Todd's Question

I receive a good number of emails from folks all over the world looking for useful information on relocating to Belize. I thought I'd start sharing them occasionally in case you might have similar questions. Your welcome ;)

Todd writes...

"I am a college graduate in the United States and would like to move to Belize for a change in lifestyle and better employment prospects (potentially to start my own business.).
I recently emailed Keith (at B-Lease) to inquire about low-cost, long-term rentals in Belize, but I was wondering if you could provide me with additional information on what you did to prepare, such as how much of a nest-egg you set up for yourself before moving. Was it easy for you to find employment once you arrived? Are there any consulates that I can turn to for assistance when I arrive?
I only have maybe six thousand dollars in the bank, which covers plane, rentals (at $450 or less), and the fees that one must pay to stay in the area. Are groceries relatively inexpensive?
Any information you could provide me with would be much appreciated!"
My response...

(...and by the way these are some great questions Todd!)

 The experience of relocating will be different for everyone but hopefully some of my details will be helpful to you. In terms of savings, you have more than I did when I left Canada however my travel expenses were fairly low and my job is mobile. I was only down for about a month while we got settled and I set up my office/internet etc. I was also able to find very cheap flights for us and we landed in Cancun then traveled by bus and puddle jumper before arriving in San Pedro.

In your email you mentioned moving to Belize for potential business opportunities. I would strongly urge you to have a "plan B" in place or a larger financial cushion than you originally planned as Belize is not a real land of opportunity. The main industry is of course tourism, which is seasonal and fairly competitive. The biggest challenge you will find are the hoops one must jump through to start up a business in Belize. In some cases this can be a  huge drain on your patience (and budget) causing many to give up and not follow through. This is not always the case and please don't think I am discouraging you. There are successful expat entrepreneurs that I know personally in Belize but I just want you to know the reality. I just think it will help you to be prepared. 

In terms of finding employment in Belize, there isn't much opportunity there either. The minimum wage in Belize is very low compared to North American standards. I believe it is somewhere just above $3 BZ/hr which is equivalent to $1.50 USD. Your best bet is self employment; focus on your specific skills and either sell them to a tourist/local expat market or set up an internet based business geared toward an international market. (As you know, the latter is becoming increasingly common.)

Here is where you find a bit of a catch 22... if your intention is to sell to a tourist or local expat market, you are best to be located in San Pedro where the majority of tourists visit and expats live. The problem with this is the cost of living is considerably higher is SP for obvious reasons. On the mainland you will find housing, transportation, food and other basics at a fraction of the cost but it isn't really efficient to live there and commute to SP to work or operate a business. The water taxi alone would get quite costly if traveling to and from even 5 days/wk... and they only operate until around dusk each day so your work day would be limited.

You'll need to assess your situation and decide whether you will stay on the mainland or in San Pedro. My favorite place in the country is Caye Caulker due to it's Caribbean feel and quiet, simple life. It's nothing more than a very small island with a few restaurants and shops, a beach and a few white, sandy streets. Heaven! It's a great place to drop out and hide from reality for a while; perfect for a writer or artist but not a realistic place to live if you want a brick and mortar business as there isn't much going on there.

You also mentioned consulates... they would be located in Belmopan or Belize City, I'm not sure. (Anyone in country care to chime in on this?) I only had one dealing with the Canadian consulate and it was unfortunately due to the death of a family friend while he was visiting us in San Pedro. I'm not sure what other issues they deal with other than legal problems you might encounter while in Belize, notifying the U.S. of your status in the case of a natural disaster or some other such emergency situation.

In terms of $$... in case you didn't see my previous post on cost of living, the following is our monthly budget (USD):


groceries
300
electricity
90
water & butane
70
rent
400
passport stamps (x3)
75
misc. (cell, medical, mobile internet usage)
40
Total: 


1050



Keep in mind that this doesnt include any extras at all and life can get pretty boring without some extras! With this same budget on the mainland we would have a much nicer standard of living but there's always a trade off.

Thank you for your questions Todd, I hope this helps! 
 

If you have questions you'd like to see answered here, please comment below or send an email to info@reef-rats.com. 

I want to stress that my experiences in Belize and my opinions are just one perspective. If anyone else out there living the dream has helpful info please do comment and share your view on things. We'd love to hear from you!


7 Responses
  1. iceman Says:

    You mentioned that tourism industry is seasonal, how long and are there alot fo touristy spots out on the "cays". Thanks


  2. Ms. X Says:

    The peak of tourist season occurs over the Christmas holidays... sort of begins in November I'd say and goes until end of May. Easter weekend is also huge for tourism in Belize... esp the cayes.


  3. iceman Says:

    Great, thanks for your time. Mostly American tourists?


  4. Mike Bove Says:

    I'll be arriving in San Pedro Oct 2.Can someone please recommend an in expensive hotel I can stay at while looking for an apt..thanks
    Mikebove


  5. Anonymous Says:

    Changes in latitude BnB. Great location and price. Tell Peggy Greg referred you.


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  7. Sharkie Says:

    Hello Reef-Rats,
    My wife and I are Canadian pensioners and are looking to move to a sunnier and less expensive place to live in. Belize sounds as if it could fit the bill. Is it difficult to acquire residency in Belize and what are the requirements thereof? If one is resident in Belize can pensions be payed there and are there any restrictions. Like yourself we do not have much of a nest egg and the COL in BC is becoming very expensive. What is the internet like in Belize as I would like to do some online trading which requires a good internet service. Any information you could provide would be greatly appreciated.


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