Escape the Winter and Retire in the Sun
She loves gardening and rainforests, my idea of heaven involves endless hours of boating and fishing, preferably in warm crystal clear waters. Where do we retire to? Why, Belize, of course.
During a visit several years ago to this lovely, peaceful little country, aptly referred to as “the Jewel” by locals, we quickly fell in love with thepeople and the place and realised that everything we needed to retire in tropical comfort was right here. Belize is English speaking with a stable democracy, a fair and accessible legal system, and is unquestionably beautiful with perfect weather.It’s also relatively inexpensive to live in,uncrowded, foreigners can buy property and, as mentioned, Belize boasts beautiful tropical rainforests, rivers and waterfalls as well as a stunning Caribbean coastline.
These days there are also good restaurants, excellent eco resorts and a smorgasbord of activities on offer, including hiking, biking, birding, canoeing, kayaking, horseback riding, tennis, scuba diving, snorkelling, and visiting the many beautiful Maya temples and archaeological sites dotting Belize. The fishing is world class, especially fly fishing for permit and tarpon, and then there’s that most excellent pastime, boating in the blue Caribbean, touring the Belize barrier reef, island hopping among hundreds of small island, or cayes, and coastal villages.
Oh yes, did I mention that there is great golfing on Caye Chapel?
Of course, retirement in Belize takes some thought and is not for everyone, but we were lucky in meeting some trailblazers who paved the way, showed how it could be done, and made it easier for the rest of us to weigh up the pros and cons and make an informed decision.
So where to begin?
Check out the Belize Government’s Retired Persons Incentive Program 1999. This initiative provides residency and other benefits for people over 45 and their dependents. The incentives include tax exemption on income and the importation of personal goods and other benefits. You can find more information and contacts at http://belizeretirement.org .
Then again, some people opt to remain in Belize on a visitors permit and after 12 months apply for permanent residency, which carries many of the privileges of Belizean citizenship while allowing you to keep your current nationality.
Another real plus to this little tropical paradise is the availability of lovely, affordable real estate and a range of options from remote farms, island getaways or retirement communities. A Google search will put you in contact with several Belize real estate agents, and I recommend taking a Belizean vacation to travel around, meet people and explore it for yourself. Belizeans are a very warm and friendly people, and most expats are willing to give advice, so familiarising yourself, asking questions and just generally checking things out while having a Belizean vacation is, in my opinion, the best way to research your options.
During our first visits we stayed at Chaa Creek, which was perfect for those fact finding holidays. Mick and Lucy moved to Belize over 30 years ago and seem to know everyone and where to go. Their ecolodge is well positioned geographically, and the all-inclusive rainforest and reef packages are perfect for experiencing inland, island and seacoast life in a way that gives you time to meet people and feel your way around. Belize is also very easy to drive around in and we loved taking day trips to different villages and areas while based out of Chaa Creek.
So once again, retirement in Belize may not be for everyone, but it certainly is for us. We find it’s easy to stay active and healthy, and it’s affordable enough that we enjoy a great quality of life without the stresses we had up north, but it’s close enough that we have plenty of visits from friends and family. Add in my freezer full of fish and our garden full of fruit and vegies, and you’re looking at a couple of very happy Belize retirees.
The following contacts will help you consider retiring in Belize.
Consejo Shores Ltd.
P.O. Box 35