The thought of living in Belize – a tropical paradise where the sea is warm year round, you wake up to a world full of exotic flora and fauna every day and where the sand is white, the lifestyle is laidback and the sun almost always seems to shine – lures many expats to live in Belize annually.
Now whilst the above perceived reality may be a little embellished – you get the general idea! Belize is considered a stunning oasis and a great place to live, work or retire for many from Northern Europe and North America…but not everything about living in Belize is so perfect. So, if you’re considering relocation, let’s examine what Brits living in Belize love and hate about the country.
The first thing is a lack of English produce – now whilst this is far from a real concern or a real reason to hate a country, it does make for some funny forum posts. There was a recent buying frenzy of Branston Pickle in San Pedro when the local supermarket managed to import some and a friendly British expat posted the fact on the Ambergris Caye forum! The shop was sold out within hours! In addition to Branston Pickle, if you’re moving to live in Belize stock up on the likes of British biscuits, HP Sauce, Marmite, good strong Cheddar Cheese (though I think there are import restrictions on this!), and some decent tea bags.
With these essential staples in your cupboard you’ll find that everything else associated with food and shopping in Belize is actually a real reason to love the nation. The abundance of quality local produce is exceptional, the quality of food at the majority of restaurants and cafes is very high indeed, the flavours and local dishes are sumptuous and you can eat out and shop for a fraction of the price you would pay back home.
The weather in Belize can be a love/hate issue with Brits. The warmth and long hours of sunshine are a massive plus and really help with serotonin levels, however, the tropical storms, heavy rain and high levels of humidity can be enough to drive people to distraction. If you’re looking at Belize as a retirement destination or you have young children then you may want to travel to the country during both the dry and rainy seasons and spend an extended time experiencing the realities of the nation’s climate. It’s hard to imagine ever falling out of love with a sunny nation when you herald from a country with a climate like Great Britain ‘enjoys’ – but when you’re constantly sweating, the heat gives you a rash, you can’t dry clothes because of humidity levels or you’re inundated with sand flies and other biting insects which seem to thrive in a climate like the one in Belize, it can get irritating!
Having mentioned the cost of living in relation to eating out and shopping, there are some costs of day to day living which Brits find they really hate! There’s the costs you’ll pay for residency, there are the costs for fuel bills, the price of imported goods and household electrical items and even the cost of health insurance which you really do need to take into consideration even though basic medical cover in Belize is quite good.
These bills soon mount up – a good idea is to read around on the internet as many sites have details about living costs in Belize, you can then factor in your own likely consumption of fuel for your car, electric for your fridge and air con units and your likely consumption of high cost consumer products and work out how much better off you will be living in Belize. Whilst you will come out with a high bill, you will probably find that the lower cost of food stuffs, lower taxes, less amount of time you need to run heating for annually and the fewer miles you will probably drive will mean that ultimately you will have a lower cost of living in Belize than in the UK or US for example.
Finally, one thing that really bugs Brits is actually getting to Belize. The vast majority fly into the US and then get connecting flights. However, US immigration is so aggressive and unpleasant nowadays that many Britons report being made to feel like criminals simply because they are entering the US – however briefly. This is not something to be overlooked – it really can be an ordeal going through US immigration. It takes time, you may be questioned at length about why you’re in America and why you’re going to Belize. If you’re not expecting to travel in and out of Belize much after you relocate there then this is ok. But it is certainly something that drives many British expats living in Belize mad!
All in all Belize is a fabulous nation offering a very different quality and standard of living and even way of life to that which Brits are used to – if you want a laid back lifestyle in a tropical paradise – perhaps you should seriously consider relocation to Belize. But just remember that there are good and bad points about any country. Get as realistic an overview of a country as you can before you commit to moving there completely.