The Qualified Retired Persons (QRP) Residency Program
Belize’s Qualified Retired Persons (QRP) residency program is a wonderful program for retirees and entrepreneurs alike. There are only a few requirements to qualify for Belize’s QRP program. You or your spouse need to be 45 years of age or older, consider yourself to be retired, and show a minimum monthly income to support your retirement in Belize. Incentives for retiring in Belize include a permanent exemption from any Belizean taxes.
While pension income can be shown to meet the last requirement, the easiest way to prove financial means is simply to deposit the amount required per year into a Belizean bank account.
In practical terms, the “consider yourself to be retired” requirement means that, as a QRP, you can’t apply for a work visa. This is not to say that you can’t do international, internet work, or even start a local Belize business as an entrepreneur. You just can’t take a job working in Belize as an employee of someone else.
Even if you are not contemplating retiring for one, three, or even, say, five years, this is the time to apply and to lock in the benefits of the current Qualified Retired Persons law. Once you’ve qualified, a one-month holiday in Belize each year will maintain your QRP residency status while you work toward your ultimate plan of retiring in Belize.
Belize retired residents can also pursue a second passport and dual citizenship in this country which is a great way to diversify.
Fees Associated With QRP Program
There is a non-refundable application fee of $150. Once you have been accepted into the program there is another fee of $1000 with an additional $750 for any dependent family members. The fee for the QRP Residency card is $200 and you will have to pay another $50 each year as an annual renewal.
You will also need to place $24,000 per year into a Belize bank account and provide proof of this income.
Belizean weather is divided into 2 seasons, the rainy season and the dry season. The weather stays hot year round and during the rainy season you will have to endure spells of very high humidity. You can expect most days to be hot and sunny and even during the rainy season you are likely to see the sun come out in between the downpours. Belize makes for a wonderful escape if you are in need of some winter sun and Christmas and New Year’s in Belize are becoming increasingly popular.
The pace of life in Belize is the biggest difference you will notice. The manana culture is very much alive and well here. It is possible that this is one of the reasons that Belizeans are amongst the most relaxed people in the world. However the other side to the coin is that you can spend a great deal of time waiting for things to get done. Don’t expect things like building work or household repairs to be completed according to a U.S. timescale.
Shopping and Culture
If shopping malls and trips to the theatre are the kind of things you live for then Belize isn’t going to be for you. In addition if you cannot survive without your favorite American products you are going to find Belize expensive and a little hard going. If you enjoy fresh fruit and vegetable and sampling the native cuisine then Belize is going to be a great retirement destination for you. It comes down to priorities and what you want from life.
Things to Consider
If you are planning on returning to the U.S. during the year factor the cost of flights into your budget. The cost of shipping goods and furniture to Belize will also need to be considered. One option is driving your goods down through Mexico but you will need a sturdy 4×4 vehicle to manage this and it may take more than one journey.
Healthcare in Belize is good and also cheap. You can see a doctor quickly here and the cost of most medicines is far less than in the U.S. Apart from specialist surgery or something life threatening you will probably do better to be treated in Belize rather than in the U.S. The fresh diet and unpolluted air will also benefit your health, as will the lack of stresses in Belize.
It is recommended that if at all possible, you rent for a few months before you move here. If you are able to, then visit during different times of the year. Find out in advance if you can cope with the rainy season. The more you know about life in Belize the more sure you can be that your retirement here will be a success.