In this series of posts I am doing comparing living in Belize versus Mahahual, Mexico I have covered several aspects, today I am going to compare cost of living between the two. Like I have written before, I get a lot of questions from people at the port about living in Belize. When people find out I have lived before they always have a bunch of questions for me. I lived in Corozal and at Kich Pan Ha, (near Orange Walk) in Belize for over two years.
Belize is a beautiful country with very nice people, and I have friends there, so I am not trying to be negative about Belize or life there, I am just giving my opinion as I see it. As I have stated earlier a lot of magazines and websites in the USA and around the world tout Belize as the perfect place to retire or live outside of the USA.
I found out about Belize in 2002 and I adventured there and then went back in 2009. I had always wanted to live on the Caribbean so I ended up there. Never once in my thoughts in the USA at the time did I ever think i would end up on the Mexican Caribbean. I have told the story in past posts about how I ended up in Mahahual, so I will not go into that now.
When I was living in Corozal, I noticed a lot of the ExPats there were jumping the border and moving or relocating to Chetumal, Mexico, right across the border from Belize. These were ExPats on a budget and many realized they could live in Mexico for a lot these than they could in Belize. Some moved to Caldaritas, or over by the mall in Chetumal. These ExPats also liked the fact that in Mexico they had a much wider selection of consumer goods and food, and the services were much better in Mexico than Belize.
The number one reason a lot of ExPats consider living in Belize is because of the so-called cost of living, I will now compare that to Mahahual and Mexico.
1. Your Money Goes Further In Belize
Belize is definitely not the cheapest place to live in – a tropical paradise with so many advantages does not come as cheap as other retirement areas such as certain Latin American or Asian countries. In fact living on a North American or European lifestyle here will cost as much or more. But in resident expats here say they live more comfortably than back home. Retirement cheques, stocks and investment income, just appear to go further in Belize.
The other side of the coin is that gasoline, electricity, telephone, mobile phone and Internet access are more expensive.
I got this sample above from Belize.com as the number one reason Belize is a great place to consider living or retiring. So I will compare the two with the latest Consumer Index information.
Indices Difference Info
Consumer Prices in Belize are 44.94% higher than in Mexico
Consumer Prices Including Rent in Belize are 35.80% higher than in Mexico
Rent Prices in Belize are 0.32% lower than in Mexico
Restaurant Prices in Belize are 13.90% higher than in Mexico
Groceries Prices in Belize are 28.26% higher than in Mexico
Mexico Belize Difference
Basic (Electricity, Heating, Water, Garbage) for 85m2 Apartment 771.95 MXN 1,520.50 MXN +96.97 %
1 min. of Prepaid Mobile Tariff Local (No Discounts or Plans) 2.59 MXN 10.38 MXN +300.22 %
Internet (6 Mbps, Unlimited Data, Cable/ADSL) 401.89 MXN 661.49 MXN +64.60
One-way Ticket (Local Transport) 7.00 MXN 64.85 MXN +826.45 %
Monthly Pass (Regular Price) 312.29 MXN 583.66 MXN +86.90 %
Taxi Start (Normal Tariff) 25.00 MXN 38.91 MXN +55.64 %
Taxi 1km (Normal Tariff) 6.45 MXN 32.24 MXN +399.81 %
Taxi 1hour Waiting (Normal Tariff) 120.00 MXN 64.85 MXN -45.96 %
Gasoline (1 liter) 11.96 MXN 21.00 MXN +75.52 %
Volkswagen Golf 1.4 90 KW Trendline (Or Equivalent New Car) 217,500.00 MXN 324,257.50 MXN +49.08 %
Milk (regular), (1 liter) 14.17 MXN 19.98 MXN +41.01 %
Loaf of Fresh White Bread (500g) 22.82 MXN 15.11 MXN -33.79 %
Rice (white), (1kg) 15.70 MXN 25.79 MXN +64.21 %
Eggs (12) 25.76 MXN 24.96 MXN -3.08 %
Local Cheese (1kg) 82.64 MXN 85.27 MXN +3.18 %
Chicken Breasts (Boneless, Skinless), (1kg) 76.30 MXN 82.04 MXN +7.52 %
Apples (1kg) 32.70 MXN 53.74 MXN +64.35 %
Oranges (1kg) 13.22 MXN 15.31 MXN +15.86 %
Tomato (1kg) 16.09 MXN 38.22 MXN +137.51 %
Potato (1kg) 15.56 MXN 25.59 MXN +64.44 %
Lettuce (1 head) 10.40 MXN 28.05 MXN +169.84 %
Water (1.5 liter bottle) 12.82 MXN 13.14 MXN +2.50 %
Bottle of Wine (Mid-Range) 110.00 MXN 173.80 MXN +58.00 %
Domestic Beer (0.5 liter bottle) 15.55 MXN 22.96 MXN +47.67 %
Imported Beer (0.33 liter bottle) 24.90 MXN 38.84 MXN +55.97 %
Pack of Cigarettes (Marlboro) 42.00 MXN 51.88 MXN +23.53 %
As you can see from the above July 2014 Cost of Living Index, almost everything in Belize is higher than Mexico in comparison. And also you have to take in mind that these figures include Mexico City, Cancun, Veracruz, and other large urban cities, that are a lot more expensive to live than Mahahual and other areas of Costa Maya. So if you factor in that fact, these figures would be much more in Mexico’s favor than they are above.
So to sum up, yes Belize has good real estate prices compared to other places around the world, but consumer goods and services are much higher and difficult to obtain.
In my opinion and experiences Mahahual and Costa Maya, are much cheaper and much more affordable to live than Belize. Also in Belize if you are not a resident you have to pay $50 to immigration each month to stay in the country for your visa, and that increases to $100 after you have been in the country for six months. In Mexico you get 180 days for a non resident visa, and that can be renewed for around 300 pesos. So if you are just renting or planning to stay for an extended period in either country, Mexico is much more affordable.
I have gotten a lot of good response from these posts I am doing comparing Mahahual to Belize, and several people have sent me notes telling me they agree with my comparison. In fact I ran into a woman who used to live in Corozal when I did that I know, she lives in Playa del Carmen now, and I told her about the articles and posts and after she read them she said she agreed with me totally, that she loves living in Mexico now.
So if you are considering moving or retiring to the Caribbean and are considering Belize, you might to look into Mahahual and Costa Maya before you make your final decision, it could save you a lot of money. I am glad I jumped the border and ended up in Mahahual.
Thanks for reading,
Stewart Rogers USA-South Carolina