Living In Belize
1. What is it like living in Belize?
While you can find very modern subdivisions and highly populated tourist areas, most villages are like stepping back in time 50+ years. Most of the roads are gravel, the pace is slow, the weather is magnificent and the country is beautiful. It’s nickname of “the jewel” is certainly justified. The population is diversified and is a wonderful opportunity to meet people from all over the world. There are a few dozen Mennonite Farming communities throughout the country that grow most of the food that we enjoy and export.
We are including a portion of a recently published article. View the entire article at:
Life’s A Beach in Belize
Ecotourism and Oceanfront main attractions
Nestled in the Caribbean, Belize’s barrier reef, the second largest in the world, and Mayan ruins are drawing tourists and property buyers. A growing eco-tourism sector and English speaking populace add to the attraction. Where is it? Belize is a small Central American country on the Caribbean Sea, bordered by Mexico to the North and Guatemala to the West.
What’s so special about it ?
The Country was previously known as British Honduras until 1973. It gained independence in 1981, after more than a century as a British colony, but remains part of the Commonwealth and English is its official language. Two thirds of the country is covered in lush forests and the 386 kilometer coastline is guarded by a barrier reef. With a population of just over 300,000, Belize was named “the best long-range investment site in the Caribbean” by Caribbean Dateline Magazine.
Best kept secrets Belize has striven to develop its Eco-tourism market. It’s jungles and reefs are home to a diverse array of flora and fauna, including endangered species, such as the manatee and jaguar. Tourism is now the second biggest industry in the country, accounting for 18% of GDP.
2. What is the cost of living?
This seems to be the most frequently asked question of all and one of the hardest ones to answer, as it really depends on your lifestyle. Purchasing the local products are very economical while purchasing imports products can be quite expensive. Belize can have a higher cost of living than other parts of Central America, but it also enjoys the highest standard of living. Let's start with the basics:
- Heating and Cooling: Most people in Belize do not have heating or cooling due to the tropical weather and comfortable breezes. Compared to heating costs in the north, these savings alone might pay for you entire winters stay.
- Food: fresh fruits and vegetables are much less than in the United States, however meats are around the same cost. Restaurant prices are about ½ the amount you would expect to pay in the United States, unless you are in the tourist district.
- Fuel: Diesel is currently just over $4.00 per gallon – gasoline is around $5.00 per gallon. Be sure to remember that your commute will be significantly decreased during your time in country!
- Vehicle Registration: $100 per year for passenger car/pickup $150 per year for commercial vehicles. There is no personal property tax on vehicles.
- Vehicle Insurance: $175 per year. You can place your insurance in suspension when you are out of the country, so those spending only 6 months here receive the benefit of insurance for 2 years.
- Electricity: is more expensive than in the United States. The local provider is Belize Electricity Limited and their website has all of their various rates for different categories (the more you use the higher the rate). Those of us that live off the grid use a windmill handmade by the Mennonite Community and/or solar power.
- Internet: Amazing 3G and 4G service is available. You can have unlimited use of the internet at your home through a modem for a set price per month or have the flexibility and mobility of purchasing an small USB air card which will allow you to access the internet throughout the country with your laptop, or on your home computer as well. The cost is $45.00 for 10G, less than the same service costs in the United States. Permanent stationary service is available with unlimited data use from $50 and up depending on the plan you wish to subscribe to.
- Medical and Dental: is extremely low cost and good quality. Many people come to Belize primarily for these services. Holistic healing and preventative natural remedies are widely available as well. For those looking in the Corozal District, there is a Mennonite Holistic Hospital that achieve amazing results located just off Progresso Lagoon. People come from many different countries to the Holistic Hospital for treatment, all from word of mouth.
3. How do I open a bank account in Belize?
NEW RULE: You must have your work permit and social security card OR be accepted into the Qualified Retirement Program before you will be able to get a Belize Bank Account.
You MUST bring a letter of recommendation from two of the banks that you currently do business with. This letter will include how long your relationship has existed, etc. This letter will need to be signed by someone at your bank, along with their contact information, e-mail address, fax number and telephone number.
When you make an application here in Belize, they will contact the people on the reference letters. They usually require the banking institution in the United States to send a fax to Belize, to verify the validity of the reference letter. Additionally you will need to bring some of your utility bills with you from your existing home base, so they may verify your address abroad. You will also need a Belize address, along with your own electric meter info. (your own or a letter from your landlord) and two government issued photo IDs, one of them being your passport. This process takes a few days to complete and some pre-planning. Is it easy?…… no……. is it possible?……absolutely!