Belize is located at the center of the Americas where North America converges into Central America and where tropical rivers and streams end and the beautiful Caribbean Sea begins. Lying at this highly strategic location, Belize is bordered by Mexico to the north, by Guatemala to the west and by the Caribbean Sea to the east.
Comprising of 8,867 square miles, Belize offers land that is rich and diverse, ranging from rich Pine Forest, lush Tropical Rain Forest, Savannah, and Mangrove Forests to sandy Beaches, Rivers, Streams and Lagoons. Just off Belize’s shores are hundreds of white sand islands called cayes, and the world’s second largest Barrier Reef - all surrounded and immersed in the crystal clear waters of the Caribbean. Rare and exotic species abound in Belize’s fertile ecosystems; birds, mammals, fish - they all thrive in this pristine environment. And they will continue to thrive, as almost 42% of Belize’s land is under protected status. Among some of these guarded treasures is the world’s only jaguar reserve (Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary), the Hol Chan Marine Reserve, the Community Baboon Sanctuary as well as scores of ancient Maya sites and many more protected areas.
Blessed with unspoiled natural beauty and people as diverse as its landscapes, Belize’s relatively small population (280,000) contrasts strongly with its diversity. Belizeans consist of more than 11 major ethnicities. Belize stands as the only Central American country with English as its official language though many Belizeans also speak Spanish, Creole, Garifuna, German and Maya. There are several religions existing in Belize, most are Christian-based with Roman Catholicism as the dominant faith. Belize is also famous for having a long history of stable governments and is a shining example of a country ruled by a democratically-elected government.
Belize’s economy is based on Agriculture with sugar, citrus, bananas and now, aqua-culture, as significant providers of foreign exchange. Manufacturing is the second largest sector and is generally agro-based. The third largest and fastest growing sector is the Services sector which is led by Belize’s success in Tourism. Belize’s beauty and incredible natural and cultural wealth have made it an adventure lover’s paradise and one of the most exciting vacation spots in the world.
Real Estate in Belize
Real estate values in Belize have been on a steady increase, with some areas experiencing phenomenal growth. Below are some of the most frequently asked questions and main concerns prospective buyers usually ask us when looking to invest Belize.
Can Non-Belizeans purchase property in Belize?
Yes, Non-Belizeans can purchase and own property in Belize.
What are the closing costs one can expect from purchasing real estate in Belize?
The Government of Belize recently changed its policy regarding stamp duties (transfer tax) on land transfers in order to encourage real estate investment. Where stamp duties were 15% of purchase price for transfers to Non-Belizeans, the new rate is 5% on all transactions above $20,000 BZD regardless of citizenship. Registration and certificate fees are $15 BZD each. Legal Fees average between 1.5 to 3% of purchase price, and escrow fees about 0.5% of purchase price.
Are there title companies in Belize?
What about title insurance?
Title or escrow services are usually handled by a qualified attorney. Although some companies may offer title insurance, the best and safest bet is to hire an attorney to undertake and complete a title search during your due diligence period. This will ensure that there are no pending judgments or other interests on the title and that title is completely transferable to the buyer – free of any encumbrances. Some attorneys also serve well for escrow services, particularly when dealing with foreign currency and transfers.
Are there any special licenses or permits needed from the Government for land purchase or development?
The government of Belize is very proactive with regard to development. Any legitimate developer can be granted a license from the government for developments that will add to the welfare of Belize and Belizeans. Non-Belizeans can purchase property freely, but need a license to purchase or hold land in excess of 1/2 acre in urban areas (cities or towns) or 10 acres in rural areas. An application for such a license will include a development plan if the property being purchased in undeveloped.
What type of construction costs can one expect?
Construction costs, like most things in Belize, vary. This range in price is often due to location and area, work force, materials, availability of resources, and weather conditions. The common figure for years has been $100 BZD per square foot in Belize City. This figure has grown to about $120 BZD per square feet for an average dwelling or structure due to global increases in the prices of raw materials, notably, steel. Building on the islands and cayes costs substantially more, quite often 50% or more than building costs on the mainland due to transportation costs. Prices are substantially lower in the rural areas and district towns. Hiring the right contractor and/or architect is essential to making a good construction investment in Belize. They can advise and help you get maximum value for your dollar.
What if there are ancient artifacts on the property being purchased or leased?
Any artifacts found to exist on private or public property, must be declared to and registered with the Belize Department of Archeology.
Living, Working and Doing Business in Belize
What are living expenses like in Belize?
Living expenses in Belize are substantially lower than those of the developed world. While goods and products are often priced relatively higher due to import duties, services are often quite cheaper than in the developed countries. Good healthcare, insurance, legal services and so forth can be found for reasonable prices. Utilities and fuel are expensive, but all in all, one can live comfortably any where in Belize for about $1,500 - $2,000 USD a month. Keep in mind that costs vary wildly according to location, and these amounts could mean the difference between you living like a king in the jungle or living happy and content in tourist heaven.
Can Belizeans returning to Belize benefit from special incentives?
Yes. Belizeans returning to Belize that are classified as Qualified Retired Persons can qualify for the many incentives offered by the Government of Belize. Contact us for more information!
Does the Government of Belize offer incentives for Foreign Investment in Belize?
Yes, the Government of Belize strongly supports Foreign Investment in Belize and offers many incentives to investors focused on making investments that will create employment opportunities for Belizeans, will earn foreign exchange or be export-oriented, will make good use of Belize’s resources with preservation for the future, will introduce and utilize state-of-the-art technology, and will expand Belize’s economic base and offer exposure to new markets. Incentives include income tax breaks and import duty exemptions.
Can a non-Belizean work in Belize?
Work permits can be given to non-nationals providing they apply under the guidelines of the Belize Labour Department. Permits can last for 3 months to a year and are renewable.
Is it possible to obtain Belizean Citizenship?
Yes. Under the Belizean Nationality Act of 1981, anyone having permanent residency or having been a legal resident for a minimum of 5 years can apply for citizenship. Permanent residency is acquired by applying after continuously being a legal resident in Belize after one full year.
Belize is a land of wonder and of great promise. We invite you to join us and take part in her growth and continued development.