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Stewart Patton of U.S. Tax Services – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Knuckelhead Movie Poster – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingRaw numbers don't tell the whole story.
 
The only reason Belize has a high crime rate is that there's one area of Belize City where one group of knuckleheads likes to attack another group of knuckleheads. 
 
Other than that area, Belize City and the country of Belize are as safe as anywhere in the U.S.
 
(Pictured: poster for the movie Knuckelhead.)
 
 
 
Kendra Nicholson of International Services Ltd – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Boy riding his bike in Belize – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingIt is safe in different areas of Belize and not as safe in others.  
 
In some countries in the world, you can't walk around at night and you can't do certain things in crowded areas, but here in Belize it isn't like that.  Everyone goes out at night, everyone is out and about shopping on the weekends into the night and it's not a dangerous setting.  I've been to some other countries in Central America where it's really a different story and after experiencing that, I realized that Belize is actually quite safe compared to a lot of other countries in Central America.  In a lot of countries, they give you a problem because we don't speak their language, but if you're English-speaking and you come to Belize I believe you would be able to handle yourself properly and you won't be hampered by that language barrier.
 
The main unsafe place is Belize City's south side area.  The city is divided between the south side and the north side and the south side is where the gangs are.  The north side is safe and the Cayes as well as other tourist destinations are safe, and government ensures it.  So Ambergris Caye, Placencia, Cayo, and Caye Caulker are safe. Corozal as well is starting to become a major area for expat retirees who come in to live and settle there, so they are safe.  The government has a special constable for these areas. They deployed more policemen to these areas so it's safer for tourists and persons living in those areas.
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Howard Oldham of Tropic Real Estate – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
The Oldham German Shepard security force – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingIt is relatively safe in Belize as long as you are willing to provide your own security. I live out in what you would call “the country” in the Cayo District, half way between Belmopan and San Ignacio, so I’ll answer for the conditions for where I live.  If you want to have a secure place, you have to put up a fence on your property, get guard dogs, set up security cameras, etc. 
 
Belize does not have a large police force and they lack equipment and vehicles. Most likely, it will take them a lot of time to get to where you are because of these reasons.   If you call them, they will say something like, "Look, we don't have a vehicle right now. We'll have a vehicle in the morning. We'll come up tomorrow afternoon because we got two calls in the morning." 
 
So, what we've done here is we organized a "neighborhood watch" to respond in emergency situations. Let's say, I have somebody on my property who threatens me. I call two people to come to my house and they call two more and so on. In 15 to 20 minutes, I have 20 people in my house with guns.  Out here in the country, you provide your own security. 
 
You build a reputation no matter where you go.  For example, relative to my property, the locals will cross the street when they pass by my property and walk on the other side because my dogs scare them to death. Remember, the thief is going to pick the weakest link to hit. So, they're not going to rob somebody who has dogs and cameras. They look for somebody who has no fence, no dogs, and no cameras. A lot of this is just common sense. Generally speaking expats don't have that much of a problem because they're smart enough to know what they have to do.  
 
The same general concept is true if you live out in the country like I do, or if I live in Belmopan or San Ignacio. I live on 16 acres, so if I lived on just a lot, I wouldn't have as elaborate a system as I have here. But the first thing I would do is to put a fence on my property and get a dog because they are all afraid of dogs.  To me, it's just common sense.  
 
But don't get me wrong; Belize is safe. I lived here for 20 years and I have never had a problem or any incidents; nothing.   I feel just as safe as I did when I lived in Houston. 
 
Our police in Belize are concerned primarily with fighting crimes. Traffic here is such a pleasure to drive because the police do not pull you over. You can speed right by a policeman. The reason is that giving you a ticket is not their job; that's the traffic department's job. Their job is to hunt down murderers, thieves, and stuff like that. You can't really get in trouble behind a wheel here unless you have an accident and they start looking for who's at fault.  
 
(The Oldham German Shepard security force, pictured.)
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John Acott of RE/MAX Belize Property Center – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Dock going into the ocean at sunset in Belize – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingYes, Belize is safe, but it has a bad name due to crime statistics for the country, but that’s all because of a specific part of Belize City where there are gangs. This bad area is on the south side of Belize City, but everywhere else is safe. 
 
In other parts of the country, I don’t see any crimes or I haven’t heard about it. But because of those crimes in Belize City, it gives the whole country a bad name. It’s safe in the districts (the areas away from Belize City). I have been living here for 30 years and I have never been mugged, assaulted, or robbed. I don’t carry a gun. It’s safe.  
 
Last year we had a Rotary conference in San Ignacio in which we had lots of Rotarians from Honduras and Guatemala who came to see us. One of the guys asked me, “Can we go downtown at night?” and I said, “Of course you can.  Why wouldn’t you?” He said, “We can’t in Tegucigalpa.  Good luck with that one.” And I said, “Everywhere here is safe.” Expats are not targeted here in Belize. 
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Mark Leonard of Paradise Found Belize Real Estate and Development – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Cerros Sand penisula – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingMost of the crimes in Belize take place in Belize City and almost all are in one neighborhood where the drug dealers go after each other. This highly skews the Belize crime statistics. Outside of Belize City, if you took the number of crimes, it is safe. 
 
I have had no issues driving the roads. I would not suggest for people to drive at night if they do not know where they are going. Most roads are not paved and you should be aware of the potholes.  
 
Relative to freedom, I would put living in Belize as similar to living in the US in the 50’s before the government "knew" "what is best" for its citizens.  
 
Once you are away from Belize City  it’s really safe. 
 
You may have the random instances where somebody could walk up the street and he is a little bit messed up and he would steal your garden hose. Car batteries are a little bit easier to sell and may be stolen. 
 
I had a condo in San Pedro on Ambergris Caye and somebody entered my condo when I was there, asleep. The fellow took a wallet out of my pants’ pocket. He went through the wallet on the way out, took the cash that was inside the wallet and threw the wallet and the credit cards on the ground. A report was filed with the police. They never caught the felon. 
 
As a point of comparison, my house got broken into three times in California. Also, my cars were broken into quite a bit in California. Comparatively, I had this one incident in Belize. They came in and didn’t bother to disturb me. San Pedro is an area with a lot of people and when there’s no tourists (for example, in the Low Season), people get a little hungry. I would think that the crime in San Pedro is probably a little bit higher than the norm throughout Belize other than Belize City. 
 
In Corozal, where I live, we don’t have bars on the windows. In town, lots of people do because it is just the way that they build houses here. Specifically, I live in Cerro Sands and there are no bars on the windows here. We live on a peninsula. There is one road in, and we are surrounded by water on three sides, so I don’t think we are going to have any issues. Any houses I build are not going to have bars on the windows unless somebody specifically asks for them. A bar for serving drinks on their roof-top is a more likely addition. 
 
In town, if you are going to leave your house for a while, you are probably going to want to have bars on the windows. That is just the way they do it there. They make decorative bars. The houses are close together in town. It’s not like they are on ¼ acre lots. Most town lots are 60 by 100, so your setbacks are small. 
 
Cerro Sands has an entry gate, but it is not walled. Most places here do not have an entry gate or have a guard at the entry.  If they have a gate, likely nobody is stationed there.  
 
We only started building at Cerro Sands 3 years ago, so we are relatively new, but again we are on a peninsula so there is only one road in next to the village.  
 
The villages in Belize usually have a lot of people who are related to each other living there. I heard that some guy from town came to their village and stole a bicycle.  Before he got about a block and a half somebody noticed he was not from the neighborhood, and they knew the bicycle.  Least to say the thief will not be coming back to this village anytime soon. They called the police, who were late in coming. His time was not very well spent. Then they got tired of dealing with the thief, so they dropped him off at the ferry, which goes across the river.
 
 The cops finally came and saw him all bloody, and the guy said, “The people from the village beat me up.”
 
The people from the village said, “You’re the guy who stole the bike.” After hearing this, the police put the thief in the back of the police car. 
 
In Belize, you don’t  worry about violence against your person. You will be called “sir” or “mister” or "ma'am," followed by your first name. I go in the bank and they call me “sir” and I will say, “My dad is ‘sir’. You guys know me.” They’ll say, “Oh yes, Mr. Mark.” 
 
Many folks in our local village have the same respect. If you go to a birthday party like a quinceanos, which is a 15-year's old birthday party, the locals will treat you the way you treat them. Once you assimilate in, or even if you just stay by yourself, you are not going to have problems at all. If you break down on the side of the road there, the people in the first car that goes by will stop and help you.   
 
(Cerros Sand property on the peninsula protected by water, pictured.)
Phil Hahn of Carmelita Gardens – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Jim Croce album cover with Bad, Bad, Leroy Brown – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingI feel Belize is very safe in 90% of the country. I would say that about probably every country I know, with maybe a few special exceptions in the world. I haven’t been everywhere in the world but in the places that I’ve been there are places that are not safe and are similar to the south side of Belize City. (I don’t know why it’s always the south side, just like “Bad, Bad Leroy Brown” from Chicago.)
 
There is crime in Belize like anywhere in the world. The violent crime tends to be concentrated in a small area in Belize City and unfortunately it’s an area where there is a lot of drugs and gangs. Most of the crime that you will find is happening in that area. There is crime elsewhere but I have a family of five – me, my wife, and my three children, and for the last 12 years, we’ve been coming and going between Florida and Belize and we spent a lot of time down here, but I never fear for my family’s safety. I am not going to take them on the south side of Belize City at midnight because it’s just like any other city. If you go into those areas, you had better be careful. You are probably there for the wrong reasons.
 
I drive around the Cayo District, and even go around to Spanish Lookout. If you roll into Spanish Lookout, you would feel like you are in Michigan with all the rolling hills and the German names on the signs and chicken coops. 
 
(Jim Croce album cover featuring the song "Bad, Bad, Leroy Brown," pictured.)
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Macarena Rose of Rainforerst Realty – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Downtown San Ignacio Belize Cayo District – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingI believe that Belize is safe for people who come with common sense. Lock your doors, know your neighbors, and live in areas where you know the community and you have actually taken the time to get to know the people.
 
Many people, I understand, when they come to Belize, think that it is just like coming to North America where you have a security system, but it is different here in Belize. Your security system here is basically your neighbors keeping an eye out for you. Security is yourself making sure that you pay people in a form of check and not cash, and becoming part of a community in a way that you talk to people; where you aren’t always seen as a foreigner. Those are viable things to consider ahead of time.
 
Because a lot of the highways here in Belize do not necessarily have lighting on them, we take that into consideration, so if we are going to be traveling, we try not to be on the roads at night. We do this is not necessarily because of crimes, but rather it is just about being safe all around. Wherever you are going to be, you try your best to be there before it is too dark.
 
I came from St. Petersburg, Florida and whenever I am there and you turn on the news, it is frightening to see and hear all of these things that are happening every single day. When you are in Belize and something happens, the difference is that since Belize is a small country, you end up knowing the families and people involved, so people come together and gather, whereas when you see crimes in the news, it is almost as though it is an inundation of just negativity and crime and things that are happening. It is just a whole different culture. You feel most distanced from it in the US, and yet you are inundated with crime. Also, in Belize, you are more part of the community, so when something happens, people gather and get together, so it is very different.
 
I feel very safe in the Cayo District. (Downtown San Ignacio, Cayo District pictured.)  I walk the streets at night with friends; we go to restaurants downtown, we go out to places where people have resorts, and we go to our friends’ homes, since there are lots of people who live in beautiful places in the jungle. I do feel safe here.
 
When I moved here twelve years ago as a single woman with two teenagers and ten animals, of course, my first concern was how safe it was. I was really pleased to realize that the advice that people give me was actually very good – become part of the community, don’t stand out like a foreigner, become one of the community. That was great advice because I didn’t move to Belize to not become part of Belize.
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Christian Burn of Grand Baymen – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
I absolutely feel safe here in Belize. I do not go looking for trouble, of course. My husband travels a lot, so he is not always here, and I am here alone often times, but I have no problem. This is true almost anywhere in the country of Belize. The only place in Belize that is not safe is Belize City, but that is well documented and very widely discussed.
 
There is definitely a backside to Ambergris Caye, which is where I live. It is fairly safe, especially during the day. If you are walking at night, you might run into some trouble, but I think that is just how it is anywhere in the world you go. If I would compare the safety here with Toronto or Vancouver, where I come from, well, there are places in Toronto that I certainly would not go even in a car. Here in Belize, if you are out at night, as long as you stick to the main streets, you are fine and you are safe.
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Boris Mannsfeld of Boris Mannsfeld & Associates – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Hosts and guests at a housewarming party, La Placencia, Belize – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingI think Belize is extremely safe. One reason why it is safe is because everybody in Belize speaks English. Since everybody speaks English, everybody gets to know each other a lot quicker and a lot easier. When people get to know each other, they have the tendency to make and develop relationships. When you develop relationships, I think everybody is safer because everybody knows each other. People are not strangers any more; everybody’s an acquaintance.
 
There has been some news about Belize being unsafe or having a high murder rate. Some of that is true but that’s almost a hundred percent focused on specific areas of the main city, which is Belize City. Belize City is a major city like Queens in New York. There are certain areas of New York where probably not many people would want to go to. Certain areas in Belize City are the same as Queens. Since Belize is such a small country and the population is so small (there are about 350,000 people here), when you have a few murders the allocated per capita ratio adds up really quickly.
 
In Belize City, there were some murders but they were sort of “thug versus thug” or “gang versus gang” related. Those murders do not really affect the common tourists. Where we live, in Placencia, we have a very tight community. It is a very good place and we have a very low crime rate down here. So I think it’s very safe. I think I have been coming here for 22 years and I feel extremely safe here. I have seen areas develop and I know a lot of locals and expats. I know a lot of people who have come here for vacation, people living here full time, and people living here part-time. I have seen a lot and I get many different perspectives from all the people I know here. I think overall it is very safe in Belize.
 
Placencia, where we are, is still a very small town community. It is not heavily populated unlike some of your places in the States. Everybody here knows each other since it is really a small town. You still have small towns in the States, especially in Colorado (where I come from), some of the mountain community, where everybody knows each other, everybody gets along, and everybody simply looks out for each other. When some stranger comes to town, many people know about it and if a crime happens, everybody gets together and tries to figure out how to resolve it. Here in Placencia, when I walk around at night, I do not look over my shoulder or feel as if somebody is watching me. I am from Denver, Colorado. Even though Denver is a big town, I do not have safety issues there, either.
 
The language has a lot to do with it. When you order a beer here in Placencia, you actually have a real conversation with the bartender and you actually get to know each other somewhat. Whereby if I go to Mexico or Thailand and if the bartender does not speak English (which I know many tourists say the bartenders and others do speak English but they do not), pretty much the only conversation is going to be “Una cerveza” and that is all I can talk to the bartender about. But right here in Placencia, I’ll have a real conversation with the bartender, he knows my name and I know his name. So, if he does see me one day walking on the street at night, he’s not going to jump me because he knows who I am. Everybody gets to know each other a lot better down here. 
 
(Hosts and guests at a housewarming party, Placencia, Belize, pictured.)

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