Digital Nomad Life in Belize
Summary: Belize is a popular destination for digital nomads. The most popular cities for digital nomads in Belize are San Ignacio, Placencia, and Caye Caulker. Digital nomads like living in Belize because of its low cost of living, beautiful beaches, and friendly locals. A digital nomad can live on a monthly budget of around $1,500 in Belize. The culture of Belize is a mix of Caribbean, Central American, and British influences. Popular foods in Belize include rice and beans, tamales, fry jacks, and stew chicken.
How do I meet people in Belize?
When we asked people living in Belize about club and activities where newcomers can meet others, they responded:
"It is really easy to meet people on Ambergris Caye. Here are just a few ideas of where we regularly socialize. Anything outdoor and health oriented is great on the island. My husband and I built the San Pedro Fitness Club, so I go there most days. Ladies tend to enjoy the water fitness classes, in particular, since it is both exercise and social time. But there are sailing groups, plenty of scuba and snorkeling opportunities, places that specialize in sailing or kayaking, and fishing groups and competitions. There are now also several yoga schools where you will meet health oriented people. So for those of us who like to balance healthy activities with a little indulgence, it is easy to do here... For those who enjoy live music, there are a variety of places where people hang out and listen to local bands, all for free. Beach bars include Crazy Canucks, BCs, and Fidos, all near town. On the north side, Legends often has good music. We love to dance to a live band on the beach, cooled by a sea breeze! Sunday afternoon lunch is a time when everyone goes out for beach BBQ and to socialize. Popular places include Caribbean Villas (they have plenty of water toys), Crazy Canucks, BCs, and the Palapa Bar (up north). We go to Wine de Vine on Friday nights. This is a "smoke free" environment where many expats, business owners and tourists drop in for a nice glass of wine, and a cheese platter. There are regular festivals and fund raiser events that many expats attend. It is a great way to socialize and also donate to a good cause. There are more volunteer organizations than I can mention. Many expats join both to contribute, and to meet people. The most popular are the Saga Society (which is the local Humane Society), the churches, Lion's Club, and various school organizations. Some groups get together to play cards such as bridge. And many of us get together for group dinners. Sometimes we meet a favorite restaurant. Other times we enjoy a pot luck with friends," explained one expat living in Ambergris Caye, Belize.
What is life like in Belize?
When we asked people living in Belize what life is like and how people spend their time, they said:
"I have lived a very enjoyable 9 years in the Corozal area. Whoever wrote the other response is a real nay-sayer. Tell me anywhere in the world where things are perfect. If you wear gold jewelry and drive a big fancy car, you are a target. It is not that bad," wrote one digital nomad living in Belize.
"It's a real mixed bag. The Belizeans are all working, as do many expats. Some expats live here only 3-6 months a year. We all have different priorities. You can find whatever you are looking for. But family is very important to Belizeans. So there are a lot of festivals and performances that we expats join in for. Socializing is really big here. We spend much more time with friends than we ever did in California. We still are very involved in business, but that also involves a lot of socializing. For us, our lives include all of the above," said another foreigner in Ambergris Caye.
Where should I live in Belize?
We asked digital nomads and expats how they chose their neighborhood and found a place to live. They answered:
"I lucked out with a bit of alone research. I found a listing on a Belizean rental site. The apt ended up being in the suburb area, for a 1 bedroom that ended up costing the same price as rent in the center of town and other parts of town usually where the locals live," said another member in San Pedro.
"Originally San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, but after 4 years it got over populated and prices went way up. Moved to the mainland Northern Belize were there is less rain and humidity and 15 minutes from Chetumal where you can get low cost everything," explained one person living in Corozal, Belize.
What do I need to know before moving to Belize?
When we asked people what advice they would give someone preparing to move to Belize, they said:
"Come check it out first and spend some time. I visited here for a number of years before deciding I could live here fulltime. I knew how I'd spend my time. I have never regretted it. But I knew what I was getting into," explained one person living in Ambergris Caye, Belize.
"Do not leave your brain at the border- see this article here http://www.caribpro.com/Caribbean_Property_Magazine/index.php?pageid=767," wrote one digital nomad living in Cayo San Ignacio, Belize.
What do people appreciate most about the culture in Belize?
"I appreciate being reminded that it's important to live as stress free as possible, and this includes appreciating the pace of the culture and not expecting North American precisene," said another member in Hopkins Village.
"The laid back.... it will happen when its meant to happen attitude. You can't help but relax. The food...... wholesome and homecooked. The friendliness of the people. The ability to communicate in English makes living here so easy. The multicultural aspect of residents and tourists that you meet every day from all different countries. Conversation flows, and is a constant learning opportunity," explained one person living in Belize City, Belize.
What do people find most challenging about the culture in Belize?
"Remembering not to be in a hurry! The day is plenty long and there is always tomorrow," wrote one digital nomad living in Hopkins Village, Belize.
"Newspapers.... frontline news is always about murders etc. so it does scare you a bit. Newspapers.... each one is very politically orientated. So you get very one sided views. QRP (Qualified Persons Package).... can hold you back from doing things you might want to do. It does get frustrating," said another foreigner in Belize City.
What residency documents or visas did I need if I will be in Belize for a while?
"My wife is the travel agent in the family, and she has handled all of this very well, including purchasing airline tickets. We have had U.S. Passports for a number of years, so we just keep them updated. We have had to get documents to bring our dog along with us, just to get him through the airports and immigration checkpoints. We travel to Dangriga Town once a month to update our residency in Belize at the Immigration Office. We find other opportunities to shop and sightsee on these visits, so we are not frustrated at all," explained one person living in Hopkins Village, Belize.
"We got U.S. travel passports and did just fine. We report monthly to Belize Immigration to update our visiting permissions. We also have a pet dog, and he needed health reports and travel documents," wrote one digital nomad living in Hopkins Village, Belize.
What cultural blunders should I try to avoid making in Belize?
We asked people in Belize if they could share any humorous cultural blunders they commited. They wrote:
"Many! In a nice, small outdoor cafe I was served a traditional Garifuna dish called hudut. A whole fish lay in a bowl of delicious broth and on a plate was a mound of mashed plantain. I had no idea what to do with the plantain, so I asked the waitress. With a bashful giggle she told me to dip it in the soup. Additionally, a napkin was put on the table with a smooth rounded brown rock. I asked what this was, thinking it was also something to eat! Even the cook laughed and said, "it's a rock so the napkin won't blow away!"," explained one expat living in Hopkins Village, Belize.
"Not yet, but I am beginning to SWEAR a lot more, which I have never done in the past," said another digital nomad in Belize City.
What are healthcare services like in Belize?
When we asked expats and global nomads about the quality of medical care in Belize, they replied:
"Our first choice is to go to the local pharmacist, who is very knowledgeable and helpful," said another member in Hopkins Village.
"Word of mouth is a great way to find a doctor if you need one. Our pharmacist has a neurogist that comes to her place of business twice a month from Belize City. He is a wealth of information. Also, be willing to travel to Belize City or Chetumal Mexico to see specialists. We are very pleased with the care we have received thus far. Most of our prescriptions cost us less or equal to our copay in the US without having the cost of a monthly premium on top of that. We are going to look into getting an international health insurance just in case one of us has an emergency that can not be handled here or in Mexico," explained one person living in Corozal/Belize City, Belize.
What are the pros and cons of living in Belize?
"Carmelita Gardens has been described as a gated community without the gates. Pre-COVID, the community was able to be much more integrated with our closest village of Santa Familia. My husband and I just arrived at the beginning of October, and I have to admit that we were much more knowledgeable of the larger nearby towns of San Ignacio, Santa Elena and Spanish Lookout as that is where we do our shopping. We are exploring Santa Familia more and getting to know it and its residents more. All of the workers at Carmelita Gardens are from Santa Familia, so is the crew that builds the new houses here. That helps build familiarity with our closest village. I love the peace and tranquility of Carmelita Gardens and love the new experiences we have almost weekly. We are getting used to the hotter, more humid weather but still haven't gone through the hottest months of the year. Major dislikes so far are the bugs but we're getting used to them. Major likes - our neighbours, feeding the chickens next door, going for walks with the community dog, having my neighbour's cats come over for cuddles, just relaxing and chilling with the people we've met here, good, fresh, organic food AND food that I've never had before," said another digital nomad in Carmelita Gardens.
"As I have stated,I owned a beautiful 10 acres on a river. Had a rent house completely licensed as a hotel and a large home for my residence. Was planning to retire in a few more years after living back and forth (US to BZ) for about 18 years. after several murders and violent home invasions of friends(local and expats) and a false arrest of myself to gain access to a licensed fire arm we decided to sell out (at a loss) and move out. The place is not safe in my opinion and having to always looking over ones shoulder is no way to live. One example...I had to lock myself out of my own home to mow the grass, otherwise they would sneak in while busy and wait to assault and rob you. Happened a number of times in my village," commented a person living in Sittee River, Belize.
About the Author
Betsy Burlingame is one of the founders of Digital Nomad Exchange and the Founder and President of Expat Exchange. She launched Expat Exchange in 1997 as her Master's thesis project at NYU. Prior to Expat Exchange and Digital Nomad Exchange, Betsy worked at AT&T in International and Mass Market Marketing. She graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University with a BA in International Business and German.
Some of Betsy's articles include 12 Best Places to Live in Portugal, 7 Best Places to Live in Panama and 12 Things to Know Before Moving to the Dominican Republic. Betsy loves to travel and spend time with her family. Connect with Betsy on LinkedIn.
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Help others in Belize by answering questions about the challenges and adventures of living in Belize.
Digital Nomads in Belize offer advice about healthcare, hospital visits, emergency rooms visits, finding a doctor and buying health insurance in Belize.
Advice for people renting and buying real estate in Belize.