I am always receiving emails from my readers with questions about Belize, so I thought I would try to answer some of them.
Can I afford to live in Belize on Social Security?
The answer is yes, especially for couples receiving two Social Security checks. Belize in general has an affordable cost of living. A couple interested in simple living can budget and live comfortably on US$1500 or less per month. That would be living in Belizean housing and eating local foods.
How is the health care in Belize?
Belize is a mixed medical system. Most Belizeans get free or low-cost medical care at a government run hospital or clinic. Doctors with private practices charge a fee. Most doctors in Belize are foreign born and trained.
A visit to a doctor will cost about US$15-US$25 dollars, plus any medicines. A hospital stay could cost you about US$20 to US$50 per day.
Chetumal, Mexico just across the border of Belize has private physicians and clinics which can provide high quality care at a much lower price than care in the U.S. or in Belize. Many doctors speak English.
You can't use Medicare abroad. Expat organizations are lobbying for the use of Medicare in Mexico, but it is not expected to happen anytime soon. Many expats makes regular "Medicare Run's back to the U.S.
It may be difficult to find a U.S. insurance policy that covers you abroad, but you can get reasonably priced international insurance that will cover you for serious illnesses. BUPA, a European based insurance company is the most common.
Will I owe taxes?
Expats receive a $91,400 exemption from IRS for all income earned while living abroad. Interest from your savings, pensions or annuities are not exempt, it must be earned income.
The U.S. is one of the few countries that taxes its citizens anywhere they live on worldwide income. However, the U.S. government has agreements with many countries that prevent expats from paying income taxes in both countries.
Can I have my Social Security Benefits sent to Belize?
Yes, if you are a U.S. citizen, you may receive your benefits by check or direct deposit. If you are not a U.S. citizen, it can be a little more complicated. See: "Your Payments While You Are Outside the United States."
Can I buy my favorite American foods in Belize?
Yes, many foods that you are accustomed to in the US are also available in Belize. But everything has to be shipped in, so the prices can be very costly. If you don't like the food in Belize, it could cost you some bucks to eat.