Monday, October 19, 2009

Moving to Honduras: A Complete Guide to What You Need to Know

This is a place that is adequate for those who are trying to make their retirement extend, want to get back to nature(greenies), or those who are just looking for a change in pace.

Americans and Europeans have many reasons for moving to the tropics.  Mostly retirees are movtivated.  However, Honduras is the perfect place to go green as well as earn money in addition to your retirement or other incomes.

Coffee, Tobacco, Bananas, Pineapples, fruit trees such as avocado, mango, guava, and many otehrs are common in Honduras.  This is truly a land where everything will grow somewhere in Honduras.  It is very adequate to grow your own food, have your own animals, and survive on very little money if you put your mind to it.  Houses can also be built for very little.  I recommend to most people that they buy empty land that needs work to keep their price low.  You have to be willing to work and DIY with structures or to pay locals to help you. 

In rural areas there are literally no building codes so it is every man for himself.  You have the options of poured earth, sand bags(we have tons of dirt so this is perfect if you are going to work the land), wood sections, earth shelters, adobe (rural locals are experts at cutting blocks so hire someone to either teach you or to do it for you), concrete, stone...all options are open.  Prices are not as high as in the United States or Europe so if you are ready to get to work and need property you are at step one.

Property is very difficult to tackle and is my specialty.  I will not kid you it is how I make extra money for myself by helping soon to be ex pats find the property they want and at the price they want.  We all have to make a living somehow....:)

Earth bags is something that has interested me as of late. Burlap sacks are still used in Honduras and sometimes are made of polyurethane.  Fill them with sand and walla you have a sand bag.  Burlap or polyurethane sacks are used for everything like beans, rice, corn kernals, dog food, etc.  You can find them for just 3 lempiras in almost every corner store.  100 bags will cost you just 300 lempiras(you will have to do some work to find them and go store to store to store and to the markets, but eventually you will get the bags you want) The exchange rate is 18.895 lempiras for $1 so for 100 bags you are spending just $16.  Sand or dirt is free if you dig it yourself.  If you go to the river to dig it in the city though you do need a permit or it can be brought by the horse cart load for about 150 lempiras.  They do the digging and sifting for you and pay for the permit.  You just fill the bags.  In rural areas that price is probably about half.  A sifter costs about 80 lempiras and a shovel of course is an indispensable tool and it costs about 150 lempiras or so. 

This picture is an earthbag house that requires 1000 bags.  So to get an idea you will spend 3,000 lempiras on 1,000 bags which is just $159. 

You will need plywood, chickenwire, about 20 bales of straw, 2 rolls of 4 point barbed wire.  It will take about 40 tons of moistened dirt or sand to complete this project, but sand is abundent in Honduras so it depends on how much of a cheapskate you want to be..and there is certainly nothing wrong with that.  With this you can build your own house.  Of course other things like electrical wiring, cabinetry, etc add to the price of your house, but all options are open.  You can use virtually anything to make your own floor.  Wood, stone, concrete tiles, ceramic, or even adobe and tapped earth.  This house can be added onto as well since it is a dome style. Bagged houses are virtually able to be built in any form, so yes traditional square works as well.

Materials like concrete cost 120 lempiras for each 80lb bag.  Concrete block costs approximately 9 lempiras a block.  So the above option is clearly much cheaper.  Earth plaster is what is needed to plaster the walls of earth bag houses.

Earth bags are fire proof and earthquake resistent as well as being resistent to hurricanes and a stray bullet(important in Honduras where a soccer game won can cause an eruption of gun fire into the air out of joy..).

I will help you find the perfect fit for you in property whether it is a city lot, residential lot, or a country or mountain retreat.  I realize that some are thinking..well I have google so why would I hire her to help me.  Let me tell you that when Hondurans see a gringo coming their eyes light with dollar signs and your price jumps by quite a bit more than the $100 that I charge to do the leg work for you.  Also, I understand prices in Honduras and value of property quite well.  I also know what areas are safe versus areas that are more violent or typical drug running areas.  Imagine you think you found that perfect spot and it turns out that you cannot grow what you wanted or even is the exact spot for trafficking drugs..ouch.  So email me and $100 is going to save a lot of grief over a long time...and make you a happy ex pat living in Honduras.

Also, I have several connections with attorneys that can help you with your immigration papers.  The attorneys I use are reputable and do not buy your way with please do not go there as I feel it important to do things the right way...there are plenty of right ways to do stuff.  I also use attorneys that will not charge you an unjust price, but what it really costs.  Of course, if you are married to a Honduran or have children that are of a Honduran parent it makes things much easier...but it really is not that difficult to immigrate to Honduras legally.

When I mentioned earth bagging to my husband he said well why not just adobe? Well earth bagging is done quicker, no need for waiting for the bricks to dry, just fill and locate and bind.  Not to mention that this type of structure is more resistent to earthquakes than regular adobe.  Earth bags is sometimes known as super adobe.

Next article on natural structures I will touch on stone, adobe, and cord wood structures...all articles that can be used easily in Honduras.