Woman and Man outside colonial style home in Granada Nicaragua after home invasion

In our last month of living in Nicaragua, the last thing we expected to experience was a home invasion in Granada Nicaragua! In this Nicaragua travel blog we share our harrowing experience with a home intruder, share information on crime levels in Nicaragua, provide some suggestions for travel safety tips and give our verdict on the question ‘is Nicaragua safe to live?’.

Why we were living in Granada Nicaragua

Cathedral of Granada and Blue and White Flag
Cathedral of Granada

In 2020 we got stuck in Nicaragua due to the Covid pandemic. We rented out in a beautiful colonial style home in Granada Nicaragua for a year and felt very safe and secure in this tranquil home. In 2021 we decided to resume our travels to discover the vast beauty of Nicaragua. After travelling throughout the country for 5 months we returned to our home in Granada Nicaragua for one last time. Two days into our three day stay in Granada we woke to the sound of a home invasion.

Our experience of a home invasion in Granada Nicaragua

The calm before the storm

We came back to our home in Granada Nicaragua for one last time after travelling around Nicaragua. On our second last night there we were talking about how much we love this place, how much we didn’t think anything could possibly go wrong and nothing could ruin our fond memories of this place. And then something interesting happened.

Unwelcome intruder

It was about a quarter to two in the morning. I was woken up by a few sounds outside our bedroom. I turned around to see a silhouette of a person with a mobile phone light peering into our bedroom window. It was pretty freaky. And with our rental property there’s a lot of security. The walls are really high. There’s barbed wire fence around. It totally took us by surprise. Thankfully we always lock the doors. Even the door to our bedroom every night. Just to be on the safe side. And thankfully we locked it that night.

Woman pointing to where the intruder was first spotted after home invasion in Granada Nicaragua
The intruder came right up to our bedroom door

So the guy didn’t get in and I yelled at the top of my lungs to scare the guy. And luckily for us he ran out of the house. I followed him a minute or two afterwards and found that he’d left the house and the garage doors were wide open.

Somehow the home invader managed to get in through the garage door. We have no idea how that happened. Thankfully we were unharmed and nothing was stolen during the home invasion. After waiting a few minutes, we cautiously checked the property. So I was going around each room, checking to see whether there was anyone still there. That was a nerve wracking process, but it was a relief to confirm that we were the only ones still in the house.

Woman pointing at garage which was the escape route for the intruder after a home invasion in Granada Nicaragua
The Intruder’s Escape Route

Was our home invasion in Granada Nicaragua planned?

We think that he had keys to get in through the garage. There are three doors to the garage. There’s a metal door, a wooden door and another metal door. And he got through all three. And left the locks sitting in the kitchen sink. That was pretty scary to see someone there and then to not know whether or not there was still an intruder inside.

Locks found in kitchen sink after home invasion in Granada Nicaragua
The intruder left the locks in the sink

It did feel like it was premeditated. Not only did they get into the house, but they also unlocked absolutely everything. It looked like they had the escape route planned. Thankfully nothing we could tell was taken – none of the equipment that was in the property nor any of our own personal belongings. We had made sure that all our valuables were in our room. We were very lucky.

Is Nicaragua safe?

Rotunda and Water Fountain at Parque Central Granada Nicaragua
Central Park of Granada Nicaragua

Break-ins are a potential risk in Nicaragua, as they are anywhere in the world. As expats if you’re in a really nice home you are potentially a target. Most people have barbed wire and a lot of people have dogs as security as well. A lot of people have metal grates on their windows and doors. So most people have security measures in place and I’m sure this rental property is going to improve their security going forward.

Our Granada Nicaragua home invasion experience was pretty scary. It is a risk that you need to consider if you are thinking of living in Nicaragua. In saying that, you can get robbed anywhere in the world. Generally from what we hear most people are just opportunistic thieves. They’re not in it to hurt anyone. They’re just in it to grab stuff, and if you spook them chances are they’ll go. But it’s a risk. This isn’t the first robbery we’ve heard of in Nicaragua.

Crime rate in Nicaragua

To put the crime levels in Nicaragua into perspective, according to the OSAC government website the reported overall rate of robbery in Nicaragua in 2020 was 139 per 100,000 inhabitants. This compares with a lower rate of 98 for the USA, 120 for the UK and a slightly higher robbery rate of 143 for Spain. The numbers we got for the USA, UK and Spain were the 2017 numbers from the Global Economy website. Numbers for Nicaragua weren’t available on the same website, so we couldn’t get an exact like for like comparison, but this should give you a reasonable idea of the relative risk.

Robbery Statistics by Country
Robbery Statistics by Country

These things do happen from time to time. You just need to be aware. But you shouldn’t you shouldn’t let it rule your life and we certainly don’t want to cast any negative aspersions on the country. Nicaragua is one of the safest countries to live in in Central America. But just like everywhere, there are always going to be risks around crime and crimes of opportunity in particular.

Other general safety considerations for travel in Nicaragua

  • Drinking water – The tap water in Granada Nicaragua is safe to drink. We drank the tap water there for over a year with no issues. Most expats buy bottled water anyway, but tap water is an easy and cheap option. The tap water in most major cities and towns in Nicaragua is safe to drink. In areas where the water is no safe to drink, most hotels will provide bottled water for guests to use. We always ask our hotel what the situation is with drinking water when we arrive in an area
  • Mosquitoes – There are mosquitoes in Granada Nicaragua but the mosquitoes on that part of Nicaragua don’t carry tropical diseases. In 2021, the main risks related to mosquito borne diseases were on the Caribbean side of Nicaragua. For the most up to date information we recommend checking the CDC or NHS websites
  • Road safety – We often travelled standing up in the back of vans or in vehicles without helmets or seat belts. Be aware that this does come with an element of risk
  • Water safety – If you visit any of the coastal areas or lakes, take care when swimming as currents and waves may be stronger than you expect
  • Sun safety – The UV Index is very high in Central America. Sun protection such as sunscreen, a hat and sunglasses is very important to ensure you don’t get burnt
  • Dogs – In many countries in Central America, stray dogs are common. For more on dog safety while travelling, check out this video

As with any destination, take all of your normal safety precautions.

How to keep yourself safe when travelling in Nicaragua

If you don’t have a lock on your bedroom door a cheap and effective alternative security measure is to put a rubber wedge under your bedroom door. Rubber door wedges cost only a few dollars, are easy to pack if you are travelling and will stop an inward opening door from being able to be opened from the outside.

There are also companies that sell door wedges that have inbuilt alarms to wake you up and hopefully scare of any intruders. Another clever solution that we’ve just discovered are portable door locks. These work with most doors and allow you to lock a door from the inside, giving you extra peace of mind when you’re in the property.

We’ve included a links to the above products you can buy online in the Travel Essentials section of our website. These are affiliate links which means that we may get a small commission from any sales which helps our website at no extra cost to you.

It definitely helps if you’re a light sleeper. So thankfully Jon was and we survived the experience unscathed. It still shakes you a bit though!

How to keep yourself safe when living in Nicaragua

Woman with basket on head selling fruit and vegetables door to door in Granada Nicaragua
Food vendors come right to your door in Nicaragua!

There are definitely things that you can do to minimise your risk of an intruder when living in Nicaragua such as having a dog and having all of your entrance ways secured with metal bars and having barbed wire on the top of walls and anywhere where intruders might potentially climb in. Some people prefer not to use metal on their doors and windows as they do not like the aesthetics of it, but we have seen some really nice designs for metal bar security that can look really ornate and we think it’s definitely a necessary precaution to ensure your home is secure. Gated communities are also reasonably common in some parts of Nicaragua such as Managua and San Juan del Sur.

Another thing to keep in mind is to not leave your personal valuables lying around the house. Make sure that you secure all of your belongings and lock away any valuables at night or when not in use.

How to report crimes in Nicaragua

If you experience any crimes, no matter how minor, then go to the police. We recommend you have the direct number to the local police on hand and make sure the number that you have is current. For emergencies the number for the police emergency line in Nicaragua is 118.

We were told also by an expat group to go to Channel 5 news station and they might report on it.

If there are any robberies or any criminal activity be sure to report it. If all crimes are reported, it should hopefully make things safer for anyone following you, including any other expats that decide to live in Nicaragua.

Do we still feel safe in Nicaragua?

Our last night in Granada ended on a bit of a stressful note. That all said, this is the only time during our 18 months living in Nicaragua where we felt unsafe. It’s just one isolated incident. We feel perfectly safe walking around during the day, during the night, pretty much anywhere in Nicaragua.

Final thoughts on our home invasion in Nicaragua

If you want to know more about our experience of a home invasion in Granada Nicaragua, check out our Home Invasion video.

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