You can live in the Tropical Paradise of Belize on about $450 a month!
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Belize Retirement Guide

Review by Carl Franz

Belize Retirement Guide: How to Live in a Tropical Paradise on $450 a Month, by Bill & Claire Gray, 1998, 4th Edition, Preview Publishing, Preview Publishing, Box 107, Corozal, Belize, tel/fax: 501-4-23406, $29.95 ISBN 1-880862-47-6. Email:

Sometime in the 1980's, Bill and Claire Gray pulled the plug and escaped from California to the Central
American country of Belize. You can probably guess the rest: Fleeing the land of smog and gridlock, they were soon hiding out on the beach, lapping up the sunshine, tropical fruits and seafood, living like royalty on a peasant's budget.

"We were living on a very small amount of money. We wondered why more people weren't doing the same thing. Then we realized they didn't know they could."

Besieged by questions from friends and even strangers about how they might also retire to Belize, the Greys realized they'd need a book to satisfy everyone ? and eventually sat down to write it. To their credit, the authors quickly note that, "Belize isn't for everyone.... Usually people love it or hate it.... Belize is not perfect."

In fact, your geography teacher probably overlooked it entirely. Briefly, Belize is a sparsely populated, undeveloped country with a long Caribbean coastline. Sandwiched between Guatemala and Mexico, it is slightly larger in size than Massachusetts ? and that is the only possible similarity tropical Belize bears with the cold and unforgiving north.

A nice place to vacation perhaps, but would you want to actually live there? The Greys make a persuasive case for answering "Yes!" or at least, "Probably...." After reminding us that "it's still exceedingly difficult to obtain good information" on Belize, the authors give a number of telling points in favor of retirement there:

The character of the country is much like turn-of-the-century rural America. In other words, Belize is genuinely laid-back, with very little industry, pollution, traffic or stress.

  • As a former British Colony, Belize is officially an English speaking country. Signs, school books and government red tape are in English.
  • The cost of living is quite low. According to the Grays, "We know many Gringos (singles and couples) who live here in Belize on $450 per person per month." They wisely qualify this, however, by warning that although you can enjoy a good standard of living on a small budget, such economy can't be achieved if you expect to duplicate an American lifestyle in Belize.
  • "Frankly, no one really cares enough about Belize to invade her." In other words, Belize is politically stable.
  • "There is no winter." Tell that to your friends in Massachusetts!
  • "Belize has an excellent postal service...."
  • It is relatively easy to establish permanent residency without losing your present citizenship.
  • A foreigner can own land, outright.
  • Foreigners with permits can work or open their own businesses.
  • Belize is a very interesting place to live, with a variety of cultures and natural attractions. Fishing, diving, sailing, birding and jungle-bashing are all excellent.

Ready to pull up stakes? Before you do, read what the Grays have to say in their overviews of Getting To Belize, Belize City, The People, Red Tape and Moving To Belize. The book is very persuasive, but as the authors warn, Belize is not for everyone. An exploratory trip is an absolute must. Even then, it would be foolish (in my opinion) to consider moving to Belize without actually living there for a trial period of at least several months.

I made my first trip to Belize in the early Sixties. As much as I enjoy the country, however, it had never really occurred to me that Belize might be a possible retirement spot until I'd read Belize Retirement Guide. I was impressed by the Grays frank, down-to-earth assessment of living in Belize, 'warts' and all. Its authors obviously take a positive view of the country, but there's no feeling that they're trying to pull the wool over anyone's eyes. All in all, Belize Retirement Guide nicely fulfills the Grays' purpose of informing their friends of the exciting discovery they've made, while sharing the down-to-earth details of their new life.

Order the Belize Retirment Guide
©1972-2000 by Carl Franz & Lorena Havens
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