The largest island off the coast of the mainland, Ambergris Caye, Belize, is 25 miles long and about a mile wide. Occupied since Mayan times, the island stands out for its beauty and the fact that it’s not overgrown with tourism. While the island’s biggest industry is the visitors who come from all over the world, the island lacks the massive hotels and giant tourist attractions that have ruined so many of the world’s most beautiful places.
Living on Ambergris Caye
Belize is a democratic English-speaking nation that has a long history as part of the British Commonwealth. Today, as an independent nation, Belize opens its arms to expatriates from all over the world to a nation that is safe, free and stable.
Most fascinating about Belize is that it stands with open arms to expatriates who want to relocate there. The country makes the process relatively painless and the laws allow for expatriates to operate businesses, own properties and live in peace and harmony.
The Diversity of Ambergris Caye
Like the barrier reef that protects the island, the inhabitants of Ambergris Caye come from all over the world and every walk of life.
Combined with the Hispanic culture of the Mexicans that arrived here during the Caste War, the Mayan culture that still permeates the island, and international community that visits here every year, Ambergris Caye is one of the best kept secrets in the world.
Belizean Creole (or “Kriol” as it’s known locally), is an English-based creole language closely related to Miskito Coastal Creole, Jamaican Patois, San Andrés-Providencia Creole, Bocas del Toro Creole, Colón Creole, Rio Abajo Creole and Limón Coastal Creole, is also commonly used on Ambergris Caye. Creole combines with English, Mayan, and Spanish to create a language unique to the region, “kitchen Spanish.” With words drawn from all over, everyone on the island can communicate easily (including English-speaking expatriates from all over the world!)
Real Estate on Ambergris Caye and in San Pedro, Belize
Most surprising of all is that the real estate prices on Ambergris Caye, Belize, are still quite affordable and accessible to millions of Americans, Canadians, and Europeans – people from all over the world that are considering investing in beachfront real estate or Caribbean real estate should be looking seriously at Ambergris Caye.
San Pedro Town, the island’s largest settlement, is a wondrous mix of Mexican and English cultures. The long-term residents, from the 1800’s to the 1970’s, were the Metsizo. This subculture of Mexican descendants speaks English and Spanish, making this an accommodating and relaxing place to visit and live. The town has all the amenities that one needs, without giant resorts or too many tourists.
Getting Around on Ambergris Caye
Golf carts and bikes are the most common form of transportation. The island is so small that there is little need for large vehicles. In fact, the whole island feels like a resort.
There are daily flights from Belize City, but the closest mainland is Chetumal, Mexico, a large city of over 150,000 people. This means that, far from being disconnected from the world, it’s just a ferry ride to a big city. The ferry runs daily (with occasional Sundays off) to and from the island. The trip takes about 2 hours one way. Otherwise flights are available from Tropic Air and Maya Island Air daily from Belize City.
Weather on Ambergris Caye
The weather in Ambergris Caye is perfect all year long. In fact, the average high in the “winter months” is still over 70 degrees Fahrenheit (21 degrees Celsius). For those of you living the northern climates, the record low in the area is 41 degrees Fahrenheit (5 degrees Celsius). That’s the coldest it has ever gotten in Ambergris Caye.
Hurricanes are an occasional concern and everyone on the caye will prepare for them, but they don’t dominate life the way that one might think. There are shutters for windows and generators for power. With modern weather prediction and satellite images, the residents usually know about a storm coming a week or two in advance.
Cultures on Ambergris Caye
Ambergris Caye has been an exciting place to live for thousands of years. Mayan built temples and homes. Pirates took refuge on the island and in its many caves. The major city, San Pedro, was founded as a shelter from a civil war.
Mexican settlers to the island brought a distinctly Mexican and Catholic flair with them. Catholic feast days, Lenten and other Catholic festivals are celebrated every year. Easter Procession and Novenas give the island a old-world feel and is a community event.
In 2001, UNESCO declared the Garifuna language, dance, and music, spoken in Belize and Ambergris Caye, a “Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.”
All of this history and these people from all over the world have left their imprints on the culture of the island. The food, the music, the religion, and the language all share this long history of people seeking a safe haven from the turbulence of the world.
Today, Ambergris Caye is home to expatriates from all over the world. They bring with them all of their history and culture. They leave behind the walls and barriers between peoples. In Ambergris Caye, everyone is a part of the family and each of us is here to live life to the fullest.
The Cost of Living on Ambergris Caye
The cost of living on Ambergris Caye is not terribly high, but it is considerably higher than many other places in Belize. After all: what else would you expect on an island where every location is just steps from the beach?
Homes that most expats would want to live in will start near $300,000USD. You can easily spend over a million dollars on an estate.
Rents for a 2 bedroom apartment will start around $800USD a month. This isn’t terribly high for most people moving there.
Many of the other expenses, like water, cable, and internet, are about the same as most American and European small cities. Electricity can be expensive, particularly if you run your air conditioning, which many people would do all year.
Food is inexpensive as long as you eat locally. If you seek out the foods that you grew up with (meaning imported foods), you will end up spending a great deal of money on food. Otherwise, you can eat a big dinner in a restaurant for less than $5USD per person.
All of the other expenses, like activities, etc. will be expensive and need to be factored into your budget.
Here is a sample budget (STRICTLY for example sake. Your costs will almost certainly vary.):
||Cost in USD
|Rent (two-bedroom, two bathroom condo)
|Internet (3-4 mbps)
|Transportation (Taxis and Gasoline)
Realistically, the cost of living on Ambergris Caye is not terrible. In fact, anyone living in a major city anywhere in the world will see it as cheap. If you have a source of income from a country like the United States, Canada, or the UK, the cost of living in Ambergris Caye, Belize will likely be considerably lower than where you come from and a major factor in your decision to relocate to Belize.
Top Things To Do on Ambergris Caye
Scattered around the island is evidence of the 10,000 plus Mayan who once called the island home. You can walk the same streets and into the same buildings that were once part of the one of the world’s greatest civilizations.
Belize Barrier Reef
Protected by the world’s second largest barrier reef, the caye affords some of the most gorgeous tropical diving and recreation in the world. The reef is an international treasure, being the home to millions of animals, including some of the rarest and most beautiful sea creatures in the world.
The Blue Hole
Off the coast is a 400 foot deep limestone hole that is home to millions of fish and other creatures. It’s one of the world's most famous diving spots and just plain fun to boat or helicopter over.
Around the caye are beautiful caves to explore. You can walk in the footsteps of the ancient Mayans and rogue pirates who landed here looking for a place to hide for the European authorities. Today, the caves are a great place to escape the sun and feel the caye from the inside, cool and quiet.
Shark Ray Alley and Hol Chan Marine Reserve
As ominous as it sounds, there is a place along the Barrier Reef that is known as Shark Ray Alley. It has been recognized as one of the world’s best places to dive with rays and sharks. To non-divers, this sounds dangerous, but the truth is that both rays and sharks are gentle creatures that are as fascinated by us as humans are by them. It’s best to go with a professional diver, but it can be an extraordinary experience to see these amazing creatures up close.
Nature and Things To See on Ambergris Caye
There are caves, waterfalls, and stunning beaches everywhere. Ambergris Caye is an amazing place to visit… and an even better place to live.
Please contact us to learn more about living here on Ambergris Caye, Belize. Discover what paradise looks like and let us be your tour guide to white sand beaches, palm groves, and azure seas.