Challenges Of Retiring In Cayo, Belize

The Two Biggest Challenges You'll Face Retiring In Belize

Jan. 13, 2015, Belize City, Belize: Expats Cathy and David Thayer share details of the challenges they’ve faced retiring to Cayo, Belize.

Dear Live and Invest Overseas Reader,

Picking up where we left off yesterday...

Cathy Thayer: So, after 32 years of marriage and four children, David and I were retiring to Belize in six weeks...

Being married 32 years and raising four children results in a lot of stuff. What were we going to do with all of it? Our plan was to move to Belize for a year, to try out the idea, so we decided we'd take six of everything with us. The rest we'd put in storage. 

I packed six plates, six forks, six spoons, six tank tops, six pairs of shoes, six, six, six, because I thought that'd be enough for a year. 

Then we showed up and unpacked our six of this and six of that. Now what?

Our first two challenges in Belize were food and relationships. 

How do you go about finding food in this country? Don't laugh. It's not all that easy. You start with the Chinese grocery stores. All the grocery stores in San Ignacio and Santa Elenea, the "twin cities" of Cayo, are owned by Chinese. They stock basic supplies and also some imported things. The things imported from the States cost about twice what they cost back home, so we don't buy them. We buy local packaged things or stuff from Mexico, which is cheaper. 

You get your basics from the Chinese grocery stores but not your produce. For produce, you go to the open-air market. Find a vendor you like and get to know them, ask their name. We've gotten to know a very nice lady. She gives us good deals, and she's also teaching us about Belizean fruits and vegetables, showing us how to prepare and eat some things we had never seen before. 

Here's another tip: If you see something in Belize that you want, buy it. It may not be there the next week. I learned that the hard way. 

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Cathy & David Thayer Share Why They Chose To Retire To Cayo, Belize

Wife To Her Husband: "I Don't Know Who You Think You're Retiring Overseas With, But It Won't Be Me..."

Jan. 12, 2015, Belize City, Belize: At this week’s Live and Invest In Belize Conference, expats Cathy and David Thayer tell the story of how and why they chose to retire to Belize.

Dear Live and Invest Overseas Reader,

Cathy Thayer: When David came to me and said, "We are going to be retiring, and I really want to live outside the country," I replied, "Not with me! I don't know who you're going with, but it won't be me."

David Thayer (with a smile): Yes, Cathy wasn't open to the idea at first. Her only experience outside the United States at that point had been a trip to Paris, a birthday gift from our daughter.

I had been living in Europe before Cathy and I got married. I already knew that I wanted to travel. I wanted to see a bunch of different countries. But Cathy said no way. Then life took over. We had our kids, raised them, had careers. After the kids were grown, we had an opportunity to travel to Central America and Mexico.

Cathy: No I was not open to this at all. Then, when we traveled a little around Ecuador, Panama, and Mexico, I thought, "Uh, OK... I can see where this is interesting." But I couldn't live in any of those places. I don't speak the language, and I knew I just wasn't going to learn it.

David: We'd been reading Live and Invest Overseas, and I noticed about this time that they were holding a Live and Invest in Belize Conference. So I said to Cathy, "Why don't we extend the trip a little?"

That was two years ago. We registered for the event, and then we were sitting where you are. That experience—the people that we met, the things that we learned—was enough for Cathy to agree to come back later that year. 

We agreed we'd take it one step at a time. We returned to Belize a few months after the conference to look for a place to live telling ourselves that if we found a place we liked, we'd stay for a year. 

Cathy: The conference made me feel more empowered, a little more educated about Belize. I felt like I wanted to get to know the country better. 

I thought I would be attracted to the Caribbean... the beach, the sunsets, the white sand, the blue water. In fact, I made that part of my conditions for our extended stay. I told David I'd come back and try Belize out for a year but that we had to live on the beach. Fortunately, though (and this is one important piece of advice I would give to you), we made a plan to travel all around the country. We went south to Placencia. We went to the cayes, spent time in San Pedro. We went north to Corazol. I was interested in that part of the country because it's near to Chetumal, and they've got movies and Walmart and Sam's Club.

I wasn't interested in Cayo at all. I said, "I am not living in the jungle. No way." I was picturing bugs, wild animals, and Pygmies or something, all running around everywhere. But I agreed to look all around the country, so we went to Cayo on a tour. And I fell in love with the jungle. Even more, I fell in love with the people in the jungle. The people of Cayo won me over.

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Live And Invest Overseas Conference Calendar For 2015

Why Is That Belize Real Estate Agent Stripped Down To His Underpants?

Jan. 11, 2015, Panama City, Panama: In 2015, Live and Invest Overseas will host conferences in Belize, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, Panama, Portugal, and beyond.

Dear Live and Invest Overseas Reader,

As I mentioned last week, I hosted the first conference of my career nearly 30 years ago in Costa Rica. It was a tour, too. The group spent a few days in San Jose and then a few days on the coast at Guanacaste. My co-hostess for the event was a friend and colleague at the time named Josianne.

Our first morning at the hotel in Guanacaste, Josianne and I woke early and walked over to the hotel's open-air dining room on the beach. The door to the kitchen behind it was locked. Looking through the windows, we could see inside. The tiny kitchen was dark and empty. Where was the staff? The cook? Our group would be arriving for breakfast anytime.

At this time on this coast, options, including dining options, were limited. Our group needed a morning meal, and there was nowhere other than the dining room of the hotel where we were staying for them to go to get one.

Josianne and I walked back to the hotel lobby. The young girl at the front desk didn't know where the kitchen staff was or why they were late showing up to work. She did, though, have a key to the kitchen. By now, a couple of our tour-goers had found their way to the dining room. They had seated themselves and were looking a bit annoyed. No waitstaff in sight, and the air was hot and still. The control for the ceiling fans was inside the locked kitchen.

Josianne and I unlocked the kitchen door, turned on the lights and the ceiling fans, and took inventory. We had eggs, butter, bread, and orange juice. There were tea bags but no coffee... sugar but no cream... pepper but no salt.

"Do you want to cook or serve?" Josianne asked.

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Where To Invest In Property Overseas In 2015

These Five Market Indicators Are Your Keys To Profits In 2015

Jan. 9, 2015, Panama City, Panama: We are entering a golden age of global property investment, driven by these five market factors.

Dear Live and Invest Overseas Reader,

This could be the best time in our lifetimes to be shopping for overseas property investment opportunities. The world is alive right now with markets in crisis, markets benefiting from the strong dollar (and the weak euro), markets where the middle class is expanding in dramatic ways for particular reasons, and markets irresistibly interesting for the production of particular crops.

I intend to seize this window of opportunity, and I encourage you to do the same. I have a number of key property markets in my crosshairs due to the current extraordinary circumstances.

Specifically, here's how you should be looking to diversify your property investment portfolio in 2015:

Markets In Crisis

Key markets are entering, exiting, or currently struggling through crises. Certain pockets within these crisis areas—including in Argentina, Spain, Ireland, and elsewhere—will be ripe with opportunities this year. That is to say, this year you will be able to invest in some of the world's most valuable real estate at fire-sale prices, if you can get the timing and location right.

Argentina in particular has my attention. I invested here during their last crisis, in 2001, and I doubled my money in less than three years. I see the same potential in certain areas of the country in 2015.

The Surging Dollar

Whether or not you see the dollar failing in the future is irrelevant. Right now, Americans and other dollar holders enjoy what amounts to a whopping discount on international property valued in particular other currencies. The savings can easily amount to tens of thousands of dollars and more.

Read more...

Tips For Expats In Panama City

Six Secrets To Success Launching
A New Life In Panama

Jan. 8, 2015, Panama City, Panama.: These six tips will help you make friends and build a new life as an expat or retiree in Panama City.

Dear Live and Invest Overseas Reader,

We gringos in Panama can forget that we're gringos in Panama. The downtown of this city is multicultural with an international vibe and enough global fast-food and shopping brands to give the impression that Panama City is just another North American city. It can be hard to remember that you are in a foreign land.

But let's not forget, fellow gringos: We are guests in this country, and, as such, we should pay attention to our behavior. Nothing is worse than an ungrateful guest.

Following are six things I think it's important to keep in mind in this context. Don't beat yourself up if you realize you've broken any of these social conventions for gringos; we all have. The point is to remind us all that we need to adjust ourselves to Panamanian culture rather than expecting it to adjust to us.

1. You are a gringo. Deal with it.

Some gringos object to being referred to that way. They complain that it's an offensive and derogatory slur. That's ridiculous. "Gringo" isn't nefarious or even insulting. It's shorthand. You're not of this land or of this part of the world. You're a foreigner...a gringo. Get over it.

2. Nobody likes a know-it-all.

Nothing is worse than the know-it-all gringo, the kind who thinks he can solve all Panama's problems. A favorite topic among know-it-all gringos is traffic in Panama City. It's as if every gringo has a PhD in urban design and traffic planning after one week in this town. Chances are your ingenious plan to solve the city's traffic issues isn't so ingenious; someone else probably already thought of it. Leave it to the experts. You don't need to—and probably can't—solve everyone else's problems.

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Kathleen Peddicord

Kathleen Peddicord is the founder of the Live and Invest Overseas publishing group. With more than 25 years experience covering this beat, Kathleen reports daily on current opportunities for living, retiring, and investing overseas in her free e-letter.

Her book, How To Retire Overseas—Everything You Need To Know To Live Well Abroad For Less, was recently released by Penguin Books.

Read more here.

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