After hours of researching “live work Belize,” you may find yourself still asking the same question you began with. Can you live and work in Belize?
The easy answer is: Yes, you can. Still, there are a few caveats to keep in mind. The most obvious one is that you’ll need a work permit. In this guide, learn how to get one of these permits, the jobs that are available and resources to help you find employment.
When you think of living and working in Belize, your first thought may be to get a local job. This is a great way to pick up invaluable experience, especially if you plan to work in hospitality. However, there are other work opportunities to consider as well.
Working for a Belizean Employer: Getting a Work Permit
If you plan to work for a Belizean employer, you need to apply for a work permit. There are two types of work permits to consider. The first is for temporary self-employment and the other is to work for a local employer.
To qualify for a work permit, you first have to be a legal resident. You also need to be in the country for six months.
It’s best to find an employer who will secure the permit on your behalf. One reason for this is that the permit is for a local business to hire you, not for you to work for any company you like.
This means that if you change employers, you’ll need a new work permit. These last for a year and are not renewable.
After your second permit, you may become eligible for permanent residency. If you’re over 45, consider applying for the Qualified Retiree Program.
Working for Yourself: Establishing a Business
If you found a way to make your own money in Belize, you still need a work permit. This second type involves setting up a business with the intent to invest in Belize.
To set up your company, you need to register it and establish a local business location. The cost of your own work permit is not very expensive. The U.S. Embassy in Belize estimates costs at around $25 or less.
However, there is a lot of documentation involved to judge your eligibility. Some of this necessary paperwork includes a copy of your qualifications, proof of income and police records. Note that once you receive a work permit to work for your business, you have only received permission to work for yourself.
Working Remotely in Belize: Using the Tourist Card
As many expatriates in Belize may tell you, making money in the country is not easy. Even if you own your own business, there’s no guarantee it will succeed.
To get around this, many people secure a well-paying remote job in their own countries. Because they can work from anywhere, they may decide to live unofficially in Belize without needing a work permit.
To pull this off, people secure tourist cards and then do visa runs. This involves crossing a border to reset the visa time limit. You can renew your visa monthly for around $25 for up to six months and then $50 per month thereafter. Before the end of the six months, some people fly home for a weekend or take a trip up to Mexico.
You may wonder how to keep up a home in this situation. If you have a well-paying job with no expenses in America, you might be able to buy property free and clear in Belize. Others may have rent or lease agreements with local landlords.
Types of Jobs for Expats in Belize
Regardless of the work and living arrangement you choose, the types of jobs available to you may vary:
Many people start off in Belize waiting tables or bartending. Others may drive taxicabs or work in other capacities in the hotel and foodservice industry.
If you plan to establish a business in Belize in this field, these jobs can be a great way to get your foot in the door. Make connections and build relationships with potential customers.
Belize is the only Central American country with English as its official language. English is taught in schools.
To land these jobs, you may need a bachelor’s degree. Certifications, such as TESOL and TEFL, may also prove useful.
Public Health And Medicine
Belize doesn’t set any records for the best health care system in the world, but it’s affordable. If you’re a medical professional with expertise considered rare in the country, you may find a niche treating people who would have otherwise gone to Mexico for care.
You may also learn a few invaluable lessons about local medicine along the way. For instance, there is a plant in the Belizean jungle that can alleviate the effects of one of the most potent, venomous snake bites in the world.
Preserving these and other plants are important to ecologists not just in Belize but around the world. In fact, many people who later move to Belize first got introduced to the country via college electives and scientific research. If you’re accustomed to manual labor and don’t mind getting your hands dirty, you can also consider working on local farms.
Several organizations have programs in Belize that are dedicated to alleviating poverty and offering community support. Try your luck at securing placement with these organizations for a stipend and free lodging. You may also help out on your own at schools, sporting events, farms and anywhere in your local community where you see a need.
You may be curious about the expatriates who scored gigs overseas that allowed them to work from anywhere. There are many fields with opportunities like these — some more glamorous than others:
- Programming and software development
- Social media management
- Writing and editing
- Customer service
- Graphic design
Salaries in Belize
Unless you work remotely for a company overseas or create a successful company in Belize, you will earn the local wages. Note that the minimum wage in Belize is roughly $1.65 in USD, so the salaries for most jobs are not high.
The average salary works out to about $800 USD per month. It’s possible to get by on this if you live frugally in smaller villages as opposed to popular tourist destinations.
This may sound disappointing for some people, but note that foreigners who live and work in Belize tend to do so just to keep busy. They are often retirees or remote workers who have other streams of income to rely on. If this sounds like you, then Belize offers the perfect opportunity to stay busy when you want to and relax when you don’t.