The benefits of Belize retirement living are drawing more seniors from a number of countries. Living in Belize not only offers a laid-back island style life, but the cost of living is less, so a retirement dollar stretches much further than it does in the United States and other Western countries.
Benefits of Belize Retirement Living
Belize offers a number of benefits that retiring seniors find attractive. Many are drawn to the country on the Caribbean Coast in Central America for the weather, atmosphere and culture, not to mention the fact that it is an English-speaking country. While it is more expensive than other Central American countries, Belize is still an affordable choice for many retirees. One reason for this is the Retired Persons Incentive Act, which was passed by the Belize legislature in 1999. This program offers incentives to retirees who are 45-years-old or older who have proof that they bring in a monthly income generated from investments or pensions. Those who qualify are offered:
- Official residency
- Tax-free entry of household goods
- Tax-free entry of car (boat, plane)
The Retired Person's Incentive Program may even permit seniors to live tax-free, which stretches their spending power even further. Belonging to this program may also help cut through bureaucratic delays, which means your application should take no more than three months. Being part of this program means that you cannot work in Belize for pay.
Disadvantages of Retiring in Belize
There are two sides to every story, and it is no different with retiring in Belize. It's an easy-to-get-to destination for Americans and Canadians, but for Europeans and people coming from the UK there is no direct route to Belize. Getting there requires flying to North America first; where you land in North America determines the next jaunt to get you to Belize. Travel can be both tricky and cost-prohibitive.
Other than that, the main disadvantage to living in Belize is hurricane season. This means the threat of tropical storms and hurricanes is very real, and along with it comes the expense of insurance to protect your property. For this reason, too, condominium owners and others who own common property may also be faced with renovation bills on a regular basis.
Is Belize Right for You?
It's easy to be lured by tropical breezes and long walks on the beach, but before you decide to make a move to Belize, it is best to take time to visit this small South American country. A first-hand experience can show you more than any video or brochure. If you do decide it's for you, then you have a few options for staying in the country:
The tourist card is the best option for someone who wants to check things out. It's affordable and doesn't require a long-term commitment. When you arrive in the country you acquire a 30-day entry card. Once the 30 days are up, you can visit an immigration office to pay $25 a month to renew your card. This can be done for up to six months. After six months, you can continue to live month-by-month for $50 a month, but you'll have to register as an alien.
If you choose to go this route, you can buy or rent property, but you will not be allowed to work for pay.
Qualified Retired Persons Incentive Act
While the Qualified Retired Persons Incentive Act initially draws the interest of seniors looking for a tropical place to retire where their money will go further, not all seniors decide to sign up for this program. Between the income requirement, and the ban on being able to work for pay, many seniors who still choose to retire in Belize do so without registering for the program.
Official Permanent Resident
If you decide to become an official permanent resident of Belize, you'll need to fill out an application. Requirements and documentation are not much different than those laid out by the Retired Persons Incentive Act. The advantages to becoming an official permanent resident of Belize is that you would not be required to deposit a certain amount in a Belize bank, plus you can work for pay. Besides that, you receive the right to vote and are exempt from paying exit taxes when leaving the country.
Before you decide to retire in Belize, take time to visit the country. It's the best way to make an informed decision on whether or not Belize retirement living is all you expect to be.