Belize could be the new Bahamas for vacation homes

This article is reproduced with permission from The escape house, a newsletter for secondary owners and those who want to be. Subscribe here. © 2021. All rights reserved.

Angie Mclean has traveled everywhere in search of a place to call home once her children grow up. She first visited Cuenca, the favorite of American expatriates, in Ecuador. Fine, she said, but she didn’t fall in love. Costa Rica? Too much played. Thailand? His dream, but too far from the children. Mexico? Nope. And Panama, it turns out, that wasn’t its place either. Then one morning after some sleep-induced web surfing and apparently buying bargain tickets, when she woke up there was an email saying “Congratulations, you go. in Belize ”.

In recent years, the Central American country – and most notably Ambergris Caye, a small part of the Caribbean island – has grown in popularity. Retirees, investors, vacationers and digital nomads have arrived in droves, drawn not only by the country’s natural beauty – it has a barrier reef second only to Australia’s Great Barrier Reef – but by the low cost of land and many investments. Opportunities. English is also the official language. That being said, Belize’s local population is incredibly diverse, made up of people of Creole, Garifuna, Métis, Spanish, Mayan, English, Mennonite, Lebanese, Chinese, and South Asian descent.

“If you look at Belize, we’re kind of like the Bahamas or the Cayman Islands 30 years ago, Ambergris Caye at least,” said Dustin Rennie, real estate agent at RE / MAX in Belize. “It was crazy, when I started coming here nobody knew where Belize was. Now all of a sudden it’s on the world’s radar. We finally only get international brands here, and when brands like Hilton and Marriott start coming here, their marketing dollars are really fueling a lot of our tourism and a lot of our growth. So I think we’re at a tipping point. “

Less than 10 minutes after arriving at Ambergris Caye, Mclean knew she had found her place.

“Everything was in sync,” she said. “There’s the perfect amount of fruit stands where you can go get a smoothie, the perfect amount of party where there’s no noise or rave all night long, but people have a great time sitting and listening. live music, the weather is nice, people sort of mind their own business its not too American where you are dragged into a Planet Hollywood setting. This is the perfect amount of island , for sure, it’s clean, the locals are friendly, I just fell in love with everything about it.

Mclean has purchased side-by-side plots in a development called Mahogany Bay, where she plans to build two homes, one will be a long-term rental and the other will be her second home until she retires. and moves in full time. The land at Mahogany Bay, which is owned by Hilton, starts at $ 150,000. She has also purchased an off-grid land at Secret Beach, as well as another land where she is building a property she plans to use as Airbnb on the neighboring island, Caye Caulker.

“There is huge potential for growth and I think it’s a very safe investment,” Mclean said. “Everywhere I went, in every restaurant, on the plane, anywhere I sat in the park, anywhere I heard other investors talking about the opportunities, say ‘Oh my God’. “

For those looking for a second home, the biggest opportunity is to buy land and a building.

“There is a shortage, there are not a lot of single family homes available,” Rennie said. “We have a big gap in the bedroom market with more than three bedrooms. Eighty-two percent of our home inventory is made up of studios or one bedroom. This market is quite unique in that if you buy land and a building, you see almost immediate appreciation in a completed construction.

One thing that makes Belize so attractive to people who want to buy property is that its legal system is based on English common law. It gained independence from the United Kingdom in 1981.

“It’s very easy for a foreigner to come here and buy a property,” said Rennie. You have exactly the same property rights as a local. It is very easy to start a business.

Property taxes are also incredibly low – between 1% and 1.5% of the value of undeveloped land – making it easy to buy and own land. Belize has no capital gains or inheritance taxes.

“It’s cheaper to own a property in Belize than it is to have a bank account, so you can have an asset that is hedged against inflation,” he added. “We see a lot of people doing this as a safe investment.”

Belize also offers significant retiree incentives through its Qualified Retirement Program, which allows people 45 years of age and over who are able to earn a monthly income of at least $ 2,000 through a pension. or an annuity generated outside the country to live in Belize indefinitely, and to bring their personal and household effects, a personal boat, a personal aircraft and a motor vehicle into the country free of taxes and duties. Without the exemption, these items would be taxed at a rate between 25 and 40%.

Ray Nelson, a former Las Vegas firefighter, is building a resort in Ambergris Caye for him and his parents; they will move there thanks to the Eligible Retirement Program.

In addition to the benefits of the program – he is an avid yachting enthusiast and his family plans to bring a couple – Nelson was drawn to Belize by the excellent fishing and scuba diving opportunities.

“I plan to catch some fish to eat every morning,” he said. “Belize is an absolutely beautiful place to put down roots.”

Like Mclean, Nelson also bought undeveloped off-grid lots – at $ 35,000 each – to hold them as investments.

“I think this area is going to explode when they finally have utilities there,” he said. “Maybe in 10 years, I can turn them around at a profit or put an Airbnb in them.”

Also in favor of Belize, says Rennie, is that it is not overdeveloped… yet.

“One thing I love about Belize – we go to the Bahamas, we go to Tulum, the Cayman Islands, we go to these places and you can take something that worked there and you can apply it here. and there is a good chance that it will be successful. ”Said Rennie. Investing in Belize is a bit like investing with a time machine. You don’t have to be a genius to be successful in this market.

This article is reproduced with permission from The escape house, a newsletter for secondary owners and those who want to be. Subscribe here. © 2021. All rights reserved.

Comments are closed.