My Internet & The Possibility of Being a Digital Nomad in Belize

Last year, I wrote a post titled:  How To Get A Job In Belize.  It’s the #1 question that I receive from readers and look, I totally get it.  MAN do I get it.

You visit Belize – everyone is so friendly, everyone speaks English, it’s gorgeous warm and inviting, there seem to be quite a few Americans and other foreigners working here – so why can’t I?

Well…it’s definitely NOT that easy.  It’s not easy at all.  And it shouldn’t be. I listed quite a few reasons in the post above.  Like…when you arrive, you are an immigrant and working isn’t legal in Belize.

But I want to work here!

But there is a way that is becoming more and more popular and accessible to many.  Using your computer, your smart phone, internet calling…all sorts of apps to work anywhere in the world.  Anywhere that has decent internet access.  Telecommuting is become MUCH more popular – and approaching your current boss makes tons of sense if you are planning on moving.  There are also numerous websites that list internet based jobs from around the world.

Take a look at FlexJobs.com  or Hubstaff.  There are scores of sites.

Whether you dream of moving to Belize and working online for your current job or you plan to hop around Central America or the world as a digital nomad, there is one factor that is going to make or break your dream.

Does Belize have internet good and consistent enough so that I can conduct business via the Internet?

Of course there are MANY things to consider – like your overall budget – and Belize’s cost of living is considerably more expensive than other more popular DNomadic locales.  For instance, you can pop over to Chiang Mai Thailand and live for under $1000US a month with internet speeds that average 20Mbs.

You are going to be hardpressed to make that budget work in Belize ESPECIALLY with that internet speed.  20Mbs is the extreme exception rather than the average. **

So, let me tell you about my internet experience in Belize – it has been getting SOOOO much better since I moved here.  But still…is not yet at the level that I experienced when I left New York City 10 years ago.

My own first Smart internet hook-up in 2012 – until then I had been sharing dreadfully slow BTL hook-ups with neighbors

Until about a month ago, I used a SMART 4G Mi-Fi and I am a huge fan.  The speed, while not consistent, was almost always 4G or significantly higher.  It is portable – I bought the small unit for $175bzd – and can EASILY charge it and carry it in my bag.  Making unplugged, portable wi-fi available for about 4-5 hours depending on use.  AND, if charged, it works when the power goes out.  Win win win.

I am ALWAYS glad to have it no matter where I travel in Belize.  Even the nicest, most expensive resorts can have questionable internet service.

The downside (and it is significant for many) is that it is a Pay-as-You-Go plan, a pre-paid (rather than postpaid) system.  So…I have to go to the Smart office (it is easier if you own a Smart cellphone) and buy credit that is good for up to 45 days.

My Smart Mi-Fi upgrade from 3G to 4G in early 2016

SO…though the speed is there, if you watch Netflix or make internet calls, you are USING credit quickly.  And prices are not cheap.  $135bzd buys you 12Mbs.  $220 buys you 25Mbs.  And watching an hour of HD Netflix, can burn through up to 3Mbs.

SO when Smart announced a NEW service – a broadband, unlimited hook-up – I was on it.

UNLIMITED!  A small radio was installed on the roof – pointing towards one of the 4 towers here on the caye – and they provide a modem.

HUGE PLUSES:  UNLIMITED.  Did I say that?  It can be installed anywhere that you have electricity – solar, generator, from the grid – as long as you can point the radio towards the tower.  15 miles north, the west side of the island, anywhere.  And, it you are willing to pay for it, the speeds can be ZIPPY!

Here are the prices.  There is a $90bzd installation fee – and it has been waived for the first few months of the year.  BINGO!

Speed Download/Upload

Monthly fee

Deposit

2Mbs/1Mbs

$99.00

$198.00.

4Mbs/2Mbs

$150.00

$300.00

8Mbs/4Mbs

$250.00

$500.00

16Mbs/8Mbs

$420.00

$840.00

25Mbs-12.5Mbs

$900.00

$1800.00

50Mbs/25Mbs

$1750

$3500

 I’ve been using my new internet (4Mbs) for the past few weeks and I LOVE it.  Netflix HD Steaming?  It works!  Hello 2011!  I have LOTS to catch up on.  And I’m always looking for great suggestions.

I also keep my Smart Mi-Fi for back-up – if the power goes out or if I am out and about in town or on the mainland.

My speed RIGHT NOW.

That is the set-up that I found works best for me.  I have download speeds of 4Mbs – consistently – and a back up system.  It costs me $150BZD a month for the home system – and about another $50bzd a month for the back-up.  Is it cheap by world standards?  No.  But does it make it possible for some to live in Belize and work remotely?

Absolutely.

**you can find my estimate on Ambergris Caye here at about $2300US.  Here is an estimate in Belize City also.

To speak with my SMART rep, the fabulous Natalie Arceo, I find emailing easiest.  You can reach her at:  narceo@speednet-wireless.com

*I have in no way been paid by SMART for this recommendation though don’t think I didn’t try 🙂 Email…unanswered.

If you’d like to share or just remember, please stick a pin in it.

Can you be a digital nomad in Belize? Here is a look at my internet on Ambergris Caye




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  • Mircea Iordache

    $1750BZD per month with a $3500 deposit for 50mb/s?!? Wow, that’s… umm… that’s… I don’t even… wow!

    I know it’s an island, I know high speeds aren’t easy to get in Central/South America, I wasn’t expecting miracles… but, DAMN! I mean, I plan to relocate to Ambergis Caye and my best bet for making some money while living there was to freelance as a video editor. But if it takes half a day or I have to sell a kidney to send a video file to a client…

    Anyway, the good news (for me) is that I’m not moving there for a good few years, so things may very well improve by then. And there are other things I could do for money, just not as lucrative.