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Central America's Accessible Gem: Real Estate in Belize

A small, Central American country bordering the Caribbean Sea, Belize was a well-kept travel secret until quite recently. Overshadowed by its neighbor Mexico and the more well-known Caribbean islands, it wasn't until the 1990s that visitors from North America and Europe began to discover the natural riches, cultural charm, and relaxed pace of life that Belize offers. Since then, foreign nationals have been drawn to purchase real estate in Belize for a variety of purposes: vacation homes, investment properties, and retirement homes.

Purchasing Belize real estate is greatly simplified by the fact that the country's official language is English. This eliminates barriers in the search process, negotiations, and paperwork. When it comes to real estate, Belize is also affordable. Building lots in desirable seaside locations can often be found for under US $50,000, and building costs range from $75 to $200 per square foot, making it an affordable place to build. North American and European nationals find that the lower cost of housing, groceries, property taxes, household help, and medical care make the cost of living more affordable than at home. A couple can live comfortably on about $2,000 per month. And this secret is getting out: it's estimated that of Belize's population of about 334,000 people, about 10% are expatriates.

There are many reasons that drive people to seek real estate in Belize, aside from its affordability. Belize has managed to avoid the political upheaval and instability faced by many of its neighbors, and its citizens have a reputation for hospitality and charm. Purchasers of Belize real estate frequently remark that they find themselves welcomed as neighbors rather than treated as tourists or outsiders. They will often encounter people from their native country, however: the country's wealth of natural beauty draws over two hundred thousand tourists each year, creating a large tourism industry with a heavy focus on sustainability.

This small country is truly a natural paradise. The Belize Barrier Reef is the second longest in the world, after Australia's Great Barrier reef, and Belize's Caribbean coast is sprinkled with islands, cayes, reefs, and rivers that make it a world-class diving and snorkeling destination. The coast also boasts remarkable fishing. A thickly forested highland plateau, a range of low mountains, and Mayan ruins can be found in the country's interior, which offers opportunities for hiking, wildlife watching, and a full range of other wilderness adventures.

Those who prefer cultural exploration won't find anything lacking, either. The nation has a long history, with roots going back to the Mayan empire in the second millennium B.C. A mix of indigenous tribes, descendants of Spanish, English, and Scottish settlers, and populations originating in Africa and the Caribbean make Belize a rich tapestry of cultures and traditions. For an area of just under 9,000 square miles, the diversity is astonishing, and those who purchase real estate in Belize can live there for a long time indeed without running out of places to explore.