There are many reasons that North Americans and Europeans choose to move to Belize. First, there is the marvelous climate: you’ll never have to shovel snow in Belize. Instead, you’ll enjoy year-round sunshine and breezes. While the summers might be a bit hot, it typically stays below 90 degrees F even in August.
Then there is the lush beauty of the landscape and the plethora of activities that you can participate in. There is world-class scuba diving in Belize, as well as beautiful nature trails through the rainforest. There are Maya ruins to see, underground rivers to explore and zip line adventures to try.
A Universal Language
Expats will find it easy to travel throughout the country because almost everyone speaks English.
Belize used to be a British colony so that English is the official language. This makes it particularly convenient for expats as they don’t need to learn a new language to get around. Not only can you read the street signs and the maps, but if you need to do any legal work, you’ll be able to understand the contracts. This is particularly important if you intend to start a business or own real estate in Belize.
Making the process easier is the fact that people in Belize are so incredibly friendly.
Because Belizeans come from so many backgrounds, they are open and welcoming of people from all walks of life. Here in Belize you will find descendants of the ancient Maya as well as more recent Spanish and Mexican arrivals. There are also Garifuna, British, Indians, Chinese, Lebanese, and of course, expats that made the move to Belize from abroad in America and Europe.
This diversity in the background is reflected in the local cuisine. Before you move abroad to Belize, know you will not find a McDonald’s, Wendy’s, or any other franchise here. Instead, you will find an authentic and delicious native fare. Just make sure to tip when you go out to eat!
If you’re new in town and wonder how to meet people – well, it depends on where you decide to live. Those who retire to exclusive communities in Ambergris Caye, Placencia, or the Cayo District will find it easy to plug into the local group of ex-pats.
However, if you are of a more adventurous bent or would like to truly immerse yourself in the local culture, there are several great ways to the plugin. One of the simplest is to use public transportation. When you travel by bus here, you will find it is a very different experience than you are used to in your home country. In Belize, people will not ignore you and read the paper. Instead, they will actively engage with you.
The locals will find you to be interesting and will be happy to chat. This provides a great opportunity to learn about their culture. You might find out about an upcoming festival or other events you’ll want to attend or learn about clubs or activities you want to get involved with.
Operating on Belize Time
Another great way to meet people is to go to the farmers’ markets. Again, the locals are generally very friendly at these venues and will often share news about events and places you might find of interest. Be aware as you interact with the locals, however, that Belizean time operates differently than American time. The pace of life is more relaxed. If you can adjust your expectations of punctuality, you will be happy in your new home. If you expect things to happen as efficiently as they did in the States, you might be frustrated.
You will also be frustrated if you expect to go to large supermarkets and find the same name-brand items you had on the store shelves at home. In Belize, you will be better off shopping like the locals do, and not like how you did before you moved abroad. You can buy fresh, organic local produce for very reasonable prices. In addition to lush fruits and nutritious vegetables, you’ll find the local seafood superb.
During the lobster season, you may not want to eat anything else, but you’ll also find plenty of other types of fish and shellfish that are incredibly affordable as well as being so fresh and tasty. For those anxious, Belize’s next lobster season is slated to open on July 1, 2021.
The disadvantage of shopping like a local, however, is that you’ll have to plan ahead. Forget 24/7 service. Your favorite fruit stand might only be open a few hours a day and you’ll have to exercise patience if the local butcher decided to go fishing that morning.
A Tip for Remote Workers
Another area where you may be frustrated is when it comes to connectivity. While most places have internet access, it’s not always reliable or high speed. The same is true with telephone reception in some areas. In fact, if you want to start a business in Belize and absolutely need reliable high-speed internet and phone lines – your best bet might be to stay in a place filled with American and European tourists! Ironically enough, the best location for your start-up in Belize might be on your balcony overlooking the beach in San Pedro on Ambergris Caye.
You will find housing to be very affordable compared to the United States; however, electricity, gasoline, and high-speed internet may be more expensive. So while you will find that, in general, it’s truly wonderful to live in this tropical paradise known as Belize, there are a few areas where you’ll have to learn to be more relaxed, patient, and tolerant. Are you ready to move abroad to Belize?