The Best and Worst of Moving to Belize
Many expats are discovering that moving to Belize may be the ideal choice for those seeking a tropical paradise. Perhaps one of the best kept secrets in Central America, this unique location offers a blend of history, a large range of biodiversity, and an environment that actively welcomes expats to become part of the Belizean lifestyle.
There are many features that Belize offers that set it apart from other destinations in the region. Below is a list of these factors that can give you an “insider’s” perspective on the potential that Belize contains for permanent expats and investors alike.
Why Moving to Belize Can Be the Best Decision You’ll Make
- English is the official language of Belize. Being able to freely converse with Belizeans makes day-to-day tasks like shopping, asking directions, or dealing with repair people much easier.
- Belize freely accepts the U.S. dollar. Although it does have its own currency, the Belizean Dollar (BZD), its conversion rate is a steady 2 BZD:1 USD.
- Its close proximity to the U.S. makes for easy access. There are a variety of regularly scheduled flights to and from Phillip Goldson International Airport located at Ladyville, which is 11 miles from Belize City. Major U.S. carriers, such as American and Delta, in addition to regional operators such as TACA and Maya Island Air, provide international and regional service to Belize.
- Its varied options make it easy to find the perfect spot to live. Whether your idea of paradise is the island community of Ambergris Caye, the thriving and vibrant atmosphere of Belize City and Belmopan, or the more rustic and tranquil setting of Seine Bight, there is a wide selection of properties in all price ranges to choose from.
- As a resident of North America or the United Kingdom, you do not need a visa to enter Belize. The “tourist card” is good for a 30 day period and is renewable on a monthly basis for a $25.00 fee for up to six months before that amount increases. This makes for an easy transition as expats explore their options for permanent residency.
- Belize is filled with many opportunities for exploration and entertainment. From the Mayan ruins at Altun Ha, Caracol and Lamanai to the world famous Blue Hole and the Belize Barrier Reef to the jungles of the interior, there’s incredible biodiversity and authentic culture to explore.
- Belize offers incredible bang for your buck. That’s not to say that Belize is the cheapest place to live, but the value you get for your money is much greater than in comparable destinations. Below is a chart comparing the average price of rents and utilities in Belize City with that of its sister city in the U.S., Ann Arbor, Michigan:
|City||Ann Arbor, MI||Belize City|
|Apartment (1 bedroom) in City Center||$1047||$291.01|
|Apartment (1 bedroom) Outside of Center||$700||$126.67|
|Apartment (3 bedrooms) in City Centre||$1850||$1000|
|Apartment (3 bedrooms) Outside of Centre||$1116.57||$808.33|
|Basic (Electricity, Heating, Water, Garbage) for Apartment (85 square meters)||$150.76||$60|
|1 min. of Prepaid Mobile Tariff Local (No Discounts or Plans)||$0.20||$0.75|
|Internet (6 Mbps, Unlimited Data, Cable/ADSL)||$53.11||46.67|
(research by numbeo.com)
With the same modern amenities found in U.S. cities, the cost of living in Belize is significantly lower. Additionally, there are the added benefits of a more relaxed tropical lifestyle and the opportunity to immerse yourself in the rich historical and cultural aspects of this Central American destination.
Even Paradise Has Things to Consider
For all of the positives of moving to Belize, there are still some challenges that may be encountered. One of the major issues is the availability of rental units throughout the country.
Belize is small; the population is only 331,900. As a result, there are not a lot of rental units and, as a consequence, those units that do exist, often come at a premium price. You may not find a residence in your desired area, so being flexible is important.
Like other developing Central American countries, Belize can be a study of contrasts when it comes to infrastructure. If you are looking at a more rustic location, the trade-off might be that some of the amenities of the more popular areas (better roads, cable, and internet are examples) may not yet be in place.
So What Do You Need to Do to Make the Move to Belize
Before you decide to make the move to Belize, you should visit the country. Check out some of the potential locations that you think would be a place that would suit your lifestyle. There is no substitute for actually “being there” in order to discover whether this is the move for you.
Once you find the place and atmosphere that calls to you, a decision has to be made as to whether you want to rent, buy, or build. Obviously, this is dependent on your short- and long-term financial outlook. Contacting realtors in the area can help you narrow the search for your residence in paradise.
In addition to doing your online research, check out expat blogs as well as social media pages. These are people who have “been there, done that” and can answer many of your questions as well as offer advice based on their own experiences.
Another step in the expat process is to make certain that you have made a realistic budget that takes into account the money you will need from month to month. Make certain that you also allow for the “unexpected expenses”; even in paradise these can and do arise when you least want or need them. Planning ahead can make your transition that much less complicated.
Deciding to move to another country can be a daunting choice. The potential that you can discover when you make the move to Belize certainly will support the old saying: “No risk, no reward.”