Growth & Development at Belize Secret Beach

Belize Secret Beach

Secret Beach on Ambergris Caye, Belize has been growing and developing fast, and with all the new development there has been even more momentum around the West Coast. Between new homes being built, exciting new communities, and announcements of high-end resorts, the West Coast is really at a tipping point! Because of this, we wanted to update you on everything happening at Secret Beach.

You can see a Secret Beach 2022 Video below;

 

 

 

 

Everything around Secret Beach (the beach clubs, bars, restaurants, boutique hotels, homes, etc.) happened between 2016 and now. With the recent announcements, the trajectory is starting to take off!

You can see the growth and development of Secret Beach in the image and video below;

Six Senses Resort & Residences

Secret Beach has become one of the region’s most popular beach destinations, and it is also starting to attract high-end developments, including the recently announced Six Senses Resort Belize!

Between the Six Senses, Ixchel Resort, Habitat Belize community, and the other upscale developments coming to the area, you will likely see equity appreciation and property prices rise because of it.

The recent announcement of the Six Senses resort has been the biggest news for the area since Leonardo DiCaprio purchased his island, Blackadore Caye. Six Senses is one of the top internationally recognized luxury hotel brands. It will also be the first official 5-star resort brand on the island of Ambergris Caye and will be located near Secret Beach.

 

 

 

Ix Chel Resort Wellness Resort

At Secret Beach (just north of the beach bars), you have a new upscale boutique resort nearing completion. Ix Chel Wellness Resort is well underway and nearing completion. It brings an exciting new vision and design to the west coast with a vibrant atmosphere. Both resorts will bring more restaurants and businesses to the West Coast, further propelling the desire to live and stay in the area.

You can see photo renderings of the project below;

 

Belize Secret Beach Real Estate Investment

Off-beach, there are dozens of new homes, with more being added every month. There are also quite a few exciting new projects and communities underway off-beach (within a mile of the West Coast). Our team at RE/MAX Belize is excited to share those with you so you can see how much is happening in the area and the new opportunities available near Secret Beach.

Secret Beach changed dramatically over the last several years (2016 to 2023), and the next 6-years will see an even more substantial leap forward. By 2028, it will see even more development as these are only the first few dominos to fall. The West Coast is really at a tipping point, and there are still opportunities to buy off-beach Belize land for under $50,000 with financing available. Whether or not you build/develop the land, the Secret Beach properties are an amazing opportunity to be part of one of the region’s top emerging destinations!

Learn more on our Guide to Secret Beach Real Estate Investment.

The property near Secret Beach has a huge upside with little risk. You own an asset in an appreciating market hedged against inflation for less than a bank account annually. The only cost of ownership is the $75 to $90 per year property taxes (paid annually in April). You own the land outright, with a fee-simple title, financing is available, and the cost of ownership is almost nothing.

You are able to purchase a property and build. Or just secure the land and ride the organic momentum that will drive real estate value up.

Our team looks forward to chatting with you and making your Belize real estate dreams a reality!

 

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!

 

Complete Guide to Belize Secret Beach Real Estate Investment

Belize Secret Beach Real Estate Investment

Belize Secret Beach on Ambergris Caye is one of the top emerging destinations in Central America & The Caribbean for tourism and investment.

 

WHY HAS SECRET BEACH AND AMBERGRIS CAYE’S WEST COAST BECOME THE TOP GROWTH AREAS WITHIN BELIZE?

 

Ambergris Caye Belize

Thirty years ago, the main industry on Ambergris Caye was the same as it had always been. A sleepy fishing village built along the island’s eastern coast only a few hundred yards from the world’s second-largest barrier reef, the fishermen would rise with the sun and set out in their boats before the dawn had even reached the island’s barely populated western side.

In the time since then, the island of Ambergris Caye has changed dramatically, with its primary industry switching from fishing to tourism as more and more people discovered Belize and word got out. San Pedro Town (the island’s central hub entirely contained on the east coast and interior lagoon of the island) has grown to become a fully developed municipality, with a bustling downtown and booming tourist economy. Unlike those fishermen who lived along the eastern shore, the tourism market values sunsets over sunrises, and this tendency has shifted the path of progress toward the west coast of Ambergris Caye.

 

Originally a Sleepy Fishing Village, Ambergris Caye, and San Pedro Town had no plans to become the tourist hotspot it is today. In the beginning, there was no master plan for future development. San Pedro & Ambergris Caye grew organically as awareness increased.

With the Tourism Growth, available land in San Pedro Town is now fully developed, and the East Coast is parceled off. Where will the growth continue?

This led to the evolution of the west coast and Secret Beach. With land in San Pedro developed and the East coast becoming overly expensive, the next logical point of development was along the western coastline where road infrastructure was put in place in 2014.

 

Belize Secret Beach

The logical area for future development and investment had become the West Coast. With just a single road connecting the island’s eastern shore to its westernmost point, that western area (known as Secret Beach) has become the focus and epicenter of west coast development. Because of this, it is the area of Belize with some of the greatest investment opportunities and upside.

Only a few years ago, the beach really was a total secret; the only person you could count on seeing there was your own reflection in the water. Today we see that dozens of bars and restaurants have popped up alongside other new tourist-focused commercial development. Residential investment, development, and infrastructure are also booming in the area.

When assessing an area from an investment standpoint these are all key indicators that show us that Secret Beach is on the path of progress.

 

Secret Beach Timeline

2010: Lots subdivided and available for sale.

2012: East to West Road Connection Established.

2014: Awareness increases first signs of development.

2016: Government paves northern portions of the road.

2017: The term “Secret Beach” is coined.

2018: Major Spike in commercial & residential development.

2019: Development spikes in inland areas off-beach.

2021: New road infrastructure going south from Secret Beach behind the West Coast.

As the building boom continues along the West Coast of Ambergris Caye, infrastructure development to support that boom continues as well. Roads are being built to connect Secret Beach with the southern tip of the west coast, in addition to the creation of a route running right along the western shore. To put this into perspective, the biggest shift in lot values over the past decade occurred when the infrastructure was put in place to connect the West and East coast. A major new road project is underway again for the first time since 2014, and there’s no reason to believe the effect on property values will be any different.

 

Real Estate Investment at Secret Beach

So why is this big boom? It all started with the area’s natural beauty. Looking over the caye’s western coast there are some important distinctions from the east, the most notable difference being those shallow and glimmering turquoise waters that cross the twelve miles to the mainland. Inlets consisting of beautiful pearl-white sands live up to and often exceed the beauty people envision when they think of the Caribbean.

As if that beauty wasn’t reason enough, there’s also the lack of room for further eastern development which has caused this westward push. As the economy and popularity of Ambergris Caye continue to grow, more and more people have chosen to invest, making the land an increasingly scarce commodity on the island. There’s only so much to go around. While the success of the East has left little space available, the west is just beginning to take off, and investment opportunities still abound there. As the Great One, Wayne Gretsky said, “skate where the puck is going.”

Violet and coral-painted sunsets falling over pristine beaches of ivory sand; restaurants and bars serving food and drinks ranging from the simple to the complex and all crafted with the freshest island-grown produce; a finite amount of available land; and the fast-increasing popularity of the destination have all come together to create an earthly paradise where stress cannot survive. The investment opportunity is here, and it is clear.

 

Land Appreciation at Belize Secret Beach

 

To learn more about the real estate opportunity at Belize Secret Beach contact us at RE/MAX Belize. We are here to help with your Belize Real Estate & Ambergris Caye Real Estate search.

 

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!

 

Belize Real Estate Purchasing Process

Belize Real Estate Purchasing Process

If you are looking to buy Belize real estate, your first question will likely be “what is the process to buy real estate in Belize?” This post will help answer that question and provide clarity on the subject and how the process of buying Belize real estate.

Belize is British Common Law which means that a foreigner has the exact same ownership rights as a Belizean citizen. Belize is the only country in Central America that allows foreigners freehold property ownership. When you buy a property in Belize, you own the real estate outright with a fee-simple title. The big draw to owning property in Belize is the fact that foreigners can buy property freely and have the reassurance that their property asset is protected, which is why so many Americans & Canadians are buying up property in Belize.

Another draw to owning property in Belize is the low taxation, especially property taxes. For example; properties at Secret Beach have $75 to $90 per year property taxes (paid annually in April). Properties in Mahogany Bay have $108 per year in property taxes (also paid annually in April). 

 

What is the Process to Buy Belize Real Estate?

 

Overall the real estate buying process in Belize is fairly easy and straightforward. The process does vary from property to property and transaction to transaction as different property types have different closing processes. But the general process is as follows;

 

Step 1: The first step is for the buyer to submit an offer to the seller. This can be a basic agreement of sale, once the buyer has signed the agreement is brought to the seller for approval. All signing and documentation can be done remotely. The majority of transactions are done using DocuSign or e-Signature

 

Step 2: Upon acceptance by the seller, a Belize closing company will process the transaction. The closing company will provide all the titles and ensure the transaction is indeed binding and executed. Once satisfactory title research is completed, a recordable Agreement for Sale or original title transfer instrument will then be drawn up based on the particulars of the original purchase offer.

 

Step 3: Either an agreed-upon down payment or the full purchase price will be due for the deposit. This is considered the closing date and will be specified in the purchase offer or Agreement for Sale. As soon as the deposit is paid and received the buyer will have full enjoyment and use of the property. 

 

Step 4: Once the balance of the property is paid in full, the transfer documents will then be executed and delivered to the purchaser for review. 

 

Step 5: If the buyer wants to keep the property ownership in an IBC the share capital will then be transferred in full to the purchaser. If the buyer wants to have the property title in their own name, the executed documents will subsequently be processed at the Lands Registry (which can take up to 3 months) and an original title or certified copy of an Agreement for Sale will then be presented to the new owner in due course.

 

If you are looking at buying Belize real estate or want more information on the property purchasing process, contact us at Remax Belize!