Thursday, March 31, 2011

Photo of the Week - Multi-Tasking Belize Style

You may have to look really close to read the sign.  It says "Babysitting, Braiding Hair, Herbal Medicine Done Here.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

San Pedro Belize Express Water Taxi-Schedule Change for Daylight Savings

On our last trip to Belize, we took the San Pedro Belize Express water taxi to Chetumal, Mexico to check out the shopping there. If you have extra time in Belize, it is well worth the trip. It is a 90 minute boat ride from San Pedro to Chetumal. They have made changes to their schedule due to daylight savings time change in Mexico. Belize does not observe daylight savings time.

San Pedro Belize Express Water Taxi Announces Chetumal, Mexico Schedule Adjustments for Daylight Savings 2011

Belize City, Belize – March 29, 2011 – San Pedro Belize Express Water Taxi wishes to inform all
customers and agents that as of April 3, 2011 and according to the daylights savings time change in Mexico, departures to and from Chetumal, Mexico will be adjusted by one hour Mexico time.

Effective as of April 3, 2011, the departure schedule shall be as follows:

From San Pedro, Belize to Chetumal, Mexico
Depart 8:00 am local time (9:00 am Mexico)
Arrive 10:30 am local time (9:30 am Belize)

From Chetumal, Mexico to San Pedro, Belize
Depart 3:30 pm local time (2:30 pm Belize)
Arrive 4:00 pm local time (5:00 pm Mexico)

As always for international trips, travelers must arrive to the port 30 minutes prior to departure time. Please make a note of the above changes.

For any questions regarding scheduling and rates, please email or visit for more information and to book online.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Before Buying Property Abroad-Things You Should Know

Wouldn't it be nice to own a beachfront lot on the Caribbean or a jungle oasis?  Many of the same rules for buying real estate in the US and Canada are the same as in Belize.  But finding and buying property abroad can be both complicated and scary, so before buying property abroad, there are things that you should know. 

1.  Do your homework.
Get yourself familiar with the laws and customs of the country in which you want to buy property.  Research the tax codes, currency restrictions and qualifications for residency.  Belize imposes few restrictions on ownership of land by non nationals.  Having an attorney is a must.  The local American embassy can give you a list of names.

2.   Do your research.
Fin out what the local political and economic situation is and the daily cost of living.  How stable is the government?

3.  Hire a realtor.
In some countries as in Belize, anyone can be a real estate broker, and no licenses is required.  So ask around for a referral and find an agent that is from the area and knowledgeable of real estate in that area.  You may find that you have to do a lot of the leg work and driving around looking for property yourself. 

4.  Real Estate Prices.
Property prices vary greatly in Belize from one area to another.  Caveat Emptor, "Buyer Beware" applies to buying property in Belize as anywhere else.  That beachfront lot that looks wonderful in the dry season may be two foot under water in the rainy season. 

5.  Financing.
Financing your dream home may not be possible abroad, so you should be prepared to pay cash or get financing from a financial institution back home.

6.  Legal matters.
Once you have purchased your property make sure and draft a will to ensure that your property is passed along to your heirs.  If you have done your homework and research, hired the right people, your foreign purchase of real estate should be smooth sailing.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Just Another Sunday in Paradise, "NOT".

Bill and I have spent another weekend painting, cleaning out drawers and more closets.  No Paradise here, but hopefully that means one weekend closer to Paradise.

Friday, March 25, 2011

"Belizean Betty" Friday - Big Girl Bed

Betty has graduated from the Baby Bed to the Big Girl Bed.  I am just trying to find her in there.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Questions about Belize

I am always receiving emails from my readers with questions about Belize, so I thought I would try to answer some of them. 

Can I afford to live in Belize on Social Security?
The answer is yes, especially for couples receiving two Social Security checks.  Belize in general has an affordable cost of living.  A couple interested in simple living can budget and live comfortably on US$1500 or less per month.  That would be living in Belizean housing and eating local foods

How is the health care in Belize
Belize is a mixed medical system.  Most Belizeans get free or low-cost medical care at a government run hospital or clinic.  Doctors with private practices charge a fee.  Most doctors in Belize are foreign born and trained. 

A visit to a doctor will cost about US$15-US$25 dollars, plus any medicines. A hospital stay could cost you about US$20 to US$50 per day.

Chetumal, Mexico just across the border of Belize has private physicians and clinics which can provide high quality care at a much lower price than care in the U.S. or in Belize.  Many doctors speak English.

You can't use Medicare abroad.  Expat organizations are lobbying for the use of Medicare in Mexico, but it is not expected to happen anytime soon.  Many expats makes regular "Medicare Run's back to the U.S.

It may be difficult to find a U.S. insurance policy that covers you abroad, but you can get reasonably priced international insurance that will cover you for serious illnesses.  BUPA, a European based insurance company is the most common.

Will I owe taxes?
Expats receive a $91,400 exemption from IRS for all income earned while living abroad.  Interest from your savings, pensions or annuities are not exempt, it must be earned income.

The U.S. is one of the few countries that taxes its citizens anywhere they live on worldwide income.  However, the U.S. government has agreements with many countries that prevent expats from paying income taxes in both countries.

Can I have my Social Security Benefits sent to Belize?
Yes, if you are a U.S. citizen, you may receive your benefits by check or direct deposit.  If you are not a U.S. citizen, it can be a little more complicated.  See:  "Your Payments While You Are Outside the United States."

Can I buy my favorite American foods in Belize?
Yes, many foods that you are accustomed to in the US are also available in Belize.  But everything has to be shipped in, so the prices can be very costly.  If you don't like the food in Belize, it could cost you some bucks to eat.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Cleaning out the Closets!!

Sorry I have been slacking on my blogging lately, I have been cleaning out my closets.  No really, I have been working on cleaning out my closets and I  have come to the conclusion that I am a borderline hoarder.  Do you hold onto items and hold onto items, because they are cute or sentimental and you don't want to let them go?  Well obviously I did, and I saved them all; greeting cards, magazines, photos, and every paper my child ever did in school and college, I pretty much saved them all.  

I read once that if you haven't worn a certain piece of clothing for a year or more that you should sell or donate it.  However, I rarely took that advice and instead my clothes had taken over all of the closets and every drawer in the house.  Cleaning out your closets can be very therapeutic and gives you a feeling of freedom.  Each bag of clothes, shoes and purses that I pull out makes me feel so much lighter. 

We will sell our house before we go to Belize and we plan on putting our house up for sale next month.  It is time to start purging most of our things since 90% of it will not go with us.  Thank goodness for scanners, I plan on scanning lots of personal papers and pictures, so at least I will have a copy of them.  It actually feels pretty good to have less things and our house seems so large now.

I can also add "plumber and painter" to my resume"  I have re-painted most of the rooms in my house and last weekend installed new faucets in the bathroom.  I admire people who do these jobs on a regular basis, but I hope I never have to do them again.  The only thing I want to paint is a Belizean sunset.

Monday, March 21, 2011

The Do's and Dont's of Expat Life in Belize

Before you get all caught up in the idea of moving to your tropical paradise, you may want to consider a few things first. 

1.  Go to Belize for a long visit, live like a local, rent for at least 6-12 months before you decide to buy something.
2.  Do not try to duplicate your lifestyle back home, you will not stay in Belize if you do.
3.  Be prepared for a little "culture shock".  You may first think Belize is like home, but it really is not. Belize time is slow and easy going.
4.  Don't limit yourself to the local expat community.  Be open and friendly to everyone, get to know the    locals.  They are an interesting group of people.
5.  Belize is an English speaking country, but they still have local lingo.  Get to know some of the local lingo and have some knowledge of Spanish or Creole.
6.  Volunteer and become involved in the daily life of your new community.
7.  Remember you are considered a wealthy foreigner and may be targeted for scams and theft.  Be alert to these type things.
8.  Enjoy your new retirement home in Belize and all that it has to offer.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Belizean Rum Cake

Belizean Rum Cake, the original cake I made in the US back in March 2011.

Before we had even left the states I had been trying out some Belizean recipes.  I found this recipe for a Belizean Rum Cake online on the Belize News Post web site.  The cake tasted divine and was so moist and yummy. 

The Belize News Post later even contacted me and asked if they could use the photos of my cake on their web site along with their recipe.  They said they would give me photo credit and I gladly said they could use them. 

This week I had quite a few readers and followers of my facebook page that were asking for the recipe, so I thought I would re-post my original post from back in March 2011 with the recipe.  The original cake I had used rum from Jamaica in the recipe.  This week when I decided to make the cake again, I went out and purchased a small bottle of local 1 Barrel Rum.  The cake tasted even better than the first time.  Bill said it was the best cake I had ever made, of course I have not made too many cakes.   I do love this recipe though and it is pretty quick and easy.  I didn't use any nuts this time because nuts are so expensive in Belize, but it was still great without them.

Belizean Rum cake that I made this week using Belizean 1 Barrel Rum.  I am still trying to get use to cooking with a gas stove in Belize instead of an electric one that I used in the states.

Some pictures below are from my original post when I made the cake.

Belizean Rum Cake

1 package of Yellow Butter Cake Mix
1 package of instant vanilla pudding mix
4 eggs
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup Belizean Rum

Mix cake mix, pudding, eggs, water and rum in large mixing bowl and beat with mixer.
In a bundt cake pan melt 1/2 stick butter and 1/2 cup brown sugar, pour pecans in this mixture.
After this is melted, pour cake batter over top and bake for 35  minutes on 350 degrees F.

In a small saucepan mix 1/2 cup of rum, 1/2 cup water, 1/2 stick butter and 1 cup brown sugar.  Bring to boil and then remove from heat.

After the cake has finished cooking, poke holes in the top and pour rum syrup over the top.  Let this sit for a few minutes before turning it over onto plate.    ENJOY.

Friday, March 18, 2011

"Belizean Betty" Friday - Being Betty

Betty is just being her cute little self here and modeling her new robe her mom made for her 

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Friday, March 11, 2011

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Photo of the Week - Multi-Tasking Belize Style

Check out the way Belizean's can multi-task.  Riding a bike, carrying a baby, steering the bike and holding on to a bag of ice, all at the same time. 

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Where to live in Belize? Corozal

Corozal is a popular spot for expats and is the Northern most town in Belize which means you would be extremely close to the town of Chetumal, Mexico.  Chetumal, Mexico offers medical services and more options for shopping which in include an American like mall and Sam's Warehouse shopping. 

The Corozal district is 718 square files in area.  Spanish is spoken more widely then English here, although you should easily be able to get by in English at least in Corozal Town.

Corozal town area offers low cost housing whether you are renting or buying, a sizable expat community and a pleasant location on the Bay of Chetumal, sometimes referred to as Corozal Bay.  There are few sand flies and pesky bugs in most areas.  Corozal has a pleasant sub-tropical climate with lower rainfall then southern Belize.  It is generally considered to be safe and friendly.  You have easy access by car, bus, water taxi and air to Ambergris Caye, other areas of Belize and the Yucatan.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Your International Moving Checklist

There are so many things to do and think about before moving to a foreign country to live.  I keep a growing list of things to remember to do and things to ask about.  Here is a list of a few things to get you started.

Investigate Your New Country's Rules
Regulations and laws vary widely among different countries, so it is important to research these before moving abroad. Contact the appropriate embassy or consulate for information relevant to expatriates relocating to the country, including:
  • Visas and permits
  • Vaccines for family members
  • Restrictions or taxes on shipped household items
  • Taxes involved in shipping your car
  • Vaccines and quarantines for pets
  • Insurance
File Applications for Passports, Visas and Permits
Do this early, as this process takes time to complete. It is also wise to renew early if any of these documents is set to expire in the near future.

Gather Important Documents
Be sure to request official copies of important personal documents and allow at least several weeks to receive them. Suggested items include:
  • Birth and Marriage Certificates
  • Naturalization, Green Card, Proof of Citizenship, etc.
  • Social Security Cards
  • Vaccination, Medical and Dental Records
  • Insurance Policies
  • Academic Records and Diplomas
  • Employment Records
  • Proof of Residency (utility bill, statement, etc.)
  • Living Will and Testament
International Moving and Shipping Companies
Contact international moving and shipping companies to obtain quotes for transporting your belongings overseas. Since it could take over a month for your items to arrive, plan ahead when scheduling your shipment.

It is critical to determine the exact insurance requirements and availability at your new destination as limits vary widely throughout the world.

Auto Insurance
Anyone planning to operate an automobile internationally will need to purchase an International Auto Insurance policy. Requirements vary among countries, so select an insurance provider with the expertise and resources to ensure the policy meets your needs.

Property Insurance
International personal property insurance, which can include transit and destination coverage, protects items damaged during the relocation process, while in your foreign residence or during shipping and transit. Contact an insurance provider specializing in expatriates for more information.
Health Insurance
Even if your destination country has a socialized health care system, you may not be eligible for coverage. If you are not covered under a group medical insurance program, individual policies can be purchased to protect you in a foreign country. These policies include worldwide medical protection and also can include evacuation services. Costs are reasonable and, in many cases, less expensive than stateside coverage.

Bank and Credit Card Accounts
Review your accounts and notify your banks that you will be overseas. Also consider online international banking, which makes it easier to transfer and manage funds between countries.

Prescription Drugs
If you or a family member takes prescription drugs, purchase additional quantities and obtain a copy of the medical file related to the condition. Keep them in your carry-on luggage in the event any bags are lost in transit.

International Driving Permit
Renew your driver's license if it is set to expire soon. Acquire an international driving permit (IDP) and take extra forms to renew it annually by mail. You can obtain an IDP at a local office of the American Automobile Association and the American Automobile Touring Alliance (through the National Auto Club). Remember to carry both your IDP and your U.S. state driver's license with you at all times.

Tax Obligations
Each country has distinct tax rules for foreign earned income. Determine your obligations and gather the necessary paperwork.

If your pet is moving with you, ensure it receives proper vaccinations and identify a pet carrier. If you have decided not to bring a pet, allow enough time to find it a new home.

Flight and Hotel Reservations
Make any necessary travel arrangements as soon as your travel dates are set.

VOIP Phone Service
Consider using VOIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) phone service, otherwise known as broadband phone service. This is an affordable way for expatriates to make local, long-distance and international calls, all for a monthly fee.

Cancel Subscriptions and Forward Mail
Cancel all publication subscriptions and complete the appropriate forms at the post office to ensure your mail is forwarded to your new address.

Do Your Research
Learn about the country's history and culture before you move, so you are prepared with the necessary knowledge to adapt quickly to your new home.

Source:  ExpatExchange

Friday, March 4, 2011

"Belizean Betty" Friday - Toes

Betty loves dipping those toes in the water and one day she will be dipping those toes in the Caribbean.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Belize Weather in March

March weather conditions in Belize are very similar to that of February. March falls within the dry season, and the typically rainy southern part of the country will see even less rain this month. Temperatures are on the rise to a balmy mid-80s and vacationers will enjoy the sun with little interference by a rain shower.

Typical Weather in March

On a typical March day, during the early morning hours you will probably find the temperature will be around 72.6 degrees. The temperature will rise over the course of the typical March day, reaching somewhere around 82.8 degrees by early afternoon. The temperature in Belize will typically decline by early evening, to approximately 78.5 degrees. Overall, temperatures in Belize during March average around 77.5 degrees.


Rain is most likely to occur around 12:00 AM (midnight) during the month of March, and it is least likely to occur around 3:00 PM . To the extent thunderstorms occur in Belize during March, they are most likely to occur around 12:00 AM (midnight) , as shown in the following table

Source:  Belize Guide

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Caribbean Nights Getaway

Need a place to stay while visiting Belize on your fact finding trip?  Banana Beach Resort in Belize is having a promotion starting in July.

Banana Beach Resort Belize is offering their valued customers and friends this great deal – $100 a night per couple, including breakfast and dinner! Where else can you stay at a beachfront resort on an island in the Caribbean for $50 a person a night?

Book online below and mention the Caribbean Summer Nights promotion in the comments box. Make your reservations while rooms are available.

Spread the word! Tell all your family and friends. Groups are welcome. If you’ve never been to Belize, this is the perfect opportunity! La Isla Bonita is calling your name. Powdery white sands…Warm, bright blue waters…Lounge chairs under the Caribbean sun…

For any available dates from July 15 to October 15. Direct bookings through hotel only.
Includes breakfast and dinner at the resort’s El Divino restaurant. Email to learn more.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Planning Your Fact Finding Trip to Belize

There is really only one way to know for sure if Belize is right for you and that would be to make plans to visit Belize.  If you have never been to the country before, I would recommend an initial fact finding trip. Go to Belize to see for yourself what it is like there, eat and drink like a local.

Our initial trip to Belize was for vacation and it was many years ago, so last year we booked a flight to Belize to go on a fact finding trip, with the idea of retiring in Belize.  Months before we left, I read several books on Belize (see Taking Belize blogs recommended reads) and anything on the Internet that I could find related to retiring abroad.  We only had a week, so I made a list of things that we definitely wanted to check out while we were there.  Belize is a small country but a week is really not enough time to see everything, so you may need to make several trips to Belize.

On our first trip to Belize we flew back and forth from the island to the mainland in small puddle jumper planes, but in September we chose to take the water taxi's.  We took a water taxi to Chetumal, Mexico to check out the shopping available there. We also made visits to many of the island grocery stores on Ambergris Caye.

English is widely spoken throughout Belize, so it is easy to travel independently in Belize.  We found the Internet was available in most areas of Belize, so if you needed to make a quick reservation, it was no problem.