As the coronavirus pandemic continues to take its toll and the political situation heats up, many Americans are thinking about bolting and leaving the U.S. International Living, a website that shows how you can live, retire and invest overseas, says that interest in leaving America has been soaring—with traffic up 945% from May to early August on its “How to Move Out of the US” page. According to Immigration New Zealand, a total of 250,000 Americans have looked into how to leave the U.S. and move to the Pacific island nation, with visits to the website New Zealand Now spiking 160%—an average of about one U.S. resident a minute. Americans are giving up their citizenship at record levels: According to Bambridge Accountants New York, twice as many people (5,816 Americans) relinquished their citizenship in the first half of 2020, compared to the 2,072 who did it during the entirety of 2019. Perhaps, that’s exactly why Belize was named in the five cheapest places to move to for those looking to leave the U.S.
“The huge increase in U.S. expats renouncing from our experience is that the current pandemic has allowed individuals the time to review their ties to the U.S. and decide that the current political climate and annual U.S. tax reporting is just too much to bear,” says Alistair Bambridge, partner at Bambridge Accountants New York.
Influencing Factors: Lower Cost of Living & Newfound Work Freedom
Jennifer Stevens, executive editor at International Living, says that a lower cost of life and newfound work freedom is also influencing people: “With job losses into the millions, some folks are looking for places where they can lower their cost of living. For others, new ‘remote working’ flexibility has them thinking that if they can work from home, home might as well be at a beach. In the right spots overseas, that beach can prove remarkably affordable.”
Whatever the reason, many Americans simply want out and are looking for places where they can move out of the U.S. So it makes sense that the editors at International Living recently came out with a list of the five cheapest—and best—places to go if you want to leave the U.S. These countries include Costa Rica, Belize, Portugal, Uruguay and Mexico. Stevens says the editors chose these countries because they offer a low cost of living, have easy-to-meet visa requirements and are also friendly, safe and welcoming to expats. And while some of the countries on the list aren’t accepting U.S. tourists right this minute due to COVID restrictions, this is the time to start making your plans for relocating as soon as any travel bans lift.
Why It’s Great: International Living has seen a whopping 798% increase in traffic to its “Move to Belize” page since May 2020. The appeal? English is the primary language (making it easy for expats to fit in); plus, the country offers a low cost of living and there’s a slow pace of life. It’s a barefoot nirvana that International Living describes as a “rustic paradise.”
Where To Move: Belize is known for its diverse natural beauty (secluded beaches, rain forests, jungles) and Maya ruins. “I spend most of my time right now on the island of Ambergris Caye, which is known as the very fun, energetic Jimmy Buffett Island,” says International Living correspondent Laura Diffendal, who moved to Belize in 2014 from Cleveland, Ohio. “And I also spend time in Placencia which is sort of a quieter, bohemian place, much calmer and much less crowded, a lot more like tranquil, open beaches.”
Is the cost of living in Belize really cheaper?
The Cost: A couple living and renting can live lavishly on a monthly budget starting at US$2,875; even on a place like Ambergris Caye. Home prices can be under $15,000 for a simple Belizean-style home in a small village; or, $500,000 up for a luxury home on the beach in San Pedro.
The Details: As a U.S. citizen, you can stay in Belize for up to one month without a visa. After that, you can provide proof of long-term renting or other documents showing why you are staying in the country; you can then be granted a 60-day or a 90-day permit. Every 30 days, you can renew your visa. Once you live in Belize for 50 consecutive weeks, you can apply for permanent residence.
Ready to take up Forbes’ advice for Belize being one of the cheapest places to move to? Let the following Real Estate Agencies help:
- Re/Max 1st Choice
- Carmelita Gardens
- Sunrise Realty
- Sunset Caribe Realty
- The James Group
- Vista Real Estate
Read more on Escape From America: 5 Cheapest Places To Move If You Want To Leave The U.S. by Forbes here.
Feature Image Courtesy: ROEming Belize Travel Agency