Why Expats Are Living in Belize
Once the decision to move down to a gorgeous tropical destination to live out your retirement years has been made, the real work can begin. And of course, this work begins with one major question, where should I move? Consider living in Belize.
With a plethora of unbelievable choices out there, what is it about the little country of Belize that has so many expats packing their bags and heading down to its sandy shores?
Positioned between Mexico, Guatemala and the clear blue Caribbean Sea, living in Belize will provide you with things that you could only dream of back in the States, and above all, it will offer you the chance to truly slow down.
As is the case with most Central American countries, many expats are lured down to Belize simply due to its stunning natural beauty, and because of this unspoiled beauty, Belize has been dubbed by some as “mother nature’s best kept secret.”
Most of Belize is wild and hasn’t been cultivated for human purposes, as such, living in Belize will allow you to enjoy a vast variety of tropical landscapes just as nature intended.
Experience white Caribbean shores, crystal blue water, tropical rainforest bursting with wildlife, waterfalls, ancient Maya ruins, and mountainscapes, and because Belize is so small, you can enjoy many of these environments all in one day.
Of course, another major perk that comes with living in Belize is the climate. A place where the sun shines almost every day, here the average temperature stays close to 79 degrees F year round and for many expats, this is absolutely perfect.
It’s a country welcoming of expats
The people of Belize have a reputation for being kind and welcoming towards newcomers, so you don’t have to worry about feeling out of place. Quite the contrary, you will in all likelihood find yourself with a handful of new friends both local and expat early on as you begin to settle in.
And not only are the people friendly, but communicating is easy due to the non-existent language barrier. Belize is an English-speaking country (the only English speaking country in Central America in fact) and while this may be a drawback for expats who are searching for a taste of true Central American culture, for others it’s ideal. Day by day living and conducting business are made much easier for the average North American expat because everything including signs, brochures, etc. will all be in English.
It’s easy to get residency
Not only are the people of Belize welcoming of expats, but the country is too. Living in Belize permanently is quite easy to do and there are three options in which to achieve this dream.
Your first option, and perhaps the simplest (although ultimately more costly) option, is to obtain your visitors card.
When you first enter Belize you will be granted a 1 month entry card, and after your 30 days is up, you will need to visit the immigration office each month to renew your Visa.
The initial 6 months will only cost you $25 a month, but after that, the price will increase to $50 a month.
While you can do this indefinitely, many expats opt for permanent residency since it’s the most economical choice.
Once you have lived in Belize for over a year, you are eligible to apply for permanent residency. Remember, after you apply you must remain in Belize for 14 consecutive days or your application may be denied.
In order to apply you will need:
- To fill out the form
- An HIV test
- A recent police certificate free of criminal convictions
- 2 recommendations from people you have known for over a year
After you become a resident of Belize you can apply for full citizenship in 5 years’ time.
Qualified Retired Person’s Program:
The last option for living in Belize is the Qualified Retired Person’s Program (QRP) and for many, it’s the least attractive option because of its grueling approval process and tendency to deliver a less than quality product.
Yet, if you can provide proof that you meet the required monthly income, this program allows tax-free entry of retiree’s goods, motor vehicles, marine vessels, and small aircraft. So if you plan on importing items of high value, the QRP program will eliminate high import duties.
True, living in Belize will cost you a little more than other spots in Central America might, but the cost-of-living here is still much lower than back home in the states.
But even if the prices are a little higher, expats in Belize can enjoy certain advantages like banking privacy, schools with high academic standards, quality health care facilities. and overall economic stability, making Belize a no-brainer for many expats.
As is the case with any country, living expenses in Belize will vary depending on where you go and how you choose to live.
In Belize, a couple can expect to live very well for $3,000 a month, and if you don’t mind living a little simpler, $1,500 a month will more than cover your costs.
For example, you can dine out at a fancy restaurant in Belize and spend $45 a person, but if you venture out and seek recommendations from locals or your fellow expats, you can be directed to fantastic food at half the price.
Other costs to consider include:
- Yard work/gardener: $15-20 a day (although some communities will provide this service)
- Housekeeper-$15 a day
- Water-$15-20 a month
Things to do in Belize
Living in Belize can be as calm or as adventure-filled as you like, it all depends on your own unique interests.
If you choose to embrace the laid-back, small town pace of life, you can spend your days relaxing on the beach, hiking through the rich country side, and cooking fresh and healthy meals after a trip to the market.
On the other hand, if you seek excitement, Belize has much to offer in that regard as well.
In Belize you can fill the hours fishing, windsurfing, caving, kayaking, snorkeling, exploring archeological sites and of course, scuba diving.
Belize is known for its amazing diving that includes the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, which is the 2nd largest barrier reef on the planet. People come from all around to dive and snorkel in this natural phenomenon, and if you make Belize your home, you will have access to this diver’s paradise all throughout the year.
Does living in Belize sound like the life for you?
Complete with awe-inspiring scenery, welcoming, English-speaking locals, and a relaxed pace of life, many expats are finding life in Belize to be the perfect match.
So consider your options, tour around the country and discover firsthand if living in Belize is the retirement dream you always envisioned.
7 of the Top Places U.S. Expats Are Living in Latin America (and Why)
Central America's Best Real Estate Buy
The World’s Top 10 Best Places to Put Your Money
Panama City, Panama Real Estate Market Update
Today we have a guest post written by Kent Davis, owner of one of the most successful real estate brokerages in Panama City The Panama City real estate market may have finally taken a turn in …(Read It)
Top 133 Costa Rica Websites for Expats and Investors
Did you know there are dozens and dozens of great resources on Costa Rica for expats and investors? Sure, we have a ton of resources for Costa Rica on our site, and a whole bunch …(Read It)
The Truth about Living in Costa Rica: The Good, the Bad, and the Muddy
It's easy to find tons of articles and information out there highlighting all the great benefits of living in Costa Rica. But it's also easy to read those blogs and marketing pieces and think, "Yeah, it …(Read It)
Why Nosara, Costa Rica Is Not Your Average Surfing Town
A deeper look at Nosara and its history will quickly reveal that this long-time mecca for surfing enthusiasts offers so much more than just the sand and sea. The increasing interest in the area as a …(Read It)
Expats Are Still Falling in Love with Nosara and Here’s Why
What was once the up-and-coming expat haven of Nosara, Costa Rica, has blossomed into one of Costa Rica's most established expat communities that continues to be ranked near the top of the list of most desirable destinations in the Latin …(Read It)
How Nosara Strikes the Perfect Balance of Rustic vs. Connected
When you hear people applaud Nosara for its laid-back rustic vibe, what you may not realize is that despite it's off-the-beaten-path atmosphere, Nosara is also surprisingly well connected. As such, this Costa Rican hotspot continues to be one …(Read It)
As a QRP member, and someone who has lived in Belize for the past three years, I can tell you that the process for obtaining it definitely is not grueling. It is actually quite simple, and most people acquire it before they even arrive in Belize (it can all be handled online with the Belize Tourism Board). It only takes about 4 weeks to be approved and another 8 weeks to get your card. The other QRP benefit that you didn’t mention is that you are free to come and go from the country – you need only stay in Belize one month out of the year.
Permanent Residency, on the other hand, is a very grueling process, and can easily take 6-12 months for approval, depending on what Immigration office you apply with. They routinely lose people’s paperwork and make them start the process over.
You said “Once you have lived in Belize for over a year, you are eligible to apply for permanent residency. Remember, after you apply you must remain in Belize for 14 consecutive days or your application may be denied.” This is incorrect. Once you have lived in Belize for one year with no more than a 14 consecutive day absence, you may apply for your PR. Once you apply, you still must visit Immigration monthly and get your passport stamped and pay your fee, until you get your approval.
I hope this information helps your readers understand both processes better, as it can sometimes be quite confusing.
Hello Sharon, if you go with the QRP process, are you then considered a permanent resident? Or, do you still have to go through the permanent residency process?
We are considering the move from Canada to Belize or Panama etc. We will visit first but nowhere can we find feedback on the rainy seasons. Sounds like a lot of rainfall in the summer months. Would this be localized, as perhaps in the mountain areas, or found everywhere? We have dogs so do you have feedback on driving through Mexico versus flying?
Earl, good question on rainy season. I love rainy season, everything is green and the rain is usually just part of the day in Panama. We recently did a post on how the rainy season might be the perfect season, take a look here…as for driving -vs- flying with animals that is a great topic for a future post!
My fiancé and I are checking into retiring in Belize but my fiancé would like to work for a while there. He is an HVAC technician and electrician. Do you think that would be a position he would be allowed a work permit for. What areas do you recommend that would not be too busy or too secluded. Near a beach would be great if not too expensive.