Belize is growing in popularity as an ideal destination for American retirees. It’s easy to understand why, with its beautiful scenery, perfect year-round weather, and plenty of outdoor activities to enjoy. It's truly the ideal place to settle down and relax in the sunshine.
As you consider joining the many satisfied expats living in Belize, you may be wondering if it's within your budget to do so. The good news is that retiring in Belize is very affordable, especially when compared to the U.S. Here’s a brief overview of the expected costs of retiring in Belize.
Retiring in Belize vs. the U.S.
One of the primary appeals of retiring in Belize is that it’s less costly than retiring in the U.S., allowing you to afford a more comfortable lifestyle. Statistics on the cost of living in Belize show consistently lower costs on necessities than in the U.S. Consumer prices are about 31% lower overall, with groceries costing about 38% less and rent nearly a whopping 74% less. Your American money will also be worth considerably more in Belize, with $0.50 USD equaling one Belizean dollar. Of course, you mustn't let these numbers encourage you to live irresponsibly. It's still crucial to budget effectively and not pay more for anything than it’s actually worth.
Typical Expenses to Expect in Belize
To plan out a proper budget, you’ll need to think about what exactly you’ll be spending your money on in Belize. First, you’ll need to factor in the initial costs associated with relocating to Belize.
Airfare to Belize varies from one airline to the next but is typically cheaper than fares to other top Caribbean destinations. You’ll also want to decide whether or not to apply for Belize’s Qualified Retirement Program (see more on this below), and if not, how you plan to pay to have your belongings shipped internationally to your new home in paradise.
Next, you'll need to think about recurring fees, such as rent. Just like in the U.S., rent is significantly more expensive in some parts than it is in others. A standard apartment in a popular spot like Ambergris Caye typically costs around $1,000 a month, while a smaller village may offer rent as low as $100 to $200. Utilities, including electricity, sewage, water, and the internet, are fairly consistently priced across Belize, averaging at $100 to $150 altogether.
You’ll be pleasantly surprised at how little fresh food and drinks cost in Belize, too. Shopping for groceries at local farmer’s markets costs around 40% less than what it would in the U.S., and eating out is easy to afford, with several food stands and restaurants offering meals for as low as $5. And, if you’re looking to treat yourself to a cocktail, a glass of locally sourced alcohol can be bought for $2 to $3.
Finally, you’ll need to consider the costs associated with healthcare. This can be a bit of a murky area, as a routine doctor’s visit is inexpensive and requires little time in the waiting room, but Belize is not known for the high quality of medical care available in the U.S. and Mexico. If you have a more serious medical problem, you will likely want to go back to the U.S. or cross the border to Mexico and receive your care there. Due to this variability, it is hard to predict precisely how much a person will need to spend on healthcare, so you’ll need to do some research on how your specific medical needs can best be met.
The Qualified Retirement Program
One of the best ways to save money in Belize is to take advantage of its ever-popular Qualified Retirement Program (QRP). If you’re 45 years or older and meet a few qualifications, you can apply for the QRP and benefit from many perks. These benefits include tax exemptions on foreign earned income and a year-long period to ship personal items, including vehicles, boats, and planes, from the U.S. to Belize, without paying duties or taxes. However, the fees associated with membership are another factor you must consider when planning your budget.
In addition to having a minimum income of $2,000 a month or $24,000 a year to qualify for the QRP, you will need to initially pay a nonrefundable application fee of $150. Upon acceptance, you will also need to pay an application fee of $1,000 plus $750 for each of your dependents, plus $200 to have your QRP Residency Card delivered. After that, renewing your membership only costs $50 a year.
Estimated Monthly Expenses at Orchid Bay
One of the best places to enjoy a high quality of life in Belize without making too much of a dent in your retirement budget is Orchid Bay. This luxurious, gated community of like-minded expats and retirees sits right on the stunning blue-green waters of the Caribbean Sea.
Orchid Bay homeowners tend to spend an average of:
- $25 per month for water
- $75 per month for electricity
- $125 per month for HOA fees (paid annually)
Altogether, this adds up to a projected $225 total for these necessities.
Additionally, Orchid Bay offers programs to make residency even more affordable. If you choose to enroll your home in our optional Rental Program, you can make some extra money to offset your monthly expenses. Also, our limited-time Paradise Payment Program can save you even more when buying your home at Orchid Bay. It allows qualified buyers to make a low down payment and affordable monthly payments through our direct financing offer.
A Realistic Monthly Budget
Factoring in all of the above, most retirees can live comfortably in Belize on about $1,500 to $2,500 per month, leaving plenty of extra money in the bank for travel and leisure activities. Compared to retirement in the U.S., you can enjoy a lot more for a lot less, and you won’t even need to travel too far from home to do so.
If you want to make the most of your retirement in Belize, contact us to learn more about the affordable options for living at Orchid Bay.