Jul 042016
Belize's Low cost living

Low cost living can be realized with the help of economical appliances. Our clothes dryer which is usually one of the worst energy guzzlers has been replaced with this Solar/Wind powered unit. It does require a bit planning around the weather, but It will run for 24hrs a day (or until the cows come home) if needed for $0.00. So, we have two.

Finding Belize’s Low Cost Living.

We now enjoy low cost living compared to that of Canada. After almost two years in Belize, there has been a bit of a learning curve, and in our case an attitude adjustment as well. Here are just a few of the tips we have learned.

Five Tips To Low Cost Living In Belize.

  • Our Motto ~ “Live on what you need, not on what you want.”
    Back in Canada we didn’t give much thought to  low cost living. With two good paying jobs and savings building, we would just go out and buy whatever we wanted whether we really needed it or not. The latest shiney items, sometimes on sale, but most times not, were just purchased on a whim at one of the many “Big Box” stores, Electronics outlets, or our choice of several shopping malls. Usually without much price comparison, we learned that they were all usually within $20. or $30. of each other, so it wasn’t even worth the time to price check. What’s $20. Right? (We’ll talk a bit more about that later).
    In Belize there is certainly not the selection, or the number of outlets to purchase many things, but we have learned that it does pay to shop around, or if it’s a want item, to wait for it to go on sale.But always now, we ask each other, “do we want it, or do we need it?” and you might be surprised at how often we leave empty handed.
  • Shop Wisely
    Shopping wisely, or like the Belizean’s do will also help to guard your low cost living. Convenience can be a budget killer. If you want to purchase everything at the grocery store because it is one stop, then you can expect to pay more, while sacrificing some quality in the process. Get fresh vegetables on delivery day at the local markets. Get fresh meat cut to your specifications at the local Carnicero(Butcher). Fresh fish can be bought directly from the fisherman if you are by the sea. (A little myth buster here though, we found fish are actually cheaper per pound inland then they were on the islands).
    Also know that it is generally assumed that we gringos are just visiting. We are charged more just because it is assumed that we are all rich (another myth), and therefore able to pay more.We have found, that if at first we shop around to find a vendor that has what we need, and that they are friendly and cordial with us, then we will keep going back.It only takes a few trips, and maybe a subtle hint, and they will soon realize that you are not a visitor but living here and you will see prices go down.Also, we avoid grocery stores that don’t put prices their merchandise.
  • Forget US Dollar Comparisons.
    One of the things that we did when we first moved was to convert everything to US dollars in our heads. It helped us to justify making some purchases. For example, that box of chocolates (my favorite, Ferrero Roche to be specific) was BZ$42.50, “hey, that’s only US$21.25, what’s $20.00” you might ask yourself as we did. Well, (I told you I would get back to this) at the local market we spend BZ$18.00 (US$9.00) for a whole week’s supply of fresh vegetables. US$20.00 (BZ$40.00) will purchase 160 oranges at 4/BZ$1.00 or 400 fresh bananas at 10/BZ$1.00. So if keeping up a low cost living is important to you, forget US$ and compare prices of “want” items to what can be purchased in “need” items for those same dollars.
  • Location
    The right location will also be a factor to consider if low cost living is one of the reasons you chose Belize. We had our personal reasons to select the cayes as our place to land initially, so it wasn’t something that I look back on as a mistake, but rather part of our education.  However hindsight being 20/20, one thing that we would probably have done differently, was to move to the mainland rather than the Cayes (islands). Our budget was literally cut in half when we moved from the island to Cayo District just outside of San Ignacio.
    Rent for a two bedroom apartment in San Pedro was BZ$2000.00/Mo. whereas our rent for a comparable two Bedroom house here on the mainland is BZ$1000.00/Mo.Fruits and Vegetables were typically about BZ$45.00/week on the island at the docks where the mennonite boats would deliver on Tuesday mornings. You had to get there early (like 5:00AM) to get a good selection. As I mentioned earlier on the mainland at the San Ignacio Market we pay about BZ$18.00 for the same quantity and get a better selection of fresher product.
  • Economical Appliances Keep The Cost of Living Low.
    One of the other things that I have learned is that your appliances are also important in maintaining a low cost living. This is something you may not have much control over when you are looking for places to rent, but is good to know when you are building, or when trying to estimate what your monthly rental expense might be. In San Pedro we paid anywhere from about BZ$140-180.00/Mo. For electricity. That covered an electric range, washer, dryer, hot water tank, and the difference in monthly cost was probably the A/C unit which was only used during really hot months.
    In Bullet Tree the house we rent has all economical appliances, and the experience has convinced me that when we build our own home to lay out a bit more initially to keep the monthly utility bill down.It has been hot the last few months requiring the AC unit and the electric bill last month was BZ$68.00. That’s half to a third of the island, and here are some of the reasons why.Our Range is gas (butane in Belize), and yes that is an expense, but the tank lasted for three months, then was picked up and returned full for BZ$40.00.Our Hot water is produced with a heat on demand hot water tank that is also gas, but after almost four months of use, I still can’t lift the tank, so I expect it is still good for at least another six months, and it’s controls are powered by 2 “D” batteries.
    Finally we do have a washing machine, but our clothes dryer which is usually the energy guzzler of the two is pictured above. It does require a bit planning around the weather, but this Solar/Wind powered unit will run 24hrs a day (or until the cows come home) for BZ$ or US$0.00, so we have two.


A simpler, healthy lifestyle with a low cost living, is easily obtainable in Belize. Certainly for far less than that of Canada and the United States. If you watch your habits. Shop wisely. Compare BZ prices to the buying power in Belize rather than to the US dollar. Choose your location knowing that a premium will be payed on the Cayes. Try to follow our motto of, “live on what you need, not what you want”.

To give you an idea of what US$ 800.00/Mo. will rent you, Check out this house that we rented when we first arrived in Belize.

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  12 Responses to “Belize’s Low Cost Living”

  1. This is right on the money as far as I’m concerned. I will share it with some friends of mine who are thinking about moving to Belize. I will note that you will probably miss having a clothes dryer more in the rainy season.

  2. Hi Bill, I read everything I can about Belize and your post’s always bring up great points. When my wife and I are able to retire we will definitely be on a limited budget!! Thanks again, hopefully in a few years we can go to the gym. Spellcheck bar. Keep them coming. 🙂

    • Thanks for your time to comment, I appreciate it. Looking forward to doing some wrist curls with you and a Belikin Dave. I’m glad you are finding value in this site. It is not my intention to condemn or promote Belize, just to help people realize some of the differences that we have experienced. And, because we assumed things based on where we lived before, the questions that we didn’t know to ask.

  3. Thanks for your insights, Bill! I especially like the comments about not comparing BZ to US dollars; I would not have thought of that. I look forward to learning even more!

    • Marlee;
      I am glad to hear you found it useful. You know how to reach me if you would like to talk about our actual costs and the differences between San Pedro and in Cayo.

      Thanks for reading, I hope you will find my other posts useful as well. Good luck with your research and don’t hesitate to contact me if I can be of help to you.

  4. I am retiring in 3 years and 9 months. We are considering on moving to Belize. I appreciate all the information you can provide.

    Thank you,

    • Hi Helen;
      Thank you for your comment and for following my website. You will find several articles here regarding procedural things like residency options, the requirements to open a bank account in Belize, and others. Also several posts covering my experiences and life in Belize. I hope they will help.

      I am always happy to answer peoples questions based on my experiences and to help people make informed decisions. Feel free to ask here in the comments, or email me at billdoesbelize@gmail.com Another option is to have a video chat where we can meet face to face and deal with any questions or concerns you might have. If you would like to do that simply send me an email and we will set up a time that is convenient for you.

      Good luck with your research and certainly feel free to reach out if I can be of assisstance.

      Regards Bill

  5. Hi Bill, I am considering relocating my family to Belize in about a year. I have a small nest egg saved and receive over 3000.00 dollars monthly. Can i live on this budget with my wife and 2 children,age 13 and 17. My oldest will only be staying for about 6 months and will be off to college in the U.S. Your feed back will be greatly appreciated.

    Thank you, redd

    • Redd;
      The short answer is yes, you probably can. US$3000.00 is BZ$6000.00. We don’t have children but my wife and I live comfortably on BZ$2500.00/Mo.(US$1250.00) That includes rent, groceries, all utilities, visitor visas, etc. That been said, we do not have a car, we seldom eat out, and don’t go to the bars. These are the major things that will eat into a budget. It really depends on the lifestyle you choose to live, if you choose to live like we do in Canada and the US, Belize may not be that much cheaper. Also, inland on the mainland for us is about half the cost of living on the Cayes(islands).

  6. Dear Bill, Glad I found your blog. You have lots of great info. Still have much reading to do. Why did you decide to leave the cayes and head inland? Our dream would be to live on the cayes (and have a catamaran to sail the reef), but the pricing keeps rising. And as you mentioned the cost of all goods on the cayes is higher. Some blogs have mentioned Corozal as a newer expat location, with obvious advantages for shopping to the north. Another question I have for that area is whether there is pollution worries in the bay from Chetumal and security being that close to Mexico. Other blogs had mentioned Dangriga and Hopkins to the south, but not really giving them high scores.

    Very hard to find info on early developments and have any chance to know if the info is totally bogus or not. Obviously the best way is to get boots on the ground and scout it out. In the meantime, I will keep reading! Have a fantastic day in paradise : )

    • Hey Rob;
      Thank you for your comments and questions. I am glad you found my site and to hear that you are finding value in the information. That is the greatest compliment I can receive.

      We decided to leave the Cayes for a couple of reasons. When we did our initial tour of the country we also liked San Ignacio. We decided to land in San Pedro because of the cool breezes and a feeling it would be a better place to get used to the heat. We did enjoy San Pedro at first, but then found that for us high season was a bit busier than we expected. Also the cost of living was easily twice that of San Ignacio. Not being water people so much, and not taking advantage of the sea, it didn’t make sense on our limited budget to pay that premium. Also we wanted to be able to see more of the country and make a decision on where we would settle, build, and ultimately live. Again on a limited budget, the cost and time of leaving and returning to the island made that prohibitive for us.

      With regards to Corozol, I must admit that it is still on our list to visit so I can’t speak from experience. My impression from reading local news and expat forums is that it is not as safe as other areas, but there are communities around it that are. In Dangriga, we decided almost immediately that it was not for us. It didn’t appear to be a place where expats would easily fit in. But again that decision that was made on a quick visit and gut instinct. Other coastal areas we liked were Hopkins and Placencia. Although for us Placencia town was a bit isolated out on a 14 mile long peninsula. One of things we were hoping to do was live without a car.

      You are right about the info that you will typically find online, it is often put out by Resort, Real Estate, and tourist industry driven businesses that are trying to sell their idea of your piece of paradise. While it is not untrue, IMHO it is usually sugar coated in the sense that it only shares the good side of Belize and seldom tells you of the price you will need to pay to live in paradise. For us Belize has been a wonderful choice, but many others that believe the hype online end up leaving because they weren’t able to make a truly informed decision. Hence my inspiration to start my website. That been said, that is only my opinion based on my experience. Everyone’s reality is different, and you are right. While Belize may be rulled out online, the only way to see if Belize is really for you is to actually visit for an extended period of time away from the comforts of the resorts and do your own boots on the ground (sandals in the sand)research.

      I hope this helps. Good luck with your research, If you have more questions please feel free to make contact, I’m always happy to try to help people make an informed decision, or with your sandals in the sand research.

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