Moving to Belize – Here’s What You Need To Know (Updated 2017)
You are probably thinking to yourself, “Why should I move to Belize?” to which I will tell you, there is no one response to properly satisfy that question. So this article serves as a guide to help you successfully move to the part Central American and part Caribbean country.
Relocating can be a daunting task on its own, but it doesn’t have to be that way if you are provided the proper information to help you make an informed decision that you will be happy about 10 or 25 or 35 years from now, thinking to yourself, “I’m so glad I moved to Belize” whilst overlooking the Mopan River or swimming in the Caribbean sea.
If she loves gardening and rainforests, and your idea of heaven involves endless hours of boating and fishing, preferably in warm crystal clear waters then, why, Belize, of course!
Life is great, seriously!
So what about it? Well, Belize has a “Go Slow” approach to living. The right type of pace if you are coming from the concrete jungles where the demand to produce and pay your bills has left you weary and anxious.
We live in such a fast-paced world today where we seem to be working more hours and managing more tasks both at work and home, with no giving in. Living in the technological age, we are connected 24/7, and we find it difficult to disconnect. This has changed the way we live and work. The result? expectations are higher and we’re struggling to keep up.
And so, visiting or relocating to this paradise will create a magical sense of relief, where busy mornings with paper turn into mornings serenaded by birds singing and corporate meetings are replaced by relaxing at a beach or standing under a waterfall. In fact, it’s as easy as hammock life whilst enjoying fresh coconut water.
Belize has been ranked as one of the happiest countries in the world – and with good reason! Belizeans are generally happy and cheerful people who love to party and celebrate.
It is said that the equivalent of the country’s entire population lives in the USA and Canada, and that may prove why we have such strong north American influence in our country.
A Travel Channel feature stated that “With the second biggest barrier reef in the world, a laidback Caribbean lifestyle and a favourable climate, there’s a lot to be happy about in Belize. But its cultural diversity is what is truly believed to make this country so content and welcoming: European, Creole, Hispanic, and Mayan are some of the prevalent groups that form one harmonious culture here.” Need we say more? Move to Belize! 🙂
Belize is an English speaking country
Language can be a barrier to many things, including relocating and retiring in another country. You want to be able to communicate articulately and understand when talking to locals, who make up the majority of the population.
Language will be no problem since the country’s official language is English. The majority of our population is bilingual and/or trilingual, speaking both Spanish and English fluently. Residents also speak the Belizean Kriol English, a close relative to Jamaican patois and Miskito Coastal kriol. If you listen keenly, you will be able to figure out what a local is saying, since many Kriol words are almost pronounced as their English derivatives.
Our speaking English comes as a result of our colonial days when we were a British colony under the name of British Honduras and most if not all of our legal documents, menus, street signs and such are in English.
In a nutshell: relocation gets easier when there are no language barriers! 😉
Your money doubles when moving to Belize
Belize is not the cheapest country to live in, however, expats and retirees say they live comfortably here.
Since you are probably bringing US money, the exchange is $2 Belize dollars to one $1 US dollar. So basically if you are bringing $50,000 USD with you, that will automatically convert to $100,000 BZD. The goal is to live as simple as possible because it can end up costing as much as living in North America or Europe with an expensive lifestyle.
Other ways in which your money will double is in the economical services and goods available in the country inclusive of but not limited to bundled tv+internet, medical services, property taxes, insurance, and housecleaning.
Conveniently you can pay for almost anything using your US Dollars except at government offices.
Sample budget for a retiree living in Belize on $2,000bzd monthly:
- Rent or mortgage payment $550
- Car Expenses $250
- Utilities (including internet) $500
- Groceries $400 (based on a couple)
- Health insurance $100
- Entertainment $100
- Savings $100
Belize’s weather is nice year-round
Apart from skating, (jet)skiing, and dog mushing, you probably don’t want to hear about winter, especially when the weather forecast calls for temperatures below 20 degrees Fahrenheit. This is why our weather is so attractive, with a stable sub-tropical climate averaging 84 degrees year round.
The weather is made for sleeveless shirts, Bahamas shorts, and slippers (you can totally ditch your long jeans and thick coats!). In recent years, our rainy season which runs from June to November has seen dryer spells than usual, and rainfall doesn’t necessarily result in flash floods and landslides. Our hurricane season runs from June to November also, without one to report for the last several years, thankfully.
Proximity to the USA & Canada makes moving to Belize attractive
You may now be asking, “where is Belize?” well, we are blessed to be a part of Central America to the west and south AND Caribbean to the east.
We are only 2 hours away from Houston, TX and 45 minutes away from Miami, FL. If you are considering proximity to your loved ones as a barrier to your relocation plams, Belize won’t fail you. With direct flights by Southwest, American Airlines, United, and Delta Airlines, your family and friends are a few hours away!
This is in your favor, as they won’t churn to the news of you relocating :).
Geography and size
Belize is a tiny country, with slightly over 350,000 inhabitants and the best of both worlds, reef, and jungle, we are loved for the ease of change in scenery. You can literally have breakfast in mountain Pine Ridge at 10am and be snorkeling at Hol Chan Marine Reserve at 2pm.
From Belize City to the most westerly border point is only 2 hours driving, and 5 hours from Corozal to Toledo, the most northern point of Belize to the most Southern point respectively. And if budget isn’t an issue, our friends at Tropic Air have local flights spanning all major 6 districts, that can get you from point A to point B in as little as 20 minutes.
So, you get the idea, it’s easy to take advantage of our diverse topography and natural attractions if you are retiring in Belize, something that many expats and retirees have said to be one of their favorite perks.
Moving to Belize Immigration Process:
Belize is home to an attractive Qualified Retirement Program, a pain-free process that gets you through the doors of your new home in Belize faster than you get served a big mac! (ok, not that fast but you get where this is going!).
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. 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.
Requirements for persons moving to Belize include the filling out of application forms, providing documents such as police records, passport copies, birth certificates, marriage certificates, and proof of income.
If your ideal plan is to move permanently, you will need to continuously reside in the country for no less than one year. The application process is done in Belmopan City at the immigration department office. You will fill out application form, submit a police record, give two recommendations and undertake an HIV test. If your application is approved, you can apply for full citizenship after 5 years. The application fee is $1,000 USD per person for full citizenship, but may vary by nationality.
Availability of lovely, affordable Belize real estate
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 expat communities.
A Google search will put you in contact with several Belize real estate agents who also offer finance, and I recommend taking a Belizean vacation to travel around, meet people and explore it for yourself before moving.
Belizeans are a very warm and friendly people, and most expats are willing to give advice, so familiarising yourself, asking questions on moving to Belize and just generally checking things out while having a Belizean vacation is, in my opinion, the best way to research your options.
Need extra information on Moving To Belize? The Belize Tourism Board and The Belize Immigration Department websites are excellent resources.
During your first visits before moving to Belize, you can stay at The Lodge at Chaa Creek, which is perfect for those fact-finding holidays. Owners Mick and Lucy Fleming moved to Belize over 30 years ago and know who to refer you to and where to go.
Get a 30% discount between May and November every year by using booking code MOVINGBZ. If you need personal advice from a Belize Expert you can reach out to their destinations experts at [email protected] or call TOLL FREE at +1-877-709-8708.