Thursday, January 26, 2017

We have decided to set up a corporation in Nicaragua

My wife, two daughters and I, had a family vote while visiting the US over the holidays. The vote was a simple question, "Do you want to move back to the US or stay in Nicaragua?" Zoe started by saying, "Nicaragua." Sierra chimed in saying, "Nicaragua, too." Then Elise finished by saying, "She feels more alive in Nicaragua" and cast her vote in the same manner. As for me, I always cast my vote on the side that avoids a tie. There you have it, my family chose Nicaragua while being in the US over the holidays. This felt doubly good because each of the gals had their own say on where they live and made my wife and I happy for not forcing a situation upon the kids.    
  To that end, we have decided to open a corporation here in Nicaragua and bought a vehicle. In order to obtain residency, here is Nicaragua, one has to either go the investor route or the pensioner route. Residency will enable us to stay here for 5 years without having to renew the 90 day travel visas. Okay that is the meta-story and as the old adage goes, "The devil lies in the details." Obtaining residence might just be the easiest part. Finding truthful, reliable figures on real estate value are a completely different matter. There isn't a central data base showing recent sales figures and if there were, the numbers are fake anyway. In many ways, paying real estate transfer taxes here is a voluntary affair. For example, if you buy a property for $200,000 it is often the custom to report a much lower sales figure like $30,000 for tax purposes. Though on one hand this is wonderful to avoid taxes, on the other hand the non-transparent system scares many from investing. To make it clear, we have met many successful business owners, here, whom enjoy the economic freedom while at the same time agree the system is broken.
    The act of buying and registering a vehicle here is a monumental achievement. This probably explains why so many non-residents buy vehicles and don't register the car and drive around indefinitely with a bill of sale. Since we know many people here, we have decided to do it the right way and waste countless hours in the process. In fact, we have been so busy with setting up our corporation and buying a vehicle that we have not written anything in this blog for nearly a month. We are now at the tail end of the process so we should now have more free time. Regarding real estate purchases, we are going to take it very slowly and be very methodical. In fact, recently we have re-entertained the idea of owning rental units in the US and forgoing business ownership down here altogether. However, we truly do speak with very successful expats and they say be patient and ready for an opportunity when it arises. Thus, we are doing what is necessary in case the situation presents itself.

The power of one

My wife has said on many occasions what she likes most about living in here is her ability to affect change and make a positive impact in the community. As most readers know, Nicaragua is a poor country, but what some people may not realize, is Nicaragua is a happy place despite the many obstacles. For the average person who wants to help make the world a better place, it may feel too daunting at times. This probably explains why the majority of people who donate, find it a fairly removed affair. It usually happens like this: After being motivated to help out, one acts on giving, hopes for the best, feels good about helping and moves on.
   Sadly though, some of the most important experiences are missing for those who donate from afar. Please don't get me wrong, donations are extremely vital for most NGOs and non-profits to survive and we encourage donating to worthy causes, even from the comforts of home. Please continue to give! What we are suggesting, however, is making a vacation out of giving so that you can see the smiles of the impoverished families for yourself. Give medicine and toys with a warm hand to those who need assistance. Let your family see, with their own eyes, how people can be happy with almost no possessions. Poverty is not a disease and those experiencing it probably work harder than most just to survive. Most importantly, don't let lack of language get in the way either, as 90% of love's powerful gift, is non-verbal anyway.
   We have found that exposing our kids to jaw-dropping poverty has made them better people. My wife and I have noticed that our daughters want less and use what they have more. Our daughters benefit from inventing board games, and preparing meals with what's available, instead of what they want. Our girls view life as waves of plenitude, instead of the world at their fingertips. We sincerely hope having a life full of memories, rather than stuff, is best for our children.
   A very good friend of ours, named Kelly, went to the U.S. for the holidays. She ran around between family members and celebrated Christmas and New Years, like the rest of us. Unbeknownst to all of her friends, here in Granada, she quietly amassed nearly 2,000 books for our school and potentially set up future supplies so that other Granada schools and libraries might receive books as well. What makes this so special is a woman who gave up her career to be a mother decided to improve the lives of so many young kids. According to Kelly, seeing a need and addressing that need gave her more satisfaction and validation than any job could have. It would have been wonderful if the world witnessed her exhale with with such relief and overwhelming pride. I wish I could better describe how her subtle smile slowly tightened as the tears of joy welled up in her eyes. Those of us who attended the ceremony witnessed the moment when Kelly was moved by the power giving. What one could not foresee, though, was her impact on the crowd. She unknowingly became a role model for the other women and girls in the room. She tangibly demonstrated, "The power of one" can change the world for the better. As we mentioned above, hopefully for your next vacation, you can find time for charity and giving. I promise, you'll be happy that you did.
   We would like to thank Kelly (who requested as little recognition as possible) and Better World Books for making an enormous impact in Granada. Considering our school is one third scholarship students, meaning they attend for free based on economic need, this is huge for them. Here is a link to the video of the event  Have a wonderful day.

Kelly made it all possible.

Better World Books really impacted our school for the better 
In total there were around 2,000 books given.

It was amazing to see how fast the kids dove into the new books.

It sort of felt like Christmas while the boxes of books were being opened. 

Teachers and students were so happy.

The 2nd and 3rd grade teachers gave Better World Books their thumbs up.