Sunday, January 4, 2009

The New Year

The New Year is finally here and good bye to last year. The niece and nephew are gone and the house returns to somewhat normal. It was a good Christmas with friends and family. At one point we had 4 generations together for Christmas Eve dinner.

Now, Mischelle and I are going to get ready for the big changes that are coming up this year as we chart our path to moving to Belize.

In my last post before the holidays, I was covering my trip to Belize in Nov. 08. One of the first things I wanted to do was get a local telephone number so I could be reached while I was in Belize. I had used my local carrier in the States the last time I was here and got on their International Plan. The problem was that I was charged $3.49 a minute for both incoming and outgoing calls. On top of that, I only received a few of the calls that were made to my phone during that time. The outgoing were OK, but I was charged $3.49 a min for a local or long-distance call. So this time I had my AT&T phone (GSM) unlocked, bought a SIM chip at BTL, the local cellphone company, and received a local Belize telephone number and rechargeable time for about $25US. The rates were MUCH better. It cost less than $.50BZ per minute to call the US and $.10BZ for local calls. And ALL incoming calls were free to me. So I had Mischelle get a calling card from Costco, and she was able to call me from the States for between $.31 and $.52 a minute. And I could go down to the local store and buy additional minutes for my phone in $5, $10, or $25 increments.

Next on the list of things to do was to open a local bank account. I decided to use Atlantic Bank because of the ease of opening a savings acct., it being local, in town, and the availability of branches, nationwide. If you go to the bank prepared, you should have no problems opening a savings account (checking is a little different) Due to the problems with money laundering, a little more paperwork is required than you might expect. First, they want a letter of recommendation from two different banks in the States. This is more of an introduction from your bank to theirs, stating that you have had an account with them for over one year and that you are in good standing with the bank. I had them include checking and savings information, how long I've had my accounts and any credit cards issued though them. That, along with a color copy of your passport (picture and address only) and $100BZ, I was able to open a local savings account.

My next stop was to get a P.O. Box in town. I had heard that this was the hardest thing to get and they were right. I couldn't even get on the waiting list to get on the waiting list. It seems as though they are sold out for years to come. Opening a P.O. Box store would be a great little business if you're allowed to compete against the gov't. So, no P.O. Box this time. Maybe next time there will be an opening on the list.

No comments: