My husband and I fell in love with Ambergris Caye the very first time we visited the island.  When we started to get serious about moving internationally, it didn’t take long for us to decide where we like to live.  Ambergris Caye is such a beautiful place, and the people are so friendly, we knewright away that this was the place we wanted to call home.  If you have spent any time researching a potential move to Belize, you quickly learned that there is no shortage of websites dedicated to selling real estate in Belize.  And that is where we started our search.

As an operations and compliance executive by trade, I am prone to making spreadsheets – lots and lots of spreadsheets.  So, naturally, I started a spreadsheet to log and track properties that were of interest to us, especially given there is no transparency of property values via Zillow or MLS.  As our list of potential properties grew, I began to notice that the same property listings were available on multiple real estate websites, but not necessarily listed for the same price. Yikes!  

So, having gone through the process, I thought I would share my top 10 tips for purchasing your dream home here on the island:

1.  Before looking at properties, know what your ideal dream house looks like.  Where do you think you want to live? How many bedrooms and bathrooms do you want?  Do you want property on the water? Do you want a pool? If not living here full time, will you rent your property?

2.  Determine your housing budget and, most importantly, stick to it.  It is easy to get swept up in the emotion and excitement of moving to Ambergris Caye.  The cost of property can vary widely which is why it is important that you set your expectations (with yourself) upfront.      

3.  Make sure you know who is the actual listing agent for the properties that interest you.  Listing agents represent the seller so be sure that your interests are protected without any conflicts of interest.  If you would like the name of the agent we used, feel free to email or DM us!

4.  Understand your options for electricity, water, internet, cable, and trash, especially if you are purchasing undeveloped land.   Many properites/lots on the island are completely dependent on solar power and cisterns for water.  Properties north of the bridge have limited internet options (which may be important if you are working remotely).  There is no weekly garbage service like we have in the states, so be sure you know if someone picks up trash from your area and how much it will cost (we pay $25 BZ weekly for trash service and we are 1 mile north of the bridge).   For reference, there is only one trash dump and it is located very far south.  My husband, who is very frugal, decided he was going to take our trash to the dump himself weekly.  That lasted about a month!

5.  Make sure you investigate whether the property assesses HOA Dues and what benefits are covered.  The cost and value of HOA dues vary widely so make sure you understand what’s provided and include them in your monthly budget, if applicable.   

6.  Time it.  Vacationing here is not the same as living here. Make sure you take into consideration things like the proximity of grocery and retail stores, restaurants and bars, recreational activities, schools (if needed), etc.  We were seriously considering a property that was about 4 miles north of the bridge.  So, knowing that we were moving with a 5 year old who would be starting Infant 1 in the fall, we decided to see how long it would take to get him to school in the morning.  And phew!  I am so very glad we took that extra step because it was nearly an hour… one way.  Hard Pass on that property!

7.  Visit the island and talk to people who live here.  Many times, the best deals on properties are those that are not advertised.  At the risk of sounding crass and tactless, fire sale prices on real estate typically come from one of 3 D’s:  Divorce, Dying and/or Destitue.  Unfortunate situations like these sometimes require home owners to sell quickly.  Due to the necessity of a “quick sale”, these properties don’t make it to any real estate listing agents.  Again, I truly mean no disrespect to anyone in any one of these situations.     

8.  Have a licensed electrician and plumber do an inspection of your property before purchasing.  Unlike the United States, home inspections are not required to purchase properties, and unfortunately, not all properties are built well.  This was a lesson we learned the hard way.   

9.  Consider renting for a while.  After reviewing your ideal home options, if you are unsure of your prefered location and property type, consider a short-term rental.  Experiencing multiple neighborhoods and locations can help you determine your best bet long term.  

10.  Don’t be in a rush.  You can find the right property for you, especially if you are patient.  

Ambergris Caye is a wonderful place to call home.  The island has everything you could possibly want (sans 2-day Amazon Prime delivery) and you’ll be hard-pressed to find a more beautiful place in the world.  If you have questions or just need a second opinion feel free to reach out, we are always happy to share our experiences! 

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