Best Kept Secret
The tropical destination of Belize may be one of the Caribbean’s best-kept secrets but that’s quickly changing. Increasing numbers of eco-tourists and adventurers, homebuyers, entrepreneurs and savvy investors are discovering Belize not only as a beautiful oasis, but also as a beautiful business opportunity.Get involved
Much like Hawaii in the early 1960s and Costa Rica in the 1990s, Belize is undergoing an unprecedented land rush. Seeking a smart investment, speculators and developers are quickly snapping up home-sites across Belize's best locations. Yet despite this influx and interest, Belize remains a largely unexplored and untapped opportunity with its thousands of acres of untamed rainforests, rugged mountains, stunning and secret coral reefs, uncharted Caribbean shores and unspoiled cayes.
Belize is still a paradise waiting to be discovered and there has never been a better time to invest in Belizean property than now as the baby-boomers are retiring at a rate of 10,000 per day. These future retirees represent the largest segment of real estate investors seeking second homes in a country that offers excellent amenities, affordable healthcare, abundant recreation, and attractive tax benefits.
Situated in the tropical heart of Central America, south of Mexico and east of Guatemala, Belize is just a short flight from the U.S. — 2.5 hours from Dallas and Houston and 2 hours from Miami. Bordered on the east by the azure waters of the Caribbean Sea, Belize beckons travelers to explore its healthy Barrier Reef (the world’s second largest), mysterious Mayan ruins and unspoiled jungles. And because Belize remains an undiscovered tropical gem, you’ll still find more wildlife here than tourists.
The only English-speaking country in Central and South America, Belize speaks your language. Making contract negotiations, communications, commerce and daily life a breeze.
A parliamentary democracy and a member of the Commonwealth of Nations, Belize is governed under a constitution established in 1981. While Belize recognizes the British monarch as its own head of state, this position and its powers are largely ceremonial. The Governor-General represents England’s Queen Elizabeth II, who is also recognized as the Queen of Belize.
The Belizean government is structured much like the British parliamentary, with a legal system modeled on the common law of England. Led by the Prime Minister of Belize who is the head of government, the parliament’s cabinet is comprised of members of the majority political party who typically hold elected seats. This cabinet exercises executive authority in Belize.
Belize’s tax climate is attracting more and more investors and residents to the country. Long regarded as one of the T-7 Tax Havens, Belize offers investors an attractive option for internationalizing their finances and portfolios for asset protection and tax advantages.
Belize also has a progressive corporate legislation. Striving to become an international finance center with strict bank secrecy and privacy laws, Belize vigorously defends these laws and protects depositors from outside attacks. Adding to its already generous off-shore financial services, Belize is poised to pass more legislation that strengthens the country’s position as a completely independent off-shore financial center with the most stringent asset protection trust laws anywhere.
Anyone considering retiring and relocating to Belize should take advantage of the Qualified Retirement Program (QRP). Passed in 1999, the QRP is available to anyone over the age of 45 who can demonstrate a guaranteed income of at least US$2,000 a month. Qualifying for the program is easy and relatively inexpensive. Those who qualify receive many tax incentives on imports and residency is granted to QRP participants almost immediately.
Belize has five commercial banks to serve local residents. Three of these are based in Belize: Alliance Bank, Belize Bank and Atlantic Bank. First Caribbean Bank (formerly Barclays) and Scotia Bank, large multinational institutions, operate branches in Belize as well. Also serving the financial needs of Belize residents and citizens are small local banks, credit unions and small mortgage lending institutions.
Along with these onshore banking options, Belize also offers a growing selection of offshore banks. Authorized by the Banks and Financial Institutions Act of 1995 and the Off-Shore Banking Act of 1996, these banks are legally prohibited from servicing citizens of Belize. They do, however, provide an attractive banking option for ex-patriots seeking privacy and protection.