Articles Related to Belize

That was the starting point for Lief Simon's opening remarks Wednesday morning. These meetings in Belize City this week are not about woe are we. These meetings are about solutions, strategies, and opportunities.

How can you survive the ups and downs of today and tomorrow, of markets, economies, currencies, and political regimes, when you can't predict them and you sure can't control them?

Spread yourself around so that you're not at the mercy of any one of them, so that no particular down is fatal for you. It is the only sensible course of action, elegant in its simplicity but intimidating, too, when you're standing at the starting line.

You've read about this idea before, I'm sure. It's often referred to as the "Five Flags" strategy. In fact, it can translate as six or seven flags or maybe only two or three.

I couldn't tell you what level of diversification you require. That depends on your circumstances and your agendas. Big picture, the objective is to disperse your assets, your investments, your business, and your lifestyle across borders so that they're all as insulated as possible from outside threats. How far and wide should you spread? That depends on how much you've got and what you ultimately want to do with it.

That said, Lief made one universal recommendation yesterday morning out of the gate:

"The easiest and best way to get started at this," he told the crowd in Belize City, "can be to open a bank account in a different country. This is a low-key, no-risk first step that will allow you to begin to get your bearings in the offshore arena and that will facilitate further steps toward realizing your ultimate diversification strategy, whatever that evolves to be."

Lief then, with the help of one of our favorite offshore bankers, a professional with more than 30 years' experience managing and directing banks in Europe, the Caribbean, and the Americas, walked the group through the thinking that should go into choosing where to take this first step.

That is, where should you think about opening a bank account offshore?

It depends on why you want the account.

If you're planning to relocate to a new country, then you need a personal operating account in that country, this to facilitate paying local expenses. Likewise, if you make an investment in rental property in another country, you'll want an operating account in that jurisdiction. Otherwise, you'll be reduced to withdrawing money from the ATM and then going with cash to the electric company to pay your bill each month.

If you're forming a corporation or starting a business overseas, you'll need a bank account to support it, again, in the country where the corporation is operating.

The other kind of account you might want offshore is an investment account. This can be a place to park capital, an opportunity to earn dividends, and a means to investing more globally than may be possible through your U.S. investment account.

If you're opening a bank account offshore for practical purposes (because you're planning to live, own property, or run a business in that place), then the "where" is straightforward. Not so if you're interested in opening an investment account offshore. In this case, the where is dictated by the bank's minimum investment requirement, fee structure, and customer service, as well as by things like whether the bank makes it possible for you to send an international wire transfer without visiting a branch in person and whether it provides debit and credit cards for the kind of account you're thinking of opening.

In this case, the where can also come down to: Which bank will open an account for you?

In this post-FATCA age, it is harder than ever and harder all the time to open an offshore bank account, especially if you're an American. Lief and his colleagues made specific recommendations for banks that are still interested, FATCA notwithstanding, in working with Americans, then detailed the requirements and the processes for opening accounts with them.

This week's program has been built around a series of panel discussions conceived on the Five Flags strategy and intended to help those assembled think through their own global diversification plans with the help of pros with many, many years of experience at this.

First flag, flag, residency...

More from the scene tomorrow.

Kathleen Peddicord

P.S. Of course, we're recording every presentation, including the series of Five Flags panel discussions so that, even if you couldn't join the group in Belize, you don't have to miss out entirely on all the intelligence, recommendations, advice, and strategies being shared.

These audio recordings will be edited and bundled to create our first-ever Wealth Building and Diversification Kit.

While Lief Simon's Global Asset Protection and Wealth Summit continues in Belize, we're making this new program available pre-release for 50% off the regular price. Details are here

Continue Reading: Hydroponics And Organic Gardening In Cayo, Belize


Here are other reasons we like Belize as much as we do:
  • It's a quick flight away from North America. It takes 2.5 hours to fly to Belize City from Miami or Houston...
  • The climate is subtropical. Temperatures range from 60 to 95 degrees Fahrenheit, depending on the region...
  • Belizeans mind their own business but are also warm and welcoming to travelers and expats. This is a friendly country where it's easy to feel at home...
  • Belize is an easy place to establish yourself. You can show up and settle in. Seriously, it can be that simple. Renew your tourist visa every time it expires for a year, and you're a legal resident...
  • Belize, though, also offers a more formal residency program, called the Qualified Retirement Person (QRP) visa, that comes with tax and other benefits of the kind typical of pensionado visas throughout the region...
  • As the language is English, Belize can be an easy place to do business. Folks here speak English and write contracts in English, too...
  • Belize is an easy place to set up a corporation in the form of this country's tax-free International Business Corporation, or IBC...
  • No restrictions are placed on foreign ownership of property, the property purchase process is straightforward, and there are no squatter's rights...
  • You don't have to worry about exchange risk. The Belize dollar is pegged to the U.S. dollar at a fixed rate of 2:1, and U.S. dollars are interchangeable in the country. If you arrive with U.S. dollars in your pocket, you don't ever have to change money if you don't want to...

My favorite part of Belize has always been its interior Cayo region of rivers, rainforest, and Mayan ruins. However, I do also appreciate the quintessential and affordable Caribbean lifestyle on offer out on Ambergris Caye. This little white sand-fringed island is home to an established and growing expat population in San Pedro Town and has long been my favorite place to kick it in the Caribbean, as they say.

Infrastructure isn't Belize's strong suit; however, this country has figured out a great air system for crisscrossing it. You can get from the Cayo to Ambergris, from Placencia to Corozal, and from Belize City to anywhere with the help of frequent, quick, and affordable in-country flights. I guess they thought they had to do something given the limited options for getting around down on the ground.

I've often shown up at the airport and bought tickets on the spot for flights leaving within the next 20 or 30 minutes for wherever it was I wanted to go. I've even had the experience, more than once, of the airline holding a flight for me when I called to say I was on my way to the airport...almost there...please can you wait? It's not that I'm special. They do it for anyone if they can.

Belize's super-easy approach to traveling around it by flying over it has given me an idea. We've bought a piece of land in Cayo where we're planting trees and gardens and building a farmhouse. What if we coupled that with a little beachfront condo out on Ambergris? We could hop a flight from Cayo to the beach anytime the inclination struck...and rent the place out when we weren't using it ourselves. The rental market in San Pedro is active and expanding, and I like Belize in general as a place to park capital long term.

Lief and I are returning to Belize later this month to scout current options.

Kathleen Peddicord

P.S. Today we open registration for our 2015 Live and Invest in Belize Conference. In fact, our January 2015 conference will be two events—the same program offered back-to-back to allow us to accommodate more interested readers than ever. Our Belize conferences sell out every year.

We've doubled capacity this year; still, we expect the event (that is, both events) to sell out. For sure, by this time next week, all VIP places for both events will have been filled.

If you'd like to join us in Belize to see for yourself all that this unassuming little country has to offer, I urge you to reserve your place in the room now.

Full details of the program we're planning are here.

You can reach our conference team with your questions by phone, toll-free from the States at 1-888-627-8834...or internationally at +1-443-599-1221.

Continue Reading: Driving From The United States To Belize


I followed the boy up the side of the nearby mountain, through the bush. When it began to rain, the trail became slick, but the boy continued on, so I did, too. He used his machete to cut branches and growth from the trail we followed. Finally, he pointed with his machete toward the ground. I followed the machete's point and saw a small hole in the muddy earth. "The cave," the boy said. "Do you want to go inside?"


The boy lay down on the ground, on his stomach, then reached into the hole with his two hands, then his arms, and then he pulled himself through the mud and was gone.

I stood on the side of the hill, in the rain, in the mud, and considered my options. Really, I had only one. I got down on the ground the way I'd seen the boy do and slithered hands and arms first through the hole.

On the other side was a cavern with ledges along both sides. Up ahead was the boy, waiting for me. A little farther inside the cave, I was able to stand up. The boy, now upright, too, led me on, from the first cavern to a second one and then a third. All along the sides were ledges littered with clay pots, most in pieces but some whole. I confirmed with Mick later that these pots were Mayan artifacts.

"The country is lousy with them," he told me. "The Smithsonian and others come down and catalog as many as they can, but there are just too many. They're everywhere in the caves."

In the third room, the biggest, the ceiling of the cavern reached cathedral height. In the center of the circular area was a big, round, table-shaped rock. The boy and I stood in silence staring up and all around, then he said we should go before it got too late.

I followed him back to the first cavern and then watched as he hoisted himself up and pulled himself through the small opening. If he can do it, I guess I can do it, I thought to myself and hoisted and pulled until my arms were through and then the boy helped drag through the rest of me.

Back out above ground, the rain had stopped, but the hillside was wet and slippery. We slid and scrambled back down toward the boy's family's home, just in time for dinner.

The boy's family was seated around a handmade wooden table situated outside, alongside the door to the house. The mother was serving when we approached but stopped when she saw me. I was head to toe red mud. The lady went inside her house and returned with a small bar of soap. She handed the soap to me and pointed down the hill in the direction of the river.

I walked down the hill to the river and waded in to my knees. I bent over and splashed water on my arms and legs then used the soap to scrub off the worst of it. Rinsed and a little more presentable, I returned to the family dinner table.

After dinner, the boy walked me to the room next-door and said good night. I slept on the floor, on a straw mat, with the windows open to the breeze and the night sounds. I was immediately asleep. The next morning, after breakfast, Mick's man returned to take me back to Chaa Creek.

That was my introduction to this country.

Arriving in Belize City for my recent visit all these years later, Lief, Jack, and I walked out from the international airport and headed in the direction of the one-room rental car shop on the other side of the parking lot. As we approached, a friendly lady walked toward us extending her hand in greeting.

"Hello, I'm Marilyn. This is my husband Eddie."

I looked over to Lief for help. Had this couple been sent by local friends to greet us? Were we supposed to give them a ride somewhere? Who were Marilyn and Eddie?

"Here, let me help load your bags into the back of the SUV," Eddie offered.

"Then you can come inside with me to fill out the paperwork," Marilyn added.

Ah, these were the rental car agents. They'd been standing in the parking lot with our rental car waiting for us to show...even though our plane had been two hours delayed. Marilyn and Eddie had walked across the parking lot to check in with TACA to confirm our arrival time...then they'd brought the car out front and hung out around it until we appeared on the scene.

"I wonder if they stand out in the parking lot waiting to greet every customer," I said to Lief later.

"Maybe. Best I could tell from their website, I think their rental fleet consists of a half-dozen cars," he said.

We set out from the airport along one of the country's three paved highways. When the paving ran out, we bumped and jostled over a rutted thoroughfare of exposed limestone that I think takes the prize for the worst road I've ever traveled.

Turns out, our lodge wasn't at the end of that road, as Lief had thought. So we got to drive the worst road I've ever seen twice that night, 30 minutes in and then 30 minutes back out to the main highway.

Going in and then coming back out, we had to cross a plank bridge.

"Do you think that bridge can accommodate this vehicle?" I asked the first time we approached it.

"Where's your spirit of adventure?" Lief replied.

He had a point.

Belize is Belize. A land for the intrepid. I spent the next two weeks remembering and rediscovering that. In return, Belize helped me to reconnect with my own intrepid soul.

Kathleen Peddicord

P.S. Every January for the past four years, we've hosted Live and Invest Overseas Conferences in Belize...and every January for the past four years, these events have sold out, usually well in advance. Each year we create waiting lists that have grown, some years, to include hundreds of readers.

So this year we're trying something new.

We will open registration for our January 2015 Live and Invest in Belize Conference tomorrow. However, this time, we're planning not one event, but two, back to back.

Infrastructure, as you know, isn't Belize's strong suit. The only hotel in Belize City with the staff and services we require to put on a successful event can accommodate no more than 100 attendees. So, wondered Conference Director Lauren Williamson when putting together our 2015 calendar, rather than limiting attendance to the first 100 as we have every year in the past, why not hold two Belize conferences, one after the other. This way, we can accommodate 200 attendees.

Lauren contacted our team of Belize speakers, all of whom responded in the affirmative. Great idea was the that became our plan. Two Live and Invest In Belize Conferences in January 2015.

As with all events, we'll launch these two conferences to those on our Belize pre-registration list first. If you haven't yet put your name on our Live and Invest in Belize Conference pre-reg list, you have one more chance to do that right now.

Then you'll be among the first to be alerted as soon as registration is open and we're ready to sign you up.

We have doubled our capacity this year, but, based on experience, we still expect to sell out. If you're interested in joining us for these once-a-year Belize occasions, I urge you to put your name on the pre-registration list now...and then to watch your inbox for news that registration has opened.

For our part, we'll look forward to meeting you in sunny Belize next January!

Continue Reading: The Importance Of Renting Before Buying When Retiring Overseas


Maybe the attorney this client is working with in Colombia was trying for a few extra bucks from the translation gig or maybe, to give him the benefit of the doubt, he didn't understand what's really required. Impossible to say. This is why, unless I have recent firsthand experience doing the thing I'm about to do again, I try to get at least two sources when it comes to process details.

Returning to structures, my overriding recommendation is to keep things as simple as possible. While the client who came in to speak with me yesterday could have set up a Panama corporation that his LLC could own (with the Panama corp holding the property), that is more structure than he needs. Putting the property straight into the LLC is sufficient in his case, under his circumstances, and considering his objectives. That gives him asset protection in Panama, which is the real point.

It also reduces his carrying costs, perhaps, this time, to the disappointment of his Panamanian attorney. Attorneys make money both setting up corporations and acting as resident agents for those entities.

If my first advice regarding structures is to keep things simple, my second is to have a plan. As much as possible, have some idea where you expect to invest and in what. This can help save you investing in structures, translations, or other costs you don't need.

An attendee at a conference last year asked me what I thought she should do with her Panamanian corporation.

"Well, why did you set it up in the first place?" I asked.

"All my friends told me I needed a Panamanian corporation," she replied.

So, on her first trip to Panama years ago, she set up a corporation. She had no intended use for it and no understanding, really, of what it might eventually, possibly ever be used for. Not surprisingly, therefore, in the several years she'd held it, she'd never done anything with it. This after paying to set it up and then paying the annual fees to maintain it.

After talking with this conference-goer about her plans and goals as an offshore investor, my advice was that she walk away from the Panamanian corporation. Just stop paying the annual fees. If she found herself needing a Panamanian corporation sometime down the line, the cost of setting up a new one is only about two years' worth of annual fees.

Fortunately, the wasted investment amount in this case wasn't great. I've known people over the years who've had similar stories to do with complicated trusts, which can cost tens of thousands of dollars to set up. For many people, a trust is overkill.

With the help of several attorney colleagues from different jurisdictions, I'll be covering structures in one of the workshops at my Global Asset Protection and Wealth Summit in Belize next month. Avoiding the cost of setting up an unnecessary structure will pay for the cost of being in the room with us in Belize City, but I'd say you'll get a lot more out of the event than that.

Who should join me and my team of experts in Belize? Anyone considering options for banking, establishing residency, obtaining second citizenship, investing, or doing business offshore. We'll spend time discussing taxes, too, as well as the big-picture objectives and strategies for diversifying your life, your portfolio, your assets, and your business interests offshore.

If any of those topics interest you, I'll look forward to meeting you there.

Lief Simon

Report From The Road In Las Terranas, Samana, Dominican Republic

"Kathleen, how about doing an update on Dominican Republic?"

--Paul O., United States

Funny you should ask...

My Associate Publisher Harry Kalashian and my Managing Editor Kaitlin Yent departed Panama City early yesterday morning for a scouting expedition in, you guessed it, the Dominican Republic.

We are more interested in this Caribbean destination than ever. Here are Harry and Kaitlin's first-day impressions of Las Terranas, Samana, where they're based for this trip, emailed to me overnight:

"The new two-lane toll highway from the airport to Samana is great. It and the turnoff onto the peninsula are in perfect condition. Zero potholes, lines painted, etc. Once I figure out what they know that the Panamanians don't, I'll let you know...though it probably has something to do with the fact that this highway is managed by a private company—in every regard. There are no cops patrolling it, only private security.

"Anyway, apparently the former president and his party are in love with the Samana peninsula. He stopped running after multiple terms, his protégé is the president now, and his wife is VP, a new position just created for her. Their collective dream is to make Samana the next St. Tropez. The new highway was built to encourage development. It makes it an easy two-hour drive from the airport now, compared with four to six hours previously.

"Before the highway, businesses were importing from the capital at a 15% markup and pilots were making multiple daily stops between the local airport and the capital. That's died down now, but people are still content to save several hours and pay a markup on certain goods available only in the capital. Not sure what those goods are yet, but apparently the capital is a lot like Panama City, with luxury malls selling Coach, Tiffany's, etc., and plenty of Porsche Cayennes.

"The people are friendly, and litter is not a problem. There's really no indigenous blood left, so everyone is of African or European descent. Everyone gets around by moped or motorcycle. It's poor but not menacingly so.

"I'd say that Las Terranas is light years ahead of other Caribbean destinations I know, in terms of infrastructure, litter, maintenance, and just how things work. That is, things work here. It helps that the town was settled decades ago by French, who were followed by Italians, followed by locals and then other Europeans and North Americans. There are second- and third-generation French and Italian families here, important influences behind ongoing development.

"Las Terranas is a small beach town with a one-way figure-8 road winding through it. Driving through the point of the road, you're reminded of Belize City, except there's foliage everywhere, everything is cleaner, and people are smiling. The beach is ever-present and a few steps away, and the way the coast is rippled with points allows for multiple bays. When on the beach it's nice to have the peripheral views of beaches and palm trees, rather than just a straight and flat horizon of ocean.

"Food so far is great. A ton of French influence. The de facto town center is a small two-story thatch-roofed outdoor mall with about 30 stores. All signs are in French, Spanish, and English. There's a tabac, a large wine store, a number of cafes, and a boulangerie. People we passed were having convos in French, and the street signs for the walkways within the outdoor mall are replicas of those in Paris.

"More tomorrow..."


The utilities figure for each of our 21 budgets is straightforward; groceries and entertainment, much less so. If you shop at local markets and stick to a basic, local diet, your monthly groceries bill could be US$150. If you shop at U.S.-like grocery stores (which exist in every place on my list below) and want to eat like you ate back home (prime rib, Entenmann's, and French wine), your monthly food bill could be two, three, or four times US$150.

Likewise, entertainment. Our Index budgets include amounts for eating out once a week and going to the movies a couple of times a month, say, or perhaps taking one in-country trip per month to explore your new home. You could, if you wanted and your budget allowed, eat out four nights a week and take international vacations twice a year.

On top of the overall cost of living wherever you decide to retire you'll have the cost of housing. I recommend renting first, to give yourself a chance to get to know your new home and determine if it is, in fact, the right place for you. For each of the 21 top retirement havens on our Index list, therefore, we indicate an average cost for renting a one-bedroom, one-bath residence in a neighborhood that would be appealing and appropriate for a retiree.

After you've been in residence for a while, you may decide you like the place well enough to commit long term with an investment in a home of your own. Buying a piece of real estate in another country can also offer the potential for return, from capital appreciation over time and from cash flow if you decide to rent the place out when you're not using it yourself.

Therefore, for each of the 21 destinations on our Retire Overseas Index list, we also figured an average cost per square meter for the purchase of property. This is the best way to consider this. In fact, breaking down a location's property market to an average cost per square meter for a particular kind of property is the only reliable way to compare that location's property market with the property market anywhere else, the only apples-to-apples strategy.

In Nashville this week for our annual Retire Overseas Conference, we'll be sharing the results of this year's Retire Overseas Index, including the monthly budgets, the rental costs, and the average per-square-meter cost to purchase real estate for all 21 destinations featured...and a few others, to boot.

Here's a sneak preview for some of the destinations being featured...

In the Americas:

Ambergris Caye, Belize

Monthly budget: US$2,055
Rent per month: US$1,000
Purchase per square meter to purchase: US$2,000

City Beaches, Panama

Monthly budget: US$2,440
Rent per month: US$1,200
Price per square meter to purchase: US$1,900

Cuenca, Ecuador

Monthly budget: US$1,010
Rent per month: US$300
Price per square meter to purchase: US$1,100

Granada, Nicaragua

Monthly budget: US$1,040
Rent per month: US$500
Price per square meter to purchase: US$1,500

Medellin, Colombia

Monthly budget: US$1,530
Rent per month: US$650
Price per square meter to purchase: US$1,050

Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

Monthly budget: US$1,910
Rent per month: US$850
Price per square meter to purchase: US$2,490

In Europe:

Algarve, Portugal

Monthly budget: US$1,500
Rent per month: US$615
Price per square meter to purchase: US$1,960

Barcelona, Spain

Monthly budget: US$1,725
Rent per month: US$1,085
Price per square meter to purchase: US$5,500

Pau, France
Monthly budget: US$1,930
Rent per month: US$1,285
Price per square meter to purchase: US$2,300

In Asia:

Chiang Mai, Thailand

Monthly budget: US$920
Rent per month: US$400
Price per square meter to purchase: US$1,100 (note that foreign ownership of real estate is restricted in Thailand)

Dumaguete, Philippines

Monthly budget: US$910
Rent per month: US$350
Price per square meter to purchase: US$1,200

Nha Trang, Vietnam

Monthly budget: US$660
Rent per month: US$300
Price per square meter to purchase: Foreigners can't own property

Kathleen Peddicord

P.S. What brings us to Nashville this week? Our annual Retire Overseas Conference!

For years, friends have encouraged me to visit Music City. Finally, I was able to engineer a good reason.

We arrived yesterday, and I can tell you that my friends' reports did not embellish or overstate. This is a fun town. Live music everywhere.

It's not too late to make plans to join us here for what is going to be the biggest retire-overseas event of the year, this Friday through Sunday at the Lowes Vanderbilt Hotel.

In addition to the three-day Retire Overseas Conference Aug. 29–31, we're also hosting a first-ever Retire Overseas Expo the day before (Thursday, Aug. 28), from noon until 7 p.m. This half-day special event is open to the public, an ideal way to dip a toe in the retire-overseas waters, and, best of all, absolutely free for Live and Invest Overseas readers. Regular admission is US$25. However, simply confirm at the door on the day that you're a Live and Invest Overseas reader, and you'll be granted full access at no cost.

One way or another, therefore, I say: Get thee to Nashville. Dozens of correspondents and expats from around the world will be convening here today through Thursday so they can be on stage with us throughout the weekend to help showcase the world's top retirement havens for the nearly 300 registered attendees.

Come on down and join the fun.

Details of the Retire Overseas Expo taking place Thursday, Aug. 28, are here.

Details of the Retire Overseas Conference taking place Friday, Aug. 29, through Sunday, Aug. 31, are here.

See you soon.

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Kathleen Peddicord

Kathleen Peddicord is the founder of the Live and Invest Overseas publishing group. With more than 25 years experience covering this beat, Kathleen reports daily on current opportunities for living, retiring, and investing overseas in her free e-letter.

Her book, How To Retire Overseas—Everything You Need To Know To Live Well Abroad For Less, was recently released by Penguin Books.

Read more here.


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