Friday, December 6, 2013

Questions and Answers about Moving to Belize

Rent or Buying a Home

  • Should I start off renting first? If you’re looking to move here permanently than renting would be a waste of money unless you are waiting on home to be built. We could gladly send you a list of some homes that are for sale in good locations if you would send us your budget. If you do not see anything you like you could possibly buy a lot and then rent something while your dream home is being completed.

Education

  • Where are the schools located? Most schools are located in Corozal town and are funded by private church organizations. The best elementary/middle schools would be St. Francis Xavier’s, St. Paul’s by the sea, and the Methodist school. Out of the three St. Francis Xavier’s offers the best education. After primary school is finished your child would then move on to what is called here college but in the states would be high school. There are several choices for that being: Corozal community college, Presbyterian high school, and Escuela Mexicana. The Mexican school is funded by both Belize organizations and Mexico and provides a very good education but it is a little far from town. CCC, Corozal community college, is known for their music program and a good education.
  • Are there any American schools? At this time there are no American schools but all the schools here are taught in English and Spanish is an exploratory that they are pushed to learn.

Free time

  • Are there things to do with kids? Is it safe? There are several afterschool programs for kids such as karate, art class, scouts, VBS and others throughout the year. Corozal town is very safe for children as they treasure their future generations.
  • American TV? Direct TV maybe. You can get American TV here. If you live in town typically you have one of the local cable companies which tend to be bootleg DirecTV and sometimes bootleg Canadian TV. DirecTV is available here but it is rather costly as you have to buy a larger satellite than you would have in the states. We have at our house a company called sky TV that is from Mexico and is affiliated with DirecTV. Installation is much cheaper than DirecTV would be and the cost per month depending on package is around $34 US for over 250 channels.
  • Parks? There are many parks in Corozal and most are on the sea. Central Park in town offers a program once a month where artists bring their products and showcase them in hopes of a sell. Art in the Park, as it is known, is one of the many fun activities for both parents and children. The parks on the sea are maintained and allow you to swim at your leisure although it is Rocky.
  • Churches? There are a lot of churches in Corozal. To name some: the Catholic Church, Seventh-day Adventist, Baptist, church of Christ, church of the latter-day Saints, Anglican, Methodist, Presbyterian and Jehovah’s Witness. There are probably more than I can think of.
  • How are holidays there? Halloween? Christmas? (Just curious since we have small kids) holidays in Belize are highly prized. Halloween is one of the smaller holidays here. The children do dress up and go trick-or-treating through town which is safe and monitored by both parents and officials. Even the preschools dress the children up and take them by the shops during the mornings so they can get candy. Christmas is a bigger holiday and starts December 1 through the first week of January. They do a gigantic tree lighting the first weekend in December followed by a lit up parade floats playing Christmas music and Santa Claus. Down here we got to celebrate something we had never done before for the Christmas season which was Boxing Day. New Year’s Day is just an extension of Christmas. The next big holiday would be Easter and is a weeklong. During holy week most shops are not open and many people celebrate as it should be. There are many other holidays throughout the year but they are smaller being only one day like Labor Day or benefactor’s day.

Services

  • What is the phone service like? Phone service in Belize usually deals with two different companies. One being Smart and the other being Digicel. Smart is the one that we have as it picks up well and we can call the states using our phones if necessary. Typically we use the Skype to call the US as it is much cheaper and affordable for both families. We use a plan where you purchase a United States phone number so that whenever you call family it is with the US number and they are not charged for long-distance. The cost is around $120 US a year which covers the plan for unlimited calls to the United States and Canada and the cost of the phone number.
  • What is the mail service like? Regular mail service to the local post office is very slow. Usually it takes a letter or package from the states 10 to 21 days to arrive. We also have FedEx and DHL but they are much more expensive. To ship ordered items online to Belize we use a couple companies that have Miami addresses and then fly the products over, bring it through customs in Belize and drop it off in Corozal where you pay them. Using this procedure, after the product is dropped in Florida and after delivery the parcel then takes about a week and a half to arrive to Corozal.
  • How are the services (electricity, gas, water, trash, etc?)  Different in Belize than the US? Electricity in Belize is similar and costs about as much as the United States prices. Gas or butane which is used here mostly for cooking and hot water heaters is very affordable. Gas for your vehicle in Corozal at the one station is now running $10.90 per gallon Belize which equals about $5.45 US. So it’s a rather high. Water can be obtained through either a well, a cistern or if you’re close to town city water. Well water tends to have a very sulfuric smell to it and the high calcium base. The cistern water is very fresh as is pure rainwater. The city water has very high chlorine content. Trash pickup is once a week and runs around $10 US per month.

 Moving

  • Is it better to ship your things or just buy new stuff? Truthfully it is better just to buy new things once you reach here. After looking at shipping costs and the duty to bring your items in you can easily purchase anything you need in the country.
  • If we ship our things, how long does it take for it to reach Belize? Shipping things to Belize can either take one month or as much as three and depends on who your broker is and who your shipping company is.
  • Need a phone number of someone who ships to Belize. Allan Hines 646 241 2967 shiptobelize@gmail.com www.belizeshippingcompany.com www.facebook.com/BelizeShippingCompany www.twitter.com/BelizeShipping
  • Can you give me the process of shipping your things to Belize? Allan would best know the process of how you should things to Belize.
  • Should I ship my car down there? Yes you can ship your car down. He can also give you an idea on what that would cost.

Automobile

  • I have a Toyota Highlander that is not 4 wheel drive. Do I need a 4 wheel drive?  You do not always need four-wheel-drive here so the Toyota Highlander would work. This year has been exceptionally rainy year and in fact the locals who are older have stated that it’s the rainiest season they have seen in over 40 years.
  • What type of truck or car should I get? (Ford, GM, Toyota, etc.)  I need a car that I can find a mechanic if a repair is needed. Also, easy access of repair parts for a repair would help me choose my choice of automobile. Car parts are very easy to acquire here. Mexico has all of the dealerships you listed above and then some. The local mechanics have a working arrangement with companies both in Belize and Mexico so that they can find any parts that they need as long as you’re not bringing down a Mercedes you should be fine.

Medical

  • Do they have medical insurance down there? Do I even need it? 
  • What is the cost? Medical insurance is not needed in Belize and no one that we know of has it. We have found that it is not necessary. My wife had to have kidney surgery in April and as it was such a serious ordeal we chose to go to Mexico as they offer the best specialists. The surgery took place in the city of Merida Mexico which is in the district of Yucatán just to the left of Quintana Rue which is where Cancun is. The three day hospital stay, two surgeons, anesthesiologists, 24-hour nurse assistants and all medicines totaled a cost of $5,750 US. Here is her blog about it: http://bethbowersescape.wordpress.com/
  • Are there a good family, gynecologist (GYN), and pediatrician Doctors in Belize? There are good family doctors in Belize, gynecologist and pediatricians. Our family Dr. in fact offers that if we are in emergency to call him 24 hours a day and he will be right there or if needed will make an in-home visit.
  • Is there urgent care. There is urgent care here at the local hospital and if necessary and Orange walk or Chetumal. Just to give you an idea: when we first moved here I was getting ready to install a new ceiling fan that had set screws which were stripped so I decided to take the drill and take them out. Unfortunately the bit broke and then went into my finger where it decided to spin. My wife had to take me to the local hospital where I was rushed into the surgery with a Cuban Dr. who was well-qualified and a bilingual Belizean nurse who translated all that was happening. After the surgery which consisted of nine stitches, three on the inside and six on the out, I went to the front desk to pay, was asked my age and where I lived. When I gave her my age and that I live just down the road she then told me that there was no charge. This left me a little stunned and she handed me a prescription to take to the hospital pharmacy. Once at the hospital pharmacy they filled the prescription and I found out that it was again at no cost. Overall I found the care to be quick and efficient.
  • Do they have routine vaccines for kids? They do have routine vaccines for kids.
  • Are there any special vaccines/meds we need to take prior to moving? There are no special vaccines and medicines that you need to take prior to moving.
  • Is anti-malaria medicine recommended? You do not need to take anti-malaria medication. The only case of malaria we have heard of while living here was a friend of ours who works outdoors and usually in the woods. This happened probably six or seven years ago. In Corozal we do not have the jungle as much as central Belize and Southern Belize.
  • Is there a chiropractor in the Corozal Belize? There are a couple chiropractors in Corozal one has recently moved here and is from the United States.
  • Do we have good veterinarians in Belize? There are good veterinarians in Belize. There are two in Corozal. One lady is from the United States and the other is a local doctor. We tend to go to the local lady as she is a little more friendly.
  • What is the mosquito situation like? Mosquitoes like rain. This year has been an exceptionally bad for rain but it has rained so many mosquitos has drowned. There are still plenty but not as bad as you would think. During the dry season which starts first of December and goes till June we usually do not have very many as it’s very dry and dusty. Mosquitoes breed in water and wet grass.

Shopping

  • How is the food shopping different than the US? Shopping for food in Belize is different than US. In Belize you tend to have to make visits to several different shops to get everything you’re looking for. Fresh market for fruits and vegetables. Meat market for meats and fish. And the grocery shop for canned items, snacks and cleaning supplies.
    • I here there GMO food is not allowed in Belize. Is this true? GMO seeds are not allowed in Belize. We do have some items that contain GMO’s but are prepackaged box items or canned items.
    • Is the food sold in Belize more of an open market fresh food than the boxed up processed food in the US? Most of the foods in Belize are fresh. The other items such as macaroni and cheese or canned tomatoes are from the US. Belizeans do not tend to buy that type of food and lean more towards fresh items. The items that are imported from the US cost more and so the Belizeans are not interested in them. The ex-pats are the ones who buy these products.
    • Is it easy access to the grocery stores in Corozal Belize?  I guess it depends on where you live though. There are many grocery stores in Corozal. Most are run by the Chinese and are fairly efficient. Sometimes the shop owners are not as nice as they should be but as there are many shops you don’t have to go back. We have a couple that we prefer and the people are very nice and the products are kept clean and orderly. The fresh produce markets are large and carried various quantities of anything you could want and some things you probably won’t know what are. They are very easy to get to.
  • Can we buy thing by internet and will they deliver to our home? You can buy anything online that you like as long as it’s not explosive and have it shipped from one of the Miami dresses to Corozal. They do not do door-to-door delivery but you can pick it up in town.
  • I know Mexico has a Wal-Mart.  Does Belize have a Wal-Mart or Target in Corozal?
    • If not, were in Belize could you find one? There are no large chain stores in the country of Belize. This includes Walmart, Home Depot, Sam’s, target, etc. the good thing about being in Corozal is you are only 12 miles from Chetumal town where you can find Walmart and Sam’s Club and even a good-sized mall that has a movie theater, McDonald’s, Applebee’s, and Burger King. Corozal has one store named Court’s which is found throughout the Caribbean and carries furniture and electronics. The Mennonites have a company called Caribbean tire which is affiliated with Caribbean motors which handles things having to do with vehicles. There is a Home Depot in Cancun but there are also around six hardware’s in Corozal, l so finding what you need is only a matter of finding the right store.

If you have any more questions feel free to send them on and we will be glad to answer anything we can. Moving to a different country is a large step but in this instance it is a very positive one. Keep in touch and again ask questions.

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