Belize offers expat retirees the perfect lifestyle

Belize offers expat retirees the perfect lifestyle

Belize offers expat retirees the perfect lifestyle

Relaxation, cultural diversity and a warm climate all make Belize the perfect destination for expatriate retirees.

White sands, azure seas, sunshine and a relaxed lifestyle all come to mind when Belize is mentioned, making the island nation the perfect retirement hub. Financial requirements aren’t excessive, and immigration via the Qualified Retired Person Programme offers perks such as exemptions for import duties and taxes on goods as well as income and receipts. Better still, expat retirees’ don’t pay income tax on their pensions and investment incomes.

Qualifications for the programme include being over 45 years of age and having a minimum income of $2,000 per month, roughly the amount of a couple’s US pensions. The visa doesn’t give residency, but does allow coming and going without the need for a second visa. Working is allowed, as long as it isn’t paid for. After a year’s living on the island it’s possible to apply for permanent residency simply by visiting the Immigration office in Belmopan City. Once you’ve filled in the form, submitted a clear police record, presented two recommendations and taken an HIV test, your proof of permanent residency will allow you to work without a permit, come and go as you please and, after five years, apply for full citizenship.

One of the main attractions of Belize is its low cost of living compared with the majority of countries in Europe, Canada and the USA. A couple can live comfortably on $1,500, and domestic help, food and utilities are all surprisingly cheap. One of Belize’s most-loved advantages over expatriate retirees’ home countries is its laid-back lifestyle and its lively, exotic nightlife. Night clubs, a good selection of restaurants and friendly bars as well as regular events within the expat community all ensure boredom is just a memory, and scuba-diving and snorkelling are the most popular ways to relax and stay fit. For history buffs, the ruins of the magnificent Mayan civilisation are scattered across the countryside, with Altun Ha and Xunantunich the most-visited.

Healthcare in Belize is well-organised and competent, with both private and public hospitals as well as public health facilities for more minor health issues. Private healthcare insurance is recommended, but isn’t mandatory, and prices for private consultations range between $25 and $30 or can be had for free at public hospitals. The two main private facilities are Belize Healthcare Partners and Belize Medical Associates, both of which offer specialists and excellent care.

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