If you’re thinking about moving to Belize, there are pros and cons about living there you’ll want to know.
From its white sand beaches to its allusive rain forests, Belize is a country of diverse natural beauty. This Central American country is easy on the eyes and serves up chill vibes. It is no surprise that more than one million tourists visit Belize every year. Belize is a great place to live for adventurous spirits and laid-back souls alike. For the daring travelers, activities in Belize can include trekking into the jungle, bird watching, and scuba diving. If you like to keep things low-key, the crystal clear waters and relaxing beaches make that easy to do. These are just a small handful of all the things to look forward to if you are moving to Belize.
Belize is affordable. Stress levels are low. The food is delicious. Still, there are some aspects about living there to be wary of before moving to Belize. Read on to read about the good, the bad, and the ugly of moving to Belize.
Belize: Getting To Know The Basics
Belize is a Central American country nestled to the right of Mexico and Guatemala. It is on the coast of the Caribbean Basin. So if you enjoy life on the water, this country is right for you. Belize is the former British Colony known as British Honduras. The country became independent from Great Britain in 1981 and is a member of both the British Commonwealth and the United Nations.
The entire country covers an area of almost 9,000 square miles. The population is less than 400,000 people. In 2010 Belmopan, the capital city had a population of less than 15,000 inhabitants. In fact, the population density in Belize is the lowest in Central American and one of the lowest in the world. Despite its small population, this country has a great nightlife to look forward to before moving to Belize.
The fact that this country is undeveloped and sparsely populated are two big reasons why Americans are moving to Belize. There are only three highways traversing the entire country. The beaches, the jungle, and the rain forests have plenty of room to spread out in. A flight from Houston to Belize is just two and a half hours, so you can get back home to the States in no time. Plus, people speak English in Belize. Therefore the language barrier is less stressful when moving to Belize than other foreign countries.
Moving To Belize: Where To Live
Credit: Deanna Keahey
For many, living in this Central American paradise is much cheaper than living in the United States. That being said, where you choose to live will greatly impact your cost of living. The most expensive areas to look out for when moving to Belize includes the island of Ambergris Caye. This is the largest island in Belize and is best known for it water sports, scuba diving, and Caribbean beaches. Another expensive spot is Placencia. This is a beautiful village located on a peninsula that is being developed with several high-end resorts and homes.
There are also less expensive areas in Belize many expats resort to. These include Corozal. This town is located about 80 miles north of Belize City and just 9 miles from the border of Mexico. Other areas that are inland in Belize are also less expensive, such as the Cayo District. If you’re moving to Belize and want to keep your expenses low, the Cayo District is a great place to look. Not only is it the home of the nation’s Capital, the City of Belmopan, the area also has two thousand square miles of gorgeous, diverse landscape. You will find rivers, jungles, green hillsides, waterfalls, caves, and an array of Mayan ruins.
The Cost Of Living In Belize Is High
Credit: Julia Nigh
Now let’s talk rent. Though there are many pros to look forward to when moving to Belize, low cost of living is not typically one of them. Again, property prices vary greatly from one area to another in Belize. Inland, you can find houses to rent for roughly $300 to $800 per month. Prices will go up the closer you get to the ocean. There, rent is around $1,000 per month on average. As you make your way to the island of Ambergris Caye, prices will continue to soar.
Other than housing prices, you will find other daily costs are not much less than what you find in America. On average, utilities cost about $100 to $200 per month. Food is less expensive, though, especially in cheaper areas. For example, you will likely find stands selling 10 bananas for just 50 cents, or a sack of 100 oranges for $4. Keep in mind, though, that these cheap costs will be in very low income areas. Overall, you can expect to spend less money than you do in America after moving to Belize. But if you want to live cheaply but a little more lavishly in Central America, it is worth checking out Guatemala, Honduras, or Nicaragua, as well.
Healthcare In Belize Isn’t Great
Credit: Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital
But it isn’t terrible, either. If you have a chronic illness or a condition that may cause you to need to be rushed to the hospital on a moment’s notice, we advise against moving to Belize. Poor healthcare was one of the top issues Dean Barrow addressed in his campaign for Prime Minister. Now that he is in office, his government has planned several initiatives to solve the problem, especially improvements at the country’s best known medical facility, the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital in Belize City.
If you are set on moving to Belize, don’t be too alarmed. Rest assured that minor ailments and illnesses can likely be treated quickly and cheaply at local doctor’s offices and clinics (Note: Clinics can be found in most areas in Belize, other than a few very remote towns.) For more serious conditions, you can be taken to a private clinic, like Belize Healthcare Partners. Belize also has a number of public hospitals. Still, healthcare in Belize does not match healthcare in the United States and neighboring Central American countries. This may not be a big deal for you. But if it is, we advise doing thorough research on medical facilities before moving to Belize!
Education In Belize Is Similar To The U.S.
If you are moving to Belize with a family, then you probably want to know a thing or two about the education systems there. As we mentioned before, most people speak English in Belize. This is largely due to the fact that the Belize education system “has its roots in the English system” and “has been greatly influenced by the U.S. academic syllabus.” That being said, private schools are much better than public schools in Belize. Accordingly, the best private schools are Roman Catholic. Some of the private schools even follow U.S. practices with a K-12 grading system.
Primary education is free and compulsory through age 14. This is great for families on a budges. However, it’s important to note that only about 70 percent of teachers are professionally trained. Despite the cons, education is important to people in Belize. In 2014, more than 90,000 students were enrolled in Belize schools and colleges at all levels. This includes almost 4,000 in preschools, 63,000 in primary schools, and more than 15,000 in high schools. Additionally, about 6,000 students were in post-secondary studies. If you’re moving to Belize and well past a schooling age, this may be of no concern to you. But if you’re moving to Belize with children or to continue your education, we advise doing more research on the facts and figures behind education in Belize.
The Weather Is Beautiful, But Finicky!
Credit: Walter Rodriguez
Enough with the money talk – let’s talk about Belize’s beautiful weather! Belize is known for its tropical weather and sunny, blue skies. That being said, it’s still a Caribbean country, therefore it has some quirks to get to know. There are two major seasons in Belize: the dry season and the rainy season. There are pros and cons to each. During Belize’s dry season, the average temperate settles between 73 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit. During the rainy season, it falls at 79 to 86 degrees Fahrenheit – and is much, much muggier.
The dry season is considered Belize’s “winter,” minus the snow and freezing cold temperatures of course. From November to February, days are cooler and windier. However, there is still a whole lot of sunshine and almost no clouds in the sky. Therefore, the dry season is a great time of year to get outside and explore all of Belize’s adventure options. The rainy season falls, unsurprisingly, falls in line with the country’s biggest drop in tourism for the year. If you’re moving to Belize, expect random rainfall and showers during this season. This is also Belize’s hurricane season. If you’re moving to Belize, definitely read up on hurricane preparedness!
There Are So Many Things To Do In Belize
Whether you’re moving to Belize or just visiting, you will find no shortage of fun things to do there. In fact, if you get bored in Belize, it’s your own fault. The country may be small, but it is rich in diverse landscapes and unique cultures. Additionally, this country is rapidly developing, therefore there is no end of fun things to do an places to explore. The nature and wildlife in Belize alone leaves you plenty to explore. The county is home to thousands of species of trees and flowers, orchids, animals, birds, exotic tropical fish, butterflies, and more.
As we said earlier, the cultural diversity in Belize is incredible. This is partly due to the fact the culture and history in Belize dates back to the Mayan empire thousands of years ago. In addition to visiting Mayan ruins, there are countless outdoor activities to enjoy. This includes laying out on gorgeous beaches, scuba diving in the Barrier Reef, hiking through the wide open savannas and mountains, going down below into caves, foraging through the rainforest, taking in the rivers and waterfalls – the list goes on. Plus, you will find yourself right on the border of Mexico and Guatemala after moving to Belize. Therefore you’re just a quick flight away from other gorgeous Central American countries to tour.
Enjoy A Low Stress Lifestyle In Belize
You will likely feel stress and anxieties alleviate after moving to Belize. You will find that Belizeans are on almost on a different clock than Americans. Their lifestyle is much more relaxed and easy going. That is the definition of “Belize Time.” Shopping is not as popular in Belize as it is in the states. Accordingly, there is less stress to obtain material goods in Belize. Attire is simple and minimalistic. This gives Belize a very unpretentious air. It also helps create a more relaxing atmosphere.
What’s more, Belizeans are very friendly people. And they like Americans, Europeans, and all people from around the world. It is estimated that the equivalent of Belize’s entire population lives in North America. Therefore, you know that they must like something about America and the people who migrate from there. Another stress-alleviating factor you’ll find after moving to Belize is that American currency and language is accepted there. You will find it very easy to ease into Belizean lifestyle.
Living In Belize Can Improve Your Health
Sure, the healthcare in Belize isn’t great. But that doesn’t mean moving to Belize can improve your health overall. This is partly due to the array of fresh foods you can easily find in Belize. There are so many fruits and vegetables to feast on, including fresh oranges, pineapples, mangoes, and grapefruits. If you eat meat, there is plenty of high-quality meats to choose from. This includes poultry, beef, and plenty of seafood. This is the Caribbean, after all!
The small population in Belize can also help improve your health. Unlike the United States, the air is crisp and clean in Belize. There is less congestion which means less toxicity in the air and less stress. You will also find you may become more active after moving to Belize. This is easy to do given all of the beautiful areas to explore and outdoor activities to take part in. Combine these factors with the beautiful, tropical climate and regular sunshine and you will not be burdened typical stressors and anxieties you find in the states.
There Are Some Perks From Home You Won’t Find Here
It is true that having less material goods can lead to a better life. That being said, it can be hard to let go of some luxuries you’re used to in the United States. You will find that this might be one of the biggest adjustments you make after moving to Belize. You will find less big ticket items like appliances, electronics, and vehicles that you likely had back home. Food and other goods are less readily accessible in Belize. Even smaller items like clothing, certain food products, toiletries, over-the-counter medications, etc. can be more challenging to find in Belize. This is especially true if you decide to settle in a small, more remote, less expensive town.
If you add in high important taxes, limited or no supply of certain goods, and few major retail centers, moving to Belize may make some expats miserable. Alternatively, you may love learning to live off of locally-sourced goods and products. Regardless of whether you love or hate this lifestyle, these will be major factors to get used to after moving to Belize.
Who Should Move To Belize?
People from all walks of life could be happy in Belize. That being said, considering its still growing education system, moving to Belize is not too common for expats with children. If you’re an entrepreneur, you may find that Belize is a great place to start a business. Therefore moving to Belize in you 20s or 30s may be a great choice for you. Overall, though, this is a great country for folks who are retiring to consider moving to. This is because Belize has one of the world’s best retiree programs. Through the Qualified Retired Persons (QRP) Program, the Belize government provides qualified retirees an exemption from taxes on all income derived from sources outside of Belize.
Fun fact: You don’t even have to be retired or nearing the retirement age to take advantage of Belize’s QRP Program. However, you must be at least 45 years old to benefit from the program. “You also must be able to show that you have adequate resources to deposit a monthly income of $2,000 or more per month, and comply with several other minor requirements. To keep your QRP status you must spend just one month of the year in Belize.”
There are a lot of perks about the QRP Program you can take advantage of after moving to Belize. Visit the QRP Program website to learn more.
Overall, Belize is a gorgeous country full of kind people and diverse landscape. Still, Belize isn’t for everyone.
Belize has its pros and its cons. You’ll find that with any foreign country you consider moving to. Love it or hate it, Belize has a lot going for it. The country also has a lot of improvements it still needs to make, which may make you hesitant to move there. If you are looking for a country with beautiful weather, Belize has got you covered. If you are interested in living somewhere with a relaxing, active lifestyle, Belize may be for you. If you’re hitting the age of retirement, whether that be 66 or 45 years old, you could have a lot going for you after moving to Belize!
However, if you are looking to live abroad in luxury but still somewhat on a budget, Belize may not be the best country for you. If hurricanes terrify you, definitely steer clear! Regardless of your living preferences, the only way you will know if moving to Belize is right for you is if you go check it out. If you decide that you would rather tour Belize than move there, you are still sure to have a great time visiting this place and staying in one of its many resorts.
Researching Belize, visiting the country, and having a firm understanding of your expectations of the lifestyle you wish to lead is the best way to decide if moving to Belize is right for you.
Have you made the move to Belize? Do you love it? Hate it? Is there anything our Trekbible readers should know before heading out there? Let us know! We love when readers leave us a comment or drop us a line. Don’t be shy – tell us the pros and cons you found after moving to Belize!
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