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Christian Burn of Grand Baymen – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
The rules of etiquette and customs in Belize are not really too different from the rules of etiquette and etiquette in North America because it is a British colony. So, the formality of introducing people, shaking hands, looking people in the eye, that's all the same in Belize as in North America or Europe.
 
In Belize it is a British culture. At least as a Canadian, it is all so familiar to me. Families sit down together at the table to eat dinner, people celebrate baby showers, weddings with parties, big events, birthdays, and quincinero, which is a like a Sweet 16 in North America, but it is done when a girl turns 15 years old here in Belize.
 
There are some Spanish cultural influences because quincinero is a big thing in Mexico, too. It’s not such a big deal in England as the 21st birthday. In England, when a kid turns 21, they get the key to their parents’ home so they can come and go as they please and the 21st birthday is a really big deal.
 
Although Belize is a British colony, they do not have British high teas here. I am sure they did once upon a time, but not any more. Those customs have not continued, unfortunately. Sitting down having a cup of tea with someone is certainly a part of the culture here. People do not want to talk business right away; they want to sit down, they want to say hello, and they want to see if you are doing well. There has to be a rapport between people before business can be conducted. I do not know if that is British culture or if it is just the civil way of doing things, but that exists in Belize.
 
For the most part, there's a certain decorum here in Belize when people are going through an exchange of some kind and that etiquette, those little benchmarks exist here, too, because Belize was a British Colony. 
Zach Smith of Anywhere – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
There is a generally relaxed attitude in Belize.  If you try to change that, it is usually a very big turn off to whomever you are engaging, whereas if you meet relaxed with relaxed there is an opportunity to have a meaningful engagement. I don’t believe Belizeans respond to pressure or urgency very well. And that takes a little bit of getting used to for a lot of people.
 
We coordinate travel around the country so we want to ensure that things happen on time and we want to ensure that everybody is on the same page about any particular service in question. We have found that when we do encounter an issue like a delay, for example, we try to be an arbiter between the client and the local operator in a way that we don’t throw the local operator completely under the bus. It is just a general relaxed sense that is more exaggerated in Belize than some of the other cultures in the region. And so if you are planning on moving to Belize, you should be prepared for these occasions.
 
Let me cite a comparison between cultures. Compared to Belize, the Costa Ricans are actually quite used to the international visitor and are quite accustomed to the visitors’ cultural framework so they do a good job of not wanting to disappoint. However, if something goes wrong or if there is a delay, the approach is also similar, be sensitive as you critique, if you find it necessary to critique. You don’t necessarily want to put a ton of pressure on them or make them feel bad because that ends up compounding the issue. In general, as far as a visitor coming to a place like Costa Rica, they’re going to experience timeliness and a lot of professionalism, particularly in the tourism industry since they have such practice with it.
David Berger of Tradewinds Hospitality at Orchid Bay – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Touring the area around Corozal, Belize – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingPeople here in Belize do not worry about offending anyone. There is no specific etiquette or customs that you have to follow. People say crazy things here and nobody gets offended. When Belizeans walk in a store, they could say, “Hey, China man! How much for that?” People here are not sensitive to what we would call racist remarks like in the US.
 
You could say, “Hey, fat man!” and the person you’re talking to wouldn’t care. Everyone accepts it and there is nothing wrong with it. Nobody is worried about what you call them.
 
People call expats, “Hey Gringo!” and they mean it in the nicest way. There is no political correctness here. It’s not like in the US where people get easily offended when you call them, “Hey black man!” It is so much more relaxing here because when you are in the US, you could feel stressed of saying the wrong thing.
 
People here in Belize call me “Gringo” or “Dave” or “Mister Dave.” There is no political correctness but there is a certain formality where they would call me “Sir” or “Mister Dave” instead of just “Dave.” We expats also tend to address each other with “Mister” because we just got so used to hearing expats being addressed that way in Belize but we don’t address Belizeans that way. I guess, “Mister” is only for Gringos.
 
The term “Gringo” is of Spanish origin. People here in the northern part of Belize speak some Spanish because of the Spanish influence from the Mexican side. Belizeans here in the north mix up English, Spanish, and Creole. I can now understand Creole although I cannot speak it yet.
 
(Touring the area around Corozal, Belize, pictured.)
Rubi Young – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Beach scene at Caye Caulker, Belize – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingBelize believes the Golden Rule, which tells you not to do unto others what you wouldn’t want others to do unto you. If you want people to respect you, then you respect people. When you meet someone who comes from another country, just try to be polite.
 
If we don’t know the person’s name then we call them “sir” or “miss.” To me, the rules of etiquette in Belize are no different that the rules of etiquette in the US. You just have to know how to respect people.
 
(Beach scene at Caye Caulker, Belize, pictured.)
Matthew Hoy of Pelican Properties – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Track and field athlete Marion Jones holds both US and Belizean citizenships – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingOne thing that I always mention to people is when you are moving to a new country, don’t bring your country that you are leaving and their entire way of systems and thinking with you. If you live somewhere in the middle of the United States and you work at a job and a family from India moves to your town and starts taking over your business and telling you that everything you do is wrong and that you should do it a certain way, how would you feel? I would say the same thing if you are coming to a new country. Just sit back and adapt to what is going on around you more so than trying to impose your will onto the people around you because they are just not going to be receptive to it. I find that people who are much more willing to assimilate do better here in Belize than people who come here and try to reinvent the wheel.
 
A lot of the etiquette and customs of the people here in Belize are the same as in the US. You just have to treat people the way you want to be treated. Belize is a very helpful country when you treat people like you and that you are no different than anybody else. You will find that the people of Belize are very receptive and very helpful.
 
The locals here in Belize tend to be Catholic, so they live in a Catholic mindset, but the culture here is rich and diverse because we have the Garifuna people, which are a vibrant culture. We have the Creole culture, the Spanish culture, so it is quite a mosaic of different cultures. I wouldn’t say that the customs and the culture of Belize is distinguishable versus other places. It is very easy to get assimilated here; you just have to not try and change the wheel.  
 
(Track and field athlete Marion Jones holds dual US and Belizean citizenship, pictured.) 
Saira Mahabir of Century 21 Belize – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Having a conversation in Kekchi (Q'eqchi') the Mayan language  in Punta Gorda, Belize – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingBelize is really easy going when it comes to customs and etiquette. We speak English and Spanish here in Belize so the culture is mixed. It is hard to say that you can insult somebody by saying something. It is easy to come and live here in Belize. Belizeans do not easily get insulted and they are not hard to communicate with.
 
There has been some manana habit in Belize but they are growing, learning, and getting better. From the time I came to live here to now, there is a vast difference. They are now more willing to step up to higher standards of service. You will now see much better restaurants and hotels. The taxi drivers now offer much better service every day. Belize is becoming more service-oriented over time.
 
This is still evolving. If, for example, you are expecting someone to get your Internet installed at your house and they tell you that they will come on Tuesday at 3 PM, there are instances that they are on time and sometimes they are not. Being on time is not yet a trait that Belize has perfected. They may be late sometimes, but they do eventually arrive.  
 
(Picture: Having a conversation in Kekchi (Q'eqchi') the Mayan language  in Punta Gorda, Belize.)
Kendra Nicholson of International Services Ltd – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Beachside sandy road in Belize – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingCompared to North America, the rules of etiquette or customs in Belize are a little bit more relaxed, especially on the island where mainly all the tourists would go.  In San Pedro (on Ambergris Caye), you'd still see some persons around without shoes and it's just the island life.  You’ll see people dressed in tank tops, taking a dip into the water, coming out and walking around like that. It's really island life, going slow.  (The official slogan for Caye Caulker is actually “go slow”.)  
 
You get away from the fast-paced life here in Belize in general and in Caye Caulker specifically.  There is no hustle and bustle, and no traffic jams out there.   In fact, there are no vehicles.  Another slogan that they would have is "No shoes, no shirt, no problem."
  
Out on the islands, that is, in the Cayes, including Ambergris Caye and Caye Caulker, and Placencia as well as the other tourist areas are very relaxed places where people don’t make lots of demands on you to act a certain way. 
 
If you were to live in the rest of Belize, perhaps in Cayo or Corozal, it’s about the same but you won't find people walking around without shoes there.  We wear shoes and shirts and not so much in tank tops.   Formal wear is required when coming to the office or work.  You wear your Dockers, not jeans.  You wear your nice slacks, your oxford shirts, and the like.  Even on the island, the staff for businesses will wear official uniforms or clothing.  It's not as lax for the office person.
 
There is nothing that a North American can do to unintentionally insult a Belizean.  Belize is filled with tourists and families not from here and we understand that you're not from here and you might not understand the lingo.  It’s not like we would take it seriously; we will give you a free pass most of the time.   
John Acott of RE/MAX Belize Property Center – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
The Placencia Assassins Football Club! – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingIt’s very casual here, from how you dress to everything else. There is no class system at all here. The Prime Minister would call me “John” because he knows me. So it is a very casual country.  
 
To avoid unintentionally offending a Belizean, don’t tell them, “In America, we do it this way.” They don’t like that. Other than that, you shouldn’t worry at all. They are very casual people and they are very easy going. They are very hard to insult. 
 
Belizeans like to stop and talk. They stop in the middle of the road, park their car, and talk.  That could be frustrating sometimes to a North American, but they are very nice people. They have never been unkind or unfriendly to me in the 30 years that I’ve been here. They’ll stop their cars in the middle of the road. You will see horses walking through town. Women breastfeed their babies openly here and that is not a big thing. 
 
There are no rules and regulations like the ones in the US. You can drive on a one-way street and get away with it and they don’t stop at stop signs all the time.  What guides them here is more common sense than laws. Traffic violations are still against the law, but they are not going to give you a ticket for it. We don’t have any speed meters or radar traps here. You can drink and drive. It’s still against the law, but no one is going to pull you over.  
 
(Pictured: The Placencia Assassins Football Club.  Placencia, Belize.)
Chris Leonard of Paradise Found Belize Real Estate and Development – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Nurse wearing the uniform of British Honduras (Belize) – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingBelizeans are still very much attached to the whole British connection. When I was in Belize, Prince Harry came to visit. That was the talk then. Everybody wanted to go down and meet him and dance with him and drink with him.  As for the hospital, there are lots of students from Britain. The money in Belize still has the Queen’s face on it.

The rules of etiquette and customs in Belize are really not that much different than in the US, at least the parts of the US that I have been to. There’s a bit of classism in some places depending on who you’re dealing with. People fall into their hierarchy like the laborer or the maid and then a general blue collar worker.  Then you also have your affluent people who are in a different class. This is more of a Belizean thing than an expat thing but it’s an interesting way to deal with people.
 
I didn’t fall into that because I’m just not like that, so at a dinner party I made the mistake of inviting a maid to sit at the table and eat with the rest of us. The wife of the person informed me later that the invitation I extended to the maid was a bad gesture.
 
“Servants eat after we eat.”

For an American standpoint, it would seem that the class structure is a little rigid. It has to do with class and it is not a racial thing.
 
(A photograph of a a nurse wearing the uniform of British Honduras ( Belize), pictured.)
Macarena Rose of Rainforerst Realty – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
When I first got here in Belize, a lot of people would say, "Good night," when I wasn't going to bed. So I wondered if everyone thought I was ready for sleep.  Then I learned that to them, "Good night" means what a North American means when he or she says "Good evening," so it was a salutation.
 
You learn these things when you come here in Belize. One of the more important components of etiquette is that families matter. Someone is your friend in Belize and he will tell you that he can't make it to your meeting because he needs to help his grandmother who doesn't feel good. This person's grandmother just became the priority. You may have had plans previously, but that family member is going to be the new first priority.
 
In Belize, there is a saying, which is "Right now." So if I call and say, "Hey, are you on your way to bring me that tire for my car?" and they say, "Right now." "Right now" doesn't mean "currently" or "at this moment." "Right now" translates to "I am on my way eventually within the next 5 to 15 minutes or even up to 24 hours." It is not as a North American would define "right now." A lot of people translate that as the Mexican "manana," but it is not. They are acknowledging that they heard you, they got it, it is on their list to do, and they are going to get to it. "Right now" means some time in the future.
 
So if you do not have patience when you move to Belize, you will learn it. It was amazing to me when I first moved to Belize when I went to pay my cell phone bill, and when I got there, there was a line of about ten people. So I thought, "Wow, I won't get out of here for a really long time.  This is a really long line."  But what could I do? I had to wait in line. I had no choice. I had to pay the bill and put more credit on my phone. Anyhow, something shifted inside of me that day because I was talking to the lady in front of me and two gentlemen came in behind me and I was talking to them. We talked about where they came from and where they lived. I knew the sister of a person that was in the line, too.  When it came to the time when it was my turn to pay my cell phone bill and buy cards for my cell phone credit, I realized that I just enjoyed waiting in line. It wasn't a bad thing. It just matters to just be fully present.
 
Another example.  I went to the bank one day from my office, which is located downtown, really close walking distance to the bank. It is probably a three-minute walk. I walked out and said, "Hey, I'll just go to the bank and I'll be back in a few minutes." One of the guys in the office laughed, and said, "Yeah, right!" to which I responded, "I am.  I'll be right back."
 
So I walked towards the bank and on the way there, I met a friend, then I met the chief prosecutor, a guy I coached on the soccer team, and the family who we helped turn on their water for them.  Then I got to the bank. After that, I left the bank and I decided to go to the butcher shop, where I had a conversation with the butcher who is South African. Then I turned around to leave and took what I bought from the butcher all the way to the office.
 
I got there, and they said, "You left here about 45 minutes ago!" I tried to explain, but they all laughed because they had made a bet that I sure as heck wouldn't be back in any less than 10 minutes. Instead, it took me 45 minutes, but that is one of the joys of Belize. You don't want to be in a hurry to do things.
 
Wherever you come from, people are so busy and rushing around that they miss the birds singing in the trees. They miss that interaction with people in person, where you sit down and talk with other people. That is what it is like to live in Belize, it is very intimate and authentic.
Boris Mannsfeld of Boris Mannsfeld & Associates – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Belize was originally part of the British Commonwealth, so you will notice a lot of British rules and regulations here. The kids (even the ones who go to public schools) wear uniforms and everybody has basic manners that you would have in the west, especially in the UK or the US.
 
There are not a lot of foolish things that a typical American or Canadian can do here that's out of whack, because everybody speaks English and we are so close to the States. People from America have been coming down here forever; everybody speaks English, so the Belizean rules of etiquette or customs in Belize are sort of the same standards of a western type of society.
 
The island mentality in Belize is mañana-mañana. Things are a little slower. Maybe try not to be too pushy or too demanding if you are in Belize. You cannot get your Internet service connected ASAP or if you ordered a drink at a restaurant, you cannot expect it to be there in a snap. It is coming; it will get there, so you have to relax.
 
If you are moving to Belize, you had better have a little bit of patience, which is probably good for all of us, especially me, because Belize is not a place where you can just be too demanding like they are in the States.

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