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John M. Burgos of Belize Tourism Industry Association – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
House in Belize jungle, – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingIf you’re renting, you can get a 2-bedroom bungalow house in the Cayo District for around BZ $500 (US $250) monthly.  It can either be a concrete structure or a wooden structure.  The actual rate would vary basing on the location. The closer to town the higher the rate would be. On the outskirts of town it would be cheaper.  The price I quoted is in the middle.  You can probably get semi-furnished but most of the homes are rented without any furnishings. Utilities are not included.
 
We have a lot of local farmers who provide very reasonable priced food and specifically vegetables. Depending on your needs, a rough estimate would be around BZ $500 (US $250) for food and groceries a month for a couple.
 
Utility bills are fairly low in Cayo compared to other regions nearby. The minimum for a month for a thousand gallons of water is BZ $8.75 (US $4.38); that’s not only in Cayo but it’s countrywide. The price for electricity was just reduced 10%. The cost for electricity fluctuates because a lot of it is based on the price charged by Mexico, which is one of our providers.  We’re currently looking at alternative means of obtaining electricity; more green, effective, and using more solar power, so this is going to bring some reduction in electricity rates in the near future.
 
The cost for telephone is very affordable. We have two telephone companies: Belize Telecommunication Limited and SMART. They both have good plans.  You can have family plans, individual plans, and you can have the prepaid plan as well and they always offer “double-up” or “triple-up” opportunities on a monthly basis.  For example, on the double-up, if you pay $10 they give you $10 in addition to what you purchased.  On the triple-up, if you buy $50 they’re going to give $150 to use.  In order to compare the rates to call, it is cheaper to call from Belize to the US than from the US to Belize.
 
There are various Internet service provider plans available. We have 512 MB for a month which would cost roughly BZ $70 (US $35) monthly. That would be the lowest but they go all the way up to 8 MB, which would be the highest bandwidth.
 
A typical American-type couple would be comfortable living in Cayo on BZ $3,000 (US $1,500) a month, and would lead a middle to upper income lifestyle.  They would be able to afford plenty of extracurricular activities and they would be able to eat fairly well. They would be able to have a car, and even though it would be a little tight, they may even be able to afford a live-in housekeeper.  Certainly, they would be able to afford a housekeeper once a week.
 
(House in Belizean jungle, pictured.)
Franklin Syrowatka of Better Homes Belize – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Hawksworth suspension bride in Cayo, Belize – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingThe range in the cost of living here in Cayo is huge, just like anywhere in the world.  Realistically, a couple that has their own house can live comfortably on US $2,000 a month, which happens to be the amount required to qualify under the Qualified Retired Persons (QRP) Program here in Belize. To qualify for the QRP Program, you need to prove that you have an income of $2,000 per month per family. If you fail to meet this income requirement, you cannot come to Belize under the QRP Program, but you can still come and stay here as a tourist.
 
If you are a couple with an income of $2,000 per month, you can live comfortably in the San Ignacio area in Cayo. If you decide to live in the touristy areas like Ambergris Caye or Placencia, the cost of living is considerably higher compared to the cost of living in Cayo. If you go to a grocery store in Placencia or Ambergris Caye, you will find that the prices are about 20% to 30% higher than in Cayo.
 
In Cayo you could rent a small house for $500 a month and buy local products, which are cheap here. If you eat the local foods like rice and beans, you can comfortably live on far less than $2,000 a month. 
 
A 2,000 square foot house with three bedrooms and two bathrooms in a nice area in Cayo will cost between $800 and $1,200 a month. If you talk to expats here in Cayo, they will tell you that they have reduced their cost of living by 30% to 50% by living in Cayo compared to where they come from.
 
(Hawkesworth suspension bride in Cayo, Belize, pictured.)
Penny James – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Saturday market in San Ignacio, Cayo District, Belize – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingThe cost of living in the Cayo District / San Ignacio, Belize is lower than the cayes (islands) and beachfront places in Belize such as Ambergris Caye or Placencia. 
 
Basic foods are cheap in Cayo. A loaf of fresh, sliced bread in Benque Viejo costs $1 USD, for example. Rice, beans, vegetables or eggs are super affordable, too. For example, red beans cost $1.50 USD/pound and a dozen eggs will set you back $1.50 USD. Chicken breasts cost approximately $1.40 USD/pound.  You’ll fork out $1.50 USD to buy a bottle of cold Belikin beer, Belize’s domestic beer. While produce prices in Cayo vary seasonally, you can buy onions for $0.75 USD/pound and 8 bananas for 50 cents!
 
San Ignacio boasts Belize’s largest farmers’ market. It is a daily market which swells to 100+ vendors on Saturday, the traditional market day. (See picture above and to the right.)  The produce and goods sold at the market are, overall, exceptionally well-priced. The market represents a cost-of-living coup for Cayo residents – it is the envy of those who do not live close enough to shop here! Fresh meat is available from several meat shops in the market or from countrywide distributors such as Running W, Caribbean Chicken, and Reinland Meats. Additionally, there are numerous large stores in San Ignacio that offer a variety of groceries with price points to suit everyone’s budget. 
 
Real estate in Cayo is much more affordable than most coastal areas in Belize such as Corozal, Placencia, Hopkins, Ambergris Caye or Caye Caulker. For example, you can purchase an affordable lot in an off-grid community starting at US$21,000. Property taxes in the community are less than $100 USD annually. A recent listing of a home for sale in Santa Elena showed a list price of $45,000 USD for a small 2-bedroom.
 
Fuel is costlier, overall in Belize, at about $4 USD a gallon. However, when you live in Cayo, you tend to drive less, taxi more, hop on a bus or carpool.  A taxi costs $2 USD to go 10 miles between Benque Viejo and San Ignacio. A bus costs $1 USD to go from Better in Belize EcoVillage to Benque Viejo del Carmen, a distance of 10 ½ miles.
 
A check-up at a dentist in Cayo will only bite into your bank account by $30 USD. The price for a crown averages $200 USD, with a veneer averaging $250 USD. The Tooth Fairy is alive and well and living in Cayo!
 
The Mennonite community of Spanish Lookout in Cayo offers goods ranging from solar systems through to handmade furniture. They offer price points that make the cost of living in Cayo affordable and appealing.  

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