Why Moving to Belize Isn’t as Hard as You’d Think

moon living abroad in belize cover featuring a palm over a man on a beach

For all the essentials about making the move to Belize, check out Victoria’s book, the second edition of Moon Living Abroad in Belize.

There’s no doubt that a move abroad is a big step and a life-changing decision, but it can also be a fun adventure full of exciting new possibilities. I’ve lived in many places, including Kenya and the United Kingdom, but when I made the move to Belize in 2006, I discovered there’s no place quite like it. Magnificent tropical fauna, a laid-back lifestyle, and endless outdoor opportunities are just a few reasons why this Central American country is a destination that shouldn’t be overlooked. Living abroad in Belize is not as hard as it may seem. In fact, it’s one of the easiest countries for European and American citizens to relocate to. Here are the top reasons why:

No language barriers

You won’t need to learn a new language. English is the official language and most of the population speaks it, as it’s compulsory for all children to learn English in school. Spanish is also spoken, but you can definitely get by without it.

Familiar laws and government

The legal system is based on British Common law, which is the foundation of American law. The government is a democratic parliamentary model.

Simple immigration

Getting in and out of Belize is easy; there are no hard and fast commitments required and no visa is needed. You only need to renew a “tourist visa” once a month for $25 (USD). After a year, you have the option to become a resident. This gives you the chance to give Belize a test drive without too much red tape or financial commitment.

Easy currency

The Belizean dollar is pegged to the U.S. dollar at BZ $2 to US $1, and both currencies are in free circulation. Therefore, there’s no real adjustment required to a new currency.

Duty-free import

The government has made retirement in Belize an attractive option by introducing the Qualified Retired Persons (QRP) program. Participants can earn an income outside Belize tax-free and import personal effects to the value of $15,000 (USD)—including means of transportation—tax-and duty-free.

A single palm tree on one of Belize's white beaches.

Photo © Victoria Day-Wilson.

 

Friendly, welcoming people

Belizeans are some of the friendliest people on Earth and make everyone feel welcome.

Low taxes and supportive investment options

There’s no capital gains tax and no inheritance tax. QRPs are exempt from income tax. Property taxes are around the one percent mark. To avoid income taxes, the government has created the Belizean International Business Corporation (IBC) law which allows people to transfer income and assets to an IBC from which dividends are not taxable.

Proximity to North America

Only a two-hour flight from Miami, Belize is easily accessible to the United States. Just below Mexico, next to Guatemala, and bordered by the Caribbean, Belize is also a great base for traveling to the Caribbean, as well as Central and South America.

For a country roughly the size of Massachusetts with a small population of 320,000, Belize packs a big punch in terms of variety and diversity. Many expats are drawn to Belize’s tropical climate, beautiful fauna and flora, multiculturalism, ancient history, and political stability. There’s something for everyone—beaches, lagoons, rivers, islands and jungles. The quality of life is high and the cost of living is low. It’s a place in touch with the rest of the world, but untouched enough to explore. Life is uncomplicated but always interesting. You may feel as though you’ve discovered paradise.

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37 Comments

  1. Miguel says:

    how would i go about getting a citizen of Belize back to the US with me

  2. Richard Cianchetti says:

    How much would it cost me to rent a nice house to retire in Belize. We are on a fixed income of $2,000 a month. Would it be cheaper to purchase a house there instead of renting. Richard Cianchetti

    • Kimi Owens says:

      Hi Richard,

      As Victoria states in her book, rental prices vary widely and can go from US$500 to US$6000. Her suggestion is to start by asking real estate agents, or if you stay in a hotel or B&B during a fact-finding trip to chat with the owners. For more info on renting, check out the Daily Life section in Moon Living Abroad in Belize.

  3. Woodson Poe says:

    I would like to import small motorhomes to Belize. Are there any tips you could give me? Thanks

    • Kimi Owens (admin) says:

      Hi Woodson,

      If you’re looking to start a business, I’d suggest you contact a local lawyer who can advise you on what requirements are necessary for commercial import.

  4. Amber says:

    if i want to move to belize, do you think i coul bring a mini cooper with me? and what about my pets?

    • Kimi Owens (admin) says:

      Hi Amber,

      Victoria has a whole section on moving with pets in her book, including whether or not your pets would be happy in a subtropical climate. If you’re moving from the US or Canada, you can definitely drive overland through Mexico versus shipping a vehicle, though you may want to consider the cost of maintenance and repair, as that can be an unexpectedly high and regular cost.

  5. Kate Darcy says:

    I am a social worker trying to relocate to Belize but can find no board or certification necessary. Although my spouse will soon be retired (62), I myself am only 52 and need to work to support living expenses…any advise?

    • Jen says:

      I am a social worker as well and am trying to find a way to move to Belize and do social work that is not volunteer jobs. Have you heard any further about the licence requirements if you found any?

      • Wendy says:

        Hi Jen:
        I am a Social Worker as well Are you still hoping to move to Belize? Did you find out anything about working there and living there.

    • Wendy says:

      Hi Kate
      I am a social worker as well. Did you end up moving to Belize? Did you find out anything??
      Wendy

  6. Garrett Clair says:

    I’m a bartender currently working and living in Oklahoma. I’m 28 no attachments except my dog. My question is how easy would it be for me to pick up and relocate to Belize and find a job bartending or maybe a serving job? Also how long could I survive on say $5,000 while looking for work? Thank you for your help any input would be helpful.

  7. Jerry says:

    Thinking of relocating with the family. I have done quite a bit of research but my wife and I would still need to work. I am a service technician and from what I have read the lack of skilled workers may be an advantage for someone with my skill. I am not expecting much pay as I have read about the very low pay people make. Fortunately that is not why I would like to relocate there. I was just wondering if there was a way to find an employment agency or website that will assist in finding employment down there? Any help would be appreciated.

  8. suzanne scherer says:

    I have heard Belize has a policy of hiring natives before ex-pats for any kind of employment. How difficult would it be to get a job that would support oneself if there is little or no income from the US?

  9. Rob says:

    Victoria, is it possible to get some advice on support for investment? Or, possibly just a working niche that a man and his wife, both in good shape, relatively young, and with a slight nest egg under them could do to support themselves?

  10. Arne says:

    Hi Vicky,

    Great article! I have 2 kids. Would they be eligible for free public school if we are there on a tourist visa?

    Cheers,
    Arne

  11. delia hwoe says:

    Are there pain doctors in Belize?

    • Kimi Owens (admin) says:

      Hi Delia,

      Victoria has a whole section on health and healthcare in her book, Moon Living Abroad in Belize. I recommend reading it for an overview of medical care in Belize as she discusses the availability of medication and other relevant concerns.

  12. Allen S. Miller, DC, DACBSP says:

    Hello Ms. Day-Wilson,
    My name is Allen Miller, my girlfriend are americans and have a distribution equipment that sells all over the world. We are looking at quality of life living, so of course we want to leave Los Angeles, CA.. We were thinking of Belize for a variety of reasons, slower pace, beautiful weather, clean food, water sports etc. We can run our business from the internet, as well as cell phone. We are both chiropractors as well and thought of approaching the local resorts etc for extra work..I would love to hear your thoughts and advice. It is appreciated greatly. If there is a way I can reciprocate the favor, I would be glad to help you in anyway I can…thank you,
    Allen Miller

  13. clare plott says:

    We want to try the life …moving forward there’s still lots of how to questions.

    • Kimi Owens (admin) says:

      Hi Clare,

      Victoria’s book, Moon Living Abroad in Belize, aims to answer as many of those questions as possible. It covers everything from research, to planning the move, to questions about healthcare and costs of living. If you don’t find what you need in the book, please reach out and let us know what sort of information you’d like to see more of.

  14. Patricia Simmons says:

    How hard is it to relocate to Belize with two small kids in school and could I find a job?

    • Kimi Owens (admin) says:

      Hi Patricia,

      Victoria has a whole chapter in her book devoted to securing employment in Belize, whether that’s starting your own business or finding work. She also has a section that covers moving to Belize with children and what regions will allow your children to attend private school if that’s important to you.

  15. Merrilee Anto says:

    What type of jobs are there in Belize?

    • Kimi Owens (admin) says:

      Hi Merrilee,

      In her book, Victoria talks about employment opportunities. Including those available in tourism, construction, medicine, teaching, and real estate, though many expats choose to start their own business or purchase one.

  16. Wendy Paul says:

    I am university educated in Canada with a degree in social work and psychology. I have 15 years work experience working with blind and visually impaired as SW/case manager. I was hoping to get a work visa from BCVI with my specialty. I have corresponded with them, but they seem to have no interest. I currently have worked for 10 years as a Social Worker with the Arthritis Society in Canada. Could either experience be a specialty to get me a work visa? I am too young to retire, and even when I sell my house in Canada I won’t have the required income for retirees, nor can I sustain myself for 10 years until I become a senior. Do you have any ideas? I am desperate to move from Canada to Central America and Belize seems to fit what I am looking for.

    • Kimi Owens (admin) says:

      Hi Wendy,

      I would highly suggest reading the chapter on Employment and the chapter on Finance in Victoria’s book, as that will give you a better idea of the hurdles in finding work or the process of starting your own business in Belize, as well as a better idea of cost of living.

  17. steven says:

    Very nice article. I am a general surgeon and have been practicing for 13 or so years. I want to move out of the country. Please write me back as I would love to chat.

  18. bruce says:

    Want to move to Belize! What all do I need to do? I’m a truck driver and don’t know if there are any driving jobs down there! Thank you for your help. Sincerely, Bruce

  19. Mary says:

    Hi, Kimi,
    I plan on getting Victoria’s book asap, it sounds just what I’ve been looking for. I’ve been dreaming about moving to Belize for years and get truly excited just thinking about it! I live in Nova Scotia, Canada, and as you are likely aware we have an amazing health care system here. I’m wondering what the protocol is in Belize regarding medical, etc. …. Also, I’m in my 50s and would have to have employment. Can a woman living alone manage to be comfortable? I’m what they call a “jack of all trades, master of none”. (Well, I have a Diploma in Mine Engineering Technology but have been out of the mining industry field for some years.) Any advice would be appreciated until I get my hands on the book.
    Thank you so much!
    Mary

    • Mary says:

      It’s now June 25/15 —

      Still hoping to hear from you!

      • Kimi Owens (admin) says:

        Hi Mary,

        I hope you’ve been able to pick up a copy of Victoria’s book as I only know what little I’ve read in it! I do know that she suggests visiting medical facilities while on your fact-finding trip to see if you’re satisfied with available care. “Comfortable” is also relative, and a question I’m not equipped to answer, but nearly every single Living Abroad book we publish stresses taking a fact-finding trip, as moving to another country is a big leap. Spending a few weeks in Belize and talking to residents and other expats would be invaluable.

  20. Viviane says:

    I’m looking to move to Belize but I am not a retiree, I need a change and would love to have my own island bar. I work in the service industry. Any suggestions on finding a job?

    • Kimi Owens (admin) says:

      Hi Viviane,

      As I mentioned above to Patricia, Victoria has a whole chapter in her book devoted to securing employment in Belize, whether that’s starting your own business or finding work.