Ambergris Caye Utilities

Ambergris Caye Utilities

We are often asked about Ambergris Caye utilities and how much they cost. Electricity, telephone, internet, water, and sewer utilities are all available and relatively reliable in San Pedro Town and on Ambergris Caye. On Ambergris Caye, the municipality of San Pedro (and the surrounding areas including developments that are located in and near town) have full access to utilities. For developments situated north and south of town, septic tanks or contained wastewater systems along with cisterns are typically used.

Cisterns often are often used as a secondary source of water, and there is a reverse osmosis water treatment system in San Pedro Town that provides water to town residents and the developments/communities close to the municipality. The more remote resorts and developments generate their own electricity if they are not connected to the municipal electricity provided through BEL (Belize Electricity Limited) electrical lines.

Most people are surprised to learn that most of Ambergris Caye (especially in San Pedro Town) is on municipal utilities, including; electricity, water, sewer, and high-speed internet. That said, not all areas and communities have the same utilities available as others do. Areas like Secret Beach are “off-grid” with homes currently running on solar and generators for power. Most of the homes and developments north of the bridge have their own cisterns for water and septic systems (not on municipal sewer).

If you are on municipal utilities, your water likely comes from BWS (Belize Water Services) and your electricity comes from BEL (Belize Electricity Limited). Internet providers are Digi & Smart both providers are very reliable and provide high-speed internet to Ambergris Caye. You will be happy to know that almost every corner of Ambergris Caye has cell service and a reliable connection.

Mahogany Bay is one of the few developments that provide new build options that run entirely on municipal utilities. The lots are all individually metered and set up with sewer, water, and electrical. In Mahogany Bay, there is also high-speed internet available with some of the fastest internet speeds in Belize and the Caribbean region.

It is important to note that all projects north of the bridge and south of Mahogany Bay require off-grid water and sewer, in Mahogany Bay, you invest in a property knowing that you are fully on municipal utilities and have the services hooked up to your home with each home metered individually. You receive an electrical and water bill monthly, very similar to the US & Canada.  

 

 

Ambergris Caye Utilities Availability

Areas of Ambergris Caye are fully on municipal utilities, these areas include water, sewer, electricity, and fiber optic internet. You can see a breakdown below;

  • Municipal Electricity: San Pedro Town, South Ambergris Caye, Mahogany Bay Village, East Coast, Costa Del Sol.
  • Municipal Water: San Pedro Town, areas south of the bridge (south of Mara Lagoona), Mahogany Bay Village. 
  • Municipal Sewer: San Pedro Town, areas south of the bridge (south of Mara Lagoona), Mahogany Bay Village. 
  • High-Speed Internet: San Pedro Town, Mahogany Bay Village, and Areas of the East Coast have Fibre Optic. Other areas have high-speed LTE service. 

If a property on Ambergris Caye does not have municipal electricity, they often use solar panels and generators. If they do not have municipal water, they often use a cistern that is on-site. If a property is on the municipal water system (which uses desalinization and reverse osmosis) you can drink the tap water (unlike other destinations in the region). If a home, development, or area does not have sewer in place, they will likely use their own on-site septic system.

Ultimately, there are areas and communities on Ambergris Caye that has all the amenities of the first world. There are other areas that require upgrades and installations. 

 

Ambergris Caye Electricity

If a home or business on Ambergris Caye is on municipal electricity it is likely provided through BEL (Belize Electricity Limited). Electricity on Ambergris Caye comes from undersea lines from Mexico. Unlike Caye Caulker which gets power from diesel generators.

Since all the power and electricity on Ambergris Caye comes from subterranean lines from Mexico, it is cheaper than other Caribbean Islands and other areas of Belize. Generally speaking power and electricity on Ambergris Caye is around half the cost per kWh than other Caribbean islands.

San Pedro Town & the East Coast has on-grid electricity. Secret Beach and the West Coast have off-grid electricity. The off-grid electricity at areas like Secret Beach commonly comes from Solar and Generators. The cost of off-grid utilities (solar/generator) will depend on how much power you want to generate.

Electricity and power prices right now are comparable to domestic markets. Electricity on the island is around $0.17 to $0.22 per kWh. This is comparable to the US, Canada, or the UK. The electrical provider is BEL (Belize Electricity Limited). Billed monthly like US or Canada. 

 

Solar Power

There are areas of Ambergris Caye that do not have access to municipal utilities and electricity. The homes and businesses near Secret Beach and the West Coast use solar as the primary source of electricity. When designing the solar system to fit your house you need to look at how much kWh you will be using on a daily average so you know how many panels and how many batteries are needed.

Things to consider:

  • The number of outlets you want in the home. 
  • The number of lights and type of lighting.
  • The number of fans and ceiling fans.
  • Will you have air conditioning? If so, how many?
  • What size and fridge.
  • The TV.
  • Stereo system.
  • Septic system.
  • Water pump.

There are 3 things that use quite a bit of power when using solar panels; Air Conditioning, Microwaves, and Washers/Dryers. Almost everything on the island in regards to Air Conditioning is mini-splits.

 

Ambergris Caye Water & Sewer

Ambergris Caye has a desalination plant and the water is provided through reverse osmosis. Water provider through BWS (Belize Water Services). They bought the reverse osmosis plant from Consolidated Water and have since invested $35 million into the system and upgrades. 

BWS recently doubled its production. The reverse osmosis system through BWS is now capable of holding 2.5 million gallons of water and daily production of 1.3 million gallons.

Every property in Mahogany Bay is individually metered and the water is provided through reverse osmosis from BWS. One of the other advantages to Mahogany Bay is the fact that just to the south of the community is the facility that produces the water through reverse osmosis, meaning that Mahogany Bay is one of the first communities with access to municipal water. This is important to factor in since the distance the water travels from purification to your home is much shorter than that of a property located further North in San Pedro Town. 

The water treatment facility produces 1.3 million gallons of water per day and in 2018 stored 2.5 million gallons of water at any given time. The facility underwent upgrades to increase the water production capacity and storage, that project was back in October 2019. The sewage system put in place on the island cost $90 million and is state of the art.

Mahogany Bay is one of the only communities that can verify the cleanliness of the water, other projects like Grand Caribe, Salt Life, or La Sirene all have to produce their own water and have their own sewer system. In Mahogany Bay, being fully on municipal utilities, you have confidence in knowing that your water is clean and your waste is properly disposed of (without crossover or risk of contamination). 

Regarding the quality of the water and being drinkable, yes you can drink the water in Mahogany Bay and the properties that are on the municipal reverse osmosis/desalinization system. As mentioned above, Ambergris Caye has a desalination plant and the city water is as safe to drink as any of the top places in the States or Canada.

Bottled water is available for sale for those still worried. People often purchase 5-gallon jugs and use that for drinking water. The tap water is drinkable and many people do drink it (tourists and locals). In Mahogany Bay, you are assured of safe and clean water. For any property that is not on municipal water, you should be skeptical as I could not verify the cleanliness of the water.

In regards to the water and septic bill, that can fluctuate depending on the home and occupancy. Like anywhere in the world, there are fluctuations depending on how much water is used. The price for water is done in consumption blocks which you can see below;

0 to 1,000 gallons: $12.80

1,001 to 2,000 gallons $15.11

2,001 to 3,000 gallons $16.27

3,001 to 4,000 gallons $17.44

4,001 to 5,000 gallons $18.60

5,001 to 6,000 gallons $22.08

6,001 to 7,000 gallons $26.15

7,001 to 8,000 gallons $29.05

8,001 + $31.96

*note that all prices are in USD

 

It is important to note that most of the island of Ambergris Caye does not run on municipal water or sewage. Most of the southern part (South of Mahogany Bay) and almost everything North of the bridge (past Mara Laguna) does not run on municipal water or sewage and have to have their own systems installed. 

The water provided through reverse osmosis and on municipal utilities is drinkable. Though most people get drinking water from 5-gallon jugs. 

Off-grid septic uses a combination of leach fields, septic tanks, multi-chamber systems, and compostable toilets. Off-grid water frequently uses rain catchment systems. Additional water can be delivered by BWS if required.

 

 

Sewer vs Septic

The words “sewer & septic” are often used interchangeably, but they are in fact very different. The difference between septic and sewer is quite simple, and often unknown to people not familiar with off-grid systems or home construction. Septic treats your wastewater on-site and is usually contained in an individual house that is not connected to municipal utilities. With a septic system, the owner is responsible for the cost to install and maintain the waste and water system.

A sewer or sewage system, on the other hand, is a system that runs on municipal waste management. A sewage system or home with sewer directs your wastewater to a centralized treatment plant operated by the local government and funded by fees and taxes.

A septic system is installed by a homeowner or a contractor and is an individual waste management system for a particular home or development. Septic needs to be maintained and cleaned at the owner’s expense (which can be messy). Sewer on the other hand is managed by a local government and all waste goes to a centralized place. It is less work and less hassle. With sewer, an owner does not have to worry about their waste and water disposal. 

Ambergris Caye, around San Pedro Town, has a full state-of-the-art sewer system. This sewage system does not extend the full island. As you pass Mara Lagoona (just north of the downtown San Pedro bridge) everything runs on its own septic system. This is also true in South Ambergris Caye. Mahogany Bay is one of the few communities that has municipal sewer.

 

Off-Grid Water Storage

If you are north of the bridge, at Secret Beach, or in an area that is not on BWS/municipal water you need to have a water storage system or cistern. When designing a water storage system you need to look at how many people will be staying at the house on average since the more people the more water you need.

You should make sure your water tank storage can hold enough water to last 2-3 weeks without rain. It is common for homes to integrate rain catchment systems. On average one person uses 90 gallons of water per day so if you have two people living in a house you need to have 180 gallons of water to last one day to have enough water storage for 2 weeks you will need 2,520 gallons of water storage for two people.

 

Off-Grid Septic

Septic is the most important part of the utilities since you need to make sure you have the right septic system installed to meet Department of the Environment regulations. For Secret Beach there are two systems that are approved to be installed the best system to install is a Hydro action tank the other option is to install a three-tank septic system.

 

 

Internet on Ambergris Caye

Internet and connectivity on the island are top of the line with some of the fastest internet speeds in the region. Back in 2017, San Pedro went through significant upgrades. Now the town of San Pedro has some of the fastest internet speeds in Belize. In 2017, Ambergris Caye had a fiber-optic submarine cable installed with connectivity to San Pedro, enabling super-fast broadband speeds to the island of Ambergris Caye. Since 2017, San Pedro, Ambergris Caye boasts the fastest internet in the country. Super fast Fiber-based Internet up to 130Mbps for home or business. 

The Fiber Optic runs from Maskall to Bomba and from Bomba to the coastline from there there is underground via an SFOC to the island of San Pedro.

 

 
 
Most of Belize has WIFI with an LTE signal. However, there are places that boast stronger, more consistent internet like Ambergris Caye. With the high volume of tourism and the influx of expats that have moved to the country, and Ambergris Caye in particular, the service has improved to meet demand.
 
There are 2 primary providers of the internet in Ambergris Caye, Belize; SMART & Digi. Digi offers Fiber Optic internet with the fastest speeds. SMART offers reliable internet and is a popular alternative for areas that do not have fiber optic internet. You can see the rates and internet speeds below;
 
 

SMART Internet

Prices are in Belize Dollars

 

Digi Internet

Prices are in Belize Dollars

 

Ambergris Caye Utilities in Belize

For more information on utilities, including; cost, availability, and reliability, we at RE/MAX Belize are happy to help answer your questions. Ambergris Caye will exceed expectations when it comes to infrastructure and the infrastructure is always improving. 

If you are looking to buy Belize Real Estate or Invest in Belize, contact us!

 

Reason To Invest In Belize

Reason To Invest In Belize

Belize is one of the top emerging destinations in the Caribbean & Central America.  The country has a mix of the mainland (Central America) and islands (Caribbean). Belize has a growing tourism sector which creates a great cash-flow investment, while also being in an appreciating market. Belize is like foreign investing on training wheels; everything is in English, we have full foreign ownership, practice British Common law, etc. Belize is also a tax haven with low corporate taxes and property taxes. There is also no capital gains tax or estate tax. Belize real estate is one of the main focuses when it comes to investment in the country. Below are some of the top reasons to invest in Belize;

You have 2 avenues when it comes to a real estate investment; property appreciation & yield/cash flow. That said, when you are looking at investing in an offshore market like Belize, there are 4 pillars a person should look for regarding real estate investment;
  1. Capital Protection: How safe is the investment? In Belize, there is full outright ownership. Belize is also pro-landlord and does not recognize squatting rights.
  2. Capital Growth: The appreciation of an asset. Belize is growing, and with growth comes increased demand. Belize is an appreciating market.
  3. Yield (Cash Flow): Can you produce passive income from the property? In Belize, you can rent out a home or condo with ease. You have passive real estate income from vacation rentals.
  4. Favorable Taxation: Belize is a tax haven with no capital gains or estate tax. Property taxes are also low and corporate taxes are 1.75% for international companies and 3% for domestic companies.

Luckily, when you invest in Belize, you are in a position to check all 4 boxes. You also have the added benefit of limited supply and scarcity in a market with growing demand when investing on an island like Ambergris Caye.

Belize Investment Opportunities

Since achieving its full independence in 1981, Belize has aimed to provide an enabling environment for investment and business growth (both domestic & foreign investment). Belize has had a lot of laws, programs, and incentives in place to promote private enterprises and attract investments in Belize from both local and foreign investors. Over the years, there have been a series of legislations that started in the early 1990s to allow for a range of incentives for those looking to invest in Belize. The conditions to qualify for the different investment incentives vary, as do the investment incentives themselves. Popular incentive programs and initiatives include; a tax holiday, import duty exemptions, the Qualified Retired Persons Program (QRP), investment residency, etc. Investors are also not limited to any singular incentive, they can use any of the investment programs in place or a combination of multiple.

The benefits of government programs do vary and are dependent upon the type of incentive awarded to the potential investor. Export-oriented activities, which lead to increased employment, and the development of local, technological infrastructure, are particularly favorable. Belize is a very pro-business country and is open to foreign direct investment. The government of Belize supports joint venture and partnership investments with local individuals and businesses, however, Belize also allows 100% foreign ownership of a property, business, or enterprise.

Belize is not closed off to those looking at investing or looking for employment in Belize. Importation of highly skilled personnel to complement the Belizean labor force is facilitated providing that appropriate training programs for nationals are established. Generally, the Belize government hopes to see one local Belizean employed and assigned to every skilled foreigner employed by the company.

 

Investment Incentives In Belize

Tourism is the largest economic driver and one of the best industries for investment. That said, there are a number of other investment initiatives and incentives in Belize.

Trade Agreements

The main exports from Belize are seafood, sugar, citrus products, bananas, and clothing, and its chief imports include machinery and transport equipment, food, fuels and lubricants, and chemicals. Belize benefits from trade agreements with several developed countries. Belize is also the only agricultural exporter in CARICOM. Some of the preferential trade agreements and policies include:

    • Full member of the Caribbean Common Market (CARICOM).
    • Preferential treatment from the U.S. under the Caribbean Basin Initiative (CBI) which we receive several tariff and trade benefits.
    • Under the Lomé IV Convention, it has duty-free access to the EU for certain commodities.
    • Certain Belizean goods enter Canada duty-free.

The Government Of Belize’s Investment Incentives

Belize has a number of incentives and programs in place to attract foreign investment. These include:

    • 100% foreign ownership of land and company assets.
    • Encouragement of joint ventures with local entities.
    • Special incentives for retirees (like QRP).

Tax Holiday Program

The Fiscal Incentives Act of 1990 relates to tax holidays and duties. A tax holiday is a temporary tax break. In the United States, tax holidays often suspend state and local sales taxes paid by consumers. Governments also use tax holidays as investment incentives that may exempt a foreign investor from import duties or property taxes for a number of years, for example. In Belize, the tax holiday period shall normally be for a five-year duration from the date of production. However, there is a provision that the Minister for Economic Development can, on application by the company, in a fit and proper case, review the company’s operations and renew the tax-holiday period for a further term not to exceed 10 years.

Incentives under this particular clause in the Act also allow exemption from income tax under the Income Tax Act, including the repatriation of profits and dividends. The Act allows duty exemptions to companies that are granted an Approved Enterprise Order (Development Concession) to import items into Belize, free of import duty and revenue replacement duty. Since its independence in 1981, Belize has enjoyed the stability of a long-standing, democratic tradition, and has an independent judiciary. Belize is a part of the British Commonwealth and the British ties are still present, including; British Common Law & British Parliamentary Democracy.

The currency exchange rate in Belize is now fixed for 25 years at 2:1 with the US Dollar. The pegged currency further incentivizes foreign investment and ensures the stability of investment. Real estate transactions are also primarily done in USD which means a real estate investment is an appreciating asset pegged to the US dollar. Property taxes in Belize are also very low, which makes the cost of real estate ownership very low with little to no carrying costs.

Belize’s Export Processing Zones

For certain types of businesses, Belize’s Export Processing Zones (EPZs) provide substantial benefits to investors. Investors who take advantage of EPZs are often in the business of tourism. For Belize, the benefit of these free-trade zones is a way to encourage investment as well as foreign trade. For investors, the advantages include:

    • Exemption from import and export duties as taxes on capital gains, property, sales and consumption, trade turnover, foreign exchange, and transfers
    • An income tax holiday of 20 years with an option to extend and deduct losses from profits following the period of the tax holiday
    • Dividend tax exemption in perpetuity
    • The opportunity to open foreign currency bank accounts in Belize and abroad
    • Exemption from the Supplies Control Act and its regulations

In addition, EPZs aren’t burdened with restrictions on raw materials or export licensing requirements.

Belize is a country full of opportunity. Belize is like foreign investing on training wheels; everything is in English, we have full foreign ownership, practice British Common law, etc. The leading industry in Belize is tourism, which is mostly driven by San Pedro & Ambergris Caye. The world-class fishing and Belize Barrier Reef keep the flow of tourism year-round. Belize is kind of like investing with a time machine. Overall, there is low competition in most sectors and innovation is welcome. Belize is lucky to be in a growing market (both for investment and tourism) with a favorable tax environment and a pro-business and pro-foreign investment economy.

 

Reasons Why Ambergris Caye Belize is a Great Place to Live

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.

 

English Speaking

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.

 

Accessibility

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 International Airport). The airport handles all the international air travel to and from Belize. Ambergris Caye is the #1 destination in Belize, which is very accessible when you land in Belize City. The domestic flight is 10 to 15 minutes, and you don’t even have to leave the airport. Flights from BZE to San Pedro are every 30 minutes to an hour and are provided by Maya Island Air & Tropic Air. You can also take the ferry from Belize City to the island, which takes around an hour to an hour and a half.

 

Residency

Another perk is that obtaining residency and/or becoming a Belize resident is much easier than in other off-shore countries in the region. There are many Belize residency programs and ways to obtain residency in Belize (including the Qualified Retirement Program). There are also no limitations on how long a foreigner can reside and/or live in Belize. Even without residency, you can renew your tourist visa every 30 days and remain in the country as long as you wish. After a year, or through investment, you can obtain Belizean residency. This provides many incentives for those wishing to live or retire in Belize.

 

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).

 

Home Insurance in Belize

Home Insurance in Belize

There is insurance and home insurance in Belize. Having home insurance means that the financial cost of replacing your home and contents is covered if they are damaged or destroyed by a specific event covered by the policy. Dependable property and home insurance are available in Belize, including hurricane insurance. Local companies are reinsured through North American and European carriers. Deductibles are typically 5% of the sum insured on storms and less for fire.

In Belize, we have something called “all-perils insurance.” All perils insurance covers everything from rental damages to flood, fire, and hurricane. All perils (including Hurricane) insurance is available here on buildings and structures through local insurance companies, the primary insurance providers are;

All insurance in Belize is re-insured through US carriers which makes it very reliable and similar to insurance in the United States & Canada. Deductibles are normally 5% of the sum insured on storms (like Hurricanes) and less for fire. Insurance in Belize is paid and renewed annually.

There are different means by which a provider calculates a home’s annual insurance. 

  • Wood vs Concrete Construction
  • What is the state of the pilings?
  • The construction value of the house vs the appraised value of the house.

In Belize, there are a few ways a provider calculates the annual property insurance. One means by which the general home insurance is calculated is $8 of insurance for every $1,000 of home value for concrete. And $30 insurance for every $1,000 home value for wood.

The most common way local Belize insurance companies, which are reinsured through North American and European carriers, offer rates from 1.5% for concrete structures to 2.5% for wooden structures. Deductibles are typically 5% of the sum insured on storms and less for fire.

Like any Caribbean destination, Hurricanes are a concern. That being said, there are a number of factors that make Ambergris Caye less susceptible to hurricanes and hurricane damage. Hurricanes are a very real concern when owning real estate in the Caribbean. That being said, Ambergris Caye is somewhat perfectly situated to minimize the severity and damage from large storms, including hurricanes. Ambergris Caye is not in the strike zone where large storms make landfall. It is also important to note that there are also 2 types of damage with a hurricane, wind damage (which proper construction can minimize damage severity) and storm surge.

You can prevent wind damage with proper construction. Storm surge is the cause of the high level of destruction you see when a hurricane runs through. Storm surge is a rising of the sea as a result of atmospheric pressure changes and wind associated with a storm. A storm surge (also known as storm flood, tidal surge, or storm tide) is a coastal flood or large waves, it is a phenomenon of rising water commonly associated with low-pressure weather systems, such as cyclones or hurricanes. It is measured as the rise in water level above the normal tidal level.

Luckily on Ambergris Caye, we have a 1-foot tidal variance (due to the reef and proximity to the equator) and the reef (which is 400 yards from our southern shore) breaks up any large waves before they are able to hit the island’s shoreline.

To have a storm surge, a storm needs a long shallow plane of water, bringing the storm from the deep sea to a shoreline; if the depth is gradual over a long span, the storm can grow and become larger. Ambergris Caye is lucky because just off the Eastern coast is the Belize Barrier Reef which acts as a wall, and beyond that, some of the deepest water in the Caribbean. 

Hurricanes are certainly a concern in Belize, as they are throughout Central America & the Caribbean the way other natural disasters (tornadoes, earthquakes, fires, floods, etc) are a concern for people in other countries, states, or provinces. Mother nature is a part of life. Fortunately, Belize is located in the southwestern part of the Caribbean, which is out of the way of traditional hurricane paths.

The good thing about home insurance in Belize is that the all-perils insurance covers everything. All-perils insurance in Belize covers fire, earthquake, and hurricane. It also covers you if by some random chance an airplane crashes into your house. The insurance policies here in Belize are cheaper than the policies in the US. Though they are equally reliable. 

For more information on home insurance in Belize and Belize real estate contact us!

 

Quick Facts on Ambergris Caye Belize

Ambergris Caye Belize

Belize is unique as it is both the Caribbean & Central America. Ambergris Caye is the largest island in Belize and the #1 destination in the country. The Belize island of Ambergris Caye is more of a peninsula with the northernmost channel being a divider between Belize and Mexico. Ambergris Caye is in the Caribbean Sea, having the Belize Barrier Reef (Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System) on the East Coast and calm beaches on the West Coast.

The island of Ambergris Caye is geographically contiguous to Mexico, but my stroke of providence and the Maya intervention in dredging and expanding the north canal end of the Caye brought it under Belize rule and territory. Ambergris Caye is also home to San Pedro Town which is the largest town of Ambergris Caye and the second-largest municipality in Belize.

Ambergris Caye gained mainstream popularity in early 1970 when it opens its doors to tourists, and in 1984 San Pedro was officially granted ‘town’ status. Many believe the town of San Pedro and Ambergris Caye was the inspiration behind the famous Madona song “la Isla Bonita”, which gave the island of Ambergris Caye its famous nickname “La Isla Bonita”. Ambergris Caye gained further popularity and notoriety when it played host to season one of the Fox show Temptation Island in 2000 and aired in 2001.

The main attraction to Ambergris is its gorgeous Belize Barrier Reef which extends the eastern shoreline and West Coast beaches which pull thousands of tourists annually. The Barrier Reef is considered the world’s second-largest reef coming after Australia’s Great Barrier Reef and the largest living reef in the world. The island is accessible through a small airstrip serviced by Maya Island Air and Tropic Air or reached by air directly from Belize City and many high-speed ferries.

Ambergris Caye is still a boutique tourist destination that is only starting to see mainstream notoriety, many attractions bring lots of visitors to the island of Ambergris Caye which you can see in some of the fun facts below;

  • English Speaking: Belize is the only country in Central America that has English as the official language and the English language is widely spoken.
  • Change its colonial name: Belize was formerly called British Honduras but changed to Belize in 1973.
  • Largest island: Belize is home to many islands but Ambergris Caye is the largest as it is roughly 25 miles long.
  • Protected National Park: The northern part of the island is a national park “Bacalar Chico National Park and Marine Reserve“.
  • Origin of the Name: The island got its name from the word “Ambergris” after large lumps of ambergris, the solid, flammable, and waxy substance from sperm whales’ digestive systems were found on the shore. Ambergris at the time was a popular commodity used for perfume.
  • Retirement Destination: Informed retirees find inspiration and a new start in Belize. Belize offers a warm climate, affordable living, and retirement incentives like the QRP.
  • Laidback Caribbean & Urban Lifestyle: Its foods and urban supermarkets are comparable to the US, Ambergris Caye parades American-style groceries conveniently present across the island which promotes native culture and makes tourists, especially from North America feel at home in Belize. Locally, there are fresh fruit and vegetables, you also have meat and poultry from the mainland. Belize is also the only net agricultural exporter in CARICOM.
  • Beautiful Celebrations: Belize is full of festivities; its nationwide culture and Ambergris Caye present four unique highly revered occasions – the Costa Maya Festival, San Pedro Day, Township Day, and Carnival. The annual Lobsterfest also draws in thousands of tourists every summer.
  • Entertainment & Nightlife: San Pedro is by far the hub for Belizean nightlife. From nightclubs to bars and great restaurants, every tourist must find something so cool to identify with and get busy on a daily basis. Between the downtown nightclubs, the beach clubs at Secret Beach, and the countless restaurants, there are always festivities to enjoy on Ambergris Caye.
  • Transportation: Only a few full-sized cars are on Ambergris Caye; the primary mode of transportation is golf carts or small vehicles. This adds to the island’s charm and appeal.
  • Unique community identities: Every part of Ambergris Caye has its unique characteristic just as you will find in the US; it is highly diverse. The locals have varying backgrounds which have created a naturally multicultural community. On Ambergris Caye you see Mayan Heritage, English/British Influence, Spanish influence from the region, the Garifuna people, and the Mennonites (who are responsible for most of the agriculture). All of these groups create and maintain the unique culture of Belize.

Ambergris Caye also has amazing geography with unique conditions. Overall, the island is a flat, coral Sand Island, a 25-mile-long location protected by a living reef extending over 185 miles down the coast of Belize; Ambergris is home to the unique peninsula of porous limestone. The bedrock below the surface makes the ground hard and less susceptible to land erosion. Its beautiful climate is often the primary draw to the island as sunseekers visit through the winter months, but the world-class diving and fishing bring people to the island year-round.

The consistent climate is what draws so many tourists to Ambergris Caye. The temperature is perfect and more accommodating than in most tropical climates. The plethora of Flora and Fauna in Ambergris Caye, much like in Mexico adds to the color of the Island. The water is turquoise blue, with picturesque views from almost every angle. Ambergris Caye is the perfect destination for investment or to call home.

If you are looking to buy Ambergris Caye real estate or investment properties in Belize contact the team at RE/MAX Belize.