Retiring In Belize

As Baby Boomers retire or prepare to retire in droves, most are unprepared, and many are frightened by the prospect of not having enough money to get them through their retirement.

One million dollars is the number most mentioned regarding the minimum amount retirees should have saved up for a comfortable retirement. That’s based on a retirement age of 65 and an average life expectancy of 19.4 years from the start of retirement.

With average annual living expenses of around $50,000 as determined by the Bureau of Labor Statistics and retirement years of around 20 years, you see where that $1 million figure comes from.

​​The problem is most retirees don’t have nearly that amount in store for the years they’re supposed to rest from their labors.

“80% of U.S. pre-retiree households are financially unprepared for a secure retirement.” That’s why many workers – ones who should be retiring – work beyond their target retirement ages.

So what options do retirees who are short of the $1M goal or retirees who want to make their $1M stretch have? Consider retiring offshore.

When the prospect of retiring offshore is raised, these are the most common concerns and questions:

  • Will I have to learn a new language?
  • Are the locals friendly to foreigners?
  • Is residency challenging to obtain?  
  • Is the government stable?
  • Are there things to do for retirees?
  • What is the cost of living like?
  • Is it financially stable?
  • Is it conveniently located to visit family in the United States?

If these are your questions and concerns, then there’s one country you should consider that checks off all the boxes for an ideal foreign locale for retiring Americans.

Will I have to learn a new language?

​English is the official language in Belize, so you won’t have to learn a new language. You can feel instantly at home in Belize since everyone speaks your language fluently.    

Are the locals friendly to foreigners?

​A great rule of thumb for judging whether a location will be friendly to ex-pats is how the populace gets along. Although Belize was once a British colony, its population is diverse.

Despite multiple ethnic groups living under one roof, Belizean people live harmoniously with each other with no longstanding ethnic clashes between any groups. They maintain respect for each other, which carries over to their friendliness towards foreigners.

Is residency challenging to obtain?

Belize has implemented a program that allows foreign “Qualified Retired Persons” to make applications for long-term residency in Belize and, if accepted, to live in Belize completely tax-free for life.

The simple process of qualifying as a Qualified Retired Person exempts retirees from paying all taxes and levies on all income or receipts which accrue from a source outside of Belize (whether income is from work performed or an investment).  

Is the government stable?

​Belize has a stable, democratic government with a stable and balanced economy. Its government is based on the British parliamentary system, with its legal system based on British common law. Real estate transactions, legal contracts, and business affairs are all handled in English.

Are there things to do for retirees?

​In Belize, you will have no shortage of opportunities to stay busy. Belize is rich in natural and manmade wonders. With its diverse ecosystem, a rich variety of flora and fauna, diverse topography that includes jungles and beaches, pristine beaches, clear water, scuba-diving spots including the Belize Barrier Reef and the Great Blue Hole, and Mayan ruins, retirees will have plenty to do in Belize.

What is the cost of living like?

​Retirees can live comfortably in Belize at a fraction of the cost of living in the United States. Retirees can live in Belize’s most popular tourist and retirement destination, Ambergris Caye, for significantly less than in the U.S. without giving up any conveniences.

Ambergris Caye is known for housing the Belize Barrier Reef, the largest island in Belize. The island is popular among ex-pats for its reliable internet and cell phone coverage. According to International Living, regular flights and water taxis make it easy to head into town to either Belize City or Chetumal, Mexico.

According to International Living, a couple can live comfortably for around $2,950 to $3,150 per month, which includes the rental of a house or apartment. If you own your home on the island outright, ex-pats report that a couple can live comfortably on less than $2,000 a month.

According to International Living, Ambergris Caye and the country of Belize offer ex-pats various relocation benefits. English-speaking Ambergris Caye is the largest island in Belize at 25 miles long and a little over a mile wide, and San Pedro is its only town.

Also, according to International Living, ex-pats give up little living on Ambergris Caye. Power, water, cell phone coverage, and internet are reliable – and you can buy most necessities for daily living on the island. Regular water taxis and flights make it easy to take a quick shopping trip in Belize City or Chetumal, Mexico. The selection of quality restaurants and bars is constantly expanding.

Is it financially stable?

​With its currency currently pegged 2:1 to the U.S. dollar, there is presently little currency valuation risk, and it is very easy to transact business in the country with many of the banks tailored to meet foreign client needs.

Is it conveniently located to visit family in the United States?

​Belize is easy to get to with direct flights offered by American, Delta, United, Alaska, Sun Country, Southwest, JetBlue, and Frontier Airlines from Dallas, Miami, Atlanta, Los Angeles, and Newark. With flight times as short as two hours, Belize is conveniently located – making it easy to return home to visit family or for families wanting to visit parents and grandparents in a beautiful location.

Belize should be at the top of the list for those considering retiring offshore – offering retirees multiple benefits without sacrificing quality of life.