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Ambergris Caye - Again on “Islands” Top 20 List

Posted by Valeria Espinoza on Jul 17, 2011 12:12:30 PM
Valeria Espinoza

Each year Islands magazine publishes their recommendations for the top 20 islands to live on. Â This year they took a bit different approach to their categories, and how they ranked the various islands. Â One thing is consistent, though.Since 2008 Ambergris Caye has made the top 20 list every year, in some category.

Most years our Isla Bonita has garnered one of the top five spots in a given category.This year it moved into the “Smooth Transitions” category. This is a new category I hadn't seen before…

Here is a quick review - before I explain the most recent category and rank Ambergris Caye fit into...

 Since 2008 - Ambergris Caye's Placed in Islands Top 20

In 2008 Islands ranked Ambergris Caye as the "Best Island to Live On". Â Why Ambergris Caye?

“The budget-friendly properties available a few flip-flop steps away from the beach, an exuberant expat community and the vibrant streets of San Pedro earned this Central American island a place on our list. It's pretty easy to move here too, since immigration policies are friendly, the locals speak English and it takes about two hours to reach Belize from Florida.”


Ambergris Caye Catamaran Trip with Seaduced

In 2009, Ambergris Caye was voted "Best Island to Retire on" by Islands Magazine and also "Best Island in the Americas" by Travel & Leisure Magazine.

In October of 2010, AARP also published an on-line article describing the top ten places to retire overseas. Belize was listed second, with descriptions of both Ambergris Caye and Corozal.  (If you are an AARP member, click here to read this article… )

In 2010 Islands listed Ambergris Caye 13th, in an overall rank of Best Islands to Live On. They didn'’t break the categories down that year, but this is what they had to say

“This island is perfect for early retirees.

Ambergris Caye’ - Current Islands Category and Ranking

This year Islands 2011 July/August Issue was again titled “20 Best Islands to Live On”. They broke the 20 into five separate categories. This year they included a new category - “Top 5 Islands for a  Smooth Transition”.  They gave Ambergris Caye the #3 spot, after Nevis and the Phillipines! Check out page 40 of their July/August 2011 issue.  (I could not find a link with this info on line as of yet.)  This is the brief description given:

Currency is 2 to 1 against the dollar. Rush hour means bikes and golf carts. “It’s 10 minutes to the beach from anywhere”, says Laurie Norton of tacogirl.com.

Comparing Ambergris Caye to Nevis

I’ll admit that I’m a bit biased about Ambergris Caye. But in fairness, I decided to dedicate some time to researching items that I consider important when transitioning to a new location, such as Nevis. Since both Ambergris Caye and Nevis are Caribbean islands, this was an interesting exercise. Here are a few points of comparison:
  • Lobster Fest 2011 Night Scene
    Ambergris Caye and Nevis are both lovely Caribbean islands. They are similar in size (both under 36 miles long), with a similar number of residents (10,000-15,000). Nevis is mountainous. Ambergris Caye is rather flat. Ambergris Caye has the stunning Mesoamerican reef within ¾ mile of our beach.
  • The weather is similar. Although both are within the hurricane belt, Nevis has more frequent hurricanes, due to where it is within the normal hurricane pattern. Nevis also is prone to regular earthquakes. Ambergris Caye is quite distant from a fault. We only get a little rattle once every ten years or so, emanating from the Honduras offshore area.
  • Both are banking and tax reduction havens.  Nevis is better known as a good place to set up an International Business Corporation. But Belize has made great strides in both banking and the offshore international corporation structures.
  • The cost of both rent and housing is substantially more in Nevis. You can rent a one bedroom condo on the beach on Ambergris Caye at the same cost as a one bedroom apartment in town on Nevis (about $900/month). The overall daily cost of living appears to be similar.
  • From North America, it’s more difficult to travel to Nevis than to Ambergris Caye. It’s quite a distance from any mainland country.  You can fly from Ambergris Caye to mainland Belize in only 15 minutes. These flights run every 30 minutes. In only 1 ½ hours, you can take a water taxi directly to Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. When I need a “Sam’s Club” fix, I head there.
  • Here is the biggie – I could not find an easy, cost effective means to obtain a retirement residency in Nevis. In Belize, the Qualified Retirement Person status can be obtained for $5000, or less. You need only be 45 or older to apply. It allows you to come and go from the country, as long as you spend one month/year in Belize. The main requirement is that QRP residents must transfer $24,000 US/year into a bank in Belize. That money can be used to live on, or invest in property, or a business in Belize.
  • The blogs I read indicated that critical utilities are often interrupted in Nevis. In Ambergris Caye we seldom have major interruptions in water, power, or phone and internet service.
  • One Nevis blogger was excited that finally fresh meat is available on the island, vs. only frozen.   In the 12 years my husband and I have owned property on Ambergris Caye, we’ve always been able to find fresh meat, fish, and produce on Ambergris Caye.

We are happy to see Ambergris Caye on the Islands list each year. But having done some homework, I'’m more convinced than ever that it would be easier to smoothly transition to the island of Ambergris Caye, than to Nevis... But, as divulged earlier, I am a bit biased! Of course, you can always click here to come for a Chill Weekend to check it out for yourself.


Topics: Tourism in Belize

Valeria Espinoza

Written by Valeria Espinoza