Moving to another country is a big deal. No matter how you look at it. And estimating how much day to day life is really going to cost is tough.
When I started blogging a few years ago (September 2011), I wrote a post called How Much Does it Really Cost to Live in Belize. Just a listing of expenses, my expenses, in the most expensive spot in Belize – Ambergris Caye. Here is an update.
It’s a guide, a loose guide, to how much it might cost you to live in San Pedro. Hopefully it helps.
And, if you’ve never been here, $1USD equals $2BZD. Always.
Monthly rent: $1700 bzd. This is on the expensive/very expensive side. I live in a second floor condo unit at Royal Palm (http://www.royalpalmcondos.com/) with a large kitchen, washer/dryer, one bedroom, one loft and two bathrooms. It’s 3 or 4 back from the beach.
Could I find cheaper? Yes. But I like the distance from town (about 2 miles south) – it’s nice and quiet. And I like that there is security.
I am, at some point, planning to move closer to town (for blogging purposes) and hope to go cheaper.
Electric Bill (BEL): $200-$500 bzd per month. Very expensive. I hardly ever use A/C (maybe two or three times a month during the summer). But I do have an electric stove and the washer/dryer.
If I do turn on the older central air conditioning, the price can skyrocket to $1000bzd a month. Personally? I’d rather sweat.
Some people choose to leave the AC on all the time. At a higher setting since the open windows and sea air is corrosive (to say the very least). It eats everything – your computer, your refrigerator, your pots and pans, everything. Obviously, it’s a personal choice.
Water Bill (BWS): $50-70 bzd per month
Cable Bill (Coral Cable): $44 bzd per month and I get more channels than I did in New York. From Showtime to Encore. Unless you have some fancy Satellite dish, this option, Coral Cable, is your only option.
The hardest thing I found was getting used to NO DVR. A life without my US boyfriend, TIVO is a whole new life…
Cats: Getting your animals down here is relatively easy. Keeping them here is expensive. I have 3 cats (one I brought down, 2 adopted here). They need flea/tick meds & heartworm pills each month. NEED. Those things kill down here. $100bzd.
3 bags of Kitty Litter. $45. 3 bags of dry food. $40. 30 cans of wet food. $60bzd.
Here’s some detail on my cats. If you are at all interested…
Cell Phone Credits: The phone system here is pre-pay for the most part. About $50 per month for my phone credits. Skype, Facetime, all the internet options have been opened up this past year – they were previously blocked by the phone company.
And that makes things MUCH cheaper.
Internet: Check out this post that Jason wrote for me about working remotely from Belize. It’s a good overview of the internet options and speeds (generally horrendous) in Belize.
I use (and LOVE) my Smart Mi-Fi. For one or two people in a household, and if you don’t need super fast speeds (I certainly don’t)…it is perfect and by far the cheapest option. I paid $150bzd for the Mi-Fi unit and then I buy a 25GB package from Smart for $150bzd that lasts for 2 to 3 months.
So far, the combination is keeping me from wrenching my lower back or getting arthritis of the knees. Perhaps that’s just luck. I am 40 years old after all…
Food/Entertainment: A huge variable and a category I am learning to cut back on. Some food here is very reasonable. If you learn to eat like a Belizean, learn to cook with ingredients like dried beans, rice, chicken, onions, tomatoes, coconut milk, etc, you can make it work relatively cheaply.
If you eat out for every meal or buy lots of imported items (from grapes & lettuce to breakfast cereal & Doritos), you can spend TONS of money. (A box of American cereal is about $12-18bzd and a bag of Doritos about $10bzd.) I’ve never really written it down, but I guess I spend $150-200bzd a week on food from the supermarket. But then, I eat out quite a bit.
From $3 tacos to dinners at restaurants, the prices vary.
But as you can imagine, this adds up QUICKLY.
Things that I haven’t included: medical insurance and travel. Travel is a huge cost for me. But it is such a personal thing – do you plan on travelling back to the States or Canada once…five times a year? Do you want to get out and explore Belize?
Also, transportation. You can buy a bike for $300bzd. You can buy a golf cart for $20,000bzd.
Taking a taxi to town for me is $7bzd. But I try to walk during the day.
So there it is. If anyone from another part of Belize would like to share your estimated costs, I would LOVE it. On the mainland, you might have a car…lower rent…a farm?
Let me know…