Thursday, June 11, 2009



Got a Louisiana couple here visiting, looking at Belize for retirement. They had some interesting questions.
Why not case in the ceiling like they do in the USA? The reason is field mice and cockroaches in the tropical climate. They built nests in the dead spaces. Same with gypsum board walls. Can’t see the termites eating the wood studs. Field mice nests in ceilings are a big nuisance.
Our building is a utilitarian building. We live mostly wide open to the outdoors, with half Dutch doors open, windows open, etc. Why do I have the wiring on pvc pipe on the inside cement walls? The reason is, for ease of changes and additions. You can build with wiring into the cement block walls and many do. My own experience has been that I’m always wanting more lights, or outlets that were not originally planned on. It is just easier to have an electrician come in and put in extensions. The cost is around $40 usa per outlet.
Why did Silvia and I choose to live up here in the suburb of Hillview in Santa Elena Town. Partly because of the cooler Spring weather, particularly at night for 8 months a year. The other reason is bugs. Like mosquitoes and sandflies, common on the lower altitude coast. We are at 600 feet here and if you study the Mayan thatch villages, you will note, they always build above 400 feet altitude for the same reasons. Cut out the mosquitoes and get better sleeping temperatures. It was also a question of price, availability, convenience of streets, water service and electrical service and garbage service. The East West road is asphalt paved as is the North South highway. All other streets and roads are dirt. We just bought another house and lot in our suburb for $8000 usa. Will take that again to fix it up properly, but still a bargain by US standards. Expect we will increase floor space from the 400 square feet to about 3200 square feet. Our house and hotel here now is around 4000 square feet and started off with one of these small houses.
Building material costs! Most gadgets like nails, hinges, paint and screws are imported. If you take the retail cost in the USA and multiply by 3 times, you have the rough cost in Belize currency of the item. Due to taxes, shipping and customs brokers. Belize currency is $2 bz to $1 usa. Building supplies are erratic in availability. You have to wait when they run out of supplies for a couple of months, for wholesalers to import another shipping container of building supplies.
Building in cement is preferable to wood. Termites are the main reason and lower maintainance. They import cement and make cement blocks locally though. Building insurance for us is around a $1000 usa.
Land prices are variable and based on location and demand. Title processing is complicated and very slow. Lands Department backlogs run about a year.
If you are waiting for Permanent Residency and have completed a year in the country, the backlog in the Immigration Department is running right now about a year and a half. Most of it is due to a very complex inter-departmental sign off process, on the process of regulating things. Your file gets put on somebody’s desk and will get ignored as political party members hustle favors for people. The priority system doesn’t work due to politics.
Why live in Belize instead of the USA? The main reason is climate, this is a rural pristine country with a small population. We have two or three months of summer heat and eight or nine months of nice Spring type climate. ETERNAL SPRING.
Being a statistic in a metropolitan area doesn’t suit a lot of people. Here people know your name and greet you on the street.
That occurs in rural USA also though.
When you get older, medical problems arise. Medical service is better in Belize than in Metropolitan areas of the USA. The doctors are as good, at a fraction of the cost. You don’t need medical insurance and most new retirees have canceled their Medicare A & B, their medical insurance and taken the monthly money instead.
Medical problems can be frightening in the USA. The main reason is; I know of several people who lost their bank accounts, houses, stocks and assets. An example would be a male nephew who was around 40 years old and had looked after his rich aunt for 14 years. She wouldn’t give him power of attorney and he didn’t know enough to be appointed Guardian. Her incontinence in home living became too much for him to handle. So he applied to get assistance. Within 18 hours, the court had made the State her GUARDIAN. She had about $2 million in cash assets and $4 million in real estate. The nephew was kicked out of the house in downtown Metropolitan Miami with zero. He expected to inherit and became homeless instead. It took the STATE about 2 ½ years to run through her fortune. Every time she needed medicine, it required a judge, expensive lawyers to confirm the injection, all debited from her assets. The STATE argument was she would be in a STATE facility care for the rest of her life at no expense after the money was run through.
If you talk to some homeless people on park benches and living under bushes on Miami Beach, they can give you horrific stories. Of getting sick, homes and property sold for property taxes and being evicted. It is not unusual to have a million and a half medical lien on everything you own, for a ten day hospital stay. Nobody cares, once you have no more money. The medical system is designed to strip a person of their assets. If you are single and alone for any reason, you are in big trouble. As you get older you need to protect your assets and cash flow.
Like many countries, Belize has a system whereby if your property taxes are delinquent, the property cannot be transferred, inherited or sold, until all back taxes are paid up in lump sum. You don’t get kicked out on the street in your old age.

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