#10 Navigating Expat Life and Real Estate Investing in Belize with Michael Cobb.png

RealtyCast Global #10: Navigating Expat Life and Real Estate Investing in Belize with Michael Cobb

Welcome to episode #10 of RealtyCast Global – a global connection to all things real estate, hosted by Hugh Gilliam, president of Global Property Pros.

Belize, often referred to as Mother Nature’s best-kept secret, is quickly becoming one of the most intriguing destinations for global investors and expatriates seeking a slice of paradise combined with a sound investment. This tiny Central American nation, with its diverse landscapes ranging from pristine beaches to lush rainforests, offers a wealth of opportunities for those looking to diversify their portfolio or embark on a new chapter in their lives.

Michael Cobb, CEO of ECI Development, joins us again to provide an insightful look into the burgeoning real estate market in Belize. As a seasoned investor who witnessed Belize’s evolution from a hidden gem to a burgeoning tourist and investment destination, Michael shares valuable perspectives on the potential that Belize holds.

During the episode, we explore how the transformation of Belize’s real estate market parallels the country’s own journey from a British colony to an independent nation with English as its official language. The unique combination of a stable government, common-law legal system, and low property taxes makes Belize an attractive option for investors, particularly when compared to other Caribbean and Central American nations.

The conversation delves into the intricate tapestry of life as an expatriate in Belize. With anecdotes about living on Ambergris Caye and the contrast between expat life in Belize and Nicaragua, the discussion emphasizes the importance of finding a destination that fits one’s lifestyle preferences. Whether one is seeking a serene beachfront haven or an adventurous jungle retreat, Belize offers an array of environments to suit a variety of tastes.

A key focus of the episode is on the growing trend of digital nomads and pre-retirees looking for an idyllic setting to work remotely or enjoy an early retirement. Belize, with its ease of communication for English speakers and the rise of remote working, is an ideal locale for this demographic. It is particularly appealing for those in their 50s and 60s who are not quite ready to retire but eager to enjoy a more relaxed pace of life while still remaining productive.

Real estate investment in Belize, especially in areas like Ambergris Caye, is underscored as a lucrative venture due to the island’s popularity with tourists. The discussion covers the value of investing in branded properties and the increasing trend of visitors converting their short-term stays into long-term residences, thanks to the welcoming digital nomad visa programs.

Furthermore, the episode touches on the role of cruise ships in catapulting Belize onto the global tourism stage. Despite initial resistance from local hoteliers, the influx of cruise ship visitors has resulted in increased visibility for Belize, leading to a higher demand for accommodations and bolstering the country’s popularity among international travelers.

Throughout the conversation, Michael Cobb offers strategic insights into the current ‘sweet spot’ of Belize’s development curve, highlighting the optimal timing for investment before the market peaks. He explains the correlation between the country’s growing popularity and the potential for high occupancy rates and attractive average daily rates for rental properties.

In essence, the podcast episode paints a picture of Belize as a country ripe with opportunity, both for individuals seeking a change in lifestyle and for investors ready to capitalize on the burgeoning real estate market. With its combination of natural beauty, strategic location, and favorable investment conditions, Belize stands out as a destination with profitable horizons for those willing to take the plunge into its real estate adventure.

For more information on living and investing in Belize, check out Michael’s Consumer Resource Guide (click here to download the guide).

For real estate agents looking to expand their business internationally, expose existing listings to a global pool of buyers, and connect with new clients, check out Global Property Pros.

For Property Buyers & Sellers seeking assistance in the international market, check out RealtyHive’s property marketing solutions.

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About the Guest – Michael Cobb:

At the height of a successful career in the computer industry, Mr. Cobb left to pursue more pioneering opportunities in the emerging real estate markets of Central America.  In 1996, he and his business partner formed a company, Exotic Caye International, to provide loans to North Americans purchasing properties in Belize, Honduras and throughout the region.  As the need for capital outstripped the supply, the mortgage company was converted to an international bank under the jurisdiction of Belize.  It continues to provide mortgage services but has expanded its services to encompass the full realm of financial products. 
Mr. Cobb also saw the need for a regional real estate company that would serve the Baby Boomer consumer with a North American standard product for the next 2 decades.  He led the group into real estate development and created a holding company for several properties including a resort on Ambergris Caye, Belize. In August of 2000, Exotic Caye purchased 3.5 miles of Pacific Beachfront property due west of Managua, Nicaragua. 

This master planned community hosts world class infrastructure, homes and condominium units.  In February of 2006, the ECI Development group acquired 1100 acres and 3km of coastline in Costa Rica, setting the stage for expansion into this popular market.  Most recently they merged their Belize property with a much larger parcel and have begun to develop 200 condominiums units on Ambergris Caye, Belize
Additionally, Mike Cobb has spoken at hundreds of international conferences about real estate financing and development.  He has acted as a consultant to The Oxford Club and gives counsel to various real estate projects throughout Central America.

Website: ecidevelopment.com

Phone: +1.703.795.2555

Email: mcobb@ECIdevelopment.com

About the host – Hugh Gilliam:

Hugh Gilliam co-owned a national transportation company, created a land development business, and worked as a general contractor in residential and commercial construction for over two decades. Hugh also co-founded an international distribution company and successfully negotiated and contracted with 135 sales representatives in the United States, Canada, France, Brazil, Japan, and the Netherlands.

Today, Mr. Gilliam is affiliated with RealtyHive, LLC where he serves as Director of International Real Estate and President of Global Property Pros. His duties include involvement in commercial and residential transactions, plus promoting marketing systems and lead generation platforms.

He is also co-founder of the luxury digital magazine, DOORWAYS INTERNATIONAL, powered by RealtyHive, which serves as a platform for Brokers and Buyers throughout 70 countries.

Hugh’s Designations Include:

  • Certified Luxury Home Marketing Specialist
  • Certified Distressed Property Export
  • Certified International Property Specialist
  • Certified International Investment & Immigration Specialist
  • Transnational Referral Certification

Hugh’s Memberships Include:

  • Georgia Association of REALTORS
  • National Association of REALTORS
  • International Real Estate Federation (FIABCI-USA)
  • Asian Real Estate Association of America
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