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Christian Burn of Grand Baymen – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
San Pedro Ambergris Caye golf cart in the street – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingAmbergris Caye is most definitely cheaper than some of the other Caribbean Islands. Compared to places like Saint Barthelemy, The Cayman Islands, and Barbados, Belize is absolutely a deal.
 
Belize is an English-speaking, Commonwealth country where the prices are not to the level of these other Caribbean nations yet. It is not as inexpensive as its neighboring countries such as Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador; living in those places would be less expensive.  However, those places are not as nice as Belize. They do not have the Caribbean feel.
 
As a point of reference for North Americans, Ambergris Caye is less expensive than Vancouver and Toronto, Canada, where I come from.
 
The cost to rent a house or apartment here in Ambergris Caye is at par with Vancouver rentals, but the cost to buy a house or apartment is considerably less.
 
The cost for car insurance and related items in Ambergris Caye is minimal compared to what we pay in Vancouver or Toronto. They use golf carts here as transportation. Gas is more expensive but the golf cart does not use nearly the same amount of fuel as a car so getting around town in your own transportation is considerably less expensive than in North America.
 
The cost of food in Ambergris Caye unfortunately, is rather high, because we live on an island that is pretty much tourist- oriented, so you are not going to get a lot of variation on food cost. Medical and dental expenses are much less expensive in Belize than in North America.
Josh Buettner of Ambergris Seaside Real Estate – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Caribbean view from poolside at Tara del Dol, Ambergris Caye Belize – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingThere are certain elements to the total cost of living in Ambergris Caye that are going to provide for a far less expensive cost of living but other elements that would provide for a more expensive cost of living, depending on the way you choose to live here in Ambergris Caye.
 
For example, a lot of people come here to Ambergris Caye and want to live the same way they did back home; drinking wine, getting imported foods, etc. If you do this, it will end up costing you substantially more here in Ambergris Caye because those imported foods and other imported items are substantially more expensive in Ambergris Caye than, for example, in the US.  On the other hand, if you adapt and eat more chicken, local fish, vegetables, and fruits that are from the local region, your cost of living will end up being substantially less than in the US.
 
What most people end up doing is a combination of buying imported and local goods and services. They still drink some wines and have some Dannon yogurt, and occasionally, beef that is generally not raised here and then some fruits and vegetables. In so doing, they end up equalizing their overall budget.
 
Other than these tradeoffs, most of the people on Ambergris Caye drive a golf cart, which is much less expensive than a car. A golf cart will cost anywhere from US $7,000 to $12,000 for an initial purchase. You might pay $25 a week on gas if you are using the golf cart every day. The licensing is about $100 to $125 per year and the insurance is going to run you about $40 a year.
 
If you own your home, property taxes are fairly low here in Ambergris Caye but on the flip side of that, insurance is substantially higher than what you are used to because all peril / all risk insurance is going to run you about $10 to $20 per $1,000 of insured value. This range would be based whether your home is concrete construction or wood construction. Concrete construction will be on the lower end of that spectrum and wood construction would be o the higher end. By the time you even it all out, it is really not that much less expensive if you decide to live like you did before – buying imported foods, going out to dinner, and other things of that nature.
 
Ambergris Caye is one of the more expensive places to live in Belize, but it also provides for more options than any other place in Belize. For example, there are a lot more options for grocery stores, places to live, locations on the island, etc. We have a couple of wine stores where you can buy prosciutto, or brie, etc., which are items that might not be available in some of the supermarkets or stores in other places in Belize.
 
There are things that you do not generally find everywhere in the country but you could find them in Ambergris Caye. The reason for this is because Ambergris Caye has a larger population of expats and these expats demand more and different types of goods and services than the population in any other area of the country of Belize. As a result, it is feasible for a lot of these grocery stores and businesses to cater to the higher end tastes in Ambergris Caye whereas in Dangriga, for example, having these items available and for sale is simply not logical because the local population will not buy them.
 
(Caribbean view from poolside at Tara del Dol, Ambergris Caye Belize, pictured.)
Bob Hamilton of Century 21 Coral Beach Realty – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Street in San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingThe government of Belize has set the cost of living for expats who are coming to live here at US $25,000 per year. If you can have an income of $25,000 per year through a pension or a similar plan, then you are qualified for permanent resident status and a retired person status. 
 
If you have an income of $25,000 a year here in Ambergris Caye, you can certainly rent a beachfront condo or a condo very close to the beach for $1,000 to $1,400 per month. Your expenses are pretty nominal here because you will be driving around in golf carts and there is not much to spend money on other than just having fun in the natural environment. 
 
As a point of comparison, I could compare the cost of living here in Ambergris Caye to the cost of living in Nova Scotia, where I am from. In Nova Scotia, your have to have three or four sets of clothes. Down here in Ambergris Caye, you can wear the same set of clothes all year round-- shorts and t-shirts.  In Ambergris Caye, you would be driving a golf cart as opposed to a vehicle. You don’t have to buy snow shovels or ice salters here in Ambergris Caye.
 
It costs less to live here in Ambergris Caye because you don’t have all of the things to spend money on like there is in Nova Scotia. We have bars and restaurants and some of the import products that we have are still reasonable. Living here is just a simpler lifestyle with fewer things to be a consumer of.
 
(Street in San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize, pictured.)
Lisa McCorkle Guerrero of DIAMANTÉ – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Interior of Building A of Diamante, Ambergris Caye, San Pedro, Belize – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingTo live comfortably in Ambergris Caye in a nice apartment, maybe not beachfront, is around US $2,500 a month for a couple. Ambergris Caye is a tourist destination and nice apartments are not cheap; anywhere from $1,200 to $2,000 for a regular 2-bedroom apartment. For a beachfront condo, the cost to rent per month would be upwards of US $2,000 plus.  The $1,200 per month house rental would not be beachfront.  It would just be a 2-bedroom apartment.  There are a lot apartments that you could get for a lot less, but I’m describing a nice 2-bedroom apartment, which is mostly what people are looking for.
 
Relative to food, we are in an island so everything is imported, and anything that’s imported – cereals, boxed goods in the grocery stores, cleaning products, all those things – would cost a lot more than it would be in the US. Tourists are usually shocked when they go the grocery store and buy a couple day’s worth of supplies for food and wind up spending $100 to $150.
 
Bananas, mangoes, pineapples, corn, potatoes and similar staples are grown locally, but other than that, we pretty much import everything. Any other type of fruit, such as apples, grapes, broccoli, cauliflower, etc., are all imported, so they cost more.  Just to give you an idea, a bunch of asparagus is $9.
 
What causes us to live more inexpensively overall is that we don’t have a lot of the cost of living that you have in the US. Property tax is here is ridiculously cheap. We drive around in golf carts so we don’t have to pay high insurance on vehicles.  Electricity is high if you’re using air conditioner all day but there’s always a nice breeze so you could be without air conditioner most of the day and use it probably just for sleeping. 
 
You don’t have any heating bills in the winter, and you don’t have to pay to go on vacations to beautiful places at the beach. For many years I kept taking my kids to beaches in Mexico, until I asked myself, “Why am I doing this? We live on the beach!”
 
(Pictured: Interior of Building A of Diamante, Ambergris Caye, San Pedro, Belize.)

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