I was recently contacted by Pablo Sherman, an interesting guy who chose to make a life-changing Covid move and make Belize his home for the next year. Here’s a bit of backstory on Pablo’s broad history and how he ended up choosing San Pedro, Ambergris Caye as his Covid work abroad destination.
Hi, my name is Pablo and I have been working in Belize, or at least San Pedro, for about three months so far and I have to say most things are great.
I was born in Sarteneja Village in the Corozal District in 1979. We split our time between there and Georgia until I was 5. After that, I only came to Belize on three trips, but my dad lived in Corozal on and off until 2003. So now, 37 years later I’m back and living on the island. I lived in four countries in Asia for the last 13 years – Korea, China, Cambodia, and Vietnam. I’ve traveled through most of East Asia. In that time I met people from so many countries that I couldn’t count them all. In my 20s I spent a bit of time in Europe and Mexico traveling around. I owned a few businesses, a cell phone store, a car rental in the US, a recording studio in Korea, and held a lot of different jobs. I was a radio DJ, was cast in a few TV shows for bit parts, and a few radio commercials as a voice actor. I did a little bartending and liqueurs mixology and finally landed in education. I taught elementary school, then moved onto Mass Communication at a few universities before getting into eLearning and Instructional Design which is what I do now.
Currently, I’m building training programs to help professors improve their online teaching skills which have become a serious concern due to Covid19 forcing remote learning for most of the world. So after all these years and many different countries, I decided that Belize was where I was going for 2021 and likely beyond. Returning to a country I barely know to discover what it’s all about.
My Remote Work Experience
Internet speeds are good, 25 to 120MB, depending on where you stay, of course. I found it is consistently better than rural North America and better than Vietnam (last year) or Cambodia (2 years ago). Slower than Korea by a lot but totally usable and usually included in medium-term rentals.
Rent: while not a bargain per se, I saw a few nice American-style places at $500 to $550 USD. They were too far southwest (DFC), right on the main road, or right by the runway, and no pool at any of those. Given the unpredictable nature of Covid, a pool seemed like a good amenity to have. For a little more, $650 USD and up it is possible to find a place with a pool like I did. I got a really nice 1 bed, fully furnished apartment for 750 USD. It came with: 2 ac units, dishes, linens, washer/dryer, Wifi/cable, and even a home phone plus a pool. Pretty sure it’s a big covid discount but I know 2 of the neighbors are at the same price. In a global comparison, the places I looked at were slightly more than ex-pat type places in SE Asia but much cheaper than the US, Canada, most of Europe, and some places in Asia.
My two cents: I did a Covid move, and the pricing I experienced was comparable or slightly less than Pablo’s rent mentioned above, for in and close to town. Because I was not looking in off-the-beaten-path areas I did not find cheaper and I saw north condo pricing run in the $1200 – $1400 USD range.
Food and Drink: This is the mixed bag. Restaurants and bars are a bit cheaper (for local drinks) than developed countries or many expat-oriented places in SE Asia. Supermarkets are often more expensive than the US for most things, but cheaper than other countries for many things. Vietnam, Cambodia, Korea, and even China charged a lot for “western” food even if it was locally produced so all things considered, costs here, especially if you are savvy about shopping, are not out of hand. Imported things are more, but aside from alcohol aren’t totally overpriced. Imported alcohol is cheaper than Korea, China, and Singapore by a good amount, however, store prices have a wide range here so it pays to shop around.
My two cents: Also, keep in mind you never know what you will find where, as street shopping is a thing in San Pedro. Like Jose’s fresh coconut water in the picture below. My friend Rosemary and I were out for a walk and we spotted Jose’s bike outside the Train Station gym.
Lifestyle: English being the official language makes life much easier, locals are friendly and helpful, very few cultural barriers exist and nothing is much of a big deal.
Visas: (not an issue for me as a Belizean but) $100 USD a month after the first month. There may be multiple-month visas available now, mixed info from my neighbors on that. This is kind of pricey compared to most places I’ve been but it’s easy enough to renew compared to many other places.
All in all, I am loving reconnecting with my roots in Belize and grateful for the opportunity to be able to work remotely in San Pedro – Pablo Sherman.
My two cents: To verify Pablo’s info, I checked the 2020 Belize Immigration fees pdf and it was not clear so I asked my friend Rita who still stamps her passport monthly, and she said she has gotten 3 months in the past. If you bring in a copy of your long-term lease or title to your place and three months of bank statements you can get a multiple-month stamp. The cost is still $100 USD a month.
Need a bit more convincing? I decided to add a few more pictures to make it easier for you to imagine what your days could be like here in addition to Pablo’s information above.
How about a trio of floaty toys on your way for a coffee break? In my case, it was heading to town for a quick mid-morning errand. I never get tired of seeing bursts of color on Ambergris Caye, especially when it’s a mermaid, a lama, and a flamingo 😀
Working remotely in Belize is the opportunity of a lifetime. Don’t you want to see Pelicans and the Caribbean sea on your lunch break?
While Ambergris is not really known for its beaches, the Boca del Rio beach road is a hotspot for many. Picture yourself below enjoying a cold one or a peaceful walk on the beach at the end of your workday.
If you are looking for beachfront rentals, although they cater more to vacationers, I have known a few people over the years that were very happy in long-term rentals at Oasis del Caribe. You can also check San Pedro Sun Newspaper classifieds to see what else is out there at what price.
Does your rental apartment/condo/house veranda have hammock hooks or would the landlord be willing to install them? If so, be sure and stop by the Artists Market on Back St. to pick one up. After a very long closure due to covid, these folks need some local business as well as tourists to help them recover.
Do you currently work from home? If so, check with your employer and see if working abroad is a viable option. Let them know there is this great country in Central America and they need some tourism help.
I will leave you with a funny related story. There was a couple in my neighborhood and the husband was “working from home.” Well, that was to be home in the USA not doing meetings abroad on a tropical island in Central America. They had taken a place for six months however a nearby rooster that crowed whenever he felt like it had them looking for new digs fast.