I’m sure we all remember 2008’s Global Great Recession. Living in America at the time, I sure do. Amidst selling my possession to prepare for a move to Belize, we somehow managed to make it through the other side. In 2008, I started over from scratch in Belize. Today, it’s my faith that we’ll do the same with COVID-19. In the past six months since declared a global pandemic, people now find themselves wanting a different lifestyle. One way of doing that is moving to a place where the cost of living is cheaper, healthier and with a slower pace of life. So how can one save money by moving (and living) in Belize? While your cost of living in Belize is dependent on your lifestyle, here’s my personal breakdown as the Broker/Owner of RE/MAX Belize in Placencia and Hopkins.
ELECTRICITY – Likely the most expensive bill, Belize Electricity Limited (BEL) purchases electricity from Mexico. Priced at BZ$00.41 per kilowatt-hour. For example, a 2-bedroom house at 1,200 square feet with 24/7 air conditioning and 7 ceiling fans on will run about BZ$550.00; this also includes a floor fan, washer, dishwasher, dryer, etc.
FUEL – Butane is like gasoline and diesel, so it fluctuates in Belize. At time of writing, the price of gasoline, diesel and butane are $8.62, $8.40, and $4.21 respectfully.
WATER – The provider of Belize Water Services (BWS) is BWS fluctuates between $0.01 to $0.06, depending on your location. For example, the 2-bedroom house electricity example averages BZ$85.00 per month.
INTERNET & PHONE – Belize Telemedia Limited (BTL) offers competitive prices, alongside impressive Fiber Optics; prices range between BZ$69.00 for 10Mbps to BZ$189.00 for 40Mbps a month. However, BTL also offers tripled speeds when you buy one of the packages. Also offering pre-paid and post-paid plans, BTL will offer several promotional pricing. However, as a business owner with multiple locations and lines, my total BTL bills averages BZ$1,200 to $1,500 per month. That includes my company plan for 2 Lines PLUS a Fax line with internet for the Placencia Office, 1 line for the Hopkins office, my personal cellular phone with data plus any calls over our ‘complimentary’ amount of minutes.
GARBAGE PICKUP – Akin to North America, but arguably better. Placencia offers home pick-ups twice a week for BZ$22.00 a month, while other towns (like San Pedro) includes it in property tax.
In Placencia, property tax on my Placencia home is BZ$26.00 a year; yes, A YEAR. My San Pedro home is slightly higher given it is in a town, and not a village, at BZ$161.00 per year. On the other hand, income tax flat rate based on your gross income. One of the highest tax brackets is for commissions at *15 percent, but most of the country is priced at 1.75% for like stores, trades, etc. Additionally, income tax in Belize is paid monthly as opposed to yearly, like most developed countries.
If you find yourself living on an island, golf carts are your primary mode of transport; insurance is priced at BZ$100.00 per year, for liability only. However, on the mainland, take my ‘newest’ car model; a 2018 Nissan Kick averages at BZ$2,400 per year for full coverage, including glass breakage. On the other hand, house insurance runs around 1.5% of the house value you can exclude the lot for a concrete house; a mixed house (concrete base and wood top) would be around 2% while an all wood house would be around 3% a year. This is all perils insurance so includes everything: flood, fire, hurricane, theft, etc. The only add on is contents insurance. There is also a license plate fee as well every year based on vehicle weight. Most are under $200 unless it’s a large SUV, bus, etc.
As for the cost of healthcare while living in Belize, Belize Social Security Card grants free service with a government doctor. However, seeing a specialist (or private doctor) for a basic visit will average BZ$60.00 to 80.00 for a session, not including medication. For example, a full blood work-up (something I aim for every 6 months) includes a PSA, HIV, CBC, BMP, HDL and LDL panel. These tests run about $350 BZD in total. In the last few years, I’ve had a few encounters; a skin cancer spot on my chest set me back around BZ$3,500. That includes the initial appointment, second opinion, removal, lab screening, and a couple follow-up appointments. Additionally, an air conditioned section at a private hospital for 3 nights in a private room, operating room, anesthesiologist, OBGYN, Pediatrician and supporting staff, and follow up from doctors until you are discharged. This fee was BZ$5,000.00 BZD. Health Insurance and life insurance are both available, but it depends on age, history and tends to be cheaper than the US.
If you’re ready for an affordable offshore home as your primary or secondary residence, consider the low cost of living in Belize. For more information, visit www.1stchoicebelize.com. All photos courtesy of RE/MAX Belize unless stated otherwise.