Many Reasons to Live in Belize
Belize sets itself apart from its neighbors in several ways–not least of which is the fact that the population living in Belize speaks English. It makes living and doing business in Belize easy. What’s more, Belize is a small, peaceful country where you can beat the bureaucratic beasts by simply walking into the Minister of So-and-So’s office and sitting down to talk things out.
Belize, in many ways, is like a big small town. Its far-thinking banking laws have given the nation a distinct advantage when it comes to banking privacy. In an age when the accounts in other jurisdictions are under attack, those in Belize remain secure…no mean feat.
And Belize’s retiree program offers attractive incentives to foreigners looking to live in Belize–particularly those who are already planning to declare their permanent residency outside the United States.
Plus, Belize is just plain beautiful. From its Caribbean shores to its jungle interior, this nation has great natural beauty to recommend it–blue water and deserted beaches, inland retreats where jaguar and scarlet macaw still live in their natural habitats.
While it’s true that Belize is not the most affordable place to buy property, this country offers economic stability, ease of living, and a cost of living that, while not dirt-cheap, is nevertheless a good value when you compare it with that of other Caribbean retreats.
Cost of Living in Belize
Belize is not the most affordable place to settle in Central America. You’ll likely find prices for some items to be more than what you’re used to paying in the United States…but then discover that many services actually cost less.
Monthly living expenses in Belize vary widely, but $3,000 a month is more than adequate for most couples. The more you entertain and travel, of course, the more your costs will climb. It is possible, however, for a couple to live on considerably less than $3,000. Bear in mind that prices are generally higher in places like Ambergris Caye or Placencia. Ambergris is an island–and that means everything is imported. You’ll pay extra for that transport cost.
On the other hand, if you decide to live in the north of Belize in Corozal and can take advantage of easy shopping trips to nearby Mexico, you can enjoy all the benefits of English-speaking Belize…but buy your goods for less just across the border.
Eat Like a Local When You Live in Belize
Food prices vary greatly from place to place, but savvy expats living in Belize know how to cut costs and eat better than most Americans do. Dinner, including food and beverages, can cost $45 a person at an expensive restaurant. But by seeking the advice from local residents, especially expats who know the restaurant scene, you can dine on lobster for less than half that amount.
Or you can order Belizean food and cut costs even more. Sandwiches typically cost less than $2, and beer and coffee are about $1. On the other hand, a medium-quality bottle of red wine is likely to be about $15.
Visitors and newcomers should be aware that the cost of food varies drastically from one area of Belize to another and sometimes even within the same town.
Other Costs of Living in Belize
Garbage removal: About $10 a month
Property maintenance: Yard workers usually charge $15 to $20 a day. Because bushes grow quickly in the tropics, some housing developments provide a service to keep property cleared. In Consejo Shores, for example, the fee is $120 per year. The typical salary for housekeepers in Belize is $15 per day, and if you need a caretaker to look after the house while you’re away, figure on $50 to $100 a month.
Cars and gasoline: In Belize, you can buy a fairly good used vehicle for about $3,000 to $4,000, not much more than you might pay in the U.S. Gasoline, however, is costly. The recent price was about $5.50 a gallon, but black-market fuel, known as “bucket gas,” costs about $3 a gallon. But be careful: Many sellers of bucket gas are known to give buyers significantly less than a full gallon.
Water: In most parts of Belize, $15 to $20 will cover the monthly water bill. Be aware that although tap water in Belize is safe to drink, it often has a bad taste. Moreover, water service doesn’t exist on many islands and some remote inland communities. For many residents, the solution is a cistern that collects and stores rainwater. Typical cost: $3,500 to $6,000.
Electricity: Belize Electricity Limited (BEL) is the only commercial provider of electricity, although many houses and condominiums have their own generators. For residential customers, BEL charges a $5-per-month service fee plus the relatively high rate of 15.5 cents per kilowatt hour for the first 50 kilowatt hours used, 20.5 cents for the next 150, and 23 cents for each kilowatt hour over the first 200. Most expats discover that the best way to hold down electricity costs is to use less air-conditioning.
Phone: A standard phone costs $56 to install, plus a deposit of $75. The basic monthly fee is $13.50, but international rates are high and Belize Telephone Ltd. is the only provider. It costs 70 cents a minute to phone the U.S. during the day and 49 cents in the evening. The respective rates are $1.10 and 77 cents to Canada and $1.50 and $1.05 to Western Europe.
*Prices as of 2013
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