Cost Of Living In San Pedro, Belize... Another Perspective

You've read several cost of living pieces no doubt but none that will shock you like this one. I'll probably blow your skirt up a little with this report but I'll let you decide.

When we first arrived in San Pedro, we were spending an average of $3,000 each month just on basic food and shelter, no internet or cable, travel or entertainment. I've since discovered many of the in's and out's of shopping and saving, living simply and being happy. We have been able to reduce our costs to about one third of what we were originally paying and our budget now includes things like cell phone usage, medical expenses and internet. I know right, so crazy... so how'd we do it?

The following list of monthly expenses covers our basic cost of living. (In case you don't follow, we are a family of 3.) I didn't include any optional activities or extras as I am trying to point out what one (or three) could potentially survive on here.

Bare Bones Monthly Budget

groceries 300
electricity 90
water & butane 70
rent 400
passport stamps 75
misc. (cell, medical, mobile internet usage) 40


*Bear in mind that I prepaid my rent for a year which saved me considerably. Many property owners are willing to offer such discounts, just ask. Even without any savings, it is possible to find clean, decent accommodations in San Pedro for around $400 US/mo.

Very nice, 1 bedroom accommodation - $450/mo U.S. + water & electric
We also spend most of our time at home cooking as we have eliminated all ready-made items and snack foods from our diets. (eg: jarred BBQ sauce, potato chips etc.) My grocery list is mainly comprised of staples like flour, honey, coconut oil, sugar, beans, rice and fresh produce. I have an awesome herb garden in the yard that serves my needs sufficiently and have been meaning to plant some veggies but procrastination has prevailed thus far.

Making Fry Jacks

Of course we get out for a treat every now and then... come on, I'm not that mean!

Ice Cream at Manelli's

By making lifestyle adjustments at home and reducing our cost of living we are able to allocate more of our financial resources to things like travel, leisure, educational outings etc. While in the past we haven't had to choose one or the other, at this time we do and we've chosen to trade in things like big houses and convenience foods for experiences and we couldn't be happier!

Catch you on the next plane, boat or bus...

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13 Responses
  1. Emily Says:

    Enjoyed this blog post, thanks! I am curious, though. In a previous post, you mention finding your long-term rental condo for $1200 US/mo. Were you really able to get it for 2/3 off by paying in advance?! For how many months/years did you have to pay to get that large a discount?

  2. Wow. Frugal! I wish I could do it!

  3. Mandy Says:

    Emily, I apologize for not being clearer in my posts. Our $1,200 condo was the first place we landed in SP, more of a stepping stone. Once I was comfortable with the area, I chose to move to a more local style home which we are much happier with. My total discount with a year's rent paid upfront was about 15% but I've been offered discounts of up to 40-50% on as little as 6-12 month paid upfront. (Not all in SP but mainland Belize as well.)

    SPS, I loved your post on the same topic ( and I think your housing costs for what you have there are pretty darn good. If we were to stay past December I would definitely be looking for a place at Royal Palm Condos!

  4. Emily Says:

    Ah, thanks for clearing that up! I am not sure if you saw my blog post on this same topic awhile back:

  5. Mandy Says:

    I did Emily and I loved how thorough you were in your breakdown. That is so valuable to those considering a move to SP (and definitely a more realistic report than mine.) I have shared your post on my fb page, it paints a great picture. My household is definitely not the norm when it comes to budgets!

  6. Randy Says:

    Hi Mandy,
    Is there a reliable hi-speed internet service available? I am talking about a hard wired connection. Is that available in the traditional Belize housing units and, if so, at what cost per month?

  7. Ms. X Says:

    Hi Randy, BTL offers a fairly reliable DSL service. Their max speed is 8 mbps at a cost of $700 BZ ($350 US)/month. I think this is outrageous and have settled for 2 mbps service from Coral Cable in San Pedro at a cost of about $200 BZ. No matter which way you slice it, internet in Belize is very slow and very expensive. There's definitely a trade off when you move to the tropics :)

  8. iceman Says:

    Im wondering how you feel about the government of Belize, do you feel safe? How's the police? I am thinking about starting a branch of my business out there, but leaving the security of the US is a concern. Thanks and sorry to be so Blount.

  9. Ms. X Says:

    Hey Iceman, I feel safe enough in Belize, there is definitely a good amount of government & police corruption but as an expat living in SP these things don't affect me in any significant way... When it comes to government corruption the US scares the shit out of me these days, and of course it depends what part of the US you are coming from but there are areas where I would feel more of a personal safety threat there than I do in Belize. SP anyway... Belize City is another story. Have you had a chance to visit? I would recommend a stay of at least a few weeks, not in a resort and definitely just wander around town. We moved from a very touristy area to a more local neighborhood after a few months in country and loved it. We were right in an area that the hotel info book said not to venture out in after dark lol it's totally fine. It's a close knit community with a real neighborhood watch program in effect. Someone always has an eye on the kids, it almost feels like 1050's America...

  10. iceman Says:

    Sounds great, yes I definitely know fisrt hand about corruption here in the states! Hence the reason for this post! And its not going to get any better any time soon, maybe never...... iam looking at Placensia, excuse the spelling errors. I have a business here a d was looking at doing something over there, but not sure where to stay to begin checking thing out. Any advice? Thanks again for your time.

  11. Red Rakoon Says:

    Great Blog and insightful comments. Thanks.
    My Fiancé and I are thinking of making the big move as well and relocating to Belize to open a Diving Center.
    I'm also launching a blog to tell the tale of the realities of doing so. Not so much in the lifestyle and regulations that I am learning right now, but on the learning curve and steps that we are taking.

    I'll be following this one for sure!
    Thanks again.

  12. Anonymous Says:

    Thinking of moving to Ambergris Caye within the year. I would be purchasing a 1 bd condo there. What are the other extra things that I am encounter as far at American taxes etc?

  13. Anonymous Says:

    Living in AC for just under 2 years, I find that the cost of Electricity is beyond expensive. Not sure how you do it for under $90 US per month, unless you don't use the Air Condition. Your other expenses are Very bare bones as I have seen places on they island for 800 bzd.

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