Retiring in Belize to the laid back, tropical paradise known in travel circles as "Mother Nature's Best Kept Secret".
Belize is a very small country with a total population smaller than a reasonable sized city. It's easy to fit in. People are friendly and welcoming, always willing to help and go out of their way for a neighbor.
Independent since 1981 the country is a parliamentary democracy and constitutional monarchy which recognizes Queen Elizabeth II as Sovereign. All transactions take place in English. As Belize's legal system is tied to the high court in Great Britain it's understanding gives comfort to investors and business-owners.
Situated on the Caribbean coast, nestled between Mexico and Guatemala. Belize offers an intriguing mix of options from tropical forests rich with wildlife, majestic mountains, mysterious Mayan temples, and diving and fishing experiences.
The cayes (pronounced keys) are small sandy islands formed on the surface of a coral reef, the offshore atolls (coral reef islands around an oceanic volcanic seamount and encircling a shallow central lagoon), and the barrier reef are the main attractions to Belize.
The barrier reef, is the longest barrier reef in the Western Hemisphere. The cayes and atolls provide great sites for scuba diving, snorkelling, fishing, boating, sailing, and kayaking.
Despite their important ecological and physical functions and the legislation that protects them the mangroves in Belize are decreasing. They act as feeding and nursery grounds for many species of fish and birds and are the natural habitat for 11 species of amphibians, 30 reptile species and 40 species of mammals.
In the central Mountain Pine Ridge and the Maya Mountains areas the land rises up to between 1,500 and 3,680 feet above sea level. Breathtaking waterfalls, historic Mayan cities and the mountains are but a few of the attractions that can be enjoyed in these areas.
The Belize Dollar (BZ$) has a fixed rate of exchange of BZ$2 to US$1. Most hotels, resorts, restaurants, and tour operators will accept U.S. currency or credit cards.
Belize for Retirees
There are a number of benefits of retiring in Belize.
The authorities have recognised that retirees are looking for a place where they feel they belong and where they can continue being productive members of society.
As a Qualified Retired Person (QRP) a retiree is;
- on first entering Belize, a QRP is entitled to import their personal effects and an approved means of transportation free of all import duties and taxes.
- they are also exempt from the payment of all taxes and duties on income or receipts which accrue to them from a source outside of Belize. Whether that income is generated from work performed or from an investment.
For those of you who intend retiring early, a QRP retiree can be as young as 45 years of age!
Retiring in Belize provides you with a number of choices of places to live depending on your lifestyle and how involved you wish to be in the Belizean culture.
Retiring in Belize provides relatively inexpensive housing and land compared to more popular destinations in the Caribbean and Latin American countries. It's easy to purchase property. If you're not ready to buy, you can rent in a number of places for as little as US$300 per month.
Specific housing facility services, or retirement communities, offer full amenities and customized packages to retirees.
Belize banks are safe, secure, and private granting their clients personal freedom, privacy, and respect. It is easy to open a bank account even for non-residents.
If you are retiring in Belize and plan to start a business make sure you do your homework ... including exhaustive research and get professional guidance to avoid any pitfalls.
In the World Bank Doing Business 2010 survey Belize ranks 80 out of 183 countries in the overall ranking and 13 out of 32 in the Latin America and Caribbean category.
The Belizean People
The population of approximately 300,000 consists of a mixture of Creoles, Garifunas, Mestizos, Mayas, Caucasians, Mennonites, Lebanese, Chinese, and East Indians. Belize has gained a widespread reputation for its friendly people.
English is the official language of Belize, Spanish is the second language and Creole is the commonly used dialect you will hear spoken throughout the country.
The climate is subtropical, with a brisk prevailing wind from the Caribbean Sea. The country has an annual mean temperature of 79 degrees Fahrenheit, with the humidity pleasantly tempered by the sea breezes.
The variation in weather further emphasizes the interesting difference in elevation, geology, plant and animal life. Summer high temperatures, are normally around 98 degrees Fahrenheit, and winter lows have rarely gone below 60 degrees Fahrenheit, even at night. The average humidity is 85 percent.
The rainy season is usually between June and November with the dry season between February and May. The weather starts becoming cooler at the end of October and this lasts up until February. Annual rainfall ranges from 130cm in the North to 440cm in the South.
The benefits of retiring in Belize are a friendly, English speaking retirement destination in close proximity to the US which offers a lower cost of living and a number of tax benefits to retirees.
But as with any relocation, do your research, test your theory … try before you buy.