In May 2019 we visited San Ignacio, Placencia, & Caye Caulker in Belize. We loved it so much, we started considering moving there. We did a lot of research and decided not to move because the prices felt comparable to where we live now, Southern California in the USA.
Something to remember when you check out the prices below…the currency conversion rate does not change.
1 Belizean Dollar = $2 American Dollars (USD)
Cheapest vs. Most Expensive City
Overall, of the 3 cities, we visited the cheapest city was San Ignacio, which is very far inland almost to Guatemala. The most expensive was Caye Caulker, which makes sense since it’s a small island and everything is imported.
Anyone who has ever been to Hawaii or any island knows that it costs more money to import everyday things, making them more expensive. They have to come on a boat (too slow) or via plane (too expensive).
Cost of Casual Restaurant Food
Both the photos above are from Caye Caulker restaurants. Arrolyn’s (left) serves up fry jacks, which are basically fried balls of dough with toppings inside such as ham and cheese. A great breakfast or snack, these cost anywhere from USD $0.75 for the basic one to $2.50 for the one with the most ingredients.
In Placencia, we found the restaurant food to be a bit cheaper. Slices of cheese pizza ranged from $3-$3.50, a whole 18″ pizza would set you back $24-$26.
At a different Placencia restaurant, we saw tostadas for $6-$13 and taco plates from $8-$15. This same place has a Happy Hour on Monday nights with $3 sangrias, $4 tequila shots, and $7.50 chicken or beef nachos.
San Ignacio seems to be the cheapest area. We visited a local restaurant that had a plate of stew chicken, rice or beans, fried plantains, and a little salad for $3.50. What a great deal! They also had a whole fish plate for $6, grilled shrimp for $7.50, or grilled pork chops for $9.
To give some idea of drink costs, you can get a soda for $0.75, coffee for $0.50, milk/iced tea $1.00, $2.50 shakes, “Panty Ripper” rum drink $3.50, and Michelada for $2.50.
Hotel restaurant prices were of course more expensive, I’d guess about 30% more than the restaurant above.
Cost of Grocery Store Snacks (Placencia)
Imported brand name snacks like Pringles, Twix, Tostitos, etc. are always going to cost you more! Local snacks like basic crackers were much cheaper.
Check out these price lists in USD $
- Large Pringles can – $2.50
- Lay’s & Ruffles chips 6.5 oz bag – $6
- Local brand peanuts 16 oz – $5
- Snack pack pudding – 4 cups for $2
- Fritos flavor twists 4 oz – $2.50
- Oreos 6-pack – $0.75
Cost of Goods (Caye Caulker)
- Head & Shoulders regular shampoo (big bottle) – $5
- Head & Shoulders clinical strength shampoo (big bottle) – $1
- Old Spice body wash (10 oz) – $6.50
- Suave shampoo (big bottle) – $4
- Garnier Fructis shampoo (big bottle) – $4.50
- 20 ounces of Aloe Vera lotion – $14
- 8-ounce bottle of spray sunscreen – $17.50
- Small bottle of local sunscreen – $5
- 8-ounce bottle of spray Banana Boat sunscreen – $17
- A tall bottle of generic insect repellent – $12
- A tall bottle of Off! brand insect repellent – $10
- 5-ounce bottle of spray sunless tanner – $12
- 10 feminine care pads – $1.10
Cost of Gas
Cost of Rent
It seems like to live in Placencia, it will cost you at least $1500 USD for a “nice” place with air conditioning for a 1 bedroom condo without a backyard. Obviously, these costs vary greatly by location and amenities. Check out this site and this site to see actual rentals.
Belize borders Mexico, meaning that many tourists expect it to be as cheap as Mexico. That is not the case! We found Belize to be quite expensive, especially since we visited Thailand a few months earlier. This applies whether you’re an expat looking for a new home or a traveler. We feel that the cost of gas, food, and rent in Belize is comparable to the United States because the Belizean currency is strong. For this reason, we stopped considering Belize as a place to live in the future.
Questions? Drop us a comment!