Wondering if Belize is safe to live in?

I have lived in Belize my entire life. I was born and raised in the town of Santa Elena and I’m still living here.

Personally, I feel very safe living in this area. I have a young child and we go for walks in the evening time. Everyone you meet on the street greets you. I don’t feel threatened in any way. I can walk downtown San Ignacio by myself to go to the bank, go shopping, buy fruits and vegetables at the market, have lunch or dinner, and I feel very safe.

Now, saying that, I can’t guarantee anyone’s safety and I know that some areas of Belize City are unsafe, BUT would I live in them? No! Would I recommend anyone to live there? Again, no. Do I go to Belize City often? No. 

There have been some crimes against foreigners which have strongly been condemned by the country. However, I would say that crimes happen to everyone and if something were to happen to you, it could happen anywhere in the world.

At the end of the day, are you going to live your life in fear and worry if you will be safe in Belize because you hear about the crimes in the city? Hopefully not. Other areas of the country are safe, and I say this because I have friends all over the country and they feel very safe. I can speak personally for the San Ignacio area as it is where I live.

Get in touch with a Belize Real Estate Agent for more personal and area-specific advice on safety.

As a Belize Real Estate Agent that has been working in the industry for the past decade, I get to meet people from all corners of the world. Showing property around is similar to the job of a tour guide and I get asked many questions throughout the day. 

Today I am sharing with you my answers to the questions that I get asked the most. 

1. What is the cost of living in Belize?

The cost of living in Belize really depends on your lifestyle and where you live. Here in the San Ignacio area, we have a large Farmer’s market that is open daily. Fresh fruits and vegetables are readily available. We have some large Taiwanese grocery stores and the prices are competitive. The soil is also very fertile so you can easily grow your own vegetable and herbs in your garden. If you’re living on the cayes, well, everything will be pricier because they need to be shipped from the mainland. 

2. What languages are spoken in Belize?

English is the official language of Belize; however Spanish is also widely spoken among others.

3. QRP or Residency?

This is a personal preference. Qualified Retired Persons Incentive Program or QRP allows you to bring in your stuff duty free but you need to meet certain requirements. Belize residency allows you to become a Belizean citizen.

4. What is the cost for building a house, approximately?

The cost of building a house varies and several factors are key. Is your house located miles from town? Are you on-grid or off-grid? Building a house is one thing, but the finishing of the house is another thing. Most builders will tell you between $80 - $200 USD per sq. ft. depending on the finishing.

5. Can I bring my pet(s) to Belize?

Yes, you can bring your beloved pets to Belize. You would need to contact BAHA (Belize Agricultural Health Authority) for entry requirements.

6. Can I work in Belize?

If you are on the QRP program, you will not be able to work. If you are on a tourist visa until you can apply for residency, you will need to apply for a work permit. However, you’ll need to prove to the Government that you have a certain skill for a job that cannot easily be filled by a Belizean. Bear in mind the work permit cost US$1,000 and must be renewed every year.

7. Can foreigners buy property in Belize?

Yes, anyone can buy property in Belize and the process is relatively easy, but you must have an experienced real estate agent and/or attorney during the process.

1. Lack of Research Before Moving to Belize

Many times, we hear people moving to Belize, then they pack up and leave after one year. Why is that? From my 10 years of selling Belize Real Estate, I strongly believe that they didn’t do enough research.

Yes, Belize is a beautiful place to live and retire, but it is not for everyone. We are a developing country, which means that we don’t have big grocery stores like SAMS CLUB, COSTCO or WALMART, but we do have large supermarkets, especially here in the San Ignacio / Santa Elena area. They are mostly Taiwanese owned, but you can find almost anything you need.

2. Not Spending Enough Time in the Country Before You Buy

This is a continuation of mistake Number 1. Visiting Belize and Living in Belize are two totally different situations. We all know that when we are on vacation, everything is great, everyone is happy and so forth, but living in Belize is also an exciting and learning experience.

You may think that you want to live on the Island because that is where you vacationed, but you may quickly find that living on an island has its limits. Fresh vegetables, fruits and poultry may only come in twice a week whereas inland in the Cayo District, you can find yourself planting and having your own vegetable & herb garden and plenty of space for fruit trees.

Many that have decided to move and retire in Belize, will tell you to rent for 6 months, moving around and deciding where in Belize, warms your heart the most. There are also those with great success stories that will tell you that they packed up and moved to Belize and never left. This is not impossible but there is a certain instinct that will tell you when it’s the right place and the right property.

3. Not Having Enough Financing

I know some people don’t like to talk about money, but let’s face it, buying property is one thing, but you need to have money for monthly expenses.

Getting a job and a work permit in Belize is not easy. Firstly, the wages paid in Belize will not be anything that you’re used to and secondly, you need to prove to the Labor Department that you have a certain skill set that can’t easily be filled in by a Belizean.

In addition, work permits are US$1,000 per year and can take a couple months to obtain. If you have a job that allows you to work online, great, but you may still need to obtain a work permit. If you’re retired and have a good pension every month or savings, great! But you need to decide WHERE in Belize you will be able to live off your pension or personal saving.

4. What are your absolute NEEDS when Moving to Belize?

This goes back to mistake #1 about research. Do you have health problems and require being close to hospitals and qualified doctors? Do you need reliable internet? Can you live off-grid? Do you have young children that will need to attend school, or will you be homeschooling? Do you NEED to take a dip in the sea everyday or are you OK with driving 2 hours for a beach-break? All these questions and more are VERY important and must be well-thought about and researched before buying property.

5. Not having a respectable and knowledgeable Real Estate Agent

Did you know that there is no licensing of real estate agents in Belize? Yes, that’s right, anyone can sell you property in Belize and if you have spent time in Belize looking for property, you will know that everyone WILL try to sell you real estate, from a taxi driver to a bartender.

Having and working with a qualified and local Belize Real Estate Agent, who has years of experience and knowledge about the Belize real estate market and one that will help you every step of the way, will greatly benefit your experience of buying property in Belize and also protect your biggest investment.

And the best part is, most of the time, the seller pays their commission, so you don’t have to take any extra money out of your pocket.