How To Live Or Retire In Belize
Belize is about the same size as the U.S. state of New Hampshire, but it only has 25 percent as many people. With a population of around 400,000 and warm weather all year long, this Central American country appeals to retirees and seekers of simpler lifestyles. No place is right for everybody, but there are reasons it’s an excellent choice for some.
Five Reasons to Move to Belize
1. You can live for less.
Like anywhere else, the cost of living in Belize depends on individual budget and taste. People who live in tropical paradises often have less expensive lifestyles than those in countries like the U.S. You won’t have to pay heating bills, and basic medical care may cost less. Domestic help is also a bargain at $15 to $20 a day. You’ll save on things like fresh produce and seafood, but you’ll pay more for exported items like gasoline. Technology has improved, and the country now has the fastest mobile phone service and most economical, efficient internet service in Central America.
2. You can speak English.
Belize, once known as British Honduras, was ruled by Great Britain until the late 1900s. Although many people speak Spanish, English-speaking residents need not learn a foreign language to live their daily lives. English is the official language for documents, street signs, menus, and the education system.
3. You can use the U.S. dollar.
Belize’s history makes it easier for English-speaking Americans to spend their money. Except for official government offices, such as the legal system and the mail service, most businesses accept the American dollar.
4. You can have fun on a budget.
Brimming with activities ranging from scuba diving and fishing to gourmet seafood and street festivals, Belize provides a smorgasbord of sunny days and unique entertainment. Residents can save money by enjoying discounts when there are fewer tourists, and resorts and airlines offer special deals during the slow season. Refugees from wintry climates enjoy sandy beaches, exotic animal life, and lush rain forests 365 days a year.
5. You love the people and the lifestyle.
Life in Belize is relaxed, and businesses operate on a laid-back schedule. Things don’t always get done in the “New York minute” people from the U.S. expect. It’s more like a “five o’clock somewhere” kind of vibe. Locals look forward to religious holidays like Easter and Christmas, with businesses closing for up to four days to celebrate. They also mark 15 national holidays with concerts, special events, and good food.
Whether you want to test the waters or move to Belize year-round, there are three ways to to get extended stays: a tourist card, a qualified retired person program, and permanent residency. Newcomers from Canada, the U.K. or the U.S. often start with a tourist card and extended visa. After spending an entire year in Belize, part-timers can apply for permanent residency. For people who love the outdoor lifestyle near warm beaches and tropical forests, Belize may be the perfect new home.