Living on Ambergris Caye
More and more people are looking at options to retire or live off-shore. Whether you are looking for a change of lifestyle, can work remotely, have a relaxing place to retire, or planning to get away part-time and live in a tropical paradise, you’re not alone. Central America and the Caribbean have never been more popular and people looking to relocate to this region are ever-increasing. Every destination has something to offer, and for many, the perfect setting for relocation to the Caribbean is Ambergris Caye, Belize.
What makes Ambergris Caye such a popular place for ex-pats, retirees, investors, and sunseekers? Until recently, the country of Belize was off the world’s radar, now, it has become one of the go-to destinations for tourism and investment. Here are some reasons why so many people are investing and relocating to Ambergris Caye.
Weather & Climate
Being in the Caribbean and near the equator makes the island of Ambergris Caye a tropical paradise. You have the warm Caribbean sun with the nice ocean breeze 12 months of the year (with only a few days of heavy rain). Ambergris Caye really is a slice of heaven for anyone that has experienced and has had to endure the frigid winter months, filled with snow, ice, and freezing temperatures. When winter rolls around in Belize, you’re still in shorts and a t-shirt, still swimming in Caribbean waters. Ambergris Caye, Belize has one of the most consistent climates in the region, even the rainy season (August, September & October) is full of sun.
The desirable climate and great weather are probably the biggest draws to Belize. Ambergris Caye has the Caribbean weather an annual consistency.
Cost of Living & Affordability
Belize in general is less expensive than other destinations in the Caribbean. Though imported items can be more expensive (ie. a box of cereal), overall day-to-day life is much cheaper. Having both the mainland and the islands, Belize is the only net agricultural exporter in CARICOM. This makes the cost of living on Ambergris Caye much easier and less costly than other Caribbean destinations. For a retirement option, lifestyle and real estate is a fraction of the cost of other popular destinations like Florida or Arizona. The affordability of the cost of living makes it an excellent choice for those seeking a comfortable life without overextending. At the same time, those with more means will find plenty of options for larger homes and condominiums to buy or rent.
Now, you may ask, how much does it currently take to live comfortably on Ambergris Caye? The average cost per month varies person-to-person and really comes down to your personal lifestyle (like anywhere it can be as cheap or expensive as you want it to be), that said generally a person can live comfortably on $1,800 to $3,000 USD per month (again, depending on your living arrangements and lifestyle). That includes rent or mortgage, food, utilities, and other essentials. If you’re currently living in a country where it’s hard to find a home (to rent or buy), and the cost of living has become too expensive, a move to Ambergris Caye would make financial sense.
Overall, in 2022, the cost of living in Belize is 32% cheaper than in the US. (Numero data)
Political Stability of Belize
Belize practices British Common Law which is similar to domestic systems in the US or Canada. Foreigners own their property outright with a fee-simple title. When buying property in Belize foreigners have the same ownership rights as locals. Belize has sought to create a stable democracy since its independence in 1981. At the time, the country established a British parliamentary democracy. This has made it one of the most appealing aspects of being a destination for people looking to live, retire, and invest off-shore. Not all countries around Central America and the Caribbean can make the same claim or have the same political stability.
North Americans (From the USA & Canada) as well as Europeans will feel comfortable with familiar laws and political processes. The political stability of Belize makes the transition much easier and simpler to establish a new life abroad.
Most of Central America is Spanish Speaking or at least has Spanish as the primary language. One of the biggest challenges of moving abroad is learning a second language, or adapting to a new culture. It is one thing to speak another language, but it is another to receive medical information and legal documents in another language. That’s not something most North Americans have to worry about if they move to Ambergris Caye. English is the official language of Belize. Not only do you speak in your native tongue in your day-to-day life (without the loss in translation), all legal documents and Belize real estate agreements are in English.
You might need to become familiar with local slang, and there is a large Spanish and Kriol influence. The terms, phrases, and slangs of the local culture often delight newcomers once they learn what they mean. The multicultural aspect of Belize and native slang is one of the many charms of Ambergris Caye.
As mentioned, many Belizeans are multilingual, speaking Kriol, Spanish, and Mayan languages, but no matter where you go English is the primary language.
Beauty & Natural Landscape
The Belize Reef is one of the largest tourism draws. Thousands of tourists every year flock to Belize to fish, dive, and snorkel. Few places have the same turquoise blue waters and sandy beaches as Belize. Imagine relaxing on a beach, enjoying a cocktail with views of pristine turquoise waters and greenery everywhere you look. You look up and there are clear skies, although you may have some showers in the afternoon. There are palm trees blowing in the wind with boats passing by. San Pedro Town is a true Caribbean town, full of vibrant colors and local culture.
Residents and tourists enjoy the natural beauty and the Caribbean setting. Once you experience it, you will understand why the pace of living is a little slower on Ambergris Caye. People want to enjoy their surroundings, take in the ocean, and enjoy the day. If you are looking to escape the schedules, stress, and multitasking of day-to-day life back home, you’ll love the slow, relaxed pace on Ambergris Caye.
People & Culture
When people visit Belize, they come for the beaches but stay for the people and the culture. The friendliness of the people on Ambergris Caye is what keeps people coming back and the first thing they talk about when they get home. There is a reason why tourists visit Ambergris Caye, they go and experience the town and Secret Beach and venture outside of their resorts (unlike Mexico, Dominican Republic, and other destinations that have all-inclusive resorts). The safety and friendliness of the island make it even more of a paradise and almost a utopia. In many ways, life on Ambergris Caye is like living in a small town. You quickly get to know everyone. People stop on the street or in the shops to chat for a moment. Everyone waves as they pass you on the street. If you have a question about where to buy something, others are happy to provide you with information and are quick to assist you.
At the same time, people on Ambergris Caye are not as intrusive or gossip filled as in other small towns. People on Ambergris Caye happily recognize and honor your boundaries. Whether it is locals or expats, everyone is warm and welcoming to newcomers. This makes it all the easier to meet people, make friends, and find yourself forming strong relationships.
Healthy & Nearly Car-Free
The primary mode of transportation on Ambergris Caye and in San Pedro is a golf cart. It is one of the many charming attributes of the island. There’s something special about being able to step outside your door and easily walk to where you need to. It is even more pleasant with the warm weather, tropical breeze, and sun shining. Depending on where you live on Ambergris Caye, you can easily walk to where you need to go. Most of the locals and residents drive around on golf carts, or small vehicles, with only a few trucks and large cars. Bicycles and golf carts are the popular modes of transportation on Ambergris Caye. You likely won’t need (or want) a car on Ambergris Caye.
The food has no preservatives. The local restaurants, markets, and fruit stands provide local produce, seafood, and meat. It is also easy to avoid the indulgence of fast food as there are none on the island. The air and food are likely much healthier than what you are accustomed to at home. It is much easier to have a healthier lifestyle on Ambergris Caye.
Medical & Healthcare
No matter your age (young or old), you want to ensure you have healthcare available. The healthcare in Ambergris Caye is not equal to that in the US or Canada, but it does exceed expectations and is very affordable. When living abroad or considering making a move to an off-shore country it is important to consider your healthcare needs.
One of the nice things about Ambergris Caye is the access to clinics, doctors, and pharmacies on the island. Ambergris Caye is the $1 destination in Belize, and as the country’s major tourism hotspot, it makes sense that there are plenty of options when it comes to quality of care and healthcare. Healthcare is available and cheap, insurance coverage is affordable and out-of-pocket costs are reasonable.
If you need specialized medical care, it is easy to travel to Belize City, or even Houston or Miami in the US, or Mexico (Cancun or Merida). Traveling to and from Belize is not difficult if you need more intensive medical care, surgery, or specialized care.
As much as you may love living abroad, and enjoying everything Belize has to offer, there will likely still be times when you want/need to return home. Whether you travel back to visit family, handle affairs, or just need a break, Belize is very easy to access and easy to get back home. Ambergris Caye is a short hopper flight from Belize City (roughly 10 to 15 minutes). From there, it’s easy to get back to the United States and Canada with direct flights to almost every major hub.
This brings peace of mind to anyone needing to return home for an emergency or celebration. It also means less travel time when going away for a vacation or visiting home. Ambergris Caye is just south of Cancun and the Yucatan Peninsula, which makes it close to home.
The only international airport in Belize is in Belize City, BZE (Philip Goldson
Living on Ambergris Caye
Living on Ambergris Caye, Belize has many other perks and advantages when it comes to living here. Also, you give yourself a home base in Belize for further exploration of the country. You can make Ambergris Caye your permanent residence or a Caribbean getaway (second home).