Questions for Expats

Hi, Hubby and I are in the planning stage of retiring to Belize and checking out the different districts.  Would love to hear from Expats on why they chose the location they are living in and why.  The goods, the bads and the benifits of why you moved there.

Susie

I lived in San Pedro on the island of Ambergris Caye first. Loved being by the ocean and how pretty it was, but there was a ton of bugs, it was crowded and just felt too Americanized. Plus it was expensive!

Then I moved to San Ignacio - love it here! Much quieter, cheaper, gorgeous rain forests, rivers, and ruins. Felt more business opportunity here as well.  Less bugs, and it gets cool in the evenings.

I've written a lot about both on my blog (just search my user name).  Best way (well the only way) to know what you'll like is to come and visit. Good luck!  Sharon Hiebing

Thanks Sharon!  Just got back from AC, just a vacation thing, and I do agree about the island being too americanized and expensive.  Hopefully will be back in Belize in Sept to look at property in the different areas.  Thanks for your reply and I must admit that I often look at your blog for help.  Thanks for all you do!

Cool Susie - come visit us in San Ignacio next time - you'll see what I mean! Glad to be of help :)

Susie,
My husband John and I are a tad ahead of where you sound you are, but I'm happy to share what we've learned.  We just got back to Reno, after a two-week trip.  Our plan was to figure out which part of Belize we wanted to be in: 

Corozal on the Northern shore has great access to Chetemal, Mexico with lots to do and lots of places to shop.  It's also the place with the least rainfall -- about 80" a year -- and slightly cooler temperatures than the South and inland.  And then there's that lovely shoreline off Chetemal Bay. More rocky than sandy, but gorgeous nevertheless. A few downsides:Corozal itself is a very small place with not much to do.  If your lifestyle is to buy a lovely home -- maybe at a shoreline -- and just stay there and enjoy your home and land until you need to go shopping, Corozal may be for you.  We didn't find a single good restaurant, but did find plenty of nice people and good Belizean food (kind of like Jamaican, but less spicy).  Another downside, at least for our trip, was the mosquitoes.  I was absolutely eaten alive and am still wondering how I might live comfortablly there in the rainy season (June through September).

Cayo-we travelled south to the Cayo District and discovered the most beautiful landscapes I've ever seen.  Gorgeous lush green palm trees growing everywhere...hard to describe.  If you love Mayan archeological ruins, this may be your place. You can also meet some pretty interesting eco-tourists there. There are also a couple of well-hidden world-class spas there.  The land is relatively cheap by U.S. standards and there are very inexpensive houses for sale and to be built.  You can also have a very plush house built for under $200,000 total.  Downsides:  The roads again are an issue...unless you're on the three main highways, driving can be a real challenge. Also, there is not the direct access to shopping as in Corozal, so you need to plan how you'll live and stock your house.  The largest town in San Ignacio where you can get all of your daily goods, including some pretty neat furniture built by the nearbye Menonites.  I am not a San Ignacio booster, however, and prefer being away from big towns.

We also drove way South to Placentia, a shoreline Paradise -- much more "beachy" than Corozal and more upscale.  Again, almost impossibly picturesque.  We are still considering buying there and renting out to vacationers, until we decide to settle.  Downsides:
You are Waaay down in the South.  The best way to get there is to fly into Belize City and then catch a puddle jumper flight into Placentia.  If you have the bucks, this is perfect -- not as touristy as Ambergris Cay, and I think more beautiful.

Whew!  This gives only a very tiny overview to what we've seen. My husbvand is coming down again in December to talk more firmly about our plans.  We have a lot to consider, as you will.  Good luck to you! Belize is worth the trouble.

Toni Sandler

Toni that is great info and the sort of blog info i have been looking for.  You are ahead of us in planning.  Wife and i want 2 things - great fishing and scuba diving for the next 10 years - and I'm talking about doing it on our own - not a charter boat type thing. 200K for a house near or on water for easy access to my small center console boat is the plan at this point. I'll follow your input as your plans progress.  TX

Thanks Bob,
John and I are planning another trip some time in November to nail down a place.  So far, our plan is to rent a house, preferably in the area in which we want to buy.  Then, we can take our time getting just what we want, either buying or building.  We are very anxious to get this going, particularly having researched some dire predictions about some possible changes in the international banking arena (look up the HIRE act, scheduled to go into effect in Jan. of 2013.

Good luck!,
Toni

We are moving to Belize in November. We will be renting for a while and only buy if we come across an awesome deal. The rents are cheap. We did a lot of research and visited Belize, And I subscribed to Sharon's Expat consulting services and she has been very helpful with answers. The Hire act provisions have been postponed to January 2014 now instead of 2013

Thanks for the compliment, Surendra! Toni is actually a client of mine too, lol!  I think both of you are smart to rent, wait, and take your time before buying.  You'll thank yourself later.

Also, that's good to know about the Hire Act - thanks for the update.  Sharon

Wow...great input and good news about the dreaded HIRE Act.  Probably proves it's best not to assume ANYTHING gov't-wise is set in stone nowadays.  Thanks so much Surendrak.

Toni

OUr house is in Maya Beach, which is just a bit north of Placencia. We do not live there all the time (too young to retire). I love the Placencia peninsula area, but I also LOVE Cayo, and want to buy some farm land there for when I REALLY retire.

Hi Sharon. I was in Corozal for 6 months but didn't like it, so decided to check out San Ignacio. I rented for 3 months before finding a home I liked, bought it and now, here I am living in San Ignacio as well. Would love to meet up for a coffee some time. I don't know the area well yet and could use a lot of tips!

Thing I love about here, although its hotter by day than the coast, its far less humid and at night, it cools down a lot, which means you can get a good night's sleep, unlike on the coast where you sweat all night too!

I am working on a web site for Belize, (BelizeDestinations.com) but it has not been updated for nearly two months as it took me that long to get back on the internet once I moved into this house! My ISP told me internet would work perfectly well from where I live. Turns out, it wouldn't! They had to order a higher powered antenna to pick up the signal from Cal Pech.

Obviously I am back online now, just last week to be exact. So what I'm trying to say is if anyone is moving here and wants internet, check your options well. Don't take anyone's word that it will work until its been tried!

That's my two cents. Sharon, we spoke last year when you were in San Pedro, I think. Hope we can make contact here.

Very best, Gary.

Now a few of my thoughts on what I've seen of Belize. As I said above, I lived in Corozal Town for 6 months. I didn't like the way its flat, unscenic and there are no beaches, unless you are prepared to drive long distances down potholed roads. On the good side, it has a great ex-pat community, with a happy hour every Friday at someone's home and a big get together once a month for anyone that wants to go.
I moved to Cayo, and while I love everything about it much more than Corozal, the temps, the scenery, even the rain, I have yet to find a way to make friends here. I have not found anything like the friendship there was in Corozal. Maybe a friendship group down here would be a good thing for someone to start?

Placencia, I only got as far as the scissor cut lawns and couldn't take it anymore. I turned the car round and never actually got to Placencia village.

Belize City, only place to get some things and fun to go to for a day out, but I'd fear for my life there!

Not been to the south yet.

We just moved to a 1BR condo on Ambergris Caye north of San Pedro.  We chose AC for a few reasons.  A big reason for us that is a lot less important for many folks is that we could live here car-free, something we have wanted to do for many years. We were avid cyclists back home and both of us hated driving! Here in Belize we have only bicycles, not even a golf cart, and we can get everywhere we need to go, shop, dine, etc. by riding on the beach and roads into town.  In the more remote areas of Belize we would not be able to do this. 

Another factor for us was the fact that the northern part of Belize has significantly less rain than the south; otherwise we might have seriously considered Placencia. We wanted to be right on the beach for the breeze (and fewer mosquitoes).  I don't think we could stand to live here if we didn't live on the beach, to be honest, as we hate using bug spray, and the mozzies can be vicious off the beach once you get outside of town (though no problem in San Pedro Town proper).

What I do not like about San Pedro is that certain items are VERY expensive, but we have had fun shopping around and finding the lowest price on staples, which can mean going to 5-6 different shops/stands on marketing days. And some things we just have to do without and find other things to eat or drink.  I miss wine!  But we are trying to eat and drink more like locals and phase out some of our US ways. Electricity and water are also high, so we are very careful with our usage.

Also don't care for being constantly "hawked" by vendors selling souvenirs of all sorts.  I don't even wear necklaces, and while some of the items they sell are nice, we are not (as they assume)  rich and cannot afford to fritter away our money.  We are retired and need to be as frugal as we can be, so even though I'd love to help some of these folks out, I can only do so much. 

Despite these negatives, we really love living here on the beach, taking long walks with our dog, meeting great folks (expats, locals, and tourists), riding our bikes into town and on the beach, and the simpler, slower-paced life we have here.  We have only been here for a bit over two weeks, but this is my impression.  On our very first visit here last year, we fell in love with this place, and it already feels like home after several more trips.

What is important is different for everyone, but you are smart to ask these sorts of questions!

Good luck in your quest!

Emily

Good points about Ambergris Caye, Emily.  My husband and I aren't rich by U.S. standards, but we are really afraid about the future of the money we do have.  So, our plans are (sorry if I offend anybody here)"First Assets, then Asses" meaning that we'd like to invest in income property and then move.  We've actually been thinking about some condo on Ambergris.  We're not really that type of tourists, but, if it seems we can rent to "those white-linen tourist folks," we'd go ahead and get a little income and live elsewhere.  Any thoughts out there?

Can you advise me on where americans live in belize? such as are there areas where alot of americans live?

Shangy, predominantly Ambergris Caye, Placencia, San Ignacio, and Corozal.

I am in the Cayo district deep in the jungle next to the Belize River. I moved here 3 almost 4 years ago.

I came here at my dads request to take over the Family business.

He moved here 25 years ago. So I have a very clear understanding of how things work in Belize.

Goods. Where else in the world can I sit on the porch and eat dinner while watching and listening to Howler Moneys sing?

The jungle has amazing beauty. Beyond description. Turning out the lights and looking at the sky. No neighbors, close anyway.

The bad...Highly corrupt government. The food is very simple and at times I would almost kill for good donuts or Ice Cream.

Limited selection as far as shopping.No inventory control at the Chinese stores. (you never know when or if they will ever get an item in again). 

Things getting stolen by employees and others.People saying yes when they mean no.

Lousy restaurants (Instant coffee, chicken, rice and beans everywhere, cooked the same way). Bacon, pork and beef are way different (lousy).

Horrible educational system.

I could go on and on....

Love it in Belize.:D

Can't wait to get back next week!



SusieBow wrote:

Hi, Hubby and I are in the planning stage of retiring to Belize and checking out the different districts.  Would love to hear from Expats on why they chose the location they are living in and why.  The goods, the bads and the benifits of why you moved there.

Susie

New topic