The Belizean government's expat retiree incentive programme is being scaled down due to its own success. New retirees wanting to settle in Belize from Canada, United States and United Kingdom are advised to apply now to take advantage of the generous current programme before new rules are announced in early 2010.
Belize now has 20,000 new residents thanks to the Qualified Retired Persons (QRP) programme introduced by the Tourist Board of Belize in 1999. The QRP program asked for applicants to be over the age of 45 with a minimum monthly income of US$2,000 in exchange for permanent residency in this frost-free affordable country with a population in 2008 of 310,000.
In the current programme, a new retiree in Belize can import household goods worth up to US$15,000, a vehicle, a boat and a lightweight aircraft duty free and gain permanent residency.
Currently 1 in 15 of the population of Belize settled in the country through the QRP programme, which amongst its benefits does not require expat retirees to pay tax on income derived from outside of Belize. Applicants are encouraged to start their own business if they desire extra income beyond the US$2,000, which has to be deposited each month into a Belizean bank account. New retirees are also entitled to own rental property and to operate as a 'sleeping' or 'silent' partner in a Belizean business. The monthly deposit of US$2,000 can be used for one person or a couple.
Wini Dean, real estate consultant at Caribbean Land and Property commented on the current Belizean real estate situation: “We are seeing increased interest from all walks of life for Belize. For those looking for alternative living situations, a self sufficient lifestyle is possible in places like these. For those who want to live 'closer to the earth' but still maintain a bit of luxury and a sense of security, there are wonderful new development projects that are now available”.
Internet search engine giant Google has 27,500 searches per month from internet users looking for information on the term Belize real estate.