Expats considering a move to Ambergris Caye often ask me what they can do with so much free time. Some expats decide to volunteer. But many opt to stay active by starting a new business. They often venture into something totally different than what they did in the past. Â The good news is that Belize was recently ranked as one of the most business friendly countries for expats.
For the last three years I've been presenting about starting an overseas business at international conferences. My husband and I have set up several business ventures in Belize during the last 12 years. The San Pedro Club Fitness Center was our first major business. It's shown in the cover photo. We've observed a series of expats move to Ambergris Caye and set up a business.
Expats come to Belize with great expectations. Some are very successful. But others fail miserably. Either way, one thing is clear, Belize is one of the easiest places for an expat to set up a new business. But it pays to do your homework.
International Living confirmed this fact in the November 2011 issue of their hardcopy magazine. In it they published their new Business Index for popular countries where expats retire. In the article they ranked their favorite countries by ease of setting up a business (pgs 16-17).
They ranked Belize second, right after Panama. But these two popular destinations were separated by a single point... Panama ranked up 62 Â points. Belize had 61 points.
Belize vs. Panama - for Ease of Business
Belize beat Panama in several categories - ease of language and commercial premises. They scored equally in ease of startup, business infrastructure, and business culture. Other categories included: access to capital, business opportunities, and future outlook.
A big plus, language is not a barrier to business in Belize. English is the primary language, both spoken and for business. Beliz's legal system is based on the British Commonwealth system. (Belize has a constitutional democracy.) The laws here are straight forward for expats moving from Britain, Canada, and the USA. Contracts and business documents are easy to grasp. There's no need for an expensive translation process.
Another plus is that the business infrastructure is reliable. Power, water, internet and phone services seldom go down. We have a similar internet speed here to what we had in the USA. Most entrepreneurs consider this a pre-requisite to working in Belize.
The Belizean government is committed to attracting US dollars to their country. In order to do so, they've set up Tax Free Zones. Expats who set up their business in a tax free zone are exempt from business taxes for many years. But they are expected to hire and train Belizeans in exchange for these benefits. Â It's a win-win deal.
Learn More at a Chill Weekend or Financial Conference
We address these types of topics at our Chill Weekends and financial conferences. ÃÂ Our presenters review some of the incentives the Belize government has developed to attract expats. For instance, an expat can set up a Belizean or offshore International Business Corporation in a few days. And it's a snap to open an offshore bank account in one day. Professionals talk about these topics and advise attendees.