15 January, 2016

Can I Really Live on $200 A Month Down There?

In a word - no.

But, you can live well. By that I mean comfortably, probably without lowering your lifestyle standards one bit, except for those items that are completely out of your control. For example, something that you may have thought was indispensable up north, but is simply not available in Belize. Or, maybe something that you used a lot of up north, but the cost is simply prohibitive down here, such as A/C for most of us. Of course, there are those well-heeled folks who just must have all the creature comforts and they're willing to pay for it. That's the exception to the rule.

The monthly cost of living here in Belize is not the easiest thing to nail down since it's so very subjective. But, I can tell you, more or less with ballpark numbers, what it costs us to live here.

All costs mentioned are in Belize dollars. Remember $1.00 US = $2.00 BZD.
Belize Money
Beer - Belikin costs $49.95 per case. Presidente costs about $60 per case.

Butane - Also known as cooking gas, costs about $120 to fill a hundred pound tank, and that lasts us about four or five months. We use gas for on-demand hot water, cooking, and will soon have it for drying clothes. We're going to buy a gas dryer. However, we hang clothes out to dry at every opportunity. Clothes smell better and it's free.

Cable TV - If it's available where you are (we can't get it), I think is about $100 per month, and all the bootleg movies you can handle. Mexican novellas are not to be missed - Like our soaps, but with more emoting.

Electricity or Current - We average around $200 a month for electricity. We have no A/C, but we do have five ceiling fans in our Menonnite house, and we will have eight ceiling fans in our new expanded pool house that will be our primary residence. We also have a 2Hp pool pump that we run 2-hours a day every day.

Eating Out - We eat out three to five times a week, lunches or suppers at several joints around town

Food - We shop for groceries roughly 3-4 times a week and spend around $150 each time. We shop anywhere from one to six, or even seven grocery stores, virtually each time we go grocery shopping. We also shop the central market, a couple of vegetable stands, Frank's Meats, the odd fish vendors and a roadside BBQ stand or two. Not to mention the odd truck that sells canned goods and other supplies out of their truck, or special orders like a group purchase of Caves Branch Cheeses. You get used to it. I can't even imagine shopping at Safeway or something. One store for everything? How utterly boring.

We even have a couple of guys who come by our house every so often, selling fresh fish, pork, and sometimes, as fundraisers for school functions, or some family member's medical expenses, complete BBQ chicken dinners. That's all door-to-door!

Gasoline - Petrol runs about $150 a tankful. That can vary some depending on if I use bucket gas or the Uno station. If Uno's prices get higher, I will definitely use my bucket gas dealer. That's an individual choice for sure. Some people swear by them, others think they're a rip-off.

Help - We have a gardener/caretaker twice a week for about $100, and a housekeeper/cleaning lady once a week for $40.

Insurance - Auto insurance and licensing, I'm guessing runs us $500 for a year. We just keep liability on the vehicle.

Internet - Depends on what's available to you. For us, our choices right now are Satellite - roughly $200 a month plus the cost to purchase ($2000+) your dish and modem or renting it; MiFi - Faster than satellite, but oversold and overused. It's sold by the Gigabyte. 15 Gb goes for $110. There's a couple of other wireless services available for around $100 per month.

Service on all seems to be spotty and variable. Cable, if it's available where you live (we don't have access to it - yet) runs around $100. DSL - if it's available, I think runs around $100 or so. I don't know if good ol' dial-up is even available anymore.

And High-Speed Internet. Ha, ha, ha... Oh, let me catch my breath here. No. No matter what, at best, is only available via cable, and then... Well, you pays your money, and you... You know the rest.

Medical expenses, I'm guessing we spend about $250 a month on prescriptions, our doctor visits cost about $15 for the consultation. That could be cheaper if we went to the hospital for everything, but having a private doctor Is nice.

Post Office box - Costs $40 per year.

Rent - We don't pay any rent, and have no mortgage.

Taxes - Our property taxes have been running us about $400 a year, with us living in Corozal. Our neighbors, Denis and Vivien, live across the street from us in Ranchito, and pay $10. Go figure. Our property taxes will be going up somewhat because of the new construction.

We don't work and therefore earn no money in-country, so none of our income is taxed here. Regardless of what rumor you may hear and/or believe, if you're U.S. citizens, you still have to file your income tax each year unless you're one of those lucky folks who are exempt from that drudgery.

Water for us is no cost. We have a well. So, any water costs are buried in the electric bill for the current (electricity) it takes to run our well pump.

Like I said, these costs are all ballpark. By that I mean, something like 'Individual results may vary.' I think that's pretty much everything. Hope this helps. If I missed something or you have more questions, ask away.



JRinSC said...

Hi Dave,

Thanks for the info. I just have one question that relates to food. Say 3 times a week you spend $75USD = $225USD x 4 = roughly $900USD while eating away from home maybe 12-15 times a month. Yikes, that's way more than we spend here if I'm thinking correctly. Of course, my thinking isn't always correct these days but, if you would, please let me know if that is anywhere close to what you spend on food. Just curious anyway.
Nice artile anyhow.

From the every now and then frozen south...


Dave Rider said...

Hi Julian,

I noticed I did forget to include a rough dollar amount that we spend.

Ok. Each time we eat out, it costs us roughly $50.00 BZD for the two of us. So, with your scenario, that'd be about $150 a week x 4 = $450 BZD. That's about as high-end as the eating gets here in Corozal.

That includes usually a couple of glasses of white wine for Dianna, a couple of Belikins or Cranberry juice for me and our meal. Rarely is there any desert with that.

So, $450 BZD or so a month is pretty reasonable. So, less that $300 US a month for dining out, hey, that's doable, right?

I think you missed converting US to BZD somewhere along the line.

Weather everywhere is screwy anymore. Our 'dry season' is not so much.