When you picture yourself working remotely abroad, do you see yourself working from the beach, somewhere tropical, piña colada or ice-cold beer in hand?
I do too. In fact, a tropical office view is pretty much my idea of perfection.
But, after working from places like Tulum, Puerto Escondido, and El Nido and having passable, but not fantastic, working conditions, I gotta say – I was skeptical that a solid beachfront office really exists. But earlier this year, I started entertaining the idea of working remotely from Belize, and the more I looked into it, the more in love with the idea I became.
And, after spending a month working remotely in Belize, I can now see why it’s an under-the-radar but desirable option for those in search of sun, sand, and WiFi. Perfect? No. But worthwhile? I think so!
This guide will show you the pros and cons, the how-to’s, and my personal experience working remotely in Belize!
Belize often stands in the shadow of neighboring countries like Mexico, Costa Rica, Panama, Nicaragua, and Guatemala in the remote worker and digital nomad circles. It makes sense – all of these other countries have larger cities, larger populations, and a higher likelihood of larger, more established nomad communities that have already paved the way.
But despite its small size, Belize is rich in wildlife, natural wonders, cultural diversity, and Mayan history. The more I read up on it, the more convinced I became. For someone that loves the tropics as much as I do, Belize seemed to tick a lot of boxes when I was considering a new place to work remotely from.
If spending your weekdays working beach- (or jungle-) side, and spending your weekends exploring world-class reefs and ancient Mayan ruins sounds idyllic to you, Belize offers exactly that.
Pros of Working Remotely from Belize
I found Belize to have a lot of great qualities for welcoming remote workers and digital nomads, especially if you are from North America.
Some pros of working remotely from Belize include:
- Belize is in the CST (Central Standard Time) zone, and does not observe daylight savings time. If you work for a North American company, this means you’ll never be more than 2 hours ahead or behind, making Belize very compatible for maintaining your work schedule.
- English is the official language of Belize, and you can use it by default to get around. Many Belizeans are also multilingual, speaking creole patois, Spanish, Yucatec, Mopán, and / or Kekchí. You may even pick up some creole slang, or Maya words, while you’re here!
- A quick 2-4 hour flight from most major US cities, with a strong likelihood of finding direct flights from cities like Houston, Dallas, Atlanta, Miami, and Los Angeles, to name a few.
- No visa is required for stays up to 30 days. Stays beyond 30 days simply require visiting a local immigration office and paying a fee for every additional month, up to 6 months from the day you arrive.
- Tons of eco-adventure potential! From snorkeling and scuba diving, to hiking and waterfalls, to Maya ruins and caves, there is endless adventure to be had in Belize.
- Rich, diverse cultures for such a small place. Whether you want to participate in a Garifuna drum circle, make handmade tortillas the Mestizo way, or immerse yourself in the traditional process of crafting Kekchí Maya chocolate, you can do it all in this tiny, 8,800 square-mile country.
- Availability of WiFi everywhere – depending on where you are in the country, you’ll find public WiFi fairly easily at restaurants, cafes, bars, and hotel lobbies.
- A small but growing digital nomad community – if you don’t want to plan your own time working remotely in Belize, you can find a remote work travel program called Noma Collective in Placencia, BZ that welcomes traveling professionals from all over the world. Learn more about Noma Collective here. (P.S. – my code OFFDUTY150 will save you $150 on any Noma trip!)
- Fry jacks. Full stop. You’ll know once you have one.
Cons of Working Remotely from Belize
Like with any country, there are some downsides (depending on how you view them) that you need to consider. Here is what I observed in my month working remotely from Belize.
Some potential cons I observed while working remotely from Belize include:
- The WiFi is reliable but a bit volatile, as is the electricity. It’s rare, but once in a while you may experience a small outage of anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours (max). This only happened to me once during my month in Belize, and the electricity was out for about 2 hours early in the morning.
- It can be really expensive and logistically difficult to get from place to place, despite the country’s small size. Unless you have endless time to get from point A to point B, you’ll likely take a small domestic flight or a shuttle, which can easily cost you anywhere from $50 – $300.
- The humidity and heat can be incredibly uncomfortable if you aren’t used to that, and Google seems to actually underestimate how hot it really is. Inland locations (like San Ignacio) tend to be hotter, while the coasts tend to be more humid.
- Lots and lots of bugs – bring bug spray and use it religiously! (and even then…)
- This might be unique to Placencia due to its isolation, but for the first time in my life, I missed vegetables – it was near impossible to find anything leafy or green, so I stuck to onions, peppers, and canned vegetables when cooking for myself.
- Belizean cuisine, while delicious, can be a bit repetitive. You’ll eat lots of rice, beans, and chicken smothered in Mary Sharp’s. Don’t get me wrong – it’s all delicious. But you might want to plan to cook at home every once in a while for more variety.
- Belize is very much a patriarchal-feeling society, and there’s still an apparent gender gap between men’s and women’s roles. I’ve been told – and I’ve witnessed – this changing especially in more urban and tourist-filled areas, which is promising. But, I definitely did experience a fair amount of cat-calling. I also experienced strange scenarios where local tour operators I reached out to (with the intent of booking a tour) would try to ask me out on a date instead. I found all of it harmless, but it was no doubt annoying and can be unnerving for some travelers.
- Despite their close proximity, I found that flights to neighboring countries like Mexico and Honduras were actually incredibly expensive.
Entry Requirements: Do You Need a Visa to Work Remotely from Belize?
Being able to work remotely from anywhere in the world is a huge opportunity. But, it can also be a legal gray area, depending on where you go and how long you’d like to stay.
So, can a US employee work remotely from Belize?
In the case of Belize, here’s what US citizens / US employees need to know:
- US citizens can enter Belize for up to 30 days with a valid passport, and you will be issued a passport stamp upon arrival. Many other countries do not require visas either – see the full list here.
- If you wish to stay longer than 30 days, you can get your passport re-stamped at a local immigration office up to 5 times, for a total stay of up to 6 continuous months from the day you arrive. Passport stamp fees have varied from $25 pre-covid to $100 in 2022.
- If you know you’d like to be in Belize for 6 months, Belize just introduced a Work Where You Vacation Visa! This visa costs $250 USD and grants you the ability to stay in the country up to 180 days, and also gives you access to special offers on activities, entertainment, and accommodations. Find more Work Where You Vacation Visa information and application requirements here.
- For stays longer than 6 months, you may need to apply for a different type visa and provide additional context surrounding the need for your long-term stay.
- If you are 45 years of age or older, another way of being able to stay long-term in Belize is the Qualified Retirement Program (QRP), which grants you residency status and potentially, the ability to maintain a business in Belize! Find more Qualified Retirement Program information and application requirements here.
How Much Time Should You Spend in Belize?
While vacationers may spend a week or two in Belize, remote workers and digital nomads should at least plan to spend a month in the country.
Why? Because there’s so much to do in Belize, you’ll want enough time when you’re not working to get outside and explore!
Of course, how much time you should spend in Belize will also depend on the entry and visa requirements I mentioned above. Unless you plan to apply for a QRP, 6 months or less at a time is the duration most people can expect to spend in Belize.
I was only in Belize for 30 days, and did not need to apply for a specialized visa of any kind. If you plan to stay in Belize for 3 months or less, you’ll be fine renewing your passport stamp every month. But, if you plan to stay for 3 – 6 months, the Work Where You Vacation Visa is easy to apply for and may be the better way to go!
Best Places in Belize to Base Yourself for Remote Work
There are so many beautiful places to visit in Belize, you’ll be plenty busy. I recommend choosing no more than 2 places to base yourself in per month though, as transportation isn’t cheap or quick. You don’t want to stress yourself by overwhelming your schedule with logistics when you should be enjoying, after all!
A small, isolated fishing village-turned-resort stretch, Placencia is a hotspot for those looking to be close to the water, sandy beaches, great scuba / snorkeling, and dozens of gorgeous cayes. Placencia is where I spent 3 weeks of my month in Belize, so I’m biased!
Why should you work remotely from Placencia? For easy access to water activities, a relatively safe and friendly home base, a laid back pace of life, and reliable WiFi.
- Cafes, bars, coffee shops, and hotels to work remotely from in Placencia
2. Ambergris Caye
I’ve been told that Ambergris Caye is an ideal place to work remotely in Belize. The biggest caye in the country, Ambergris Caye often ranks high for best island in the world, and is well-known for its beaches, ‘big city’ feel (compared to the rest of the country), and direct access to the Belize Barrier Reef.
Why should you work remotely from Ambergris Caye? For a nice mix of island life with all the creature comforts of a small city / large town, fast WiFi, and once again, proximity to the water. Ambergris Caye is also very easily accessible, with daily domestic flights and ferries going to and from San Pedro.
- Cafes, bars, coffee shops, and hotels to work remotely from in Ambergris Caye
Cayo, and more specifically San Ignacio, is one of the most popular places to visit on Belize’s mainland. Also known as the eco-tourism hub of the country, Cayo is rich with natural wonders, Mayan ruins, caves, hikes, waterfalls, cultural diversity, and more. It’s a well-loved destination for backpackers as well, due to its relative affordability and close proximity to the Guatemala border.
Why should you work remotely from Cayo? If you love jungles and forests, want to maximize your time with ancient Mayan ruins, seek cultural immersion, or are curious to learn more about eco adventures in Belize, Cayo is the place for you.
- Cafes, bars, coffee shops, and hotels to work remotely from in Cayo
Home to Garifuna culture and located conveniently on the southern coast of Belize, Hopkins is a village that will charm with you with its customs as much as its natural beauty.
Why should you work remotely from Hopkins? For a coastal home base, easy access to outdoor activities, a more local, cultural experience than you might find in tourist hotspots like Placencia and Ambergris Caye. Also, because Hopkins is on the mainland, I’d bet the WiFi is more reliable, too.
5. Caye Caulker
A tiny but mighty island that’s nearly as famous as Ambergris Caye, Caye Caulker is popular for backpackers, budget travelers, snorkelers, and scuba divers. You won’t find any resort-like accommodations, but you will find lots of small hotels, vacation rentals, and hostels that lend to the island’s more laidback feel. You also won’t find cars – the island is entirely sand, and golf carts run the streets here.
Why should you work remotely from Caye Caulker? Caye Caulker is one of my favorite parts of Belize by far, but I had the worst luck with WiFi here. If your work doesn’t require high-speed WiFi use, or you wind up in an accommodation with reliable connection, go for it. Otherwise, you might need to spend less time here or make Caye Caulker your weekend adventure instead.
- Cafes, bars, coffee shops, and hotels to work remotely from in Caye Caulker
Where Did I Spend My Month Working Remotely in Belize?
But, I took lots of weekend trips too. And, during my final week, I took some time off and traveled around the country.
Here’s what my month in Belize looked like:
- 3 weeks working in Placencia
- A couple island-hopping day trips
- 0.5 weeks working in Caye Caulker
- 1 week vacationing in San Ignacio
What Does a Typical Day Look Like Working Remotely in Belize?
I work California hours, which means I was 1 – 2 hours ahead when I was working remotely in Belize. Because of this, I had my early mornings free – my favorite remote work scenario!
Before my work day began, I’d often find myself doing yoga, or paddleboarding, or doing beach clean-ups, or grabbing breakfast with fellow nomadic friends.
Now, my typical day working remotely from Belize will look different from yours. This is because we might have different working time zones, different interests and different working styles. But, I find it’s helpful to paint a picture of what a typical day could look like, so you can imagine yourself here!
My typical day working remotely in Belize looked a bit like this:
- 8 am: Wake up early and go to yoga or do some paddleboarding out on the ocean.
- 10 am: Bike to the grocery store, or to grab breakfast at a local restaurant nearby.
- 11:30 am: Start my work day (9:30 – 10:30 am back home), and try to schedule most of my meetings for earlier in the day so I can crank those out first.
- 5 pm: Head outside to the beach for a sunset drink and some easier work tasks, like answering emails, or doing admin stuff.
- 7 pm: Head to a restaurant for dinner and drinks if I wasn’t cooking dinner at home.
- 11 pm: Wind up back home to do a bit more work, video call friends / family, or catch up on Netflix.
- 1 am: Time for sleep!
Finding Accommodation when Working Remotely
While the country you base yourself in is a big decision, the place you stay in is as important, if not more. It’s also one of the most intimidating factors of working remotely.
Fortunately, there are tons of options to help you narrow down your decision.
Types of Accommodations for Remote Workers in Belize
- Short-Term Accommodations: Airbnb, VRBO, Nomad Rental, Anyplace, and even house sitting platforms like TrustedHousesitters can hook you up with a place that feels like a home when you’re working remotely abroad.
- Long-Term Stay Hotels and Hostels: There are hostels all over Belize for backpackers, digital nomads, and remote workers to choose from. And, since the pandemic, hotels even began getting in on the fun. I typically use Booking.com and HostelWorld to explore options for myself, and read the reviews extensively to see if they’re highly rated for other travelers with similar needs (good WiFi, good community, appropriate workspace, etc). Here are some hotels and hostels I know for a fact cater to digital nomads and remote workers in Belize.
- Itz’ana Resort, Placencia (offers extended stay discounts, discounts on amenities and activities)
- SunBreeze Suites, Ambergris Caye (offers extended stay discounts, minimum 30 nights)
- Ka’ana Resort, San Ignacio (offers extended stay discounts, discounts on amenities and activities)
- Travellers Palm Backpackers, Caye Caulker (hostel)
- La Cubana, Caye Caulker (hostel)
- The Funky Dodo, Hopkins (hostel)
- Sandbar Beachfront Hostel, Ambergris Caye (hostel)
- Digital Nomad Coliving Spaces: Coliving spaces are exactly what they sound like – accommodations + coworking + community for remote workers and digital nomads. They can help you offset the costs of having to pay for a coworking space, as you’ll have everything you need just a stone’s-throw away. The main digital nomad coliving space / program in Belize as of 2022 is Noma Collective, located in Placencia, Belize. Read my review here.
Unless there’s a digital nomad program available, I often find that Airbnbs and hotels with long-stay discounts are my typical go-to’s when looking for accommodations to base myself in for weeks or months at a time.
If you aren’t staying at a pre-vetted remote worker accommodation or traveling with a digital nomad program, finding your own accommodation with reliable working conditions can be tricky.
Here are some tips from my own experience that will help.
Tips for Finding an Accommodation While Working Remotely
- Filter: Websites like Airbnb allow you to filter for remote work amenities like WiFi and dedicated workspace. Be sure to take advantage of these filters if they exist on the platform you’re searching through!
- Read Reviews: Does the Airbnb, hotel, or hostel have any reviews that mention WiFi? Are those reviews positive? Are they outdated?
- Reach Out: Don’t be afraid to message the accommodation to ask for their average WiFi up/down speeds. To be certain, you can even send them a link to your preferred speed tester and ask for a screenshot.
- Review the Cancellation Policy: Can you change or cancel your reservation if needed? What are the penalties? What’s the process involved?
- Map Out the Area: What coffee shops, cafes, coworking spaces, or libraries are nearby? What are their hours?
Other FAQs for Working Remotely from Belize
What is the Best Time to Travel to Belize?
The best time to visit, or work remotely from, Belize is generally between November to April. Also known as Belize’s dry season, this is where temperatures are a bit more bearable (between 70 – 85 degrees), and it’s less likely to rain.
I spent my month in Belize in March, and the weather was incredible about 75% of the time. We had 1 or 2 major tropical, heavy rainfall days (which personally, I didn’t mind at all), but otherwise the weather was sunny and very hot!
How Safe is Belize?
Belize unfortunately has a reputation for being somewhat unsafe for travelers. Petty crimes, pickpocketing, and cat-calling are the most common suspects. But, it’s generally less likely that you’ll encounter dangerous situations in popular locations like the ones listed earlier in this article. In Placencia and Caye Caulker for example, I felt quote safe, even when I was by myself.
However, I did experience mild cat-calling and some not-so-mild pick-up lines pretty much everywhere I went along the coasts. I see this as more of an annoying disturbance to my peace than an actual threat, but always exercise caution in these scenarios just in case.
I recommend being extra vigilant about your belongings in Belize, and not flashing anything (like jewelry or cash) that could attract unwanted attention. And, at night, it’s always better to walk in well-lit areas and in small groups vs. alone. Exercise the same precautions you would when traveling anywhere, and know that while places like Belize are working to change the perception and increase safety for visitors, it’s definitely a work in progress.
What is the WiFi Like?
WiFi is quite expensive for local businesses in Belize, but despite that, it wasn’t too hard to find. The average WiFi speeds in Belize are estimated to be between 20 – 30 MBPS download, and 5 – 15 upload. In reality, I found that my WiFi access was closer to 8 – 25 MBPS down, 5 – 10 up. Most places gave me a strong enough connection to answer emails, upload files, and watch YouTube videos. Every once in a while I’d find myself in a situation where I couldn’t hold a Zoom call, or save a presentation I was working on from the cloud.
Belize recently began rolling out Fiber Optic connection nationally though, and WiFi speeds are expected to pick up! Currently, Ambergris Caye, Belize City, Belmopan, and Orange Walk are all Fiber Optic compatible, meaning you can expect to enjoy the fastest WiFi connectivity in these places. The goal is to expand this across the rest of the country, and we may see Belize become an even more remote work-friendly country in the very near future.
Do I Need an Adapter or Voltage Converter?
Belize uses A, B, and G plug types, and operates on standard voltage of 110 / 220 V and 60 Hz. If you are coming from North America, you shouldn’t need an adapter or voltage converter.
If you’re coming from elsewhere, or you just want to arm yourself with remote work-friendly tools for future use, here are my preferred adapter and voltage converters that I use regularly:
How Much Should I Budget for a Month in Belize?
Belize is nowhere near the cheapest place to visit in Central America, but you can definitely do it on a budget if that’s a priority to you. Working remotely in Belize is different from vacationing in that you may want to spend extra on a nice accommodation, a local SIM card, and weekly groceries. In addition, you’ll probably want to enjoy Belize’s eco adventures, like hiking and scuba diving, which can add up.
Because of this, I’d say between $2,500 to $4,000 is a realistic buffer. This will vary depending on where in Belize you plan to base yourself, how often you want to eat and drink in restaurants, and what kinds of activities you want to do on the weekends.
If I didn’t splurge a bit on taking a vacation in Caye Caulker and Cayo during my last week in Belize, my monthly expenses would’ve most likely come out right around $3,500, excluding my round-trip flights from Los Angeles. This includes my accommodation, my weekly groceries and meals out, my cab and shuttle fares, and my weekend activities.
Do I Need Travel Insurance?
Whether or not you need travel insurance is your own personal choice, but keep in mind that without insurance, any incidents (stolen gear, hospitalization, etc) will need to be covered out of pocket while abroad.
I used to travel without insurance all the time, but for longer trips – especially ones where I’m bringing my work equipment and cameras with me – I’ve started buying insurance and while I haven’t had to use it (yet), it’s given me more peace of mind.
Some reputable travel insurance companies with good reviews include:
Planning on working remotely from Belize in the near future? Are there any questions you have that this guide didn’t cover? Let me know in the comments below!
Read This Next:
- Remote Work Travel Programs Reviewed: My Noma Collective Experience
- Where to Stay in Belize: Gaïa Riverlodge
- How to Find a Coworking Space You’ll Love
- 9 Tips for Working While Traveling and Staying Productive
- 18 Careers That Allow You to Work Remote
- What I Learned From Traveling One Month in Southeast Asia While Working Full Time
- Essential Remote Work Tools for Successful Work Anywhere