Your new local habits in Belize

Hello everyone,

Living in Belize is a great way to immerse in a new culture and lifestyle.

Have you embraced local customs since you've lived in Belize? If so, which one(s)?

Did local customs change the way you see things, appreciate life or organize your daily routines? As far as the language is concerned, did you learn new expressions or words and do you use them?

What do you like most about the lifestyle in your host country? Are there any local specificities you are still struggling with?

Thanks in advance,


One custom in Belize I have never understood is "Lack of applause." When there is a pageant the area will be crowded out and quietly watching everthing,  at the end when the Winner is crowned the audience watch in silence, no reaction.
The big cycle races at the finish line masses of supporters and when the winners cross the finish line the crowd watches no applause.  After these types of events the  contestants  and winners will be  surrounded by well wishers being personally greeted. Never have understood it.

That has to be very weird!

After living in Belize for 30 years, it is impossible not to change your outlook and lifestyle, although I should add that, after 25 years of constant pressure working in the Royal Air Force, it took me quite a while to adapt and wind-down to the slower Belizean way of life.

I still work hard as a RE/MAX realtor but I take the time to enjoy life, as well. I have many friends, both Belizean and ex-pats, and enjoy  a full social life.

Serving overseas in poor countries in the  RAF taught me to get involved in charity work and to put something back into the community in which i was living and I do that in San Ignacio by my work with Rotary. I'm also on a committee that assists the police and I have my own personal project where I am building a house for a homeless family in Guatemala.

Although Belize has a higher standard of living than most other Central American countries, it should be remembered that it is still has many poor people and there are many avenues open to ex-pats who want to devote a little of their time to helping out

Belizeans are naturally very friendly and it is impossible not to adapt to some of their sayings, customs and language. Saying that, there are some customs that I definitely have not adopted and never will. I refuse to speak Creole (although I understand it), which sounds like bad English and is fortunately more common in other parts of the country than where I live. Being English, and ex-military, I refuse to adopt the Belizean practice of living in "Belize time" and of always being late for anything and everything. Finally, I do not stop my car in the middle of the street and hold up the traffic while I take time to say hello to some friends.

These are all common Belizean practises and the wise ex-pat will soon accept them and learn to have patience. Belizeans are not interested in the faster lifestyle that North Americans are used to and new ex-pats are also strongly advised to refrain from telling Belizeans - "Well, in my country, this is the way we do it".

It should also be noted that Belize has an interesting mixture of Caribbean culture and Latino culture and, among other things, the different house styles and colours continually remind one of that.

Could I ever leave Belize and revert to my old way of life - No Way!

Good Afternoon, I have been holding off writing, because of the size of the subject. I have found a variety of difference's between the culture of Belize, and that of the US, and everyone would be a subject unto itself. Even the difference between the North and the South of Belize.
Some: Food, drink, language, buses, relations between races, religion, schools, government, poverty, environment, and a white Caucasian. Stay safe, don't forget the critters, Earl is suppose to be paying us a visit

What are the negatives (as there usually are some) of any kind for living in Belize? I have heard so many positives that I would like to peek into the other side of things.

Some of the negatives are that although the people of Belize are definitely warm and friendly, they are not particularly courteous. For example, if you arrive at the cash with a grocery cart full of food and are 2nd or 3rd in line, someone with 3 or 4 items will step in front of you, and someone with 1 or 2 items will step in front of them. It is also very rare to see a young person on the bus, or anywhere else give their seat to an older person even if they are struggling to stand.

These are not things to make us want to pack our bags and run, but if you don't slow down and lose the "A" attitude in Belize, there are many little cultural and procedural things that will drive you crazy if you let them.

- Officials serving there friends while you wait in line.
- So called local friends that only show up if they know of something that they think you might buy. (So they can get a commission).
- Even things that you would think should be easy, are not. Procedures can seldom be done in one or two trips (the first time). I have been to the office to change my driver's licence four times. It was approved yesterday,  I stood in line for almost an hour to pay my fee, behind the same people I stood behind for an hour to see the official. Once my turn came I was notified that I could get my license for 60.00 but it would expire in a week on my birthday and I would have to pay again then to renew it. Needless to say I have to go back one more time next week.

All in all Belize has been a dream come true for us for many other reasons, but it is important when packing to take the "A" attitude back out of the suitcase to make room to pack extra patience and tolerance.

Thanks Bill, what about the weather, about the rainy seasons etc.

Well we are preparing right now for our first tropical storm since moving here two years ago. I don't recall more than a couple of isolated days that we were stuck inside because of rain, but as they say "pain has no memory". Also last year was not a good indication as Belize was experiencing a drought. Even in rain season the days are mostly dry with lots of sunny breaks. Bursts of rain, often quite hard can occur but are usually short in duration. Most rain has been early in the morning, late in the afternoon, and usually over night. That is my experience on Ambergris Caye and in Cayo. The South is prone to have more rain but honestly that is common knowledge that I can't speak to from experience.

Hey Bill
I have heard air conditioning  is VERY EXPENSIVE.  Much more than in the states. Is that true I wonder as the island grows if that may change.  The heat for me is my main concern to moving to a tropical place. Mainly Ambergris  Caye

That was a concern for us moving to Belize as well. I had a severe heat stroke several years ago, and as a result suffered in Canada on the few extremely hot and humid summer days that we had there. When we visited we found that the steady breezes of Ambergris Caye made the heat bareable for me and that is why we choose to land there initially. At first I did use the AC in the bedroom a lot at night. For the first year I never pulled the top sheet over me. As time went by I used the AC less and less and now when the temps get down to low 70's over night, I find myself pulling that top sheet up.

Steady AC will definately drive up the electric bill, That been said on Ambergris Caye our normal bill was about BZ$110.00 and in the hot months was up to about BZ$180.00 (US$90.00) during the hotter months. In Cayo now I like to turn it on a lot of evenings just before bedtime and time it to shut off a half hour later. That cools the concrete walls down that get hot in the daytime sun. Our bill here is about BZ$58.00 and was up to about BZ$89.00 in April and May when we were experiencing daily temps of 100 that felt like 112 with humidity.

Everyones heat tolerance is different I know, but in my case after about a year I got used to the heat. Don't get me wrong there are still some pretty hot a stickydays, but for the most part if we keep fans on and windows open so the breeze can blow through, I find it to be fine now.

In honesty, I turn the bedroom AC on in the evenings now on Dry rather than cool to help preserve my electronic equpment and cameras etc. So that is another consideration if you want or need to protect some of that stuff you may need to use the AC for that more than for your comfort. At least that is what I tell my wife........................... That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Thanks for all the info if anything comes up later please let me know. It's knowing both sides of the story of things like that that make for very interesting  stories. To tell you the truth it is pretty much what I had learned from my reading but Robert needed to hear it from someone else  :). Come to think of it what about critters? Big and small.

Hi Bil just praying you and your wife remain safe through this storm your having. May God protect you all, be safe.

Good Morning, about A/C. In Progresso we used the air every evening, and sometimes during the day. Living in Punta Gorda we have no A/C, and it gets cool enough by morning to want a sheet over you. I found that the hot water heater was the biggest energy consumer. My highest bill was $138 bzd.
If you are not one for heat? Belize may not be your best option with humidity.

Thank you for your prayers and well wishes, we appreciate them. We have made all of our preparations and are taking all the precautions, Just a matter of waiting for Earl, now a Cat I Hurricane with the potential to maybe make a Cat II to arrive, and then sit it out. I expect sometime after midnight the power will go out and take internet and TV with it. We'll see you whenever it comes back on.

Please be safe. Watching and praying for you all. What does cat1 and cat 11 mean?

Hurricaanes are 1 to 5 in severity wind speed, water swell etc so 1 is lowest if gets to 2 expect more damage and upwards. Katrina was a 5 in New Orleons.

Thanks margewest. Much appreciated.
Category I hurricane = sustained winds of 74 -  95 MPH.
Category II hurricane = sustained winds of 96 - 110 MPH.
Probably just as dangerous as the winds, the expected 8 - 12 inches of rain "Hurricane Earl" is expected to bring will cause widespread flooding in many areas of the country.

Here is a link to my article on the history of hurricanes in Belize and the proceedures to prepare for them.

Your link is fantastic, I will check it out more thoroughly, thanks Bill.
Continued prayers for all affected by Earl.

Hurricane Earl did come through Sam Ignacio and cause some flooding downtown; tore up the low-lying wooden bridge; and brought loads of trees down. This is the first time in 30 years that we have felt the force of a hurricane in San Ignacio. Saying that, we did have some bad flooding about 9 years ago from a Tropical Storm. Nobody was hurt and after a couple of days, everything returns to normal.

I understand that was a lot of flooding in Belize City, which is zero sea-level. I also here that San Pedro and the cayes lost a lot of piers and jetties.

One surprise here is being greeted with "Goodnight". Here it's used to say hello and goodbye in the evening.

Are you alright? = How are you?
Spanner = Adjustable wrench
Pull up the door. = Close the door.
Plug out.= Unplug or turn off
Vex = Angry

My addition Cochise8933's list.
maybe = I don't know.

If you ask a question and the answer starts with "maybe", disregard everything after maybe and insert "I don't know".

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