Belize City, Belize Report of what it's like to live there

Personal Experiences from Belize City, Belize

Belize City, Belize 09/25/06

Background:

1. How long have you lived here?

2001-2002.

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2. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

U.S. Government.

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3. Travel time and best routes to this city from Europe or the US:

2 hours to Miami or Houston.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

Nice homes generally located along the water. While you cannot swim in the water near Belize City (there are crocodiles), it makes for a lovely breeze. The commute was 10-15 minutes and Belize has almost no traffic - although some pretty poor driving.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

10% more expensive than the U.S.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

Snorkeling gear.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

Limited choices. No fast food during our tour and food options were limited.

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Daily Life:

1. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

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2. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

Available.

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3. What English-language religious services are available locally?

Sunday service at St. John's catholic church.

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4. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

Local paper, radio and TV are in English. CNN was available for international news.

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5. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

We both speak Spanish and that helped us enjoy the Cayes and western Belize much more.

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6. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

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Transportation:

1. Do you drive on the right hand side of the road or the left?

Right.

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2. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

No trains and very few taxis. Buses are available and they are ok, although can be crowded, hot and a bit unsafe.

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3. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

We had a small pick-up truck and that worked out very well. It was not 4 wheel drive and other than a few heavy rains on dirt roads, it did fine.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

The phone company Belize Telecommunications Limited (BTL) goes by the local name.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

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3. What is the best way to make phone calls back home?

Calling card.

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Pets:

1. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

Limited by small size of country and city.

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2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Casual.

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Health & Safety:

1. Pollution index (Good, Moderate, Unhealthy, or Very Unhealthy)?

Good.

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2. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

Belize City is a dangerous place after dark.

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3. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

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4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Hot, humid, chance of thunderstorms on 365 days.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

We did not have kids at this time, but I recall that school options were very limited and several folks actually had their kids at schools in the U.S. while posted here.

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

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3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Small.

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2. Morale among expats:

Depended on groups. For young folks who were getting out on the weekends it was pretty good. For those with kids, it was pretty low.

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3. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

At homes.

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4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

Good for young couples. Not great for single folks and less than ideal for a family with kids, especially kids in grade school or high school.

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5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

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6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

This was our greatest challenge in Belize, a multi-ethnic country where racial tensions seemed very much a part of daily interactions and the interactions amongst Belizeans themselves.

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7. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

Great weekend getaways. Trips to the west to Cayo (San Ignacio) are wonderful and the cayes never get old, although it can be expensive. A trip to Guatemala is a highlight, especially to Tikal (by land) or to Antigua and Lake Atitlan (by plane).

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8. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Snorkeling trips. Travel out of Belize City.

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9. Can you save money?

Yes but Belize is an expensive post and getting out of Belize is pretty essential to sanity.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

No, although I did enjoy the tour.

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2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

Winter clothing.

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3. But don't forget your:

Desire to get to know the region beyond Belize's borders.

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4. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

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5. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

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6. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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7. Do you have any other comments?

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