Try Before You Buy When Retiring To Belize

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Savvy travellers and expats know that most countries have two prices – one for the locals and another for wealthy foreigners.

The only way for a local to find out the true price is to spend some time living in the country,

Try before you buy is recommended as a strategy for expats the world over.

One place that this rule is even more important is Belize. A former British territory with a list of celebrity patrons, including movie starts Leonardo di Caprio and Harrison Ford; Kiss rock frontman Gene Simmons and actress Charlize Theron, while director Francis Ford Coppola runs a hotel.

The government is making life easy for expats who want to rub shoulders with the stars in this Caribbean country which borders Mexico and Guatemala.

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Expat incentive

The Retired Persons Incentive Programme is an open invitation from the government to anyone aged 45 or older to move to Belize with their families.

Qualification is laid-back – expats should have a non-Belize sourced income of US$2,000 a month, which is typically a pension or annuity.

Immigration officers will carry out a background check as well.

In reality, retiring to Belize means expats pay no tax on their income from overseas, unless a withholding tax is involved in the country where the pension or annuity is paid from.

Linking Belize’s tax-free environment and a Qualifying Recognised Overseas Pension Scheme (QROPS) is one way many expats and international workers can maximise their retirement income.

Prices are two-speed, so before buying a home, expats are advised to spend some time renting before putting any cash down on a property.

One problem is the nation has no official house price index, so working out if a home is value for money comes down to some shred price comparison and tough negotiation.

Word-of-mouth

Homes are rarely advertised as selling real estate is not a huge market, and many of the best properties are snapped up as word of mouth gets around.

However, prices are not expensive in comparison to other Caribbean destinations.

A good tip is to work with an independent lawyer to make sure the deal is really as good as it seems and to make sure the paperwork goes through without a hitch.

For British expats, Belize is an English-speaking nation with a legal system based on that in the UK.

Belize became self-governing in 1964 after many years of British rule.

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