1. What draws people to move to Belize?
Freedom, a change in life, an adventure, starting something new. Belize is an English-speaking country where all official matters are carried out in English. The countryside is beautiful with lots of under-populated land. There is a wide variety of property choices, including in the jungle, on the coast, or inland, and magnificent tropical fauna.
2. Do you have any suggestions on finding employment? Are there any particular industries hiring?
Unless you are starting your own business or taking over an existing one, employment is hard to find in Belize. If you are, though, business taxes are low.
3. Are there any health risks for outsiders living in Belize?
The main health risks are environmental; car accidents are high on the list, in addition to excessive exposure to the sun, certain plants, insects, and reptiles. There are the usual tropical diseases but it is very rare to catch them. Prevention is the best form of protection—be aware of your surroundings and use common sense.
4. What do you consider essential items to pack before moving? Are there any things you just can’t find?
Good quality electronics and hobby gear. Quality wines and spirits are few and far between and expensive. It’s advisable to bring some good quality shoes and sandals. If you want high quality linens (towels, sheets, etc.), you may want to bring them. Most items are available locally. The main problem is quality, variety, and constant supply.
5. What languages do you recommend learning before moving to Belize?
Although Belize is officially English-speaking, Spanish is the most commonly spoken language and therefore useful to know. If you choose to travel to countries in the region such as Guatemala or Mexico, you will need Spanish.
6. What advice do you have for finding housing?
As well as contacting the two main real estate organizations, look around and ask around. Travel around. Don’t rush; take your time. There are a lot of good choices. Check the deeds thoroughly in the lands office. Talk to other expats about the property you intend to buy and also about the area and other relevant information.
7. Are there any surprising local customs you’ve learned that one should know to acclimate to the culture?
Life is slower; people are more friendly, outgoing, and polite. Punctuality is not always a priority. Slow down; Belize is fairly laid back and a smile works wonders, as does patience. Come with an open mind and accept that you are in a deceptively different culture. What applied at home probably won’t apply in Belize. Try not to judge or compare.
8. What are the most expat-friendly places to live?
Most places in Belize, but key expat areas include around San Ignacio (Cayo), San Pedro (Ambergris Caye), and Caye Caulker; around Hopkins and the Placencia Peninsula (Stann Creek); and around Corozal (Consejo).
9. What do you love most about life in Belize?
The outdoorsy active life, the friendly people, the sensation of space and freedom, being away from the “rat race,” and the climate! Being in one of the few places left on Earth that still has a bit of a ‘frontier’ mentality. I also enjoy the relaxed way of life, the beautiful countryside, the prolific exotic birds and flowers, the historic Mayan sights throughout Belize, and the fact that Belize is small, so in a few hours you can be in the jungle or by the sea or across the border in another country.