Best Places to Retire in Belize
Belize is a tiny country on the east coast Central America, just south of Mexico and northeast of Guatemala on the Caribbean coast of northern Central America. The official language is English (it was originally part of the British Empire) and the population is just over 330,000. The principal city is Belize City. The main tourist attraction is the Belize Barrier Reef which runs just off the entire coast; the 2nd biggest barrier reef in the world, it is a dream spot for snorklers, divers, and fishermen. The Maya ruins are also a popular attraction, as is ecotourism. Other favorite destinations for tourists are the cayes (islands), including Ambergris Caye and Caye Caulker, and the coastal areas in the south of the country. The terrain of Belize is mostly flat, either swampy or forested, with some mountains in the south.
Expatriate retirees are attracted here for the low cost of living, tropical climate, widespread English spoken, and long coastline. On the negative side Belize has a serious and rising crime problem, much of it gang related. Tourist areas are generally safe. Earthquakes and hurricanes are always a risk here. Roads are mostly primitive.
Residency. Belize is one of the few countries in the world that actively tries to attract expat retirees. It has a Qualified Retired Person program that welcomes expatriot retirees. If you and your spouse are at least 45 years old, have income of $2,000 a month or more, and are retired, you can basically qualifiy for the equivalent of a green card and stay in the country permanently. You will also be exempt from all Belize income taxes and get other tax advantages as well.
Crime and Security. According to Wikipedia, "The majority of violence in Belize stems from gang violence, which includes trafficking of drugs and persons, drug smuggling routes, and sales rights. Even so, violence in Belize is relatively less significant compared to some of the other Central American countries. Its capital homicide rate is the 6th highest in the world.
Taxes. Individuals and couples who qualify for the Qualified Retired Person program are exempt from Belize income taxes.
Medical. US Medicare is not honored in Belize. According to OSAC, "There are nine hospitals in Belize. All medical clinics treat only outpatient cases and are not staffed to handle emergencies. Belize City is the center for medical care with the two major hospitals considered adequate by U.S. standards and equipped to handle serious medical problems. They are Belize Medical Associates and Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital." You should have some kind of medical insurance.
Cost of Living. The numbeo.com price comparison (CPI plus rent) shows Bellze with an index of 42, vs. the U.S. with 58 and UK at 75. The Local Purchasing Power Index shows 93 for Belize vs. 90 for the UK and 126 for the U.S.
Best Places to Live. See the list of the cities in Belize we have reviewed in the top right hand column. Places near the coast and tourist areas are most popular.
Pluses and Minuses. Belize is a much cheaper alternative than almost any country. Some expats report a fair amount of culture shock - particularly with dealing with the bureaucracy, finding a place to live, getting a telephone, etc. The weather is tropical. It is a small country so there is a limit to the number of places to live.
Weather. The climate is tropical and warm year round. Summers bring rainstorms and possible hurricanes. Earthquakes can occur here.