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