The Top 3 Digital Nomad Destinations in Caribbean Belize
As working from home becomes the new norm in the U.S. and around the world, many people are beginning to wonder why they should remain in expensive urban centers when they could just as easily work online from a more affordable, beautiful, and enriching destination overseas.
Unsurprisingly, one of the most popular regions among workers considering a digital nomad lifestyle is the Caribbean. And to cater to this emerging demand, a number of renowned Caribbean tourist spots such as Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, and the Cayman Islands have rolled out one- or two-year remote worker/digital nomad visas.
The problem with these visas, however, is that they often come with hefty income requirements. The Caymans, for instance, requires you to earn $100,000 a year just to apply. And that’s if you’re single. If you want to bring your partner, add another $50,000. Plus, your stays in these destinations are typically time-limited, meaning once your one- or two-year visa is up, then you have to skedaddle and restart your life somewhere else.
But there is a Caribbean destination that has long attracted remote workers, that’s more affordable than the above options, that has no initial income requirements for working remotely, and which in time allows you to apply for permanent residency, meaning you can stay as long as you want. That destination is Belize.
While you need a work permit to accept a position at a local business in Belize, this is generally not necessary when working online for a company overseas. (It is always best to check with the Belize Tourism Board or the immigration department to make sure that your role does not require a work permit.)
If you do not require a work permit, you will get a 30-day tourist stamp at no cost when you enter the country, and then every 30 days, you simply visit the immigration department and get an additional 30-day stamp for $100. In some circumstances, you can request a 60- or 90-day stamp so you can visit the office less often. After living in Belize for 50 of 52 weeks in a year, you can apply for residency, which gives you the same working rights as any native Belizean.
You’ll find no shortage of expats working online from Belize. Generally, they tend to gravitate to three destinations: Ambergris Caye, Placencia, and Caye Caulker. And it takes very little research to figure out why. All three spots offer a beach experience that looks like something straight out of a Caribbean brochure. Plus, they’re affordable, giving you an enviable lifestyle for less than the cost of living in many major North American cities. Here’s a brief introduction to these three expat hot spots.
A 25-mile-long island located off the northern Belizean mainland, Ambergris Caye is by far the liveliest of these options. More tourists and expats flock to Ambergris than any other region of the country, drawn by its picturesque Caribbean scenes and incredible snorkeling and diving.
Beyond its natural beauty and outdoor activities, this island offers Belize’s most sophisticated lifestyle, combining a casual beach life with upscale amenities. It is the most expensive of the three locations, with rent on a one-bedroom, two-bathroom condo running about $1,200 a month, but would be still considered affordable by Caribbean resort standards.
Located on the bottom of a 16-mile peninsula in southern Belize, this resort destination is about one-tenth the size of Ambergris Caye in terms of total area. It’s also more laidback and bohemian, as though you stepped into a 1950s Caribbean postcard.
Placencia is fast becoming Belize’s most desirable location as it fronts the gorgeous Caribbean Sea to the east and a resplendent freshwater lagoon, full of wildlife and with a view of the gorgeous Maya mountain chain, to the west.
Known as the “caye you can drive to,” Placencia is a convenient place to live, since you can commute to the mainland, where you’ll find incredible tropical hikes and Maya ruins within a day’s drive. It’s also more affordable than Ambergris Caye, with rent costing about $900 a month on average.
A 5-mile-long island just to the south of Ambergris, Caye Caulker is a great mix of the above options. This island is known for its stunning seascapes, diverse water sports, eco-tours, and friendly community. It takes only 30 minutes by water taxi to reach Caye Caulker from its big sister Ambergris.
This charming island is graced with pastel-colored bars and cafés, and its streets are still composed of packed sand rather than pavement. The lifestyle is laidback and low key. Rent prices vary, though most expats say they can live comfortably on the island for $1,500 to $2,000 a month all in. This makes Caye Caulker a perfect spot for those who wish to enjoy an affordable, relaxing life on the Caribbean Sea.
By Laura Diffendal