An Expat Talks about Retiring in Belize City, Belize
What is the name of the city or town that you are reporting on?
Why did you choose to retire abroad?
My husband is British, I am British/American. As a mixed marriage we had always said when we retired we would chose a third country as our final retirement place
Why did you choose the country you retired to?
It has an excellent and easy retirement program called the qualified retired persons program. For very simple requirements, you can get residency, tax breaks, and duty free allowance for purchasing a car etc.
Are you retired abroad all year or part of the year?
Did you ever live abroad before you retired abroad?
How long have you lived abroad since you retired abroad?
Over 30 yrs while my husband worked we lived 16 years abroad in different countries
How many countries (other than your home country) have you lived in as a retiree?
What have been the most challenging aspects of being retired abroad?
Same as living in your own country. Learning to adjust to living with each other 24/7. They say downsizing is good but as prices of properties are so good we went from owning a 3 bedroom in Scotland, to an 8 bedroom in Belize. It's nice to have that much space, our own space..
What have been the most rewarding aspects of being retired abroad?
Getting used to the laid back culture.... You learn fast how to chill.. Relax. Being part of an emerging economy and watching it grow, with many opportunities should you wish to take them up. Low blood pressure. Great food, all natural and unprocessed! A chance to make a difference by sharing your expertise which is always well received and appreciated.
What would you do differently if you were just starting the retire abroad process?
Nothing, we had a plan to retire at 55, we maxd our retirement savings all 30 years of work. We visited Belize 9mths before retiring and purchased our home while on holiday.
What is life like for a retiree in your city and its surroundings? (Is there an active expat community? Cultural Attractions? Recreation? Nightlife?)
Belize city is usually used by people just passing thru. For those of us who live here, there is a night life, a cultural center, casino, theatre, gyms etc. The expats are here, and we all eventually find each other, drinking at the British barracks, or local bars and wine clubs. There is an international woman's group, but I do not attend.
What residency documents or visas did you need to obtain to retire in your host country? How difficult was this process? (Please describe)
It was very simple, please go onto the Belize tourist board website and check out Qualified retirement persons package. We had no problem, it was easy, and maintaining it annually is easy too. You can join this program from aged 40 onwards,
Did you buy a home or apartment, or rent one? Is this a difficult process? (Please describe)
Purchased a home in an auction. It was very easy. We purchased before we were even residents of Belize. To do that we needed a us dollar bank acct here, it was easy to do.
Financially, has living abroad in your host country met your expectations? Exceeded them?
It has met our expectations and exceeded them, we live a good life, eat well, and are very happy
What are the most important financial considerations for retiring to your host country?
As with any country that you have enough of a pension to live the life you want. That has more to do with how you have lived your life before you retire
How much can a retiree live on comfortably in your host country?
That is such a leading answer. The QRP package requires that you bring 2000 us dollars into the country per month. For those not taking the QRP package, and taking up plain residency (takes a year to do) , there are people living on a lot less than 2000 US and living comfortably
Do you have access to quality medical care? (Please describe - is it close? Expensive?)
Yes..Belize city has the three best hospitals in the country. For simple things they are very good and cheap compared with the US,, but for cancer that sort of thing people go to the states. You can get private medical insurance as a member of the caricom , which in our case includes treatment elsewhere, if it is not available here in Belize. People who don't have medical insurance, use Guatemala city, Merida Mexico, or panama for medical procedures. For members of the public, using public health centers and hospitals the waits can be very long and the care, patchy. I would not suggest people come here with terminal illnesses, as belizes not equipped to deal with that.
Is there a lot of crime where you live? (Please describe)
Supposedly...l yes. Belize city is one of the most dangerous cities in the world... But it only has 60000 people in it, mostly during the weekdays. The killings tend to be gang related, drug related. In a specific area, south side, We live on the north side, in a very safe area. Our home is surrounded by a tall concrete wall, and our windows do have burglar bars on them. We have three large dogs which act as any further deterrent. I live here very happily, and feel very safe.
Describe available transportation where you live. Do you need a car? Is there access to safe public transportation?
To explore the country you need a car.. In the city there is plenty of public transport, which I have used regularly. Taxis, town buses and country buses. I also travel to cancun or playa del Carmen, Mexico, or Flores Guatemala by international buses. The public transport is easy, it's old American school buses... Are they safe? Well there aren't many regulations and what regulations there are are blatantly abused, but I can get from one end of the country to the other on public transport which is much cheaper than gas (currently 6 us a gallon). To get to the islands from Belize city, there are excellent water taxis running hourly.
Is there high-speed internet access where you live?
Supposedly, but it's very slow and the most expensive in the caribbean. But I do have good and regular Internet service.
Do you have any other thoughts you would like to share about retiring abroad?
We love it here, we have never looked back. 85 degrees sunshine all year around and gentle breezes blowing off the sea. Great people, great ethnic food, a mix of cultures (Spanish, Mayan, foreigners, belizians, garifuna) make this place really worth it. We didn't want to do the Ambergris Caye.... Live on a beach thing. We are close enough to the beaches if we want them, but have mainland and wildlife and masses of exploring to do. We are active in wildlife conservation and busier than we have ever been. Our expertise in our fields has been welcomed with open arms, this really is a country where you can make a difference, if you want to, How many people have had two types of endangered species In their car? We have helped capture and transport an injured orphaned baby manatee to rehab, and facilitated the handover of captive howler monkeys to rehab. My husband advises the govt and the coalition on oil industry matters. We live a fulfilled life, with diving on tap, it doesn't get better than this. It was the best move we have ever made. Like everyone else we have spoken to, our advice is to do it sooner than later, and enjoy.
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