At Retirebook, we have two goals. First we want to help you retire in a place that makes the most of your retirement income – whether you live there permanently or just stay for awhile. Secondly we want to suggest places that are reasonably safe. You have a part in this too – making a budget and sticking to it, saving for the unexpected, and taking due precautions to minimize your risk for crime.
That being said, have you thought about what it would be like to retire in Belize? There are so many advantages; they speak English and accept American money, the weather is very nice, the people are friendly, there is a lot to do in Belize, it is relatively close to the US if you need to fly home, and your money goes a lot further!
First, you need to visit and do some exploring. See what parts of the area you like the most. If you want to live near the fabulous coastline, do some research on tropical storms and hurricanes. Consider living near the beach, but inland a bit? That might work. What about near the rain forest or on a river? How about near the ruins? So many choices!
Here are a few of the details and then we’ll get into specific areas we’ve chosen for you to consider.
Belize is a beautiful country with about 320,000 inhabitants. It is about the same square miles as New Jersey. The weather has two seasons – rainy and dry. Most of the rainfall (60 inches in the north and 155 in the south) falls from June through November, depending on where you are. The temperature is pretty stable with highs between 71 F and 83F.
Healthcare is available in the larger communities and the biggest hospital is in Belize City. Minor ailments can be taken care of locally. Prescriptions are a fraction of the cost you pay in the US. We’ve heard that expats cross the borders for more comprehensive care in Mexico.
You can bring your pet to Belize if you have a clean bill of health signed by your vet with all the shot records. Getting your pet into the country requires that you find an airline that will allow you to ship them or bring in the cabin. You need a permit for your pet in Belize. There is no quarantine period.
OK, here’s the big one: Cost of Living! You are only responsible for taxes on income made in Belize! No SS tax, no retirement income tax. The property tax rate is 1.5% of the assessed valuation. We’ve had several people tell us (in late 2014) that you can live very comfortably on $2,400 per month. Many, many, however, do it on a lot less. You can expect to pay $800 a month for a one bedroom rental, $150 for utilities. Gas for your car is more expensive than in the US. You can buy condo’s in the $175,000 range – fully furnished with a view. Food and dining out is quite inexpensive.
Warning: Two things worry us about Belize. The crime rate is higher than we’d like in the bigger cities of Belize City and Belmopan, the capital. Do some research. The second thing is that Belize is known for tropical storms and hurricanes, but not every year. Since Hurricane Hattie in 1961 that killed 400 and left thousands homeless, 13 hurricanes and six tropical storms have hit Belize. So many people live on the beautiful islands off-shore but getting to the mainland before a storm is a real issue. After some research, we found that if you decide to build or buy on the island – our advice is to be like the 3rd little piggy and build a house of brick!
But let us tell you a bit about several communities we’ve explored and researched. We love Belize and you will too! If you have a story to share or would like to comment, please do so!
Living in Belize
Pros: Cost of living, English, Bring the dog!
Cons: Risk of storms and crime
Best Places to Live: Coastal area
Favorite Inexpensive Events: Carnival/February, Toledo Festival of the Arts/May
Did You Know: There are over 900 Mayan sites to explore! There are no fast food restaurants in Belize!
While we don't recommend retiring in Belize City due to the high crime rate, what if you retire in Ladyville, Belize - just 8 miles to the north? This mainland community of about 5,000 consists of many expats who want to be close to the big city, but not actually in...read more
Corozal is a town of about 10,000 people just south of the border with Mexico. While all of the country speaks English and accepts the U.S. dollar 2 to 1, with no income tax on out-of-country income, Corozal's advantage is being close to the Mexican town of Chetumal...read more