Belize offers residents a tropical paradise complete with beautiful islands surrounded by the turquoise waters of the Caribbean Sea. That description alone should be enough to draw you here as an expat, but there’s a lot more to consider! For starters, you’ll need to factor in the cost of living, local services, and housing before you change your life with a move to this amazing Central American country. And moving to Caye Caulker is something I’ve heard quite a lot of expat friends discuss in their travel plans.
Caye Caulker is a wonderful place to vacation or to live in for a little while (or to even retire to!), and it’s accessible by a ferry from the mainland of Belize or Mexico. About 1,300 people live on this small key, which spans five miles north to south, and is only one mile wide. A small community of locals and expats alike make Caye Caulker an inviting destination for travelers of all ages and backgrounds, and the laid-back lifestyle is inviting to those who want to escape the hustle and bustle of the city and just enjoy Island Time.
Let’s have a look at some things to consider about moving to Caye Caulker, one of Belize’s most popular destinations, as an expat.
Cost of Living
Compared to the United States, Belize is rather affordable—you can live comfortably on the mainland for $500 to $1,000 per month. Caye Caulker is a bit more expensive, as a popular expat destination and small island, so you can expect to spend upwards of $2,000 per month living here. Groceries may be more expensive than you would expect, as many goods are ferried in from the mainland. Be sure to budget a few hundred dollars per month for fresh fruits, vegetables, and other goods!
Reliability of Utilities
Electricity and wifi reliability may be a bit dicey compared to what you may have at home. While internet accessibility continues to improve (and there are a number of cafes and restaurants with wifi, as well as internet cafes), the speed can be a bit lacking. Power outages can occur during the rainy season as well.
Availability of Services
Medical care: Medical care in Belize (and Caye Caulker) has limitations in quality and the availability of prescriptions. Local clinics offer adequate protection for preventative care and basic wellness, but a serious illness could mean a trip back home for treatment. If you have prescriptions to fill regularly, talk with your doctor about options for bulk fulfillment, shipping, or local options.
Business operations: As you can expect, businesses operate on island time here. You may find long lines and long waits for certain services, and the variety of businesses on Caye Caulker is a bit limited due to the size of the island. Remember to be patient and plan your time accordingly.
Education: There are few schools on Caye Caulker, so if you are planning to relocate with children or teens, this may be a deal-breaker. If you’re looking for further education opportunities as an expat, your best bet here would be to take online courses through services like Coursera.
Getting around: Caye Caulker is quite walkable, and golf carts or bikes are the preferred option for going a bit further around the island. There are ferries to and from the mainland, as well as to other islands from Caye Caulker.
The residents of Belize are friendly and welcoming, though you may find that rental homes and apartments available to you are situated in expat- and tourist-heavy areas, meaning you’ll likely have less immersive interactions than you might hope (unless you prefer to be in an expat community). Caye Caulker is, again, a small area, so you’ll find a good mix of locals and expats wherever you go here.
Integrating with the community in Caye Caulker in some ways can be a bit easier than other destinations in Central America—Belize’s official language is English, and you can use US dollars everywhere you go (though you will receive change in GBP). The Caye Caulker community is quite laid back, and has a fun, artistic vibe. If you’re into snorkeling or diving, if you like fishing, and if you’re generally into kicking back and taking things slow, you’ll love it here.
The Belize lifestyle revolves around nature. Travelers that love outdoor activities, particularly water sports, will appreciate their new life here! Belize’s mainland offers unbeatable scenic hikes with amazing birdwatching opportunities. And on Caye Caulker, you can hang out at the beach, go snorkeling or diving, or go fishing and boating.
There are no large shopping malls or shopping districts on Caye Caulker, but there are lots of street vendors and quaint shops. The island also does not have a nightclub, but a boat ride to one of the larger islands can bring you to more nightlife options. The island is rather quiet and peaceful, but there are some fun bars to check out if you’re in the mood for a low-key party.
Want to retire early and travel the world? Then embrace the art of geoarbitrage! In this guide, we’ll teach you all you need to know about geographic arbitrage. By the time you finish reading, you’ll be prepared to live in your dream destination while working and saving money.
Concerns for Expats
As with any destination popular among tourists, Caye Caulker isn’t entirely free from crime. Petty thieves are the most common issue, so be smart and aware anywhere you go. Crime rates can spike during heavy tourist seasons, such as spring break.
Ready to go?
Happiness with a move to Belize will depend on your attitude and flexibility. Some people will easily immerse themselves in the culture of their new home and love the experience, while others find it’s definitely not the right place. Caye Caulker is a very cool little island with a super fun vibe, but make sure to do your research and be honest with yourself before relocating (especially if you’ve never lived on an island!)—there are plenty of rentals and vacation options to check out for a short- to medium-term stay if you’re curious but not ready to make the leap.
But if you are—let us know how it goes!