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Cost of living in Belize - 2017

Hello,

Before moving to Belize, it is important to investigate the cost of living in the country.

As we did in 2015, we give you the opportunity to share your experience and tell us more about products and services average recorded prices in your town/city/area.

Don’t hesitate to let us know if the cost of living in Belize has decreased or increased in the past few years.

Thanks to your help, would-be expatriates will have the opportunity to refine and better prepare their expatriation project.

> How much does it cost to rent an apartment/house in Belize? 

> How much do you pay for your public transport tickets (bus, subway, train, tram)?

> Staple food: what do people eat and how much do they pay for basic food like bread, rice or pasta?

>What is your monthly grocery budget?

> How much does it cost to see a physician/doctor/specialist in Belize ? 

> What is your children's schooling monthly budget?

> How much does it cost to fill up your car’s fuel tank?

> How much do you pay for electricity/gas/water etc.?

> How much do you pay for your Internet/phone subscription?

> How much do you pay for your lunch pack on weekdays?

> How much do you pay for an espresso coffee?

> How much do you pay for a cinema ticket?

> How much does a gym membership cost in Belize? 

Thank you everyone!

Priscilla

Finding Belize’s Low Cost Living.
We now enjoy low cost living compared to that of Canada. After more than two years in Belize, there has been a bit of a learning curve, and in our case an attitude adjustment as well. Here are just a few of the tips we have learned.

Five Tips To Low Cost Living In Belize.

Our Motto ~ “Live on what you need, not on what you want.”
Back in Canada we didn’t give much thought to  low cost living. With two good paying jobs and savings building, we would just go out and buy whatever we wanted whether we really needed it or not. The latest shiney items, sometimes on sale, but most times not, were just purchased on a whim at one of the many “Big Box” stores, Electronics outlets, or our choice of several shopping malls. Usually without much price comparison, we learned that they were all usually within $20. or $30. of each other, so it wasn’t even worth the time to price check. What’s $20. Right? (We’ll talk a bit more about that later).
In Belize there is certainly not the selection, or the number of outlets to purchase many things, but we have learned that it does pay to shop around, or if it’s a want item, to wait for it to go on sale. But always now, we ask each other, “do we want it, or do we need it?” and you might be surprised at how often we leave empty handed.

Shop Wisely
Shopping wisely, or like the Belizean’s do will also help to guard your low cost living. Convenience can be a budget killer. If you want to purchase everything at the grocery store because it is one stop, then you can expect to pay more, while sacrificing some quality in the process. Get fresh vegetables on delivery day at the local markets. Get fresh meat cut to your specifications at the local Carnicero (Butcher). Fresh fish can be bought directly from the fisherman if you are by the sea. (A little myth buster here though, we found fish are actually cheaper per pound inland then they were on the islands).

Also know that it is generally assumed that we gringos are just visiting. We are charged more just because it is assumed that we are all rich (another myth), and therefore able to pay more. We have found, that if at first we shop around to find a vendor that has what we need, and that they are friendly and cordial with us, then we will keep going back. It only takes a few trips, and maybe a subtle hint, and they will soon realize that you are not a visitor but living here and you will see prices go down. Also, we avoid grocery stores that don’t put prices their merchandise.

Forget US Dollar Comparisons.
One of the things that we did when we first moved was to convert everything to US dollars in our heads. It helped us to justify making some purchases. For example, that box of chocolates (my favorite, Ferrero Roche to be specific) was BZ$42.50, “hey, that’s only US$21.25, what’s $20.00” you might ask yourself as we did. Well, (I told you I would get back to this) at the local market we spend BZ$18.00 (US$9.00) for a whole week’s supply of fresh vegetables. US$20.00 (BZ$40.00) will purchase 160 oranges at 4/BZ$1.00 or 400 fresh bananas at 10/BZ$1.00. So if keeping up a low cost living is important to you, forget US$ and compare prices of “want” items to what can be purchased in “need” items for those same dollars.

Location
The right location will also be a factor to consider if low cost living is one of the reasons you chose Belize. We had our personal reasons to select the cayes as our place to land initially, so it wasn’t something that I look back on as a mistake, but rather part of our education.  However hindsight being 20/20, one thing that we would probably have done differently, was to move to the mainland rather than the Cayes (islands). Our budget was literally cut in half when we moved from the island to Cayo District just outside of San Ignacio.

Rent for a two bedroom apartment in San Pedro was BZ$2000.00/Mo. whereas our rent for a comparable two Bedroom house here on the mainland is BZ$1000.00/Mo.Fruits and Vegetables were typically about BZ$45.00/week on the island at the docks where the mennonite boats would deliver on Tuesday mornings. You had to get there early (like 5:00AM) to get a good selection. As I mentioned earlier on the mainland at the San Ignacio Market we pay about BZ$18.00 for the same quantity and get a better selection of fresher product.

Economical Appliances Keep The Cost of Living Low.
One of the other things that I have learned is that your appliances are also important in maintaining a low cost living. This is something you may not have much control over when you are looking for places to rent, but is good to know when you are building, or when trying to estimate what your monthly rental expense might be. In San Pedro we paid anywhere from about BZ$140-180.00/Mo. For electricity. That covered an electric range, washer, dryer, hot water tank, and the difference in monthly cost was probably the A/C unit which was only used during really hot months.

In Bullet Tree the house we rent has all economical appliances, and the experience has convinced me that when we build our own home to lay out a bit more initially to keep the monthly utility bill down. It has been hot the last few months requiring the AC unit for a half hour or an hour before bedtime. The electric bill last month was BZ$68.00. That’s half to a third of the island, and here are some of the reasons why. Our Range is gas (butane in Belize), and yes that is an expense, but the tank lasted for three months, then is picked up and returned full for BZ$40.00. Our Hot water is produced with a heat on demand hot water tank that is also gas, but after almost four months of use, I still can’t lift the tank, so I expect it is still good for at least another six months, and it’s controls are powered by 2 “D” batteries.
Finally we do have a washing machine, but our clothes dryer which is usually the energy guzzler of the two is a clothes line. It does require a bit planning around the weather during rain season, but this Solar/Wind powered unit will run 24hrs a day for BZ$ or US$0.00, so we have two.

Summary
A simpler, healthy lifestyle with a low cost living, is easily obtainable in Belize. Certainly for far less than that of Canada and the United States. If you watch your habits. Shop wisely. Compare BZ prices to the buying power in Belize rather than to the US dollar. Choose your location knowing that a premium will be payed on the Cayes. And, finally try to follow our motto of, “live on what you need, not what you want”.

To give you an idea of what US$ 800.00/Mo. can rent you, Check out this video of the 1 bedroom house that we rented in San Pedro when we first arrived in Belize.

From the Original post
> How much does it cost to rent an apartment/house in Belize?
Covered above

> How much do you pay for your public transport tickets (bus, subway, train, tram)?
You will not find subway, train, or trams in Belize. While the buses are a set rate which you pay to the conductor on route they usually average about BZ$3.00/ hour. San Ignacio to Belmopan = BZ$3.00. Belmopan to Belize City = BZ$5.00. Non-stop (express) buses will charge an extra dollar.

> Staple food: what do people eat and how much do they pay for basic food like bread, rice or pasta?
Bread is BZ$1.50 for a loaf of sliced at the bakery. Pork is BZ$6.25/lb at the butcher. Note if you want cured meats like bacon or ham be prepared to pay. At Christmas an 8lb. smoked ham (complete with a huge bone) cost BZ$29.00. Beef is BZ$7.50/lb, but that is all cuts weather it be hamburger or T-bone steak.

>What is your monthly grocery budget?
We spend about BZ$600./mo. But it is important to note that I love my milk (14 gallons per month). Milk is very expensive at BZ$7.10 for a half gallon or about 1/3 of our budget.

> How much does it cost to see a physician/doctor/specialist in Belize ?
Private Drs. are about BZ$30.00 for a visit. Clinics are about BZ$50.00. My physical to get my Belize Drivers Licence was BZ$20.00.

> What is your children's schooling monthly budget?
N/A

> How much does it cost to fill up your car’s fuel tank?
Gas is expensive in Belize. However one of the biggest cost savers is that we have found no need for a car in Belize. Buses and taxis are very inexpensive while gas, cars, and especially maintenance can be very costly on not very good roads

> How much do you pay for electricity/gas/water etc.?
Electricity ranges from BZ$45 to about BZ$80.00 when AC is needed.

Butane is about BZ$40.00 for about a 50lb. tank picked and returned full.

Town water to our home from the town is a flat rate of BZ$12.50/mo. Many collect rain water in cisterns, but I would advise to avoid this as dry season is long and they often run dry. Drinking water is delivered for BZ$3.00/5 gallon water cooler jug.

> How much do you pay for your Internet/phone subscription?
Internet is expensive. We pay BZ$142.00 for 2Mb, the service provider you choose will determine how much of that is actually delivered. 16Mb will run about BZ$500.00/Mo. Of course CATV is included.

> How much do you pay for your lunch pack on weekdays?
N/A but most people just get tortillas or tacos at one of the many stands. 3 or 4 Tacos will cost BZ$1.00

> How much do you pay for an espresso coffee?
I have heard BZ$5:00- $6.00 for a cup. But I have never seen Espresso here myself. Regular coffee is about BZ$1.25 but typically you get a cup of hot water and a spoon and you add your own instant coffee, sugar, and powdered whitener.

> How much do you pay for a cinema ticket?
There are some theaters but have never gone.

> How much does a gym membership cost in Belize?
Gyms are getting more and more popular, but in our case, life in Belize is a gym. We walk a lot more than we did back in Canada so a gym membership has never been required.

Well explained attitudes do change when in Belize as to how important the shiny latest gadget really is. Got to say those solar/wind power  clothes dryers are great, if you have a good spin dryer to go with it even better. I have a fairly old (4 years) cheap Plastic twin tub that I still use for small loads or "hand wash" items but the spinner on it is best I ever came across, Use it some times after the main wash machine and if I am having to use the under house "wind" dryer because of rain.

Besides transportation, the cheapest price would be for doctor's visits. Everything else is moderate to expensive. What do you get for paying BZ $2000/month for an apartment? You have a nice house for being near the water. Unfortunately, the planes flying overhead would not be suited for me.

sloputtputt :

Besides transportation, the cheapest price would be for doctor's visits. Everything else is moderate to expensive. What do you get for paying BZ $2000/month for an apartment? You have a nice house for being near the water. Unfortunately, the planes flying overhead would not be suited for me.

Yes the planes became more of a problem as time went on. Only because I became involved in Social Media and did a lot of videos, video calls, and shows. We did know in advance about the planes but felt it would be a small inconvenience for the location and view, We used to live in a house in Canada where the train passed only 75 ft away. That was much worse, especially with trains running overnight where the planes didn't. But as always everyone's comfort level is different.

That house was a 1BR, furnished with basic furnishings for BZ$1600.00/Mo.

Our next move was to a 2BR apartment, fully furnished with CATV and internet included. We were the first tenants in a brand new building at BZ$2000.00/Mo.

Those were both in San Pedro on the island. Our last move was to Cayo where we rent a 2BR, fully furnished and no utilities included for BZ$1000.00/Mo. All of our homes have been what are referred to as "American Style" homes. Burgler bars, security fence, hot/cold water at all taps, town water supplies, AC units, furnished, concrete construction, and so on.

With regards to basic costs, vegetables for the week are about BZ$15.00/wk, we eat meat regularly (usually daily) and pay about BZ$30.00/week. In fairness the grocery budget listed above includes all household items as well, like toilet paper, razors, laundry soaps, a few creature comforts, and so on. Everything except for our monthly visitor visa stamp and utilities. With everything in we spend between BZ$2000.00 and $2500.00/Mo. I can't see us living this lifestyle for anywhere near that price back in Canada. We could probably shave a lot more off if needed, but we are comfortable with that and do not concern ourselves to get it lower. I do have one friend that claims he is all in for BZ$900.00/Mo. They own their house and do not pay rent though. Rent is 40 - 50% of our budget.

is your apartment beachfront or have a beach view/?

sloputtputt :

is your apartment beachfront or have a beach view/?

No it was not beach front or beach view. Five minute casual walk. The apartment was the second one listed in my previous comment above.

Priscilla, have you ever been to Belize?
Bill has politely answered your questions, but several of them just aren't relevant in Belize.
BTW, electricity and fuel costs here are lower than in the UK!

sittee4 :

Priscilla, have you ever been to Belize?
Bill has politely answered your questions, but several of them just aren't relevant in Belize.

sittee4;
I am not trying to be argumentative or antagonistic but, I think it is important for those of us in Belize to realize that many of the questions we get often may not be relevant to Belize. Questions are often asked based on peoples assumptions from the culture they live in.

Sometimes even irrelevant questions will give new members an insight that they may not have gotten otherwise.

"The only stupid or irrelevant questions, are the questions that are not asked".

billdoesbelize :
sittee4 :

Priscilla, have you ever been to Belize?
Bill has politely answered your questions, but several of them just aren't relevant in Belize.

sittee4;
I am not trying to be argumentative or antagonistic but, I think it is important for those of us in Belize to realize that many of the questions we get often may not be relevant to Belize. Questions are often asked based on peoples assumptions from the culture they live in.

Sometimes even irrelevant questions will give new members an insight that they may not have gotten otherwise.

"The only stupid or irrelevant questions, are the questions that are not asked".

I click on the heart because of what you quoted. That is perfect.

billdoesbelize :

"The only stupid or irrelevant questions, are the questions that are not asked".

Bill I usually agree with you, your great answers  and your philosophy as so eloquently expressed in this forum. However as a student of life far beyond this medium, I must disagree with one point...Just as there are stupid comments, there are stupid questions asked in this world.  :)

Will The Old :
billdoesbelize :

"The only stupid or irrelevant questions, are the questions that are not asked".

Bill I usually agree with you, your great answers  and your philosophy as so eloquently expressed in this forum. However as a student of life far beyond this medium, I must disagree with one point...Just as there are stupid comments, there are stupid questions asked in this world.  :)

Will The Old
Thanks for you kind words on my answers and philosophy. They are appreciated.

With regards to our disagreement, I would say fair enough, your point is accurate and well taken.

The quote was more to encourage folks to ask their questions without fear of being called stupid or irrelevant.

Pricilla is a moderator, these questions  word for word are asked in many forums the only difference is the country name. These are often not 100% relevant to this particular forum, but seem to be put out when there has been a Quiet time on the Board, to start the ball rolling. It works often simply because  somewhere along the line takes  a slight turn onto things that the forum members seem to want to discuss more.

While perhaps not completely relevant with regards to the whole list, I think cost of living and lifestyle shifts are really relevant for people wanting to move here. Some of us are on an incredibly tight budget. And I also think it's interesting some of the differences between what Bill pays and what we pay based on location.
(All in bze $s)
For example, we only spend $200 on rent, but we live in a very traditional, teeny, tiny house in a very remote area.

I think buses are more expensive down here, although it is still absurdly cheap. $6 or $7 between pg and mango, 9 between mango and Dangriga, and 7 between Dangriga and Belmopan.

Our meat is priced a little different. Ground beef is the same, but steaks are more. Not sure exactly the price because they're out of our budget. The bacon ends are basically the best thing that ever happened to us. 6.50 a lb for pieces that are irregularly shaped. We spend about $1000 a month on groceries, but that includes toiletries and cleaning supplies, and there are five of us. We have gotten down to $600 a month when we needed to. We spend about $40 a week on veggies and fruits. Like Bill, we have adjusted to eating what's cheap here. Luckily my kids love bananas and oranges. We have easy access to really good, fresh fish here, $4 a lb for whole and $5 a lb for fillets. We eat a lot of chicken, fish, rice, potatoes, bread (and other flour based stuff), and pasta. And eggs of course. $8 for a tray of 30.

The dr for us has been free. We rarely go because we just haven't been sick hardly at all. When my son busted his head open, we took him to the polyclinic. Three stitches and antibiotics were free.

We homeschool, so I can't really answer the schooling question. I do know that it varies a lot. I think in monkey River it's only $50 for the whole year for littles, but I know that's way cheaper than almost any other school.

We have lived without a car for almost two years now, and I am super excited to get one. It is totally worth it for us because buses don't come here. We either have to catch a ride on a boat or with another car or with the school bus that leaves at 6 am. Having a car is going to radically improve my quality of life, especially for immigration days. I think gas is about 9.50 down here, but it's always more expensive down this way.

Our electric is about the same. $50-80 but no ac, but again, there are 5 of us. I wash clothes probably 4 days a week. Our Butane is way more. 25-30 to fill a 5 gallon tank. Our water is also more, but it is, imho, the best water in the country. It's $15 for the first 1000 gallons and .02 per gallon after that. We pay about 50-60 per month, and we don't have hot water, so showers are short!

We have a really weird internet situation because of our remote location, but we pay $150 for 25G of data. That lasts us about a month. It is slow like molasses. No cable here. Some people have sat. We just use Internet.

When we went up to mango this week, we ate breakfast ($3 garnaches, $5'panades, and a coffee) for $10 for four and $21 for lunch (pig feet with stew beans and rice and Cole slaw and fish balls with stew beans, rice, and Cole slaw). It's almost cheaper than groceries.

There are 2 good coffee places in Placencia. Not sure how much the espresso is, but it's 3 for a small and 4 for a large cup of really good, Guatemalan, fair trade, organic coffee.

We went to see The Force Awakens at the theatre in Belize city in December 2015. I can't remember how much tickets were, but it didn't seem outrageous. Of course I'm a total Star Wars geek, and I would have paid 50, but I want to say they were in the 10-15 range. It's at one of the big hotels on the north side.

Yeah, I have a 3yo and a 4 yo, and we haven't had a car in 2 years, so a gym is totally unnecessary. I know they do have a couple of them in Placencia, and there are quite a few yoga classes as well.

So I hope that's helpful for anyone needing to figure out how to budget for life here in Belize, and if you're not interested In a topic, you can always skip it.

An item not on the list is the cost of staying legal with Belize Immigration, with a visitor visa extension stamp in your passport. $25 USD for each of first 6 months, then $50 USD for every extension beyond.
<I used the term months, but that is not quite accurate. It is supposed to be every 30 days, but sometimes they give you a date that is only 27 days away. Example: Visit the office on 02FEB and your new stamp will read 01MAR. Their simple system is only good for the full 30 days during 7 months of the year.>
Adding in the monthly cost of transportation and the hours of time spent (especially at the Belmopan office) it does get old!

Yeah. For a family of five, it is crazy pricey. It's a quarter of our monthly budget. And you need to plan on spending that for at least two years, more like 3 or 4.

Odd question if you have kids do you have to take them to the office every time even in the school term.  Just I don't know and in a discussion in California I was asked about it.

No. Actually, you don't. I took them every month for the longest time before I learned this valuable bit.

Thanks

That was very informational and interesting. My wife and l are coming over in may and are planning to go to quit a few places to see what location is going to suit us. We are doing a lot of reading but are finding that people like you and so many others are much more informative. 
  Do you happen to know if we will have to get any vaccination before coming to Belize.
  Thank you so much.

Lewislhines :

That was very informational and interesting. My wife and l are coming over in may and are planning to go to quit a few places to see what location is going to suit us. We are doing a lot of reading but are finding that people like you and so many others are much more informative. 
  Do you happen to know if we will have to get any vaccination before coming to Belize.
  Thank you so much.

Lewislhines;
Thank you for your kind words on the value of information found on this forum. Many of us realize after going through our research process that most information put out on Belize is sugar coated to make what others sell more attractive.

The large majority of contributors on this forum are helpful and like myself want folks like you to have the real information (based on our experience and perspective) that you need to make an informed decision. We love Belize but as I often say, "the reasons we love Belize are the exact same reasons many others end up leaving". Boots on the ground or "sandals in the sand" (another of my sayings) is the only real way to decide if life in Belize is truly for you. Glad to hear you will be checking it out for yourself in May. I am in San Ignacio area,  if you are in this neck of the woods and if you would like to get together private message me, it would be my pleasure.

With regards to vaccinations, none are required to come to Belize. I have not personally felt the need. This is another area that you will decide based on personal comfort. One thing I find myself doing is walking around with no shoes, more at home than out and about, so maybe being up to date on the standard vaccinations we get at home like tetanus may be recommended in case you step on something, but again personal choice.

I hope this helps.

The only required vaccine is yellow fever if you are coming from a place where that is prevalent, so assuming that's not the case, you are good. Some people like to do the malaria prophylaxis, but malaria is actually not terribly prevalent, and the prophylactic has some unpleasant side effects. Check with your physician if you have special health concerns, but generally, Belize is fairly low risk, at least in the realm of tropical destinations!

We are going to be in San Ignacio the 6,7,and 8 to meet up with a realtor to look around and ask questions.
  How long have you been living in San Ignacio.

Hello Lewis,
My partner and I are here in Hopkins, Belize from Brooklyn, New York exploring various areas to consider living.  This is our fourth time to Belize over many years.  In the past, we vacationed in Placencia, Ambergris Caye, Caye Caulker & San Ignacio.  We arrived 3/17 and drove to Hopkins from the airport outside of Belize City.  We are driving north to Corozal tomorrow for 3 nights and then to San Pedro for 5 nights.  Just for reference, part of Hopkins village lost electrical power after 9 PM last evening.  It was down for maybe about a half hour or so. 

This forum seems to be very helpful  in connecting with people who are living in Belize, or who have lived here.

Unfortunately, we haven't had a very long time to do 'extensive' research. We had to do a 'crash course' since January and still have yet to do the nitty gritty to get this all going. Hopefully, this trip will lead us in the right direction.  No doubt it may be a rough and bumpy road, but if thing work out---the outcome will be a life changing, amazingly positive experience!

Wishing you the best of luck!

Regards, Jon

Lewislhines :

We are going to be in San Ignacio the 6,7,and 8 to meet up with a realtor to look around and ask questions.
  How long have you been living in San Ignacio.

Lewislhines;
I have been in Bullet Tree just outside of San Ignacio for just over a year. We landed in San Pedro and after a year and a half moved inland.

JON J. F :

Hello Lewis,
My partner and I are here in Hopkins, Belize from Brooklyn, New York exploring various areas to consider living.  This is our fourth time to Belize over many years.  In the past, we vacationed in Placencia, Ambergris Caye, Caye Caulker & San Ignacio.  We arrived 3/17 and drove to Hopkins from the airport outside of Belize City.  We are driving north to Corozal tomorrow for 3 nights and then to San Pedro for 5 nights.  Just for reference, part of Hopkins village lost electrical power after 9 PM last evening.  It was down for maybe about a half hour or so. 

This forum seems to be very helpful  in connecting with people who are living in Belize, or who have lived here.

Unfortunately, we haven't had a very long time to do 'extensive' research. We had to do a 'crash course' since January and still have yet to do the nitty gritty to get this all going. Hopefully, this trip will lead us in the right direction.  No doubt it may be a rough and bumpy road, but if thing work out---the outcome will be a life changing, amazingly positive experience!

Wishing you the best of luck!

Regards, Jon

JON J. F
Glad to hear you made it out of NY, no weather delays I hope.

Sorry we didn't get a chance to meet up this trip, but it it was a bit off of your route.

I hope you are enjoying Belize and getting the answers you are looking for. Enjoy the rest of your trip and hopefully we will talk soon. Driving is a whole other experience isn't it?

Hello Jon.
  It is nice to hear that there are more and more people looking to move to Belize. Moving to another country can be a little concerning for my wife but talking to folks like this, that have been there or that live there is a great help. Thank you.

Good morning Jon. It is Saturday morning and doing some more research about Belize. How is your trip going. Any luck on finding a place to possibly call home
  Theater wife and I will be visiting the same places. Hopefully the both of us will be blessed to find what we are searching for, and with God's help, we will.

How expensive are prescriptions?  Can you catch your own fish for eating?

Prescriptions are way cheaper than the us, but more than Mexico. We get a lot of stuff free, and I know from friends that diabetic supplies are free. We don't go to the dr much, and we don't have any regular prescriptions, but we've never paid for anything.

Yes you can fish to eat. I think you need a license, but I'm not sure. It's not well monitored, that's for sure. But it's super cheap to buy it from local fishermen.

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