In some circles within the real estate community, the discussion around Belize can make it sound like some mythical Shangri-La. The truth is that an American dollar will get you a long way in the real estate market — and there’s a lot of promise in terms of both short-term and long-term investment, having a practical understanding of the market and how best to navigate it can ultimately save you a lot of troubles. Like anywhere in the world, outright scam artists are out there, and finding a reputable agent or broker is important. Government-backed financial incentives targeting immigrants from developed countries like America can significantly reduce the financial costs usually associated with moving to a new country. Here’s everything you need to know about buying real estate in Belize in 2022.
Agriculture and tourism make up a bulk of Belize’s economy. From a distance, the market can look like a few commercial hubs and major resort towns connected by relatively minimal infrastructure. But the texture in between is one where quaint fishing and jungle communities blend together with multicultural urban hubs and communities comprised of ex-pats. Whether you’re looking for a remote jungle bungalow, a quiet farmhouse, or a beach party house, there is a wide range of options at a variety of price points. As Belize’s infrastructure grows, so does its value as a destination — but as the smallest country in Central America and the one with the lowest population density, it still hasn’t hit a bubble.
Belize’s larger geography is further broken down into six different districts, and each has its own advantages and disadvantages as well as its own unique sense of personality.
- Belize: The Belize District is home to the central hub of Belize City, but it also encompasses two of the most popular tourist islands: Caye Caulker and Ambergris Caye. If you’re looking for a property you can rent to tourists or a buzzing island retreat, this is where to look. And mainland properties in this district give you easier access to the rest of the country.
- Cayo: Also referred to as Belize’s Wild West, this district is home to lush mountains, verdant jungles, and phenomenal farmland. The capital of Belmopan and the adventurous twin towns of San Ignacio and Santa Elena. Beautiful but growing, it’s home to beautiful properties that confidently appreciate in value.
- Corozal: Since it’s positioned right along the Mexican border, Corozal has become a haven for ex-pats from throughout North America. Despite being home to a patchwork of different villages, Corozal remains off the beaten path of tourist crowds but offers some of the most beautiful beaches.
- Orange Walk: Another popular destination for North American ex-pats, the Orange Walk District is expansive, enrobed in the gorgeous scenery, and ethnically diverse. But its rural charm is fueling a growing community of immigrants, and that’s making it one of the fastest-growing districts in Belize.
- Stann Creek: The coastal Stann Creek District is home to a sizable portion of Belize’s Dangriga citizens who live along with the various fishing and port villages — but it’s also home to the Placencia Peninsula. This incredibly thin strip of land offers tons of prime beach real estate and easy access to the Belize Barrier Reef.
- Toledo: The dense jungle of this district has left it sparsely populated and sometimes difficult for commercial vehicles to reach. — and though it’s often a popular choice for outdoor adventurers, it only has three real settlements of note. It’s the place to buy a home if you really want seclusion.
What to Look For
Popular tourist destinations can offer the greatest return on rentals, but their prices spike with the popularity of the destination. Growing districts like Cayo, Orange Walk, and Corozal should be your primary points of reference if you want a property with more long-term growth potential. The process of buying a house is relatively straightforward and should be familiar to anyone from a former British colony, but finding the right specialized tradespeople to coordinate over Belize’s infrastructure means you may need to exercise more patience and coordinate more to get more complex constructions completed. In either case, having someone on the ground to make sure things are going smoothly is critical.
One advantage of buying property in Belize is that you can own it outright and even pass it down an inheritance, but the Qualified Retired Persons Program offers some huge advantages for a surprisingly low barrier to entry. Applicants only need to be 45 years or older and be able to demonstrate US$2,000 a month in verifiable income. Not only does it offer a pathway to residency and eventual citizenship, but it comes with a number of tax breaks and exceptions at customs.
Navigating the real estate market in Belize requires someone who knows the market, but finding the perfect property requires someone who understands the market and has a wide selection of properties at their disposal. By choosing a real estate agency, established ones — like Vista Real Estate — can help guide you through the process. They can help you identify what you’re looking for and help you narrow in on the perfect option for your budget and your objectives.