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If you are worried that your retirement money is not going to be enough to let you live the life you always dreamt about after retirement, then it is time you learned about a sleepy little town called Corozal. Located in the beautiful Corozal Bay in Caribbean, this town is in North Belize and just 10 miles south of the Mexican border. The town is for those who want to start an entirely new life after their retirement and is willing to adjust to a new culture and is ready to let go of some amenities that they are used to. These adjustments and letting go will be small in nature as Belize is after all a modern democratic country which wants you to live, work and own properties in this country! You don’t even have to give up your citizenship for that!
This Central American country was part of the great Mayan civilization, ruins of which are still being discovered. The two main economic mainstays of the area are livestock production and sugarcane plantation in a landscape that is Savannah in nature. The economy of Corozal town is on an upward mode with Free Zones, i.e. areas with no business tax, being set up close to the town. Since the town is close to Mexico, Spanish is the main language here; but English and Creole are both widely understood and spoken by residents. The whole of Northern Belize is a mixture of cultures; all the groups that have lived here contributed their unique cultural traits in developing the culture and society of the region. Mayans are the only indigenous group among the various groups which also consists of Mennonites who came here to avoid religious persecution in their native land. Even Chinese, East Indians and Creoles can be found living peacefully in this ‘melting pot’ of culture.
Today Corozal town is a developing town of 8,500 inhabitants and has many parks and wide, tree-lined boulevards. Summer is quite hot though occasional trade breezes cool the weather. The dry seasons starts from January and lasts until May. Rainy season starts from April but Corozal and the entire Northern Belize receives very little rainfall every year.
Belize is a heaven for those retiring in their home country. In 1999, the country passed the Qualified Retired Persons Incentive Program under which anyone retiring and over the age of 45 from any part of the world can settle here with many facilities. The only catch is that, you have to show proof of monthly guaranteed income of $2,000 USD which has to be deposited in a Belizean bank and certain other requirements. In return, you can virtually move your whole house including household goods, cars and even airplanes without paying any import duties! But since 2005, this program has been stalled. Now expatriates who live here for only some part of the year have to do it on a tourist card. After the first month, they can apply to renew the card for additional three months for about $25 USD and for $50 USD a month, they can stay for more than 6 months to a year. But after a year is over, they have to leave Belize and come back again to continue the process.
One great thing about Belize is that it offers great health care system. Unless you are living in extreme rural places, where there is a shortage of doctors, you will have access to first class medical facilities without any problem. The state run hospitals, seven in number, offer all kinds of facilities to Belizeans for low cost. Some even offer free services! The city hospital in Corozal town is well equipped and has great doctors, most of who are trained outside the country. If you are an US citizen, your Medicare will not cover your medical cost in Belize. But that is not a problem with most as even private physicians (list of whom is available with local US consulate) are modestly affordable. You can also cross the border to Chetumal in Mexico where you will also get private physicians and clinics.
As for the medical emergencies, it is always better to have a catastrophic insurance coverage that your local insurance carrier may offer. This is important because you will need the money to get back to USA if the problem is severe. If you plan to stay in Belize as you age, one problem with this comprehensive coverage is that, it will become costly with time. That is why you should make sure you check carefully while taking this insurance that emergency evacuation flights are covered by it. The good news is that some travel companies and credit cards also provide this coverage.
One of the most important reasons why retirees are planning to move to Corozal after retirement is because it has a very low cost of living. Living in Belize is relatively cheaper than in USA; and within the country this northern region is the most cheapest as it is near Mexico. Depending on how much you are willing to pay for luxury, you can lead a good life here for a little over $500 a month in Corozal. Simple things like Bananas cost about $1 for 7-8 pieces while movie tickets come at $5. Amenities like cable TV come for around $20 a month while water delivery is for about $40 a month. Electricity bills can be a bit high at $200 while telephone service installation charges range from $50 to $200 with monthly charges of $5 only!
The main reason why retirees are making a beeline for Belize and especially Corozal, is because of quality real estate property for a highly affordable price! For as minimum as $30,000 you can buy a vacant lot that has a fantastic view of the Bay. For $65,000 you can buy a retirement home with all kinds of amenities and three bed rooms. If you are looking for rental properties, they range from $100 to $300 for Belizean styled home and $400 to $800 for a North American style house. You can also rent a home in Conseja Shores, a retirement community set up by a Canadian expat for about $450 for a single family home. This retirement community offers luxurious amenities and houses here come for about $130,000. If you have brought a vacant lot, you can buy a “pre-fabricated” Mennonite style house for about $14,000 only! One last word on buying properties in Corozal; all transactions are in cash.
With so many expats settling around the town, you will not run out of social events to participate in! You can meet most of them in popular haunts like Tony’s Inn and Beach Resort or in Corozal Bay Inn. Moving around this lovely town is easy; most prefer to walk among the tree-lined roads though taxis are also available. All modern amenities such as banks, restaurants, police station and shopping malls are all present in the town. The Belize Tourism Board maintains an office at the waterfront for helping tourists like you.
All of this will make you eager to reach your retirement so that you can start living in Corozal, Belize. But before you move permanently, it is always better to spend a vacation there and see the place for yourself before you make this momentous decision. That way you will be sure to never regret moving to Belize in your retirement years!