Belize Remains a Top Caribbean Retirement Hotspot in 2017
Thinking of making Belize your second or permanent home? There are many options for acquiring residency in Belize, but Belize’s QRP (Qualified Retirement Program) is renowned for being one of the best in the world. In fact, in 2016 Ambergris Caye was rated as a Top Caribbean Retirement Spot by U.S. News & World Report. In 2017 Belize was named in International Living’s Top 4 Countries in the World for Retiree Benefits.
Ambergris Caye is roughly a 25 mile-long, 3 mile-wide island that runs right alongside the stunning Mesoamerican Barrier Reef on Belize’s Caribbean coast. San Pedro Town / Ambergris Caye attracts over 70% of all tourism that enters the country, and has a sizeable population of resident American and Canadian families, business owners, and retirees. The lifestyle on Ambergris Caye is relaxed and welcoming.
The number of Americans retiring abroad continues to grow; from 2010 – 2015 the number of Americans retiring outside of the US grew an astonishing 17%, and the trend is expected to continue for the next ten years as more baby boomers retire. Ambergris Caye is known for being one of the best places to retire in the Caribbean. Ambergris Caye is one of the most affluent areas in the country while still being quite affordable compared to other Caribbean retirement hotspots.
When Belize’s QRP was first implemented in 1999, it attracted considerable interest from retirees from the start. If the thought of a retirement lifestyle in paradise tempts you, read on and you’ll realize why you too, should consider retiring to Belize:
Climate: Belize’s warm year-round temperature averages 79°F / 26°C; and that famously blue Caribbean Sea? — it averages 77°F / 25°C!
Cost of Living: Your money goes further. The Belize dollar is pegged 2:1 to the US dollar, and US currency is accepted most everywhere in the country. Many cost-of-living metrics in Belize are lower than their counterparts in the US. For instance, basic medical care, property taxes, local farm produce & seafood, household assistance, and cable TV are significantly lower in Belize than in the US.
Culture: Belizeans are friendly! Retirees can expect to feel welcome in Belize. To illustrate this fact, in 2016 International Living rated Belize a 98/100 in the category of “Fitting In” in the International Living Retirement Index. The fact that Belize’s official language is English definitely helps!
Retirement Age: Minimum age to retire is just 45 years old through the Belize QRP visa.
Minimum Income: Belize QRP retirement visa applicants must prove income of just $2,000USD / month. As an extra perk, married couples do not need to show $4,000 / month — just $2,000 — since one applies and one is listed as the dependent.
Duty-Free Imports: For one year after being granted retiree status in Belize, Qualified Retired Persons may import all basic personal and household goods, one vehicle, airplane, and boat with no import duties.
Quick approval: Generally Belize QRP retirement status approvals are fairly quick and painless, as they are handled by the Belize Tourism Board, and not the Belize Immigration Department. The country has offered such a generous retirement program to attract foreigners to Belize, and the policies in place continue to favor retirees.
Property Ownership Rights: Most North Americans feel much more comfortable buying property in a full-ownership country like Belize, where foreigners receive the same rights as citizens when it comes to property rights and land title.
Medical Care: Belize has excellent public and private health care both on Ambergris Caye and in Belize City. Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital is the country’s most well-known hospital, and can treat the most serious medical problems. But the choice of most ex-pats and local elite are either of the two primary clinics in Belize City, Belize Medical Associates or Belize Healthcare Partners. Both are inexpensive, have short wait times, and accept most foreign health insurance plans. The majority of doctors in Belize City and Ambergris Caye were trained in countries known for high quality medical care, such as the US, Guatemala, and Cuba.
Proximity to US & Canada: Belize is conveniently located within the bounds of US Central Standard Time half of the year, and Mountain Standard Time the other half. Belize is also a quick plane ride from most major cities in North America. Flight time to Belize is around 5 hours from Los Angeles, 2.5 hours from Houston, and 5 hours from Toronto.
Health & Well-Being: Belize is one of the most biodiverse countries on the planet, meaning it’s good for its human inhabitants’ long-term health, too! Belize has nearly 365 days of sunshine, which produces mood-boosting serotonin. In addition, there have been many studies showing that living near the sea may increase one’s creativity and overall well-being. With a population of only 367,000, the air is pure, pollution is at a minimum, and the pace of life is relaxed.
Stunning geography: Belize boasts some of the most beautiful natural geography in the world. The sea is a spectrum of turquoise, blue, and green. Fascinating Mayan ruins are dotted throughout the country, surrounded by lush subtropical rainforests and plains of rolling hills.
If you’ve ever considered retiring abroad, Belize remains a favorite among North American expats and should be on the top of your list. Belize’s gorgeous Caribbean geography, quality of life, proximity to the US, and relaxed, welcoming atmosphere make it one of the world’s best retirement destinations. There’s no need to learn another language or feel disconnected from family and friends. In fact, it’s common that a move to Belize will attract a regular stream of visitors!
Want more information on how to retire to Belize? For a more in-depth look at Belize’s retirement visa process, here’s a link to the official Belize QRP application.
If you have thought of retiring to or owning property in Belize, consider joining our Coastal Living® Lifestyle Trip to get a sneak peek at Mahogany Bay Village before its grand opening in 2017, along with an objective overview of the Ambergris Caye real estate market. Trips are $497 for 4 days / 3 nights and fill up quickly. For additional information, visit mbvlifestyle.com or call Mahogany Bay Village Mon – Sat during business hours (Belize time) @ +1.800.416.7339, or email [email protected]
See you in paradise!