Southwest Airlines now flies to Belize!

SOUTHWEST AIRLINES NOW FLIES TO BELIZE!

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Southwest Airlines now flies to Belize!

Tourism in Belize is skyrocketing. September and October are historically the slowest two months of the year for this tiny Central American/Western Caribbean country, but the Belize Tourism Board announced yesterday that September saw a 19.3% increase in over night arrivals in September alone!!!!! As reported by www.ambergristoday.com: September alone saw a 19.3% increase in overnight tourism and the new flight is expected to further increase this number. Travelers to Belize on the airline are excited about the “Southwest Effect”, as James Ashworth, Managing Director of Customer Support and Services at Southwest Airlines describes that when the airline enters a market they bring fares down by approximately 30%, they have no bag fees, no change fees and they provide world-class customer service. It is a great product to a great market.

southwest1As the broker for Belize Shores Realty I can contest to the fact that our inquiries are skyrocketing along with these numbers. It used to be common to receive 1-3 inquiries on Commercial properties per week but for the last few months we have averaged 2-5 inquires per day! Whether the reason for this is that Americans are getting continuously more restless with the government situation or just that Belize is so close and so economical to own property remains to be seen but whatever the reason, it certainly is welcomed!

The arrival of the first Southwest flight is sparking new energy in to all businesses that rely on tourism, real estate included. The biggest single complaint that Belize has received was that it was just expensive to travel. Our historical tourism didn’t equate to low fares like Cancun did, but now, especially after receiving the award for Mexico & Central America’s Leading Destination 2015 is Ambergris Caye Belize deserves to be treated like the tourism and investment hot spot it is!

Check out our commercial properties for sale and see what we have to offer you.

 

Why Making the Move To Belize Is Easy

belize

Deciding to relocate is always a big decision; but particularly for those who are planning on moving to another country. The idea can be exciting; but the thought of what it may require can be extremely overwhelming.

For many people who have moved to Belize, they experience a culture like no other in the world. They find that the experience of living in Belize is well worth any process they had to go through to make it happen. Moving to Belize is not as difficult as it may appear. Actually, it is pretty easy for Americans and Europeans to make Belize their home.

Here are a few reasons why:

Belizeans Speak English

English is the official language of Belize, so you won’t need to worry about learning a new language. This can be very difficult for many adults. Many Belizeans also speak Spanish and other local dialects, but you can easily get by in Belize without knowing how to speak any of these.

Similar Laws and Government

It can be quite scary moving to another country, with everything we know and hear about their laws and government structure. The Belize government and laws will be familiar to Americans and citizens of the United Kingdom, as they are based on British Common Law, which is the foundation of American law.

No Visa Needed for Americans, and Many Other Global Citizens

It is pretty simple to travel in and out of Belize, especially for British and American citizens. No Visa is required to enter Belize for American and British citizens. If you are a resident of another country besides the U.S. and the U.K., it is simple to research whether or not you will need to obtain a Visa.

No Currency Adjustment for Americans

The Belizean dollar is $2 to 1 American dollar; and both currencies are used and exchanged freely throughout the country.

Friendly People and Amazing Culture

Belizeans are friendly and welcoming. They have an island attitude of enjoying life and not taking themselves too seriously. The culture is varied and extremely blended and interesting. You will be among proud people who love their little paradise on Earth.

 

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How to Become a Citizen of Belize

citizen of belize

Many Americans and Europeans are choosing Belize as their retirement home, or simply a place to relocate to a place where daily life moves quite a bit slower.  If you are planning on making Belize your home, and not just a vacation spot or real estate investment; here is a basic guide on how to stay in Belize and possibly obtain Belizean citizenship.

1. Staying in Belize Indefinitely:

Are you qualified to apply for citizenship in Belize?

If you are planning on living out your golden years in Belize, it is wise to do your research to determine if becoming a citizen is even an option for you. Future expats who are not children or grandchildren of Belize citizens (those born in Belize), need to know that citizenship requests will be denied to those whose parents are currently citizens of countries who may be at war with Belize or who have legal immunity in Belize.

If you are married to a citizen of Belize, citizenship can be granted.

As with many countries across the globe, if you marry a citizen of Belize, after a year of residency in Belize, citizenship can be granted; barring there are no other issues concerning your country of origin as stated in the previous step.

Move to Belize with the intention of making the country your home.

If you are seriously considering moving to Belize and making it your home; you can move there and automatically be granted a month Visa stamp in your passport. After a month, you can apply for an additional stamp monthly for up to 6 months for a $25 USD fee. You may continue to renew your Visa, but the fee increases to $50 USD per month after your first 6 months are granted.

Find out if you need a Visa to enter the country.

Many global citizens are not required to obtain a Visa to enter Belize. If you are a citizen of any of these countries, you can travel to Belize with a current legal passport.

  • Citizens of the European Union Member States (EU)
  • Citizens of the Caribbean Community Member States (CARICOM)
  • Citizens of the United States of America and dependent territories
  • Costa Rica
  • Chile
  • Guatemala
  • Iceland
  • Mexico
  • Norway
  • South Africa
  • Switzerland
  • Tunisia
  • Uruguay
  • Citizens of the Commonwealth Realms & Monarchies

2. Applying For Citizenship:

After 6 months of residency in Belize, you may apply as a resident alien.

In order to apply as a resident alien of Belize, you must have financial proof that you can care for yourself and will not be a financial burden on the country. You must have at least $2000/mo for your living expenses. You must show proof of these finances when renewing your permit.

The Qualified Retirement Persons Program

The QRP (Qualified Retirement Persons Program) was created by the Belize Tourism Board to attract retirees to the country. Many find this a difficult process and hard to get approved; however, if you are approved, you are then exempt from any other residency requirements.

After one year of living in Belize, you can apply for permanent residency. After 5 years of living in Belize, you can apply for naturalization. Once you are a Belizean citizen or Resident, you are then allowed to work and start a business in Belize without a Work Permit.
 

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Dog Care in Belize

dogs in belize

Belize is very devoted to its dogs, and animal care is a priority for the SAGA Humane Society. Katia Marin and Heather Beck are the directors of the SAGA HS and bring a wealth of training and experience to their positions.

Katia Marin owns Pampered Paws, a leading pet grooming facility in Belize. She trained as a groomer in Texas. But in 2003, after getting her Masters in Dog Training in New York, Katia and Pampered Paws was able to offer overnight care, daycare, and dog training.

Katia has gone to several conferences on animal welfare and this year came to the US to workshop with some of the country’s leading dog experts. She trained at the Cesar Millan’s Dog Psychology Center where she was a workshop volunteer and learned about things such as E collar training, animal behavior, dog herding, and pack walks.

Heather Beck is owner of Utah’s K-9 Lifeline, and gave a workshop on coping with difficult dogs, which was both lecture and hands on training.  With Heather, Katia learned many techniques including dealing with socializing dogs, difficult dogs, collar and leash training.

Katia and Heather have a great concern for the dogs on Ambergris Caye. This year they will offer to train an officer to be Ambergris Cay’s official dog catcher. They will also continue to attend seminars, lectures and workshops to increase their skills and knowledge, and improve their awareness. It is their great desire to be good advocates for the dogs on Ambergris Caye, to improve care and medical services, and to work to find “furever” homes for the homeless dogs on the island.

Check out the original Ambergris Today article here.

Local Man Works to Save Belize’s Manatees

manatees

Even at a young age, Jamal knew that he wanted his life’s work to involve manatees. Now known as “the manatee man” Jamal Galves is the Belize Manatee Project Program Coordinator in his home village of Gales Point but in his own words he says that he is “just a kid trying to save manatees.” However now he has a lot more influence now than he did when he was a teenager.

There were many different threats that combined in order to make the manatees one of the most threatened marine mammals. At one point the people of the land hunted them, but now people have figured out other ways in order to harm them. One of the most common ways to harm a manatee comes from striking them with a boat. Many times they are able to hear the boat coming, but they are not able to swim away fast enough. This happens when people ignore the wake bans where there are manatee habitats.

The identification of the no-wake zones is poorly marked however, and people often don’tslow down, even if the areas are marked clear as day.

“A lot of it has to do with the peoples’ lack of understanding or appreciation for manatees,” Galves says. “They have no respect for wake zones or no reason to comply. To me, it seems like a small, easy thing for them to comply and just slow down.”

This issue along with the issues of pollution, loss of valuable coastal habitat (such as mangroves), and the continued threat of poaching, have been a cocktail for disaster in more recent years.

Unfortunately, it seems to affect the youngest the most. “If a mother and her calf are feeding and a boat comes, the mother’s first instinct is to run. They communicate using chirps at a low volume, and it’s very difficult for them to get back together [after they’ve been separated].”

This is when Galves comes in to help out. When they see an abandoned manatee calf or hear of such an incidence, then they spring into action. They collect the baby manatee that by then is generally in poor health.

This is when they rehabilitate the animal back to health with bottled milk and they help to reintroduce the manatee into the wild. However the costs get to be so high (one milk bottle costs from $14 to $17 American dollars, and they need to be fed a bottle every two hours), so Galves uses fundraising to fund his passions.

Go here to see the original article, and check out this link to donate to their cause.

 

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The Eclectic Music of Belize

music in belizeBelize may be a small country but it has had some big influences. From the impact of the Maya, to influences from both Europe and Africa, Belize has had many different styles of music over history, and integrated all of them into styles unique to Belize itself.

The musical influences of Europe and Africa were at odds, with European music being much more structured and not percussive like the African styles. The quadrilles, waltzes, and other more rigid forms of music and dance found in Europe were nothing like the free and more overt ones of Africa. The African influence encouraged musicians to take up instruments like the marimba, which is similar to the xylophone.

The four main styles of music in Belize now are Kriol, Metizo, Garifuna and Maya. These were the cultures of the greatest influence.

Kriol is the most common music to be heard in Belizean homes. It is the result of the coming together of African and Central American cultures, and is characterized by brukdown, which uses instruments such as guitars, accordions, steel drums, the jawbone of an ass, shells, and banjos.

The Metizo culture’s music is centered around the marimba a percussive instrument, which is known to have come from West Africa., and helps to provide the basis of the Metizo sound.

As for the Garifuna, according to Lorenzo Gonzalez whose article for Belize Adventure was published in Culture and Heritage, Things to See and Do, “The Garinagu proudly showcase their culture and music is a very important part of it. Their most popular music is called Punta: an upbeat dance style tune that revolves around the beating of drums and the movement of your hips. One artist who has done a great deal for Belizean music in the international music scene is Andy Palacio…he tapped into the soulful side of Garifuna music and got people listening instead of only dancing.”

The Maya influence is also very rhythmic, and characterized by the use of the percussive marimba; but another traditional Maya instrument is the Maya harp, which is made using wood from the rainforest.

While other music, such as rap, hip-hop, rock, and metal can be heard in Belize, the more traditional influences are the most popular, even amongst the younger set.

Belizean music is full, rhythmic, and has a rich history. It is wonderful that the inhabitants of Belize have integrated all these various influences into its musical tapestry.

 

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Owning a Business in Belize

belize businesses

Opening a business is risky in most cases but when you put together some of the most important characteristics of where to own a business it makes it less of a job and more of a life style. First you need to decide who your target audience is and what your businesses primary goal is. Belize is one of the largest tourist areas, if your product or business appeals to tourists then you are ready to go. If your business is more of a target for the locals you may have a tough job ahead of you but it can be done. The locals need things year round as well!

Tourists are interesting people. They travel around the world looking for places and things to spend their money on. They may not even realize the things they want to buy can be purchased at home. The difference is when they are out gallivanting the globe they do not have the capability of comparison shopping. Belize is very close to the United States and even has direct flights from Charlotte, Miami, Dallas, Newark, Houston, and soon Chicago. This makes it an easy getaway for people from the states.

The US is not the only place people travel from. It just seems to be one of the easiest. With the major languages of Belize being English and Spanish it is also extremely easy for people to communicate. English and Spanish are the two most common spoken languages in the world. This makes it easier to communicate with your customers and make your sales goals. Belize is ready to set your company up for success and ready to help you grow your business.

The Cost of Living in Belize

belize

Moving to a new area in your home country is always a daunting task.  When you move to Belize you may be surprised to find out how affordable it is to live here.  In many ways it is actually much cheaper to live in Belize than it is to live in the United States.

Many of the costs in Belize are significantly lower than in the U.S. such as the cost of buying a house, insurance, taxes, and utility bills.  Depending on where you plan on settling in Belize, the average costs to maintain a lifestyle can vary, just like they do in the U.S.  If you live near Ambergris Caye or Placencia you should expect higher prices.  On the other hand in northern Belize near Corozal things are generally less expensive.

In the more expensive areas of the country, you could live comfortably on a monthly budget of $3,000.  In the less expensive areas you could maintain a lifestyle on $1,000.  The way to control costs is to live like the locals do.  Eat local and save.  For a sandwich and a coffee a meal may cost you $3, a medium quality bottle of red wine that is imported may run roughly $15.

There are plenty of places to live in Belize where you can live on a lower budget, walk to the beach, and still not give up some of your modern day amenities.  Belize is the perfect place to retire in, spend holidays, live part time or full time in.  The weather and the lifestyle are such alluring factors for this tropical paradise.

Education in Belize

Schooling in Belize

Before you make the move to Belize, it is important to look at what your family’s future will be like, and one of the most important facets, of course, is the sort of education that  is available to your children. Before you decide where to move in Belize, it may be a good idea to tour a couple of school campuses to make sure that your children will feel comfortable with their transition into a new school system as well. Here is a little bit of information about education in Belize so you can know what to expect.

 

Although education in Belize was originally founded through religious institutions (especially Jesuit), the government now manages all public education systems in Belize.

 

The Belize educational system is structured after the British system, with three levels: primary education, secondary education, and post-secondary education. Primary education is required for children living in Belize. While there are several colleges and universities in Belize available for post-secondary enrollment (University of Belize, University College of Belize, St. John’s College, and the Belize School of Nursing, among others), there is also an option for your children to enroll in sixth form, which is a two-year post-secondary course that prepares students for A-level examinations but also awards students with an Associate of Arts degree (as sanctioned by the United States Association of Junior Colleges).

 

Although technology in Belize has not reached the same levels of accessibility as it has in many European countries or in the United States, schools in the more urban areas have access to computers and the Internet. Although these technologies are not yet integrated into the curriculum, there are several current efforts throughout the country that focus on bringing technology to all schools in Belize and making technology literacy part of school curriculum. As we all are, Belize is working to embrace the still-new intersection of education and technology. You and your children can look forward to exploring these defining years in the Belize educational system.

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Why You Should Retire in Belize!

Belize Real Estate
 
There are a lot of things to consider once you are planning to retire, and you want to make sure that you’re happy once you do settle down! Here is a great list of reasons to retire in Belize.

 

1. The Economy. The Belize’s economy is extremely stable, and has one of the lowest inflation rates in the world.

 

2. The Language. English is the official language of Belize. This is the only Latin American country where this is true- but it suits Americans well.

 

3. The Distance. Belize is close by- you can get to it in two hours or less from Houston or other points along the coast. This means it will be easy to visit family members when you want to- and many of them will want to come visit you!

 

4. Similar Laws. The laws in Belize are based off that of the British. This makes them very similar to the ones that we are already used to in America. This makes it a very easy transition.

 

5. Real Estate. The real estate in Belize is very affordable compared to the real estate in America.

 

6. Taxes. Belize’s government doesn’t tax excessively. Depending on how you earn your income, you could possibly have a zero tax liability as a retired person in this country. Belize has many options, own an International Business Company and hold your foreign assets tax free, or own an International Free Zone company which can hold even your Belize assets with tax holidays for the rest of your retired life.

 

7. The perks.  If you are over 45, you can take full advantage of a retiree program which helps you establish legal residency in Belize, which will allow you to enjoy extra benefits and tax advantages!

 

8. The land. Belize itself is something you don’t want to miss out on. There is a barrier reef that is only second in size to the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. With this along with all the other fascinating places to visit, it will be hard to get bored in Belize.

 

9. The feeling of community. Family life and the happiness that comes with it is a huge priority in Belize.

 

10. The Expatriate Community. Belize has been attracting retirees and expatriates for decades.

 

Belize is a beautiful, quirky country that should be on everyone’s bucket list to visit. For those who are of the mind to, they will even get to spend their golden years.

 
 

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