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About Wealthships





Currently Lives:

San Ignacio Town, Cayo, Belize

Citizen Of:

United States

Past Expat Posts:

United States

About Wealthships

I am a California native who recently moved to Belize permanently. After originally living on the island of Ambergris Caye and discovering that the lifestyle there wasn't for me, I moved to San Ignacio Town in the Cayo District.

My Website:


Advice for New Expats

1. Visit first, several times if you can. 2. Do not buy property before living in your new country for at least one year. 3. Do not bring your belongings over initially - instead live there first and make sure you are going to like it. 4. Hire someone who's done what you're about to do to help you answer your specific questions for your unique situation. So much information on the internet is old, incorrect, or conflicting.

I would love to live in...



Provider of Expat-Related Services & Products

Favorite Websites:


Favorite Assignment:

Expat Relocation Consultant & Property Manager

Favorite Cuisine:


Favorite Museum:


Favorite Movie:

Sound of Music

Favorite Book:

Rich Dad, Poor Dad

Favorite Sports Team:


Some Forum Posts:

Belize: apartments:

It depends where in Belize you are talking about, if it's furnished or not, if it's a short-term/month to month situation or a long-term lease, amenities, etc. For instance, in Cayo, we have a one bedroom/2 bath unfurnished apartment right in downtown San Ignacio for $400 usd. We just rented a 2 bedroom/1 bath furnished apartment in Santa Elena for $500 usd. Both were long term. We have a short-term Penthouse Suite, fully furnished and complete with a kitchen, views and a pool, which rents month to month for $1055 usd on the outskirts of San Ignacio. Also, usually if you're on the ocean, it will cost more. Sharon Hiebing, Owner, Red Roof Property Management,

Belize: Trash/Garbage Collection....:

It totally depends on where you live. I live in the village of Bullet Tree Falls, about 3 miles West of San Ignacio, and we get garbage pickup every 4-6 weeks (it's never regular) on Sunday. They ask for a $2-3 bze donation. In between, we can burn or carry to a store in San Ignacio and use their dumpster. When I used to live in the town of San Ignacio, garbage pickup was weekly (some areas twice a week) and it was free. When I lived up North on the island of Ambergris Caye, there was a dump truck right over the bridge you could carry your trash to and drop it off. As you can see, every area will have its own routine. The more remote you live, however, the less likely you are to have any kind of pick up. Sharon Hiebing

Belize: rental information:

You may have seen our site already, but we have both short and long term rentals available in Cayo. We're going to have a couple of new ones coming out later this week. Most of our listings are in Cayo, however. Thanks! Sharon Hiebing

Belize: Can't wait to get there!!:

Belize has an extremely high unemployment rate, somewhere over 30%. If you want to work in Belize, whether it be part-time, full-time, owning a business, or even volunteering, you must get the appropriate type of permit. For an educator job, the school you apply to would need to prove they've exhausted all their resources finding a local to hire before they could sponsor you for a work permit. Then getting one can take some time. Personally, I think there is always a need for good educators here in Belize, but you should be aware of the challenges you will face. Good luck! Sharon Hiebing, Belize Relocation Consultant,

Belize: needing a 4x4 Oct 1st:

Nat and Debbie own Mad Dog Motors and are the best mechanics in SI (Joseph Andrews Drive). There are a few used car lots around Cayo, but never buy anything without having Nat check it out first. Definitely buyer beware here. Good luck! Sharon Hiebing, Expat Relocation Consultant,

Belize: Visa Options?:

The only other program is Permanent Residency, but cost wise, it's about the same as QRP when it's all said and done (for a couple). If you want the freedom to come and go from Belize without having to stay here for one year with no more than a 14 day absence, then QRP is a good way to go. If you'll be sticking around the country, you might as well get your PR, since no time in the QRP counts towards PR. Once you have PR, you can work freely, without the need for a Work Permit, but if you don't need to work here, then that's not really a consideration for you. Sharon Hiebing, Belize Relocation Consultant,

Belize: US expat realtor in Belize.:

Hi Mike! Thanks for the compliment. Just to be clear, though, I'm not a realtor, which is what the poster was looking for. I'm a Belize Relocation Consultant and own Red Roof Property Management, handling rental houses. Hung up my realtor hat in 2002 for good, lol!! Thanks! Sharon

Belize: Crime:

A forum is not the best place to get news. If the question isn't asked, you'll never see anything about it. Most crime here is Belizean on Belizean, between gang members, drug dealers, or rum drunk fights between youths or feuding families. There also is a very high unemployment rate, so petty theft is quite common. Having said that, most crime is in Belize City, some in other larger towns like Dangriga and Orange Walk. I've also heard from friends and my ex-husband that crime in San Pedro is on the rise, but that those living in security buildings don't notice it much. Crime here seems to ebb and flow, but for the most part, I've been virtually unaffected by it my two years in Belize. Like Dan said, many communities have Neighborhood Watch programs that seem to be working quite well. Bottom line, I feel safer here than I ever did in Oakland, CA, where I'm from. Sharon Hiebing, Belize Expat Relocation Consultant,

Belize: Paperwork when moving to Belize:

The criminal record and HIV test are required for either Permanent Residency or the QRP program. A physical is only required for the QRP, so that leads me to believe you are looking into that program. The BTB (Belize Tourism Board), who is in charge of the QRP, will take an HIV test and physical from your country of residence. If applying for PR, given the fact that you must reside here in Belize for one year before applying, then you will have to get the HIV test here since the tests must be recent. You don't need any of these things, however, to "move here," as you stated in your question. These are only residency requirements. Sharon Hiebing, Belize Expat Relocation Consultant,

Belize: Golf Cart Fuel on Ambergris?:

I lived on the island of Ambergris Caye and our golf cart ran on gasoline. Electric carts were a distant second, and never saw a butane one, although I'm sure they exist. I could fill up my golf cart for $20 bze and have it last me at least a week, maybe longer. Sharon Hiebing, Expat Relocation Consultant,

Belize: School for "special" children availability:

There are absolutely no regulations against home schooling in Belize, and if you do so, you then don't need a Student Visa. I would think the majority of public Belizean schools would be ill-equipped to deal with a child that has any sort of major emotional or behavioural issues. You'd be best to home school him, especially if you plan on living in the country anyway. Cayo is a good place for that kind of lifestyle. Good luck! Sharon Hiebing, Belize Relocation Consultant,

Belize: 30% Taken From Social Security:

I believe you are referring to the HIRE (Hiring Incentives to Restore Employment) Act. Initially it was set to go into affect Jan 2013, but I believe it got extended to Jan 2014. In any case, you have the facts a bit wrong. First, the U.S. is demanding that Foreign Financial Institutions (FFI's) report to the US Treasury any deposits, account holdings, investment trading, etc. over $50K to them - essentially, they are making FFI's watchdogs of US dollars. Failure to do so will result in a 30% withholding tax on any US income they receive. So you are not taxed directly, but the FFI's are. Many FFI's have taken the stance that they do not wish to participate due to the huge administrative burden, and/or because of privacy laws. This brings up a whole other set of problems which are too lengthy to go into here, but this blog explains everything quite well: The intent was to make sure the US could monitor tax evasion, but the end result will be many expats will find it difficult or virtually impossible to set up bank accounts in non-complying FFI's. Since Social Security payments do not reach anywhere near $50K per transaction, you should be fine. But it's good for all current or future expats to be aware of this law. Sharon Hiebing, Expat Relocation Consultant,

Belize: Social Security Checks With Holding?:

Please see this thread: And my blog referenced in that thread. Social Security payments do not apply to the FACTA. Any transaction must exceed $50K for it to become effective. While your point about ATM's is true, Prince, that becomes impractical when you are an expat trying to buy or build a home in a foreign country. To me the best work around is to transfer amounts under the $50K threshold. Then the FFI's (foreign financial institutions) aren't required to report it (if they're participating at all, which many will choose not to). Sharon Hiebing, Expat Relocation Consultant,

Belize: health insurance:

You don't need health insurance to be seen or treated by a doctor or hospital in Belize. State run hospitals usually don't charge for care, but you get what you pay for. Privately run hospitals and doctor's offices do, but it's usually very reasonable. About $35-50 bze for a doctor appointment, $50-75 for a specialist. Most prescriptions are about $1-2 bze. Some expats like to get international health care insurance, which covers your travel costs should you need to leave Belize for treatment, etc. Hope that helps. I personally have opted not to do that at this point since I'm 47 and in reasonably good health. Sharon Hiebing Expat Relocation Consultant

Belize: Anyone that has lived on Ambergris Caye:

You'd have to have a complete lack of imagination to be bored in San Pedro. Second mortgage - bit dramatic, don't you think?

Belize: 5 Year Plan:

John, if you are thinking of moving to any foreign country, then hopefully you are not planning on having an "American lifestyle," as FJW suggests. Belize is not expensive to live in at all, even if you want to live comfortably, if you keep it simple. The Qualified Retirement Program says you must have a stream of $2000 USD per month to be in the program, and I think you can use that as a gauge for cost of living here. It really does depend on where in the country you move to though - coastal towns and islands will always be more expensive than inland, however even in those areas, you can find ways to keep your costs down. I live in Cayo in a 4 bedroom, 3 bath river home, have a car, cable tv, internet, one a/c unit that I use sparingly, eat lunches out about 5 days a week and enjoy a "social hour" most days of the week, all for about $2000 USD per month. Your lifestyle and area will dictate your costs of living. Some areas have regular Expat gatherings, Corozal for one. In Cayo, we have a monthly women's group that meets, but we invite local Belizeans as well. Work permits are required if you want to get a job. Starting a business is much easier. Good luck! Sharon Hiebing Expat Relocation Consultant

Belize: 5 Year Plan:

How much you will need, John, completely depends on where you choose to settle down in Belize, as cost of living varies widely depending on area, and what kind of lifestyle you want to lead. The QRP requires you to have a monthly income of $2000 USD for approval, so that gives you an idea of what they think is necessary. But there are other areas where a couple, if you live a simple life, you can make due on $1200-1500 easily. If you want to work, even part-time, the QRP would not be the way to go for you, but rather do your time in Belize and get your Pemanent Residency. Good luck! Sharon Hiebing, Belize Relocation Consultant,

Belize: affordable rentals:

Is that BZE or USD? Really depends on where you want to live. Here's the rentals we have: Sharon Hiebing

Belize: Self directed IRA's:

Steve, whichever Self-Directed IRA Custodian you choose will dictate the transactions you are allowed to make, so when choosing a custodian, make sure they allow international real estate transactions. Having said that, you should be aware that it is not permissible per IRS regulations to purchase real estate w/ a self-directed IRA for personal use, present or future (only income property). There's many great books on this topic for education, but having an accessible and knowledgeable custodian is going to be the best source for you. Sharon Hiebing Expat Relocation Consultant

Belize: Toilet Paper:

By and large, most flush toilets in Belize accept toilet paper (however, in some public restrooms, finding a bathroom stocked with tp can be problematic, or you need to pay $.50 usd to get some). An interesting side note, according to the 2010 Belize Census, between 2000 and 2010, use of flush toilets had increased from 49.9% to 64.6%. Over 31% still use a pit latrine. My two next door neighbors (on either side of me) in San Ignacio Town did not have indoor plumbing, however, my house did. Sharon Hiebing, Expat Relocation Consultant,

Belize: Permanent Rental Homes:

Yes, you can live quite well on $3000 USD. I live like a Queen on $2000 USD in the Cayo District. Here is my property management company's website - you should subscribe to our site by email so you can track the new listings and start getting a feel for rental rates. Let me know if you have any questions. Sharon Hiebing, Expat Relocation Consultant,

Belize: New things I been wondering about:

The IPhone 4 & 4S use CDMA technology, which is good for you, because one of the two cell phone providers in Belize, Smart, uses CDMA technology as well. At any Smart office in Belize, you can have your CDMA phone reprogrammed for use in Belize (no unlocking required-they are already unlocked). There’s an activation fee of US$20, and then you must purchase your minutes (or credit as we call it here). Prescriptions are tricky. Bring your records and go see a Belize physician to get new prescriptions written. But be prepared that not all US or Canada medicines are available in Belize (or even close seconds). In which case, you may have to travel to Guatemala or Mexico to find what you need. Sharon Hiebing Expat Relocation Consultant

Belize: Moving there soon.:

You are facing one of the hardest decisions about moving to Belize - where? With all six districts being so completely diverse, a lot of us have faced this same dilemma. I originally chose San Pedro, but found it too expensive, touristy and "Americanized" for my taste. I now live in Cayo and love it. There's no ocean in Cayo though, but lots of rivers and incredibly gorgeous rainforest. The cost of living here is much less than the island, and while we have our share of tourists, because the area is more spreadout, they are absorbed better and you hardly notice. We also have less bugs and cooler nights, especially in the winter. You should come visit some time and see for yourself. Hope that helps! Sharon Hiebing Wealth Ships' Expat Relocation Consultant

Belize: Relocation Issues:

Yes, Belize has a Tourist Visa that you must renew at any Immigration office every 30 days (there are several of these in Belize). $50 bze first six months, $100 bze thereafter. After one year, you can apply for Permanent Residency, if you so wish. Sharon Hiebing Wealth Ships Expat Relocation Consultant

Belize: Possible Move:

We could desperately use a good chiropractor in San Ignacio. If you came and set up a practice here, I would be your first client, lol! There's a really good one already on Ambergris Caye. A couple not so great ones (from what I've been told) in other areas of the country. Of course, you'll have to get a self-employed work permit, but other than that, you'd have a very viable business option. In terms of schools, there are plenty of schools in all of the major towns in Belize (which is where you'd want to set up a practice anyways, not small villages). Some Expats choose to home school, as well.


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