up in private vehicles as the police car had run out of gas.
Petty crimes like pickpocketing and bag snatching are your biggest concern. Don't wear flashy jewelry and keep your bag close to your body when you are out and about, especially in crowded places like markets and buses. Assaults, violent attacks and rape are much less common in Nicaragua than elsewhere in Central America.
All in all, the Nicaragua safety situation is definitely better than its reputation!