Belize has a lot going for it. For a tiny country, it packs a big wallop when it comes to charm and scenery. For the would-be expat—especially if you’re looking for real value—there are many places deserving of your attention. Places where you can live the laid-back, Caribbean lifestyle of your dreams.
And yes, there are a couple of places that aren’t worth much attention…
Let’s start with the places to avoid. The big one is Belize City. If you should ever put down roots in Belize, you’ll no doubt spend some time here. The international airport is here, after all. As are services you may need, such as hospitals, attorneys, and some shopping. (The one and only chain restaurant I know of in Belize is also here…a Subway Sandwich Shop. So should you get a sudden urge for a sub sandwich, you may find yourself in Belize City.)
But other than for these relatively uninspiring reasons, you probably won’t find any need to spend time in Belize City. Belize is a glorious country and there are many far more attractive places.
Belmopan is the second place you can cross off your list. While it, too, is a perfectly fine city—and is the capital city and administrative hub of the country’s government—there’s not a lot in Belmopan to write home about.
So if you’re thinking of moving to Belize, where should be front and center on your expat hit list?
Where to Live in Belize
In no particular order, check out:
- Corozal—in northern Belize near the border with Mexico. This may be your low-cost option if you’re looking for waterfront property. Not technically on the Caribbean, but instead on the pretty Bay of Chetumal, you’ll find prices for just about everything…from real estate to local grocery items…will be less in Corozal.
- The islands of Ambergris Caye and Caye Caulker. (In this case, “caye” is pronounced as “key,” by the way.) If you’re a diver or fisherman or love to snorkel, you’ve no doubt heard of the Isla Bonita (beautiful island) of Ambergris Caye and its stunning little sister, Caye Caulker. If white sands and turquoise waters are your idea of paradise, either one of these will be your dream come true. You’ll find a good number of U.S. and Canadian expats living here…so you’ll have plenty of company at the plentiful and lively beach bars overlooking those warm gin-clear waters.
(Real estate prices here are among the most affordable in the Caribbean, although you’ll find prices a bit high for some imported goods like Pringles and Snickers bars. Word of advice: learn to love the local fare, like the delicious fresh seafood.)
- Placencia. This charming little seaside town is found at the tip of a peninsula off the coast of mainland Belize about three hours south of Belize City. It’s fast becoming Belize’s most desirable location as it fronts the gorgeous Caribbean Sea to the east and a resplendent freshwater lagoon, full of wildlife and with a view of the gorgeous Maya mountain chain, to the west. There are still real estate bargains to be had here—and the relaxed lifestyle is unsurpassed, although my advice would be to get there soon.
- The Cayo district. If you love lazy rivers, vast rolling hills, and fertile farmland and rainforests where you can test your gardening skills, Cayo is for you. The heart of this area are the twin towns of San Ignacio and Santa Elena, which both enjoy an Old West feel…but in a tropical frontiersman kind of way that you’ll find only in Belize. Bargains can be found here, too—not only on real estate but on the huge amount of produce and fresh cheeses grown and produced here by local Mennonites.
There’s more to Belize, of course. There are many other seaside villages…and pine-covered mountains, rainforests, and hundreds of tiny islands that dot the coast. But put these four locales on your list of places to check out and you won’t be disappointed. In fact, you’ll be spoiled for choice and then some…
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