Envision a nation where its 395,000 affable English-speaking residents relish the serene beauty of the Caribbean Sea, embark on voyages to over 200 mesmerizing islands, traverse verdant forests, wander through undulating hills, scale modest mountains, delight in a temperate climate, and explore breathtaking waterfalls—all nestled within a territory comparable in size to Massachusetts.
As of 2024, Belize in Central America has undeniably solidified its position as a premier global retirement sanctuary for expatriates. In a noteworthy development, back in 2020, MoneyWise acclaimed Belize as one of the top 20 destinations where retirees could comfortably sustain themselves on $150,000.
Currently, a pertinent query emerges: Can one truly retire in Belize and maintain a comfortable lifestyle on an average monthly Social Security income of $1,500? In pursuit of an authentic perspective, we have engaged with both expatriates and local inhabitants residing in Belize to gain a comprehensive understanding of the actual living expenses in this captivating locale.
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Cost of Living in Belize?
The Belizean currency steadfastly aligns with the U.S. Dollar, maintaining a stable exchange rate of 1 U.S. dollar to 2 Belize dollars. Significantly, U.S. Dollars are still extensively accepted as a form of payment throughout Belize, thereby easing financial transactions for both visitors and residents.
For travelers entering Belize with more than $5,000 USD in currency or its equivalent, declaring this sum on the customs form remains crucial to adhere to the prevailing regulations. To facilitate clarity and ease for our readers, all prices in this article are denoted in U.S. dollars, offering a clear and consistent understanding of Belize’s financial context.
Belize Cost of Living Index
In 2024, comprehending the Belizean cost of living index remains pivotal for individuals contemplating a life in this Central American treasure. This index is instrumental in evaluating the average expenses incurred for essentials such as food, housing, transport, energy, clothing, and leisure activities, offering an all-encompassing perspective on Belize’s living costs in comparison to a benchmark city.
For our analysis, New York City, New York, U.S.A., continues to serve as the foundational city for comparison. Presented here is a comparative chart that sheds light on the living costs across various Latin American countries, juxtaposed against New York City and Canada.
Belize particularly distinguishes itself with its remarkable cost-effectiveness. It claims the lowest rental index in comparison to neighboring nations like Mexico, Panama, and Costa Rica. Additionally, the expense of dining out in Belize marginally surpasses that of Mexico, further enhancing its allure as an economical destination. In our assessment, Belize is identified as the second most affordable choice in terms of the cost of living index.
Nevertheless, it is crucial to maintain a grounded viewpoint in this comparison. Drawing parallels between New York and Belize is similar to contrasting a metropolis with a serene haven. To present a more precise depiction of Belize’s cost of living, it is equally important to consider the averages in rural America. Thus, let’s broaden our analysis and explore the national averages to acquire a more comprehensive understanding of Belize’s economic scenario.
What are Utility Costs in Belize?
Belize Electricity Limited (BEL) is the main provider. They charge on a graduated use schedule. The more you use, the higher the rate per kilowatt hour. An average home with a small 10 cubic foot refrigerator, washing machine, WI-FI service, and floor fans can expect a monthly electricity bill to be between $18 to 25 dollars. If you want to include wall mounted air conditioning, you should expect your electric bill to be $75 to $150 or more depending on the amount of use, home insulation, and size of the home.
Access to potable water is a standard feature in Belizean homes. While the water is generally safe, many expats and locals choose to purchase drinking water. Sold in 5-gallon bottles, drinking water costs about $2.50 each. Municipal water charges differ by location, with rural villages often charging a flat rate starting at $2.50 per month. In larger towns, where water is metered, monthly rates fluctuate between $10 and $35.
Belize lacks natural gas services, so residents typically use butane for cooking. The average price per gallon is around $2.10. A 100-pound tank, holding 25 gallons and costing approximately $50 to fill, lasts about six to nine months depending on usage.
Various providers offer cable services in Belize, featuring U.S. channels, three national TV stations, and channels broadcasting local ads and news. The surveyed cable companies all charge a standard rate of $15 USD per month. Internet services are available, often bundled with cable, ranging between $21 and $40 per month.
Belize has spent the last several years installing fiber optic cables throughout the country. They now offer some of the fastest internet in all of Latin America. There are two providers: Smart and Belize Telemedia. Smart offers unlimited wireless broadband starting at 5 Mbps download for $14 a month and 20 Mbps at only $45 a month.
Belize Telemedia also offers wireless broadband, but they are the star of the fiber optic show with a basic plan at 30 Mbps for $35 plus $5 a month for the modem rental. They offer speeds up to 120 Mbps.
Smart and Digicel, owned by Belize Telemedia, also are the two telephone providers in Belize. They both offer prepaid and post-paid plans. Most locals opt for the prepaid plan and they can buy credit at nearly every little corner store and shop in the country.
You can also use your phone credit to buy data as you need it. The per-minute rates are high averaging around $0.25 per minute. Most Belizeans prefer to text anyway. Bundles of text messages are purchased with phone credit.
One really cool feature of the Belize mobile phone situation is that once or twice a month both phone companies will offer “double up.” During a 24-hour period, any amount of purchased credit (up to $250) is doubled. You can use the bonus credit to buy text message bundles and make phone calls.
Related: Cost of Living in La Paz, Mexico
What are Food Costs in Belize?
As we step into 2024, Belize maintains its status as a sanctuary for budget-conscious consumers, particularly for those seeking locally sourced food. Whether nestled in a lively town or a serene village, the affordability of locally grown produce continues to be a highlight.
Throughout Belize, bustling markets teem with a diverse selection of fruits and vegetables, encompassing both native and imported varieties. On the mainland, for example, shoppers can find fresh, vine-ripened tomatoes at an appealing $1 per pound. Local favorites such as oranges and bananas are enticingly priced at 8 for $0.50. A dozen eggs generally cost about $2.00. Essential commodities like flour, rice, beans, white and raw sugar are kept affordable through government price regulations, ensuring widespread availability.
Regarding imported goods, prices often match or surpass those in the United States, especially in areas frequented by tourists. Items like romaine lettuce, grapes, peaches, mushrooms, and asparagus typically fall into this higher price bracket. However, apples, although limited in variety, are consistently available throughout Belize. Common selections include red delicious, gala, golden delicious, and granny smith, with smaller apples priced at an economical $0.50 each.
Yet, the true charm of Belizean markets lies in the locally harvested produce. Why choose imported fruits when you can enjoy local pineapples for only $1.50, indulge in juicy mangos for just $0.50 each, delight in creamy avocados for only $0.50, and savor freshly picked papayas for $2.00? In 2024, Belize continues to offer a cornucopia of delectable and cost-effective food options, solidifying its reputation as a culinary haven for those in search of delightful, wallet-friendly gastronomic experiences.
In 2024, Belize’s culinary landscape continues to present a fascinating mix of local suppliers and global influences. The Mennonite community in Spanish Lookout remains instrumental, being the primary provider of eggs, chicken, beef, and pork in the country. To maintain safety and quality, their meat products are predominantly sold frozen.
Here’s an overview of food prices you can expect:
- Chicken breasts: Approximately $1.50 per pound.
- Ground beef: Around $2.00 per pound.
- Pork chops: Approximately $3.50 per pound.
A notable aspect is the absence of aged beef in Belize. Red meat may be somewhat tough and less flavorful compared to finer cuts, yet it is still quite suitable for dishes like stir-fries and stews.
Grocery stores, mainly operated by the Chinese community, offer a wide range of both local and imported products. Items imported from the United States may carry a 20 to 30 percent premium in Belize. However, Mexican alternatives often provide a more cost-effective and equally satisfying choice. Still, some products, like ketchup, may lack an adequate substitute.
For soft drink enthusiasts, Belize’s Coca-Cola remains a delightful discovery. Crafted with locally sourced cane sugar instead of high fructose corn syrup, it offers a distinct and often preferred taste. A 500 ml bottle, including the bottle deposit, is available for just $0.75.
Regarding alcoholic beverages, beer and rum are locally produced, while other spirits are imported, attracting substantial import taxes. Imported wines and spirits tend to be more expensive than in the United States, especially higher-quality options.
On average, a couple in Belize in 2024 can expect to spend between $150 and $300 monthly on groceries, varying according to their dietary choices and consumption habits.
Related: Is Belize Safe?
Cost of Restaurants in Belize?
While dining choices can be somewhat constrained in certain regions, especially outside of San Pedro or Placencia, there has been a notable expansion in culinary diversity throughout Belize.
Chinese restaurants continue to proliferate, easily found at numerous street corners. The Belizean populace still relishes the economical offerings, such as $3 fried chicken with French fries.
In addition, an array of Belizean dining establishments can be found, serving staple dishes like beans and rice accompanied by chicken, pork, or beef. The price range for these meals typically falls between $6 and $8. For those selecting a fried fish dinner, the cost is around $7 to $10. True to tradition, this meal often includes the entire fish, head included, reflecting customary cooking practices.
Furthermore, street food vendors specializing in Mexican-inspired fare, such as fried tacos, empanadas, and burritos, continue to be a favored option. These vendors provide satisfying Belizean “bellyfuls” at just a few dollars, presenting an economical and delicious solution for a quick meal.
Related: What is Belize’s Climate Like?
What are Transportation Costs in Belize?
There are three quick ways to get around in Belize:
- Public Buses: Belize continues to utilize repurposed U.S. school buses for its public transport network. Each city hosts a bus terminal, and passengers can hail a bus with a simple hand wave. Ticket issuance is not practiced; passengers board and find a seat, and the conductor will come by to inquire about their destination. Fares are destination-dependent, starting at a minimum of $1. For lengthier trips, such as a 2-hour journey across the country, the fare typically does not exceed $5.
- Inter-City Public Transportation: Within Belize City and Belmopan, smaller buses and vans operate for inter-city travel. These vehicles often lack clear markings, so seeking guidance from locals is advisable. Fares for these shorter routes are usually between $1 to $2. Regular taxis, sometimes unmarked private cars, are common, but official taxis can be recognized by their green license plates. Citywide trips usually cost under $5 per taxi, not per person.
- Private Vehicles: In 2024, vehicles in Belize, particularly Toyota trucks, 4Runners, and Mazda SUVs, retain their high resale value. Even older models command significant prices in the Belizean market. For instance, a 1992 Toyota 4×4 pickup might be sold for around $7,000. Vehicle insurance remains reasonably priced, with full coverage mainly addressing medical expenses and personal property damage.
That Toyota pickup is fully insured for about $150 per year and the annual registration costs $100.
While vehicles can be expensive to buy, they are cheap to keep running – especially if you own a Toyota. Parts are cheap and considering the wages in the country, labor is even cheaper. The downside, however is that fuel will be one of your largest expenses.
The cost of regular gasoline averages about $5 a gallon and has gone up to nearly $6 due to the high governmental taxes.
Cost of Living by Area
The cost of living in Belize continues to show substantial variation depending on the location, much like it does in the United States. For those drawn to an island lifestyle, epitomized by casual attire such as shorts, flip flops, and a Belikin beer in hand, it’s crucial to prepare for expenses that can exceed mainland costs by over 40 percent. Conducting thorough research on specific areas and their respective living costs is vital for making an informed choice that aligns with your lifestyle preferences and budget.
San Pedro, although technically a peninsula in the north of Belize, predominantly functions as an island due to its terrain and accessibility primarily via private boat, water taxi, or plane. This locale offers an ambiance reminiscent of a Mexican destination, enriched with the cultural essence of Belize.
In 2024, the cost of living in San Pedro remains higher than in other parts of Belize, balanced by a more extensive array of entertainment options and an enhanced quality of life. The average monthly cost for residing in San Pedro is approximately $2,720, reflecting its status as one of the more upscale areas in the country.
Placencia, a charming coastal town situated in southern Belize, continues to thrive on its peninsula, now easily accessible via a newly paved road. Known for hosting some of Belize’s most luxurious resorts and multi-million-dollar homes, Placencia has evolved beyond its origins as a tranquil village.
The area boasts a lively yet quaint atmosphere, featuring a variety of nightlife options and an impressive selection of restaurants. Despite rents hovering around the national average, the cost of food and dining in Placencia tends to be on the higher side. As of 2024, the average living expenses in Placencia slightly exceed $2,000, reflecting its upscale amenities and lifestyle offerings.
Corozal, located near Belize’s northern border with Mexico, presents a different lifestyle. A brief drive leads to the Mexican city of Chetumal – a destination highly regarded by many Belizeans. Corozal’s proximity to Mexico not only offers cultural and shopping advantages but also impacts the cost of living, making it an attractive option for those seeking affordability.
There you can visit the local cinema, shop at a small mall, eat at McDonalds and visit Walmart. Groceries and clothing are substantially cheaper in Mexico and most residents of Corozal cross the border to do their shopping.
You can find American-style homes and plenty of expats in the village of Consejo east of Corozal. Retirees can live comfortably on $1,600 USD a month.
San Ignacio, nestled inland along the western border with Guatemala, continues to captivate with its magnificent Mayan ruins, picturesque rolling farmland, and the beauty of one of Belize’s most enchanting rivers. For expatriates seeking retirement options away from the coast, San Ignacio, along with its sibling town Santa Elena, stands out as a prime choice.
In 2024, the fresh food market in San Ignacio remains unparalleled in the country. The cost of living here is attractively lower, about 15 to 20 percent less than the national average for expatriates. Living comfortably in San Ignacio can be achieved with less than $1,600 per month, making it an appealing option for those seeking a balance between affordability and quality of life in a culturally rich setting.
Punta Gorda, positioned as the southernmost town in Belize, is quite remote, requiring nearly six hours of driving from the international airport in Ladyville. Many locals and visitors opt to forgo the lengthy drive, preferring to fly with one of the nation’s airlines, Maya Island Air or Tropic Air. While it boasts a coastal location, Punta Gorda does not offer the typical soft sandy beaches found in Placencia. Instead, it provides a unique coastal experience, distinct from other beach towns in Belize.
As of 2024, Punta Gorda in Belize continues to charm as a serene destination, ideal for couples seeking tranquility, picturesque landscapes, and amicable locals. While it offers a delightful fresh market, Punta Gorda’s nightlife and entertainment options are limited, aligning well with those looking for a quieter lifestyle. As one of the most affordable expatriate retirement destinations in Belize, a fulfilling life in Punta Gorda can be experienced on a budget of less than $1,500 a month.
Regarding housing, most residences appealing to Americans or Canadians include air conditioning, though it is not always a necessity. Belize’s climate is indeed warm and humid, but not to an extreme degree. Outdoor enthusiasts often find that utilizing fans and natural ventilation eases the adaptation to the local climate. Consequently, living comfortably without relying heavily on air conditioning is feasible, with national average expenses hovering around $1,700.
However, opting for an air-conditioned home does lead to higher rental costs and a significant increase in electricity bills. Those choosing air-conditioned living can expect their electric expenses to at least triple. This adjustment raises the national average living costs, including air conditioning, to start from $1,900 U.S. dollars per month. This figure represents a balance between the desire for modern comforts and the realities of living in a tropical climate, highlighting the varied living options available in Belize in 2024.
As we look at Belize in 2024, the question arises: Is it feasible to live in Belize on a budget of less than $1,500? The answer is a resounding yes, although it significantly hinges on one’s lifestyle preferences. Many expatriates initially relocate to Belize seeking a life akin to their American standards, only to gradually embrace a more Belizean way of life.
This adaptation often involves moving from popular expat retirement destinations to smaller, more traditional villages. Instead of relying on air conditioning, many opt for fans, which are a more cost-effective and environmentally friendly cooling method. Housing choices shift towards more Belizean-style homes, and dietary habits increasingly incorporate local foods, which are both affordable and fresh. While many expats still maintain ownership of a vehicle and indulge occasionally in finer imported goods, these are balanced with more modest living choices.
Adopting this lifestyle, a couple could realistically manage on approximately $1,100 a month. However, it’s prudent to approach this as a gradual transition rather than a starting point. Moving to Belize and immediately adopting this budget and lifestyle might be challenging. It’s a process of acclimatization, both to the climate and the culture. This approach allows for a smoother integration into Belizean society and a more sustainable and enjoyable expatriate experience in 2024.
What is the Average Income in Belize?
The minimum hourly wage in Belize has seen adjustments since May 2012 and currently stands at a rate higher than the $1.63 of that period. Workers engaged in a standard 45-hour work week at this revised minimum wage level now earn a monthly income that is more than the $293 calculated at the old rate. Farm laborers, traditionally among the lower wage earners, also have experienced a slight increase in their daily earnings from the previous $10 per day, which translates into a modestly improved monthly income.
Individuals with higher educational qualifications, such as those holding Associates Degrees or above, continue to see significantly better income prospects. Their earning capacity typically exceeds the minimum wage by a substantial margin, amounting to an hourly wage that is considerably higher than $5.35, the rate calculated back in the 2010s. Consequently, their monthly income is notably more than the $965 that was the norm for such qualifications.
Living on a monthly income of around $1,100 in Belize is still feasible, particularly for those who are ready to align their lifestyle with the local cost of living. This requires astute budgeting and financial planning, taking into account the cost of necessities and the potential for lifestyle adjustments to ensure a comfortable yet economical living standard in Belize as of 2024.
Buying Property in Belize
For many expatriates, falling in love with Belize leads to the significant decision of purchasing property there. The process of buying property in Belize as of 2024 remains quite analogous to that in the United States, and notably, it continues to be a more affordable endeavor.
One of the key aspects of the Belizean property market is the absence of restrictions on foreign land ownership. Expatriates do not need to have residency status to own property, although obtaining residency is often recommended for a more integrated living experience. Importantly, expats in Belize enjoy the same rights as Belizean citizens in terms of land ownership, a policy that has encouraged a steady influx of foreign property investments.
Prospective buyers have the option to purchase property directly from the owner, typically facilitated by a legal attorney, or through a real estate agent. As of 2024, well-known international real estate franchises like Century 21, Re/Max, and Keller Williams maintain a strong presence in Belize, alongside a variety of local real estate firms. This mix of international and local agencies provides a broad spectrum of choices for expatriates, catering to different preferences and requirements in the property market.
The residential real estate commission rates in Belize remain in alignment with those typically seen in the United States, usually ranging between 6 to 8 percent. For vacant land transactions, however, commission rates tend to be higher, often around 10 percent. Similar to the U.S. practice, these commissions are customarily paid by the seller, which means that the services of a buyer’s agent are generally available to the buyer at no direct cost.
An important piece of advice for prospective buyers in Belize is to engage your own attorney for the real estate transaction, rather than using one that is associated with or recommended by the real estate agent. This strategy is crucial for maintaining impartiality in the transaction and ensuring that your interests are adequately protected.
It’s also essential to be aware of situations where property “owners” in Belize may not actually hold a legal title to the land, possessing only a government-issued land lease, or cases where the title was transferred without their knowledge. To secure your investment and navigate the legal intricacies of real estate transactions in Belize, obtaining independent legal counsel is highly recommended. This step is key to avoiding potential pitfalls and ensuring that your property acquisition is valid, safeguarding your financial interests in the process.
How Much Do Houses Cost in Belize?
In a recent survey of 80 house listings in Belize – that is homes that would appeal to a foreigner – the average price of a 1,500 square foot home was $340,000.
Home prices in Corozal will be one of the cheapest. You can find a stick-built, two bedroom/one bath home for a little over $100,000; a two-bedroom cement home for around $155,000 and a luxury home for over $300,000. Waterfront homes in the expat village of Consejo Shores can be purchased for less than $500,000 and a quarter acre cleared waterfront parcel will set you back only $75,000.
If you are looking for waterfront living, then Placencia is an excellent option. This is expat heaven with the Caribbean Sea to the east and the lagoon and view of the Mayan mountains to the west. The average price of an expat-quality residence or condo along the peninsula is $428,000 for 1,900 square feet of living area. Private waterfront homes will be around $650,000 and up. There is an abundance of condominiums that offer gorgeous views, pools, spas, dining and maintenance-free living. Prices start at $169,000.
San Pedro and Ambergris Caye also offers waterfront living with the average price being $450,000 for 1,600 square feet. You can find older one-bedroom condominiums starting at $95,000 and modern luxury waterfront residences for $1.3 million and nearly everything in between. Inland lots can be found for less than $50,000 and beachfront lots start at $109,000.
Let’s not forget about San Ignacio, Cayo where expats who love the green trees instead the blue ocean go to get away. Home prices are considerably cheaper here than anything on the east coast with average prices found in our survey to be under $120,000 with 1,000 square feet. You will find a lot more wood construction rather than concrete. The area is less affected by hurricanes and flooding, so this construction method poses less risk. You can find simple starter homes for around $50,000 and or a three-bedroom/three-bath home downtown will only set you back $200,000.
Related: Pros and Cons of Living in Belize
What are the Closing Costs in Belize?
In Belize, property transactions in 2024 continue to resemble those in the United States, often involving an escrow service. When a buyer executes an Agreement for Sale, a typical practice is to make a 10 percent down payment. The closing process usually spans a period of 30 to 90 days. It remains a standard practice in Belize for the buyer to assume all closing costs. Although U.S. dollars are frequently used in transactions, Belizean dollars are also a valid option for property purchases.
As of 2024, buyers should anticipate a government-imposed stamp/transfer tax of 5 percent on the purchase price, applied to amounts exceeding the initial $10,000. Additionally, buyers are responsible for legal fees, which include conducting a title search. Attorney fees in Belize generally amount to around 2 percent of the purchase price. When employing a Belizean real estate attorney, title insurance typically isn’t necessary, as the Government of Belize guarantees Belize Land Certificates and ensures clear Deeds of Conveyance.
For those seeking more information about property purchasing in Belize, a recommended resource is the website of Wrobel & Company. While this is not an endorsement of one legal service over another, their website offers valuable insights and information relevant to property transactions in Belize. This resource can be particularly helpful for navigating the specific legalities and procedures involved in the Belizean real estate market.
How Much are Property Taxes in Belize?
Belize, as of 2024, maintains its reputation for offering advantageous property tax rates, continuing to be an appealing option for property owners looking for economical tax responsibilities. The property taxes in Belize are recognized for their affordability.
Once a property has been developed or improved, the property tax rate is set at a modest 1.5 percent of the assessed value. This rate is significantly lower than many other locations, especially when compared to the United States. It’s important to note that in Belize, the assessed value of a property typically represents only about 10 to 30 percent of the property’s actual market value. This is in stark contrast to the United States, where assessed values often hover around 50 percent of the market value.
What are Some Other Expenses?
Besides the regular monthly costs, residents in Belize often face various incidental expenses. When it comes to clothing shopping, the options in Belize remain somewhat limited. Many retail stores in the country primarily stock garments manufactured in Guatemala, where the quality might be inconsistent and sizes can vary. Another popular choice is browsing through the numerous resale shops. It’s notable that surplus clothing from the United States, including unsold items from stores like Goodwill, is frequently shipped to Belize in bales for resale.
As of 2024, for those seeking a more extensive selection and better quality, it is still advisable to do clothing shopping when visiting your home country. This approach provides access to a wider variety of choices and generally higher quality items.
Childcare and domestic help are readily available in Belize. Nannies not only provide childcare but are often willing to undertake household chores as well. While rates are negotiable, a reasonable day’s wage might be as low as $10. However, it’s crucial to have clear conversations regarding childcare practices, especially around discipline, as physical punishment is still permissible in Belize.
Entertainment expenses in Belize vary based on personal preferences. The country houses two movie theaters: one at the Princes Hotel and Casino in Belize City and another at the Paradise Theater in San Pedro, with admission costs around $7.50, excluding snacks. For those interested in gambling, there are small gaming establishments scattered across the country, in addition to the official casino in Belize City. Golf enthusiasts have a choice of three courses: a premier course on an island near San Pedro with green fees of about $200, and two 9-hole courses in Consejo Shores and Belmopan with more affordable fees starting at $17.50. A common local pastime is to relax at a bar, play pool, and enjoy a bottle of the local Belikin beer, which typically costs just a few dollars. These diverse options cater to a range of entertainment preferences and budgets in Belize.
Related: Belize Retirement Tours
Can I Get Good Medical Care in Belize?
The healthcare landscape in Belize continues to evolve. The country boasts government-run hospitals and polyclinics in most villages and major cities, providing accessible healthcare services to the population. Medical consultations remain largely free of charge, and some medications are available at no cost to patients. However, there have been improvements in access to additional diagnostic procedures, including x-rays, MRI scans, and ultrasounds, which are now offered at significantly reduced rates compared to previous years.
Expatriate residents residing in Belize may still be eligible to access these subsidized healthcare services. However, it’s important to bear in mind the adage that “you get what you pay for.” The quality and availability of healthcare services in Belize have shown positive developments, but expats and residents should maintain realistic expectations when utilizing the healthcare system. It’s advisable for individuals to consider private healthcare options and health insurance plans for more comprehensive coverage and access to higher quality medical care.
For more serious ailments or if you are in search of better service, there are plenty of private clinics. You can expect to pay $25 for a doctor visit. Many medications do not require a prescription and local pharmacists are very helpful. On the other hand, the dental care in Belize is equivalent to the States and will at least half. You can find more information about the medical care in Belize by visiting Belize.com.
Because there is no level one trauma center in the country and the skill for very technical surgeries or treatment options are just not available in the country, it can be a good idea to obtain medical coverage from their home country.
What Taxes Will I Need to Pay in Belize?
Belize’s income tax structure as of 2024 continues to follow specific regulations. Income tax is levied on employee earnings at a rate of 25 percent, with the initial $7,250 of income being exempt. This exemption benefits a significant portion of the workforce by reducing their overall taxable income. It’s also important to highlight that foreign income, such as pensions or earnings from outside Belize, is not taxed for residents. This policy is particularly advantageous for expatriates or retirees who receive income from abroad.
Additionally, Belize does not impose capital gains taxes. This absence of capital gains tax is an attractive aspect for investors and property owners, as it means that profits from the sale of assets like real estate or stocks are not taxed.
For expatriates or locals who establish businesses in Belize, business tax considerations come into play. These taxes vary based on the nature of the business or profession and are calculated as a percentage of business income. The rates for business taxes generally range from as low as 0.75 percent to a maximum of 15 percent, depending on the specific category of the business. Notably, there are income exemptions aimed at supporting small businesses. These exemptions often result in many small-scale enterprises being exempt from business tax altogether. Furthermore, it is common for a number of sole proprietorships in Belize to operate without formal registration, although this has implications for legal and financial accountability.
In 2024, both expatriates and locals in Belize are subject to the General Sales Tax (GST) or value added tax (VAT). Set at a rate of 12.5%, this tax is applicable to most goods and services, except for certain basic food items. Typically, the GST is already included in the listed price of items, making it straightforward for consumers to understand the total cost of their purchases.
Non-residents in Belize are obligated to pay a departure tax when exiting the country. For those leaving by air, this tax, amounting to $39.35, is conveniently included in the airline ticket price. The departure tax is lower for those exiting Belize by land or sea.
Additionally, all non-residents are required to renew their tourist visas monthly at an immigration office. The fee for this visa renewal is $25 for the first six months. After this period, the monthly renewal fee increases to $50, applicable until the individual leaves Belize for a minimum of 14 days. The tourist visa is stamped directly into the passport.
Expatriates may also be impacted by import taxes or customs duties, which are levied on all imported items. This includes personal shipments, such as gifts sent from family members abroad. Upon collecting these items from the post office, recipients must open them for inspection and pay a tax, usually around 30% of the item’s value, including shipping costs. Import taxes can escalate to as high as 80% of the item’s value, contributing to the high cost of vehicles and other imported goods in Belize. For more detailed information on specific rates, individuals can consult the Belize Customs website, which provides comprehensive and up-to-date details on import duties and regulations.
It is interesting to note that Belize residents can import personal household effects free from customs duties as long as they have been owned for at least one year. Under the Qualified Retired Persons Incentive Program, expats do not have to become residents to residency benefits. If an expat meets the requirements, they will no longer have to pay the monthly tourist visa. They qualify for import tax exemptions on personal and household effects, vehicle, aircraft and boat for one year.
How Much Do I Need to Live Comfortably in Belize?
Belize retains its appeal as a sought-after retirement destination, offering a combination of political stability, a favorable legal environment, a manageable tax burden, and an efficient currency exchange system. Furthermore, housing in Belize continues to be notably more affordable than in much of Central America.
For those considering a move to Belize, it’s important to understand the financial requirements to live comfortably. While individual needs and lifestyles vary, a general estimate can be provided based on current economic conditions.
Depending on your choice of retirement location within Belize and the quality of life you desire, you can realistically budget as follows:
- On the mainland: You could comfortably live on a monthly budget ranging from approximately $1,700 to $2,000. This budget would cover your basic living expenses, including housing, food, transportation, and healthcare.
- In San Pedro: If you prefer the coastal lifestyle of San Pedro on Ambergris Caye, your monthly budget may be slightly higher. An estimated budget of around $2,700 per month should allow for a comfortable retirement in this area. This higher cost may be due to increased housing and living expenses associated with the island lifestyle.
Written By Amanda Foth
Amanda has over 25 years of real estate appraisal, sales and property management experience in the United States. She fell in love with Belize after coming down to do some volunteer work. After permanently moving there in 2008, she has toured through every part of Belize and has experienced life both as a tourist and as a resident. She has made more friends than she can count and is considered a Belizean by the locals. Amanda is uniquely qualified to offer practical advice to those considering a move to one of Central America’s undiscovered jewels.