Nestled on the east coast of Central America, Belize is a small nation with a population of approximately 400,000 people. Occupying only 22,966 km², Belize is smaller than most U.S states. Despite its small size, this tropical country is becoming an increasingly popular retirement destination for ex-pats. Undoubtedly, Belize’s beautiful islands, tropical jungles, rich biodiversity, and laid-back culture have all contributed to its rising popularity among retirees. Add to this the fact that English is the official language in Belize, and we can clearly see why this destination is particularly attractive for American ex-pats. While all this might sound enticing, we understand that most people might not be ready to pack their bags without knowing a bit more about this dreamy retirement destination. Here are a few things you need to consider when looking at Belize as a possible new home.
Cost and Financial Benefits of the Qualified Retirement Program
One of the key benefits for ex-pats who decide to retire in Belize is the country’s Qualified Retirement Program. Created to facilitate eligible retirees who have met the income requirements to live and retire in Belize, the Qualified Retirement Program (QRP) requires pensioners or recipients of annuities who are 45 years or older to make monthly deposits of USD $2,000 in a Belizean bank, credit union, or licensed financial institution. Members of this program receive remarkable duty exemptions on personal and household items, including 1 personal boat, 1 small aircraft, and 1 personal vehicle. In addition to this, members of the QRP are exempted from all taxes and duties on income from sources outside of Belize, capital gains tax, and inheritance tax.
Cost of Real Estate in Belize
For those considering permanently moving to Belize, one of the main concerns would be finding a home to either purchase or rent. In Belize, the cost of property varies greatly from area to area. A retiree can purchase a small home in a rural area for as little as USD $40,000, or maybe even with the right deal. Similarly, retirees can purchase several acres of land in rural areas and build homes for as little as USD $100,000. However, in destinations such as Placencia and San Pedro, which are popular among ex-pats, the cost of a property can exceed USD $500,000. When it comes to renting, the dynamics are similar. In certain rural areas, houses can be rented for as little as USD $500 monthly, while units in Placencia or San Pedro can cost around USD $1,500 or more. Between these extremes, there is a wide range of prices to suit almost any budget.
Cost of Living in Belize
In comparison to larger nations such as the United States, Belize is not a very materialistic or consumerist society. There aren’t many large department stores to buy unnecessary items and the local lifestyle tends to be more laid-back. Many people use bicycles, scooters, and motorbikes as their primary means of transportation. Because of this, retirees can expect to see huge savings, particularly those retirees from first-world nations. One area where retirees can expect to see significant savings is when it comes to the cost of groceries. While there are certainly expensive imported products to be found in stores, there are many local products, such as fresh local produce, juice, poultry, beer, rum, and so forth that cost significantly less than they do in the United States. If you do not mind cooking, groceries can cost as little as USD $75-$100 weekly at the low end. In terms of utilities, internet services start at around USD $35 for speeds of around 30 Mbps. The electricity rate is USD $0.223 per kilowatt-hour, which makes it higher than rates in North America and much of Europe, but still lower than the Caribbean regional rate. Water rates vary across the country, but in most places, monthly water bills can be kept between U.S. $30-$50 for the average household. The cost of Cable TV starts at approximately USD $35 per month and includes hundreds of U.S. channels, including premium channels such as Starz, Showtime, HBO, and ESPN, among others.
Healthcare in Belize is extremely inexpensive in comparison with the United States and other first-world nations. A doctor’s visit in Belize can be scheduled for as little as USD $30. Also, vital medications, such as insulin, for example, is available for only a fraction of what it costs in the United States. However, the lower cost of healthcare in Belize is somewhat offset by the lack of advanced procedures and treatments. Fortunately, Belize’s ideal location offers close proximity to large cities in Mexico and Guatemala where more advanced medical treatments and procedures are available.
Should You Move to Belize?
Ultimately, the decision to move to Belize will depend on personal preferences and lifestyle choices. By purchasing local, fresh products and enjoying a more relaxed, less consumerist lifestyle, one can benefit from significant savings and an exceptional quality of life in Belize.
Whether you seek luxurious beachfront living, a budget lifestyle in a small town, or a secluded jungle escape, the best version of those golden years can be found in Belize. Here, we invite you to embrace real estate opportunities complete with stunning vistas and affordable price tags, making your retirement dreams a reality.