Ambergris Caye Utilities

Ambergris Caye Utilities

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Ambergris Caye Utilities Availability

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

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

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

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

 

Ambergris Caye Electricity

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

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

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

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

 

Solar Power

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

Things to consider:

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

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

 

Ambergris Caye Water & Sewer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

0 to 1,000 gallons: $12.80

1,001 to 2,000 gallons $15.11

2,001 to 3,000 gallons $16.27

3,001 to 4,000 gallons $17.44

4,001 to 5,000 gallons $18.60

5,001 to 6,000 gallons $22.08

6,001 to 7,000 gallons $26.15

7,001 to 8,000 gallons $29.05

8,001 + $31.96

*note that all prices are in USD

 

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

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

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

 

 

Sewer vs Septic

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

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

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

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

 

Off-Grid Water Storage

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

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

 

Off-Grid Septic

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

 

 

Internet on Ambergris Caye

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

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

 

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

SMART Internet

Prices are in Belize Dollars

 

Digi Internet

Prices are in Belize Dollars

 

Ambergris Caye Utilities in Belize

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

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

 

The Belize Barrier Reef

The Belize Barrier Reef

The Belize Barrier Reef or Belize Reef is a coral reef system that extends the entire coast of Belize. The Belize reef (also known as Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System) is a 300-kilometer or 190 miles long. The Belize Reef is without a doubt the #1 tourist attraction in Belize. The Belize reef is roughly 980 ft (or 300 meters) from the East Coast of Ambergris Caye (in the northernmost area of Belize) and 40 kilometers (25 miles) from the coast of the Southern areas of Belize (Placencia & Punta Gorda). Even though the Belize Reef is mostly in Belize, it is referred to as the Mesoamerican Reef since it is continuous from the Cancun reef system on the northeastern tip of the Yucatán Peninsula and continues down towards Honduras. The Belize Barrier Reef is the second largest coral reef system in the world after the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. Even though it is the second largest reef in the world, it is the largest living reef.

The Belize Barrier Reef is the top tourist destination and attraction in Belize. It is world-renowned for scuba diving and snorkeling. The Belize reef alone is responsible for attracting almost half of Belize’s tourism. It is also vital to the fishing industry in Belize. It is important to note that as part of reef conservation, Belize has banned all commercial fishing and off-shore oil exploration and drilling.

 

Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System

The coastal area of Belize is picturesque (both above and below the surface of the water). The Belize reef is an outstanding natural ecosystem system consisting of the largest barrier reef in the northern hemisphere and western hemisphere. The Belize reef has numerous offshore atolls, several hundred islands, and lush mangroves. The Belize reef creates a unique habitat that is home to many threatened species, including marine turtles, and manatees.

The Belize Barrier Reef, which became a protected UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996, is comprised of seven protected areas, which include; Bacalar Chico National Park (North Ambergris Caye) and Marine Reserve, The Great Blue Hole, Half Moon Caye, South Water Caye, Glover’s Reef Marine Reserve, Laughing Bird Caye, and Sapodilla Cayes.

The Belize Reef is also home to the popular Hol Chan Marine Reserve. Hol Chan Marine Reserve is a marine reserve close to Ambergris Caye just off the southern coast of Ambergris Caye (near San Pedro). Hol Chan Marine Reserve covers approximately 18 km² (7 miles²) and is made up of coral reefs, seagrass beds, and mangrove forests.

The Belize Barrier Reef is the largest reef system in the Atlantic-Caribbean region it represents the second-largest reef system in the world. The seven protected areas that constitute the Belize Reef comprise 12% of the entire Reef Complex.

The Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System is one system comprised of seven protected areas and marine reserves located along the length of Belize. It is the largest barrier reef in the Northern hemisphere and represents all the main reef and coastal habitats. The network of protected areas within the Belize reef is large enough to maintain the necessary ecological environment. The geographic spread and diversity of the Belize Reef enhance its resilience, which is an essential factor when mitigating the environmental impacts of climate change, global warming, the potential risk of coral bleaching, and rising sea levels. The Belize Reef system also helps with the mitigation of storm damage and hurricane impact in Belize as the reef breaks up any large waves and potential storm surges.

 

Belize Reef & Belize Atolls

An atoll is a ring-shaped coral reef, island, or series of islets. Including a coral rim that encircles a lagoon. The atoll surrounds a body of water called a lagoon. An atoll is a ring-shaped island formed of coral that surrounds a lagoon. As reef-building corals thrive only in warm waters, atolls are only found in tropical destinations with large reef systems.

An Atoll is formed when an underwater volcano erupts, which creates a seamount under the surface of the water. As the seamount builds, it rises above the water and becomes an island. Over time, reefs and corals grow around the island and the volcanic soil erodes away, leaving behind a circular reef and a large lagoon at the center. An Atoll takes thousands of years to create.

Belize is home to three of the four atolls in the Western Hemisphere. The fourth atoll in the Western Hemisphere is located in Banco Chinchorro in Mexico. The three atolls located off the coast of Belize are Glover’s Reef Atoll, Lighthouse Reef Atoll, and Turneffe Atoll. Lighthouse Atoll near Ambergris Caye is home to the famous Belize Great Blue Hole.

 

Hol Chan Marine Reserve

The Belize Reef is home to the popular Hol Chan Marine Reserve. The Hol Chan Marine Reserve is one of the most popular dive and snorkeling spots in Belize and Ambergris Caye. Hol Chan Marine Reserve is a marine reserve close to Ambergris Caye just off the southern coast of San Pedro Town. Hol Chan Marine Reserve covers approximately 18 km² (7 miles²) and is made up of coral reefs, seagrass beds, and mangrove forests. In the Mayan language “Hol Chan” translates to “little channel”. Hol Chan is also home to Shark Ray Alley (which became part of the marine reserve in 1999).

The Hol Chan Marine Reserve was established as a marine protected area in 1987 under the Fisheries Act (Statutory Instrument # 57) Laws of Belize. It incorporates the southernmost marine and coastal areas of Ambergris Caye including the barrier reef, seagrass beds, and mangrove islands. Hol Chan is divided into four zones which include no-take areas and zones that regulate and promote sustainable fishing practices. The reserve was originally divided into four areas:

  • Zone A includes the inside and outside of the reef (part of the Belize Barrier Reef).
  • Zone B covers the seagrass beds inside the reef.
  • Zone C covers the mangrove swamps of southern Ambergris Caye.
  • Zone D covers Shark Ray Ally which was added in 1999.

 

 

The Belize Reef system is the largest tourism driver in Belize as it attracts tourists from around the world for fishing, scuba diving & snorkeling. For more information on Belize or to learn about Belize real estate and Belize investment properties contact us at RE/MAX Belize.

 

 

Belize Tourism Rebounds in 2022

The latest statistics for Belize tourism from the BTB (Belize Tourism Board) provide a clear indication that Belize tourism is moving fast on its path to recovery after the 2020 COVID-19 Pandemic. According to their latest number and figures, tourism in 2022 shows that Belize is nearly at pre-COVID numbers and overnight tourist arrivals to Belize totaled almost 300,000 (January to August), the largest number of overnight visitors recorded since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2022.

Overall, Belize’s tourism in 2022 is at 81% of peak tourism in 2018 & 2019. Which is up 281% (nearly 3x) from 2020 and up 185% (nearly double) than 2021 tourism. This shows that Belize’s tourism is at pre-COVID numbers.

 

The Belize Tourism Board (BTB) states that it remains committed to improving Belize tourism stating that – “Together, we will aggressively and effectively promote Belize as the leading tourism destination and achieve full recovery of the industry for the benefit of both Belizeans and visitors.”

With the steady growth in tourism through the first 8-months of the year, the outlook remains positive as Belize’s tourism industry rebounds strongly. Coming into high season, Belize is seeing almost all international flights returning and flight routes have been reestablished.

Belize was one of the best-kept secrets in the Caribbean & Central America. Now the word is out, and Belize has emerged as a ‘must-see’ destination. Belize has something for everyone and is undoubtedly a unique and unforgettable getaway. From the lush jungles and rainforests on the mainland to the tropical Caribbean beaches on the Cayes (islands). Belize is the perfect place to explore or relax near the beach. With the resurgence of tourism, Belize also offers the perfect opportunity for people looking for a cash-flow vacation rental property. People come to Belize for the beaches but often stay for the people and culture.

Though Belize is a small country, it felt a huge impact in the wake of the global pandemic. With so much of the economy dependent on tourism, we are excited to see that Belize tourism has rebounded in 2022 and continues to grow into the next year (2023). Belize’s borders are open, and we are thrilled to welcome travelers back. As COVID restrictions have gone away, Belize tourism is trending upward, and there is no better time than now to start planning your Belize vacation. With tourism coming back the opportunities for Belize real estate investments are abundant. For more information on Belize travel and Belize real estate opportunities contact RE/MAX Belize!

 

 

How to Get to Belize Secret Beach

Belize Secret Beach

As soon as you arrive in Belize and set foot in San Pedro Town or the island of Ambergris Caye, you are going to immediately hear about “Secret Beach” and how you must check out the once-hidden gem of Ambergris Caye. Ambergris Caye is the largest island in Belize and the #1 tourist destination. When you arrive at the tropical island paradise you will likely be told by everyone (hotel staff, bartenders, taxi drivers, locals, and tourists) that Belize Secret Beach is a “must-visit” and you will soon wonder what everyone is talking about…

You might first ask yourself, “can it be a secret if everyone is talking about it?” Or, “how do I get to Secret Beach?” in this post we highlight what makes Secret Beach so popular and how you get to the popular Belize beach.

 

Many who visit Ambergris Caye have Secret Beach near the top of their list of places to visit and experience when in Belize. Who can blame them? Secret Beach is one of the most stunning and picturesque areas in all of Belize. The sand beaches, turquoise blue water, calm Caribbean sea, and the fact there is no seagrass or sargassum draw thousands of tourists to the West Coast of Ambergris Caye and Secret Beach every year.

The west side of Ambergris Caye does not have the reef (which is on the East Coast of the island) but there are crystal clear waters with stunning sandy beaches on the West Coast with calm shallow waters. While on the West Coats and at Secret Beach you can walk a fair distance before the water depth even hits your waist. Once you experience Secret Beach you will see how truly stunning and remarkable it really is and why it was so hard to keep a ‘secret’. It is also important to note that the sunsets on Ambergris Caye are breathtaking and nowhere has more beautiful sunsets than Secret Beach and the West Coats.

 

Secret Beach is often called the “worst-kept secret” in Belize. This is obvious the moment you arrive and as you drive up and over to the West Coat. Secret Beach is a beach that is located on Ambergris Caye. Although Secret Beach is no longer a true secret, it is still a beach that is far enough from San Pedro and the hustle of downtown that you will be able to escape and enjoy the laidback beach atmosphere and relax by the ocean. Secret Beach is located just north of downtown San Pedro Town and then over to the West Coast of Ambergris Caye. The beach’s remote location combined with the calm Caribbean sea makes it one of the best beaches in Belize.

Up until recently, Secret Beach was more challenging to get to as visitors would require a boat. When the road infrastructure to the West Coats was put in in 2014, the popular beach destination became more accessible and the area really took off. The road to Secret Beach is roughly 2 or 3 miles long when you turn West after Grand Caribe, the road to Secret Beach stretches from the East side of Ambergris Caye over to the West Coast. When the road was put in back in 2014 it allowed, for the first time, access to the west coast (or the leeward side) of Ambergris Caye for the first time.

 

How to Get to Belize Secret Beach

Secret Beach is on the west side of Ambergris Caye. The vast majority of development (hotels, resorts, bars, restaurants, businesses, etc.) is on the reef side (East side) of the island. Secret Beach is however on the West Side. Luckily, Ambergris Caye is a long and narrow island and the widest point of Ambergris Caye is 3 miles.

To get to Secret Beach from San Pedro, you will probably want to rent a golf cart and start driving north. At approximately 4.5 miles north of downtown San Pedro (past Truck Stop, Grande Caribe & Coco Beach) there will be a fork in the road with a big left turn. It is hard to miss as you will see all the signs for the bars, restaurants, and beach clubs that are at Secret Beach. When you reach this junction, you will take a left (if you pass Matachica you have gone too far). When you take the left turn to Secret Beach, you will follow the road for 2 or 3 miles, passing small businesses and tourists along the way. You will then be greeted by the famous Secret Beach letters at Pirates Bar and finally, see the West Coats and know what everyone is talking about. And why the beauty of Secret Beach was so hard to keep ‘secret’.

 

You can see a map pointing out Secret Beach below;

Belize Secret Beach Location

 

Google Maps Drive to Secret Beach

 

Secret Beach is not only a popular tourist destination, but it is also one of the best areas for investment. The lots of land near Secret Beach start at $35,000 and you are able to finance land near Secret Beach with 20% down. If you are looking to buy, own or invest in real estate near Secret Beach, contact us at RE/MAX Belize.

 

Benefits of Buying a Belize Vacation Home

Belize Vacation Home

When investing overseas a person has a lot of options. They have even more options when considering a vacation home. You can look at domestic options (in your home country) or look at off-shore markets like Belize.

There are many benefits to building a home anywhere in the world. Every destination also has its advantages when it comes to a vacation home. Nevertheless, there are a lot of benefits to buying and owning a vacation home in Belize that other markets may not offer.

One of the big draws to Belize is the fact it is relatively undeveloped and an emerging destination, this provides owners and investors with a lot of opportunities when it comes to real estate and building in a top-tier vacation spot. The advantages of owning and investing in Belize are both long-term and short-term.

Now, Belize being a Caribbean dream spot, and tropical destination makes it an even more appealing place to own and invest. Just imagine, building your dream home whether it be big or small, but it is in the perfect location that you can come to whenever you like, and when not occupying the home, you can generate vacation rental income.

Belize is more than just a tropical paradise, you have world-class fishing and diving. Many consider Belize the perfect destination because it has taste for everyone. With a combination of nightlife and restaurants with the laidback beach atmosphere, Belize has a lot to offer when it comes to owning a vacation home abroad. Belize has a unique combination of Caribbean islands and the mainland, you have pristine beaches, a lively reef, and lush jungles. When it comes to owning a vacation property in Belize, you have a lot of options with such a diverse landscape. You can build your dream home in a waterfront gated community like Mahogany Bay Village, or a simple off-grid cottage near Secret Beach.

Many owners are drawn to the Secret Beach area with the privacy and beautiful beaches, where really have no limitations on what you build or when you build it.

Now, Mahogany Bay Village is a gated community and every property is a canal-front homesite. The Mahogany Bay community offers an array of amenities and a very first-world lifestyle with restaurants, coffee shops, and dozens of other businesses. Something like Mahogany Bay has the luxury of being able to park your water vessel right in your backyard, all streets have canal access with Caribbean Ocean access. You can just hop on your boat and quickly go fishing, snorkeling, diving, or just have a regular boat ride with friends or family. Accessing the array of secluded beaches Belize and Ambergris Caye has to offer.

Belize has a slow season, a high season, and a peak season. So when building, whether you want to come in any season you have your piece of paradise. In the winter months (November to April) Belize sees a lot of sunseekers escaping the frigid winter months. During the Spring and Summer months, the island of Ambergris Caye is full of avid divers and fishermen, coming to enjoy the world-class diving and fishing Belize has to offer. Lobster Fest in June & July is also a popular attraction, drawing in people from around the world. Regardless of the season, there is never a bad time to visit Belize and enjoy your vacation home. You can spend the morning on a jungle hike, and the afternoon enjoying the pristine beaches.

When buying or building a vacation home in Belize you can also create a second source of income. Since it is a vacation home, it is unlikely you will occupy the home full-time. This means you can generate rental income when the home is not in use. You can find a vacation rental home option with management in place, self-manage, or find a property manager. Belize allows you to have passive income when you are not using your vacation home. In Belize, there are no rental restrictions, we are also one of the only pro-landlord destinations in the region.

In Belize, we do not recognize squatting rights. Another draw to owning a vacation home in Belize is the fact you own the property outright with a fee-simple title (the strongest form of property ownership). Belize is the only English Speaking country in Central America with British Common Law, because of this, we have full foreign ownership and foreigners enjoy the same ownership rights as locals.

If you are buying or investing in a Belize vacation home, you can use the passive income to help pay off the house. Over time, the vacation property in Belize will have easily paid for itself with the passive rental income generated from tourists.

Belize is the perfect location to consider investing and owning a vacation property as you have the cash flow/yield from the rental income, while also owning an appreciating asset with low taxation and costs of ownership. Property taxes in Belize are very low, and because of this, the cost of ownership is also very low. Belize is also an emerging destination. Our property prices are much less than in the Bahamas, Cayman Islands, British Virgin Islands, etc. As Belize continues to grow and develop, so does the value of your property.

Belize is a beautiful place to be in and besides owning a house in one of the most picturesque destinations in the world, you also have a protected asset that is held in USD. Having full ownership and a fee-simple title is a major advantage of owning and investing in Belize. Belize is one of the best destinations to buy real estate from an asset protection standpoint.

Regardless of how frequently you occupy the home or visit Belize, the tropical destination is the perfect location to own and invest in a vacation property. If you are looking to buy and own a vacation home or property in Belize, contact us at RE/MAX Belize. We eagerly await to help you with your Belize real estate search.

 

Reasons Why Ambergris Caye Belize is a Great Place to Live

Living on Ambergris Caye

More and more people are looking at options to retire or live off-shore. Whether you are looking for a change of lifestyle, can work remotely, have a relaxing place to retire, or planning to get away part-time and live in a tropical paradise, you’re not alone. Central America and the Caribbean have never been more popular and people looking to relocate to this region are ever-increasing. Every destination has something to offer, and for many, the perfect setting for relocation to the Caribbean is Ambergris Caye, Belize.

What makes Ambergris Caye such a popular place for ex-pats, retirees, investors, and sunseekers? Until recently, the country of Belize was off the world’s radar, now, it has become one of the go-to destinations for tourism and investment. Here are some reasons why so many people are investing and relocating to Ambergris Caye.

 

Weather & Climate

Being in the Caribbean and near the equator makes the island of Ambergris Caye a tropical paradise. You have the warm Caribbean sun with the nice ocean breeze 12 months of the year (with only a few days of heavy rain). Ambergris Caye really is a slice of heaven for anyone that has experienced and has had to endure the frigid winter months, filled with snow, ice, and freezing temperatures. When winter rolls around in Belize, you’re still in shorts and a t-shirt, still swimming in Caribbean waters. Ambergris Caye, Belize has one of the most consistent climates in the region, even the rainy season (August, September & October) is full of sun.

The desirable climate and great weather are probably the biggest draws to Belize. Ambergris Caye has the Caribbean weather an annual consistency.

 

Cost of Living & Affordability

Belize in general is less expensive than other destinations in the Caribbean. Though imported items can be more expensive (ie. a box of cereal), overall day-to-day life is much cheaper. Having both the mainland and the islands, Belize is the only net agricultural exporter in CARICOM. This makes the cost of living on Ambergris Caye much easier and less costly than other Caribbean destinations. For a retirement option, lifestyle and real estate is a fraction of the cost of other popular destinations like Florida or Arizona. The affordability of the cost of living makes it an excellent choice for those seeking a comfortable life without overextending. At the same time, those with more means will find plenty of options for larger homes and condominiums to buy or rent.

Now, you may ask, how much does it currently take to live comfortably on Ambergris Caye? The average cost per month varies person-to-person and really comes down to your personal lifestyle (like anywhere it can be as cheap or expensive as you want it to be), that said generally a person can live comfortably on $1,800 to $3,000 USD per month (again, depending on your living arrangements and lifestyle). That includes rent or mortgage, food, utilities, and other essentials. If you’re currently living in a country where it’s hard to find a home (to rent or buy), and the cost of living has become too expensive, a move to Ambergris Caye would make financial sense.

Overall, in 2022, the cost of living in Belize is 32% cheaper than in the US. (Numero data)

 

Political Stability of Belize

Belize practices British Common Law which is similar to domestic systems in the US or Canada. Foreigners own their property outright with a fee-simple title. When buying property in Belize foreigners have the same ownership rights as locals. Belize has sought to create a stable democracy since its independence in 1981. At the time, the country established a British parliamentary democracy. This has made it one of the most appealing aspects of being a destination for people looking to live, retire, and invest off-shore. Not all countries around Central America and the Caribbean can make the same claim or have the same political stability.

North Americans (From the USA & Canada) as well as Europeans will feel comfortable with familiar laws and political processes. The political stability of Belize makes the transition much easier and simpler to establish a new life abroad.

 

English Speaking

Most of Central America is Spanish Speaking or at least has Spanish as the primary language. One of the biggest challenges of moving abroad is learning a second language, or adapting to a new culture. It is one thing to speak another language, but it is another to receive medical information and legal documents in another language. That’s not something most North Americans have to worry about if they move to Ambergris Caye. English is the official language of Belize. Not only do you speak in your native tongue in your day-to-day life (without the loss in translation), all legal documents and Belize real estate agreements are in English.

You might need to become familiar with local slang, and there is a large Spanish and Kriol influence. The terms, phrases, and slangs of the local culture often delight newcomers once they learn what they mean. The multicultural aspect of Belize and native slang is one of the many charms of Ambergris Caye.

As mentioned, many Belizeans are multilingual, speaking Kriol, Spanish, and Mayan languages, but no matter where you go English is the primary language.

 

Beauty & Natural Landscape

The Belize Reef is one of the largest tourism draws. Thousands of tourists every year flock to Belize to fish, dive, and snorkel. Few places have the same turquoise blue waters and sandy beaches as Belize. Imagine relaxing on a beach, enjoying a cocktail with views of pristine turquoise waters and greenery everywhere you look. You look up and there are clear skies, although you may have some showers in the afternoon. There are palm trees blowing in the wind with boats passing by. San Pedro Town is a true Caribbean town, full of vibrant colors and local culture.

Residents and tourists enjoy the natural beauty and the Caribbean setting. Once you experience it, you will understand why the pace of living is a little slower on Ambergris Caye. People want to enjoy their surroundings, take in the ocean, and enjoy the day. If you are looking to escape the schedules, stress, and multitasking of day-to-day life back home, you’ll love the slow, relaxed pace on Ambergris Caye.

 

People & Culture

When people visit Belize, they come for the beaches but stay for the people and the culture. The friendliness of the people on Ambergris Caye is what keeps people coming back and the first thing they talk about when they get home. There is a reason why tourists visit Ambergris Caye, they go and experience the town and Secret Beach and venture outside of their resorts (unlike Mexico, Dominican Republic, and other destinations that have all-inclusive resorts). The safety and friendliness of the island make it even more of a paradise and almost a utopia. In many ways, life on Ambergris Caye is like living in a small town. You quickly get to know everyone. People stop on the street or in the shops to chat for a moment. Everyone waves as they pass you on the street. If you have a question about where to buy something, others are happy to provide you with information and are quick to assist you.

At the same time, people on Ambergris Caye are not as intrusive or gossip filled as in other small towns. People on Ambergris Caye happily recognize and honor your boundaries. Whether it is locals or expats, everyone is warm and welcoming to newcomers. This makes it all the easier to meet people, make friends, and find yourself forming strong relationships.

 

Healthy & Nearly Car-Free

The primary mode of transportation on Ambergris Caye and in San Pedro is a golf cart. It is one of the many charming attributes of the island. There’s something special about being able to step outside your door and easily walk to where you need to. It is even more pleasant with the warm weather, tropical breeze, and sun shining. Depending on where you live on Ambergris Caye, you can easily walk to where you need to go. Most of the locals and residents drive around on golf carts, or small vehicles, with only a few trucks and large cars. Bicycles and golf carts are the popular modes of transportation on Ambergris Caye. You likely won’t need (or want) a car on Ambergris Caye.

The food has no preservatives. The local restaurants, markets, and fruit stands provide local produce, seafood, and meat. It is also easy to avoid the indulgence of fast food as there are none on the island. The air and food are likely much healthier than what you are accustomed to at home. It is much easier to have a healthier lifestyle on Ambergris Caye.

 

Medical & Healthcare

No matter your age (young or old), you want to ensure you have healthcare available. The healthcare in Ambergris Caye is not equal to that in the US or Canada, but it does exceed expectations and is very affordable. When living abroad or considering making a move to an off-shore country it is important to consider your healthcare needs.

One of the nice things about Ambergris Caye is the access to clinics, doctors, and pharmacies on the island. Ambergris Caye is the $1 destination in Belize, and as the country’s major tourism hotspot, it makes sense that there are plenty of options when it comes to quality of care and healthcare. Healthcare is available and cheap, insurance coverage is affordable and out-of-pocket costs are reasonable.

If you need specialized medical care, it is easy to travel to Belize City, or even Houston or Miami in the US, or Mexico (Cancun or Merida). Traveling to and from Belize is not difficult if you need more intensive medical care, surgery, or specialized care.

 

Accessibility

As much as you may love living abroad, and enjoying everything Belize has to offer, there will likely still be times when you want/need to return home. Whether you travel back to visit family, handle affairs, or just need a break, Belize is very easy to access and easy to get back home. Ambergris Caye is a short hopper flight from Belize City (roughly 10 to 15 minutes). From there, it’s easy to get back to the United States and Canada with direct flights to almost every major hub.

This brings peace of mind to anyone needing to return home for an emergency or celebration. It also means less travel time when going away for a vacation or visiting home. Ambergris Caye is just south of Cancun and the Yucatan Peninsula, which makes it close to home.
The only international airport in Belize is in Belize City, BZE (Philip Goldson International Airport). The airport handles all the international air travel to and from Belize. Ambergris Caye is the #1 destination in Belize, which is very accessible when you land in Belize City. The domestic flight is 10 to 15 minutes, and you don’t even have to leave the airport. Flights from BZE to San Pedro are every 30 minutes to an hour and are provided by Maya Island Air & Tropic Air. You can also take the ferry from Belize City to the island, which takes around an hour to an hour and a half.

 

Residency

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

 

Living on Ambergris Caye

Living on Ambergris Caye, Belize has many other perks and advantages when it comes to living here. Also, you give yourself a home base in Belize for further exploration of the country. You can make Ambergris Caye your permanent residence or a Caribbean getaway (second home).

 

Home Insurance in Belize

Home Insurance in Belize

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Quick Facts on Ambergris Caye Belize

Ambergris Caye Belize

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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