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Expat Advice: Retiring in Hopkins Village, Belize

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Belize

An expat in Hopkins Village, Belize talks about retiring in Belize. He offers advice about renting before buying, buying a car, cost of living, going to church, adapting to Belizean culture (and humidity!), opening a bank account and much more.

What is the name of the city or town that you are reporting on?

Hopkins Village

Why did you choose to retire abroad?

We wanted to be near the sea, as well as do community service among the village kids. We are teaching baseball, and having a terrific time!

Are you retired abroad all year or part of the year?

At this point, we are part time because we want to see our grandchildren also, especially during the summer.

Why did you choose the country you retired to?

We have visited Belize a number of times since 2006. We love the people here and truly enjoy the rain forest environment. The food is also terrific in most places.

Did you ever live abroad before you retired abroad?

No.

How long have you lived abroad since you retired abroad?

Four months.

How many countries (other than your home country) have you lived in as a retiree?

None.

What have been the most challenging aspects of being retired abroad?

For me, driving is difficult, especially at night. Pedestrians don't usually wear clothing that is visible at night, and safety does not always seem to be a concern.

What have been the most rewarding aspects of being retired abroad?

We have been most edified by working with the village children and doing missions-type work.

What would you do differently if you were just starting the retire abroad process?

Rent a home for six months to a year first, just to get to know the different areas, people, and ways to combat insects.

What is life like for a retiree in your city and its surroundings? (Is there an active expat community? Cultural Attractions? Recreation? Nightlife?)

We have met quite a few expat people, although we are comfortable being with the native people most since they are exceptionally friendly and helpful.

What residency documents or visas did you need to obtain to retire in your host country? How difficult was this process? (Please describe)

We got U.S. travel passports and did just fine. We report monthly to Belize Immigration to update our visiting permissions. We also have a pet dog, and he needed health reports and travel documents.

Did you buy a home or apartment, or rent one? Is this a difficult process? (Please describe)

We purchased a lot along the sea and had a local builder construct a home for us. It was all done primarily through email correspondence and money transfers. He sent us regular pictures and reports to keep us informed.

Financially, has living abroad in your host country met your expectations? Exceeded them?

We have done very well living just on our social security monthly payments. We were able to purchase an automobile to facilitate shopping in neighboring village and cities.

What are the most important financial considerations for retiring to your host country?

Many bills need to be paid in person, rather than by U.S. checking account. Getting a local bank account is not easy since not many banks are in our area.

How much can a retiree live on comfortably in your host country?

We have no house payment since our home is paid for. We are doing very well on about 3,000 U.S. per month, though we could get by for much less.

Do you have access to quality medical care? (Please describe - is it close? Expensive?)

We have not needed medical care so far, but it is available locally. We hear that the care is very good.

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Is there a lot of crime where you live? (Please describe)

We do not hear about much crime in the area. The most news has to do with petty theft, which is why we are careful.

Describe available transportation where you live. Do you need a car? Is there access to safe public transportation?

Most people in the area ride the many busses, but purchasing a vehicle is more convenient. We used a golf cart for a while, but it is rather uncomfortable, especially in the dry season.

Is there high-speed internet access where you live?

We have internet where we live near Sittee Point. We couldn't live without it, and it works well most of the time.

Do you have any other thoughts you would like to share about retiring abroad?

We both love living in Belize, and our dog is very much at home. He loves swimming in the sea, as do we! Getting used to the humidity was probably the most difficult for us, but we are adapting. We especially enjoy worshipping with the local congregation led by Pastor Herdie in Hopkins Village.

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