Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Answering questions about Belize

The best way to find answers about moving and living in Belize is to make one or more trips down to determine where you'd like to live and what things you'll need to make your life comfortable.  Even tho' the country is small, it has diverse areas offering very different life styles.  

Land  Unlike many Central American countries, foreigners can own property here without having a Belizean partner.

 Most of Belize is for sale.  You can scope out areas with a realtor if you're most comfortable that way, but your best bet for the best price is to get to know folks and ask if they know of land.  Prices are all over the place.  Prices are usually quoted in US dollars.  That's because Belize dollars aren't recognized outside Belize and it makes the price more understood.  

 One huge thing to watch for is that you only purchase Titled landCitizens are allowed to lease land and will often try to sell it.  Don't buy leased land with the idea that they will transfer it to titled land for you.  This can take years, can be very expensive and often just doesn't work.  

Crime The main area of concern is Belize City.  We don't travel there any more than we have to, but find it relatively safe during the day.  It isn't recommended that you travel outside at night.  Some of the best shops are in Belize City, so some trips are inevitable.  

In other areas, theft is an issue.  Lots of folks in the towns have burglar bars.   Dogs are a definite help as most Belizeans are afraid of big dogs.  Gringo's are targets, so we just try to look as tho' we don't have much money, which isn't a stretch for us. 

The smart  is to not leave your house unattended for long stretches of time.  There isn't a lot of work here for folks and many feel that if you're not using something right now, they can make better use of it (steal it / sell it). 

Shopping - We do miss shopping at Costco.  We can find almost anything we want here, we just have to look several places.  There are good hardware stores in Spanish Lookout (Mennonite) and a couple of lovely stores in Belize City for Home Depot type shopping.  We rarely find it necessary to go there.  For a few troublesome things, we can either have a store order them from the US, or I go on the internet and order, having them shipped to a freight forwarder in Houston and they bring them here to Cayo.  Takes time, but it does work.  

 We do our regular grocery shopping at the Taiwanese grocery stores and our fruits and veggies from the outdoor market in San Ignacio.  Some are grown in Belize and lots are imported from Mexico and Guatemala.  
 
Snakes and spiders and other creepy crawlies -  We really don't worry a lot about them, altho' we do try to stay aware.  Frankly, tarantulas are not a concern.  We see holes where they live, but we rarely see one.  They are extremely shy and afraid, so stay in their holes until night.  

Basically the same with snakes, which are more of a concern.  We don't travel in the deep bush without our friend, Rene.  We had the underbrush cleared in a large area around the buildings, which discourages the snakes.  The only deadly snakes we've seen are ones that Rene has killed and brought to show us.  Icky, but helpful.  We did have a large, non-deadly snake go thru the yard, but it's the kind that eats bad snakes so we cheered it on it's way.  The most wonderful thing for us has been our friend Rene.  He has worked for us for 6 years and is of Mayan ancestry.  He knows so much and tries to educate us and keeps the place cleaned and safe.  

Gardening - Lots of folks have gardens here.  We haven't had great success because we wanted to go organic and the bugs defeated us.  You don't notice them, but they do eat the tiny starts. Also, our place was hacked out of the bush and we are slowly amending the soil for better results.  

Weather -   If visiting, don't come down in late April or May.  It can really get hot.  From June thru October or November would be hurricane season.  Hurricane's rarely make land in Belize.  If they do, it is mostly in the Toledo area or around Corozol.  In the seven years that we've owned our place only one small hurricane came our way.  That was Richard, which came from the east.  We lived for many years on the Oregon coast and the winds got harder there than those that hit us with Richard.  


Our house has screens for windows and wooden shutters that we close with the weather.  


Friends and family - We have a satellite dish for internet service to allow us to keep in contact with family and friends in the US.  

We enjoy our Belizean neighbors, but find that there is a language difference (most only speak a little English) and much different lifestyle.  There are lots of expats here, so, with a little effort, you can make friends.  Here in Cayo we have a once-a-month women's luncheon at different restaurants.  Usually between 20 and 30 women attend.  It's informal and just to get acquainted.  There are quite a few expats here in the Bullet Tree area also.


Medical care - This is the tricky one.  There are physicians here, who have been trained in the U.S., Cuba, Guatemala or Mexico.  For general things, the care is good, caring and immediate.  The hospitals are definitely third world.  There is a new hospital in San Ignacio that was supposed to be state of the art and was going to function as a model for the rest of the country.  Is suspect that it does, but it has no equipment and all the fixtures look as tho' they came from a very sad garage sale.  The problem that we're facing right now is that Art is having some serious issues, so to get better diagnostics and care, we'll probably have to return to the U.S.  


I know that there are lots of other questions, but for now, these might help.  I try to tell things as they really are, but am afraid that it portrays Belize in an excessively bad light.  It is definitely an adjustment to live in a third world country, but there are so many lovely things to appreciate.  We just tell folks that you have to able to accept life here, "warts and all."     Blessings,    Gale

2 comments:

Gregory Edwards said...

Hello,
My family and I are thinking about moving to Belize. I have already talked to a realtor, she moved to Belize nine years ago with her family and she was, I think, very open and honest answering my questions. However, just to make sure I would like a second opinion from someone who doesn't have a financial motive. I have read a lot about the country and it looks and sounds beautiful. My family and I, if we were to move there, would like to farm some land. We would like to live in the mountains. What areas would you recommend? How is the corruption there, government and police? I was told that gun ownership is allowed but mostly it is the farmers and country folk who own guns. Do you know of any limitations to owning firearms there? Are you from the U.S.? If so, how hard was it to get citizenship and how long did it take? I would appreciate any other advice you could give.

Gregory Edwards said...

Hello,
My family and I are thinking about moving to Belize. I have already talked to a realtor, she moved to Belize nine years ago with her family and she was, I think, very open and honest answering my questions. However, just to make sure I would like a second opinion from someone who doesn't have a financial motive. I have read a lot about the country and it looks and sounds beautiful. My family and I, if we were to move there, would like to farm some land. We would like to live in the mountains. What areas would you recommend? How is the corruption there, government and police? I was told that gun ownership is allowed but mostly it is the farmers and country folk who own guns. Do you know of any limitations to owning firearms there? Are you from the U.S.? If so, how hard was it to get citizenship and how long did it take? I would appreciate any other advice you could give.