Retiring in Belize


Retiring in Belize

Retiring in Belize ,well you can expect the average price for a luxury property in some high-end areas that stand at $1 million. Remember that similar properties in other popular Caribbean localities will cost you over $2 million. Planning Retirement well the popular areas of real estate investments include Ambergris Caye, Placencia Peninsula, and Corozal Town. Ambergris Caye is the area in Belize with highest home prices. It is the biggest island in Belize with the most attractive tropical beaches in the region. The island is in the proximity of the great Belize Barrier Reef. The place is wonderful for kayaking, fishing, scuba diving, snorkeling, and swimming adventures. A 2-4 bedroom oceanfront house will cost you around $1 million. If you choose an oceanfront condominium, you can get it under $500,000. People who want a mansion here can get it around $1.3 million.

Placencia

Placencia Peninsula is an amazingly charming beach village with numerous options to explore. You will get the option to snorkeling, fishing, swimming, and more. Since it is part of mainland Belize, you can easily access waterfalls, mountains, and Maya sites. Placencia Peninsula has the almost similar price range of Ambergris Caye with slightly lower rates for condominiums. However, the prices will start falling when you move interior. The locality has many vacant lots, and it is a convenient location if you have any development plans.

Corozal

Corozal Town is part of Northern Belize, and many people choose the town due to its proximity to the Mexican border. Like Placencia Peninsula, you can access both beautiful beaches and wildlife of the country alike. People who are interested in enjoying both Mexico and Belize choose Corozal Town. While coming to property prices in Corozal Town, you can get a luxury home by paying around $500,000.

What are the contact numbers for the Labour Board offices country wide?

Belmopan City- 802-2663

Corozal Free Zone- 403-7447

Corozal Town- 402-2178

Orange Walk Town- 302-3425

Belize City- 207-4023 / 207-4027

San Pedro- 206-2700

Cayo- 804-2287

Dangriga- 502-2102

Independence- 503-2173

Punta Gorda- 702-2724

What is protocol for an employer keeping records of employees hours and pay?

Employers are required to make Social Security deductions for all their workers and to forward those payments to the Social Security Board.

Employers are required to keep and maintain employment records for their workers in accordance with section 16 of the Labour Act. Those records should include: name and address of the worker; rate of pay; hours and dates of work; rate of overtime; gross pay for each pay period; and signature of employee in respect of each pay period.

The keeping of records is a legal obligation that actually protects the employer in the event of a labour dispute with a worker.

Employers are reminded that Labour offences carry fines and imprisonment penalties.

Can an employer deduct money from a workers wage?

Section 105 of the Labour Act strictly prohibits an employer from making any deduction or any agreement or contract with a worker to deduct money from a worker’s wages for or in respect of any fine or for bad or negligent work or for injury to the materials or to other property of the employer.

Is it permissible to employ a shift worker without paying overtime?

It is permissible to employ a shift worker without paying overtime if the average number of hours over a period of three weeks or less does not exceed the daily or weekly number of overtime hours.

Eg. 75 hours – week 1

30 hours – week 2

30 hours – week 3

Total 135 hours divided by 3 weeks = 45 hours, so this employer does not have to pay overtime. The employer is still obligated to pay the worker additional overtime wages for any work done on public and bank holidays.

What are the Minimum Wages for an employee in Belize?

1. All manual workers except those engage in agriculture, or agro industry, or export oriented industry – $3.30 an hour e.g. construction worker, security guards.

2. All manual workers engaged in agriculture, agro – industry, export – oriented industry $3.30 an hour e.g. farm workers, workers at sewing factory.

3. Shop Assistants who are employed where liquor is sold and consumed – $3.30 an hour e.g. waitresses.

4. Shop Assistants employed in shops where liquor is not sold and consumed – $3.30 per hour e.g. gas stations, dry good stores.

5. Domestic workers employed in private homes – $3.30 per hour.

6. Domestic workers employed in boarding houses, guest houses, hotels, and other public establishments – $3.30 per hour.

7. Bona fide students who may be employed outside of school hours or during school vacation in premises covered by the Shops Act – $3.00 per hour.

Please note that minimum wages only cover unskilled workers. Workers who possess a certificate or additional training must negotiate their wages.

What are the obligations of an employer for an employee’s Maternity Leave?

A female worker is entitled to fourteen (14) weeks maternity leave on full pay. Maternity leave shall be taken as follows:

1. Up to a maximum of seven (7) weeks before the expected date of confinement;

2. The balance after the expected date of confinement;

3. Two (2) weeks before and seven (7) weeks after the expected date of confinement is mandatory.

Provided that during the twelve months preceding her confinement she was employed by the same employer for a period of not less than one hundred and fifty days (150) to qualify for full pay from the employer.

If a worker is entitled to maternity benefits under the Labour Act and Social Security Act, the worker will receive maternity benefits from Social Security and in addition be entitled to be paid by her employer the difference, if any.

Please note that an employer cannot terminate a worker during this period.

What is severance pay owed to an employee by an employer?

Where an employee who has been continuously employed by any employer for a period of:

(a) five to ten years and

(i) his employment is terminated by the employer, or

(ii) the worker retires on or after attaining the age of sixty years or on medical grounds,that worker shall be paid a severance pay of one week’s wages in respect of each complete year of service; or

(b) over ten years and his employment is

(i) terminated by the employer for reasons, which do not amount to dismissal, or

(ii) ended because the worker retires on or after attaining the age of sixty years or on medical grounds,

(iii) worker abandons the service of an employer for good and sufficient cause, or

(iv) a worker who resigns after a minimum of 10 years is eligible for a gratuity equal to severance pay, or

(v) terminated on the expiration of a contract for a definite period. that worker shall be paid a severance pay of two weeks’ wages in respect of each complete year of service.

Note: Where a worker has completed over 10 years of continuous employment, the severance pay shall be computed as follows:

a. For the period served before 1st May, 2011 at the rate of one week’s pay for each complete year of service

b. For the period served after 1st May 2011 at the rate of two weeks’ pay for each complete year of service.

In the case of casual workers, they must work an aggregate of one hundred and eighty (180) days in a year to be entitled to severance pay.

What are the employers fiscal responsibility for sick leave of an employee?

The employer pays the difference between payments made by Social Security Board (SSB) and the employee’s basic rate of pay for sixteen (16) working days. Payment after the six- teen (16) working days of illness will be paid by Social Security in accordance with Social Security Act.

What constitutes a worker to be legible for sick leave?

A worker has to be employed for at least sixty (60) days to be entitled to sick leave with pay. Within any twelve months period, he is entitled to sixteen (16) working days sick leave with full pay.

A worker should produce a medical certificate to be entitled to sick leave with pay. An employer should give a worker in writing forty – eight (48) hours to produce a medical certificate.

What are public and bank holidays that require extra pay by an employer?

A worker paid by the hour, by the day, by piece or by task should be paid a day’s pay as holiday pay, if he is at work on the scheduled work day immediately preceding and immediately following the public and bank holiday. Please note that the public and bank holiday has to fall on a normal working day for the worker to qualify for the holiday pay.

There are thirteen (13) public and bank holidays in Belize. All work done on Christmas, Good Friday, and Easter Monday are paid double the ordinary rate. All other public and bank holidays are paid at one and a half time the ordinary rate.

New Years Day 1.5

Baron Bliss Day (9th March) 1.5

Good Friday 2.0

Holy Saturday 1.5

Easter Monday 2.0

Labour Day (1st May) 1.5

Commonwealth Day (24th May) 1.5

National Day (10th September) 1.5

Independence Day (21st September) 1.5

Pan – American Day (12th October) 1.5

Garifuna Settlement Day (19th November) 1.5

Christmas Day 2.0

Boxing Day (26th December) 1.5

The days on which the holidays are commemorated are published each year in the Government Gazette and a copy can be obtained from the Labour Department.

What is an employee entitled to for annual leave each year by an employer?

Every worker at the end of each year is entitled to an annual leave of at least two (2) working weeks.

Where a worker is terminated before becoming entitled to the holiday and has worked three (3) months in respect of the Labour Act and 1 month in respect of the Shops Act, vacation accrues.

This is calculated as total remuneration (excluding overtime) divided by 26 per Labour Act; and 1/6 multiplied by weekly wage multiplied by number of months worked per the Shops Act.

What is considered Overtime for an employee in Belize?

A worker who works more than:

8 hours per day in accordance with the Shops Act

9 hours per day in accordance with the Labour Act

6 days per week; or,

45 hours per week should be paid at the overtime rate of one and one – half times (1.5) the regular rate.

A worker is not obligated to work overtime hours.

There must be mutual agreement between an employer and worker to work overtime hours.

What is good and sufficient cause for dismissal without notice pay?

1. Misconduct (whether on the job or not)

2. Willful disobedience to lawful orders

3. Lack of skill, which the worker expresses to possess

4. Habitual or substantial neglect of duties

5. Absence from work without permission of the employer or other reasonable excuse.

What is the proper notice payment for termination of an employee?

Over 2 weeks to 6 months – 1 week

Over 6 months to 2 years – 2 weeks

Over 2 years to 5 years – 4 weeks

Over 5 years – 8 weeks

The first two weeks of any employment is considered probationary and may be terminated by either party without notice.

What are the functions of the Labour Department?

1. Enforcement of labour legislations

2. Inspection of all workplaces

3. Labour advice and education

4. Foster trade unionism and promote healthy industri- al relations

5. Receive and settle labour complaints

6. Provide employment services

7. Vetting of temporary employment permits

Labour complaints may be settled in the magistrate court. Workers can seek redress for unfair dismissal or wrongful termination through the Labour Complaints Tribunal.

Are Squatters a Concern in Belize?

No.

Belize has strict anti-squatting laws protecting property unlike most Central American and Caribbean countries.  Somebody can only claim title to property or easement upon proving to the Supreme Court of Belize that the person has had uninterrupted possession of the Belize property for at least 30 years on National and Conveyed lands or for at least 12 years on Registered lands.

As long as you have title, your Belize real estate investment will be safe and secure.

Should I be Concerned about Hurricanes?

Hurricanes are certainly a concern in Belize, the way other natural disasters (tornadoes, earthquakes, fires, floods, etc) are a concern for people in other countries.  Fortunately, Belize is located in the southwestern part of the Caribbean, which is out of the way of traditional hurricane paths.  Historically, Belize has experienced a major hurricane every few decades. Ambergris Caye was hit by a hurricane in 1942 and then again in 2000.

Is Property Insurance Available for Belize Property?

Dependable property insurance is available in Belize, including hurricane insurance.  Local companies, which are reinsured through North American and European carriers, offer rates from 1.5% for concrete structures to 2.5% for wooden structures. Deductibles are typically 5% of the sum insured on storms and less for fire.

How do Homes in Belize Differ From Homes in North America?

Comparing the homes in Belize to an American or Canadian home will really depend on where in the US or Canada you live.

One of the major differences is that there are no furnaces in a home in Belize, because there is no need to heat a home in Belize. It cools down in the winter months but not enough to require a wood-burning fireplace or a gas furnace or an electric furnace; in other words, something to heat that home.

The majority of structures in Belize are manufactured or constructed out of concrete, because this type of construction holds up better in a humid tropical environment, and also one in which there are tropical storms and hurricanes.  This may not be the case in the US or Canada where there are a lot of wooden homes, log homes, and a lot of different building materials used.

Some of the newer buildings, especially if they were constructed by or for expats, use ductwork or forced air whole house systems. However, the vast majority of air-conditioning systems that you see in Belize are “split units.” Split units are utilized for individual rooms rather than an entire house. So, for example, if you own a 3-bedroom house, the chances are that each bedroom would have its own air conditioning unit. This would be similar to the old style window unit air conditioners except they’re usually installed at a higher level in the room and they’re not affixed in the window so you still have your window use. The condenser is outside and the blower and the fan are inside.

When looking into purchasing Belize real estate, Belize property, or a Belize vacation home, if it’s comfort you’re after, you can certainly make it happen.

How are the Construction Standards in Belize?

The construction standards in Belize vary depending on the type of contractor you hire, their experience, and what you are paying for as far as quality of building materials. As a result, the construction standards in Belize range from the very low to the very high.

There are some fantastic high priced structures recently constructed here in Belize City using modern technology and techniques and modern materials. There are some great engineers and architects here in Belize and there are some engineers and architects on the low end as well.

If someone is interested in coming to Belize and building a structure, whether a Belize vacation home or Belize permanent residence, they should do their due diligence. Certainly, there are qualified professionals to assist and put up a world class structure for you in this country but at the same time, if you don’t do your due diligence, ask around, and ask for references, there are also probably several contractors that would not produce a building that would be adequate or satisfying for someone coming from the more developed world.

Certainly, there is a need to apply for and be granted a building permit before erecting structures in Belize. There is a building authority that does inspections of buildings before they are deemed habitable. As far as installing electricity to a building, there are certain codes in place and the building needs to be inspected by Belize Electricity Limited prior to them turning on current to a structure. So licensing, permitting, and inspections are needed for a building or buildings in Belize to exist. 

There are no skyscrapers in Belize. There are no huge units, or anything of that nature.  The inspectors in Belize do a sufficient job and the Belize real estate attorneys at our Belize law firm haven’t heard of any unsafe buildings being constructed or anyone getting hurt.

Where Should I Be Looking to Buy Real Estate in Belize?

Some questions to ask yourself include:

  • Do I want to be close to an expat community in Belize?
  • Do I want a rural or more urban home in Belize? 
  • How much Belize land do I need?
  • Is the rainforest or the beach more appealing to me?
  • Do I want a permanent residence or Belize vacation home?

Belize has a variety of desirable districts offering different attributes for your money. Why not see them all before making your Belize real estate decision?

Here are a few favorites, along with links to more information:

  • The Cayes- located off the coast of Belize, Ambergris Caye real estate and Caye Caulker real estate are popular with expats and lovers of watersports.  San Pedro is the main town in the area. 
  • Placencia- located south of Belize City in the Stann Creek District, the beautiful peninsula of Placencia caters to tourists with its plush resorts and oodles of beachfront property on the Belize real estate market. 
  • Corozal- in Northern Belize, Corozal real estate is less expensive typically than the options above, while boasting high quality of life and similar pristine beaches.

 

Are There Escrow Companies in Belize?

No.

There are no independent escrow services available in Belize.  Typically an attorney, bank, or real estate broker will offer monetary and documentary escrow services for real estate transactions.  The costs vary, so be sure to inquire.  

Is it Possible to Obtain Financing for a Belize Real Estate Purchase?

This can get a little tricky.  There are three ways to receive financing for buying real estate in Belize: 1) local financing; 2) offshore financing; 3) owner financing.

Local financing – Local interest rates are usually in the range of 10-18% interest with fixed terms of only 12 months.  Every year the loan is closed out and then renewed at the current lending rate.  Local borrowing is only permitted in Belize dollars, and because many Belize real estate transactions take place with U.S. dollars, local financing is not applicable in many cases.  However …

Offshore financing – Non-residents can borrow U.S. dollars through a Belizean offshore banking institution.  Effective interests rates are around 12% and most offshore banks require a high degree of collateralization.  

Owner financing – Belize property owners usually agree to property financing at 10-15% interest. The rate is negotiable and often less than what is available at local financial institutions. 

To learn more about Belize offshore banking, click here.  To learn more about the Belize offshore sector in general, including Belize international business companies (IBCs), Belize offshore trusts, and Belize offshore foundations, please visit our Belize offshore page.

 

What Currency Is Primarily Used for Belize Real Estate Purchases?

Most major transactions of Belize vacation homes, Belize property, and Belize real estate are made using U.S. dollars.  The Belizean local currency is also frequently used.

What are Closing Costs for Buying a Home in Belize (and Who Pays Them)?

The Government assesses a 8% “stamp tax” on the declared purchase price of the Belize property at the time of transfer of title.  The first $10,000 of this declared price is exempt from payment.  

If you’ve visited our Belize Offshore page, you’ll know that Belize does not have a capital gains tax or anything else to give you pause about buying real estate in Belize.  

Are there any additional costs?  Well, if you’re diligent there are.  Do yourself a favor and pay legal fees for a title search and other protections against real estate fraud in Belize.  Whether you go with our Belize law firm or another, a Belize real estate attorney will protect your real estate investment.

Who pays: The purchaser pays for all closing costs for Belize real estate transactions.

What are Property Taxes like in Belize?

Belize property taxes are affordable.  Most properties are taxed at 1.5% of its assessed value, and assessments are usually 10-30% of the property’s market value.

Compare this information with other countries and you’ll understand why so many people are buying Belize vacation homes, buying Belize land, and buying Belize property.

Can a Belize Property Title be Owned by a Belize Company?

Yes.

Many of the purchases that our Belize law firm has assisted have wanted to take title to properties as part of their Belizean company.  There are various reasons for this, but one primary factor is a low 3% tax on property purchases by a Belize company.  (To learn more about the many kinds of Belize offshore companies that can take title, please click here.)

What is the Deal with Condominium (‘Condo’) Titles in Belize?

As in many countries, the condominium designation in Belize enables one to hold or pass physical title to a “slice of air with a building in it” without owning the land that the building sits on. This simply means the title holder owns the living space on the fourth floor, for instance, without any claim or liability to any other part of the building or surrounding land.

The Belize Strata Act is the legal designation in Belize, and true Belize condos only exist in the New Registration Zones where the Act is applicable.  These zones include Belize City, San Pedro Town, Placenia, and Seine Bight.  

Units outside the zones do not fall under the purview of the Strata Act and are often titled via corporate share certificates.  This ownership structure is similar to Cooperative (Co-op) ownership in North America.  The advantages of this structure include minimal closing costs and minimal personal liability with the residence.  An advantage is that share certificates cannot be mortgaged by a lending institution.    

Purchasers of Belize residences usually feel comfortable with both forms of legal ownership, and you’ll see that both co-ops and condos exist in the New Registration Zones.  However, the details can be tricky

Should I Retain an Attorney in My Home Country for Purchasing Belize Property?

It depends where your home country is. Belize is a Commonwealth nation, which means we operate under British property law. So conceivably your home real estate lawyer would be familiar with the process if you’re from another Commonwealth nation. If you’re from a non-Commonwealth country like the U.S., for instance, it’s highly unlikely that your attorney will be able to help.

 

Should I Obtain Title Insurance?

If you have a Belize real estate attorney, then title insurance is not necessary.

Title insurance is available, however, from reputable sources. In fact, Belize is the only country in Central America that ‘A+’ American title companies insure to guarantee title. Belize Land Certificates or clear Deeds of Conveyance are guaranteed by the Government of Belize and are as secure titles and any Commonwealth, European, or North American country.

After title research done properly by a Belize real estate lawyer, of course.

How Do I Ensure the Belize Property Has a Clear Title?

Ambergris Caye Realty works with in house attorneys that can make sure every step of the legal transaction precuts both  the buyer and the seller. The only way you can be absolutely sure that a Belize property has a clear title is by having a Belize attorney research the title and issue a title opinion. The title is researched at the Belize Lands Registry, and also the Belize Companies Registry if the property is currently held and being sold be a Belize company. Liens, judgments, and encumbrances are valid only if properly addressed.

An opinion of “good and clear title” is issued only once the Belize real estate attorney has conducted all necessary title research.

Do I Need to be in Belize to Buy or Sell Property?

Many Belize property transactions are completed when one or both of the parties (i.e., buyer or seller) are outside of Belize.  The real estate transaction documents are sent to the absent party or parties via FedEx and executed in front of a notary public overseas.  Purchase offers can be submitted by facsimile, which is legally binding in the country.

How Long Does it Take to Close on a Land or Home Sale in Belize?

Typically between 30 and 90 days.

How Do I Buy Land in Belize?

The first step, of course, is to submit an offer to the seller. The offer form is legally binding to both parties and includes a due diligence period for the buyer.

Once the seller accepts the buyer’s offer, if the buyer doesn’t already have a Belize real estate lawyer, he or she would usually retain one at this point. Even if you do not retain the services of the Belize attorneys at Wrobel & Co, do not let somebody talk you into retaining no legal representation at all. There is too much on the line to risk fraudulent title during the next step of the process: title research.

Once satisfactory title research is completed (i.e., the seller actually owns the Belize property in question), an Agreement for Sale is created and signed and witnessed by a Justice of the Peace. The payment amount (either down payment or full purchase price) is due into escrow at the time specified on the purchase offer form or Agreement of Sale.

The Belize property transfer documents are then executed and delivered to the buyer and (hopefully) the retained Belize real estate lawyer for review. The Belize lawyer finalizes the documents and funds are released from escrow.

Lastly, the executed documents will be processed at the Belize Lands Registry and an original title or certified copy of the Agreement of Sale will be presented to the buyer.

Easy enough, but you’ll certainly want to speak with a Belize Realtor about the process before you begin.

How Expensive Are Homes in Belize?

It depends, of course.

Like any location, the prices for buying property in Belize vary. There is an abundance of options, many reasonably priced, throughout the country, whether you’re looking for a Belize vacation home or a year-round abode.  A few beachfront favorites include:

  • The Cayes – located off the coast of Belize, Ambergris Caye real estate and Caye Caulker real estate are hot spots for water-based adventure and expat living.
  • Placencia – located south of Belize City in the Stann Creek District, Placencia is a gorgeous peninsula with resorts catering to tourists as well as loads of beachfront property on the Belize real estate market.
  • Corozal – in Northern Belize, Corozal real estate is less expensive typically than the options above, while boasting similar pristine beaches.  You can buy a home in Corozal for less than US$100,000, although if you can manage closer to US$150,000, you’ll have a larger selection of homes to choose from. If you can swing more than that, you’ll be looking at the Caribbean Sea when your eyes first open in the morning.
Is it Easy for a Foreigner to Buy a Home and Land in Belize?

Yes.  It is exceedingly easy to buy a home and/or land in Belize contrasted to elsewhere.  

A foreigner has the same rights as a Belizean citizen to property ownership.  If you are researching this and come across a reference to an “alien landholding license” or the Alien Landholding Act, please note that the Act was abolished in 2001.  And now foreigners have equal property ownership rights.  If you’ve done research on other jurisdictions, you know that this is quite rare in much of the Western Hemisphere, and rarer still in developing nations.

 

Does my pet need to be vaccinated before we travel to Belize?

Yes, you and your pet will need to visit a vet before you travel. Specific requirements for your pet’s entry into Belize include a valid rabies certification issued not less than one month or more than one year before your travel date, ticks and tapeworm treatment within 30 days of entering Belize, and a statement that your pet is free from ehrlichiosis (tick-borne diseases).

BAHA requires you have an International Veterinary Health Certificate issued by a USDA accredited veterinarian within 14 days of travel (American Airlines requires health certificate to be issued within 10 days of travel, so again, be sure you’re familiar with your airline’s requirements).

There also exist a number of recommended vaccinations for dogs and cats that will travel internationally. For a full list of vaccinations and more tips on how to bring your pet to Belize, be sure to read How to Get Your Pet to Belize .

Can I bring my pet to Belize?

Yes! Your pet is welcome to join you in beautiful Belize. You will first need to obtain an Import Permit, which can be obtained online and submitted to any Belize Agricultural Health Authority (BAHA) office. You will need to contact BAHA again two days prior to your arrival, which ensures a inspector is present when you arrive in the country. Be sure to check specific requirements and restrictions for your airline of choice, as some requirements vary by airline. A visit to a veterinarian is required as well. A little research and preparation will go a long way to ensure your pet’s safe and uneventful arrival in Belize. For more details on bringing your pet to this Central American paradise, check out 

What is the Cost of Living in Belize?

The affordable cost of living is a main reason people choose to Retire In Belize.

Overall the cost of living in Belize is much less than in North America and Europe.

The Belize Tourism Board provides useful information on the subject.

What is the One-Time Cost of Moving to Belize?

Every person who chooses to move to Belize has different interests and needs. Some people choose to enter Belize as a tourist and to rent a small apartment, so for them, the cost will be very low. Other people choose to retire to Belize, qualify for the retirement program (Belize QRPand want to purchase a beachfront home or a luxury condominium. Their cost to move to Belize would be higher than in the first example.

If two people get on a plane, fly into Belize, and get their tourist visas at the airport, the cost to move to Belize is close to zero.  There are no legal costs to get the tourist visa, and you simply renew it every 30 days.

In contrast, the range in cost for a married couple to qualify for the Qualified Requirement Program, including government costs and legal costs, might fall into the range of US$4,000 to $5,000. Not an insignificant figure, but for those looking to retire in Belize, well worth the high quality of life (and the ultimate savings in taxes and cost of living).

What is it Like to Move to Belize?

The initial stages of moving to Belize can be a big change depending on where you come from and what your previous experiences have been.  It’s always a good idea to spend a substantial amount of time in Belize (or any other place) prior to making a life-changing move.

Certainly, things can be very different in Belize. If you are moving to Belize from North America or Europe, or even a more metropolitan city in the developing world, pace of life will likely be a big transition. Things move slowly in Belize.  If patience is a virtue, you’ll need to be virtuous as you adapt to the culture of Belize and the speed at which the country operates.

Governmental funding is not high in Belize, and the bureaucracy tends to move slowly.  It bears repetition: patience is a virtue.  If you are considering retiring in Belize or buying real estate in Belize, you’ll need patience until you fully adapt to the lifestyle in the country.  Somebody who has a lot of experience with the developing world will have a far easier time adapting than somebody who jumps right into a move to Belize without such experience.

Of course, for most people, the flip side of needing patience for dealing with a slower pace of life is getting to live that slower pace of life.  A slower pace of life translates to a high quality of life for most people.  Read as: less stress.  Read as: more enjoyment.  Read as: good for your body, good for your mind.

What is Buying Real Estate Like in Belize?

You’re interested in buying Belize property and/or a home in Belize?  Our Belize lawyers have you covered – it’s been our specialty for more than a decade.

What Do I Need to Work in Belize?

Please note that you cannot work in Belize under a tourist visa.   In order to work in Belize, you would have to apply for a work permit.  Once you acquire a work permit then you would have the ability to work for hire here in Belize, or work for a salary.  Obviously, if you pursue and are granted Belizean citizenship, then you would obtain all the rights off a Belize citizen, which includes permission to work.

Do I Need a Passport (Citizenship) or a Visa to Live in Belize?

No.  In order to live or retire in Belize, you do not need Belizean citizenship or a Belizean passport.  (In order to obtain a Belizean passport, you would first have to become a Belizean citizen, with the passport being essentially a travel document.) 

If you would like to retire to Belize, first of all, you would enter Belize on a tourist visa (also called a tourist card).  If you are an American citizen or a Canadian citizen, you would be granted a tourist visa at the airport and the tourist visa would allow you to reside in Belize for 30 days.  Every 30 days you can apply for an extension or renewal of that visa.  The tourist visa would give you the ability to travel to Belize and to stay, but not permanently.

Typically those 30-day visas are renewed, and there is no problem with renewal unless the visa holder gets in trouble here in Belize.  Other than that possibility, the process is a regular rubber stamp renewal after 30 days.

What is the Immigration Process Like in Belize?

The immigration process is one of the most common topics our Belize retirement attorneys receive inquires about.  

The Belize Qualified Retirement Program offers tremendous advantages to retirees.  To learn more, visit our Belize QRP page.  For more general information, visit our main Retirement page.

For more information about how to get a tourist card in Belize or how to establish permanent residency in Belize, visit the Ambergris Caye Realty Blog

What is the Education System Like in Belize?

Belize has various private and public educational systems.  

The Belize school system is based on the British model, with three levels: primary, secondary, and tertiary.  Children enter the educational system at age five for eight years of primary education. They then spend four years in secondary school (high school).  Tertiary education includes a two-year course, in which students earn an Associates Degree in a variety of majors.  Following completion of tertiary education, students can choose to attend university (the University of Belize or Galen University in Belize).

As is typically the case, private school education in Belize is more expensive than public schooling, which are free.  But compared to private education elsewhere, rates are extremely reasonable.  

Are There Decent Medical Facilities in Belize?

Belize has modern private and public medical care facilities.  Eight public hospitals and numerous clinics can be found throughout Belize, and anybody can receive treatment at these places.  

Two main private hospitals are located in Belize City: Belize Medical Associates and Belize Healthcare Partners.  Considered the best in Belize, they offer Pharmacy, Radiology, Laboratory and Operating Theatre, Pediatrics, Neurology, Dermatology, Internal Medicine, Obstetrics, Gastroenterology and Urology services.  The cost for a consultation at private facilities is inexpensive, and the cost for a consultation at a public facilities is either free or very inexpensive.

Having medical insurance is not mandatory for Belizeans or expats.

What are Expats like in Belize?

The expats in Belize are a lively mix of various nationalities from all over the world—former big business, former small business people, pensioners who worked years at blue collar or white collar jobs; all different kinds of people from all over the world.  They are here to take advantage of all that Belize has to offer, as well as the Qualified Retirement Program, affordable real estate, or offshore services.

Belize itself is a cosmopolitan country—various ethnicities, races, all mixed up and all getting along. The expat community in Belize reflect that as well. The people here in Belize are European, Canadian, American, African, South American; name a country and I’m sure you could find someone in Belize from that country. Everybody tends to get along and it’s a happy mix.

The commonality among expats is that they have moved to a developing country, so they tend to be adventurous. Expats who live in Belize realize that they are not going to be going to a Broadway show or a McDonald’s or other types of activity that are available in the biggest cities in the world. Expats here are looking for a place with a little bit slower pace as far as life is concerned and also a high quality of life; people who enjoy nature and a natural life. Belize is not a fast paced country. On the contrary, it is very slow paced. What most expats in Belize have in common is a desire to slow things down and live lives with less stress and worry.

How Large is the Expat Community in Belize?

The expat community in Belize is sizable and grows every year.  Many North Americans and Europeans of all stripes move here for retirement and investment opportunities.  

A few places particularly populous with expats include the Cayo District, the Cayes, Corozal, and Placencia.   

What Kinds of Things Are There to do in Belize?

If you poll the expat community, the top answer you’ll receive is: relax!  People choose to retire in Belize for the famous laid back lifestyle in our country.

But of course there’s so much more.  Tropical weather, delicious fresh cuisine, and a variety of renowned attractions call to people who choose to make Belize their home.

Adventure sports – both on land and especially in the water – are extremely popular in Belize.  Beach going, fishing, snorkeling, and scuba diving along the Great Barrier Reef (the largest in the hemisphere) are only a few.  Mayan ruins such as Xunantunich and Altun Ha can be found in different parts of the country, and exotic wildlife waiting around every corner.

Belize nightlife includes noisy nightclubs filled with young people and the more relaxed atmosphere of lounges.  Many fine restaurants catering to expats are clustered throughout Belize.

Is it Easy for a Foreigner to Buy a Home and Land in Belize?

Yes.  It is exceedingly easy to buy a home and/or land in Belize contrasted to elsewhere.

A foreigner has the same rights as a Belizean citizen to property ownership. If you are researching this and come across a reference to an “alien land holding license” or the Alien Landholding Act, please note that the Act was abolished in 2001. And now foreigners have equal property ownership rights.If you’ve done research on other jurisdictions, you know that this is quite rare in much of the Western Hemisphere, and rarer still in developing nations.

To learn more about buying a home and/or land in Belize, please visit our Belize Real Estate page.

What Are the Advantages of Belize Retirement?

Retirement in Belize is inexpensive.  English is the official language.The climate is subtropical.The laws are familiar.  The political system is democratic and stable.  The economy is flourishing. The country is small yet home to diverse locations, so whether you want to be surrounded by other expats or surrounded by the local culture, you can get what you want.

Above all, perhaps, Belize encourages retirees to choose the country by creating a welcoming environment and creating incentives like the Belize Qualified Retirement Program.

What is the Belize Qualified Retirement Program (QRP)?

The Belize Qualified Retirement Program just might be your ticket to the life you’ve always wanted.

The QRP is the most efficient path to foreign residency anywhere in the Americas and one of the primary reasons Belize is known as one of the best places to retire in the Caribbean and, indeed, one of the best place to retire in the world.

For more information, please click here

Things to Remember While Investing

Though your presence is not necessary to complete the real estate transaction, you should at least make a trip to your property before buying it. Also, never try to buy any property without you personally seeing it. The country has a good number of developers. If you are planning to develop a property with their help, you should observe the quality of construction. Also, keep in mind that your future buyers may ask questions like does the property offer security and safety. Therefore, you should be considering the safety aspect while you invest and develop the property.

If you are in your forties and planning your retirement life in Belize, this is the right time to invest. It will generate additional income for you in the years to come as a vacation rental home. With proper planning, you can also use the property as your holiday destination. Such a plan gives you option to recover the money you spent on the property. While you reach your retirement age, you will have a wonderful home in a dream location.

Belize gives you the option to create offshore trusts to make real estate investments. By forming offshore trusts, you hold more than your bank account allows, such as shares of a company, precious metals, and more. It also allows you to preserve wealth for coming generations and hold real estate for an extended period. Additionally, if you purchase a property under an offshore trust, it reduces your income tax, property tax, and capital gains tax as well.

For attracting more retirees to the Belizean soil, the administration has designed an excellent retiree program. The Qualified Retired Persons program, generally known as QRP, assures exemption of taxes from any form of income originating outside of Belize. Interestingly, the program does not need you to be retired. Qualified people with at least 45 years of age can make use of this program. However, you should prove that you have adequate sources to generate an income of $2000 per month. Also, you should stay at least one month in the country every year to keep the QRP active.

RETIREMENT PLANNING AND REAL ESTATE IN BELIZE

Planning retirement in La Isla Bonita where tropical weather and the Caribbean Sea is a everyday view. Mayan ruins are one of the best wildlife refuges in the world.  Belize’s natural beauty and accessibility are boundless.

But as you look towards Belize, even more important than the weather and attractions is the general climate – politically, socially, economically – in our country. You will be safe, you will understand the language, you will understand the culture, and your money will be in a stable place in a stable economy in a stable political environment. If you value stability (and adventure), Belize is the place for you.

To learn more about Belize, click here. Or review Frequently Asked Questions about retirement in Belize or real estate in Belize.

 

There are many factors to consider when considering retirement in Belize. Below are a list of resources to help facilitate the process as smoothly as possible.

Buying Real Estate in Belize – Purchasing a home and/or land in Belize is remarkably easy when compared to other countries in the region.

Relocation to Belize – Learn more about acquiring visas, visa extensions, work permit applications, applications for permanent residence, applications for Belizean nationality, and more.

Belize Qualified Retirement Program (QRP) – Run by the Belize Tourism Board, the QRP provides a multitude of incentives for retirees, expatriates, and other persons looking to relocate to Belize.

Offshore Opportunities in Belize – The laws of Belize are familiar to Westerners and extremely friendly to investment opportunities of all stripes.

Why Choose Wrobel & Co for Offshore Activity?

Let us count the ways:

  • We all live in Belize, so we know the lay of the land in our country
  • We are a lawfirm, so our Belize attorneys know the ins and out of the legal system here
  • We have more than a decade of experience with Belize retirement services and Belize real estate services
  • We are big enough to get you what you need when you need it … but we are small enough that you’ll be treated as valued customer and friend
  • We are available 15 hours a day to answer any questions you may have in a friendly, professional manner
  • Contact us anytime by email or message on chat, and we’ll get back to you within 24 hours
  • Have we mentioned that we’re extremely likable people?

 

What Are the Advantages of Belize Retirement?

Belize has become one of the most popular countries for retirement for a number of reasons, and foreigners continue to discover them at a rapid rate.

Retirement in Belize is inexpensive.  English is the official language.  The climate is subtropical.  The laws are familiar.  The political system is democratic and stable.  The economy is flourishing.  The country is small yet home to diverse locations, so whether you want to be surrounded by other expats or surrounded by the local culture, you can get what you want.

Above all, perhaps, Belize encourages retirees to choose the country by creating a welcoming environment and creating incentives like the Belize Qualified Retirement Program.

What is the Belize Qualified Retirement Program (QRP)?

The Belize Qualified Retirement Program just might be your ticket to the life you’ve always wanted.

The QRP is the most efficient path to foreign residency anywhere in the Americas and one of the primary reasons Belize is known as one of the best places to retire in the Caribbean and, indeed, one of the best place to retire in the world.

For more information, please click here.

Is it Easy for a Foreigner to Buy a Home and Land in Belize?

Yes.  It is exceedingly easy to buy a home and/or land in Belize contrasted to elsewhere.

A foreigner has the same rights as a Belizean citizen to property ownership.  If you are researching this and come across a reference to an “alien land holding license” or the Alien Landholding Act, please note that the Act was abolished in 2001.  And now foreigners have equal property ownership rights.  If you’ve done research on other jurisdictions, you know that this is quite rare in much of the Western Hemisphere, and rarer still in developing nations.

To learn more about buying a home and/or land in Belize, please visit our Belize Real Estate page.

What Kinds of Things Are There to do in Belize?

If you poll the expat community, the top answer you’ll receive is: relax!  People choose to retire in Belize for the famous laid back lifestyle in our country.

But of course there’s so much more.  Tropical weather, delicious fresh cuisine, and a variety of renowned attractions call to people who choose to make Belize their home.

Adventure sports – both on land and especially in the water – are extremely popular in Belize.  Beach going, fishing, snorkelling, and scuba diving along the Great Barrier Reef (the largest in the hemisphere) are only a few.  Mayan ruins such as Xunantunich and Altun Ha can be found in differents parts of the country, and exotic wildlife waiting around every corner.

Belize nightlife includes noisy nightclubs filled with young people and the more relaxed atmosphere of lounges.  Many fine restaurants catering to expats are clustered throughout Belize.

How Large is the Expat Community in Belize?

The expat community in Belize is sizable and grows every year.  Many North Americans and Europeans of all stripes move here for retirementand investment opportunities.

A few places particularly populous with expats include the Cayo District, the Cayes, Corozal, and Placencia.

What are Expats like in Belize?

The expats in Belize are a lively mix of various nationalities from all over the world—former big business, former small business people, pensioners who worked years at blue collar or white collar jobs; all different kinds of people from all over the world.  They are here to take advantage of all that Belize has to offer, as well as the Qualified Retirement Programaffordable real estate, or offshore services.

Belize itself is a cosmopolitan country—various ethnicities, races, all mixed up and all getting along. The expat community in Belize reflect that as well. The people here in Belize are European, Canadian, American, African, South American; name a country and I’m sure you could find someone in Belize from that country. Everybody tends to get along and it’s a happy mix.

The commonality among expats is that they have moved to a developing country, so they tend to be adventurous. Expats who live in Belize realize that they are not going to be going to a Broadway show or a McDonald’s or other types of activity that are available in the biggest cities in the world. Expats here are looking for a place with a little bit slower pace as far as life is concerned and also a high quality of life; people who enjoy nature and a natural life. Belize is not a fast paced country. On the contrary, it is very slow paced. What most expats in Belize have in common is a desire to slow things down and live lives with less stress and worry.

Are There Decent Medical Facilities in Belize?

Belize has modern private and public medical care facilities.  Eight public hospitals and numerous clinics can be found throughout Belize, and anybody can receive treatment at these places.

Two main private hospitals are located in Belize City: Belize Medical Associates and Belize Healthcare Partners.  Considered the best in Belize, they offer Pharmacy, Radiology, Laboratory and Operating Theatre, Pediatrics, Neurology, Dermatology, Internal Medicine, Obstetrics, Gastroenterology and Urology services.  The cost for a consultation at private facilities is inexpensive, and the cost for a consultation at a public facilities is either free or very inexpensive.

Having medical insurance is not mandatory for Belizeans or expats.

What is the Education System Like in Belize?

Belize has various private and public educational systems.

The Belize school system is based on the British model, with three levels: primary, secondary, and tertiary.  Children enter the educational system at age five for eight years of primary education. They then spend four years in secondary school (high school).  Tertiary education includes a two-year course, in which students earn an Associates Degree in a variety of majors.  Following completion of tertiary education, students can choose to attend university (the University of Belize or Galen University in Belize).

As is typically the case, private school education in Belize is more expensive than public schooling, which are free.  But compared to private education elsewhere, rates are extremely reasonable.

What is the Immigration Process Like in Belize?

The immigration process is one of the most common topics our Belize retirement attorneys receive inquires about.

The Belize Qualified Retirement Program offers tremendous advantages to retirees.  To learn more, visit our Belize QRP page.  For more general information, visit our main Retirement page.

For more information about how to get a tourist card in Belize or how to establish permanent residency in Belize, visit our Belize News page.

Do I Need a Passport (Citizenship) or a Visa to Live in Belize?

No.  In order to live or retire in Belize, you do not need Belizean citizenship or a Belizean passport.  (In order to obtain a Belizean passport, you would first have to become a Belizean citizen, with the passport being essentially a travel document.)

If you would like to retire to Belize, first of all, you would enter Belize on a tourist visa (also called a tourist card).  If you are an American citizen or a Canadian citizen, you would be granted a tourist visa at the airport and the tourist visa would allow you to reside in Belize for 30 days.  Every 30 days you can apply for an extension or renewal of that visa.  The tourist visa would give you the ability to travel to Belize and to stay, but not permanently.

Typically those 30-day visas are renewed, and there is no problem with renewal unless the visa holder gets in trouble here in Belize.  Other than that possibility, the process is a regular rubber stamp renewal after 30 days.

What Do I Need to Work in Belize?

Please note that you cannot work in Belize under a tourist visa.   In order to work in Belize, you would have to apply for a work permit.  Once you acquire a work permit then you would have the ability to work for hire here in Belize, or work for a salary.  Obviously, if you pursue and are granted Belizean citizenship, then you would obtain all the rights off a Belize citizen, which includes permission to work.

 

What is Buying Real Estate Like in Belize?

You’re interested in buying Belize property and/or a home in Belize?  Our Belize lawyers have you covered – it’s been our speciality for more than a decade.

Please read our Real Estate FAQ page, discover our Belize Real Estate News page, and review our main Belize Real Estate page.  Too much information?  Simply contact us to get started with a Belize real estate attorney today.

What is it Like to Move to Belize?

The initial stages of moving to Belize can be a big change depending on where you come from and what your previous experiences have been.  It’s always a good idea to spend a substantial amount of time in Belize (or any other place) prior to making a life-changing move.

Certainly, things can be very different in Belize. If you are moving to Belize from North America or Europe, or even a more metropolitan city in the developing world, pace of life will likely be a big transition. Things move slowly in Belize.  If patience is a virtue, you’ll need to be virtuous as you adapt to the culture of Belize and the speed at which the country operates.

Governmental funding is not high in Belize, and the bureaucracy tends to move slowly.  It bears repetition: patience is a virtue.  If you are considering retiring in Belize or buying real estate in Belize, you’ll need patience until you fully adapt to the lifestyle in the country.  Somebody who has a lot of experience with the developing world will have a far easier time adapting than somebody who jumps right into a move to Belize without such experience.

Of course, for most people, the flip side of needing patience for dealing with a slower pace of life is getting to live that slower pace of life.  A slower pace of life translates to a high quality of life for most people.  Read as: less stress.  Read as: more enjoyment.  Read as: good for your body, good for your mind.

 

What is the One-Time Cost of Moving to Belize?

Every person who chooses to move to Belize has different interests and needs. Some people choose to enter Belize as a tourist and to rent a small apartment, so for them, the cost will be very low. Other people choose to retire to Belize, qualify for the retirement program (Belize QRP) and want to purchase a beachfront home or a luxury condominium. Their cost to move to Belize would be higher than in the first example.

If two people get on a plane, fly into Belize, and get their tourist visas at the airport, the cost to move to Belize is close to zero.  There are no legal costs to get the tourist visa, and you simply renew it every 30 days.

In contrast, the range in cost for a married couple to qualify for the Qualified Requirement Program, including government costs and legal costs, might fall into the range of US$4,000 to $5,000. Not an insignificant figure, but for those looking to retire in Belize, well worth the high quality of life (and the ultimate savings in taxes and cost of living).

What is the Cost of Living in Belize?

The affordable cost of living is a main reason people choose to retire in Belize.

Overall the cost of living in Belize is much less than in North America and Europe.

The Belize Tourism Board provides useful information on the subject.

 

Can I bring my pet to Belize?

Yes! Your pet is welcome to join you in beautiful Belize. You will first need to obtain an Import Permit, which can be obtained online and submitted to any Belize Agricultural Health Authority (BAHA) office. You will need to contact BAHA again two days prior to your arrival, which ensures a inspector is present when you arrive in the country. Be sure to check specific requirements and restrictions for your airline of choice, as some requirements vary by airline. A visit to a veterinarian is required as well. A little research and preparation will go a long way to ensure your pet’s safe and uneventful arrival in Belize. For more details on bringing your pet to this Central American paradise, check out How to Get Your Pet to Belize .

Does my pet need to be vaccinated before we travel to Belize?

Yes, you and your pet will need to visit a vet before you travel. Specific requirements for your pet’s entry into Belize include a valid rabies certification issued not less than one month or more than one year before your travel date, ticks and tapeworm treatment within 30 days of entering Belize, and a statement that your pet is free from ehrlichiosis (tick-borne diseases).

BAHA requires you have an international veterinary health certificate issued by a USDA accredited veterinarian within 14 days of travel (American Airlines requires health certificate to be issued within 10 days of travel, so again, be sure you’re familiar with your airline’s requirements).

There also exist a number of recommended vaccinations for dogs and cats that will travel internationally. For a full list of vaccinations and more tips on how to bring your pet to Belize, be sure to read How to Get Your Pet to Belize .

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