Surrounded by crystal-clear Caribbean waters, Belize is unspoilt and pleasantly subtropical. Expats moving to Belize will experience an excellent quality of life while enjoying a stable economy. The Central American paradise also boasts a long history of democratic government and a strong respect for human rights and the environment.
Living in Belize as an expat
Belize is the perfect expat destination for those wanting a simple life surrounded by picturesque natural attractions and friendly locals. It's a particularly suitable spot for expats of retirement age. The Belizean government's positive attitude towards business and its implementation of tax breaks, as well as the country's favourable property prices, have also served to attract expats looking to start businesses or for investment opportunities.
Belize has a tiny but culturally diverse population of just over 405,000 residents. Being the only country in Central America where English is the official language has made it a popular destination among expats from the United States, United Kingdom and Canada.
Those used to fast-paced city life are warned that few things run on time in Belize, and they'll have to make some adjustments to operate on 'island time'. Thanks to Belize's tiny geographical size and public transport offerings, it's also fairly easy to get around in the island country by foot, car or bicycle.
Investing in a four-wheel-drive vehicle is a good idea for expats who are keen to explore the more rugged rural areas of the country. The Philip Goldson International Airport also offers direct flights to major destinations in Europe, Australia and the United States of America, making Belize an excellent base for doing business.
Cost of living in Belize
Expats living in Belize enjoy a relatively low cost of living, especially when compared to the likes of the US and Western Europe. As Belize is an island country, many items are imported, and expats may find Western grocery products come at a premium, while utility costs are also fairly high.
Petrol in the country is also higher than in the US, which can add to one's living expenses. That said, foreign currencies go far here – one of the many aspects of life that makes Belize a popular retirement destination.
Expat families and children in Belize
While opportunities for tertiary education are limited in Belize, the compulsory free education offered to all residents is of a good standard. There is also an increasing number of international schools in Belize, which have been established to serve the needs of the growing expat population.
Medical facilities are readily available in all but the most remote locations. While Belizean private hospitals are equipped to deal with most minor ailments, expats often prefer to travel to neighbouring Mexico or the US for more serious medical treatment.
Climate in Belize
Belize's balmy subtropical climate is one of its strong points. There's little variation in temperature throughout the year, with the annual mean temperature being a pleasant 74°F (27°C). Belmopan, the capital, experiences more than 2,000 sunshine hours per year on average.
While the infrastructure does require improvement in some areas, Belize offers expats exciting retirement and investment opportunities. Expats who are moving to Belize will be welcomed by friendly locals and an exceptional quality of life with lovely weather to boot.
Population: Just over 405,000
Capital city: Belmopan
Neighbouring countries: Mexico is to the north, while Guatemala is to the west and south. To the east is the Caribbean Sea.
Geography: The geography in Belize consists mainly of coastal plains, with a small mountain range to the south.
Political system: Parliamentary democracy
Major religions: Christianity
Main languages: English, Creole and Spanish
Currency: The Belize dollar (BZD) is divided into 100 cents. There are ATMs available in all major cities and towns.
Tipping: A small gratuity is expected for most services. These aren't generally included in the bill, and expats should use discretion when determining how much to tip.
Electricity: 110/220V and 60Hz. Plugs with two or three flat blades are typically used across the country.
Internet domain: .bz
International dialling code: +501
Emergency numbers: 911
Driving: Cars in Belize drive on the right-hand side of the road. There are buses available in most urban centres, but these don't often run to schedule and can be less comfortable than expats are accustomed to.