Digital Nomad Exchange
San Ignacio, Belize
San Ignacio, Belize
San Ignacio, Belize

Digital Nomad Life in Belize

By Betsy Burlingame

Summary: Digital nomads and expats talk about what it is like to live in Belize. Get tips from others living in Belize about where to live, how to find a place to live, pros and cons of living in Belize and more.

William Russell Health Insurance
William Russell Health Insurance
William Russell Health Insurance
William Russell Health Insurance

How do I meet people in Belize?

Live in Belize? Answer this Question

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 person living in Ambergris Caye, Belize.

What is life like in Belize?

Live in Belize? Answer this Question

When we asked people living in Belize what life is like and how people spend their time, they said:

"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," wrote one digital nomad living in Ambergris Caye, Belize.

"Open season on Gringos...check crime logs just for the month of July 2011...getting very scary if you are white American," said another foreigner in San Ignacio.

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William Russell Health Insurance

William Russell's private medical insurance will cover you and your family wherever you may be. Whether you need primary care or complex surgery, you'll have access to the best hospitals & doctors available. Unlike some insurers, we also include medical evacuation and mental health cover in our plans (except SilverLite). Get a quote from our partner, William Russell.

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Where should I live in Belize?

Live in Belize? Answer this Question

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," commented a person living in San Pedro, Belize.

"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 digital nomad living in Corozal, Belize.

"I choose the San Ignacio area as it has the best local downtown, expats and locals mix well together, the folks are so friendly and the Expats are like my other family ! I found my home, thru Rainforest Realty www.rainforestrealty.com," said another member in Belize City.

What do I need to know before moving to Belize?

Live in Belize? Answer this Question

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," commented a 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," explained one digital nomad living in Cayo San Ignacio, Belize.

"Always travel to Belize first before you move here. Never try to make Belize just like it was for you back home... just accept Belize for what it is and enjoy it. It's an emerging third world country.... not the USA, so keep your expectations in check and go with the flow," said another member in Belize City.

William Russell's private medical insurance will cover you and your family wherever you may be. Whether you need primary care or complex surgery, you'll have access to the best hospitals & doctors available. Unlike some insurers, we also include medical evacuation and mental health cover in our plans (except SilverLite). Get a quote from our partner, William Russell.

What do people appreciate most about the culture in Belize?

Live in Belize? Answer this Question

"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 foreigner 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," remarked another member in Belize City.

"What I did appreciate most: of course, the cheap price of buying fruits and vegetables at the public market, of eating dinner or lunch for less than 6 or 7 dollars. Professional services, such as dentistry work came at 75% less than at home in Canada," explained one expat living in Belmopan, Belize.

William Russell Health Insurance

William Russell's private medical insurance will cover you and your family wherever you may be. Whether you need primary care or complex surgery, you'll have access to the best hospitals & doctors available. Unlike some insurers, we also include medical evacuation and mental health cover in our plans (except SilverLite). Get a quote from our partner, William Russell.

Learn MoreGET A QUOTE

William Russell Health Insurance

William Russell's private medical insurance will cover you and your family wherever you may be. Whether you need primary care or complex surgery, you'll have access to the best hospitals & doctors available. Unlike some insurers, we also include medical evacuation and mental health cover in our plans (except SilverLite). Get a quote from our partner, William Russell.

Learn MoreGET A QUOTE

What do people find most challenging about the culture in Belize?

Live in Belize? Answer this Question

"Remembering not to be in a hurry! The day is plenty long and there is always tomorrow," said another member in Hopkins Village.

"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," explained one person living in Belize City, Belize.

"The most challenging aspects of the new culture: 1) the absence of the concept of customer service: for example, even a glass of water is charged in a restaurant, mostly Chinese controlled 2) the necessity of renting or buying a car as taxi service in the evening and at night is not there 3)the concept of unexposed Sewers as sewers do not have cover 4)the rarity of night life: bars, coffee places," wrote one digital nomad living in Belmopan, Belize.

What residency documents or visas did I need if I will be in Belize for a while?

Live in Belize? Answer this Question

"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," said another digital nomad in Hopkins Village.

"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," commented a person living in Hopkins Village, Belize.

"It was very simple, please go onto the Belize tourist board website and check out Qualified retirement persons package. We had no problem, it was easy, and maintaining it annually is easy too. You can join this program from aged 40 onwards,," explained one digital nomad living in Belize City, Belize.

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What cultural blunders should I try to avoid making in Belize?

Live in Belize? Answer this Question

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.

"Losing patience at the only 3 international banks when the Teller Machine was out of service for some malfunctioning and I needed to take out some money to go out and eat," commented a person living in Belmopan, Belize.

William Russell's private medical insurance will cover you and your family wherever you may be. Whether you need primary care or complex surgery, you'll have access to the best hospitals & doctors available. Unlike some insurers, we also include medical evacuation and mental health cover in our plans (except SilverLite). Get a quote from our partner, William Russell.

What are healthcare services like in Belize?

Live in Belize? Answer this Question

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," wrote one digital nomad living in Hopkins Village, Belize.

"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," said another foreigner in Corozal/Belize City.

William Russell's private medical insurance will cover you and your family wherever you may be. Whether you need primary care or complex surgery, you'll have access to the best hospitals & doctors available. Unlike some insurers, we also include medical evacuation and mental health cover in our plans (except SilverLite). Get a quote from our partner, William Russell.

What are the pros and cons of living in Belize?

Live in Belize? Answer this Question

"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," explained one digital nomad living in Carmelita Gardens, Belize.

"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," said another member in Sittee River.

"Hopkins village is exactly what I was looking for in terms of living in Belize, beautiful seaside village, local culture, (Garifuna), friendly and welcoming people, fresh fish, small expat community, resort areas for the tourists. So many great dining options! In terms of healthcare there is a private ambulance service stationed at the Hopkins Road and highway junction should any emergency occur. The village has a rural feel with free range chickens in the yards and horses grazing at street corners. Many of the locals have farms to grow their local veg and fruits, cassava, plantain, and coco. Local shops are plentiful and carry a good variety of stock, although not clothing. Anything not found here can usually be found in Dangriga town just a 25 minute drive from here. There are two main vendors for fruit and veg although trucks do come around selling door to door as well. Bottled water, (5 gallon) is also available daily to your door. In my seven years here in Belize I have lived in three locations, Placencia, Seine Bight and now Hopkins and for me Hopkins definitely feels like home. ," explained one expat in Hopkins Village.

"Hopkins is full of happy people who love music and dancing. The Garifuna drumming music can be heard all over the village on almost any day. The people generally wave and greet expats. They happily give directions when you need assistance. The sand flies on the beaches will bite and become itchy and uncomfortable so insect repellent is necessary. Seasonally "doctor flies" give a nasty itchy bite also. For such a small village the food is excellent and there are many restaurants, cafes, and street vendors. There's also delicious ice cream and bakery goods. Hopkins is located on the Caribbean Sea, but it's also located near the jungle so there are many outdoor activities and excellent local tour guides ," remarked another global nomad in Hopkins Village.

"Everywhere you look is like a postcard! Beautiful ocean and lagoons all around you. Lots of fun stuff to do. The Belizean people are extremely helpful and friendly. The island is a bit more expensive than on the mainland. Lots of fresh picked produce available everywhere," explained one digital nomad living in Ambergris Caye, Belize.

"Life is what you make of it. I love living in Belize, but I also do not have a lot of needs for high fashion and trendy things. I have usually lived in a semi-rural area, so the Cayo District of Belize feels homey to me. Urban folks might find it to be too slow. The official language here is English, with a lot of Spanish spoken. Anyone in customer service is bilingual or trilingual (to include Belizean Kriol). I wanted to live somewhere warm and lots of Central America fits the bill, but the English language and common law here are the icing on the cake. Some people think that Belize is just the island of Ambergris Caye and its village, San Pedro. Lots of expats out there, but most of us who live inland are happy to let them have it," said another foreigner in San Ignacio, Belize.

About the Author

Betsy Burlingame 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.

William Russell Health InsuranceExpat Health Insurance

Get a quote for international health insurance from our partner, William Russell.
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William Russell Health InsuranceExpat Health Insurance

Get a quote for international health insurance from our partner, William Russell.
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San Ignacio, Belize

William Russell Health InsuranceExpat Health Insurance

Get a quote for international health insurance from our partner, William Russell.
GET A QUOTE

William Russell Health InsuranceExpat Health Insurance

Get a quote for international health insurance from our partner, William Russell.
GET A QUOTE

Belize GuideBelize Guide
Learn what digital nomads and expats have to say about living in Belize.

Belize Forum Belize Forum
Talk with other digital nomads and expats in Belize on our Belize forum - meet people, get advice and help others.

Belize Index Belize Index
An index of all of our site's Belize information.

Contribute to Belize Network Contribute
Help others in Belize by answering questions about the challenges and adventures of living in Belize.

Expat Healthcare Advice in BelizeHealthcare & Health Insurance in Belize

Digital Nomads in Belize offer advice about healthcare, hospital visits, emergency rooms visits, finding a doctor and buying health insurance in Belize.

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Rentals in popular cities and towns in Belize.

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