Ambergris Caye Investment & Vacation Rental Data October 2023

Ambergris Caye Vacation Rentals

Ambergris Caye has been the epicenter of the Belize tourism surge and COVID recovery. This has led to growth in the Ambergris Caye Real Estate and investment in vacation rentals.

Ambergris Caye luckily has something we like to call “Island Economics.” When investing in an island, there is only so much land available. The limitations on available land create scarcity, not only scarcity of property but also a scarcity of land and completed resale homes. There is only so much land on an island. Island economics means that you see greater property appreciation on an island due to scarcity of property and limitations on how much can be built.

Tourism growth, increased awareness, offshore residency, and improved connectivity have all led to higher investment yields on vacation rental properties on Ambergris Caye. Ambergris Caye and San Pedro Town (the municipality on the island of Ambergris Caye) are by far the top destinations in Belize. Below, we look at the updated tourism data and vacation rental investment opportunities on Ambergris Caye!

 

Ambergris Caye Tourism

Ambergris Caye has seen tourism hitting all-time highs year-over-year as we become a globally recognized destination. From 2010 to 2023 (13 years), Ambergris Caye overnight tourism (people booking rental units) has grown at an annual compounded rate of 14.8% per year increase, with overnight tourism nearly doubling from 2010 to 2023 (+81.5% increase).

 

Belize Overnight Tourism

 

 

Belize Tourism Board Overnight Arrivals

 

Ambergris Caye Vacation Rental Inventory

Even though tourism is growing, the total rooms for rentals have stayed stagnant, with limited new losing inventory and often even a decline in inventory. Tourism is growing, and this usually correlates to added supply; that said, Ambergris Caye, Belize, is at the perfect time for investment as we have unique market conditions that have led to increased demand and a decrease in supply inventory.

Rental Inventory on Ambergris Caye has dropped by -4% from 2022 to 2023. Also dropped -13.9% over the last 3 years. This is largely due to the influx of people moving to Belize and the growing expat community and people who can work remotely.

 

Ambergris Caye Vacation Rental Lodging Inventory

 

For lodging, as a point of reference, Ambergris Caye saw -4% from last year. Lodging inventory for vacation rentals on Ambergris Caye has seen a -13.9% decrease over the last 3 years.

Ambergris Caye has had a compounded annual tourism growth over 12 years at an average of 14.8% per year.

As you can see, the 3-year trend has been consistent, with many quarters witnessing a dip in rental inventory (even with an increase in demand). This creates a unique opportunity for investors. With the shortage in supply and increase in demand, there is a need for more lodging and rentals.

 

Increase in Demand + Decrease in Supply = Increase in Price & Rent

 

 

 

 

 

Many industry experts predict Ambergris Caye real estate prices and nightly rental rates will continue to increase. This will lead to greater equity appreciation and a higher cash-flow yield.

Even though demand is on the rise, the supply has remained stagnant. With increased awareness comes increased demand, but the lodging and vacation rental inventory supply does not meet the demand growth.

 

Ambergris Caye Occupancy

 

 

In 2022, Ambergris Caye had an average vacation rental occupancy of 54.8%. In 2023, the average occupancy of vacation rentals has been at 61.3%. This is an increase of +11.9% year-over-year (2022 to 2023).

 

 

Ambergris Caye Nightly Rental Rates

 

In 2023, Ambergris Caye has seen ADR (Nightly Rental Rates) for vacation rentals increase by +15% from 2022. In 2023, the average nightly rental rate on Ambergris Caye has been $284 USD per night, which is up from $262 USD per night in 2022.

 

Ambergris Caye Investment Revenue

The increase in tourism with the lodging and vacation rental supply shrinking has led to higher occupancy and higher nightly rental rates (ADR). The increased occupancy and ADR have resulted in higher revenues. On Ambergris Caye, vacation rental gross revenue is up 30% in 2023 (from 2022).

 

Annual Average Rental Revenue

 

 

What is fascinating is the renal income for detached homes over condos (and the % annual growth).

 

Detached homes on Ambergris Caye have seen an average annual gross revenue of $88,850 US in 2023 (Airbnb income). Compared to condos, which saw an average gross yearly earnings of $44,300 US. Detached homes also saw a higher % growth at 23% annual revenue growth (condos with 14%) from 2022 to 2023.

For more information on investing in Belize and Ambergris Caye rental income investment opportunities, contact us at RE/MAX Belize!

 

Luxury Tourism & Luxury Market in Belize

Luxury Tourism & Luxury Market

Belize tourism and Belize real estate is expanding the luxury market. The luxury travel industry has grown unprecedentedly in recent years due to rising spending power, an expanding middle-class population, emerging luxury trends, and the expansion of luxury hotels.

The definition of luxury travel has evolved dramatically in recent years, and people are now far more adventurous. They are more interested in experiencing local customs and cuisine.

Earlier this year, a survey from GlobalData.com found that luxury tourism has recovered quicker then budget tourism.

The global luxury travel market is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 7.8% to 8.9% from 2022 to 2032, reaching a market size of USD 2.32 trillion to 2.76 trillion by 2032.

 

Caribbean & Central America Luxury Tourism

The Belize Region, with the Caribbean & Central America as a whole, outperforms the average recovery trends of the Americas, Europe, and Asia Pacific in the Luxury Tourism sector. This is shown in the revenue and profit trends.

The Caribbean & Central America Region (including Belize) has a higher ADR and Occupancy than other Western Hemisphere markets like Mexico, Canada & USA for luxury tourism.

The Caribbean & Central America Region is expected to have an annual tourism GDP growth rate of 5.5% to 6.7% between now and 2030.

 

Belize Tourism & Luxury Market

The Caribbean & Latin American (Belize) luxury tourism industry will likely be one of the fastest growing between now and 2032, with the most opportunity.

Belize, with the BTB (Belize Tourism Board), has taken steps in advancing and growing the Belize Luxury Tourism Industry.

Luxury travel services cover the most desirable and premium experiences in terms of luxury accommodations, convenient transport facilities, and authentic and exclusive travel experiences.

The Luxury Tourism program aims to provide outstanding, exclusive, and convenient tourism services and experiences to tourists and locals. In Belize, some of the recent announcements around luxury tourism include;

 

Regional Data on Luxury Tourism

What we have learned during every economic turn is that luxury tourism is still a driver. At CHRIS & HOLA (Caribbean Investment Summit & Hotel Operators of Latin America Summit), the data on luxury tourism was shared and how it performed in the market.

Even though luxury tourism appeals to a smaller demographic (unlike cruises and all-inclusive), they are more consistent, yield higher returns, is surprisingly not susceptible to market fluctuations, have better occupancy, and better clientele. The most interesting take is that if there are slower periods, the luxury market can lower prices and push out the “non-luxury” market.

Belize as a whole is pushing luxury tourism, making it easier for yachts, allowing FBO and private planes, creating direct flight routes from high net-worth locations, etc. With all this push, Belize is working on becoming a Cayman Islands, Maldives, Turks & Caicos, Bahamas, or St Martin, instead of a budget destination like Mexico or the Dominican Republic.

Belize is also seeing far more celebrities and high net-worth travelers visiting Belize and Ambergris Caye. But what is interesting is the fact we do not have many of the luxury villas in our lodging inventory to accommodate these travelers.

 

Luxury Tourism

If you build a luxury house/villa with outdoor space and amenities (even 2, 3 or 4 bedrooms), you will capture the luxury tourism market. The house or unit does not need to be large; just provide fixtures, touches, service, etc.

With luxury tourism and luxury travelers, owners/investors are able to charge any nightly rental rate you want. Example: Rolex does not compromise the price of new watches even during an economic downturn, and every store you visit is always sold out.

Earlier this year, a survey from GlobalData.com found that luxury tourism has recovered quicker then budget tourism.

The global luxury travel market is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 7.8% to 8.9% from 2022 to 2032, reaching a market size of USD 2.32 trillion to 2.76 trillion by 2032.

The 2022 Global Travel Trends Report of American Express Travel study found that 58% of respondents opt for solo travel to visit their dream destination, strengthening the demand for luxury travel.

The Caribbean & Latin American luxury tourism industry is likely to be one of the fastest growing between now and 2032, with the most opportunity.

 

Regional Luxury Market

The luxury segment in the region (Belize) is ahead of the all-inclusive and full-service properties in profit margin growth and opportunity.

Luxury Tourism has a Higher ADR (Average Daily Rate & Nightly Rental Rate) and Better Occupancy than full-service or all-inclusive.

Luxury Tourism sees year-round bookings with better ADR and occupancy in high and low seasons. Luxury tourism has less volatility and seasonality. There is no low season in the luxury market segment in the region. Luxury has seen heightened off-season months.

Profit margins are higher in luxury tourism, with annual and quarterly revenue and profits rising due to more substantial rate increases. Luxury tourism has a much higher revenue per room or unit.

Belize Luxury Tourism Announcements

Luxury travel services cover the most desirable and premium experiences in terms of luxury accommodations, convenient transport facilities, and authentic and exclusive travel experiences. The overall aim of the Luxury Tourism program is to provide outstanding, exclusive, and convenient tourism services and experiences to tourists and locals.

  • Four Seasons on Caye Chapel
  • Six Senses on Ambergris Caye
  • FBO & Private Aviation
  • Yacht & Nautical Tourism
  • Filling Luxury Tourism Market Gaps
  • Fine Dining & Restaurant Facilities

 

Belize Travel & Facilities

Belize has a range of initiatives and infrastructure programs coming in to enhance and increase tourism. With additional flights (including New York JFK), improved transportation, etc. You can see some of the tourism enhancements and initiatives below;

  • 3 million anticipated passenger movements at PGIA (Belize International Airport BZE) in 2045.
  • PGIA (BZE Airport) Facility Extensive Upgrade underway and expected completion in 2040.
  • Enhanced Border Facilities.
  • Increased – Ground Transportation Connections.
  • Domestic Airlines with expanded international routes.
  • Interregional connectivity.
  • Renovations at Municipal Airports to expand Private Aviation.
  • Addition of FBO facilities at national and domestic airports.

Learn more about traveling to Belize internationally.

To learn more about Belize real estate and investing in Belize contact RE/MAX Belize. We look forward to sharing more information on Belize and opportunities in the luxury tourism market!

 

 

Best Places to Own Property in Belize

Best Places to Own Property in Belize

Belize has many beautiful areas and destinations. Each with its own uniqueness. With a diverse landscape of islands, beaches, and jungles, there are a lot of great places to own property in Belize. The best place to own depends on what a person is looking for. That said, you have options to choose from when considering buying property in Belize.

Belize has stunning white sand beaches, lush rainforests, and Mayan ruins, with the largest barrier reef in the Western hemisphere, Belize has recently emerged as one of the top emerging tourist destinations. Belize allows full foreign ownership, which makes it a popular offshore investment destination and a great place for buying property.

The growth in tourism has been accompanied by a dramatic rise in interest in Belize real estate. Belize has become one of the hottest places to invest, and retire in the region.

Some of the best places to buy property in Belize include:

 

 

Ambergris Caye

Ambergris Caye is a popular destination for tourists and expats, with beautiful beaches and a vibrant community. Ambergris Caye (and San Pedro Town) are the top tourist destinations in Belize. With that, it is the most popular location to own and invest in property. Ambergris Caye real estate is by far the most desirable property option.

Ambergris Caye is an island on the northeastern coast of Belize. Ambergris Caye is the largest island in the country and is the most popular tourist destination. Ambergris Caye is loved for its long sandy beaches, laidback island Caribbean lifestyle, and its proximity to the Belize Barrier Reef. A lot of Ambergris Caye has been set aside as a nature preserve, marine reserve, and national park, which adds to its appeal as the most popular destination for international buyers and people looking to own property in Belize.

San Pedro Town is the municipality on Ambergris Caye. San Pedro Town and the popularity of Ambergris Caye has it among the most in-demand and developed real estate investment destination in Belize.

Ambergris Caye is one of the most sought-after locations in Belize. Not only for tourism but also for property ownership. It is the undisputed top location. As the largest island in Belize, it has been ranked as one of the top destinations for retirement and investment by Forbes, International Living, MSNBC, and more. Ambergris Caye is famous for its proximity to the Belize Reef which attracts avid divers and fishers. The reef extends the East Coast of the island, and the West Coast boasts calm waters and beautiful beaches (like the popular Secret Beach).

Ambergris Caye also offers abundant options for different kinds of water-based activities, including scuba diving the Belize Barrier Reef, deep sea fishing, snorkeling, reef fishing, jet skis, paddle boarding, kayaking, and more. Ambergris Caye also has great restaurants offering fine dining options as well as an amazing expat community.

Ambergris Caye is commonly referred to as the “Isla Bonita” (which is “the Beautiful Island”). With all it has to offer, there are few who disagree that Ambergris Caye is one of the top choices for expats who were looking to relocate to Belize or investors looking to invest in an emerging island destination.

 

San Pedro Belize Travel Guide (on Ambergris Caye)

 

 

Placencia

Placencia is a town at the very tip of a peninsula located in the southern part of Belize in the Stan Creek District. Placencia is a small, peaceful village on the southern coast of Belize with stunning beaches and a relaxed atmosphere.

Placencia has grown over the years along the peninsula to include; Seine Bight, Cocoplum, Maya Beach, and Plantation. Placencia is an ideal location for buyers looking to enjoy a tranquil lifestyle by the beach.

Placencia is a picturesque village located in the Stann Creek District of Belize, situated on a narrow peninsula along the Caribbean coast. Known for its beautiful beaches, laid-back atmosphere, and vibrant local culture, Placencia is a popular destination for travelers seeking a tropical paradise. It is often ranked in the top 3 destinations in Belize (behind Ambergris Caye & Caye Caulker).

The Placencia Peninsula (which is made up of multiple municipalities) stretches for approximately 25 miles (40 kilometers) and offers stunning white sand beaches and crystal-clear turquoise waters. The village itself is charming, with colorful wooden houses, local shops, restaurants, and beachfront bars.

In addition to water activities, Placencia offers various land-based adventures as well as lush jungles and hiking trails in the area. You can explore the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary, which is home to the world’s first jaguar reserve and offers hiking trails, birdwatching, and the chance to spot other wildlife. Nearby Monkey River also provides opportunities for wildlife viewing, including howler monkeys, crocodiles, and a variety of bird species.

To reach Placencia, you can fly into the Philip S. W. Goldson International Airport in Belize City and then take a domestic flight to the Placencia Airport. Alternatively, you can take a scenic drive from Belize City, which takes around three to four hours.

 

Placencia Belize Trip

 

 

Caye Caulker

Caye Caulker is the smaller island that is just south of Ambergris Caye. Caye Caulker also sees a significant volume of tourists. Though the tourism to Caye Caulker is more backpackers with a number of local hostels. While there are many water sports, and activities similar to Ambergris Caye, Caye Caulker is becoming better known for its nightlife. This makes it a popular location for the younger crowd.

Caye Caulker is also located near the Belize Barrier Reef, which makes it popular for diving and fishing enthusiasts. The southern half of the island is mostly developed and the northern portion is separated from the town by “The Split” which is a narrow waterway that runs through the middle of the island.

Caye Caulker is a smaller island than Ambergris Caye which is known for its laid-back and relaxed atmosphere, Caye Caulker attracts tourists seeking a tranquil tropical getaway. The island is approximately 8 kilometers (5 miles) long and has a narrow width of about 1.6 kilometers (1 mile). It is characterized by sandy streets, colorful wooden houses, and a car-free environment. The main mode of transportation on the island is bicycles and golf carts.

Caye Caulker offers beautiful white sandy beaches and crystal-clear turquoise waters, making it a popular destination for snorkeling, diving, fishing, and other water activities. The Belize Barrier Reef, which is the second-largest coral reef system in the world, is easily accessible from the island, offering incredible opportunities for underwater exploration.

The island has a small but lively village area with restaurants, bars, and shops. The local cuisine often features freshly caught seafood, including lobster, conch, and fish. Caye Caulker is also known for its vibrant nightlife, with various bars offering live music and entertainment.

 

Caye Caulker Island Belize

 

 

Cayo District

Cayo is near the Belize & Guatemala border (on the westward side of Belize’s mainland). Cayo is home to many Mayan ruins as well as lush jungles. Cayo is a rural area with a growing expat community, offering beautiful scenery and a laid-back lifestyle. Cayo’s most popular municipality is San Ignacio but the district is also the location of the Belizean capital of Belmopan.

The Cayo District is located in western Belize near the border with Guatemala. Cayo is a district and is the largest district in the country. Cayo is known for its natural beauty, ancient Maya ruins, and outdoor adventure opportunities. The Cayo District is home to the town of San Ignacio, which serves as a gateway to the various attractions in the area. San Ignacio offers a range of property options around Cayo. There are real estate opportunities in the jungle, farmland, remote resorts, and more.

One of the main attractions of the Cayo District is its proximity to the Maya archaeological sites. The most famous and impressive among them is Xunantunich. Other notable Maya sites in the region include Cahal Pech, Caracol, and Tikal.

Cayo also has numerous rivers and waterways throughout the district. There are also countless waterfalls including; Big Rock Falls, Thousand-Foot Falls, and Butterfly Falls to explore and enjoy.

The Cayo District is also home to several nature reserves and national parks. The Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve showcases stunning waterfalls, natural pools, and the unique pine forests of Belize. The Belize Botanic Gardens and the Belize Zoo are also worth a visit for nature lovers.

 

Exploring Cayo

 

 

 

Hopkins

Hopkins is a small fishing village on the coast of Belize with a close-knit community and beautiful natural surroundings. Hopkins is just north of Placencia near the town of Dangriga. Hopkins is popular for its small-town vibe.

Hopkins is primarily a fishing village with a laid-back and friendly atmosphere. It is very much a “small town”. The village is known for its strong Garifuna heritage, and visitors have the opportunity to experience the rich traditions and music of the Garifuna people.

The beach in Hopkins stretches for several miles, offering pristine white sand and clear turquoise waters. It is an ideal destination for swimming, sunbathing, and beachcombing. The warm Caribbean Sea is also a great spot for water activities such as snorkeling, diving, kayaking, and fishing.

One of the nearby attractions is the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary, also known as the Jaguar Preserve. It is a vast protected area encompassing lush rainforests, waterfalls, and hiking trails. The sanctuary is home to a variety of wildlife, including jaguars, howler monkeys, toucans, and many other species.

 

 

Belize City

Belize City is the largest city in Belize and the economic hub of the country, with a range of property options available. Belize City is a coastal city and the location of the Belize International Airport (Philip Goldson International) which is the only international airport in Belize.

Belize City serves as the commercial hub and principal gateway for international travelers arriving in Belize. As the economic and cultural center of Belize, Belize City offers a mix of colonial history, bustling streets, and a vibrant local atmosphere. The city has a rich and varied heritage, with influences from the Maya civilization, European colonization, and the African, Creole, and Garifuna cultures.

Although Belize City is not typically considered a major tourist destination, it does have some points of interest worth exploring.

 

 

Corozal

Corozal is the border town between Belize and Mexico and the northeastern shore of Belize.

Corozal is a town located in northern Belize, near the border with Mexico (close to Quintana Roo & the Yucatan Peninsula). It is a coastal town/region with Chethumal across the border on the Mexico side. Corozal Town is the capital of the Corozal District and is situated on the Bay of Corozal, which connects to the Caribbean Sea. Across the bay/lagoon sea is the island of Ambergris Caye.

Most people who looking at buying property in Corozal are very underwhelmed and often pursue something elsewhere. In Corozal, there are not as many opportunities for foreign investment. Corozal is on the bayside and is more of a border town between Mexico and Belize than anything. With this, you have a lot of logistics and supply chain traffic going through. Think of it as a tropical truck stop rather than an “off-the-beaten-path real estate investment”.

The town of Corozal has a rich history, with influences from both the Maya civilization and later European colonization. It was originally inhabited by the Maya people, and several archaeological sites, such as Santa Rita, can be found in Corozal. The town of Corozal was settled by Mestizo refugees from the Yucatan Peninsula in the 19th century, and today it has a mix of cultural influences from Maya, Mestizo, and other ethnic groups.

Corozal offers a more relaxed and tranquil atmosphere compared to the busier tourist destinations in Belize. It has a small-town charm and a welcoming community. The town has a central park, known as Corozal Town Central Park, where locals gather and socialize. You can find restaurants, shops, and other amenities in the town center.

One of the main attractions in Corozal is the proximity to the beaches. The Bay of Corozal provides access to the Caribbean Sea, and there are several beach areas where you can swim, sunbathe, or enjoy water sports. Some popular nearby beaches include Consejo Shores, Sarteneja, and Corozal Bay.

Corozal is also known for its proximity to Cerros, an ancient Maya site situated on a coastal ridge. If you’re interested in exploring the natural beauty of the region, you can visit the Shipstern Nature Reserve. It is a protected area with diverse ecosystems, including mangroves, wetlands, and wildlife.

To reach Corozal, you can fly into the Philip S. W. Goldson International Airport in Belize City and then take a domestic flight or a bus to Corozal. The town is also accessible by road from Mexico, as it is located near the Mexican border.

 

 

Best Place to Own Belize Property

Ambergris Caye luckily has something we like to call “Island Economics”. When investing in an island there is only so much land available. The limitations on available land create scarcity, not only scarcity of property but also scarcity of land. There is only so much land on an island. Island economics means that you see greater property appreciation on an island due to scarcity of property and limitations on how much can be built.

Areas and destinations on the mainland with nearly endless developable land rarely see the same level of equity appreciation. One of the difficulties of investing in a property that has nearly endless room for growth (the mainland) is the fact that developers continue to build, so real estate investors don’t see the same level of appreciation that they see on an island, where the availability of land is limited.

This is basic economics, Ambergris Caye has higher demand and less supply. Mainland destinations in Belize have less demand and nearly unlimited supply. On Ambergris Caye, you have far more amenities (with the reef 400 yards off the coast), as well as beaches on the East & West Coast.

 

In Belize, there are some cheaper and less expensive property options. That said, not all Belize real estate is created equal. One of the most famous quotes from Warren Buffett is, “Price is what you pay; value is what you get.”

It is important to conduct thorough research on the area and property you are considering and to consult with a qualified real estate agent to ensure that you are making a sound investment that meets your needs and aligns with your goals. If you are looking to buy property in Belize, contact RE/MAX Belize!

 

 

Top 5 Places to Visit in Belize

Belize Real Estate & Exodus of Expats

The Exodus of Americans Moving to Belize

Every year, more-and-more people are looking at investing and relocating off-shore. Whether it is for lifestyle or retirement, Americans & Canadians are rethinking their lives and where in the world would provide the best future. This is shown by the recent migration stats.

Americans & Canadians are leaving their home countries and seeking foreign visas in record numbers, according to immigration lawyers and expatriate organizations. Belize saw an unprecedented number of Americans not only inquiring about Belize real estate but also following through on their pledge and taking the steps to leave over the last 3-years (2020, 2021 & 2022). This is seen by the growth in the expat population on Ambergris Caye over recent years.

The number of Americans who were recorded as having given up their citizenship or U.S. residency soared to 5,816 in the first six months of 2020, compared with 2,072 in all of 2019, according to data from the Internal Revenue Service.

Dan Prescher, the senior editor of Internationalliving.com, said traffic related to “how to move out of the U.S.” surged 1,676 percent in 2020 and has been a continued trend since.

“Quieter, more stable countries start to look appealing,” he said.

The exodus has been led by not only baby boomer expats, but also young professionals looking for an opportunity and parents looking for countries with open and safe schools that provide futures for their children. No matter the age, the group largely consists of Americans with financial means and the ability to work virtually, or are in a position to relocate.

 

Why are people leaving?

The U.S. State Department reported in April that there are a record 8.7 million Americans live abroad. This number alone speaks for itself – never before has such a large group of U.S.-born citizens lived abroad. They’ve decided that it’s time for a change, to move to a new location where they are able to not just survive but thrive.

People’s motives for leaving or seeking relocation differ. But overall, the objective is a better life and a more promising future. The IMMI Group analyzed the top 10 motives for leaving the US, the list includes;

  1. Money
  2. Cost of healthcare
  3. Taxes
  4. Government regulations
  5. Freedom

 

Why People Are Looking at Belize & Ambergris Caye

Belize Real Estate & most of all Ambergris Caye Real Estate have seen a boom over recent years. Most of the buyers are people looking at living and/or investing overseas. This is seen by the growth in Belize real estate transactions over recent years;

While there is no nationwide MLS for Belize to track the total sales data and the number of real estate transactions, RE/MAX Belize is the largest real estate company in Belize with over 100 agents in 13 offices and shows a good indication of where the market is at and how it has grown. 

Total sales volume increased 8.7% from 2019 to 2020, followed by a staggering 167.7% from 2020 to 2021.  Based on current year-end projections, sales volume and real estate transactions in Belize are expected to grow by 301.5% year-over-year from 2021 through 2022.

From the beginning of 2020, at the start of the COVID pandemic, through to 2021, total Belize real estate sales volume has increased by 190.94%.

For RE/MAX Belize, the market has seen the number of sales exceed 2019 total sales volumes by 300% (299.6%).

Potential buyers are increasingly younger with more-and-more buyers being in their 40’s and 50’s (compared to retirees of earlier years).  Most of the people purchasing Belize real estate are from the US and Canada. Among the top reasons for considering Belize for second homeownership:

  • Allows diversification outside the USA or Canada
  • Provides a safe secure alternative during societal unrest
  • The only English-speaking country in Central America
  • Close geographic proximity to the USA
  • No capital gains tax, very low property taxes 
  • Tropical Caribbean climate
  • World-class fishing, diving, snorkeling, and watersports 

Second home ownership in Belize is like “going abroad with training wheels”.  It’s a very safe and easy experience, and the number one comment from those who have done it is that they wish they had done so sooner. 

 

Ambergris Caye Relocation

The top reasons people choose Belize and Ambergris Caye real estate include;

  • Safety
  • Tax protection
  • Accepting of new residence
  • Stable political climate
  • Affordability
  • English speaking
  • Schools & Education
  • Racial and cultural diversity and acceptance
  • Currency pegged 2:1 with USD
  • Climate
  • Opportunities and room to grow
  • Freedom!

Many countries have restricted accessibility to residency, which makes travel and relocation more difficult. Not Belize. Right now Belize is open and accepting tourists, expats seeking offshore residency, and citizens. Belize is a small country that is very pro-foreign investment with a small population. The country’s agricultural independence and desirable climate make it one of the top destinations for Americans & Canadians seeking relocation.

There are many other thriving places to make a life. This has led to many people seeking a brighter tomorrow, a life that provides freedom, safety, security, and support.

 

Ambergris Caye Real Estate Investment, Tourism & Rental Market

Ambergris Caye Real Estate Investment

Ambergris Caye Real Estate is a hot commodity for both personal use and investment. The investment potential and upside look even more attractive when you look at the year-over-year tourism data and how it correlates to the rental/lodging inventory on the island. Ambergris Caye is the top destination in Belize. Even though tourism has grown, rental inventory has not. This creates a unique investment opportunity. Learn more with the data points and market analysis below;

 

Ambergris Caye Tourism & Rental Inventory Data Points

Even though tourism is growing and we have seen Belize tourism rebound in 2022 to pre-COVID numbers, the total rooms for rentals have stayed stagnant with almost no new inventory and often even a decline in inventory. Tourism pre-COVID grew by over 60% in 5 years (over double-digit annual growth of 14.6%) but lodging and inventory stayed the same. Even now, rental inventory saw a -5% decrease in Q4 2022.

Rental Inventory: A decrease of -5% in Q4 2022

Below you can see the lodging and rental inventory on Ambergris Caye over the last 3 years;

 

Ambergris Caye Lodging Inventory

Ambergris Caye saw -2% in Q2 2022, -1% in Q3 2022, and -5% in Q4 2022. With a -20% decrease over 3 years.

For lodging, as a point of reference, Ambergris Caye saw -2% in Q3 2022, -1% in Q4 2022, and -5% in Q1 2023. So compounded tourism growth over 12 years at an average of 14.6%.

As you can see, the 3-year trend has been consistent with many quarters seeing a dip in rental inventory (even with an increase in demand). Over the last 3-years, lodging/rental inventory on Ambergris Caye decreased by 20%. This creates a unique opportunity for investors. With the shortage in supply and increase in demand, there is a need for more lodging and rentals.

The reason you see a lodging or rental inventory decline is due to the fact people are moving to Belize and we are seeing an exodus of people (especially Baby Boomers retiring abroad).

 

Market Comparison

What is interesting is comparing it to other markets. Tulum for example;

Tulum in comparison saw a +6% increase in Q4 2022 and +8% in Q1 2023. With a 47% increase over a full year. And an 88% increase over the last 3 years.

You can see other comparable off-shore markets and their lodging inventory below;

Tamarindo Costa Rica for example saw a +6% increase in Q4 2022 With a +23% increase over 3 years.

 

Turks & Caicos is a Caribbean island like Ambergris Caye. Turks & Caicos saw a +11% increase in Q4 2022 with a +76% increase over 3 years.

 

Panama City as another example and comparison saw a +4% increase in Q4 2022 with a +26% increase over 3 years.

 

All of the above locations are popular tourist destinations (Ambergris Caye, Tulum, Tamarindo, Panama, and Turks & Caicos) and have all seen substantial growth in tourism numbers. That said, very few places have seen a tourism boom without an increase in inventory. Because of this, Ambergris Caye has an A+ Rating based on AirBNB criteria of Rental Demand, Rental Growth, Seasonality & Regulations.

 

 

Ambergris Caye Real Estate Investment

Prior to 2020, Ambergris Caye lodging remained stagnant over the years even with tourism growing. Even though Tourism is increasing, rental inventory has decreased by 5% and has remained fairly stagnant over 3 years. You can see the inventory vs the tourism for Ambergris Caye from 2015 to 2019 below;

The number of hotel rooms and lodging inventory for rentals has not seen the same growth and is not meeting the tourism demand.

Therefore, many industry experts predict Ambergris Caye real estate prices and nightly rental rates will continue to increase. This will lead to greater equity appreciation and a higher cash-flow yield.

Even though demand is on the rise, the supply has remained stagnant. With increased awareness comes increased demand but the lodging and vacation rental inventory supply do not meet the demand growth.

 

Ambergris Caye Investment Opportunity

To give you an idea of the growth and opportunity with Ambergris Caye Real Estate you have to look at the population and tourism growth statistics. Ambergris Caye (as of 2015) had an estimated population of approximately 16,444 people. Since then the population has grown with an even higher volume of foreigners moving to Ambergris Caye. Over the last 5 years, Ambergris Caye has seen a population growth rate of around 8% per year, and in the previous 10 years, prior Ambergris Caye experienced an annual population growth rate of roughly 17%.

It is also estimated that up to 25% more people reside on Ambergris Caye on a part-time basis (vacation or winter homes). Ambergris Caye as a destination for tourism has experienced incredible growth over the last 5 to 15 years. From 2017 to 2022 (the same 5 years) Ambergris Caye has seen tourism grow at a rate of 14.6% per year (over double-digit annual growth).

When you factor in the population growth and the influx of new residents with the growth in tourism, you really start to see the opportunity. As it stands right now, there is not enough vacation or long-term rental inventory to support the growth in tourism and the growing population.

The reason you see a lodging or rental inventory decline is due to the fact people are moving to Belize and we are seeing an exodus of people (especially Baby Boomers retiring abroad).

Ambergris Caye is an island with limited supply. Even though the supply is limited, the demand has skyrocketed over recent years with more-and-more tourists visiting Belie. In 2019, Belize saw over 500,000 overnight tourists, most of which visited Ambergris Caye. These overnight tourism arrivals grew by 60% from 2015 to 2020. With 70-75% of overnight tourists who visit Belize heading straight to San Pedro and Ambergris Caye.

Since 2010 has had an average tourism growth rate of 14.6% annually. That 14.6% growth each year. So compounded tourism growth over 12 years at an average of 14.6%.

The number of hotel rooms and lodging inventory for rentals has not seen the same growth and is not meeting the tourism demand. What is being developed on Ambergris Caye in the next five years will not be able to sustain the increasing tourism demand. Therefore, many industry experts predict Ambergris Caye real estate prices and nightly rental rates will continue to increase. This will lead to greater equity appreciation and a higher cash-flow yield.

Even though demand is on the rise, the supply has remained stagnant. With increased awareness comes increased demand but the lodging and vacation rental inventory supply do not meet the demand growth.

Ambergris Caye luckily has something we like to call “Island Economics”. When investing in an island there is only so much land available. The limitations on available land create scarcity, not only scarcity of property but also a scarcity of land and completed resale homes. There is only so much land on an island. Island economics means that you see greater property appreciation on an island due to scarcity of property and limitations on how much can be built.

Areas and destinations along the Yucatan Peninsula or other areas with nearly endless developable land eventually have an over-supply that is caused by the fact there is nearly unlimited room for development. Investors rarely see the same equity appreciation they see when they invest on an island. One of the difficulties of investing in a property that has nearly endless room for growth is the fact that developers continue to build, so real estate investors don’t see the same level of appreciation that they see on an island, where the availability of land is limited.

This is basic economics, Ambergris Caye has higher demand and less supply. Mainland destinations in Central America have less demand and nearly unlimited supply. On Ambergris Caye, you have far more amenities (with the reef 400 yards off the coast), with beaches on the East & West Coast.

The reason so many investors choose Ambergris Caye over mainland Belize destinations is largely due to the growth and investment potential. Ambergris Caye is the #1 tourist destination in Belize by a large margin. It also delivers the highest Average Daily Room Rate for an income property. It is also important to note that as an investor, you will have much higher margins, as resale properties on the island sell have more demand and higher returns on investment.

Belize’s tourism has over tripled since 2010, as it has grown by 208%. In 2022, over 11 months (January to November) Belize had a total of 362,628 overnight tourists. That is 81% of the pre-COVID inbound tourism numbers. This shows strong tourism recovery for Belize and Ambergris Caye.

 

 

Belize 2022 Tourism

When you factor in the population growth and the influx of new residents with the growth in tourism, you really start to see the opportunity. As it stands right now, there is not enough vacation or long-term rental inventory on Ambergris Caye to support the growth in tourism and the growing population.

For more information on Belize Real Estate & Investing in Belize contact Remax Belize!

 

Investing in Ambergris Caye Real Estate

Investing in Ambergris Caye Belize Real Estate

In regards to investment, Belize is unique as it is both Central America & the Caribbean, the mainland including San Ignacio & Placencia has more similarities to the Yucatan Peninsula (Cancun, Playa Del Carmen, Tulum, etc), while Ambergris Caye Real Estate is more comparable to the Cayman Islands, The Bahamas, British Virgin Islands, Etc. The fact Ambergris Caye is an island, there is far more scarcity of property than being on the mainland in destinations like Placencia. As a real estate investor, scarcity works to your advantage for both rental income and property appreciation. The fact that Ambergris Caye is one of the few opportunities with high tourism growth and land available, makes it a unique opportunity in today’s market.

 

Why Ambergris Caye Belize?

Ambergris Caye is the largest island in Belize measuring 27 miles long. Ambergris Caye is located at the northern point of Belize’s coastline with the Belize barrier reef just off the east Coast. Ambergris Caye is the top tourist destination in Belize and sees hundreds of thousands of tourists visit every year. There are a number of reasons Ambergris Caye and San Pedro Town are so popular, but the leading reason is the fact that less than a mile off Ambergris Caye’s eastern shore, you’ll find the Belize Barrier Reef, the largest barrier reef in the second largest reef in the world and the largest barrier reef in the Western Hemisphere. The natural beauty of Ambergris Caye and the fact that the island has seen drastic increases in tourism every year make it the no-brainer choice when investing in Belize.

Ambergris Caye luckily has something we like to call “Island Economics”. When investing in an island there is only so much land available. The limitations on available land create scarcity, not only scarcity of property but also a scarcity of land and completed resale homes. There is only so much land on an island. Island economics means that you see greater property appreciation on an island due to scarcity of property and limitations on how much can be built.

Areas and destinations along the Yucatan Peninsula or other areas with nearly endless developable land eventually have an over-supply that is caused by the fact there is nearly unlimited room for development. Investors rarely see the same equity appreciation they see when they invest on an island. One of the difficulties of investing in a property that has nearly endless room for growth is the fact that developers continue to build, so real estate investors don’t see the same level of appreciation that they see on an island, where the availability of land is limited.

This is basic economics, Ambergris Caye has higher demand and less supply. Mainland destinations in Central America have less demand and nearly unlimited supply. On Ambergris Caye, you have far more amenities (with the reef 400 yards off the coast), with beaches on the East & West Coast.

The reason so many investors choose Ambergris Caye over mainland Belize destinations is largely due to the growth and investment potential. Ambergris Caye is the #1 tourist destination in Belize by a large margin. It also delivers the highest Average Daily Room Rate for an income property. It is also important to note that as an investor, you will have much higher margins, as resale properties on the island sell have more demand and higher returns on investment.

 

Ambergris Caye Real Estate Supply & Demand

To give you an idea of the growth and opportunity with Ambergris Caye Real Estate you have to look at the population and tourism growth statistics. Ambergris Caye (as of 2015) had an estimated population of approximately 16,444 people. Since then the population has grown with an even higher volume of foreigners moving to Ambergris Caye. Over the last 5 years, Ambergris Caye has seen a population growth rate of around 8% per year, and in the previous 10 years, prior Ambergris Caye experienced an annual population growth rate of roughly 17%.

It is also estimated that up to 25% more people reside on Ambergris Caye on a part-time basis (vacation or winter homes). Ambergris Caye as a destination for tourism has experienced incredible growth over the last 5 to 15 years. From 2017 to 2022 (the same 5 years) Ambergris Caye has seen tourism grow at a rate of 14.6% per year (over double-digit annual growth).

When you factor in the population growth and the influx of new residents with the growth in tourism, you really start to see the opportunity. As it stands right now, there is not enough vacation or long-term rental inventory to support the growth in tourism and the growing population.

 

Top Reasons to Invest in Ambergris Caye Real Estate

 

High Demand & Limited Supply

As we touched on above, Ambergris Caye is an island with limited supply. Even though the supply is limited, the demand has skyrocketed over recent years with more-and-more tourists visiting Belie. In 2019, Belize saw over 500,000 overnight tourists, most of which visited Ambergris Caye. These overnight tourism arrivals grew by 60% from 2015 to 2020. With 70-75% of overnight tourists who visit Belize heading straight to San Pedro and Ambergris Caye.

The number of hotel rooms and lodging inventory for rentals has not seen the same growth and is not meeting the tourism demand. What is being developed on Ambergris Caye in the next five years will not be able to sustain the increasing tourism demand. Therefore, many industry experts predict Ambergris Caye real estate prices and nightly rental rates will continue to increase. This will lead to greater equity appreciation and a higher cash-flow yield.

Just to illustrate the popularity of Belize real estate, you can see the transaction volumes for RE/MAX Belize (all offices & agents in Belize) below (most of which have been on Ambergris Caye);

Ambergris Caye has become a top destination and as the tourism sector continues to boom and popularity increases there is a need for additional lodging and/or rental inventory. Even though demand is on the rise, the supply has remained stagnant. With increased awareness comes increased demand but the lodging and vacation rental inventory supply does not meet the demand growth. You can see the tourism growth in Belize from 2014 to 2019 below;

BTB Belize Tourism Board Data

Even though tourism is growing and we have seen Belize tourism rebound in 2022 to pre-COVID numbers, the total rooms for rentals have stayed stagnant with almost no new inventory and often even a decline in inventory. Tourism pre-COVID grew by over 60% in 5 years (over double-digit annual growth of 14.6%) but lodging and inventory stayed the same. Even now, rental inventory saw a -2% decrease from Q2 to Q3 of 2022. Below you can see the lodging and rental inventory on Ambergris Caye over the last 3 years;

As you can see, the 3-year trend has been consistent with many quarters seeing a dip in rental inventory (even with an increase in demand). This creates a unique opportunity for investors. With the shortage in supply and increase in demand, there is a need for more lodging and rentals.

 

Belize is English-Speaking

The official language in Belize is English. Belize is one of the very few English-speaking countries in the region. Not only does the population speak and use English, but English is also used for all real estate transactions, legal matters, and business contracts. Being an English-speaking country with British Common Law makes Belize an easy place for Americans & Canadians to invest and do business.

 

Belize is a Low-Tax Jurisdiction

When you buy Belize property or invest in Belize Real Estate you will first notice how low the property taxes are in Belize. If you are investing in Ambergris Caye Real Estate you will have a property that appreciates in value. In Belize, there is no Capital Gains Tax or Estate Tax, so when you sell the property in the future for a profit, the Belize government does not tax your earnings. Belize also enjoys low corporate taxation which makes doing business in Belize even more desirable.

When looking at the income tax rate in Belize on passive real estate rental income the taxation rate is at the corporate tax rate of only 1.75%. The property taxes are also below 1% of the property value. Most property taxes are around 1% of their assessed value. What is even more appealing is that property or land assessments are usually way less than the appraised value or resale value of the property. For example, property taxes for land around Belize Secret Beach start at $75 per year. Property taxes in Mahogany Bay are $108 per year.

It is also important to remember that Belize is governed by British Common Law, which for real estate investors and people investing offshore that as a foreigner you have full property ownership with land title, just as in the US and Canada. In other destinations in the region like Mexico, Panama, Honduras, and Costa Rica foreign citizens cannot own property as easily and have more restrictions on investment.

 

Ambergris Caye is a Vacation Rental Market

Since Ambergris Caye is such a popular tourist spot and vacation destination, the market demand is for nightly rentals, as opposed to long-term or monthly rentals. With nightly vacation rentals, owners and investors see a much higher yield on their investment and multiply the income potential of many investment properties. vacation rentals also give an owner or investor more flexibility and control, allowing them to occupy a residence for their own personal use. Ambergris Caye (due to the high demand and limited supply) sees a much higher nightly rental rate than other destinations, it is not uncommon to see $400+ per night rental rates on properties that would otherwise rent for under $2,000 per month on a long-term lease.

Being in a short-term and vacation rental market, you are able to control the rates and adjust more quickly making it a perfect real estate investment during periods of high inflation.

 

Why Ambergris Caye Real Estate?

Belize is at a tipping point and at RE/MAX Belize we like to make a hockey reference. As Wayne Gretzky famously said, “I skate to where the puck is going, not where it has been.” Over the last few years, Hilton, Marriott, Wyndham, Margaritaville, Four Seasons, and Six Senses have all started on projects here on Ambergris Caye. There is a reason these brands choose the locations they do and why they are betting on Ambergris Caye over any other destination in Belize. The due diligence team of these large resort brands is much more thorough than an individual investor.

To put it more simply, “success leaves clues.” These brands essentially do the heavy lifting, building a brand around an area, which leads to more development and allows owners to reap the reward. These brands and resorts funnel millions of dollars into marketing and building awareness, which will continue the upward trajectory of Belize most of all Ambergris Caye. As JFK famously said, “a rising tide lifts all boats.”

 

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 at this time 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 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!
 

Reasons To Invest In Belize

Reasons 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!