I met Ashley last summer in San Pedro. Last year, she got a job with a Not-For-Profit Organization operating just outside of Belize City and was planning her move there. She’s now settled in the city and she was GENEROUS enough to read my Cost of Living yesterday for San Pedro and send me her own.
Though the city is only 10-15 miles away, in many ways, it’s a different world. Take it away Ashley…
I have lived in Belize City for about 3 months and continue to adjust to prices, budgets, and all things new. I will share that I work here for a living and make local wages. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to retire early and permanently move to San Pedro, which is definitely in my plan, but just hasn’t happened yet.
Living in the city can be A LOT cheaper than living in San Pedro; however there are a few things to remember. This is a city, not a town. You can’t walk everywhere and frankly, I wouldn’t ride a bike here either (I’ve seen countless bikers get hit by cars) and therefore; need a car or prepare to blow your budget and lots of time for that matter, on bus and taxi rides. Let me break it down: all prices in Belize Dollars.
The conversion rate is $2bzd = $1 USD.
Rent: $1000/month. I live in a 1 bedroom, 1 bathroom apartment on the north side of the city. My rent is very high for Belize City, but I choose to live in a gated community with 24/hr armed security guards. When I leave, they write it down, when I return they document it.
If anyone comes to see me they get names and phone numbers. If you show up after dark; they are holding BIG guns (during the day little guns). If you have read much about Belize City, you know that crime is crazy here and being a single female, it’s just better that I pay a little more for added security.
Cable: $47. Rebecca was right, we get every channel under the sun. HBO, Showtime, Starz, we don’t even pay to watch big time boxing fights or WWE special events. I just wish I had more time to watch tv!
Electricity: In Belize City, electricity will run you .52 cents per KWH. Last month my electric bill was $187.72 – I believe in the states it’s somewhere around .10. I have a washer/dryer, electric stove and 2 air conditioners. I am learning to love my fan; however, the city I would say, is MUCH hotter than San Pedro; especially if you live on the ocean and get a breeze.
Everything in Belize City is made of concrete and holds the heat in so I will admit, I tend to run my air conditioner for small bits of time (as I get ready for work, while I’m getting ready for bed then turn it off) just to minimize the sweating!
Water: $58.00 Seems like a lot to pay for a water bill, but I don’t think I over use. Two showers a day and several loads of laundry a week and boom $60 later you’re wondering how in the world you used so much water.
Phone: I also use prepaid credit. It’s cheap and you only pay for what you use. There are several days a month where you can double and triple up your credit depending on how much you buy.
Internet: I would die without internet. It’s the best way to communicate with family and friends back home. Wifi at home is $140.00/month and I splurged and have internet on my phone for 49.00/month. Phone internet really comes in handy when you’re out and about and just HAVE to look something up (=
Transportation: $15.00/week on bus fare and $20-$30/week on taxi fare. This varies greatly. When I first moved here I was taking cabs all the time and probably spending $100+/week on transportation. Now that I’m learning the city and meeting people, I have been known to bum a ride every now and again from someone I know or have met along the way. Like I said, I live on the northern edge of the city, if I lived closer to town, this number would greatly decrease.
Exercise: I’m an avid exerciser, but unfortunately there isn’t a CrossFit box in Belize City. I have started marathon training again (FREE!!) and do T25, P90x, Insanity, from the comfort of my hot living room daily. It’s all free!!
Food: $150-$200/week. I LOVE to cook and don’t eat out much. I pack my lunch most days and take it to work. Belize City has a great market where you can get all of your fruits and veggies for cheap. I mean cheap. Eight bananas will run you $1.00, that’s $.50 USD people!! The variety is plentiful and let’s face it, going to an outdoor market to buy all your fruits and veggies is fun.
Sunday BBQ for $6bzd.
Sometimes I treat myself to the awesome street food Belize City has to offer. Tacos, Ducunu, Meat Pies, Corn on the Cob, Plantain Chips, supa, fresh coconut water and did I mention tacos? These will all run you $1.00-3.00. It’s all so good, but moderation is key.
When I used to come to Belize for vacation I would go home and tell everyone how cheap it was. Now that I live here and work here I can say this: Belize is cheap if you make US wages and come to visit (or live for that matter) but, if you only make $1000.00 USD/month (and that is still WAY more than minimum wage) it doesn’t take long to learn how to stretch your dollar and learn what to splurge on and what to skip.
I was lucky enough to pre-plan my move. I knew it was going to be costly, especially with the drastic cut in my paycheck. Before I left the states I got a 2nd job waiting tables, just to have extra money to be able to do some of the fun things Belize has to offer without blowing my life savings.