- Dollar Stretching – Cost of Living in Belize
Belize Retirement is not nearly as expensive as you may be thinking. Belize may not be the cheapest country to live in, but it is a tropical paradise and comes with so many benefits that the little bit more you do have to pay here versus some other Asian or Latin American countries is totally worth it. The dollars from your retirement checks and investment income just seems to stretch in Belize.
Most everyday items are cheaper here. You will save significantly on medical, household help, insurance, produce, cable TV and taxes. A few items that will cost you more are electricity, Internet, cellular service and gasoline. Housing really depends on what you prefer and may be significantly cheaper or more expensive.
You can rent a basic home for US$250-$500 a month, or construct a new house for $50K US to $250K US plus depending on size and location.
A retired couple can easily afford a nice lifestyle on $1,500 US per month.
Here is an example: Rent $500. Car expenses $100. Electricity, water, telephone, and Internet: $400. Groceries: $300. Medical: $100. Entertainment: $100.
- Everyone Speaks English
English is the official language of Belize. In fact, Belize is the only country in Central or South America where this is true. If you come from the US, Canada or the U.K. you have no need to learn a new language. Spanish is also widely spoken and is probably the more popular language, but most Belizeans are bilingual or even tri-lingual. All street signs, official documents, media and menus are in English. Studies show that many wealthy immigrants have settled in Belize largely because it is English-speaking. You may attain better services and living conditions for less in Guatemala or Mexico, but speaking English is often the deciding factor when choosing to live in Belize.
On day one you can shop, dine, talk, and ask for directions without consulting a language book or a foreign language app on your smart phone. For retirees with kids, the school system is in English and well regarded.
- You Will Live Longer
It is true. Living and retiring in Belize will actually improve your health and make you look and feel better. Unprocessed foods, grass fed beef, fresh fish, fresh fruit, free range chickens and eggs, locally grown vegetables, grains and nuts and please do not forget the fresh coconut water made while you watch.
You will spend more time outdoors in the unpolluted, ocean air rather than in stuffy, climate-controlled homes or offices.
Aches and pains appear to disappear. Most people report feeling healthier within a few days or weeks. Less stress, clean air, healthy diet and a warm climate will do that for most.
- There Is So Much to Do or See in Belize
Boredom will not be your problem here. Even though the country is relatively small it has a diverse landscape including jungles, forests, mountains, islands, rivers, beaches and the second longest barrier reef in the world.
Belize is a wonderland. It houses thousands of species of flowers, trees, orchids, birds, animals and exotic, tropical fish. You could literally spend the rest of your life learning about the rich flora and fauna of Belize.
It also contains diverse cultures of Mayan, Spanish, Garifuna, Mennonite, Chinese, Lebanese and British all living peacefully together. If you get bored living here, it’s your own fault.
Each ethnic group has cuisine to discover, a colorful history to investigate, and cultural festivals, events and fairs to experience. The history and culture of the Mayans dates back thousands of years.
Then of course there are all the outdoor activities, which include sailing the crystal blue waters, lying on the gorgeous beaches or dive the majestic Barrier Reef. You can go horseback riding on the wide-open Savannah’s or through the gorgeous mountain passes. There are countless caves to explore, many undiscovered in the tropical rain forest among the beautiful rivers and waterfalls. There are also many ancient, Mayan ruins to discover, see and explore.
- You Can Use US Dollars and the Exchange Rate is Always 2 to 1
They accept US Dollar everywhere. Cash, ATM or Credit Cards in US can pay for anything except government transactions. Buying food at a restaurant, paying for a tour, grocery shopping or bar hopping are all acceptable places to use your US dollars. Belize dollars are pegged at 2 to 1 US dollars for decades so it is easy to calculate prices.
- You Will Love the Belizean Community
The joy of community and family life are Belizeans’ chief priorities. People here celebrate, like to party and are in general fun loving. Belize officially has fifteen different holidays; some like Easter weekend that actually last 5 days.
- You Will Learn to Love Belize Time
Belize is literally and figuratively on a different time clock. Literally, they do not recognize daylight savings, so during the Fall/Winter it is on CST and the Spring/Summer it is on MST. Figuratively, Belizeans are much more relaxed and easy going around timing and schedules. The idea is to take it easy. Post Offices, Police Stations, Immigration offices are supposed to open at 8 a.m. but you will generally not see the doors open until 8:30, which is the spirit of “Belize Time”.
It is a constant and daily reminder to relax, take it easy and slow down. Don’t be in such a rush that you miss the beautiful sunset on your way. Take your time and enjoy your breakfast and family a little more before you start your day. Once you buy in to the idea it is very liberating.
- Laws and Property Rights are Familiar
Similar to the legal systems in Canada and the US, Belize law is founded on British Common Law.
Everyone, including all foreigners, enjoy the exact same property rights according to the Belize Constitution. There are absolutely no constraints on foreigners owning property in Belize, which includes oceanfront properties. According to a study conducted by a local newspaper, over 60 percent of Belize’s oceanfront property is currently owned by foreigners.
- Belize Real Estate is Reasonable
Belize does not have the lowest real estate prices in Central America, but it seems amazingly low when you compare it with the cost of equivalent real estate in the US.
Prices are rising like everywhere but, you may live on a beach for less than a third of what it costs in North America. A beachfront lot in Belize can still be purchased for between $30K to $100K US. A lot a street or two behind the oceanfront can be bought for about half the cost of oceanfront.
Hurricane worthy construction costs for a concrete structure range from between $40-$80 US per square foot. Consider using an engineer or architect to supervise construction. Their fee may end up saving you lots of time and money.
- Low/No Taxes.
Belize retirement warmly greets you and won’t excessively tax you. In fact, most retirees pay zero taxes to Belize on anything other than purchases and real estate. They completely leave your income alone.
- Stable Economy
Belize has one of the lowest inflation rates in the world. Its banking industry is solid and services many people around the world via offshore banking accounts.
- Belize is Close
It is a two hour flight from Houston or Miami with many points connecting around the US. A visit to your friends or family and especially those grand kids is easy and quick. Often it is vice versa. Residing in Belize, you may be pleasantly surprised at how many guests you’ll receive from back home.
- The Community of Expats
Belize has been a magnet for retirees and expats from all over the world for a few decades. These tend to be like-minded people that desire to make their own way while living well on what they’ve got. Those that don’t fit here get naturally weeded out. The remaining Expats carry their dreams here, and Belize somehow helps them come true.
- A Fresh Start in Belize
Anyone can reinvent them self in Belize. A move to a new country where English is the predominant language spoken can sometimes open up completely new opportunities for the retiree. Most retirees will mingle with a mixture of expats and take inspiration on new things to do. A few retirees return to some form of self-employed work.
Retirees here can find many innovative and often rewarding ways to occupy their mind. A recent retiree explains why he retired in Belize. “Wide open spaces and opportunity everywhere.”
- Perks of Belize Retirement
Those over 45 can take advantage of a “retiree” program (QRP) that helps you get legal residency as well as receive a few tax advantages and special benefits. Besides age, the only other requirement is that you have proof of a minimum monthly income of $2K US.
Besides paying no income taxes on earning outside of Belize, you may import household goods and personal belongings for the first year with no import taxes. This includes a vehicle, boat or plane.
You may also come and go as you please and are not required to attain a visa each time you re-enter the country.