Test Drive the Ambergris Caye Lifestyle
Some of you might remember Ann Kuffner from aquafit posts and past link back(s) to her blog on my Celebrating Independence Day in Belize post. Ann is now going to be a long term part time guest poster specializing in Belize Real Estate information and how to best make your move to Ambergris Caye. Today she gives some good insight and examples on the age old rent or buy question.
If you regularly read the tacogirl blog, you’ve probably dreamed of living on Ambergris Caye. Maybe it’s time to test it out… Or dip your toe into an investment… If you’re considering living here, the first step is to decide whether you’ll rent first, or invest in a property right away.
Most of the on-line international lifestyle e-zines will suggest that you rent first. This is a very good idea for people who don’t really know the island well. The exception is if you’ve visited Ambergris Caye several times, know the area well, and have an investment approach in mind. In that case, if you run into a good deal, it may be best to grab it while you can.
Investing vs. Living on the Island
If you’re considering an investment your perspective will be quite different than if you plan to live here.
For example – a couple in their 70s first visited the island in September of 2010. They took a tour of the island. They were immediately charmed by our Isla Bonita… Jim and Nancy knew that they wanted to invest and spend part of their time here. But given their age, they didn’t want to waste precious time. They quickly did their homework, then returned to the island within a month.
On their second trip Jim and Nancy found a one bedroom condo in an older development. They snagged the condo for under $140,000 US! Then they renovated it. Since then they’ve returned several times – to enjoy their time here.
If Jim and Nancy had waited a year, they now would pay about $200,000 for a similar unit.
Test Drive the Island Lifestyle
Possibly you’re ready to explore living on our quirky little Caribbean island. In that case, it’s best to rent first, even if just for a month. Get past the “Margarita Madness” phase. Find out if you’ll love the island lifestyle. Azure blue waters, balmy Caribbean breezes and tasty tropical Pina Coladas make for a memorable vacation. But it’s best to honestly look at the day-to-day lifestyle of fulltime expats…
While you’re renting, pay attention to the cost of living on the island. Be sure to shop at a variety of stores. Determine if you can realistically afford to live here. Ambergris Caye is reasonable compared to many areas of the USA. It’s cheap compared to other Caribbean islands. But it’s not cheap. There’s an add-on cost for shipping goods to the island. After all, this is a tourist mecca. So the prices are higher than on the mainland. But expats who live here will be happy to share their ideas for cutting the cost of living here.
The next thing is to check out a variety of neighborhoods. Talk to expats who live here full time, or most of the time. You’ll find out that some lovely neighborhoods have serious issues to consider.
For example, my husband and I love the north side of the island. But we sold our property up north years ago. We decided to build our home in town. It’s a major hassle to drive back and forth on the unkempt north island roads. And we wanted to participate actively in the wonderful community. So we’ve opted to spend time up north on the weekends, instead. Now it’s like a mini-vacation to head north for the day.
If You Decide to Rent
If you’re planning a visit in November, it should be fairly easy to find a decent rental, at a good price. On the beach you will pay over $900 US/month. Off beach, I’ve known people to find a place for as low as $350 US/month (for a small unit in a home). Usually, you’ll pay over $700 US/month for an off beach unit.
In the high season, owners will usually demand more. And there is less property available to rent. Keep in mind that there are few places available for rent for only a short 1-2 month period. Most owners will only rent for six months, at a minimum.
Ask expats who have lived on the island for several years to suggest a reputable property rental/management specialist. Rental management specialists have the largest rental property inventories to choose from.
Once on the island you’ll also hear about places for rent by word-of-mouth.
Future Guest Blogs
I will be doing ongoing guest posts for tacogirl blog about property and real estate topics on Ambergris Caye. Future topics will include “beachfront vs. off beach” and “buying a condo vs. a house”. You will also find my other bi-weekly blog posts, about the Ambergris Caye lifestyle, on Grand Baymen blog.
Ann Kuffner is a full time resident of Ambergris Caye and a Qualified Retirement Person in Belize. She and her husband bought property on the island in 1999. She moved to Ambergris Caye full time in 2008. Prior to that she worked as a VP of marketing in a fortune 500 company.
She gladly left the stress and strain of corporate life far behind…
She is now the Belize Correspondent for Live and Invest Overseas. Ann also contributes articles
to International Living.
Ann has totally changed her life and loves living on Ambergris Caye. She’s a regular speaker at international lifestyle conferences. She enjoys speaking about the Ambergris Caye lifestyle. She is a travel and copywriter, with many published articles and contributions. She now regularly blogs, as well.
Ann enjoys helping potential expats figure out if this island will be a good fit for them… She is the lead blogger for Grand Baymen Belize. She also leads their Chill Weekend island tours. Feel free to comment on Ann’s posts. You can also contact her at email@example.com.
Weather you are thinking of renting, buying or even just a vacation, I am sure you will enjoy today’s pictures – view from a luxury penthouse condominium on the beach. I thoroughly enjoyed my tour from Cowboy Doug and we both agreed we could see ourselves living there in a heart beat – I am sure many of you will too.
It was hard to narrow down my pictures for a few reasons, Grand Caribe penthouse is huge, there were so many interesting details to photograph and what a view. To the east overlooking the Caribbean sea and largest pool in Belize, and fantastic sunrise option. From some of the second floor rooms, there is a great sunset lagoon view to the west and north south road view.[will title pics later t aking a break]
Don’t forget to check out taco cam page with 24h Live streaming Belize webcam – sunrise, Caribbean sea, Barrier reef, dock and occasional boat view. Stream Courtesy of Storm Chasers Belize.
Pictures taken with my Cannon PowerShot S5 IS