Pros and Cons of Living in Belize – that will be the topic of today’s article.
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It’s no doubt that Belize is one of the most beautiful places in the world. For many expats, it has become more than a dreamy vacation destination. It is now top on the list of possible countries for relocation.
Naturally, before you relocate, you must carefully consider the pros and cons of living there. Understanding the full implication of such a move will help you decide that will benefit you and your family. On that note, here are some of the pros and cons of living in Belize.
Pros of Living in Belize
Belize is a great place to live in because of the following reasons;
1. Lots of Beautiful Beaches
If there is one thing Belize is famous for, it’s her beautiful golden and white-sanded beaches. Belize is home to over 200 offshore islands, and only a little over 20 of them are inhabited.
This means there is an abundance of discovered and undiscovered beach spots to explore, provided you have boat transport. Some of the best beaches in Belize are the Placencia Peninsula, the Ranguana Caye, the deserted Punta Ycacos, Half Moon Caye, Ambergris Caye, Laughing Bird Caye and Silk Caye, and so many others.
Also, resorts have been created on these beaches, so you can do more than walk on sand if it interests you. In Placencia Peninsula, you can go snorkeling and be part of its bustling nightlife. The same experience is promised at Ambergris Caye.
Hopkins Village beach promises a cultural tour when you take drumming lessons at the Lebeha Drumming Center or eat Garifuna delicacies in their restaurants. You can also go diving, fishing, swimming and enjoying the local cuisine at these beaches. It’s an adventure that never has to end.
2. Lower Cost of Living
Although living in Belize is not precisely cheap, your money can go a lot further than it would in other climes. If you choose to live in a rented property, you can live on $2000-$3000 a month. Your utility bills, feeding, and random expenses are inclusive.
Those who live in houses they’ve paid for have confessed to living on $600 every month! There are a few places like Placencia, Ambergris Caye, etc., where things could get very expensive, but you can still live a high-quality life on less. It is also important to note that Belize is a country where a materialistic lifestyle is almost nonexistent.
This means there will be no need to ‘invest’ in ostentations as you might end up looking (and feeling) like a fish out of water. Most expats and citizens do not even use their cars and prefer moving around with their bikes, carts, or even legs. So, if it’s not essential, you’ll not find it in Belize.
3. Home of Diverse Cultures
Despite a low population density and 400,000 population, Belize is a culturally diverse community. The ethnic groups that have ties to Belize include Lebanese, European, East Indian, Chinese, Mestizo, etc.
Apart from that, Belize is a dreamy tourist destination, and many of those tourists end up never leaving Belize’s shores. Therefore, you’ll find people from almost every race, cultural and linguistic group, and nationality. Such diversity and cultural acceptance is a welcoming embrace for a lot of people, especially when they’ve not been treated similarly in the past.
As s resident, there’ll never be a dull moment as every waking moment can be dedicated to experiencing the different cultures through their music, cuisine, language, and relationships.
4. Fewer Language Barriers
One good reason why living in Belize is a great idea is because there are fewer language barriers. Belize was a colony of Britain until 1981, when they gained their independence.
This means that English is one of Belize’s major languages and also its official language. If you can read this article right now, it means you don’t have to learn any new languages to be able to move! Although 62% of Belize’s population speaks English, 56% and 44% speak Spanish and Belizean Creole, respectively.
These are languages you can learn simply to further your acculturation. Other than that, you can get by with your knowledge of English since the media, education, and primary language of communication is the English Language.
5. Lots of Places to Explore
Belize is not one of the prime tourist destinations for nothing. Unless you’d rather relax and people-watch, you will never run out of things to do in Belize.
Even people-watching is something. There are over 200 islands in Belize alone, but only 10% of that number is inhabited. This leaves a lot of room for exploring the uninhabited islands and making amazing discoveries. All you need is a boat and a truckload of enthusiasm.
If you’re into wildlife conservation, you can find a worthy cause In Belize and save plenty of endangered species. The waters also provide enough recreational activities – tons of opportunities to learn and practice fishing, diving, snorkeling, canoeing, etc.
You can also go on cultural exploration, discovering the people and places that make Belize wonderful. The ruins of the Mayan civilization, one of the greatest classical civilizations in America, are right in Belize. The exploring never ends!
6. The Food is Healthy
Food in Belize is mainly homegrown and locally produced. The thick forests and abundance of plants do not serve just aesthetic and exploration purposes. A significant portion of that land is dedicated to agricultural activities.
You never have to run out of fruits, especially grapefruits, bananas, and oranges, because they are the country’s second-largest agricultural export. Livestock rearing and fishing have also ensured Belizeans never run out of fish, fresh meat, and poultry products.
Therefore, food is not just healthier; it also helps save money. If you have a preference for certain types of food, especially the imported kinds, then you might have to spend a lot more money because imported food is costly in Belize. Fun fact; growing food is such a great part of the Belizean community that one-fifth of her population is actively employed in that sector.
7. Belizeans are Nice People
If you’re going to move to a new community, you need to make sure your life will not be miserable for it. The good thing is that Belizeans are very friendly people. They are welcoming and very accepting of racial, ethnic, religious, and cultural differences.
That they have to get accustomed to seeing fresh sets of strangers every day might be a contributing factor, but nonetheless, it’s a great atmosphere to be in.
8. Great Immigration Programs
One of such programs is the Qualified Retired Persons Program which aims to provide sustainable and permanent living conditions for prospective retirees in Belize.
To qualify for this program, you have to be at least 45 years old and willing to stay in Belize for an uninterrupted 30-day period. Also, you must be a beneficiary of an international pension/income that pays at least $2,000 per month or $24,000 per year.
Through this program, a retiree gains a resident card, duty exemptions for their personal and household goods, and tax exemptions from every income received from a source outside Belize.
Property rights are a big deal in Belize, and their judicial system ensures that the provisions of the law are upheld in their entirety. As a foreigner or visitor in Belize, you have the same rights to acquire properties as a Belize citizen.
You can buy properties and rent them out to tourists and even Belizeans. If you simply want to invest in properties in Belize, then you need not worry about its safety because the Belizean Government ensures they are protected. This is quite rare in other countries, but it is one of the reasons why Belize is so attractive.
Although the process is easier than you would expect, we would still advice that you hire a real estate lawyer so you can ensure that you’re buying the right properties (because some zones are off-limits) and getting the best deals.
10. The Money is Convenient
Belize has its own currency called the Belize dollar, and two of it is equivalent to one U.S. dollar. The U.S. dollar is also accepted everywhere the Belize dollar is. This means your transition will not be as expensive as you would expect it to be.
Every year, people in their hundreds of thousands visit Belize’s shores to experience the beauty the land offers. While some may stay for three to seven days, others decide to never leave and integrate themselves into the Belizean culture.
Although Belize is a great place all around, there’ll be moments when you need experienced guidance on navigating certain challenges. Lucky for you, the expat community will be right there to help you make the most out of your experience.
This expat community is large and culturally diverse, with people from different nations and professions. You’ll find doctors, teachers, servicemen and women, retirees, and youngsters who just want a good time.
There are certain places where you’d find a great concentration of expats because of the safety, tranquility, and great community the area provides. Some of those places are Ambergris Caye, Corozal, Placencia Village, Cayo, and some others.
12. Abundance of Employment Opportunities
Belize might not have a lot of fancy jobs like most developed countries do, but the excitement and gratification make up for it. You can do exciting work preserving the environment through environmental conservation.
There are tons of community service-related jobs for you to get involved in. If you’re a native speaker of English, your services as an English teacher will always be needed. You can get down and dirty in tropical medicine, roaming through Belize’s tropical ecosystem for natural remedies. If that’s not your cup of tea, opportunities to work in other public health-related areas exist.
To find more industry-related work, you might need to move to Belize City, the former capital of Belize and the nation’s main port. The spike in tourism and ecotourism activities is also an avenue for professionals to thrive! Here’s the problem, though.
To work in Belize as a foreigner, you must be a legal resident, and a legal resident has resided in Belize for at least six months and has applied for a permanent/legal residency. If you need work urgently and cannot wait till your permanent residence is processed, then you can acquire a work permit which will need constant renewal.
In the meantime, you can engage in volunteering activities and handle your businesses in your home country (or wherever you’re migrating from).
If you come from a place like America, you’ll need to unlearn a lot of things when you move to Belize. Because Belizeans value moments spent in the present and nature, everything’s more slow-paced.
There’s no hurry to do anything, and life is lived in blissful bits. It might take a while for you to adjust to this, especially if you equate increased productivity to how much stress or uneasiness it causes. The Belizean culture admonishes you to take several steps away from all of that hustle and bustle and just breathe. Breathe in the fresh air and relax. Your health will be much better for it.
Beyond the great scenery and blue seas Belize offers, certain features may negatively impact your decision to live there. Here are a few cons of living in Belize;
1. High Crime Rate for a Small Country
Just like we’ve mentioned before, Belize has a very low population density. With just a little over 400,000 residents, Belize still has one of the highest crime rates. Belize’s murder rate alone is one of the worst murder rates in the world.
For every 10,000 people, 40 are murdered. Belize City, the former capital, is a pulsing hive for gang-related violence and crimes. This is why it is one of the worst places to live as an expat or tourist. The Belize travel advisory board of the United States even issued a warning in 2018 to this effect. It says, “Belize is rated high for crime and has one of the highest per capita murder rates in the world.
Gang members and other criminals use violent means to resolve disputes. Visitors should exercise caution throughout Belize, particularly in the south side of Belize City and remote areas along Belize’s borders due to high crime. Crime may occur anywhere in Belize, and criminals frequently target tourists, including those at resorts and on the roads and riverways.
Crime, including sexual assault, armed robbery, and murder, remains high and is distributed evenly throughout the country. Sexual harassment and/or assault of persons traveling alone or in small groups have been reported. Most crimes remain unresolved and unprosecuted.
A lack of capacity, resources, and training impedes the ability of local police to investigate crime and apprehend offenders effectively. Thefts of cash and credit cards frequently happen in some areas of Belize. It is believed several credit card fraud rings are currently active in Belize, particularly in San Pedro.
Scams occur in Belize, especially in resort areas. Tourists, in general, are particularly vulnerable to these crimes, resulting in visitors being pick-pocketed, robbed, and/or extorted. Women traveling alone or in small groups are targets for sexual assault, even in tourist areas.” If you learn to stay away from the hotspots and stick to the safe and properly secured areas while observing good travel policies, then you’ll be just fine. There’s a crime in every city; learn to avoid it.
2. Low-Quality Healthcare
Belize is not equipped to deal with severe/terminal illnesses or emergencies. They lack the resources and personnel, and variety of specialists required to make that happen. Even the State Department notes in the travel advice that, “Emergency services will be either unavailable or significantly delayed.
Serious injuries or illnesses normally require evacuation to another country. Medical care for minor ailments is generally available in urban areas. Advanced medical treatment is very limited in Belize City or Belmopan and is extremely limited or unavailable in rural and remote areas.
Pharmacy services are generally acceptable in larger cities. Specialized prescription medications may be completely unavailable. If you bring your own prescription medications, you must carry a current doctor’s prescription for each medication.” So, you might want to book your next doctor’s appointment before moving. Asides from that, many expats have confessed to the medical bills being considerably cheaper and of high quality when compared to the US. That’s a plus.
3. The Roads are Terrible
There are just four highways in the whole of Belize, and that says a lot about the road network. The roads are not maintained properly and have been known to shorten the lifespan of residents’ cars.
With all the speed bumps, cracks, and potholes on Belizean roads, it will not be advisable to drive a sports car. If you must drive, find a car that would be able to withstand these road horrors. Also, have a mechanic on speed dial. You might need to make several calls every time you go out. You can opt for the public transportation system, but it’s not so great either.
The roads are still terrible, but at least you won’t be doing any damage to your car. The public buses are old repainted school buses that provide minimal comfort. The only problem is that you might need to hitch the ride with a basket load of chickens.
4. Humidity and Heat Gets Intense
Yes, the weather could be great sometimes, but other times, the intense heat and humidity could get overwhelming. The climate is subtropical, and the weather could be that intense throughout the year. Humidity in Belize stays on an average of 70 to 100% in the course of one year, and sometimes, it even gets hotter! You might need to either move to a place with higher elevation or invest at least $200 every month in an air conditioning unit.
5. Deafening Parties in the Country
Belizeans have a love-life-live-life policy, and what’s a better way to do that than to throw loud, extravagant, and night-long parties? Because many Belizeans are filled with a zest for life, they find better expressions in making loud, joyful noises.
This happens during festivals, house parties, noisy bars, random neighbors blaring music, and even churches. Although the intention is harmless, this noise pollution can quickly become a real problem for retirees, elderly people, children, adults who work several shifts, and literally anyone who needs peace and quiet.
Unfortunately, if you’re looking for a place where you’ll have peace and quiet all the time, you might have to move to one of the uninhabited islands (if it’s allowed) or look for another country altogether.
If you have an acquired taste in things like theatre, opera, jazz, musicals, concerts, impulse shopping, and exotic hobby, etc., Belize might disappoint you. There are no major retail centers or fast food chains (you might be used to) throughout the country. Oh, you’ll find the basic things you need to get through each day, and most of them will be locally sourced. Asides from that, you might need to pay heavily to import them yourself.
While this might be a great lifestyle change for a few people, others who live and breathe action might have trouble adjusting to it. Not many countries implement a ‘siesta time’ in their organizational culture, which might seem strange to a foreigner.
In Belize, government offices and many local businesses have a special break allotted at noon for siesta. With this laid-back approach to time, urgencies and business, you might not get much done at the end of the day. But living in Belize means realizing that that might not be a bad thing.
There’s more than enough time for a few delays here and there that wouldn’t hurt anyone. If a fast-paced, bustling, and always punctual lifestyle is the only thing you’ll accept, then moving to Belize might not be a great idea.
Before making any big decisions, you must take some time off and spend a few days in Belize. Explore the area and see for yourself. Decide if it’s really what you want before leaving life as you know it. Regardless of what your final decision is, Belize remains an excellent spot for good, high-quality living.