“Kathleen, unfortunately, I was not able to join you this week in Belize. It is a great shame and a work commitment that keeps me away from this jewel of a country right now.
“However, I have begun making my live and invest overseas plan for Belize. I have one payment left on a plot of land in an eco-resort in the Cayo District. I have opened a Belize IBC and currently going through the painful process of filling out corporate banking application forms.
“I have made several investments in property and agro-forestry in the UK, Thailand, and Sri Lanka, which will come to fruition from next year through to 21 years from now. I am still working as a contractor in the oil and gas industry, presently in UAE, but will return to the head office in Norway in mid-July.
“My intention is to build on the land purchased and to apply for residency. I am 49 this year and could draw down on my pension from the age of 50, but this would not earn me enough to qualify for Belize’s QRP program. The requirement, I understand, is US$2,000 per month in pension income. I could wait until 65 to move to Belize. Then my pension would be enough to qualify me for the QRP program. However, I don’t want to wait that long!
“I have other assets, enough to support myself, but, again, not enough verifiable pension income for some years. Is there a way around this?”
— Paul L., UAE
Yes, you have an option. You can pursue permanent residency in Belize, as opposed to QRP status.
To become a QRP resident, you must be 45 years of age or older, and you must be able to show at least US$2,000 per month of income from a pension or other verifiable ongoing source. You don’t have to have spent any time in the country prior to applying for QRP status, and you can maintain your QRP status spending as few as 14 days a year in Belize.
You qualify for exemption from duty when importing your personal belongings, your car, your boat, even your plane (should have one).
With permanent residency, on the other hand, there is neither an age nor an ongoing income requirement. You must, though, have spent at least one full year already living in the country, and you must be able to show how you’re going to support yourself while living in the country. As a permanent resident, you can take a job in Belize (this is not the case in most countries), so this would be a way to qualify for permanent residency (explain that you’re gong to be gainfully employed). You could start a business (and show your business application license). Or you can show assets in a bank account or stock portfolio.
Again, you qualify for exemption from duty when importing your personal belongings, but not if you want to import a car.
QRP status does not lead to citizenship (or a passport). Permanent residency does.
These residency and citizenship issues are covered in detail in our new “Live and Invest in Belize Manual,” in production now.
“Kathleen, it is really nice to read about all the fantastic places you tell us about. But is there any possibility to find out about cheaper ways to live and get a permanent residency in some places?
“Belize, for example, is no good for retirees whose Social Security is US$1,200 per month. In my case, that is my only income. So I’m afraid we are stuck. Belize won’t give us a residency visa being so poor!
–Marketta M., United States
In fact, you could move to Belize with only US$1,200 a month in income. This amount wouldn’t qualify you for the QRP program (for this, you need a minimum income of US$2,000 per month), but that is not the only option for retiring full-time to this country.
Your alternative, very realistic on the budget you have, would be to go to Belize as a tourist, then, once in the country, apply for a regular residency permit. This would mean living in the country for a year and renewing your permit monthly. In fact, this route is more straightforward than the QRP route; it just doesn’t provide for the import duty and other tax exemptions.
On a budget of US$1,200 a month, you could live comfortably in the Cayo District but probably not on Ambergris Caye. You can view budgets for both towns here.