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Digital Nomad Location Spotlight: Ambergris Caye, Belize

San Pedro, located in Ambergris Caye, Belize, is a tropical paradise located a short flight away from the U.S.  It is an excellent destination for those seeking to explore extended living abroad, but only a short distance from home.

San Pedro can quickly put a spell on visitors, many of whom decide to return to make Belize their permanent home.  Belize offers a great advantage to the digital nomad in that only local income is taxed, leaving you exempt from it if your business is located overseas.

Check out Belize. You might fall for it too.

 

ambergris caye

 

Quick Facts
Location: Central America. Belize shares borders with Guatemala to the South and West, with Mexico to the North, and the Caribbean Sea to the East.

Official Language: English. Most people speak Spanish and Creole.

Currency: Belizean Dollar (BZD). Current rate is almost $2BZD for every $1 US Dollar (USD). All prices below refer to US Dollars unless indicated otherwise.

Overall Weather: Hot and humid, very tropical. Rainy season runs from May to November and a dry season from February to May.

Natural Hazards: Hurricane season from June to November.

Getting There: Ambergris Caye is accessible via a 15-20 minute flight from the Philip Godson International Airport in Belize City to the local San Pedro Airport. Alternatively, you can also reach via boat, which takes between 45 minutes to 2 hours depending on the hops between islands your ferry will make.

 

What Is A Typical Day In Belize Like?
Because Belize is located in a tropical environment, it lends itself ambergris cayeto a host of outdoor activities. If you like water-sports and beautiful beaches, then Belize has a lot to offer. For the divers and snorkelers out there, you can explore the Barrier Reef, second only to Australia’s Great Barrier Reef in size and competing for the top spot in beauty. Wind surfing is available most of the year, as is sailing.

Birdwatching is a popular attraction as are nature walks. Fishing is also a very popular sport.

The locals are renowned for their friendliness. There is also a good-sized expat crowd with plenty of ongoing activities. It will not be hard to make friends in this laid back town.

 

Cost of Living
Rent

Belize is highly regarded as a retirement destination, due to its affordable real estate opportunities. Tourism is also Belize’s main industry. Combine the two, and you have a real estate market that offers great opportunities for short and medium stays.

ambergris cayeIf you are thinking about a stay shorter than a year, you can take advantage of the off-season and find more affordable rent. You can also be creative and look for opportunities to house-sit for retirees that split time between two or more locations worldwide.

There is year-round housing available as well. Depending on how close you would like to live to the beach (which is never far away anyway), and whether you look for off-season opportunities, you’ll spend between $500 and a $1,000 for a furnished apartment. Word of mouth is usually the best way to find affordable deals.

 

Utilities and Internet

Infrastructure costs are higher in Belize than other Central American countries. This is, fortunately, manageable because of the lower cost of rent and food. Fortunately, Internet access is readily available, but electricity costs may be higher than expected. Electricity cost concerns aside, heating cost are non-existent.

An A/C really helps on those muggy nights if you don’t live on a beachfront home.

Rates for TV service are affordable, as are rates for water.

 

Transportation
A car is not really needed in Ambergris Caye, especially if you live in San Pedro, the largest town. Most people get around on foot and via bike. Electric golf carts are also a popular option, although you have to factor in the cost of electricity to charge the cart. Most people make do without a car, since gas is expensive, and get around via taxi in the rare occasions they need to make that long distance trip.

To get to the mainland, you can choose to fly, although the cost effective option is to ride a water taxi, which will take 40-50 minutes if making a direct trip.

 

Food
Depending on your palate, you can either eat cheap or very expensively, depending on your willingness to adjust. Keep in mind it is an island, so anything that has to be imported long distances will cost a bit more than back home. That $4 cereal you like so much can cost as much as $8 there. Eat local foods and your budget will stay low. Fresh seafood and veggies are the word here!

 

ambergris cayeTotal Budget
The monthly budget for one person that will be renting can run anywhere from $1,500 to $3,000. It depends very much on how often you will go out to eat vs. eating in, and how much you watch your budget.

For more affordable experience, you can try nearby Caulker Caye. This is a much sleepier town and some things, such as rent, are easier to manage.

 

Alternate Option
For the most affordable experience, go inland to the Cayo district, which is next to the Guatemalan border. San Ignacio, for example, is safe, nice, and super affordable. This is a popular town because of all the outdoor activities to do and its affordability.  Note that this town is away from the beaches.

 

Staying in Belize
You can stay in Belize for up to 30 days without a visa. When the 30 days are up, you need to go to the nearest immigration office, there’s one on the island, then get another stamp, which will cost $50BZD. Do this every month, for 6 months, and the monthly rate jumps to $100BZD.

At a year’s time, most people who want to stay permanently choose to file for residency, having met the necessary one-year requirement. Here, the process gets a little convoluted, since the experience varies from person to person. Figure the process out after you have been there awhile to determine if Belize is a long term destination for you.

 

Resources
http://www.tacogirl.com/ – Great blog about life in Ambergris Caye. Give Taco Girl a shout if you’re thinking of visiting or doing business in Belize.

 

http://ambergriscaye.com/pages/lodge/longterm.html – Start your search here for long-term rentals here.

 

http://www.belizeforum.com/belize/ – Check the forums for the information about living in Ambergris Caye.

 

 

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About Rich Polanco

Fan of dogs + all things tech. Love a great pizza. My goal is not to travel to every country in the world. I only want to get to know my favorite ones REALLY well. Check out the big bio here. Follow @RichPolanco and connect on Facebook.
Currently exploring: Guatemala.

Comments

  1. Blessedlife33 says:

    I would love to visit one day!

  2. Great post – I facebook and twittered it. Thanks for listing tacogirl as a resource.

    • Rich Polanco says:

      Thank you so much for sharing! And thanks for all the awesome info you provide on your blog.

      Hope to see you soon! ;-)

  3. Domingas says:

    Thank you for the article! It really helps.

  4. Farah says:

    Very good info. Look forward to viewing your other posts.

    • Rich Polanco says:

      Check out my live reports from Antigua Guatemala, another cool digital nomad destination.

      -Rich

  5. Angelita says:

    How long do you take to write an article or a post like this one?

    • Rich Polanco says:

      It takes a lot of research. Also knowing the right people that love there, to reach out to for info, helps as well :)

    • Rich Polanco says:

      Usually a few hours to days, depending on the research necessary. I want all my posts to be factually accurate and dependable.

      -Rich

  6. Aliciane says:

    Very good article. I’d like to visit Belize one day.

    • Rich Polanco says:

      I’ll be going this summer, hopefully! I’ll keep you guys updated with lots of pics :)

      -Rich

Trackbacks

  1. bogota rooms for rent…

    […]UnwireMe: Location Independence & The Art of Slow Travel » Digital Nomad Location Spotlight: Ambergris Caye, Belize[…]…

  2. […] for my first stop on the “slow travel” world tour, many cities popped up on the list. Ambergris Caye, Belize, was an early front-runner. English is spoken there and the beaches are gorgeous. A perfect […]

  3. […] written about Belize in the past (see here).  It is a fine destination if you’re a digital nomad who is into diving and other […]

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