Visitors to Belize from throughout North America are heading south for the opportunity to expatriate to Belize. Beautiful, tropical, and largely underdeveloped, the country is a ripe location for retirees. As a tax shelter with a generous exchange rate to the US dollar, you can get some great value on property in Belize. But it’s also easy to get taken for a ride if you don’t know what you’re doing. Building a new house is generally preferable to buying an existing home in Belize, but the value you get and the hassles you have to deal with to get there can vary significantly depending on a variety of factors. Here are the things you should pay attention to when trying to build a new home in Belize.
Belize’s infrastructure — and roads in particular — aren’t as developed as what Americans are used to. The more remote your property is from a major city, the more time and money you can plan on sinking into your development. That becomes dramatically more true once you start entertaining the idea of building a house on an island or in an area similarly remote. No matter where you build, you have to consider not just the cost of shipping supplies but also the availability of specialized contractors like plumbers and electricians. Building a property in the remote jungle certainly isn’t out of the question, but there’s a reason why so many expats are moving to developed destinations like Belmopan, Corozal, San Ignacio, and Placencia.
Building techniques in Belize tend to favor simple concrete structures, and this simplified approach is also a cheap one. You can effectively pay building costs half what you might expect to find in the United States, but that also means that finding architects and building contractors that can replicate more elaborate or exotic styles can be more challenging. It also typically involves shipping in materials from outside the country, and that brings with it some relatively high customs costs. Thanks to the risk of tropical storms in the summer months, a significant portion — up to one third — of your housing costs can involve foundation work, but construction costs are still generally cheaper than in the United States.
If you’re going to get a lot of specialists and contractors out to your house, you may as well get the most of your money. Since labor is less expensive in Belize than in the United States, much of the work simply comes down to finding the right people to work with. Construction tends to be slower in Belize, but it’s worth your time to get a house that’s comfortable enough to enjoy, especially since the value is greater as the size of your home grows.
The Bottom Line
Construction costs in an inexpensive area like San Ignacio Town can run $80 per per square foot, but those numbers can double once you start looking at more remote homes with more elaborate fixtures and materials. Finding the right contractors, architects, and other professionals is the biggest factor in getting a good deal. You also need to make sure that you have yourself or someone trustworthy to oversee the construction process.
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