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In retrospect, would you move again to Belize?

Hi all,

If you had to look back on your expat experience in Belize, would you heartily say "let’s do it again"?

From the preparation stage to your actual everyday life in your new country, what did you enjoy the most?

Would you do certain things differently? Could you tell us why?

How would you describe the benefits of your expatriation in Belize so far?

Thank you in advance for sharing your experience. We look forward to hearing from you!

Christine

Hi Christine,
Yes, I would do it again. We don't live in Belize full time - just during the winter months. However, in retrospect, I would make the complete move and do it at a much younger age (I am now retired).

From the preparation stage to our actual everyday life in Belize, what I enjoy most is the laid back lifestyle and the people.

Knowing what I know now though, I would not purchase a property right away. I would take the time to search out good rentals and rent in different areas. We made the decision to purchase in Cayo district after only a couple visits to the country. Granted, our reason for purchasing so quickly was that we found a property that met all our desires at a very low price. At the time we were just "tire kicking" so to speak. The reason I would rent for a few years, as opposed to purchasing, is that selling property takes a long time, if you decide it is not the right place for you. We put a lot of money into bringing our property up to a standard that should be attractive to expats, and we are asking a reasonable price but still it is not moving, after being up for sale for almost a year.

Another thing I would do differently, is purchase a vehicle in Canada or the States and bring it into Belize rather than purchase a vehicle in the country. We have purchased 2 vehicles in Belize, both with bad results. They were vehicles that would have been difficult to get $500 to $1000 out of in Canada, yet we paid equivalent to $3000 CAD for one and equivalent to $10000 CAD for the other. The cheaper one lasted one week before it conked out, and the more expensive one lasted us only nine months. Not cost effective at all!

The benefits are that, aside from the cost of vehicles, the cost of living is about half of the cost of living in Canada. (Add in buying vehicles every six months or so, it becomes about the same cost.) The availability of fresh vegetables and fruits is an awesome benefit! And health-wise, the reduction is stress is a huge benefit.

MariLynne

My wife and I have lived in Placencia for two years now.  I give it a 9 out of 10.
We had traveled extensively prior to the move so we had a good idea
of what we could look forward too.  My only disappointment is the level of petty crime/ B&E
that we encounter.  We have never felt unsafe personally but one must ALWAYS lock up.  Otherwise cash and electronics will "disappear".   
We often discuss "would we do it again" and the answer is YES.
I think it is important to know why you are moving.  What is your underlying motivation, so on those "bad days", you can reflect back on your choices.
So to answer your question, we are very happy with our choice to relocate to Placencia Belize.

My first trip to Belize was in Oct, 2012 for a one week vacation with a friend. The first two days I spent exploring Corozal and the area. On the third day I bought a piece of property. All the EXPERTS say rent for a year before you buy. If you are Wishy-Washy about decision making, that is probably a good idea. I moved to Belize in March of '13 and into my newly constructed home in that July. I have never looked back. There are a few things I miss about Colorado, but not enough to move back.
I am very happy here in Corozal, Belize and If I had the choice I would do it again

We have lived in Cayo full time for 2 years now after travelling back and fore for a few years now, and looking back my partner and I would not move to Belize again if we had the choice. Belize offers an opportunity to get your foot in cheaply to the Caribbean, and the cost of living is low, beautiful surroundings, but for us we find that we are bored in San Ignacio as there is little to do if you want to party it up occasionally. Regretfully  we have decided to move on at a later date to another part of the Caribbean with a more cosmopolitan feel and more positives going on, as there is a recession here and so many people suffering.

We tried the tourist business for a short while, but with the adverse publicity on violence, poor infrastructure compared to other Caribbean countries, no direct flights to the West we are hampered by the lack of tourists, so we have closed  that side of our business along with many others we know in the business  who are suffering too..  After mixing in with our local community we have also been told we are being targeted by a few local individuals because they resent us having developed our property and business so quickly. Some bad minded person tampered with our front  wheels of our truck and loosened all the wheel nuts, we were driving on the Benque Road when we stopped to check as the steering didn't feel right. So for us it's just a matter of time before we move on. Belize is not for everyone. We dislike the inequality, little has changed over the years politically and if you look on the internet so many foreigners are selling up, I wonder why?

I would avoid Belize for the following reasons.   There is no functioning criminal justice system.     Robberies are never solved, robbers never punished, any property that reaches the hands of the police is gone forever.     The murders of expats and gringos from North America are never solved or prosecuted.  The police always, without fail, attempt to implicate foreigners as the murderers.    Their theories are wildly implausible.  The political party in power is on their way out and grabbing every possible penny  from foreign government loans for their personal use.  The economy is tanking.   All expats are viewed by the locals as a source of income to be justifiably exploited.     Permanent residency which was a theoretical path to citizenship is not not being granted in practice without cash bribes.  The QRP program benefits are widely disregarded by the border officials seeking more cash advances.  The business and government of Belize has suffered greatly from the "Brain Drain", with the best and the brightest going to Europe, Canada and the USA for education and work opportunities.  Racism based on skin color is widely practiced in both the expat and Belizean culture.    There are few opportunities for entertainment such as movies, concerts, and events.    The country is too small and too poor to support much of what expats take for granted.  Alcoholism and drug addiction run about 70% in both the local and expat culture.   

I am not exaggerating any of these difficult issues.  You will hear a different story from people with business or real estate interests here.

It is possible with sufficient income to live well here, as long as one stays under the radar and is a member of a stable intimate relationship.    Stay out of the bars, do not spend money in any obvious way, never complain publically, do not join organizations.    Hire Maya when you need workers.  Get a small house with high fences.  Have big dogs if you are accustomed to living with dogs and know how to provide responsible care.    Women, children, wildlife and all domestic animals are accorded little care or importance.

Thanks for the spot-on take of Belize. I couldn't agree more.

Both of the above post are a personal vendetta against the whole country by someone that experienced a personal loss several years ago. The single loss is regrettable, but these fabricated, twisted exaggerations have no place here.

I absolutely do not have a personal vendetta of any sort.   A do have a pragmatic view of my experience here in Corozal district.    I live here full time, not half a year.   I own a modest house here.   I have Belizean, Maya, Canadian, UK and USA friends here.
 
My husband has a business licence and a health care practice here.   We live quietly in a pleasant Belizean neighborhood in town.   We are on good terms with our neighbors.  I have lived elsewhere in The Caribbean and there are lovely places without all of the issues common to Belize.   

My assessment of the dysfunctional culture in Belize was formed before I was assaulted thru the bars of my locked gate by a "fruit seller", who distracted me by handing me a fruit and then grabbed for a gold chain I was wearing under my Tee shirt.   He missed the small one he had reached for, ripping my T and getting the heavy chain which was not visible.  This chain was heavy enough that I was injured when he pulled me into my metal gate.    The lacerations took over 2 months to heal and left scars.   I gave the police a full specific description of the assailant and the following day provided a location where the thief was known to hang out.    There has been no arrest. 

I had a friend murdered.   The husband of a friend was murdered.   And recently 2 acquaintances were murdered.   Friends have had a home invasion at gun point.    There have been no arrests.   This is in a small community of 10,000.

Well I have no commercial interest, save my own home or axe to grind but I can only say I am sooo glad I did not settle in a large gringo community.
I understand petty theft is endemic in all Belize,so remember to look after your stuff. I have only had one incident where i ever as a woman(on that day) on her own and the person i felt so threatening was a drunk American. I have reports about drunken bus drivers but only coming from the far northern areas never in nearly 30 years seen an example of it. I have not felt I am being gouged by local traders and have had no problems hiring workers. It is possible that if there are many expats in an area then the local community feel they can take advantage of these rich neighbors.  I have never offered or been asked for a bribe in Belize in nearly 30 years.
As to drugs and alcoholism while I believe you when you say 70% if that is the statistic as you know it I can honestly say in my area all those people hide it well.
I have 2 houses on my property and there are two dogs not too big but all that is needed, I do not have high fences which would only protect me from one side if I did as I have the river along the longest side of my property. Never seen any overt racism but that is hard to define often, just as an on looker. If expats want to be able to take for granted all the entertainment opportunities they are used to in their home lands, then the only place you are going to avail yourself of them is likely the Cayes. Have to ask why you honestly expect to be entertained in Expat style in Belize there are lots of Belize events we go to, but often a different level often school or church (not all religious events) Maybe my experience is very different from yours but I am not claiming mine is the only type of experience and that every one will find the same things as i do.
We were robbed once a group of guys turned up on our land and stole a tree. My son heard Chainsaws followed the sound and questioned them while in the process. They spun him a line about someone telling them it was his land and they paid him to take three trees my son played along and said ok if it was a mistake and they had thought it was true they could take the one they were working on (it wasn't savable by this time) but no more and he expected them to clean up the site when they finished. The guys did just that and took away the tree. My son took the non confrontational line he did due to there being 3 of them with Machetes, and only one of him. He showed them the respect of pretending he believed them, so no reason to get angry, and they followed his request and left a clean area.
My son is taller than the average Belizean at 6 foot 5 and a big build so things could have got dicey had he  gone in yelling and accusing them of being the theives  that they actually were.
I have been ashamed of fellow expats at times by the way they speak to and order about the Belize people in stores and in public places I am sure that is why some Belizeans when they get a position of some authority can be very officious.
I agree with the views on the Brain Drain of the brightest of the youth it would be a great place for some of the technology companies to move to to find talented young people and to help the nation.

Absolutely I would do it all over again. I have no real estate or business interests here. I've been visiting for over 20 years and living here full time for 2 years. There are challenges. It is far from perfect, but I love it. I live in Monkey River, and we've never had any problems here at all. We were robbed when we lived in PG, and everyone knew who did it, but no one did anything about it, but that happened to us multiple times in the inner city neighborhood we lived in in the states too.
Here's what I love:

-My kids are so safe here. They play outside at least half the day with no worries. As it gets near dusk, they have to stay close to the house because I worry about crocs. I worry about crocs way more than people.
-Most everyone is really kind to us. I think a lot of people think we're weird, but that's ok. I experience friendliness almost all the time.
-Everyone is so laid back. There is so much less stress here. Less busyness. Less anger. Much slower. When life happens here, people shrug it off and go about their day continuing to be happy. As opposed to the baby tantrums I regularly see when I go back to the states.
-Of course the weather and the ecology. And I have to say that I see far greater respect for wildlife here than in the US (not trying to be US centric. I just haven't lived in Canada.). I see that most people do care about the forests and the animals. Of course there are people who hunt and fish out of season, but by and large, most locals I know respect the laws and are very proud of their natural heritage.
-I actually see so little racism here. I know there are issues, but oh my goodness so much better than where I came from where young people are murdered by police with no consequences because of the color of their skin. There is some tension and resentment, but I don't see a lot of racial violence.

And as someone from the US (again, sorry), I have zero room to talk about anyone else's corrupt, money grabbing government.
I also think there are a lot of events, but maybe it's just down here in the south. Chocolate fest just ended. Mango Fest and Lobster Fest are both next month. There's a lot of amazing music and art here.
I'm also unsure about the drug addiction bit. I don't see that unless you consider marijuana a drug. I know there is some crack, but I don't think it's near 70%.
Things I plan to help shift here because they're issues important to my heart and they're clearly a problem here:
-Domestic violence
-Homophobia
I'm not trying to start an argument at all. I just want to point out a different perspective on some of the issues you raised. I can't imagine the trauma from being assaulted the way you were, and I don't at all want to minimize that.

With a Sunnyvale California address,   Do you live full time in Belize?     Perhaps a 30 year long term resident with property inland has different experiences than those living in coastal communities. 

The people who seek & expect bribes do not solicit bribes.    The way it is done is that when you wish to do business which requires government interaction, such as a licence or a permit or registration or importing goods, if you expect action you will include "something extra" in your payment.    For example, to transfer your land title will cost about $1800 in addition to the transfer fees for the person who "expedites" the transaction and whom interacts with the government official on your behalf.   Expats who attempt to act on their own behalf without an expediter will pay huge fees and wait a very long time.  Without an expediter your shipped in goods will languish at the docks, slowly disappearing and eventually you will be asked to pay a tariff of 70% for the assigned value of the goods.  Not the real value, the value customs has assigned to your 7 year old tv.   No one asks for a bribe!   It is expected, not requested.

The alcoholism is not hidden, it is so openly and widely practiced it is accepted as normal.     Drunk driving is common and never arrested or prosecuted even when accidents and  injuries are caused.    News reports often quote the police as stating the parties were socializing when the fight broke out and machetes caused injuries.   "socializing" is code for excessive drinking & is alcoholic drinking.

I am happy for all the people who live comfortably in Belize.   I have lived in better places with fewer issues.

someone who lives here only part time, has very different experiences than one who lives in Belize full time.   

  I do have clear vision and wide experience with better places to live.

kristinanadreau :

someone who lives here only part time, has very different experiences than one who lives in Belize full time.   

  I do have clear vision and wide experience with better places to live.

kristinanadreau, the bleak picture you paint of the entire country based on your experience in Corozal makes one wonder why any expat would ever stay there. You mention it was "  a small community of 10,000". To me that is a huge community compared to Placencia. I hope my adopted little Village never turns into your monster.

Will,  your experience as a part timer in the tourist center of Placencia is obviously different than mine as a full time resident in the town of Corozal.

It is most inappropriate of you to claim that I have a vendetta etc.    You know your experience only,  which surely does not entitle you to disparage my experience.

There are some delightful aspects of living in Belize.   Based on my living experience there are better places to live, and I am not selling anything............

If things are so bleak and dangerous, why in the world do you choose (& it is a choice, no matter the reason) to continue living there?

I cannot fathom any "benefit" that would cause me to continue living in a place that has brought me such pain, fear and dreaded concern about my future & well-being.

I have NOT said that Belize is dangerous and bleak.     If your experience is different then say so instead of attempting to disparage me.   

I did respond to the question as asked.   I have stated the conclusions I have reached based upon my observations and experiences.     I stopped contributing to this forum for several years because of the many experts who wish to argue over every opinion that differs from their own.    I have noticed that Any mention of the very real issues that plague Belize inspires a volley of personal attacks, presumably from real estate investors.     Most people with property  here wish to only talk about the advantages of living in Belize.

I merely asked a question, based on my understanding of your experiences expressed on your many posts in here, on different threads, however all having the same tenor that prompted my sincere question.  There was no disparagement intended in my question, or observed as I re-read it in an attempt to understand your strong reply to it/me.

The words "bleak" and "dangerous" were the ones that honestly came to the forefront of my mind as I read your numerous posts.  They may not have been the intention of your posts, but they are what I took from them.  My apologies if I mis-understood your intent.  In my defense, if I were to require it, I will point out that I am not the only poster in here who interpreted your words in the manner I expressed.

Additionally, there was no "ulterior" motive in my question, it was posed in all sincerity.

kristinanadreau :

I have NOT said that Belize is dangerous and bleak.

True, you did not use those particular words. Instead with a very broad brush, you painted a worse picture, disparaging an entire country.

kristinanadreau :

I have noticed that Any mention of the very real issues that plague Belize inspires a volley of personal attacks, presumably from real estate investors.

WOW. your ASSumption in my case is ridiculous. I am retired from a major airline, have a home in Texas, and another in Placencia, that I travel between when I wish, because I can. I am not in real estate. I love the area I bought my small home in, and am trying to answer questions asked by those that may want to enjoy Belize. Nothing more.....

I am now calling into question what motives, or agenda you are pushing, that has caused you to attempt to smear the entire country of Belize.

I remain in Belize due to personal circumstances.   I have lived in better places internationally and currently have friends living in better places internationally.  I have good friends, good neighbors and own a modest concrete house with A/C in the bedroom.    My husband has a work permit for his health care practice.     I am not blind to the very real nationwide pluses and minuses in Belize.    Belize is not paradise.  I am certain there are also much worse places to settle.   

  People who settled here over 20 years ago and who have citizenship or who married citizens have a different experience than new ex-pats.     People of African descent will notice racism.   FYI, People who descended from the East Indian indentured servants are called "coolies" here in Belize.     Chinese origin are "Chineys" and I am a gringa.     

I advise anyone who thinks they want to come to Belize to live here and rent for a year, before they make any commitments.     If you have ample income and can easily travel back and forth to North America or Europe several times a year, then check out the tourist havens of Placencia and San Pedro.     San Ignacio and St, Elena offer higher ground and a slightly more temperate climate than the coast.    Costa Rica has a fine reputation for those who can afford it.   Then check out Aruba and other Caribbean Islands.    The Island culture is significantly different than the Central American or So American cultures.    I like it better, knowing  others may disagree.    Aruba is very European.

If Central America is still the location of choice, then  check out the Mexican state of Quintana Roo.   Quintana Roo is run by a very powerful drug cartel that uses tourism enterprises to launder drug money, thus there is no danger to the expat as long as they do not use or sell drugs.  The cartel does not tolerate any hassle of the tourists/expats, as this interferes with their businesses and attracts unwanted attention.    Several weeks ago the faqueros closed the border between Belize and Mexico to protest the efforts to prevent them from moving contraband out of the free zone.  Initially the news casts claimed the border closure was due to the FBI but later this was disproven.     These events are either humorous or alarming depending on ones point of view.

That's what I'm talking about lol.

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