Practical Guide for Potential Expats on How To Move to Belize: Luigi Wewege

How To Move to Belize: A Practical Guide for Potential Expats

 

The President of Caye International Bank, Luigi Wewege provides his insight into moving to Belize!

Luigi Wewege offers a guide on how to move to Belize. He talks about why Belize is worth considering for potential expats, and the key factors in making a move, including residency options, cost of living, and business opportunities.

Belize offers a unique crossover of Central American and Caribbean vibes, charm, and natural beauty. With its lush rainforests, ancient Maya ruins, and the world’s second-largest barrier reef, Belize has become a sought-after destination for those seeking a new place to call home. In this article we’ll look how to move to Belize and what you need to consider.

 

Why Belize?

  1. Natural beauty: From the breathtaking Belize Barrier Reef to the majestic Maya Mountains, Belize is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts. Residents can enjoy activities like snorkeling, scuba diving, hiking, bird watching, and exploring ancient ruins. The country’s commitment to conservation ensures these natural wonders are preserved for future generations.
  2. Relaxing lifestyle: Belize promotes a slower, more relaxed pace of life, perfect for those looking to escape the hustle and bustle of city living. The culture prioritizes personal relationships and enjoying the simple pleasures of life, whether it’s lounging on a beach, sharing a meal with friends, or admiring a stunning sunset.
  3. Welcoming community: Known for their warmth and hospitality, the people of Belize come from diverse backgrounds, creating a rich cultural tapestry. With English as the official language, newcomers find it easy to integrate socially and navigate daily life and business.

Belize offers a tranquil environment, vibrant culture, and ample opportunities for adventure, making it an ideal destination for those seeking residency and a fresh start. So let’s dive in on how to move to Belize!

 

Attractive Residency Programs

Belize’s residency programs are designed to attract expatriates looking for a new lifestyle in a tropical paradise. These programs cater to a wide array of individuals, from retirees to remote workers, offering them not just a place to live but a lifestyle that blends work, leisure, and adventure. When thinking about how to move to Belize, a good place to start is with your legal residency situation:

 

Qualified Retired Persons (QRP) Program

The QRP program is tailored for individuals aged 45 and older who wish to enjoy their retirement years in Belize. One of the most enticing aspects of this program is the tax exemptions. QRPs are exempt from paying taxes on income derived from outside Belize, making it advantageous for retirees who receive pensions or have investments abroad. The program also allows for the duty-free importation of personal and household items within the first year of residency. These benefits significantly reduce the cost of settling in Belize.

 

Permanent Residency

For those who are not retired or do not meet the age requirement of the QRP program, permanent residency in Belize is a viable option. The process is straightforward, especially for individuals who can demonstrate a steady income from outside Belize. This income assures the Belizean government that the applicant can support themselves without taking employment away from Belizean citizens. Permanent residents enjoy many of the same rights as Belizean citizens, making it an excellent option for remote workers or entrepreneurs looking to start a business in Belize.

 

Remote Working Options

Belize is increasingly popular among remote workers due to its reliable internet infrastructure, especially in tourist and areas. The country offers a unique opportunity to work in an environment that others might only experience during vacation. Imagine conducting your daily business with the Caribbean Sea or rainforest as your backdrop! This shift in the work environment can lead to increased creativity, productivity, and an overall better quality of life. Remote workers in Belize can easily blend work and leisure, taking advantage of the country’s natural wonders and adventure activities in their free time.

 

Relaxed Immigration Policies

Belize’s immigration policies are welcoming and accommodating, reflecting the country’s overall friendly and relaxed atmosphere. The government understands the value that expatriates bring to the local economy and culture. As such, it has created programs that facilitate a smooth transition for those looking to make Belize their new home. Whether it’s through the QRP program, permanent residency, or other visa options, Belize offers a straightforward path to residency for those seeking a new tropical life.

 

Affordable Cost of Living

Belize’s reputation as an affordable escape is well-earned, making it a magnet for retirees, remote workers, and those seeking a more cost-effective lifestyle without compromising on quality of life.

 

Housing Affordability

The housing market in Belize is typically more affordable than North American or European locales. Renting a comfortable home or apartment can be surprisingly inexpensive, with prices lower than what one might pay in the US or Europe for a comparable location and living space. For those looking to purchase property, Belize offers a range of options from modest houses to luxury villas, often at prices well below those in more developed countries. This affordability in housing means that living in a picturesque setting, once thought to be a luxury, can actually be quite attainable.

 

Food & Entertainment

The cost of food in Belize is another area where savings can be found, especially when buying local produce and products. Markets are filled with fresh fruits, vegetables, and seafood at prices that are a fraction of what one might expect to pay elsewhere. This bounty of fresh, affordable food supports a healthy lifestyle and allows for the enjoyment of dining out without breaking the bank. Belizean cuisine, with its mix of Caribbean, Maya, and Latin influences, offers delicious meals in local eateries at very reasonable prices.

 

Belize’s attraction both in its beauty and as an investment location make it a compelling option for anyone seeking to relocate. By following the tips on how to move to Belize above, you can approach this new era with confidence, armed with the knowledge needed to start your new life on the best possible footing!

 

Belize Real Estate & Exodus of Expats

The Exodus of Americans Moving to Belize

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Why are people leaving?

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

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

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

 

Why People Are Looking at Belize & Ambergris Caye

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Ambergris Caye Relocation

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

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

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

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

 

5 Misconceptions About Moving to Belize

5 Misconceptions About Moving to Belize

Belize is an amazing place to live and there are tons of opportunities for people not only looking to retire but also invest and/or start a business. Moving to Belize is much easier than in other countries with a lot of incentive programs in place. But there are a few things everyone should know before moving to Belize (to avoid any surprises). The lifestyle in Belize & Ambergris Caye is amazing and it is easy to see why so many people are making the move every year.

Here are the 5 biggest misconceptions about moving to Belize! If you’re considering moving to Belize from the US or Canada be sure to give this video a watch before doing so. We break down some of the key things you should know before making a move to Belize and 5 misconceptions people have before making the transition

 

 

Misconception 1: Belize is All the Same

Belize has a very diverse landscape ranging from the Caribbean Islands of Ambergris Caye & Caye Caulker to the lush Rainforests in Cayo & San Ignacio. If you have visited Belize, you know how different each area of the country is. If you are looking to be near the beach and reef, you will likely want San Pedro or Ambergris Caye Real Estate. If you are looking to live near Guatemala and enjoy the rainforest, you may prefer Punta Gorda or Cayo. Belize has a lot to offer, and it is important to know that not all of Belize is the same.

 

Misconception 2: How Quickly Things Can Move

Things sometimes move a little slower in Belize and the different departments handle different areas of permitting. Belize does have a slower and less stressful pace, which is one of the reasons so many people love Belize. That said, the slower lifestyle sometimes requires a little more patience and a different process. You are able to get things done in Belize, but be prepared to go through the due process.

 

Misconception 3: Everything in Belize is Cheap

A lot of things in Belize are less expensive. Anything made locally is a fraction of the cost of what you are used to in the US or Canada. That said, there are things that are more expensive. If something is imported, you will notice that you are paying more. Also, if you are on an island, there are additional logistics that are needed.

 

Misconception 4: You Need Residency or Citizenship to Move to Belize

You do not need to be a resident or citizen to move to Belize or to buy property in Belize. There are also no restrictions or time constraints on how long you are able to stay in Belize as an American or Canadian. You can stay in Belize as long as you want, as long as you renew your Tourist Visa every month.

 

Misconception 5: Finding Property in Belize is Easy

Belize does not have an MLS or standard listing platform. There are a lot of opportunities in Belize and a diverse real estate market. We do not have a formal MLS in Belize, so a real estate agent’s job is a little different. This makes it important to work with a real estate professional who knows and understands the market. We also do not have the same licensing for realtors or a standard real estate association. Make sure you are working with a realtor who has licensing and/or is a member of the different Belize Real Estate associations like AREBB (Association of Real Estate Brokers of Belize) or BNAR (Belize National Association of Realtors) or have a brand like RE/MAX which holds its brokers and agents to the highest standard.

 

If you are considering moving to Belize or investing in Belize real estate, contact us at RE/MAX Belize!

We look forward to helping you find your property in paradise.