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So thinking about retiring to a tropical paradise? Can you feel the dream of immersing yourself in a new culture, with fresh beginnings, in a beautiful country?
I invite you to investigate retiring in Belize. Belize is small in terms of geography, but large in its diverse offerings.
You can experience the warm waters of the Caribbean Sea, hike through the rainforest, scale a Mayan Ruin, cave tube on one of the vast emerald green rivers, or hike through a cave in the jungle – all within less than a 3 hour commute of each other.
As you live in Belize you come to realize you have everything literally in your own backyard. So maybe you know you enjoy the sea, but really do not want to live on the sea edge, then you have the opportunity to live in the mountains and rainforest of Belize taking in all its majestic beauty on a daily basis.
Or if you are island bound and that is your dream, then you can also take a day excursion inland to get your fix of the beautiful rivers and rainforest. Either way you chose to retire, Belize is really a destination that allows you to have it all. No more 16 hour commutes to get to the ocean to put your feet in the sand and feel the warm breeze on your face.
Belize is just a short plane ride from the USA, being within 2 hours of Houston, Dallas, or Miami all having direct flights into Belize. So retiring to a paradise like Belize for people living in the Americas is a more convenient option than one may of initially considered. You may even find that you see your friends and family more often as they will want to plan trips to your new paradise.
Now for those of you who have “purposely” turned the kids bedrooms into an exercise room or sowing room when they fled the nest, Belize is still far enough away that the kids are not just going to “pop” back in for a few years.
Belize is very open and friendly to newcomers and welcomes expatriates to the country. Belize is a melting pot of many nationalities all living together and although English is the language of the nation, you will meet people from all over the world speaking many of their native languages.
There are no restrictions on foreigners owning property in Belize. And yes you do own your property and are granted free-hold title.
Property taxes are very affordable, there are no estate taxes or capital gains taxes which additionally make Belize a very attractive retirement option.
So you basically have two options to consider when retiring in Belize.
You may choose to enter Belize on the Qualified Retired Persons Program (QRP) applying for a retired persons residency option or come into Belize through the Immigration Residency Option.
The QRP program is governed by the tourism board and is an option for people who are truly retiring in Belize meaning not wanting to work in Belize to collect an income. So it is expected that you will be able to prove each year in your QRP status that you have at least $24,000 USD of funds available to you for your retirement in Belize.
These funds can come from a pension, investments, etc. However you must show each year that you can sustain this income. Oh and did I tell you that you only have to be 45 years of age to qualify. Yes that is correct. So for those of you who wanted to retire early (in the Americas standards anyway) you can do so in Belize. So now you are probably thinking what are the incentives of the QRP program and are there any disadvantages?
Incentives of QRP are:
Disadvantages of the QRP Program
Which brings us to the second option of retiring in Belize. Becoming a permanent resident of Belize does not have the restrictions of the QRP program nor the income requirements that must be certified each year through the QRP process.
In order to gain permanent residency in Belize, you must first reside in Belize a full year with only two weeks of that year not being in country. During this 50 week period, you will be required to go to the immigration office each month to pay a fee and renew your tourist visa (get a stamp in your passport).
The cost of this process for months 2 through 6 is $25 USD and for months 7-12 the cost is $50 USD. Once you have spent your 50 weeks in the country, then you can apply for permanent residency. As with the QRP program, there is a fee to apply for permanent residency.
Incentives for Permanent Residency are:
Disadvantages of applying for Permanent Residency vs. QRP:
Choosing which program is right for you is really only a decision that you can make based on your own personal goals and objectives for your life. Either of these residency types are friendly to expatriates and the programs of Belize make it very enticing to foreigners with all the tax incentives and land ownership opportunities.
When applying for the QRP program, it is helpful to enlist a professional to guide you through the application process and file your paperwork on your behalf. Belize is still a growing country which means the systems are still growing too.
Migrating the red-tape especially as an expatriate can be tedious and frustrating for those who do not understand the insider knowledge of the process.
Get some professional assistance in the application process. It is worth having someone working on your behalf to ensure all processes are followed correctly and you are applying for the program that meets your life objectives.
For more information on this service kindly fill out the form below.
Thank you for your Interest in Retiring to Belize
I would like to introduce you to our re-location expert Ann Kuffner – Director of Relocation Services – Escape Artist Belize who is a contributing author here. Whose informational articles appear in our Re-location Services section.