Saturday, September 4, 2010

Our QRP status

QRP means Qualified Retired Persons. This is an act that allows persons over 45 to stay in Belize IF you pay a sizable fee and bring $24K US into the country every year. Yikes! It's administrated by the Belize Tourist Bureau, so is separate from any other government program. Well, we came in with high hopes, but being the frugal, stretch every dollar to it's maximum folks, we didn't play the game the way they dictated. If you bring funds in directly to a bank, they charge fees and just give $2/1 where other sources will give $2.05/1. Of course, I wanted that extra as this was money to continue building our house, so we bro't in the necessary funds over the course of the year, but not to the bank and in erratic bunches. That didn't make the BTB happy so we got an email that we would have to opt out of the program and stay as regular tourists, working towards Residency. Not great as we would have to jump thru lots of hoops, including leaving the country and coming back in and then travel to Belmopan each month, pay a fee to get a stamp to allow to stay for another month.

I was momentarily frustrated, both with myself and with the program until I realized that the U.S. makes it way more difficult for foreigners to stay. I slapped myself alongside the head and stated our case to the BTB. Romy answered in a couple of days that she had gotten approval from her superiors to allow us to stay another year under the QRP. What great news since we've already paid all the fees and under the program we don't have to keep going to Belmopan each month. We had to go to Belize City to visit the BTB, taking any documentation we had. This has been the kicker all along. I'm deathly afraid of going to Belize City. It has an extremely high crime rate, especially murder and we don't know our way around. Once again, slapped myself, pulled up my socks and acted like a grownup. We had nerve enough to drive thru Mexico (with a guide) and move to Belize, so get going and drive to B.C. We gassed up and made the trip on Thursday. It actually turned out to be quite easy, altho' we did get lost coming back. {The easy part is that it's surrounded by water on the better part of 3 sides, so we just kept heading away from the water. Voile, we made it}. Poor Romy, we really posed problems for her because we also hadn't gotten our cards, so were really starting from scratch. She was lovely tho'. After an eye roll or two, she agreed that we could continue with the program and that everything from here on could be handled by a mail service. To this coward, that was music to my ears.

I'm writing this as a memory for myself of this stage of our adventure, and, if anyone wants to take a chance on this program, we found that the BTB can be understanding and extremely courteous.

Since everything went so well, we stopped off at Cheers Restaurant for a great lunch and then toddled our way back to Cayo with one more problem off my extensive worry list. I know, I'm supposed to be retired, which translates to not so many worries, but hasn't worked for me. My worry gene is still functioning at full capacity.

1 comment:

JRinSC said...

Hi Gale... great blog - thanks!

I just finished reading up to date and I really admire you two for tackling such an amazing adventure. I am jealous as my wife is not really up to moving to Belize (I would love to do it.)

Keep up the good work and I hope most all of your problems are easily resolved.