Lovely Little Country that Welcomes Expats
If you are looking to retire or work abroad, Belize may be the easiest of all possible choices.
Tourism is booming due to Belize’s beautiful beaches, Mayan ruins and incredible outdoor activities.
Its official language, English, and its proximity – make it a natural choice for vacationers and potential residents from the US and Canada.
More importantly, the government and banking system are both stable and the Belizean dollar is permanently pegged to the US dollar (2/1).
For these reasons, this former British colony is attracting a lot of attention from investors, travelers, digital nomads and retirees.
Belize is a developing nation with tremendous potential. Real estate bargains abound but prices are drifting higher along the coast.
If you are considering the expat lifestyle, Belize is a great place for you to try living overseas and see if it’s right for you.
- English is the official language
- The cost of living is very low
- Housing and Real Estate are Cheap
- Great Beaches and Outdoor Activities
- Established Expat Communities
- You will pay ZERO Belizean income or property tax
- Residency is extremely easy
- Digital Infrastructure is good in bigger towns
- The banks are stable and safe
- The currency is pegged to the US dollar
- It’s sunny and hot
- It’s just a 2.5 hour flight from Miami
Belize is very attractive country to folks who are looking for a easy, carefree life. It’s a great place to dip your toes in the expat way of living. And maybe you’ll just wind up hanging your hat there for good.
A couple can live comfortably for around $2000/month near the beach or $1500/month in the interior (Cayo).
Plus government of Belize is very eager to attract digital nomads and retirees. It’s probably one of the easiest places in the western hemisphere to gain permanent residency.
Basically – You have to pay a $1000 application fee and stay in the country for 50 consecutive weeks. Then you will qualify to work or have a business in Belize.
If you are 45 or over, it’s even better. If you can show an income of $2000/month, you can qualify for the Belize Retired Persons Incentive Program. After which you can maintain residency status as long as you spend at least one month per year in Belize. What’s easier than that?
The only difference is that under the retiree program you will not be able to earn income within Belize. You will have rely on online income or retirement savings.
For more info on how to create online income ==>CLICK HERE<==
Belize is a small, manageable country the size of New Jersey. There are no freeways, but the main roads are decent and you can drive from the Guatemalan border to the Caribbean beaches in less than 3 hours.
Belize is a small, developing nation with a lot of potential. But it’s not perfect of course. It’s a poor country with poor country problems – like corruption and frustrating bureaucracy. But it’s definitely on the upswing. So if you if you are looking for opportunity, you will have to deals with some downsides.
Bad roads – main highways are decent, but secondary roads are not good, some are downright terrible. Also reckless driving by locals is a hazard.
Poor public transportation – The ferry system is very good, but your only options while traveling through the country are private shuttle services.
Crime – As with most developing nations, property crime is an issue. The murder rate is also high due mainly to gang violence in Belize City.
Little Choice of Climate – Belize is hot all over. The interior is slightly drier and cooler than the coast – but not much. Summers at the beaches are oppressive and plagued by insects.
Little Choice of Cuisine – Outside of the bigger towns, your options are few. Hope you like stewed chicken and Chinese food.
Few Cultural Activities – If you like the opera – or even going to the movies – you’re out of luck. Outdoor concerts, festivals and bars are about the only nightlife.
Great Places to Relocate in Belize
In Belize, you’re not going to find a flashy capital city or mountain villages like Panama.
You basically have two choices as far as type of location: The beach or the hills. But the beach towns have different vibes from each other and the western hills (Cayo District) have a frontier feel.
Here’s a rundown of the four most popular spot for expats in Belize.
Ambergris Caye/San Pedro
By far – Ambergris caye is the most popular destination in Belize for tourists and expats. Everyone who goes to Belize spends some time in San Pedro.
It is a fun, lively beach town with many choices of restaurants and nightlife.
And because San Pedro is such a draw, it is attracting a lot of attention from developers. Houses and resorts are springing up in and around San Pedro – promising to make this spot bustle even more.
Like a lot of Carribean towns, San Pedro ramshackle in a very charming way. Few cars here, but LOTS of golf carts. It’s the preferred method of travel and essential if you live here.
After a 15 minute golf cart ride north from San Pedro town it gets much quieter. There are secluded houses and hotels and it feels more like you are away from civilization.
Turn west and drive for another 15 minutes and you are at the funky and fun Secret Beach.
In short, if you like to be close to the action, Ambergris Caye is your best choice in Belize.
Pros: Lots of restaurants, bars, beaches, and conveniences. You won’t need a car. Low crime. Good WIFI.
Cons: Accessed by boat or plane only. Cost of living pricier. Rental housing hard to find. Real estate prices rising fast.
If Ambergris is the flashy face or Belize, the Cayo district is its heart.
About a 2 hour drive from the beaches – this dusty, hilly region has a wide open feel – not unlike parts of the American west.
It’s where most of the country’s ranches and farms – many owned by Mennonites – are located.
It’s also where you’ll find the best Mayan ruins and outdoor adventures.
The twin towns of San Ignacio and Santa Elena are bustling with commerce. San Ignacio is an endearing place with good restaurants, a great farmers market and a lovely little town square.
Real estate in Cayo is dirt cheap and housing opportunities – including rentals – abound.
So if you’re looking for the great outdoors with a pioneer spirit, you should definitely check out Cayo.
Pros: Cheap cost of living and housing. Hills, rivers, caves, ruins. Drier climate than coast. Growing expat community.
Cons: You will need a car. Secondary roads are bad. Nightlife choices and cultural events are few. Digital infrastructure is hit or miss depending on location.
Corozal is the northernmost town in Belize – just a few miles from the Mexican border.
It sits on beautiful sheltered Corozal Bay which has lovely powder blue water.
It is fast becoming a destination for expats. Land is so cheap that it may be the best opportunity in all of belize.
A multitude of undeveloped seaside areas are beckoning developers and expats alike.
Besides the standard services and a few decent restaurants, there are not a lot of amenities here – yet. But that is likely to change in the coming years.
However there is a free trade zone and two casinos north of town. And best of all – the Mexican town of Chetumal is just seven miles away.
Chetumal is a major plus. It has dozens of bars and restaurants, department and grocery stores in addition to American chains like Walmart, Sam’s Club and McDonalds.
Furthermore, there is a hospital, excellent doctors, dentists and pharmacies.
In short – pretty much any goods or services you might need are just a quick trip across the border.
So if you are looking for a quiet house near the water that’s a stone’s throw from all the good stuff, Corozal deserves thorough consideration.
Pros: Bargain seaside real estate. Proximity to Chetumal. Local airport with daily flights to San Pedro. Water taxi service to San Pedro. Less rain than all other beach towns. Growing expat community.
Cons: Sub par infrastructure. Lacking nightlife and culture. Poor WIFI.
Placencia is home to the prettiest, widest beaches in Belize. If you love the sand and sun, without all the craziness of San Pedro, Placencia is truly paradise.
It has a laid back vibe that is kind of hard to find on Ambergris. It’s a lot less crowded and things are spread out here. There’s a feeling of openness – that you are on an island surrounded by sea.
Placencia is actually at the end of a long, skinny peninsula – 19 miles in length and averaging less than half a mile wide. In so many spots you can see water on both sides.
Accordingly, water sports abound. Great fishing, snorkeling and scuba diving are all less than a half hour boat ride away.
Being on a peninsula also means that you can drive here which you can’t do to Ambergris. It’s about a three hours by car from the airport. It also has an airstrip serviced by Tropic Air with flights to and from Belize City and San Pedro.
An hourly water taxi runs from to and from Mango Creek/Independence on the mainland.
As you might expect, there are plenty of bars and restaurants to choose from. Other than that, there is very little cultural activity.
Cost of living and housing is about on par with Ambergris – that is to say not that cheap.
But there are still real estate bargains to be had, and if you are looking to start a business, Placencia is gaining in popularity due to the new Norwegian Cruise Lines port on Harvest Caye just to the south.
Pros: Great beaches and water sports. Laid back vibe. Good business opportunity. Strong expat community. Accessible by car.
Cons: No hospitals (must go to Independence or Dandriga). Higher cost of housing and living. Long term rentals hard to find. Few cultural activities.
If you are looking for a Caribbean island lifestyle – at a discount – then you must check out Hopkins Village.
It’s a tiny town with some of the best beaches in Belize. It’s quiet and relaxed and has a real irie vibe. That’s because it was founded by a Caribbean people – the Garifuna.
The Garifuna are descendents of West African slaves and indigenous Carib people from the Lesser Antilles. They settled this area of Belize in the early 19th century and brought with them a rich culture.
You are surrounded by the music, art and food of the Caribbean – with a deep African influence.
Because of this, Hopkins has a distinct cultural atmosphere that is missing in many other towns in Belize. You truly feel like you are part of a larger human experience.
On the practical side, Hopkins has some good restaurants and a few stores, but not much else. You have to drive 8 miles to Dangriga for real supplies or medical care.
On the flip side – the real estate market here offers tremendous value and range of living choices. There are several gated communities and a new marina being built on the south end of town.
So if you’re idea of paradise is a sleepy, Caribbean beach town, Hopkins you might find your Golden Flip Flop in Hopkins.
Pros: Nice Beaches, Tranquility, Culture, Great living options.
Cons: Little Nightlife, No Shopping or Serious Medical Care
Belize is a developing nation with a lot of potential and opportunity. It’s definitely a diamond in the rough. If you have some tolerance for poor country problems, Belize has a lot to offer as a relocation destination.
So having gotten this far, you must be considering Belize as a place to live.
We’ve got plenty of information about Belize on The Golden Flip Flop.
Here are some great articles about this terrific little country to pique your interest even further.