I get a lot of questions about what is legal in Belize and what laws are the same, or different, between the U.S. and Belize. This can be a tricky answer because in some ways, Belize is a lot like the Wild West—you can beg for forgiveness instead of asking for permission. What some people get away with is not what others get away with and the vast majority of questions have so many possible outcomes that it is a complicated matrix. I always recommend that you know the laws and follow them in any foreign country. It is easy to lose yourself in a vacation atmosphere and forget that you cannot assume your individual rights, protections, expectations of consistency in law enforcement and courts, let alone jail, are the world norm.
The topic of building in Belize could be its own book—and in fact, there are several books on Amazon written by expats which are great resources for in-depth information. The Belize Expats Facebook group is another useful place to get up-to-date recommendations and to have your questions answered. Over the years, I have been involved in numerous construction projects and the building of a small resort, and have learned that there are some unique-to-Belize learning curves to help prevent unnecessary hardship and headaches.
Given what has transpired in the past year and the immense changes to people’s working patterns, everybody wants to learn more about opportunities for digital nomads. I’ve received countless questions on the topic and I’m happy to report some exciting prospects coming up in Belize.
Ambergris Caye, a 25-mile island situated in northern Belize, is a popular spot for both tourists and expats. The island has one town, the lively and sometimes crowded San Pedro, located in the southern part of the island. Within San Pedro, you’ll find several neighborhoods, each with their own personality and with varying populations of locals, expats, and tourists.
My husband, Dave, and I recently had the opportunity to move onto a boat temporarily at Robert's Grove Marina, 10 minutes' drive north of Placencia Village. So, I want to share some more details about liveaboard in Belize, based on this personal experience.
This area used to be truly a local secret. The first time I came to Belize in early 2014, the main road north of the bridge was full of potholes and extremely difficult to navigate. Within a couple years, the road was paved, making the area north of the bridge more accessible and popular.
The lack of government interference in our daily lives is a major attraction to many of us who settle in Belize. It's true, the perpetually bureaucratic government doesn't bother you much—but they provide minimal infrastructure as well.
The good news is that the threatened three-hour wait did not materialize. The load on my flight was so light that we left Houston (my departure point in the U.S.) early and arrived in Belize half-an-hour ahead of schedule.
Caring for your money as an expat can get complicated. Your first question might be—how safe and secure are my funds in Belize? You would ask that in any bank, but it's more important when you consider Belize is a young country and has different banking protocols.
Many of the new builds in Belize come with plots that have been completely cleared, and in addition have often had a layer of white marl or limestone laid on them, so you are working with a completely blank and infertile canvas—not a plant or tree in sight.