Magazine article Americas (English Edition)

At Ease in Belize

Magazine article Americas (English Edition)

At Ease in Belize

Article excerpt

BELIZE--THE LEAST densely populated nation in Central America--has approved new legislation that aims to lure wealthy retirees to its shores. The Belize Retired Persons Incentive Program, signed into law last October, is aimed specifically "for those people who wish to live in Belize and can prove a permanent and consistent income from investment, pension, or other retirement benefits."

At present, only U.S., Canadian, and British citizens aged forty-five years or older can qualify, though the law will soon be amended to include many more countries in Europe and South America, says Anthony Mahler, director of product development at the Belize Tourist Board.

"Since we began this program two months ago, we've had at least five hundred inquiries, and we haven't done any marketing yet," says Mahler.

With only 250,000 inhabitants, Belize touts its subtropical climate, its proximity to the United States and Mexico, its stable economy, and its English-speaking population as some of the key benefits of retiring there.

In order to qualify, applicants must submit an official bank statement proving they receive a pension or annuity of at least US$1,000 a month. Also required is a financial statement from a Belizean bank or credit union certifying that the applicant's investment or deposit will generate at least US$2,000 a month, or the equivalent of US$24,000 a year.

Upon approval, the applicant becomes a Qualified Retired Person (QRP). "These people don't get citizenship, or even residency," says Mahler. "They get retirement status, which allows them to come and go as they please. …

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