Finding the Best Places to Retire Since 2006!
Retire in San Pedro, Belize?
Overview: Compact, colorful and tucked into Belize's largest island, Ambergris Caye, mellow San Pedro is rapidly becoming the country's top tourist destination. It is the only population center on the island and dates from the mid-1800s.
Divers and snorkelers are attracted to the longest barrier reef in the western hemisphere and the Great Blue Hole. Sun worshippers are drawn by the long white beaches and swaying palm trees. Sunset, moonlight, and fishing charters are readily available. Businesses rent scuba gear, kayaks, jet skis and parasails, and golf carts and bicycles, also for rent, are the primary mode of transportation. Grocery stores, souvenir shops, a cinema, and open air restaurants line the unpaved and sandy streets. Few buildings are taller than three stories. A few docks still reach out into the warm clear water, and locals still earn a living from the sea. Mayan ruins, a museum, and animal sanctuaries are within easy reach.
San Pedro has its own airstrip, and boats from Belize City arrive daily.
Population: 16,000 (city proper)
Expatriate Community: No estimates but large enough to be visible
Living Costs: Because this is a tourist area, costs are higher than in other parts of Belize. Electricity is expensive, starting at around $200 per month. Water is about $75-$80 per month. Food is approximately $225 to $350 per month if cooking and not going out too much. Telephone is about $150 per month. A comfortable lifestyle can be had for around $1,700 to $2,500 per month.
Home Prices: If renting, condos and apartments by the beach start at around $800 per month and can go higher if they have air conditioning, lots of appliances, etc. Condos for sale start at about $200,000.
Climate: Belize has a sub-tropical climate, with winds from the Caribbean Sea. The temperature is about 80 degrees year round. The area receives an average of 70 inches of rain per year.
Public Transit: Yes, a public bus
Local Medical Clinic or Hospital: San Pedro has a medical clinic and several pharmacies. A doctor's visit is about $35, and house calls are common. Expats often travel to Belize City, two hours to the south, for more extensive medical care if needed.
Crime Rate: Below the U.S. national average, although petty crime does occur.
Relocation: People age 45 or better may apply to become a Qualified Retired Person (QRP). The program requires that QRPs deposit at least $2,000 into a Belize bank account each month, and this revenue must be generated outside of the country. QRPs cannot work in Belize, except online, since they are in a retirement program. Some QRPs have been grumbing that the QRP program does not receive the attention that it once did. The Belize Tourism Board, which runs the program, says that it is looking at ways to improve benefits that participants receive. QRPs only have to spend one month per year in Belize to keep their QRP status.
Nearest Airport: San Pedro's 3,000 foot long airstrip accommodates private planes, but the closest international airport is in Belize City, two hours away.
Cons: None, although culture shock is usually intense at first.
Notes: Both Spanish and English are spoken.
Recommended as a Retirement Spot? Yes
Belize: Belize is on the northeastern coast of Central America and became an independent commonwealth realm, separating from Britain, in 1981. Queen Elizabeth II remains its monarch.
Government: Unitary parliamentary constitutional monarchy
Monetary Unit: Belize dollar
Languages: English, Spanish
Ethnicities: Mestizo, Creole, Ketchi, Yucatec and Mopan Mayas, Garifunas and East Indians
Literacy Rate: 84%
Air Travel Time from Belize to Miami: Two hours
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