Maybe you’re nearing retirement, or perhaps you earn your living working remotely and are exploring the idea of relocating – full time or part-time – to a tropical paradise. If you’re considering such a move, Belize should be on the top of your list.
What makes Belize so appealing to expats? For starters, Belize offers exquisitely beautiful scenery, including its azure blue waters, tropical rainforest, Mayan Ruins, mystical caves, and exotic flora and fauna. Belize is an ideal fit for nature lovers, beach bums, history buffs, diving fanatics, adventure seekers, and more, so you’ll never get bored with all its offerings. Also, geographically, politically, and financially, it’s an excellent choice as a Latin American country to buy a home in and live here full-time, or live here part-time and rent out your home to vacationers throughout the year.
The Pros of Moving to Belize
Let’s start with all the fabulous reasons why you should consider a move to this stunningly beautiful country and why it’s so inviting to expats.
Belize Is An English-Speaking Nation.
If moving to Belize, you don’t need to learn a new language. Unlike most other Latin American countries, Belize is an English-speaking nation. Spanish is also widely spoken, but you can depend on all street signs, restaurant menus, official documents, and more – to all be in English. This makes it convenient to dine, shop, ask for directions and go about your daily life here without the hassle of having to master a foreign language.
Belize Is A Short Flight From The U.S.
Wherever you decide to live, you’ll want to be accessible to family and friends back home so they can come to visit you, and you can go home as often as you wish. Or, if you plan to live in your Belize home part-time, and want to rent it out to others periodically, you want to make sure it’s geographically desirable to vacationers. The good news is that Belize is only a two-hour flight from Houston and Miami, and less than five hours if flying from New York.
It’s also incredibly easy to get to Mexico and other Central American countries from Belize, so you and your visitors can easily take quick trips to these surrounding nations.
Belize Offers A Great Cost Of Living.
Belize is certainly not the least expensive place to live, but if moving here from a large U.S. city, you’ll find that its cost of living is considerably less. Living expenses vary based on where in Belize you live, such as if you live on or near the beach, you can expect to pay more, but in other areas, you can live comfortably on a smaller budget.
Belize Offers A Culturally Diverse, Healthy, And Laidback Lifestyle.
Everyone feels welcome and at peace in Belize. It’s a melting pot of different cultures who all get along well and are known to be friendly and helpful to tourists and expats. As Belize boasts an average high temperature of 84 degrees all year-round, you’ll find yourself spending most of your days outdoors taking in its spectacular scenery while engaging in outdoor activities, and your nights socializing and making friends easily as everyone speaks English. Belize’s laidback attitude provides a stress-free environment, which is good for your health. Additionally, you’ll eat fresh fish, meats, fruits, and veggies daily, as pre-packaged foods are not widely available, which further promotes a healthy lifestyle while living here.
Belize Offers Its Own Program For Retirees.
Belize offers an excellent incentive for Northern American retirees to move to its country. It’s called the Qualified Retirement Program(QRP). To qualify for QRP, you just need to be 45 years old and live in Belize at least one month per year. You also need to have a monthly income of at least $2,000 or a yearly income of $24,000 from a pension or annuity (including Social Security), and this allows you to bring $15,000 worth of personal goods to Belize tax-free, and pay no Belizean taxes on any foreign-earned income.
The not-so-good aspects of moving to Belize
While there are so many wonderful things about living in Belize, the truth is, it’s not perfect all the time. There are some considerations to keep in mind if you are planning to buy a home in Belize.
Electricity, Cell Phone Service, And Internet Are Not Always Guaranteed.
Belize tends to have issues with electricity, cell phone service, and accessing the internet. It can be frustrating at times, especially to those of us who are used to always being connected and greatly depend on electricity, cell phone service, and the internet to conduct business and stay in touch with loved ones. The good news is that these are starting to get better and more reliable in Belize, but issues at times are to be expected.
Belize Is On “Island Time.”
Like most Caribbean islands, everything is done at a much slower pace in Belize, so having patience is key. Waiting on lines because there’s only one teller open at the bank, one checkout line at the grocery store, or waiting a while to receive your check at a restaurant – are all the norm in Belize. Also, if you’re invited to a party, ask the Belizean host the real time that people are expected to show up because if you arrive at the start time posted on the invite, you’ll likely come when the party is still being set up.
Belize Has Skewed Crime Rates.
Belize does tend to have high crime rates, but the majority of serious crimes happen in Belize City or by the Guatemalan border, which skews the numbers for the entire country. Violent crimes against expats and tourists are very infrequent, and visitors typically feel very safe when they are not in those areas.
Important things to know before moving to Belize
Relocating to a new country, whether you are planning to live there full-time or part-time, can be a daunting task. Below is a brief guide to help you navigate the process of moving to Belize and what you can expect.
Belize Visa Information
Any visitor who stays in Belize for more than 30 days and less than 6 months must have their passport re-stamped by a local immigration office and pay a monthly fee for each additional month they wish to stay. If you are planning to live in Belize for longer than 6 months at a time, you’ll need to provide further documentation to the local immigration office and pay additional fees to obtain a visa.
If you plan to live in Belize permanently, you’ll need to reside here for at least one year and submit an application, police record, recommendations, and an HIV test. If your application is approved, you can apply for full citizenship after 5 years. The application fee is $1,000 per person for full citizenship but may vary by nationality.
Refer to the website for the Belize Embassy in Washington, D.C., for the most up-to-date information on obtaining Belize visas and citizenship.
Bringing Pets To Belize
According to the USDA’s website on traveling with pets to Belize from the U.S., you’ll need to obtain an import permit. You can get the most updated import requirements and access the permit application from the Belize Agricultural Health Authority site. You must also carry your veterinary paperwork on you while bringing your pet into Belize to show proof of their vaccinations.
Once you and your dog are residing in Belize, it’s important to keep track of them carefully, as there are a lot of stray dogs in the country, and ones which are captured and don’t have collars risk being put down.
Healthcare In Belize
There are many great doctors in Belize, private and public health clinics, and well-stocked pharmacies. However, the doctors in Belize are working with limited resources, and for that reason, expats who have existing health conditions may consider purchasing expat health insurance which provides for medical treatment abroad and covers being evacuated out of the country in an emergency. For routine healthcare services, many expats just pay out of pocket and costs are comparable to what they paid as monthly premiums for health coverage in the U.S.
Most expats find doctors in Belize through word-of-mouth. To see a specialist, you may have to travel to Belize City or Chetumal, Mexico.
Where to buy a home in Belize?
If you are looking for the comforts and modern amenities you are used to back in the States, mixed with the tranquil paradise setting of Belize, then Orchid Bay is the ideal choice. Orchid Bay is in Northern Belize and situated on the Bay of Chetumal, which is a sheltered inlet on the Caribbean Sea’s clear blue waters. Orchid Bay homeowners enjoy stunning views, cooling breezes, and an endless number of activities offered.
Some of the top-notch amenities offered as part of the Orchid Bay community include:
- First-world infrastructure including underground electric power, reverse osmosis drinking water, and a U.S. approved wastewater treatment plant.
- Reliable Wi-Fi which provides uninterrupted service for surfing the Internet, trading stocks, and communicating with friends and family back home.
- On-site medical clinic called Dr. Joe’s Clinic, founded by a U.S. emergency medicine physician will be opening later this year.
- Tradewinds restaurant, located on the beach, offers farm-to-table flavorful dishes and specialty cocktails.
- Orchid Bay Beach Club provides a peaceful setting for community members to gather for dining, entertainment, and activities, including taking a dip in the infinity pool, enjoying drinks from the pool bar or swing bar, and spending nights surrounding the fire pit.
- Close proximity to shopping at the big name stores you’re used to back home, including Home Depot, Walmart, Sally’s Beauty Supply, and more – which are all located just across the bay in Chetumal, Mexico.
- Plenty of beaches to choose from as Orchid Bay covers 7 miles of coastline.
- Birdwatch hundreds of bird species and get exercise hiking along Orchid Bay’s reserved nature paths.
- Sit on the dock of the bay – aka Pescadores Dock –which is a small boat dock with a bar, hammock, and spectacular sunrise and sunset views.
Whether you want to live here full-time or part-time and rent out your home to offset the cost of ownership, Orchid Bay is a real estate investment that can be enjoyed by you and your loved ones for years to come and passed down from generation to generation.