Sad to say, but the predatory Parliamentary, party controlled exploitation governing system of Belize lost another tourism investor. The investor has an investment in San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, but expansion and comparisons with islands in Panama, made expansion in Belize just too expensive and aggravating. We will of course, hear the finish of the comparison, in another three to five years, after they build and exist in Panama for a while. But some basics are better. Internet and telephone service and prices for one. A government of laws another. And a dollar economy is of course not to be beat. Political Reform things that the current party politicians do not want in Belize.
From Susan Garcia:
We are going to be going to Bocas del Toro in Panama instead of Belize. We are buying 27.5 acres of gorgeous rainforest (we saw monkeys in the trees, flocks of parrots and all kinds of wild plants and fruits, as well as 40+ foot trees with huge canopies) overlooking the sea, with over a quarter mile of waterfront for the same price as a half acre beachfront lot on Ambergris Caye. It is on a 40 foot bluff, no swamp. We are going to build our home and a small ecotourism resort. The main island has two full service marinas and Izzy will live on the boat while he builds our home.
For investing over $50K in a tourism development zone, we will get a 20 year tax and duty concession, plus permanent residency. The boat can be used for tourist activities, no permit hassles or "minister's discretion" to say you can't, and, no import duties. The government wants small investors, they consider any investment of $50K or more (beyond purchase of land) an asset that will bring in jobs and dollars and treat you accordingly. They want to build their tourism economy (which is really just beginning, like Belize 15 years ago....)
The cost of everything is cheap, including labor. Actually labor is not much cheaper than Belize but the dollar goes a lot farther, so the employees will do much better for their families with the same income and so will their employer (us).
No hassle. Telecom competition (no phone and net police, if you want satellite net access, you just buy the equipment and nobody cares if you set it up for net access; the mainland already has DSL and its coming to the islands too eventually...). Cell phones work on the islands and rates are cheap compared to Belize prices. Power competition. Two Costco's on the mainland, an hour by plane from remote jungle and beach paradise. You can buy anything cheaper than the US instead of twice as much.
Very little crime (outside Colon and a few areas of Panama City) and virtually none in the Bocas archipelago.
No utilities where we are and there won't be any grid in the future, so we will have to go solar/wind (I'll give you a report in a year or two about how it goes re alternative energy...). But...no import duties on the equipment. And no "minister's discretion" law that says that if some government hack decides your alternative energy utility equipment isn't "safe" they can confiscate it....
Dollar economy. No foreign exchange hassles or fees. Stuck my US credit union ATM card into a kiosk and DOLLARS came out.....
Our property is 10 minute by boat from "town" (on the largest island). Twice as big as San Pedro but half as many cars. Where we will be living there are NO CARS. Means of transport is motorboat.
They have real laws and you know what you have to do in advance. If you follow the rules, your property is safe. No "minister's discretion" to shut down your business if somebody's cousin wants your land, no overpaid govt hacks roaming around looking for small business people to hassle.
Why? We decided that we just can't afford to live in Belize. We can't afford the cost of living, the import duties, the taxes, the monopoly regulations, and we can't afford the risk that some "minister" will decide to shut us down. If we were rich and could "retire," it would be different, but we aren't and we can't....We love Belize and our friends there and we will visit often but we just can't afford to put ourselves and our money there permanently. So if the GOB's goal was to scare off the little guys, they accomplished it with us.