Belize is a charming little country with one foot planted in the Caribbean, the other in Central America. In addition to an abundance of natural beauty, the offshore World Heritage Mesoamerican barrier reef, and a multitude of Maya ruins, Belize offers expats an outstanding residence program for retirees. Another plus, English is the country’s primary language. For these reasons—and others—an increasing number of expats are moving to this laidback, democratic country.
Belize is comparable in size to Massachusetts. It’s easy to travel between its districts by bus, car, plane, or water taxi. You can drive from the northern border, across from Mexico, to the southernmost district of Toledo within a day. Take local flights and you can reach any region within an hour or two. In less than two hours you can travel by water taxi between the mainland and the primary cayes – Ambergris Caye and Caye Caulker.
If you’re seriously considering a move to Belize, be sure to take an initial trip to explore the entire country. After you’ve narrowed down your geographic options, spend several months renting—it’s the best way to explore Belize’s diverse districts and lifestyles in depth.
Vacation rentals can be pricey, especially in beach towns. The cost of lodging drops significantly if you commit to rent for a month or more. The best deals go to those who commit to a six-month or longer rental.
Some popular expat regions have plenty of decent rentals available, while in other they are harder to come by. When you’re ready to rent, first look for a reputable property management company in the region you’re interested in. Most regions have at least one property management company that specializes in rentals in that region. Few realtors focus on managing and renting properties.
To give you an idea of what’s available, and what you can expect to spend on rent, here are a few examples of rentals in the popular districts where expats live in Belize.
Corozal District: $350 a Month
Across the border from Chetumal, Mexico, Corozal Town is a low-key family town on the tranquil waters of Corozal Bay. The cost of living here is quite affordable. This region is popular with expats who depend upon their Social Security income. The expat community in the Corozal region is very active and welcoming.
You’ll find many rentals in or near Corozal Town. Others are in the well-established expat enclave of Consejo Shores, seven miles north of town.
For those on a tight budget, a simple 250-square-foot studio apartment is available in Corozal Town for $350 per month. For a bit more you can rent a larger, modern apartment unit in Consejo Shores for $550 per month. It has a sitting area with couch and chairs, a walk-in pantry, dining area, and fully equipped kitchen. The rental fee includes gas, electricity, water, and a free DSL connection. No deposit required.
Ambergris Caye: From $750+ a Month
Ambergris Caye is a popular offshore caye that’s located 35 to 40 miles southeast of Corozal. In 2013 and 2014 Ambergris was voted the world’s best island by Trip Advisor members. The nearby World Heritage Mesoamerican barrier reef and stunning azure Caribbean waters enchant visitors and expats alike.
The island itself is over 25 miles long. San Pedro Town is Ambergris’ only town. It’s a buzzing hub of activity. There’s plenty to do in San Pedro Town, and you’ll find plenty of stores, restaurants, bars, and cafés.
If you’re determined to rent on the beach, you’ll pay a premium. Rent off beach, or on the back lagoon, for the better deals. Prices start around $750 for a one-bedroom condo. Two-bedroom condos on the beach tend to run $1,000 per month or more.
A fully-furnished, upper level oceanfront one-bedroom, one-bath condo was recently listed for $750 per month. Located about two miles south of the town’s center, this pool-facing unit has a kitchen, balcony, and a bedroom with two full beds.
Caye Caulker: From $650 a Month
Caye Caulker is a charming, laidback little island, located a 30-minute water taxi ride from Ambergris Caye. This little caye still looks and feels genuinely Caribbean. It has only 2,000 residents, as compared to over 20,000 on Ambergris Caye. The roads are composed of packed sand. Residents navigate the island on bicycles, or on foot. “Go Slow” signs greet you at regular intervals. You’ll see no cars or trucks… and few golf carts on this caye.
Strolling along the village’s main street, right next to the gorgeous beach, is a visual delight. You’ll pass a series of inviting B&Bs, guesthouses, and small condo buildings, all painted in lively Caribbean colors such as orange, purple, powder blue, yellow, and lime green.
The very qualities that make Caye Caulker irresistible also make it elusive. Expats who fall in love with this island find few homes and condos for sale, or to rent. The rental and real estate markets are thin, but there are deals to be had. You’ll find the best deals through “word of mouth”.
Diana Moore and Tim Nutley moved to Caye Caulker in early 2016. They pay $650 per month for an off-beach apartment they found, with a little help from their island friends. Their two-bedroom, one-bath apartment came fully furnished, with a fenced yard.
Placencia: From $450 a Month
Back on the mainland, the popular expat district of Stann Creek is famous for its gorgeous sandy beaches. The Placencia peninsula is where you’ll find 17 miles of walkable beaches on the Caribbean Sea.
Placencia is the preferred area for expats to rent, buy, or build a home in the Stann Creek District, so it can be challenging to find a reasonable long-term rental in Placencia. Although it is possible to find studio, one-, or two-bedroom condos between $450 to $600 per month.
The Cayo: From $500 a Month
Belize’s lush western region extends from the foothills into the Maya Mountains. Eco-tourism is a major attraction, as this region has winding rivers, wild jungle, cascading waterfalls, mysterious caves, and flamboyant birds. You’ll also find a number of notable archaeological sites such as Mayan ruins and Mennonite farmland.
Expats who are considering living in the Cayo usually look for a rental in one of the thriving river towns of San Ignacio or Santa Elena, close to the town’s activity. But there are also long-term rentals available in the outlier Cayo villages, such as Bullet Tree and Unitedville. These rentals usually include a spacious home and yard abundant with fruit trees and flowers.
In Unitedville, a three-bedroom, three-bath house sitting on a one-acre property rents for $500 per month. The house itself is 1,700 square feet. The property has coconut, mango, avocado, plum, grapefruit, cashew, banana, allspice, and noni trees. Centrally located, this rental is 10 miles from San Ignacio, 10 miles from Belmopan and seven miles from the Mennonite town of Spanish Lookout.