Picture it: you’re starting from scratch to be a first-time homeowner in Canada. You make the median income, and want to put away some money every month to save up for a down payment. At that rate, the BBC says it’ll take you 30 years to buy a house in Canada’s current real estate market: in 2022, the country grapples with some of the worst housing affordability issues in the world. In fact, OECD data says the disconnect between home prices and incomes is one of the most dramatic in Canada with prices jumping more than 20%, pushing the average home in Canada to nearly C$817,000 ($650,000; £495,000). That’s more than nine times household income. That’s why one local agency, Vista Real Estate, is offering a solution: Canadians can find real estate in Belize for a fraction of the price you’d pay in Canada, essentially trading snow days for year-round tropical weather.
Why Canadians can choose Belize
Belize and Canada celebrate more than 40 years of bilateral relations, reinforced by shared ties as members of the Commonwealth and the Organization of American States (OAS). The systems of governments are similar, and operating entirely in English is an easy transition for Canadian ex-pats—Belize is the only Central American country that speaks English as its first language.
Belize is often thought of as a Caribbean country in Central America because it has a history similar to that of English-speaking Caribbean nations, but it’s geographically in the latter. Situated south of the Yucatán Peninsula, Belize is bound in the north by Mexico, in the west and south by Guatemala, while the Caribbean Sea seals its 174-mile coastline to the east.
Besides a beautiful landscape—think 400+ small islands, undulating mountains with tropical rainforests, and barefoot perfect beaches—the lifestyle in Belize is likely the biggest ‘why’ for ex-pats to choose Belize. North America is but a 2-hour flight away and to this day, Belize has largely avoided the masses of over-tourism, despite the industry being more than 40% of our GDP.
Belize’s plentiful wildlife, diverse regions, historical Mayan ruins, and being home to the largest barrier reef in the Northern hemisphere make it an attractive home for the Canadian adventurer. There are only a few thousand Canadians who call the country home already, Vista Real Estate is saying the recent price spike can be seen as an opportunity for Canadians to broaden horizons, consider new possibilities, and become more strategic about where and when to purchase a home.
Getting to Belize
Recently, the Belize Tourism Board shared combined ticket sales from the Airlines Reporting Corporation (ARC) and the International Air Transport Association (IATA) where Canada continued to rank as Belize’s third-largest market.
Canadians don’t need a visa to enter Belize and benefit from non-stop seasonal flights with WestJet and AirCanada, although the latter has not resumed service since the pandemic.
How affordable Belize’s real estate market really is
Belize’s plentiful wildlife, diverse regions, historical Mayan ruins, and being home to the largest barrier reef in the Northern hemisphere make it an attractive home for the Canadian adventurer. So does its retirement program. Belize’s Qualified Retired Person (QRP) visa is considered one of the most accessible retirement programs available, even with its $1k application fee; the Belize QRP visa is available to retired people over 45 who can prove income of at least $2,000 per month. Its perks include tax exemptions on income.
International Living magazine estimates that, if you’re frugal, you can get by on US$2,000 a month. A sample of monthly expenses might include:
- Rent: $850 (if you’re not ready to
- Electricity: $250
- Water: $35
- Cellphone: $50
- Internet and landline: $35
- Cable TV: $24
- Transportation: $50
- Gym membership: $100
- Food: $600
Source: International Living (estimates for Ambergris Caye, Belize’s most expensive destination)
Living on the mainland means a significant drop in expenses. What about right outside of the capital city instead?
2BD | 2BA | Hithergreen Drive, Camalote, Cayo | Found 10 minutes outside the capital City of Belmopan
Asking: CAD$446,250 | US$350,000 | BZ$700,000
Hidden and remarkably private, this alluring hacienda-style home sits on an impressive ¾ acre lot tucked away in a quiet Camalote neighborhood less than 1000 ft off the George Price Highway and just 10 minutes outside of the nation’s capital, Belmopan. The home sits on a perfectly manicured ¾ acre lot that offers loads of open green space for entertainment and is filled with a wide array of fruit trees including bananas, coconuts, limes, oranges, and more.