Living in Belize
Last updated on Jan 28, 2023
Summary: The approximate population of Belize is 393,000 people. The largest cities in Belize are Belize City, San Ignacio, Orange Walk, and Belmopan. Expats love living in Belize for its laid-back lifestyle, friendly people, and beautiful beaches. Life in Belize is often described as relaxed and peaceful, with a slower pace of life than many other countries. Popular foods in Belize include rice and beans, tamales, fry jacks, and stewed chicken. The cons of living in Belize include a lack of infrastructure, limited job opportunities, and a high cost of living. The average cost of living for an expat is around $2,000 to $3,000 per month in US dollars. This includes rent, utilities, food, and other expenses.
What do I need to know about living in Belize?
When we asked people what advice they would give someone preparing to move to Belize, they said:
"Come check it out first and spend some time. I visited here for a number of years before deciding I could live here fulltime. I knew how I'd spend my time. I have never regretted it. But I knew what I was getting into," added another expat who made the move to Ambergris Caye.
"Do not leave your brain at the border- see this article here http://www.caribpro.com/Caribbean_Property_Magazine/index.php?pageid=767," explained one expat living in Cayo San Ignacio, Belize.
How do I meet people in Belize?
When we asked people living in Belize about club and activities where newcomers can meet others, they responded:
"It is really easy to meet people on Ambergris Caye. Here are just a few ideas of where we regularly socialize. Anything outdoor and health oriented is great on the island. My husband and I built the San Pedro Fitness Club, so I go there most days. Ladies tend to enjoy the water fitness classes, in particular, since it is both exercise and social time. But there are sailing groups, plenty of scuba and snorkeling opportunities, places that specialize in sailing or kayaking, and fishing groups and competitions. There are now also several yoga schools where you will meet health oriented people. So for those of us who like to balance healthy activities with a little indulgence, it is easy to do here... For those who enjoy live music, there are a variety of places where people hang out and listen to local bands, all for free. Beach bars include Crazy Canucks, BCs, and Fidos, all near town. On the north side, Legends often has good music. We love to dance to a live band on the beach, cooled by a sea breeze! Sunday afternoon lunch is a time when everyone goes out for beach BBQ and to socialize. Popular places include Caribbean Villas (they have plenty of water toys), Crazy Canucks, BCs, and the Palapa Bar (up north). We go to Wine de Vine on Friday nights. This is a "smoke free" environment where many expats, business owners and tourists drop in for a nice glass of wine, and a cheese platter. There are regular festivals and fund raiser events that many expats attend. It is a great way to socialize and also donate to a good cause. There are more volunteer organizations than I can mention. Many expats join both to contribute, and to meet people. The most popular are the Saga Society (which is the local Humane Society), the churches, Lion's Club, and various school organizations. Some groups get together to play cards such as bridge. And many of us get together for group dinners. Sometimes we meet a favorite restaurant. Other times we enjoy a pot luck with friends," mentioned another expat in Ambergris Caye.
What is life like in Belize?
When we asked people living in Belize what life is like and how people spend their time, they said:
"I have lived a very enjoyable 9 years in the Corozal area. Whoever wrote the other response is a real nay-sayer. Tell me anywhere in the world where things are perfect. If you wear gold jewelry and drive a big fancy car, you are a target. It is not that bad," said another expat in Belize.
"It's a real mixed bag. The Belizeans are all working, as do many expats. Some expats live here only 3-6 months a year. We all have different priorities. You can find whatever you are looking for. But family is very important to Belizeans. So there are a lot of festivals and performances that we expats join in for. Socializing is really big here. We spend much more time with friends than we ever did in California. We still are very involved in business, but that also involves a lot of socializing. For us, our lives include all of the above," added another expat who made the move to Ambergris Caye.
Is there a lot of crime in Belize?
We asked people if there is a lot of crime. They answered:
"We have heard rumors of stealing, but have had no problems personally. I did pay a man to purchase a coconut palm tree for our property, but it was never delivered. I've learned to be wise," explained one expat living in Hopkins Village, Belize.
"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," said another expat in Hopkins Village.
Is there a lot of diversity? Are people in Belize accepting of differences?
"Yes, although there are more Hispanics on the island than the other Belizean groups. And there are also a good number of Middle Easterners, who run the hardware stores and some food stores. But everyone gets along remarkably well. There are also a variety of religious groups. It has always impressed me that in Belize there is so much diversity, but in general people get along so well. I have never felt that I am resented as an expat. But it is very important to treat people here with respect. Those visitors and expats who don't treat Belizeans with respect can have a different experience," mentioned another expat in Ambergris Caye.
"Multicultural of course, but some don't like U.S. Don't bring anything of value, it will be stolen.," commented one expat who made the move to San Ignacio.
What are the schools in Belize like?
"It is a great opportunity for small class sizes with a diverse background of students. The school values diversity and helps children understand the value in every child," remarked another parent with kids at Ambergris Caye Elementary School in San Pedro Town.
Is the cost of living in Belize high?
We asked people how much they someone comfortably live on in Belize, they wrote:
"Since we are debt free, and the property taxes are unbelievably low, we are primarily able to live just on our Social Security (about $3,000 U.S. per month). Again, however, we do not spend excessively on sightseeing or dining out. We love living a quiet life at a slow pace," added another expat in Hopkins Village.
"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," remarked another expat who made the move to Hopkins Village.
"Cost of living is good. You can live as cheaply as you desire. Property taxes are very low at around $15-35/year US. If you eat local produce, fish and chicken the prices are very reasonable.," added one expat living in Placencia.
"As a retired couple living on our US social security checks every month we live here very comfortably. The highest regular bills are electricity and internet/cable tv, but even these expenses can be somewhat controlled through frugal use if necessary. We purchase meat in larger quantities wholesale and we purchase vegetables and fruit from local vendors. ," commented one expat who moved to Hopkins.
What type of recreational facilities are in Belize?
When we asked people living in Belize about recreational activities, they mentioned:
"Placencia Beach Club offers Swim Club memberships and is open to the public. Recreational activities here are mostly owned by individual operators and tour guides and most are connected to local hotels. To include: Diving, Snorkeling, Fishing, River Tours, Manatee Tours, Howler Monkey Tours. Mayan Ruins, Scarlet Macaw Tours, Cave Tubing," said an expat in Placencia.
"There is sea swimming, fishing, snorkeling, and diving at Hopkins. Inland there is hiking, waterfalls, zip lining, atv rentals, and motor cycle rentals for exploring. There are many tours offered by experienced, knowledgeable guides," remarked another expat in Hopkins.
What is the weather like in Belize?
"Average 85 degrees year round. We have a rainy and dry seasons. May and June are some of the warmer months where it gets to be 90's," said one expat living in Placencia.
"The climate is warm to hot with humidity adding a few degrees to the "feel like" temperature. The winter months offer the most comfortable temperatures with less humidity and the summer and early fall months are higher in temperature and humidity," mentioned another expat inHopkins.
Are there good restaurants in Belize?
"There are many restaurants and bars in the area. Mostly serving local foods. There are some speciality restaurants like Italian and Chinese but most serve a variety. There is not alot of nightlife as this area is attractive to people that are outdoors types. But there is great local music in many establishments," remarked another expat in Placencia.
"Hopkins offers all types of restaurants from the higher end resorts to the small locally run vendors. The food is delicious here. You can get traditional Belizean food, Garifuna speciality food, Chinese food, and Italian food with many mixes in between. Night life involves a few food and bar offerings that stay open later, especially on the weekends. This is where a tourist can enjoy the local culture which always includes music and drumming. Holidays and festivals are colorful and fun with bands, singing, dancing, and of course drumming," added one expat living in Hopkins.
Where will I buy groceries and do other shopping in Belize?
"There are many grocery stores in Placencia but the beauty of this area is most product are delivered to your door. For Example, Bakery, Produce, Organic Foods, Water, Beverages, Wine, Beef, Chicken, Fresh Fish....," commented one expat living in Placencia, Belize.
"There are several markets in Hopkins, large and small. The grocery choices are quite extensive. Additionally, there are several stores where souvenirs can be purchased as well as places where handmade items can be bought, like wood carvings and jewelry. The small cafes and restaurants offer a variety of delicious food that is exceptional for a small village," remarked another expat living in Hopkins.
What are the visa & residency requirements in Belize?
"Residency requires you to live in the country for 1 year and you are only allowed to leave for 14 days during that time. There is a QRP -Retirement Program which is Temporary Residency and a Regular Temporary Residency. Otherwise you go monthly to immigration and get a stamp," mentioned another expat inPlacencia.
"Visiting Belize is easy. If you stay longer than 29 days you must go to Dangriga Immigration and get your visa/passport stamped. The charge is $50 per person Belize dollars a month. Residency requires a stay if 50 weeks of the year in Belize and then an application for residency with a payment and documentation of income, etc," commented one expat who moved to Hopkins, Belize.
Are healthcare and health insurance expensive in Belize?
"In the US I have Medicare and a supplemental insurance, which is fine and I have had no problems with coverage. In Belize, I do not purchase medical insurance because it is very expensive. ," mentioned another expat inHopkins Village.
About the Author
Betsy Burlingame is the Founder and President of Expat Exchange and is one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. She launched Expat Exchange in 1997 as her Master's thesis project at NYU. Prior to Expat Exchange, Betsy worked at AT&T in International and Mass Market Marketing. She graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University with a BA in International Business and German.
Some of Betsy's articles include 12 Best Places to Live in Portugal, 7 Best Places to Live in Panama and 12 Things to Know Before Moving to the Dominican Republic. Betsy loves to travel and spend time with her family. Connect with Betsy on LinkedIn.
- How do I meet people in Belize?
- What is life like as an expat in your area?
- Is there a lot of crime in Belize?
- What do I need to know before retiring in Belize?
- Is there a lot of diversity? Are people in Belize accepting of differences?
- What are the schools in Belize like?
- Is the cost of living in Belize high?
- What advice do you have for expats having a baby in Belize?
- What are healthcare services like in Belize?
- Is the cost of living in Belize high?
- What type of recreational facilities are in Belize?
- What is the weather like in Belize?
- Are there good restaurants in Belize?
- Where will I buy groceries and do other shopping in Belize?
- What are the visa & residency requirements in Belize?
- Are healthcare and health insurance expensive in Belize?
- What do I need to know when buying property in Belize?
- Are foreigners allowed to own property in Belize?
- What appliances are typically included in a rental?