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San Ignacio, Belize

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By Betsy Burlingame

Last updated on Feb 01, 2023

Summary: People describe San Ignacio, Belize as a vibrant, friendly, and culturally diverse city. Expats love the laid-back atmosphere, the abundance of outdoor activities, and the affordability of living in San Ignacio. The weather in San Ignacio is typically warm and humid, with temperatures ranging from the mid-70s to the mid-90s Fahrenheit. The average cost of living for an expat is around $1,500 USD per month. The cost of a one bedroom apartment is typically around $500 USD per month, while a two bedroom apartment can range from $600 to $800 USD per month. The approximate population of San Ignacio is around 20,000 people.

What are the pros and cons of living in San Ignacio?

Expats, digital nomads and retirees living in San Ignacio responded:

"Life is what you make of it. I love living in Belize, but I also do not have a lot of needs for high fashion and trendy things. I have usually lived in a semi-rural area, so the Cayo District of Belize feels homey to me. Urban folks might find it to be too slow. The official language here is English, with a lot of Spanish spoken. Anyone in customer service is bilingual or trilingual (to include Belizean Kriol). I wanted to live somewhere warm and lots of Central America fits the bill, but the English language and common law here are the icing on the cake. Some people think that Belize is just the island of Ambergris Caye and its village, San Pedro. Lots of expats out there, but most of us who live inland are happy to let them have it," explained one expat living in San Ignacio.

"The pros of my location are: Affordable housing Fresh fruit and vegetables Pretty and a lot of nature attractions Access to natural medicine Adventure living Grow your own food Short drive to ocean Cons: Terrible health care Lots of government corruption Terrible banking High cost for gas High cost for electricity Infrastructure is terrible Transportation is delapitated Lack of a skilled workforce Shopping for supplies very limited Petty theft is rampant," said another in San Ignacio.

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What type of social life can someone expect in San Ignacio?

When we asked expats and global nomads about their social experiences in San Ignacio, they replied:

"As a single retiree, I'm not sure anywhere in the world is satisfactory for dating options," remarked another expat in San Ignacio.

"Very little infrastructure and has a lot of growing to do. Worst is the city corruption," explained one expat living in San Ignacio.

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"A lot of expats are looked upon by the locals as a source of money. People will come knocking on your door looking for money all the time for loans and other various hardships. The local population does bot have a strong work ethic and is very lazy . Most businesses hire workers from across the border in Guatemala and Mexico," said one member in San Ignacio.

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What advice to expats in San Ignacio have about housing?

"Build your own house . Existing houses may have structural and foundation problems . Many locals build with inferior materials and do t follow building code , a lot of homes are unsafe," said one member in San Ignacio.

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What are medical services in San Ignacio like?

When we asked expats and global nomads about the quality of medical care in San Ignacio, they replied:

"Belize in general is very third world when it comes to health care. Most people go to neighbouring countries like Guatemala and Mexico for health care," said another in San Ignacio.

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What do I need to know about living in San Ignacio?

When we asked people what advice they would give someone preparing to move to San Ignacio, they said:

"Before retiring in San Ignacio, it is important to know that cost of living is generally lower than other larger cities in Belize. The climate is generally warm and humid with an average annual temperature of 80°F and annual rainfall of about 57 inches. English is widely spoken throughout the city, and it is known as a “cultural melting pot” due to its large population of immigrants. The city is also known for its Mayan archeological sites such as the Cahal Pech and Xunantunich ruins. Additionally, medical care is available in San Ignacio, but it is advised to check for availability and quality of care. Overall, San Ignacio offers a mix of modern amenities and traditional Mayan culture and is an attractive choice for retirees looking for a more tranquil atmosphere," said another person in San Ignacio.

"Before retiring in San Ignacio, it is important to learn more about the local economy, health care system, and cost of living. Additionally, you will want to familiarize yourself with the different neighborhoods and their amenities, as well as explore the various recreational activities and cultural events that the city has to offer. It may also be beneficial to research local immigration and visa requirements if you intend to move there from abroad. In any case, it is always advisable to visit San Ignacio to get a better feel for the city before making the final decision to retire there," remarked another expat in San Ignacio.

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What do I need to know before moving to San Ignacio?

When we asked people what advice they would give someone preparing to move to San Ignacio, they said:

"Before moving to San Ignacio, it is important to consider the cost of living. San Ignacio is known for its low cost of living and is a great option for those looking to save money. The climate in San Ignacio is hot and humid all year round, so be prepared for some intense heat. It is essential to have a solid grasp of the language - Spanish is widely spoken in San Ignacio and you may find it difficult to navigate the city without speaking Spanish. Additionally, it is important to make sure you have a valid visa to move to San Ignacio, as well as a source of income. It is also recommended to research the different neighborhoods in San Ignacio to find the best area to live in, depending on your needs and preferences. Finally, make sure to get to know the culture and customs of San Ignacio - people are very warm and welcoming so don't hesitate to get involved," added another person living in San Ignacio.

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How do I find a place to live in San Ignacio?

We asked expats how they chose their neighborhood and found a place to live. They answered:

"When looking for a place to live in San Ignacio, there are several things to consider. Start by exploring the different neighborhoods and communities to find one that fits your needs. Consult local real estate agents, property management companies, or landlords to inquire about available properties. Check local classifieds, such as newspapers or online listings, for rental housing options and reach out to landlords or property owners to inquire further. Additionally, ask around among family and friends who may know of available housing," said another person in San Ignacio.

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What is a typical expat home or apartment like in San Ignacio?

"Expat homes and apartments in San Ignacio tend to be comfortable, spacious and well-equipped. Most are single-family homes, townhouses or condominiums, with many of the dwellings having their own private outdoor areas. Amenities such as air conditioning, internet, and television are commonly found. Many apartments also have access to communal pools, gardens and other shared amenities. Many expat homes are in gated communities that offer a certain feeling of extra security. Furnishings are typically modern and up-to-date, and many homes and apartments have luxury features such as granite countertops, tiled floors, and stainless-steel appliances," replied an expat in San Ignacio.

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What is the average cost of housing in San Ignacio?

If you are thinking about moving to San Ignacio, cost of living in probably a key consideration. Expats commented about the cost of housing:

"The cost of housing in San Ignacio is generally considered to be moderate, with the average price of a three-bedroom house or apartment between $500 and $800 per month," remarked another expat in San Ignacio.

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How do I meet people in San Ignacio?

When we asked people living in San Ignacio about club and activities where newcomers can meet others, they responded:

"San Ignacio offers many different opportunities to meet people. You can start by connecting with your neighbors or colleagues at work and building relationships. You could also attend events such as local music or art festivals, join a club or class at the community center, take part in a community service project, or even just go out for coffee or a meal and strike up a conversation. Additionally, there are numerous online groups and forums dedicated to meeting people in the area which are a great way to make new friends," remarked another expat in San Ignacio.

"San Ignacio is a great place to meet people. Take advantage of the many activities and events the town has to offer such as community events, art walks, festivals, and sports. Join a local gym to work out and meet people with similar interests. Go to different cafes, bars, and restaurants to socialize with locals. Attend events and lectures at the University of Belize, San Ignacio Campus. Get involved in local projects and volunteer opportunities with the local NGO's. Connect with locals online by joining online forums, local Facebook or Whatsapp groups, or find a Meetup group near you," explained one expat living in San Ignacio.

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William Russell's private medical insurance will cover you and your family wherever you may be. Whether you need primary care or complex surgery, you'll have access to the best hospitals & doctors available. Unlike some insurers, we also include medical evacuation and mental health cover in our plans (except SilverLite). Get a quote from our partner, William Russell.
William Russell Health InsuranceExpat Health Insurance in Belize

William Russell's private medical insurance will cover you and your family wherever you may be. Whether you need primary care or complex surgery, you'll have access to the best hospitals & doctors available. Unlike some insurers, we also include medical evacuation and mental health cover in our plans (except SilverLite). Get a quote from our partner, William Russell.
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What should I bring when moving to San Ignacio?

People living in San Ignacio were asked what three things they wish they had brought and three they wish they had left behind. They wrote:

"Essentials for the move: boxes, packing tape, markers for labeling, scissors, and tools for assembling furniture. Clothing and personal items for your new home: casual, dressy, and winter clothing; work and school supplies; bedding; kitchen supplies; toiletries; and any items to decorate or personalize your new space. San Ignacio can get quite hot and humid, so you should pack some lightweight, breathable clothing and sun protection. Be sure to include rain gear and other warm-weather essentials, like bug spray and sunscreen. If you're moving with kids, don't forget to pack toys, books, games and other activities to keep them busy and entertained. Finally, if you own any large items like furniture or appliances, it might be worth hiring a moving company to transport them," remarked another expat in San Ignacio.

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William Russell Health Insurance

William Russell's private medical insurance will cover you and your family wherever you may be. Whether you need primary care or complex surgery, you'll have access to the best hospitals & doctors available. Unlike some insurers, we also include medical evacuation and mental health cover in our plans (except SilverLite). Get a quote from our partner, William Russell.

Learn MoreGET A QUOTE

William Russell Health Insurance

William Russell's private medical insurance will cover you and your family wherever you may be. Whether you need primary care or complex surgery, you'll have access to the best hospitals & doctors available. Unlike some insurers, we also include medical evacuation and mental health cover in our plans (except SilverLite). Get a quote from our partner, William Russell.

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Where should I setup a bank account in San Ignacio?

We asked expats in San Ignacio what banks they use and there advice about banking. They advised:

"Some of the banks with locations in San Ignacio, Belize include Atlantic Bank, Belize Bank, Caribbean Investment Holding, Heritage Bank, and Caye International Bank. Each of these banks offer customers the option to open a variety of personal and business accounts," added another person living in San Ignacio.

"There are several banks in San Ignacio that offer a range of services, such as the Belize Bank, Atlantic Bank, Heritage Bank, First Caribbean International Bank and Segovia Credit Union. You can make contact with any of these banks to set up a bank account and discuss the various options available," explained one expat living in San Ignacio.

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Will I be able to find a job in San Ignacio?

When we asked people about industries and career opportunities in San Ignacio, they reponded:

"Yes, you can find a job in San Ignacio. The city has plenty of different employment opportunities ranging from hospitality to services and manufacturing. Additionally, many companies have opened offices or factories there, providing job opportunities for both local and foreign residents. Furthermore, many of the nearby cities, towns, and rural communities offer employment opportunities, particularly in the farming, ranching, and tourism sectors," added another person living in San Ignacio.

"Yes, you can find a job in San Ignacio. The town offers a wide range of jobs available in sectors such as hospitality, retail, healthcare, and banking. Many multinationals have a presence in the area, and new startups are also regularly springing up in the town. Additionally, the San Ignacio market offers many freelance and contract-based opportunities for people who wish to work independently," explained one expat living in San Ignacio.

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What is life like in San Ignacio?

When we asked people living in San Ignacio what life is like and how people spend their time, they said:

"Living in an expat community can be an exciting and rewarding experience. Generally, it is relatively easy to make friends and form a social network that can provide support and companionship. Expats may find it easier to find employment and housing than they would in their home country. Most cities and towns will have a bustling expat community with cafes, bars and shops catering to foreigners. The locals are usually welcoming and friendly. There are often English language schools and conversation exchanges to help with language barriers and communication, as well as a variety of cultural activities and events that help one learn more about their surroundings. Adapting to a new culture can be challenging but can also be full of rewarding experiences. Interacting with local people and learning the language first-hand can really open up a world of new possibilities. Expat life can offer great opportunities for personal and professional growth," said another expat in San Ignacio.

"Living as an expat in the area can be a rewarding experience. If you are looking for a combination of adventure, culture, and convenience, then this area is a great option for you. Not only is the cost of living low in comparison to other parts of the world, but it is also well-connected to nearby cities. With good infrastructure and increasing investment, it is easy to find work here, or to start a new business. There also plenty of outdoor activities and cultural attractions to explore. You will be able to mingle with locals and expats alike, allowing you to develop lasting relationships that enrich your life. Despite any language barriers or cultural differences you may encounter, the warm and welcoming atmosphere of the area will make you feel right at home," added another person living in San Ignacio.

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What do expats in San Ignacio appreciate most about the local culture?

"Expats in San Ignacio appreciate the friendly and welcoming attitudes of the locals, the laid-back lifestyle, and the strong sense of community. They also love the variety of traditional foods, such as ceviche, tamales, and fry jacks, and the great outdoors, packed with an abundance of activities to do, from hiking and swimming to exploring ancient Mayan ruins. Additionally, expats enjoy the warm weather, stunning beaches, and vibrant festivals," explained one expat.

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What do expats find most challenging?

"Expats may find the cultural and language differences to be the most challenging when transitioning to a new country. Many may also struggle with feeling disconnected from family and friends, homesickness and perhaps even financial constraints. Additionally, adjusting to different customs and navigating an unfamiliar society can be a challenge. Expats may have difficulty understanding the local regulations, laws and processes that are standard in the new environment. Lack of infrastructure, infrastructure that is different than what they are accustomed to, and limited access to familiar resources can also be daunting," replied an expat in San Ignacio.

"Expats often find it challenging to adapt to a new culture and mindset, build a social network and learn a new language. They must balance finding their own independence and identity within a new country, while still retaining ties to their home country. Additionally, expats might find it hard to adjust to a different climate and/or climate change, deal with bureaucracy, cultural customs and etiquette, and figure out the local infrastructure and transportation systems. Living in an unfamiliar environment can also be a challenge, as is the cost of living in a new country. Last but not least, the physical distance from family and friends can be difficult to overcome," remarked another in San Ignacio.

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Is there a lot of crime in San Ignacio?

We asked people if there is a lot of crime. They answered:

"Crime is generally low in San Ignacio, with incidents of petty crime such as petty theft, pickpocketing, and housebreaking occurring in some areas. The area is generally safe, but visitors are advised to take precaution and take sensible safety measures to prevent their belongings from being targeted," said another expat in San Ignacio.

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Is there a lot of diversity? Are people in San Ignacio accepting of differences?

"San Ignacio is a very diverse community with residents hailing from different backgrounds and ethnicity. People in San Ignacio are very accepting of differences and are always eager to learn about other cultures. There is a great sense of openness in San Ignacio and people are encouraged to embrace and celebrate each other’s cultural diversity," remarked another expat in San Ignacio.

"San Ignacio is a multicultural city with a diverse population. People are generally friendly and welcoming to others regardless of their background or personal beliefs. There are many different faiths, cultures, traditions, and lifestyles represented in the city and everyone is encouraged to be open and share their perspectives and understandings without judgement. People from all walks of life can be seen in the city with a variety of ethnic backgrounds, sexual orientations, and religious beliefs. While occasional instances of racism, prejudice, and other forms of discrimination may occur, people overall demonstrate a strong sense of acceptance and respect," explained one expat living in San Ignacio.

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What are the schools in San Ignacio like?

"San Ignacio offers public, private, and parochial educational opportunities for students. Public schools include San Ignacio Elementary School and San Ignacio High School. Private schools in the city include San Ignacio Learning Center, Rosemont High School, and Teresita Elementary School. Parochial schools include San Ignacio Catholic Academy, St.Peter’s Prep Academy, and St.James Academy," added an expat with kids at in San Ignacio.

"Schools in San Ignacio range from public primary and secondary schools, to several private international schools. San Ignacio is home to two public primary schools and one public high school. The Pilar Guerrero Coronado Secondary School is the largest public school in the area and serves students from grades 7 to 12. San Ignacio is also home to a number of private institutions, including a number of highly acclaimed international schools. These include the San Ignacio International School, the British International School and The German School," commented one expat when asked about in San Ignacio.

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About the Author

Betsy Burlingame 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.

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