thoughts on moving to belize from the states with small chidren

My husband and I are thinking about moving our family to Belize...we have a 2 year old and a 5 year old. We are looking at settling down around placencia, corozal, caye, cayo district..???? I am a teacher in the US and would like to continue teaching in belize. I am worried about education for our children, finding jobs to support our family, and mostly leaving my family and our family support...any thoughts or recommendations would be so appreciated!!!!

Belize is a wonderful country and we lived there for two years when our son was 12 to 14.  It was a great experience. We lived in Plantation near Placencia.  The schools is Belize are a mix of church or church/state supported. The educational levels of the public schools will vary greatly by region.  Belize City probably has the best schools, "best" being a relative word, and a private school.  With your teaching experience and the availability of on-line schools, I would not worry about education.  Our son finished his "day" of instruction in about 2 to 2 1/2 hours each morning and spent the rest of the time on the beach, fishing, hanging out with friends, and snorkeling. 

Life in Belize City may not provide the sort of overall experience you want for your family.  Each of the different areas of Belize offer different experiences. The Cayo district is very different from Placencia. Corozol is much closer to Mexico and offers the advantage of having shopping that you might be more accustomed to.  You think you would NEVER miss McDonalds, but after 6 months...talk to me then.

Having lived in Belize, I would only consider the Placencia area or Corozol.  Just my personal preference.  And of the two, for living, I would every time take Placencia.  However, it really depends on how "Belizean" you intend to go. One huge advantage of Corozol is the proximity to Cancun for the airport.  The cost of flights out of Belize City is about double what it is in and out of Cancun.  With a family of 4, that is a consideration.  Also it will impact on family members coming to visit.  Check out the comparative airfares.

Again, I would still select Placencia.  It is clearly the Caribbean paradise we all dream about. Corozol does not even have a beach.  Just a sea wall.  It is much more of a Mexican experience and a great deal of Spanish is spoken there.

Placencia is a fishing village with somewhat of a different heritage.  (Mostly pirates...seriously...that is what the lagoon was for.)

I assume you have worked out the legal necessaries of working in Belize.  You cannot, as a expat, move there and work without legal permission from the GOB.  We came in under a different program, and did not intend to work.  We were legal residents, but could not work or vote. 

Work is not compensated like it is in the US, so be prepared for that.  Most teachers in Belize do not have anywhere near the credentialing that is required in the US and are not paid very highly.  I don't know what your husband is thinking about doing, but again, if you are not investing in a business in Belize, working legally could become complicated. (Of course this is true in any foreign country).

Belize is very different.  Since your children are so young, have you thought about putting your stuff in storage and renting for six months before taking the plunge?  At a bare minimum, I would suggest you try it out for a short while before committing.  Also, driving a car to Belize is out since you would have to go through parts of Mexico, and through areas that are just not safe. 

Be aware that the customs cost for bringing a car into Belize is based on the number of cylinders, and is very expensive.  40% for a 4 cylinder car up to 80% for an eight cylinder car.  And the customs office determines the value of the vehicle.  I have known people who had a bill of sale and customs valued the car higher.  You either pay the tax or leave your car at the port.  If you plan to buy a car in Belize, be prepared for sticker shock (new or used). The price of cars reflects the customs tax.  Local people travel by bus.  Which is solid transportation, but is not at all that which you might be accustomed to.  Buses in Belize are locally run, cheap, not air conditioned and not particularly clean.  They also break down. Which is not really a problem, since nobody is in a hurry.

All in all, I would not trade a single minute we were in Belize.  Re-reading this, it sounds a little negative.  I don't want it to come off that way.  We did it, we loved it, if we did not have family obligations that required our attention, we would still be there.  Belize has been called the most blissfully unimportant country in the hemisphere.   So true, so true.  And so wonderful. 
Carolyn

Carolyn
Thanks for responding to my wife so quickly.  We are interested in moving down to ambergris caye/san pedro area. I have heard that is a good place to settle.  I am a Financial Adviser with most of my client base spread out through the US, but I also have over 10 years experience as a personal trainer and I am a certified dive master.  My thoughts are moving down there and maintaining my job as a financial adviser maybe even make some new contacts and clients in the expat community and then use my other skills to find work when we get there.  Ultimately I would love to own property with a B&B and a few cabanas to do weddings or dive trips out off.  What are your thoughts?  I love scuba diving and want to immerse my family into another culture and a easy going beach community but still want to feel safe.

Hi Mandee24
Lot of informations are available on this website to guide you to materialize your dream. Few visits before making any kind of commitments is prudent.
I will be  glad to help you any way I can
belizespicefarm.com

We actually had a business in the US that we could run from Belize.  I am sure Ambergris has good internet, which you would really need.  We suffered the whole time with Hughes Net, which is not conducive to conducting business over the internet.  We made it work, but it was bloody awful.  We flew in and out of Belize City when we had to meet face to face with clients.  We were very careful and no one ever knew we were not living in the US.  Depends on your client base as to how that would go over.  I have to tell you that we never even went to Ambergris.  It is very much an expat community, and might work very well for you.  We lived near Placencia.  There were a number of expats living near us in Plantation.  We were, literally, right next door to the Placencia Resort.  If you look at the "long view" of the resort, you can see our house with a widows walk on the top.  A/C is very expensive in Belize.  We lived a US life style and our light bill ran $600 - $800 US a month.  But, we had a big house and crummy insulation.  Summer can be very hot, but we loved it year round.  As long as you are on or near the beach it is not bad at all.  We went to the fair in Belmopan and nearly all had heat stroke it was just stifling.

You probably won't need a car on Ambergris, but you will need to keep one so you have a car when you go back. You will save a bundle if you don't import a car.  It will just limit your ability to explore Belize unless you rent a car at the airport.  We did that on a couple of exploratory trips.  It was great and they had really good cars.  No problems with them. The Fort George is a good place to overnight if you have to be in Belize City. 

Belize Medical Associates was the hospital/doctors we used and were very pleased with them.  We kept our US insurance so that we had it if there was ever a true emergency and we had to go back.  At your ages, the local services should do fine and are so affordable that you may not even have to worry about it. 

We used Dr. Usher as our dentist in Belize City.  He was excellent and very, very nice.  We also used Santiago Gomez at International Services n Belize City to assist us with the paper work in moving to Belize. He was terrific and his staff is excellent. It was much easier to get our son into Belize than our two dogs. If you are going to take pets, be aware it can not be a "last minute" thing.  Vets there are great and sooo much less than the US.  We also shipped quite a bit of stuff (40' container) and used Ernesto Perera, Belize Customs House Brokers, as our customs broker.  Well worth every penny. 

It is a great adventure.  I am much relieved that your family has a means of financial support generated outside Belize.  Trying to work in Belize is not easy.  The few expats I knew that did work had been there a while and came when the rules were much more relaxed.  Otherwise, you have to buy a business.  It is an inside joke that every resort in Belize is for sale.  (It is just about true.) You know the old joke, "...staying at a B&B is like riding a horse; owning a B&B is like walking behind with a shovel." 

Good luck to all of you.  I think you will find it a beautiful country.  I really can't comment on Ambergris, but I know it is much more touristy than where we were.  I loved the peninsula and all of the good friends we made there.  But, I am sure that your experience in Ambergris will be fabulous.

Mandee24   I suggest that you read postings by Dr. Al.  he provides statistics to support his opinions.   Raising children in a rural environment is great for the kids.  the low population density in Belize is an asset to be enjoyed here.  AND I think that you might find a smaller town or city in Nebraska better for your kids and you.   Belize has a culture that I can live with,  but I would never subject children to....   the aspects of the Belizean culture that I would not not like to influence children is -1- profound corruption (dishonesty and thievery)  so deeply embedded in the culture that it is not even noticed by locals.  -2- misogyny--   a patriarchal society where women's only value is for sex and domestic labor,  there is a very high rate of exploiting the poverty status of very young girls----rape, incest, molestation    -3- racism   mestizos against the Mayans and creoles,  all based on ethnic origin and degree of skin color.....      I would not bring young children here to live permanently.   Come for a year if you can do so without major financial harm to yourselves     Have your own experiences and notice what is going on around you and see for yourselves if you think this is right for your kids.    Best Luck

thank you! I appreciate your thoughts! All things you talked about I do fear...I don't think we would move there premantely, but maybe to just try it out and see how it goes. I will for sure look into everything you mentioned and again I appreciate it!

I believe they are thinking of Ambergris, which is very different in a lot of ways from "Belize". I agree that a lot of what you said characterizes "Belize".  We lived an "American" lifestyle in Belize and our friends were largely expats.  Almost no kids among our "group", which is a problem.

Carolynn.    I agree that Ambergis Caye in many respects from the other districts in Belize.   In part, because of the high percentage of affluent gringos who have spent large sums of money to live there.   

There the land scams via the land office & are an issue.   tomorrow a Belizean friend of mine is taking the boat over to the caye to investigate.  He has a house there as an investment that friends told him that people were rennovating the house.   He has NOT sold or rented the house.   I am amazed that the emloyees of the lad office just feel free to sell property that they do not own and there are almost no consequences to them.  The rightful owners have to spend lots of cash to go to court and get their titles back.

When I first came to Corozal to live I noticed that while there seemed to be a mix of races and cultures, there were no gringo children, just old people.   It seemed odd, but now I am accustomed to it.   We had friends here, a couple from Scotland who had a 8-9 yr old son.   Mama was a Belizean who had lived in Scotland for over 20 years & Dad was a Caucasian Scot..  After a year here, Carla insisted they return to Scotland (home she said).   She was appalled at what her boy was learning in the Anglican school.

Financial adviser is a smart move, very transferable, a needed and (fastly) growing client base and a wonderful (move)  :cool: thing you can do for you, your spouse and especially your kids.

If your childrens' education is important to you, you need to relocate to the Cayo District, which has the best schools. Drop me an email (john[at]belizepropertycenter.com) and I'll send you some infomation.

Hi Mandee. I live in Placencia, and so will restrict my comments to Stann Creek.
Work: Getting a work permit is not easy in Belize. While teachers in Belize rarely have college degrees, and you no doubt do, despite your better credentials, you will still be seen as replacing a local teacher. There is a new, private school in Placencia called "Peninsula International Academy" which does give preference to foreign-educated teachers. So that might be an option for you. Ms. Selena Lucas is the founder and is apparently looking to grow the school due to demand from the local population. They do have a website.
Schools for your children. There are several schools on the peninsula--PIA in Placencia, St. John's Memorial (an Anglican Church-supported school) in Placencia, and St. Alphonsus (a Roman Catholic Church-supported school) in Seine Bight. I also have friends in Placencia who home-school their children. These are your only options.
Housing for your family. There are a variety of rental housing options on the peninsula, and they are improving as more investment comes to the peninsula. There are a number of property managers, including Michael Kramer of Sandhill Ltd and Boris Mannsfeld of Boris Mannsfeld & Associates.

Good luck. Kferris

I live in Corozal,  and my two year old daughter loves Belize.  We enjoy the swimming, biking, hiking, and playing on all the playgrounds through out the town.  We love the people, most are very nice and we make new friends each day. We choose Corozal, be cause of the weather, 1/2 the rain, and the low cost of living.  There are many schools in the town.  With your background you would be able to pick a good one.  There is no diving or snorkeling here and not a big tourism industry so it may be hard to find work.  Best bet is to be able to work over the internet from the States and live cheaply here.  We spend about 40% less overall compared to Texas.

phil cole             how long have you lived here?

We have only lived here for 3 months.

Thanks for the advice.  I m starving in Dallas and looking into Belize.

Tao Lee     In Belize, land that is not waterfront, property taxes, domestic labor and rent for Belizean style houses is less expensive than the USA.  All else will be higher and be of less value.   These are the statistical facts.

My wife, 6 year old daughter and I  are also looking to move to Belize. We are in the process of buying a large corn/bean/citrus farm in the Cayo district. We have most of our financing, but still are looking for a few more investors. As an investor, (business owner) you would have an easier time. The farm cash flows very well, and I can send you our Business Plan and historical cash flow. Contact me at greenfuturesfarm[at]aol.com

Hello Jon and Mari

Welcome to Expat.com :)

I would suggest you to place an advert in our section Business partners classifieds in Belize so as to increase your chances to find the investor you are looking for.

Regards
Kenjee

I am interested in your business plan and info.  Please send additional info.  Thanks,
Peppercarpenter[at]yahoo.com

Jump ahead to 2017.....did you do it?
I am now deciding upon the same and would love to know ...what you already know.

I am looking at land in Belize and considering permanent move with my wife & kids.
So your lessons learned would be really appreciated.
Thanks!

Hi,

Did you move to Belize?

Anyone with more info we are looking to move to Belize with two small children

The only people I know personally that did this was Monkeytown brew, though she has not posted here in some time. You might try to PM her and ask her about specifics. Good luck in your endeavor.

Basics are if you are moving to Belize with young children you need to have sufficient capital to support your family for at least a year.

All the paperwork needed to get work permits ( even for self employment) takes time, If you are starting (or buying) your own business it will take time to become a known business within the community , whatever that business is. 

Life in Belize is "Different" from most everywhere you are likely to have lived.
The schools do not use a curriculum similar to that of north America, so it may be advantageous to do a little home schooling from online sources to keep within the US, or whatever your home country, curriculum. Attending a local school from a childhood view is a great help in socialising within their new community. 

If you are in a position to work on line with a company and clients, outside of Belize and do not intend to sell any of your services within Belize (even just within the expat community) Then you will not need a work permit to do that.

Paid positions for expats in Belize are not common, the GOB policy is Belizean citizens or legal residents must always be employed in a position they are Qualified for before any unfilled vacancy can be advertised for expats.
Salary/wages in Belize are a LOT lower than for any similar positions in North America.

Setting up your own Business or purchasing an existing one and employing Local workers at all levels is a probably the  easier path to getting those work permits.

Out side of Ambergris the expat population is spread out amongst the districts, with possibly the areas of Corozal and Placencia having a few more concentrated expat communities.

The Majority of expats are retirees  on often fixed income, so often do not have the hoped for amount of disposable income needed to support a business reliant on expats, and North American pricing.
The tourist season is less than half the year and landing paid employment within the industry is difficult for an expat.

It would be helpful is some of the posters who asked questions and had big plans posted feedback to inform the Forum if they went ahead and were successful, or even if they were not.

terrific :

It would be helpful is some of the posters who asked questions and had big plans posted feedback to inform the Forum if they went ahead and were successful, or even if they were not.

I totally agree!

Since the vast majority of folks that ask about moving here or say they plan to move to Belize do not come back on this forum after a few posts. I suspect that once they do more in depth research or make an exploratory trip to Belize, realize its a great vacation spot for a couple of weeks, but is too different for them to move to permanently.

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