If Belize has been on your radar, focusing on Placencia couldn’t come at a better time.
Seventeen miles of white-sand beaches… dazzling turquoise-blue water teaming with fish… cooling trade winds gently caressing the palm trees… this Caribbean haven remains somewhat of a secret…
With top-notch residential projects, great restaurants, and a friendly atmosphere that surpasses the general good nature of the rest of the country, Placencia beckons with something for every level and taste. Placencia isn’t overdeveloped like comparable places on other parts of Belize’s coast. Land is still available for those who want to build a home—or start a business—for themselves.
The Communities Of The Peninsula
Placencia, as it’s referred to today, encompasses the villages of Riversdale, Maya Beach, Seine Bight, and Placencia Village.
Riversdale is a small village at the very top of the peninsula and is mostly populated by local agricultural workers and fishermen.
Maya Beach, located south of Riversdale, is fast becoming a new destination on the peninsula, with expats moving there in greater numbers. An excellent general store and restaurant, along with a few quality developments, have helped make this a desirable place to live.
Seine Bight is a Garifuna settlement that was a traditional fishing village, with many locals now moving into the tourism sector. Seine Bight is not considered as attractive a location in comparison to Maya Beach or Placencia Village.
Riversdale, Maya Beach, and Seine Bight are administrated under the umbrella of Seine Bight’s village council.
Placencia Village is the largest of the villages on the peninsula and is the focus of most activity and festivals.
Getting To Placencia
To get to Placencia, you must first fly into the Philip S. W. Goldson International Airport in Belize City.
Getting from the Belize international airport to Placencia Village by car takes three hours. Parts of the drive are on the Hummingbird Highway, taking you through some of the most beautiful areas of Belize through windy roads and short hills.Once you touch down in Philip Goldson International Airport, you can catch one of the two domestic airlines to Placencia. These are Tropic Air and Maya Island Air.
Cost Of Living
The cost of living in Placencia is higher than in some other places on Belize’s mainland. This, though, does not mean that life is exorbitantly expensive here. Rent for a single unit can be as low as US$500 per month.
Power is relatively expensive in Belize. However, many appliances are relatively inexpensive in Belize and use less power than many of those you would find back home.
Outages are becoming rare—less than once per month and usually only for a few minutes to a couple hours. A frugal apartment dweller who doesn’t use air conditioning could see a power bill of less than US$50 per month, but a house with air conditioners running all day, big refrigerators, and a lot of power-loving appliances and lights could easily see a power bill of US$150 to US$500 per month. Solar power is a realistic option for many individual houses in Belize; however, going full solar power in an existing condo development is probably impractical.
Water isn’t a large expense unless you’re watering your lawn or you aren’t conserving water correctly. Plenty of rainfall allows for self-sufficient collection if you live in a house or small apartment complex. Many buildings harvest water as a matter of policy. The water is potable, but most residents use a filter or buy 5-gallon refillable containers for their drinking water.
While one can find household help for prices all the way down to the minimum wage of US$1.75 per hour, it’s highly recommended that you don’t underpay those who have access to your home. I recommend that if you find someone who knows how to clean properly or is willing to learn and is reliable, that US$25 (or more) per day for an eight-hour (or less) day would be a good wage. If you find someone who can also cook, never let them go, and maybe pay more or find other generosities to keep them happy. Yard maintenance help can be found for US$17.50 per day. Ask around your local community.
Taxis can run US$6 for the several-mile trip from Placencia Village to the airport. Local buses get you to Dangriga, Belmopan, and anywhere else on the mainland. While these buses no longer carry livestock, the chicken buses are old school buses from the United States and, while cheap to ride, are not at all comfortable. I suggest getting some form of vehicle if you plan to live in Placencia, but if you live close by the village or are a cycling enthusiast, you probably won’t need one.
What’s On The Market?
Condos can cost anywhere from US$150,000 up to US$1.5 million. Available in both large and small developments, many condos are at the high end of the market, yet the facilities they come with can make it worth the cost. For less than US$100,000, it’s still possible to buy land further up the peninsula, have a Mennonite homebuilder come and build or deliver a modest, tropical hardwood home and have all utilities and services attached.
Single-family homes start around US$150,000 and can go as high as US$2 million. As with condos, prices of houses can be high in a planned development. You should gauge what amenities would be available to you now versus what might realistically materialize in the medium term.
Fractional ownerships are an option on the peninsula, for those who are interested.
For those who don’t like the idea of development living, many options outside of planned developments can be found, with large variations on price, constructions materials, style, and location.
Land is even more reasonably priced in Placencia’s Maya Beach area, with price points that are calling more and more expats to this zone. You won’t find much in the way of fixer-uppers coming on the market, though.
Independence Village is just across the lagoon and has plenty of space for expansion. However, the peninsula isn’t nearly full enough to push expats across the lagoon as an alternative to Placencia.
For something completely different, you could opt to live on a boat or yacht. I know a couple who rent a marina berth and happily live on their 43-foot yacht.
Looking at condo-hotels that have been established for a while is something my preferred real estate contact advises. Some of these are available for resale at Robert’s Grove, Belize Ocean Club, and Laru Beya in the US$200,000 to US$300,000 range. They’re well-established and have a steady stream of guests, which yields consistent return on investment when owners are out of the country. It’s a good way to get your feet wet as you get to know the community, follow the new development, and contemplate other investment opportunities.
With so many offerings that might suit your needs, you’ll just have to come and see for yourself. Spend some time in the area, get local advice, do due diligence on your real estate agent and the development, and evaluate if what you’re getting is the best value for the money you’re spending.
The peninsula enjoys a strong rental market. As with buying, it pays to take a little while to find the most suitable rental for your needs.
While it is still possible for expats to find good deals and lower-end accommodations for US$500 per month, the usual rates for accommodations start from US$1,000 to US$1,500 and can run to US$1,500 or even US$3,000 for luxury family homes.
These rental prices allow for healthy returns on your investment, if you choose to rent out your property.