Pensionado income?

These days, when almost nobody actually has a pension, what are the options for demonstrating continual income to get pensionado residency status? I'll use $500/mo in my calculations because that's the latest number I remember seeing. Adjust as needed for current laws.

Would it be enough to put 500*12*5= $30k in a bank and promise to withdraw $500/month? Or buy a 5-year annuity for a similar amount? I know Costa Rica was offering a deal like that a few years ago. Or does the cash flow really have to be "continual", not just for 5 years?

What about that modest IRA I have sitting out there? I don't want to start withdrawing until I'm 59.5, to avoid penalties, but would be willing to if the alternative was starving, or being kicked out of the country. Is there any formula for putting a value on self-directed retirement accounts like that? Especially for someone who is, for example, 45, and won't be drawing from that for a while. How can you convert locked-up "wealth" to "income"?

Apologies if this has been covered. I browsed and searched a bit and didn't see any relevant threads.

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I'm perhaps a bit confused. Would Social Security qualify as a pension? It's supposed to be a continual stream (though I'm doubting it will do so forever....) so how does that fit in?


Many Central American "pensionado" plans, when they were first devised and discussed, took seriously the average amount a U.S. citizen would have - as these were they exact people they were trying to entice. Given in-country costs, Costa Rica and Panama (and Nicaragua, too) have done a really decent job keeping the amount low enough to be reasonable, whereas the Belize and Honduras programs are apparently run by morons ($1500-2500 a month, minimum?). SS is a pension per all Latin country pensionado programs, but when the monthly minimum gets over $750, relatively few of the people perhaps most likely to go, will meet the criteria based on SS alone. Hopefully, Nicaragua does not follow thew lead of Honduras, Belize, and perhaps Costa Rica (doubling the old amount seems always to be a debate there).


While I think we are all worried about the future of things such as Social Security, it is the easiest to get to qualify because Nicaragua knows it is from the US government. Big companies will be relatively easy. The more you move away from big government and big companies the more work you will likely need to do to "prove" it is a real pension.


Pensionado status is only for people with pensions. Period. You don´t qualify. Your pension letter must be notarized, certifies by your state Secretary of State, and äuthenticated¨ by the Nica consulate in the US.

Rentista status is for people retired on investment income. Have your lawyer or a literate, responsible native speaker call the Nica consulate and find out exactly what they want. I think a visit to a CPA and your Sec. of State is in your future.

Money in the bank will not count because they know a tipical American will blow it all in the first year. Bad habits die hard, and the cost of a decent standard of living here is much more than many people would have you believe. You can live for $500 a month, but to get comfy, bring a quarter million.

The statutory $400 a month is from an old law, but also applies to returning Nicaraguans, some of whom have small pensions and know how to live cheap.

In another forum, Paul Tiffer said you can get residency by buying a 30k finca, which presumably would include something that resembles a house. This might be something to check out. Bring a good Walmart tent to live next to this house.

¨Nicaragua is poor for a reason¨

Good luck

One of my attempts at pensionado status was that I could show that I would have more pension than required in something like a year and I would happily deposit that additional $6000 ($500/mo for 12 months) somewhere. Nope, wrong, does not compute. Only a "see, this is the pension" answer was acceptable.

Now, we all know that answers can change here but that was my experience. There seemed to be no indication of flexibility.


does it help to have property in nica? or not? i do have a pension, i wonder if i printed it off the website? or maybe a letter from the administrator?


I have seen erroneous information on the web that has grouped Nicaragua with Mexico, per property/pensions (where your monthly minimum "pension" income is reduced by half if you own land/home in Mexico, etc.). Perhaps you saw this somewhere. However, the two matters are separate. I know of two people who posed the matter to Nica authorities in 2008 only to be told it will not help them per the pension demand.

Property, no.

Property ownership makes no difference. It is strictly pension income. The persion income information is just like all the other paperwork--official letter, authenticated by Nicaraguan consulate nearest you, translated and authenticated in Nicaragua.

Actually Comrad Che,

You may be able to use a company pension in the US. This is to say, you need an "Official letter" on company letterhead stating the amount of pension you will receive from the company.

Once you receive your residency, I don't believe they ever check if the pension actually arrives or not.

Since you will not be moving for a little while yet, you'll have the opportunity to amass an even greater fortune than you already have and start your own pension fund. :-)

Viva la revolution!


In Costa Rica, the theory is that when you go to renew your residency you need to show that you converted the right amount of money (I think it is $600/mo there) into Colones.

While I never did this (because I never renewed my residency) my lawyer said bank transaction receipts for the conversion worked fine. It was just the total amount—not when you did the transactions that mattered. So, you could just convert on a good exchange rate day and convert back when the rate in the other direction was more favorable. You never needed to really have the total amount.


and it reminds me of an old saw, how do you amass a small fortune in the public service business? start with a large one!

Hi there I wonder if you can

Hi there I wonder if you can help. I have just joined the forum. I have been looking around central America for some where to retire and have noticed that Costa Rica and Panama have doubled there Pensinado visa to $1000 which seems alot and having decided that Nicaragua is the place for me. I am hoping that it is not the same there. I believe it is $400 in Nicaragua Does any body know the answer. Thanks

400 for you, plus 100 for a dependent

Cheap, but an unpleasant quality of life, especially if you are not planning to bring cash down to buy a house, etc.

Look before you leap, price isn.t the only criteria. Panama looks like the winner in Central America for infrastructure, health, rule of law, ease of adapting. etc. Panama also should be the next Great tourist destination in C.A., but this recesion will probably slow it down. Incidentally, Panama voted recently to double the capacity of the Canal, which should help greatly with their economic future.

Nothing wrong with CR, either, but its a little crowded and pricey in the central valley. Out in the boonies would be worth a look.

¨Pata de Perro¨

Yes will be bringing money

Thaks for your reply.Yes we will be bringing money over and do want to buy a house. MY husband is a chef and will want to start a restaurant or somthing simailar, I probably will go the retirement route. We live in Thailand and have done for six years. But are getting tired of being treated like a outsider with the visa and property laws for Falangs, which I hate being called, expat is better. It seems to me that in central America they encourage foreign investment not like here. My friends moved from here to Panama last year,and say they love it just before the new rules. Would love to join them but this change has made it finacialy difficult for us and I believe they have stopped the small business visa. So my hubby would have to pay for a yearly work permit ($1500 yearly) and no benifits. As you can see we are used to adapting and the health here is very expensive. Do you think with what I have explained to you we would have a better quality of live there As for the red tape,which I believe can be difficult there, I think after visas and and buying houses (not the land lease only for foreigners)over here,which is a mine field, we could deal with it

Before you make that

Before you make that decision, you might want to check out the restrictions on pensionados working. Better yet, why don't you check out some of the numerous posts (some by Paul Tilfer, a Lawyer and a frequent contributor here)that outline exactly how to go about each of the various processes? BTW, $1500.00 (I assume you mean US dollars) sounds a little steep. Check out any lawyers carefully.

Yes US $

Yes it is US $ This only what my friend has told me, I do not know how it works and yes I seem to think it is alot, As for the work my husband would not go on my pension visa he would apply for a investors visa or mybe we we would both go on the investors visa. Like you say I will contact Paul Tiler, I have read some of is topics and he seems really good If we decied to come We would need someone like this.

Panama ?

If you will buy a home, and/or if you can cover an investment visa, then perhaps Panama isn't necessarily ruled out (not saying you should avoid Nicaragua, just making a point). As of December 2008 anyway, if you bought a property/home in Panama over a certain value ($80k or $100k? - cant remember which), then your monthly minimim pension drops from $1k to $700 or $750 (but a dependent adds $250 to the requirement). That might still be too high for your ideal, but it does put it a lot closer to the mmonthly "retirement" amount many people are looking at, etc.


I have written info from both Intur and Migracion that pensionados can not work.

I believe, however, that you can start a corporation that can start a business. I hear it takes about a year, so do your homework and plan ahead. See a good lawyer.

Also, check out a small investor visa. Better to get the right visa than to get the wrong one and have to cheat and hope you don´t run into roadblocks ahead.

¨Pata de Perro¨