Sometimes gathering information on becoming an expat or researching an area to live can get a bit tedious. In this article, we provide the much needed information you are looking for, but with a fun twist. Welcome to Survey Says!
Just like a certain favorite television game show, we asked a single important question, and received our top answers from those who know, real expats. We covered five countries and posed our question to thousands of expats in each.
What we received in return were top answers from each country as we have outlined below. We received some great answers, some serious and some a little goofy, but we counted all of them into our survey. What was the question?
What are some things you wish you knew more about, or prepared for, before moving to Belize?
We asked 13 thousand people of the great Caribbean nation of Belize. Survey Says!
1. That Crazy Banking System
Most people responded, before moving, they wished they knew how hard the local banking system was to navigate. It seems running into a local bank in Belize and opening an account is not so easy. Years of pressure from the U.S. in regard to offshore bank accounts have created banking bureaucracy, which combined with a laid-back environment in Belize has resulted in months or years long attempts for some to successfully open a bank account.
So, what can you do? Try an international bank, which seems to be a bit less strict. Another plan is to keep your current bank back in your home country and use ATM’s to withdraw money. With so many banks to choose from at home, make sure you find one that you can do business with online and has 0 international fees to withdraw money.
Our second response was a resounding “I wish I knew I needed so much patience in Belize.” In fact, this one shows up in all our Central American countries asked. Most expats come from economies and cultures that are fast paced. There is nothing in Belize that is fast. If you spend any time in Belize you will hear the term “Belize time.” It’s not a time of day, but creed most people in Belize live by.
If you order a new fridge and are told it will be delivered tomorrow, expect it sometime within the next few days. It’s not only appliances, but everything takes time in Belize. Many expats become frustrated at this, but if you think about it, most moved to get away from the rat race. Learn patience before you go or you will learn it afterwards. Relax and have a drink, things will work out in the end.
Tarantulas, scorpions, sand fleas, no seeums, flies, ants… Belize is a very natural place and with nature comes insects. Some of our surveyors were not ready for the number of bugs they ran into. The good news is, tarantulas appear to be appreciated for eating scorpions and don’t really bother humans. It looks like patience is required here too. Use mosquito repellent for the blood suckers and give others a wide berth to walk around. Humans have been living around bugs for a gazzilion years, so you will probably survive.
4. Oh, That Blistering Heat!
Next on our survey list is “the heat”. Now, apparently some did not do their research and moved to a tropical climate without knowing what a tropical climate was like. Well, it’s hot, somedays really hot. I kid them a little. What most respondents meant was, they did not know how much the heat can wear on a person after several weeks or months.
When a breeze is coming in off of the Caribbean or during the dry season, it is usually comfortable. There are months where the heat and humidity can make a sweltering day if the breeze dies down. Don’t worry though. Find some shade, a rum and coke and before you know it the breeze will return. Air conditioning can give relief, however, make sure it is someone else’s, since running an AC in Belize can be quite expensive long term.
Getting to the bottom of our survey and coming into last place is “crime.” I must admit, I thought this may come up higher on our list, but it did not. As with any country, there is crime and Belize is no different. The main complaint was that some expats see themselves as targets to local thieves, who see them as rich. I get it and it happens. For every person who brought crime up though, there were just as many who said they did not have any issues.
The advice given: Don’t flash wealth in public and don’t brag or talk about how much money you have. This is the same advice given in any first world city, much less a third world one.
There you have it. Our top survey answers for What are some things you wish you knew more about or prepared for before moving to Belize? We hope this answers some of your questions and don’t take these answers too negative. The question itself provoked negative answers to prepare others for some of the downside, others have found. Remember, even paradise has its issues, but the people who answered our survey don’t seem to be deterred and most are happily living as expats in Belize.
Next in our series, we ask the same question of our expat friends in Costa Rica. Hope you enjoyed the article.