Overall, the cost of living in Placencia is significantly lower than in most cities in the United States or Canada. While Belize certainly does not have the lowest cost of living in Central America, I would say it is similar to Panama or Costa Rica, but being truly English speaking, the numerous short flights available to the US, the incredibly friendly people and how safe it is, I feel it is by far the best value in the region. The cost of real estate development is at a significant discount compared to US or Canadian prices but prices are increasing and as more folks find out about all Belize has to offer and I would certainly expect that to continue. Beachfront land is truly at a small fraction in cost compared to what it could be purchased for in say Florida or even the Texas Gulf Coast. Canopy jungle land, even that with mountains, amazing sea views and yes, even acreage with waterfalls can be purchased for very reasonable prices.
The cost of land and property in Placencia has gone up in recent years because of the limited supply and the growing demand, which I feel is a result of many factors, both on a local are more macro level. The completion of paving the 26-mile Placencia road was huge and really was a key driver in attracting more tourism and foreign buyers of homes and real estate for the entire area. Retires and others looking for a higher standard of living at a lower cost with less taxes and government interference has certainly impacted demand in a positive way over the past 5 years.
Those interested in purchasing land should work with individuals with proven tract records, and make sure more remote properties have good access and electric service or fully understand and have a plan to build such themselves, BEFORE purchasing. As in many places but certainly in Belize if development amenities, roads, power, etc., are not there when you are looking DO NOT assume they will be there anytime soon.
Property taxes are very low in Belize, certainly in comparison to rates in the US and in Texas where I am from. There is a transfer tax that is paid by the buyer at the time of closing on a property but it is a one time charge and certainly much better than a large property tax bill to pay every year like in the states.
Electricity in Belize, like most or all Caribbean countries, is significantly higher than in the US with a/c usage the absolute biggest use of electricity in most larger homes. In our high end developments we have for years now been installing grid tie solar packages, super high efficient inverter a/c systems and LED lighting in all our homes that have drastically cut a/c usage and energy bills.
On thing that I find unique and very interesting is that retires in Placencia can and do live very affordably by purchasing smaller homes not on the waterfront, and using little or no a/c while others chose to purchase large waterfront beach homes with a/c in every room and all the modern appliances and gadgets you would expect in a nice home in the States.
(The compound on Little Harvest Caye, a vacation rental offshore from Placencia, Belize, pictured.)