The cost of living in Corozal depends on how people live. For example, if you’re used to eating out, or driving cars and shopping, the cost of living goes up substantially. Most people don’t live that way here in Corozal. They eat street food, or take buses or car pool. A lot of people hitch rides around here in Corozal, so it’s very normal to start walking to where you want to go and have someone just pick you up right away. Gasoline is very expensive here in Corozal, so transportation is typically expensive.
We have a boat, so we probably have a higher cost of living in general. “We use it to go back and forth to Corozal Town to take care of our shopping needs for the restaurant, and it’s more efficient for us. Also, we can fit more stuff in a boat than in a car.
We only live 11 miles from Corozal Town, but it could take us an hour to get to town because we have to wait on the queue to get on the ferries. Certainly, our sense of being on time is challenged here in Corozal. We have to cross on two hand-cranked ferries to get to Corozal Town, and the time it takes is about 40 minutes to an hour and a half.
If you move to Corozal, you only have to change your lifestyle so as to not have that pressure to be places on time because if you don’t, you’ll go crazy here in Corozal. Corozal definitely has a kick back and relax kind of state of mind, and if you’re in a hurry, it drives people nuts. It’s actually healthy that Belizeans have learned to slow down to a certain extent.
In Corozal, the food is really fresh and is really good. If you shop for vegetables in the market and go home and cook, you can live pretty inexpensively here in Corozal. On the contrary, if you go to the grocery store to buy imported goods such as Nestea or Frito-Lay, you’ll find it here but are going to cost three times their normal price since they’ve already been imported, which can increase your cost of living significantly.
In general, the best way to live cost-effectively here in Corozal is to get used to eating and drinking like the locals. Everything here in Corozal is priced on importation and is taxed, which means you can still get anything that you used to have in the US, but it costs more if you live that way. In Corozal, you have to eat Buen Nachos instead of Doritos, which are almost the same thing. We have fresh vegetables and fruits available almost every day of the year here that are grown locally, so instead of buying certain lettuces coming to Belize that cost more, buying locally can help you live cost-effectively.
You might find it difficult at first to just consume basically Belize-type products, but once you get through all the adjustments, it’s actually easier to find local Belize products, but our expat brains are tricked to not look for them in the beginning. We come from a society where we have everything at our fingertips all the time, and it’s cheap. It’s just because there’s no free trade here in Belize like we have in the US, so we have very small amounts of imports, and things that are imported are usually highly taxed.
The things that we do are usually free here in Corozal. We don’t go out, unlike in the US where we would just go places, do things and drive. Around here in Corozal, we ride our bikes and swim. Even in going to the store to buy things, you usually can’t find things you really like, so you don’t spend money on stuff that you used to spend money on everyday, and that’s why it’s easier to spend less money here in Corozal than it is in the United States.
In Corozal, you don’t drive as much, so even though gas costs more, since you drive less, you still don’t spend more. You maximize your trips to town, so you think and plan ahead before heading to Corozal Town, and that makes us think more. It’s not as convenient as it is in the US, and it actually makes you smarter.
I live in a nice place that is in a gated community. We have air conditioning, phones, and Internet connection that costs the same as in the US, but with a lower speed. I still spend less in Belize than I would anywhere in the US. People could retire here on way less money than they could in the US.
(Buyers' tour at Orchid Bay, Belize, pictured.)