Belize is a country in Central America, bordered by Mexico to the north, Guatemala to the west and south, and the Caribbean Sea to the east. Belize is unique as it has the mainland which is Central America and the islands which are Caribbean. There are several ways to get to Belize, including:
Air Travel to Belize
Many major airlines offer direct flights to Belize City from several cities in the United States, Canada, and Central America. The Philip S.W. Goldson International Airport in Belize City is the main airport in Belize, with several airlines offering daily flights.
It is estimated that around 81% of all international tourists travel come through the Belize International Airport. In 2023 it is even easier to travel to Belize with more international direct flights flying to Belize and the Philip Goldson International Airport (BZE) than ever before.
The only international airport in Belize is in Belize City, which is BZE (PhilipGoldsonInternational Airport). The airport handles all the international air travel to and from Belize.
Below you can see all of the direct flights to Belize as of the start of 2023 and the corresponding airline;
Most of the direct flights are from major US travel hubs including; Houston (IAH), Denver, Los Angeles (LAX), Atlanta, Chicago, and Miami (MIA). Belize also has direct flights from Canada (Toronto & Calgary). Belize also has international flights to popular Central American Destinations like Panama City, Cancun, Honduras, and Guatemala City.
Learn more about the direct flights to Belize below;
Belize is accessible by land from Mexico and Guatemala. There are several bus services that operate between Belize and these neighboring countries. It is important to check Belize visa requirements and border crossing regulations before attempting to cross the border by land.
Belize has 2 border crossings;
The Western Border (Benque Viejo Del Carmen)
The Northern Border (Santa Elena)
The Western Border (Guatemala & Belize)
Belize borders Guatemala to the West. Near San Ignacio, in the Cayo District there is the Western Border. There is one main highway crossing of the border, at Benque Viejo del Carmen, Cayo District, Belize, and Melchor de Mencos, Peten, Guatemala.
The Northern Border (Mexico & Belize)
The Northern border is an international border between the countries of Belize and Mexico. Currently, there are two official crossings at the border, which are international bridges. The main bridge is located between Subteniente Lopez, Quintana Roo, Mexico, and Santa Elena, Corozal District, Belize.
Sea & Water Travel to Belize
Belize is a popular destination for cruise ships, with several major cruise lines offering stops in Belize City and other ports throughout the country.
Fort Street Tourism Village is the original Belize cruise ship port. The Fort Street Village port has several courtyards, snack bars, and local stores with duty-free shopping. Several restaurants offer authentic Caribbean, Belizean, and international cuisine, and there is often live local entertainment. The Fort Street Village Cruise Port is located in Belize City and is the most popular cruise ship terminal in Belize.
Harvest Caye Cruise Port
Harvest Caye is a newly opened docking port in the southern Stann Creek District (near Placenecia) that currently caters to Norwegian Cruise Line passengers.
Port Coral Cruise Ship Port
The Government of Belize has started a new “Cruise Ship Docking Facility” (passenger terminal) in Belize City. The new cruise ship port will be called “Port Coral”. The development project also includes building a resort and theme park on Stake Bank Caye – an island located approx 5 miles southeast of Belize City.
Named Port Coral or Stake Bank Cruise Ship Docking Facility. The new “Stake Bank Cruise Ship Docking Facility” or Port Coral will be 25 acres and have a docking capacity of 4 liners. Along with the 4 liner docking stations, the new terminal complex also includes a 60-slip yacht marina.
Construction at Port Coral, a new cruise ship docking facility is well underway and expected to open in 2022.
There is also a water taxi and ferry service which goes between Chethumal, Mexico, and San Pedro Town on Ambergris Caye.
The United Nations defined “sustainability” as “meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”
Sustainability has become a popular buzzword in both the tourism and real estate industries. That said there are countries that take more action when it comes to environmental policies and sustainability. Countries, like Belize, have programs in place to help protect the environment, and culture and reduce the ecological impact. Belize is leading the way when it comes to environmental policies and sustainability (according to Forbes).
Many countries in the region of Caribbean & Central America depend on tourism dollars as their primary source of income and GDP. Belize is a country that has a lot of its economy centered around tourism. Much of the tourism to Belize is around the country’s natural ecosystem including the Belize Barrier Reef & lush Rainforest Jungles. Preserving the environment of Belize is not only the right thing to do, but it also makes good economic sense based on the country’s tourism sector.
Belize is located in Central America on the Caribbean side, just south of Mexico (below the Yucatan Peninsula) because of this, Belize has a decidedly Caribbean feel and culture. The geographical location and Caribbean Culture (also being English Speaking)is appealing to visitors and tourists who want to go snorkeling, diving, and fishing in some of the most beautiful water in the world and along the world’s largest living reef. Belize is home to the second-largest barrier reef in the world (the largest living reef). It has a plethora of islands off the coast, including Ambergris Caye (the largest island and most popular destination in Belize) with rainforests blanketing the mainland.
With the environment being a large tourism driver, Belize has set up several programs to not only attract travelers but to protect the land and its ecosystem.
For example, Belize has put in programs to protect endangered species such as the Jaguar, also partnering with the Maya Forest Corridor, protecting landscapes from Belize’s Maya Mountains, through the tri-national Maya forest. This region which consists of Belize, Mexico, and Guatemala is the most extensive continuous stretch of jungle in Central America.
More than 70% of Belize is forested, these lush rainforests make the Belize jungle a mecca for wildlife. Belize has also dedicated that 46% of the country is protected National Park & Marine Reserve. Because of this, Belize has over a hundred protected areas, both on land and around the reef.
Belize is also at the forefront of leading cultural sustainability, with efforts to support local community tourism so travelers can engage with and learn about the local Mayan & Garifuna cultures. Belize has a rich history filled with cultural diversity. The plethora of Mayan Temples are all protected and are a key part of Belizean Heritage.
Sustainability of the Reef & Ocean
The Belize Barrier Reef is the country’s largest attraction and something natural to the region. Because of this, Belize is very active in preserving the water and coastline. There are a number of protected areas and Marine Reserves (including Hol Chan and the popular Attols). Belize has also banned all commercial fishing from its water, as well as banned commercial drilling from the coastline.
The waters and reefs along the East Coast of Belize and extending the entire coastline host a diverse variety of marine life, from sting rays, manatees, sea turtles, and colorful corals. The Belize Barrier Reef draws scuba divers, snorkelers, fishermen, and water enthusiasts from all over the world. Belize has a reef protection and sustainable tourism program to go along with the “Blue Economy Initiative“, these programs include a new diving site where divers can explore the marine life and waters while reducing strain on these radiant reefs and eco-systems.
Belize has put in place a law and moratorium on offshore oil exploration and drilling in the entirety of Belizean waters. The reef is an integral part of many Belizeans’ livelihoods, whether in the fishing industry or tourism industry, and preserving that water is a key sustainability effort.
Belize also has the Fish Right, Eat Right program which has a commitment to sustainable seafood. The program was created to control illegal fishing and promote best practices in fisheries. Many restaurants, especially in Ambergris Caye, have signed up for the program and have been sourcing seafood responsibly and through local vendors. The program initially targeted restaurants and hotels but is slated to include cooperatives, fish markets, supermarkets, and other seafood purveyors within Belize.
Belize Sustainability Programs
Ecotourism thrives in Belize with environmental activities, including hiking to waterfalls, horseback riding, ziplining through the canopies, and visiting wildlife sanctuaries. Belize is known to be a culinary destination and is actually devoid of chain restaurants, with locally produced food and popular local restaurants, travelers can enjoy the food and Belizean culture.
Recently, eco-resorts in Belize have become increasingly popular as they prioritize sustainability as their basis in all things they do.
Forbes, the rеnоwnеd buѕіnеѕѕ аnd trаvеl mаgаzіnе, hаѕ lіѕtеd Веlіzе аѕ оnе оf thе bеѕt bеасh dеѕtіnаtіоnѕ fоr fаmіlіеѕ (one of the nine locations mentioned in the article). Fоrbеѕ lіѕtеd Ѕаn Реdrо Аmbеrgrіѕ Сауе hаѕ а “mаgісаl аnd full оf fаmіlу-frіеndlу wоndеr”.
Wendy Altschuler with Forbes said in the article;
“Magical and full of family-friendly wonder, Ambergris Caye has it all. Rent a golf cart, the only way to travel all over the island, and visit Secret Beach (not all that secret), where you can spend the day swimming in the warm water, snorkeling, boating, or enjoying good food. Visitors can also enjoy the underwater world in the pristine waters of Belize. In San Pedro Town, be sure to stop at Caye Coffee Roasting Company; Belize Chocolate Company; and the food truck haven, The Truck Stop.”
It is amazing to see Ambergris Caye get global recognition from Forbes and rank among the top 9 beach destinations for families. Belize has entered the world’s radar, continuing to be featured in major publications around the globe. The Belize Barrier Reef remains the country’s top tourism driver, but the fact our beaches are ranked among the top for families is a further reason so many people visit Belize each year.
The article by Forbes listed other top beach destinations for families as well, and Ambergris Caye ranked among the likes of; The Bahamas, Maldives, Puerto Vallarta, Grenada, Maui, St. Kitts and Nevis, Seaside (Florida), and Cavallo Point (California).
Ambergris Caye Real Estate
With all the publicity going towards Ambergris Caye, the real estate market continues to grow. Publications like Forbes reach an international audience. The more people learn about Belize, the more tourism comes to Ambergris Caye. There is. a direct correlation between tourism numbers and real estate values. With higher visibility and recognition, tourism will grow. As tourism grows, so will the demand for nightly vacation rentals. There is a direct correlation between tourism growth and real estate appreciation. If you are looking at owning property or investing in Ambergris Caye Real Estate contact RE/MAX Belize!
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.
There are a number of mistakes people can make when investing offshore or purchasing a vacation home in a market outside the US or Canada. Belize Real Estate has become increasingly popular for investors and people looking to relocate to a warm tropical climate. There are far more than 5 mistakes people make when investing offshore, but we are going to touch on 5 of the most common. Here are the 5 Mistakes people make when investing offshore & how to avoid making them yourself.
5 Mistakes People Make When Investing Offshore
Buying Real Estate Without Using an IBC.
Buying or Selling Property Without Taking Advantage of “Owner-Carry Financing”
Buying for Personal Use & Investment without a Strategy.
Buying Property in an Overly Saturated Market.
Buying Without a Reliable Ownership Structure
1. Buying Without Using an IBC (International Business Corporation)
Owning property in an IBC (an entity structure separate from yourself) will protect your personal assets and give you numerous advantages. Setting up an IBC takes less than 96 hours.
Advantages of using an IBC
Protection from Lawsuits
Save Thousands of Dollars
Higher Return on Investment
Simplicity of Ownership
TIP: Look for properties already in an IBC!
2. Not Planning an Exit Strategy
Selling Your Offshore Investment
Many offshore markets have expensive bank financing, giving you the opportunity to maximize your profitable return by offering your buyers owner carrier financing, at terms you set.
For example, you purchase a lot for $200,000 & now it’s worth $300,000.
You add a traditional cash sale:
$300,000 (sale price) – $200,000 (cost of property) = $100,000 ROI (Return on Investment).
You offer the buyer financing with 20% down, 10% interest, and a 5-year term
= $100,000 profit
+ $82,000 in interest.
= $182,000 ROI (Return on Investment)
As you can see, this structure adds significant percentage points to your ROI. When you offer to owner finance a property you not only improve your ROI, but you also improve the liquidity as you greatly increase your prospective buyer pool. The larger the buyer pool, the easier and faster you sell a property. It is difficult for foreigners to obtain financing in most offshore markets. If you offer seller financing on your property you maximize your return. It is also important to consider your “exit strategy” on any investment property.
3. Buying for Personal Use & Investment
What to look for in a personal use property
Close to Downtown
Who are the neighbors
Is the area quiet
Is the land fully developed
What to look for in an investment property
Is it the path of progress
Is there a potential upside
Where are the value adds
What can be improved
What is the ROI
How long do I want to hold
What financing terms can I obtain
Look deeper and identify what type of property is going to meet your needs.
4. Buying Real Estate in a Saturated Market
Infancy Markets Competitive Advantages
Buying within an infancy market isn’t always a great investment opportunity. With that said, properties within an infancy market have the most potential upside in the future. The key: finding something within an infancy market that lies in the path of progress. Examples would be Ambergris Caye Real Estate & Belize Real Estate.
We’ve all heard the age-old saying, buy low sell high. The vast majority of properties within a saturated market are already overpriced and thus in these conditions, it is much harder to find good, let alone great investment opportunities.
5. Buying in a Market with Poor Ownership Structure
When you are buying real estate offshore you want to make sure that you are buying in a country/market that offers full foreign ownership and fee simple title, You also want to buy and invest in a market where the government is in favor of foreign investment. An example of this would be, Belize.
Belize is a member of the British Common Wealth and practices British Common Law, as such its systems are nearly the same as Canada, Great Britain, and the United States. The fee simple title owner has the right to possess, use the land and dispose of the land as the owner wishes-sell it. In Belize, you own your property outright and can give it away, trade it for other things, lease it to others, sell it, or pass it to others upon death.
In countries like Mexico, Panama, Costa Rica, and Honduras, owning property as a foreigner is far more difficult and there are restrictions in place. Mexico does not directly allow for foreign property ownership and forces investors to jump through hoops to “own” their property. You must incorporate through a Mexican corporation with a Mexican Director and sift through the confusion and grey areas to do so. When buying or investing in Mexico, it is hard to tell if you ever truly own anything.
It is also important to note that most offshore markets have squatting rights. This is not the case in Belize. Belize does not recognize squatters and squatting rights are not a concern.
Advice: Before you invest in an offshore market, invest in your education.
When making an offshore investment take the time to attend webinars, read investment guides, talk to the right people, and research everything you need to know before pulling the trigger.
Investing in Belize Real Estate
Belize is like foreign investing on trainingwheels; everything is in English, we have full foreign ownership, practice British Common law, fee-simple land title, etc.
As San Pedro Town and the island of Ambergris Caye continue to grow and expand (both in population and tourism), there is an increased need for more services. One of the newly proposed services includes an easier and more affordable way to get around the island. This is the newly proposed public transportation system. A private entity, Taly Corporation, has been actively working on a public transportation system and route for San Pedro & Ambergris Caye going from Mahogany Bay through San Pedro Town, continuing north and heading west to Secret Beach. The Taly Corporation is looking to invest in and set up the Ambergris Caye public transportation system to make it easier and more affordable for people to get around the island (both locals and tourists). The proposed plan will have a portion of the public transportation profits go to a non-profit organization and charities on Ambergris Caye until the initial capital investment is met.
The proposed public transportation project would be under the San Pedro Public Transport Company Ltd. The proposal for the public transportation system is yet to be approved. The plan is to offer island residents and tourists public transportation options besides only taxis or golf cart rentals. Below you can see the current types of transportation used in San Pedro with the % of total use;
San Pedro Ambergris Caye
San Pedro Town on Ambergris Caye, Belize, as of 2015 had an estimated population of approximately 16,444 people. Since then the population has grown with an even higher volume of expats and tourists. Ambergris Caye as a destination (for tourism and residency) has experienced incredible growth over the last 5 to 15 years. From 2017 to 2022 (5 years) Ambergris Caye has seen tourism grow at a rate of 14.6% per year (over double-digit annual growth). Over the same 5 years, Ambergris Caye has seen a population growth rate of over 8% per year, and in the previous 10 years, prior Ambergris Caye and San Pedro experienced an annual population growth rate of 17%. It is estimated that up to 25% more people reside on Ambergris Caye on a part-time basis. The growth in population and tourism has led to the proposed public transportation system.
The public transportation proposal will not require any public funding from the Belizean or the municipality of San Pedro Town. All profits will be donated to local charities and non-profit organizations.
The public transportation system proposed by Taly Corporation will include multiple pricing options, with reduced fares for students, seniors, and people with disabilities. There will also be monthly public transportation passes available as well as single-ride fares.
The vehicles proposed for the public transportation project are 14–16-seater shuttle buses. The plan is to have the shuttles operating 24/7.
The Public Transportation Routes
The proposed public transportation route will include 20 designated bus stops. The stops will go from Mahogany Bay Village in the south and up to the North at the turnoff to Secret Beach and over to the West Coast. The proposed route will go to and from Mahogany Bay to Secret Beach with 20 total stops. You can see the proposed stops and route below;
The fleet size, the number of vehicles, and the frequency of trips will increase over time as the demand grows. For more information on Belize and Ambergris Caye infrastructure or to learn more about Belize Real Estatecontact us at RE/MAX Belize!
As 2022 comes to an end and we look towards 2023, Belize real estate continues to boom as Belize is now very much on the world’s radar. When looking at the Belize market (considering we do not have an MLS), we have seen Belize real estate demand and prices trend upwards over the past 10 years. Going into 2023, demand is still on the rise. Properties on the islands that are popular tourist destinations like Ambergris Caye continue to be an excellent investment, for both appreciation and passive rental income. The tourism sector is booming and we saw 2022 Belize tourism rebound, nearly reaching pre-COVID numbers.
Belize is a great place to live and invest. The lifestyle on Ambergris Caye has a very laid-back Caribbean vibe. If you are looking at Belize from an investment standpoint, rental income-producing properties are in high demand for both vacation and long-term monthly rentals. Belize properties and vacation rentals on Ambergris Caye (San Pedro) rent out quickly and for a high nightly rental rate. Whether you are planning for a long-term investment to buy and hold or a short-term source of passive income, you can’t go wrong with Belize and owning Ambergris Caye real estate.
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;
What Makes Belize Real Estate So Attractive?
Compared to a lot of places Belize offers an outstanding quality of life. The quality of life exceeds the warm tropical climate (which is very consistent year-round). Ambergris Caye is a perfect location for a young family looking for a better lifestyle, or an investor/business owner who wants to get in on Belize’s growing tourism industry or diversify their investment portfolio. Belize is also the perfect destination for individuals looking to retire in a warm, affordable place to call home. Whether you are looking for personal use or investment, Belize real estate has a lot to offer.
If you are on Ambergris Caye, the weather is warm year-round, and you can enjoy sunny skies and a tropical Caribbean climate almost every day of the year. If you enjoy outdoor activities and being active you will be mesmerized by the water-based recreation, and endless hiking trails. Belize has all of the charms of the Caribbean.
People in Belize and Ambergris Caye (locals and expats) live a relaxed, stress-free life. One of the most charming things about Belize is the fact there are no chain restaurants, skyscrapers, or fast-food restaurants. This also shows the opportunity in Belize and where the country is at in the scheme of time. When living or visiting Belize you will quickly notice are no traffic jams and no blizzards. Ambergris Caye is also incredibly safe, for both visiting and investing.
Why is Belize Real Estate so Popular?
Living and investing in Belize allows you to stay close to home and quickly get to your investment property. Belize is a short flight from the US or Canada with direct flights from most major airports. Belize is also English-speaking (one of the only English Speaking countries in the region). Along with being English-speaking, Belize also practices British Common Law and allows for full-foreign ownership and some of the strongest property ownership rights in the world.
Belize has also grown in tourism popularity without new lodging inventory. With increased awareness comes increased demand but the lodging and vacation rental inventory supply is behind the tourism and vacation rental demand.
You can see the tourism growth in Belize from 2014 to 2019 below;
Even though tourism has grown (and continues to grow post-pandemic) the total rooms for lodging have stayed stagnant. 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). The opportunity for a better lifestyle and a high-yield cash flow property is the driving factors on why Belize real estate has been so popular and continues to be in demand for years to come.
Where To Look for Property in Belize
Like anywhere, there are certain areas of Belize that attract more tourists, expatriates, and retirees. There is a reason why the popular areas are popular. Every year, Ambergris Caye and San Pedro are the top tourist and investment destinations. Ambergris Caye provides the best lifestyle and investment upside. As an island, there is a scarcity of property which improves the rate of property appreciation. Ambergris Caye also sees the highest volume of tourists, which increases investment potential and improves infrastructure.
Ambergris Caye Real Estate
Ambergris Caye is an island on the western coast of Belize and on the northern Caribbean side. Ambergris Caye is the most popular tourist destination in Belize. San Pedro is the main municipality on Ambergris Caye and is a well-developed town with all the amenities and infrastructureyou could need. San Pedro boasts high-end, luxurious resorts and real estate opportunities for personal use or investment. With its scenic surroundings (with the reef just off the East Coast and sandy West Coast beaches) and lively nightlife, it is easy to see why Ambergris Caye is so popular for tourists and expats and why it is the #1 destination in Belize.
Belize Real Estate for Foreign Investment
When it comes to owning off-shore, Belize is one of the only countries in the region with full foreign ownership where foreigners have the same ownership rights as locals (nationals). Belize is one of the few countries in the world that has full foreign ownership and foreigners have the same real estate and land ownership rights as citizens. Other tropical destinations like Costa Rica or Mexico do not allow for full foreign ownership and when purchasing property a foreigner has to take extra steps.
Even with the extra steps, when investing in another off-shore market (like Costa Rica, Mexico, Panama, or Honduras) a foreign investor does not physically own the property. If you are investing in a market outside Belize, you can own property, but additional work is required. Other countries in the Caribbean as well as Central and South America make it even more difficult to buy property as a foreigner. This is not the case in Belize where foreigners have the same ownership rights as locals and when a foreigner buys a property they own it outright with a fee-simple title.
In Belize, you can buy property as easily as you buy property in the US or Canada. This is due to Belize sharing the British Common Law system. When you buy Belize real estate you can purchase a residence to live in, a home to rent out, commercial/business properties, industrial buildings, and raw land all as a foreigner.
Belize also offers a lot of investment incentives for foreigners looking to buy and/or invest in Belize. These are further reasons to invest in Belize.
Tax Incentives for investing in Belize
There are a lot of benefits when it comes to owning and investing in Belize. Belize is a low-tax jurisdiction. One amazing benefit of buying Belize real estate is the fact that there are no capital gains taxes or estate taxes. If you purchase land, develop it, and then sell it for a profit, or even flip a property for more money you are not obligated to pay any capital gains tax in Belize. You keep all the money. Also, if someone inherits your property or Belize asset, they are not subject to estate tax or inheritance tax.
One of the other major draws of Belize is the fact that property taxes are very low (almost shockingly low). Belize property taxes are affordable and the cost of land/property taxes is next to nothing. The low taxation and cost of ownership are one of the driving reasons so many investors and owners are investing in Belize.
Most property taxes are 1% to 1.5% of their assessed value. What is even more appealing is that property or land assessments are usually 10-30% of the property’s actual resale value really is. For example, property taxes for land around Belize Secret Beach start at $75 per year. Property taxes in Mahogany Bay are $108 per year.
When you compare property taxes in Belize with other countries you will see why so many people are buying and investing in Belize real estate and Belize land.
Language & Laws
Belize is English-Speaking and one of the only English-speaking countries in the region. The fact you do not have to learn a new language to live or do business in Belize is very appealing. When owning or investing in Belize you will find that it is very easy for a foreigner to do business in Belize. Having the official language English helps with more than day-to-day communication, it also means that all legal documents are in English as well. This is from Belize’s former history as a British colony, and practice of British Common Law. Having the language and legal system in place makes dealing with contracts and other legal matters much easier.
It is also important to note that the property and real estate contracts in Belize are similar to the real estate contracts in the US, UK, and Canada. There are some cases with corporate tax optimization programs like IBCs. But for the most part, a transfer of ownership and land title certificate is very similar to the US & Canada. When buying real estate in Belize you won’t have trouble understanding the process or the documentation.
Compared to other Caribbean & Central American real estate markets, Belize is still very affordable. Even though our real estate prices are on the rise, they are still a fraction of what you will find in the Cayman Islands, the Bahamas, Costa Rica, & Panama. The affordability of property and the affordability of lifestyle are major reasons people keep flocking and investing in Belize.
It is important to note that the real estate market in Belize has not stayed stagnant, prices have gone up over the years, but it is still affordable compared to the Cayman Islands, the Bahamas, the British Virgin Islands, Costa Rica, or Mexico. For retirement and vacation homes, Belize is a fraction of the cost of the coastal areas of Florida and California. Belize also does not have the red tape and restrictions on rent controls other markets have in place. When buying land or real estate in Belize it is an amazing deal when compared to other destinations.
The cost of living in Belize is also less expensive than you are likely used to in your domestic market.
Belize has a stable government. The Belizean political system is a British Parliamentary Democracy. The democratic system in place makes Belize one of the more stable emerging countries with a democratic government. Belize also has the growing tourism industry which is strongly supported by the local government, which can be seen through the amenities and stronger safety measures. When compared to a lot of the world Belize has a low crime rate and is not subject to riots or terrorism. The crime in Belize is concentrated to a small area of Belize City. The island of Ambergris Caye (the #1 destination in Belize) is very safe.
The government in Belize supports economic growth, foreign investment, and the popular tourism sector. The currency controls in place also prevent corruption on a federal level as we have a pegged currency (2:1 with USD) that is not subject to localized inflation rates.
Ways To Own Belize Real Estate
There are a variety of ways to own property and real estate in Belize. Belize has a lot of incentive programs in place to make purchasing real estate easier and remove some of the tax obligations. When buying real estate in Belize you can property in your personal name, a corporation (like and IBC), or a Belize trust. Belize is an excellent choice if you want asset protection.
When you are looking at investing in an offshore market like Belize, there are 4pillars a person should look for regarding real estate investment;
Capital Protection: How safe is the investment? In Belize, there is full outright ownership. Belize is also pro-landlord and does not recognize squatting rights.
Capital Growth: The appreciation of an asset. Belize is growing, and with growth comes increased demand. Belize is an appreciating market.
Yield (Cash Flow): Can you produce passive income from the property? In Belize, you can rent out a home or condo with ease. You have passive real estate income from vacation rentals.
Favorable Taxation: Belize is a tax haven with no capital gains or estate tax. Property taxes are also low and corporate taxes are 1.75% for international companies and 3% for domestic companies.
Luckily, when you invest in Belize, you are in a position to check all 4 boxes. You also have the added benefit of limited supply and scarcity in a market with growing demand when investing on an island like Ambergris Caye.
Buying Belize Real Estate
Hiring a reputable Belize real estate agent can help you navigate the process and find a property that is inline with your needs and/or investment goals. Our team at RE/MAX Belize are here to help answer your questions and aid in your property search. It is important when making a purchase and investment off-shore that you work with a professional real estate office. Also having someone who understands the Belize market that can steer you to the right areas and the best properties.
When buying real estate in Belize it is important to rely on your realtor for your property search. We do not have a standard MLS in Belize, which makes a real estate agents job even more important. Your RE/MAX Belize Real Estate Agent can explain the process to you and expedite the purchase process.
Belize has a lot of advantages and offers owners and investors affordable prices, high rental income, and low taxes. The ease of purchasing real estate in Belize is very similar to the US & Canada but without as much bureaucracy and red tape. Belize is a very easy country to invest in and do business. In Belize the real estate contracts are quite easy and we use English as an official language make Belize an attractive real estate option.
The official currency used in Belize is the Belize Dollar (BZD; symbol BZ$). The Belize Dollar has a fixed exchange rate of 2:1 with USD ($2 Belize = $1 US Dollar). The Belize currency at an exchange rate of $2 BZD to $1 USD can be exchanged at most banks and hotels in Belize. There are not as many ATMs in Belize as people are used to at home. The ATMs in Belize generally accept most foreign cards (Canada & US). It is also important to note that when you are in Belize that the majority of businesses accept Credit Cards (MasterCard, Visa, and some AMEX). US dollars are also universally accepted in Belize at a rate of $1 US to $2 BZ, MasterCard. Tourism is the number one industry in Belize and most of our tourists are from America. Because of this, almost every business accepts USD, and having a pegged currency makes it easy. If you are traveling to Belize, you are able to use your US cash everywhere and there are ATM machines available that dispense in Belize Dollars.
The first notes issued under its name were dated 1ST JULY 1983.
Just like the US dollar, the Belize dollar is divided into 100 cents. Currency Bills & Bank Notes in Belize come in $2, $5, $10, $20, $50, and $100 denominations. Belizean coins are one cent, five cents, 10 cents, 25 cents, 50 cents, and a $1 coin. Belize currency and Bank notes are the latest-generation currency with distinctive security features including watermarks this makes it very difficult to counterfeit Belize currency.
One thing that is important to note is that it can be very difficult to exchange Belizean dollars for other currencies once you leave Belize.
Symbols: BZ$ or BZD
Exchange Rate of 2:1 with USD
Bills: $2, $5, $10, $20, $50, $100
Coins: 1, 5, 10, 25, 50 cents and $1
History of Belize Currency
Belize was originally British Honduras and until its independence, the Spanish Dollar was in circulation.
In 1894, the government (of British Honduras) issued banknotes in denominations of 100, 50, 10, 5, 2, and 1 Dollar.
In 1973, British Honduras has renamed Belize.
The first 100 Dollar banknote was introduced in 1974.
In 1976, the printing of banknotes was taken over by the Monetary Authority of Belize.
In 1981, Belize became an independent country.
The Central Bank of Belize was established in 1982. It produced banknotes in 1983.
What Currency is Used for Belize Real Estate?
When you look up Belize real estate and property online, the prices are almost always in US Dollars. This is because the majority of real estate transactions and property purchases in Belize are done in USD. Most of the Belize vacation homes, Belize property, and Belize real estate are made using U.S. dollars. The Belizean local currency is used for local transactions while USD is used more frequently for real estate transactions.
Since almost all real estate transactions in Belize are done in USD, a US intermediary bank is needed. This is why almost every Escrow Agent or Escrow account for closings uses a US bank account (even for Belize real estate transactions). All payments (down payment and payment processing on financing) are generally made in the US.
Since Belize real estate is largely done in USD and people are paying in USD the bank and payment processing have to go through an American intermediary. From anywhere in the world, to use US dollars you need a corresponding bank in the US. The escrow accounts we use at RE/MAX Belize are typically in the US. This is also helpful for the purchaser as it is often a domestic wire, since the majority of buyers/clients are Americans or Canadians, and it is safer and cheaper for both the sending and receiving parties using US dollars and a US bank. Doesn’t matter where you are conducting business in the world, a US-based intermediary bank would be required if a transfer is done in US dollars.
The Escrow Agent is a US bank account. Since almost all of the real estate transactions, we do at RE/MAX Belize are in US dollars and either a US bank or US intermediary bank is needed when doing any transaction in USD. This makes it easier for the transaction but also protects the purchaser as well with a domestic bank transfer.
Because payments are being sent and received in the US and in USD the escrow agent and account are in the US. This is for the safety and security of the purchaser and the seller.
Belize has currency controls in place (which is why we have a pegged 2:1 currency) this prevents corruption from the government and rapid inflation in an emerging country. Because of the currency controls, real estate transactions are done in US dollars, which as mentioned above requires a US account or US intermediary bank.
The news on Belize is out. The Caribbean & Central American country of Belize has entered the world’s radar and is no longer a “secret.” Since Belize and Ambergris Caye are no longer secrets the Belize real estate market has been attracting a lot of attention from investors and people looking to relocate to a tax-friendly, English-speaking, tropical destination.
Belize is full of opportunities; from residential properties that people intend to use for their own personal use (moving or retirement) to developing investment properties. When investing in Belize and buying land in Belize there’s something for everyone.
If you’ve been considering purchasing property and real estate in Belize, it helps to understand and be knowledgeable about what you can and can’t do. When buying Belize Real Estate or Ambergris Caye Real Estate you ultimately want to consult and work with a real estate professional. Our team at RE/MAX Belize is here to help with your Belize real estate search.
If you are considering buying land in Belize, you will likely have a lot of questions, and hopefully, the answers to a number of these questions will help you get started.
Do I Have to be a Citizen or Resident to Purchase Land in Belize?
Unlike other countries in the region (Central America & Caribbean), when buying property or buying land in Belize you do not have to be a citizen or have residency. In Belize, foreigners have the same ownership rights as nationals (citizens). Belize offers full foreign ownership and the strongest property ownership rights (fee-simple title). You do not need to be a citizen or have residency when buying land in Belize.
There are certain requirements and criteria a closing company will request for the property transfer, but it is very easy and straightforward. There are some taxes and fees that do apply. But when you are buying land in Belize, you own the land outright.
The fees and taxes when buying land in Belize often must be paid separately and cannot be bundled into the sale or whatever financing arrangement you’ve made. To reduce the fees and simplify the process, a lot of foreign investors buy Belize property in an IBC.
To get a better idea of how those fees and taxes apply to you, and the property/land you are looking to buy, you should consult with your Belize real estate agent. Different properties (depending on their ownership structure) have different fees and taxes. Working with a Belize real estate professional (with experience) will ensure that you aren’t caught with surprises in the middle of the transaction and end up scrambling for additional money to cover the taxes and closing costs.
What Type of Land Can I Buy in Belize?
One of the major draws for foreign investment in Belize is the few restrictions on foreign ownership. Belize does not have limitations on foreign ownership or impose limits on the ability to purchase land that’s zoned for residential or commercial use. Even if you are not a Belizean citizen or resident, you have the ability to purchase land without restrictions or an overly complicated process.
When buying land in Belize you want to make sure you know how a given tract of land is zoned and make sure it is surveyed and titled before spending any time trying to acquire it. Some properties may have restrictive covenants in place and zoning limitations (zoned for commercial and residential). People often purchase a property with titling conflicts, because of this we suggest working with a reputable realtor like RE/MAX.
Like anywhere in the world, some properties and pieces of land are set aside for one purpose or the other. Knowing what you can (or can’t) do with a property is important. Some owners/investors want a property or are looking to buy land in Belize without any restrictive covenants. Others are looking for something with some community or development restrictions (like Mahogany Bay) to secure the property value and continuity. Knowing what you want from your property or land in Belize will help narrow down the search.
A “fee simple” is real property held without a limit of time. This means absolute and permanent ownership of property under the governing common law. A Fee-Simple Title and Freehold Ownership is the highest possible form of property ownership. There are also properties that are known as a “fee simple absolute,” which is without limitations on the land’s use.
Is There Types of Land or Properties That Aren’t For Sale?
There are certain properties and classes of land that are not for sale or cannot be purchased. There are also other properties and types of land that a person can purchase if they meet certain criteria. Some types of land and properties have restrictions. 46% of Belize is National Park or marine reserve. If the land is in a protected area, it cannot be sold or bought (these properties won’t have titles). In Belize, a foreigner can only purchase land that has a title.
In Belize, nature reserves are an example of land that is not for sale. There are some areas and pieces of land in Belize that can be sold, but the purchaser is prohibited from constructing certain types of structures on the property.
Another thing to be aware of, that most foreigners do not realize is the “Queen’s Beach” or “Queen’s Land.” The Queen’s land is another type of land that cannot be sold or purchased (by a citizen or foreigner). The Queen’s land in Belize is also commonly known as Crown Reserves. The first 66 feet from high tide surrounding any major body of water (ocean or sea) is public property and cannot be owned or developed.
All beaches in Belize are public access and the first 66 feet from the high tide is considered public land and public property even if it’s adjacent to private property. All docks are also public property (even if it is adjacent to private property or built by the owner).
While an owner of beachfront property is free to use the first 66 feet from high tide (Queen’s Lan), the use of the land must be open and nonexclusive. A resort or home can install a seawall, beach chairs, etc, but they cannot claim it as “private property.”
In Belize, there is a law regarding the ownership and usage of beaches or land along the coasts. This type of property is known as Queen’s Land. The Queens Land is 66 feet of land at the shore of any large body of water and cannot be purchased or developed. The first 66 feet from the high tide is considered public land, even in the case where it is adjacent to private property.
If you own beachfront land you are not legally able to construct any type of permanent building or structure. An owner of beachfront property is also not allowed to restrict the access of others to the property.
In Belize, even though a property may not have a physical “road” there is still likely a road reserve. Road reserves refer to the land found on each side of a public road. When are area is zoned and titled, there are often road reserves put in place. There are also setbacks from the road reserve that must be met. If you own property or land, you cannot build over the setbacks as there is land set aside for potentially widening the road in the future.
If you own land in Belize or considering buying land in Belize you will likely want to develop the property. If you plan on developing the land and building a fence or wall around it, it is important to make sure you know where the road reserve ends, and your property line begins. This is why we always suggest a property owner has their land resurveyed before the start of construction.
A resurvey will ensure the structure and construction meets the setbacks. If a property is not resurveyed and you build on the land, the day could come when your fence or structure has to come down.
Do I Have to be in Belize to Purchase Land?
If you are buying land or property in Belize you do not have to physically be in the country. The entire property purchasing process can be done remotely and without physically being in Belize. When buying land in Belize it is not necessary to be in Belize when you buy property. Everything from sharing information, to signing, and closing can be done remotely.
Much of the work needed to buy land in Belize can be done through your real estate agent and the closing company. At RE/MAX Belize, most of our clients buy property remotely (many of the people we work with buy property or land site unseen). Our team of Belize real estate agents can coordinate the sale with the seller, the closing company, financing/payment processing company (if needed) and even ensure that everything is in order to pay the property taxes.
Using technology and online resources neither the buyer nor the seller of a property needs to be in Belize. The closing and transfer of property can all be done remotely.
It is important to note that current laws do require that a person purchasing property in Belize has a valid passport or form of government ID. When buying land in Belize, be prepared to provide the Closing Company with a photo of your passport and a utility bill. They will likely need proof that you do have identification and that it’s up to date.
It is also assumed that you will want to visit your Belize property at some point and a passport is needed for international travel. An ID or passport is needed for closing and transfer of property (even if a property is in an IBC or corporation).
Can I Get Financing For Buying Land in Belize?
In Belize, we do not have the same bank financing or mortgages people are used to in the US or Canada. Traditional bank financing is difficult but there are some Belize real estate opportunities with seller/vendor financing available. Most real estate transactions in Belize are cash sales. But real estate opportunities like Mahogany Bayor Secret Beach have seller financing available.
Some local or international banks will provide financing for purchasing land and/or residential and commercial properties in Belize. However, the banks in Belize have less desirable financing terms than what people are used to in the US or Canada. This is why a lot of people looking to buy land in Belize look for opportunities with seller or vendor financing.
When buying land in Belize, you can add provisions that allow you to work out a purchase agreement with a seller with financing. The terms and financing arrangements can vary. Seller financing options are often a non-recourse loan without credit checks. Seller financing is available on some properties, and it depends on the land and your circumstances. The type of property you want to purchase, and the seller of the property will determine the financing.
For the most part, real estate in Belize is paid for in cash. If you are financing a property, there will be a financing agreement. In a typical owner financing arrangement, the purchaser will provide the seller with the agreed-upon down payment. After the agreement is signed by both parties, and the down payment is made, the seller will provide monthly payments which will be outlined in the agreement of sale until the debt is discharged in full.
When buying a property with financing there’s also likely to be a requirement to pay all property taxes and fees related to the property.
With Owner Financing, When Does the Ownership Transfer?
When you buy a property with owner financing, an agreement of sale is drafted and signed by both parties (the buyer and the seller). The agreement will be an agreement of sale with financing terms. Unlike bank financing (where the bank carries the note) with the owner financing model, the seller acts as the bank and carries the note on the property. The owner financing process is also much easier when a property or Belize land is held in a corporate entity like an IBC (International Business Company).
After the agreement of sale with financing is signed by the buyer and the seller and the down payment is made, the owner gets full use and enjoyment of the property, and the new purchaser can build and use the property from the closing or completion date.
One major difference between bank financing (like in the US or Canada) and when you have owner financing with the seller is who holds the physical title to the property during the financing period. With traditional bank financing, the purchaser is the physical owner of record with the bank holding a claim (note) on the property. That claim is released when the mortgage is paid in full to the bank.
With owner or seller financing in Belize, the seller acts as the bank until the final installment payment is made. At that time, the title to the property is transferred to the new purchaser. When a property has owner/seller financing, a mortgage contract is issued with the Central Bank of Belize which protects the buyer and the seller during the financing period.
Why Should I Use a Closing Company?
In Belize, a Closing Company handles all the due diligence and transfer of property (including a title search). When buying any property (domestic or off-shore) you want to ensure the process is done correctly. That includes initiating a title search, so you know what you are buying, you also want to ensure that there are no liens or encumbrances on the property. You also want to make sure that the seller is legally able to sell the Belie land.
The property history as well as corporate and IBC registration is also something that the Closing Company will take care of. It is a small fee (often $1,000 or 1% of the purchase price) and something we urge our clients to use. A Closing Company will make sure past transfers of ownership were done properly and that the whole process is done correctly.
You also want the Closing Company to look over the proposed purchase agreement, making sure the information is correct and ensuring it’s in full compliance with the local and governing laws of Belize. A Closing Company is particularly important if you are choosing to finance a property with the seller because a payment processing company is often needed.
At ReMax Belize, we use Capital Corporate Services as our closing company for our clients. It is also common in Belize for a closing company to use an Escrow Agent and/or Escrow Account. This helps to protect the buyer and the seller during the real estate transaction. Since most real estate transactions in Belize are done in USD it is common for the Escrow Account to be in the US and with a US Bank.
Buying Land in Belize
The most important thing to know when buying land in Belize or purchasing Belize property is that you can own property in Belize outright with a fee simple land title. Belize has full foreign ownership. Even with the favorable laws and easy process, it is important to do it the right way. That is why our team at RE/MAX Belize is here to help. When you work with RE/MAX Belize you have a team of professionals to ensure nothing is left undone and that you understand what sort of commitment you’re taking on (purchasing with cash or financing). With the right approach and process, everything will be seamless and you will own your own piece of paradise!
For more information on Belize Land and buying land in Belize, contact us.
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.
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.
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.
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;
Prices are in Belize Dollars
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.