The thing is the best information is also from the Nicaraguan official web sites and from the Nicaraguan consulate. A lot of people will do anything they can to avoid interfacing directly with Nicaraguans. Basically, most retireees are going to stay home. I'm hearing that most people are planning to work until they're seventy -- and most people that age are not moving away from their support system in place. This coming wave of Americans who are going to retire to foreign countries seems to be as mythical as the million American retirees in Mexico. Aiming promotion to the retiring adjuncts, who can continue to teach in Nicaragua, who are likely to have small pensions make a certain amount of sense. Aiming promotion of Nicaragua to people who have larger pensions and savings who can afford to buy the spectacularly overpriced houses in Granada, San Juan del Sur, etc., is silly because those people have the whole world to choice from. Nicaragua considered going to a minimum of $1,000 a month and decided not to because that would put them in competition with the rest of Central and South America ($800 or $900 a month for Ecuador). It's worth it to Nicaragua to have Americans who have sub-$1,000 pensions who learn Spanish and scatter themselves around the country.
Most of the people retiring here were born in Nicaragua and are coming back now that los ricos have found out that Daniel Ortega doesn't bite. A few are people who always wanted to live in a different culture -- having as many or more Nicaraguan friends as having other expat friends. The people who buy to have a warm place to escape the winter basically have little to do with Nicaraguans other than the help. That's predominantly coastal. According to a friend who is ex-military, most military retirees live either near their last duty station or go back to their home towns.
It's a fairly rare person who retires to a foreign country for basically good reasons. A rather large number retire to Nicaragua, as one expat put it, to get a better class of women (in terms of beauty) than they could ever get close to at home. Or boy, for both sexes. Or they come here because the liquor is cheap and the law doesn't bother pot smokers much, and some come because they think they could create a business here since the labor is so much cheaper.
I'm the only expat of the ten I know of or know personally who is actually happy here. I suspect the ratios are higher elsewhere. I'm urging people who travel to come here (may have sold a bank phone clerk a trip to Nicaragua yestereday when I was setting up a different bank account). I don't think I'd urge anyone to retire here who hadn't lived happily in a large US city with a diverse population unless they were married to a Nicaraguan. Almost every other nationality seems to be happier here than North Americans.
When people start talking about $600 seminars and $200K houses, we're talking about people who will be buying in to expat colonies along the coast. And they can buy into coastal areas anywhere in the world, including English-speaking areas.
Those of us with the sub $1,000 pensions can spend money locally without inflating prices, without making things shakier for Nicaraguans who make $300 a month or less. For the urban folks, we have solo about $100 or $200 more a month than a two income family with non-professional jobs. We can't afford to buy farmland, so farm prices don't go out of the range of real farmers. Frequently we rent, don't buy, and because we're more integrated into the Nicaraguan community, we tend to be cannier when we do buy houses ($25K is still too high for one house I was looking at), so we don't drive local real estate bubbles.
But most people with sub $1K pensions are not likely to come here because they may not have the initial nut for the move ($5K minimum, better with $10K).
The very rich are likely to have second homes in Europe. I talked to a Swedish tourist yesterday and people retired to be warmer, but not to live cheaper since European pensions are sufficient for living in a range of place in Europe.
We don't vote; Nicaraguans do. If Nicaraguans believe that we're not a net gain for Nicaragua and are causing inflation without a parallel rise in local wages to do better than inflation, we don't get to stay. The more people they can attract who don't cause inflation, the better for the country.
The people who will be happy here are poor but clever, and able to deal directly with Nicaraguans because they've successfully worked for or with blacks, Hispanics, Chinese, Cherokee, etc. The ideal candidate for retiring here? One guy left rural Virginia and became a wandering computer tech and English teacher in Indonesia, the Netherlands, Qualla Boundary (Cherokee reservation in NC), and who knows where since I knew him. Probably won't have much of a pension, but he's flexible enough to not try to fix Nicaragua.
If I had sufficient income from something other than writing more (and if that started selling as well as my first book, I wouldn't ever leave Jinotega out of sheer superstition), I'd probably look at Mexico or Cottonwood Falls, Kansas, or the Sierra foothills, or Ireland.
We don't have violent crime against expats in the north; San Juan del Sur and Granada do. The kid beggars here are just hobbyists and there really aren't that many of them. Similar thing in Manhattan. Where the people coming in to gentrify were seriously richer than the people they were beginning to displace, the robberies were meaner and sometimes lethal. Lower East Side, some of the hippies had to talk novice muggers through the steps. I had some kids pull back in a doorway and say, "Hey, don't mess with her."
The darker and more aggressive crime seems to go with a general community disapproval of the new comers, or community disapproval of a specific person. We have one guy here who's been mugged twice and another expat said that basically, if the muggers got him in broad daylight in front of his neighbors, the neighbors didn't care what happened to him.
One hotel owner in San Juan del Sur complained about the crime there, insisted that the National Police had to do something, that his guests said the crime was the worst of any place they'd been (memory edits, I suspect). The solution for this is saturation policing -- but would the hotel industry pay for this? Someone has to. Honduras can focus on Roatan and Copan because those place have huge enough draw to pay for saturation policing and that's about it for commercial developed tourism in Honduras.
US stats on crime and gated communities are that after the first year, the crime rate is only slightly lower than the surrounding community. Thieves learn how to game the system and they know that the cops are often further away. Cops being further away would definitely be the case with the failed Apanas Estates where a squatter community is the closest Nicaraguan community to the site.
Visit first. Granada will be no cheaper than any number of places in the US with fewer child beggars, though I suspect some people love being the rich altruistic American looking at squalor from an amused distance and doling out 5 cordoba coins to the urchins. Occasionally one of them gets murdered, but Nicaragua doesn't have the gringo kill rate of Costa Rica, El Salvador, or Honduras because Nicaragua doesn't have the numbers of gringos those places get -- possibly due to statistics and I don't know the per capita kill rate against volume of tourists, possibly due to gringos not having made as much of a mess as they have in those other countries.
Any time I hear someone talk about the future wave of retiring baby boomers, I think that person is really a bit dotty to think US citizens are going to leave a culture they're familiar with to move to foreign shores. Americans mostly don't travel outside the US and more than fifty percent of the trips for people who do are to Canada and Mexico. Less than fifty percent is to the whole rest of the world. I wouldn't be surprised if most of that less than fifty percent weren't to developed resorts in the Caribbean or to England, France, or Italy. If they aren't even visiting other countries other than to go to developed resorts, why imagine that they're going to really retire in a different country? Mexico is near the US and doesn't have as many expat retirees without family in Mexico as is commonly believed.
Costa Rica was near Panama and was in the 1980s the only country down here other than Panama that wasn't having civil wars and unrest. So it fell into the category of "Near last duty station" and the only game in the region.
Nicaragua has it ideal retiree niche but those people aren't going to make money for people trying to convince others that a $200K house in Granada is an investment. We're welcome and we can supplement our pensions by giving advanced English lessons or classes in anything else we're taught in our days as academic gypsies.