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The rentals market in Cayo is thin. You can shop for weeks or longer and not find a place to rent that'd qualify as comfortable by North American standards. All the would-be retirees interested in trying Cayo on for size are competing for a relative handful of suitable rental properties. The demand for quality rentals is heating up.

At this week's Global Asset Protection and Wealth Summit in Belize City, developer Phil Hahn, with more than a decade of experience building in this country, presented a new investment offer that addresses this growing need. Phil has launched a phase of his riverside Carmelita Gardens community where he is building a cluster of turn-key rental units to be known as "The River Club."

Carmelita Gardens is a planned sustainable development where every house will be self-sufficient through the use of alternative energy and rainwater catchment systems. This is the first master-planned off-grid development in Belize, and it's not just the off-grid element that makes the community sustainable. Carmelita Gardens has been planned to include communal gardens and orchards so that every homeowner can grow his own food if he'd like. You could farm and garden all day every day if you wanted and live completely off the land...or you could be a "weekend gardener," growing some fresh vegetables to complement your weekly visit to the grocery store. It's up to you.

Having a mile of river frontage gives residents at Carmelita Gardens access to water activities, as well as a nice breeze to help cool things off on hot days. Now, along the river, on one of the river village lots, Phil has decided to build a group of 15 cottages intended specifically to serve as rentals.

These one-bedroom, one-bath River Club homes will help meet the need for rentals both in Carmelita Gardens and the greater Cayo region. Many owners at Carmelita Gardens are starting construction of their houses and need places to stay when they visit to check on progress. Some would prefer to live on the property full time while their houses are under construction. Right now, only one of the handful of finished houses at Carmelita is available for rent, and it's full much of the time.

Elsewhere, options for accommodation are mostly US$250-a-night jungle resorts and lower-end hotels and hostels. The new eco-rentals at Carmelita Gardens will fill the gap and offer an upscale, comfortable place to stay for a reasonable cost.

In theory, you could live in one of these 512-square-foot River Club cottages; however, they have been designed as rentals and with the investor in mind. They will be built using the same sustainable technology as all other structures at Carmelita Gardens, including solar electricity, treated catchment water systems, and eco-friendly septic. Each unit will come fully furnished and with appliances installed, ready to rent.

Of the 15 units available at River Club, 7 have been reserved. The remaining units start at US$76,500. Property management will be in place, and projections are for cash flow to begin within 18 months.

Based on current and expected demand and assuming a reasonable nightly rate, the projected annual yield from these units is 10%. Plus, owning one of these River Club units would give you a ready place to spend time in one of the world's most appealing get-away-from-it-all destinations.

If that's something that appeals to you...and you're in the market for a good rental investment opportunity...I'd recommend following up on this quickly. As I said, inventory is limited.

For more information on Carmelita Gardens and The River Club, you can get in touch here.

Kathleen Peddicord

P.S. We've been recording every presentation of this week's Global Asset Protection and Wealth Summit, including Phil's on his new River Club investment opportunity. Even if you couldn't join the group in Belize, you don't have to miss out on all the intelligence, recommendations, advice, and strategies being shared.

These audio recordings will be edited and bundled to create our first-everWealth Building and Diversification Kit available pre-release for 50% off the regular price through Sunday, Nov. 2 only. Details are here

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"Belize is like Key West back in the day..."

--A Live and Invest in Belize Conference attendee who grew up in Key West

"Forget the golf course! Put in a garden instead..."

--Belize developer Phil Hahn on the vision behind his Carmelita community

"This isn't a consumer culture. This is a conservation culture..."

--Expat Amma Carey on the experience of living in Belize

"Belize is an entire country that feels like a small town..."

--Belize expat Macarena Rose

"The motto of Belize is: 'Under the shade of the mahogany tree we flourish.' In my now long experience doing business in Belize, I've learned that, if ever I can't find a local business partner, it's a good bet that he's under the shade of a mahogany tree somewhere...flourishing..."

--Phil Hahn

"Go slow. We have two cemeteries and no hospital."

--Sign on Caye Caulker, Belize

"There are more than 600 Mayan ruin sites in Belize. It's the greatest density of sites in all the Mundo Maya. In some caves in some parts of the country, you walk past Mayan pottery...actual pots made and used and left behind by the Mayans themselves...just laying around on the ground. There's the chance that the Department of Anthropology will close these caves, but, for now, they're open. You can visit them anytime..."

--Belize expat Jim Hardesty

"In September 1798, the Spaniards had been trying to push the Belizean settlers out. Local lore here in Belize has it that the Belizeans, a rag-tag band of pirates, slaves, and misfits, beat off the mighty Spanish Armada. That's not actually what happened. What actually happened is that the Belizeans annoyed the Spanish into leaving. Those pirates, slaves, and misfits swam out into the ocean and cut the lines of the Spanish ships...again and again. They moved the channel markers and generally irritated and confused the Spanish, who, eventually, gave up and went home.

"This Battle of St. George's Caye, as it's called, is a good lesson for life in Belize. Belize will do her best to annoy you...to drive you away. Don't let her. Life here is worth all the struggles and all the frustrations..."

--Phil Hahn

Kathleen Peddicord

P.S. What else this week?

  • I recognized the feeling when it hit. I've had it every time I've returned to this little corner of the world--the sensation of escape.

Escape from the obligations of the office back in Panama City...escape from the deadlines...escape from the grind...escape from concern over what's going on in the rest of the world, whatever that might be...

As we continued along the Western Highway, speeding toward the district of Belize known as Cayo, I was less and less distracted by the to-do list I'm forever reviewing in my mind...and more and more distracted by the view outside the truck window...

Fields and pastures, trees and jungle, rivers and livestock. Here and there a small house of concrete block or timber, in the distance the outline of the Maya Mountains. The land in Cayo is fertile. Farmers grow corn and sugarcane, watermelons and citrus.

We passed Mennonites driving horse-drawn carts and children walking home from school. Everyone going about his or her business, not much bothered, I'd bet, by sequesters, fiscal cliffs, or the mounting deficit. Here, in this land of escape, where life is simple, those things don't seem to matter or even to register. Life here revolves around the land and values independence above all else.

To be truly independent in today's world, you need to be energy-independent. That's part of what Cayo offers, too--a chance to take yourself off the grid. This doesn't have to mean living a backward or burdened existence. Thanks to 21st-century technology, the self-sufficient life can also be comfortable, even fully appointed. This was what we made the trip out yesterday to see--progress at the riverfront development called "Carmelita," where developer Phil Hahn is building a community of like-minded folks interested in being, as he puts it, "independent together" and completely self-reliant...

  • "What in the world am I gonna' do with her?"

That was Mick Flemming's first impression of me, he admitted years later, as I climbed down from the four-wheel-drive jeep in my linen suit and beige pumps.

I was 23-years-old, a just-starting-out travel writer, in Belize for the first time...

  • "Many folks come to Belize for the beach life," explained full-time Belize expat Jim Hardesty to the crowd gathered with us in Belize City for this week's Live and Invest in Belize Conference today. "That's why it's worth pointing out that the entire community of Orchid Bay, where I live, is directly on the water...right on the sand."

Belize is known for sandy beaches; however, those out on Ambergris Caye get most of the attention. The beaches on this country's mainland coast are less recognized but no less quintessentially Caribbean. Because they get so much less attention than the beaches out on the cayes, they can also be much more affordable. This is the case with Orchid Bay.

Another big advantage of Orchid Bay is that it's built. Buy (that is, pay for) what you see, we remind you often. At Orchid Bay, the infrastructure is in, amenities (a dock, a restaurant, a dockside bar, an equestrian center) have been built, and houses have full-time residents.

Now, don't misunderstand. Orchid Bay isn't about flash. When I say that the infrastructure is in, I'm not suggesting that these sandy shores are now backed by parking lots of asphalt, high-rise condo towers, or souvenir shops. The "clubhouse" has a thatched roof. No structure is higher than three stories. Residents get around most often using their own two feet or on horseback...

  • I heard last week for the first time of NORCs: Naturally Occurring Retirement Communities.

The example I heard about was a NORC in Fairfax County, Virginia. House prices in this area have skyrocketed over the past few decades (the downturn of housing markets across the country notwithstanding). The current average cost for a home in Fairfax County is US$700,000; few newcomers can afford to move in.

Meanwhile those who live there, mostly government employees with fat salaries or fat pensions, need or want to stay. Voila. With few people moving in, and few moving out, the community ages naturally. It becomes a NORC.

In my experience, you'll find nothing NORC-like in expat communities. In most cases around the world, you'll find nothing like traditional retirement communities, either. Instead, overseas retirement communities are mobile, young and vital.

Why?...

PLUS--From resident global real estate investing expert Lief Simon:

In Belize this week for the Live and Invest in Belize Conference, Kathleen and I took a day to travel out to the Cayo District to visit some development projects that I'm involved in. One is Maya Spring Estates. The idea here is privacy and elbow room. The developer has allowed for just 20 lots, each one big enough to serve as a base for a fully self-sufficient lifestyle. Lot sizes range from two-and-a-half acres up to more than nine-and-a-half acres, meaning you have enough room to build a house and have a large garden or even a small farm. The land in Cayo is very fertile, and this is one of the best places on earth to grow things. That's the attraction for me.

Creating a destination where we could be fully self-sufficient has been a goal of mine for the last couple of years. Self-sufficiency is a growing agenda for many people, and Belize is one place you can easily organize a fully self-sufficient life using solar power to run your house, growing your own food, keeping some animals, and, if you have the inclination, even building your own furniture out of local hardwoods.

Belize is also a good place to be self-sufficient because Belizeans like to take care of themselves. They always have. Founded by pirates, the country prizes independence above everything else (despite having been independent from the U.K. for only about 30 years).

Carrying on in that tradition of independence, Maya Spring Estates will be a small community for self-sufficiency aficionados. The infrastructure will be basic, including roads and electricity (although I'm planning for my house to be off the grid). You could have your own well if you prefer, or you could go with a water catchment and storage system. Modern, efficient wastewater systems will be used for effluent.

Maya Spring Estates' location in the Cayo is near enough (15 minutes) to San Ignacio so that residents will be able to take advantage of the restaurants and shops there, but the property is very much out in the country, meaning privacy and quiet. The small village of Santa Familia is just a few minutes away and the Mennonite settlement of Spanish Lookout is only about 20 minutes away. Spanish Lookout is where you'd go for your farm supplies if farming is part of your plan.

Our plan is to build a house that we'll use for vacation and rental income in the short and medium term. However, as we're buying more than nine acres, we also intend to see if we can find a local farmer interested in leasing it from us to make it productive.

Even if we never grow a single tomato or ear of corn on the property, though, we'll have the foothold in Cayo that we've been wanting for some time. We like it here. Coming to Belize is a chance for escape. The rush of everyday life disappears as soon as you step off the plane. And at Maya Spring, we'll be able to sit on our porch and enjoy the peacefulness of both the location and of knowing that we could take care of ourselves if we had to. If the world were, in fact, to go completely haywire, as some think it will, we'd be fine.

For more information about Maya Spring Estates, you can inquire here. The first three lot buyers get a US$5,000 discount. We've already taken the first lot so that leaves two more available with the discount.

Editor's Note: Now that the final speaker has left the stage, work has begun in earnest to edit the recordings from this week's Live and Invest in Belize Conference. As soon as the recordings (all 32 of them!) have been edited, we'll bundle them with our "Live and Invest in Belize" manual and other key Belize resources to create our new Live and Invest in Belize Home Conference Kit.

Meantime, this one-of-a-kind Belize resource in the making is available pre-release at a 50% discount. Details here.

***

Kathleen Peddicord's New Book "How To Buy Real Estate Overseas" Available Now Pre-Release!

Kathleen Peddicord's latest book, published by Wiley & Sons, hits bookstores April 8. Starting now, though, you can buy a copy pre-release and save 36% off the release price!

Go here now to place your order!


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Living In Belize

Fields and pastures, trees and jungle, rivers and livestock. Here and there a small house of concrete block or timber, in the distance the outline of the Maya Mountains. The land in Cayo is fertile. Farmers grow corn and sugarcane, watermelons and citrus.

We passed Mennonites driving horse-drawn carts and children walking home from school. Everyone going about his or her business, not much bothered, I’d bet, by sequesters, fiscal cliffs, or the mounting deficit. Here, in this land of escape, where life is simple, those things don’t seem to matter or even to register. Life here revolves around the land and values independence above all else.

To be truly independent in today’s world, you need to be energy-independent. That’s part of what Cayo offers, too--a chance to take yourself off the grid. Living in Belize doesn’t have to mean living a backward or burdened existence. Thanks to 21st-century technology, the self-sufficient life can also be comfortable, even fully appointed. This was what we made the trip out yesterday to see--progress at the riverfront development called “Carmelita Gardens,” where developer Phil Hahn is building a community of like-minded folks interested in being, as he puts it, “independent together” and completely self-reliant.

The first couple of houses have been built at Carmelita, and they’re charming. Modeled after Tennessee Williams’ home in Key West, these timber structures feature floors and ceilings of exotic hardwoods, long breezy porches, and an impressive attention to detail. They’re completely self-sufficient, with cisterns to catch water and solar panels to generate power...but also, again, comfortable, with washing machines, dryers, air conditioners, and dishwashers, if you want them.

These Carmelita homes are also affordable; you could own one, fully furnished and outfitted, starting for as little as US$100,000.

When Carmelita is fully built out, it will feature a “village green,” at the heart of the community, with space for retail and gatherings. Down at the river will be a small clubhouse and pool. And, all around, will be the wide-open spaces of Cayo.

After we’d toured Carmelita, Phil took us to see two other Belize builing developments he’s involved with--Mahogany Park and Maya Spring Estates. Phil’s vision for Mahogany Park centers around a business opportunity. His idea is to create a riverside restaurant and bar where tourists can rent rafting tubes, canoes, and other gear for river fun. “I think it could be an ideal situation for someone who wants to retire down here but who needs to supplement his or her retirement nest egg a little.” If the idea piques your interest, Phil would love to hear from you.

Maya Spring Estates is for people looking for a little more personal elbow room. The lots in this community are 3 to 9 acres. Many feature creek frontage, and the bigger lots are suitable for hobby farms or keeping a horse or two.

Lief and I hiked around...crossed the creek...considered the views from different vantage points...watched the sun begin its descent for the day...

“It’s getting late,” Lief said finally. “If we’re going to make our dinner meeting back in Belize City, we’d better get going.”

“Yes, yes, ok,” I said reluctantly.

Back in the truck, headed back in the direction of Belize City, I tried to refocus. I reviewed the agenda for our dinner meeting...thought over my opening remarks for attendees at this week’s Live and Invest in Belize Conference, which we kicked off this morning...remembered deadlines I was at risk of missing...

But, all the while, Cayo nipped at the edges of my thinking, teasing me, tempting me, calling me back...

Kathleen Peddicord

P.S. I think Cayo was nipping away at the edges of Lief’s thinking, too...

“What would you think,” he asked me after we’d returned from our day out in Cayo yesterday, “of telling Phil that we’d like to invest in Lot 3 at Maya Spring Estates? I keep thinking how nice it would be to try our hands at farming out there. Lot 3 is about 9 acres. We could build a little house...plant some fruit trees...grow some vegetables...maybe even build a small stable and keep a horse for Kaitlin and Jackson. It’d give us a reason to return to Cayo more often...”

“You read my mind,” I replied.Continue Reading:

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The piece of land where Mahogany Park is being developed was chosen carefully. The property sits on the Mopan River just outside the town of Bullet Tree. The location is quaint, quiet, and back to basics. The river situation means cooling breezes and pleasant views.

As I said, this isn't a "gated community." No clubhouse, no gym, etc. All of that adds cost for the owners, both upon purchase (every amenity must be amortized over the prices of the lots) and ongoing (in the form of HOA fees). Plus, all of that would change the face of what's on offer here. If you want a full-amenity situation, you have other good options in this country. If you want sweet and simple country living, Mahogany Park could be just the thing.

While this isn't a master-planned community in the traditional sense, the property will be supported by roads, water, and electricity. You won't have to dig your own well, for example.

bullet tree

In addition, Mahogany Park will include a half-acre park with access to the river for use by all owners, a nice place to meet with your few neighbors and maybe share a cocktail at sunset. Otherwise, the property is being given over to dozens of mahogany trees (hence the name). Three of the lots are riverfront; owners of these will be able to step out your back door and be right at the river (note that there's a 66-foot government setback from the river's edge for construction).

With lots ranging from about 1/8th to 1/5th of an acre and prices starting at US$25,000, Mahogany Park is a very appealing option for someone looking to retire to Belize on a budget, build a second home, or invest in a small rental property. You could put up a two-bedroom, 1,000-square-foot house for as little as US$70,000, including the septic system, meaning that you could have a comfortable home of your own in this riverfront setting within walking distance of town (Bullet Tree) for a total of less than US$100,000.

Belize is generally best known for its Caribbean lifestyle. That's out on Ambergris, and that's where you should look if you like to spend your days diving, snorkeling, and fishing. Belize's Cayo is a different place entirely. This is inland, in the mountains, in a region that has managed to remain largely undiscovered and undeveloped despite all the attention other parts of this country have attracted.

Frankly, the Cayo is my favorite part of Belize. The older I get, the more I appreciate the attractions of simple country living on the banks of a slow-going river. If that lifestyle appeals to you, too, the Cayo is one of the best places in the world to enjoy it.

Finding serviced lots in a riverfront setting at the prices on offer at Mahogany Park isn't easy--not in Belize or anywhere. And at Mahogany Park, there are only 23 of them.

Phil likes to launch any new project with a special offer. In this case, he's convinced me to offer a US$5,000 discount off the price of the first five lots sold. That means you could buy a lot in Mahogany Park for as little as US$20,000. I don't know of any opportunity anywhere that compares. And, again, this one is very limited in scope.

For more information on Mahogany Park, you can get in touch with Phil here.

Lief Simon

***

Kathleen Peddicord's New Book "How To Buy Real Estate Overseas" Available Now Pre-Release!

Kathleen Peddicord's latest book, published by Wiley & Sons, hits bookstores April 8. Starting now, though, you can buy a copy pre-release and save 36% off the release price!

Go here now to order Kathleen Peddicord's New Book!Continue Reading:

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When the living becomes intolerably difficult in one place...move to another! I'm not being flippant. I'm giving you the secret to realizing the retirement of your dreams.

Places to Retire Abroad

The first move is the hardest, I understand. You need options, and you need help. We're here to deliver both. Let's start with this: The situation is far less desperate than you may fear. You do not have to resign yourself to reducing your standard of living during this important phase of your life. You do not have to plan for two or three decades of scraping by and making do.

But you've already figured this out, I think. By signing on as a reader of these dispatches you've opened your mind to the possibilities. You've allowed yourself to begin to think outside the box and beyond your own borders. As you read this, because you're reading this, you are launching a new phase of your life...maybe the best one yet.

Where will your explorations and considerations lead you? You'll have to figure that out for yourself, but, in these virtual dispatches each day, we'll introduce you to the top possibilities worldwide...and then we'll lead you, step by step, your hand in ours, from wherever you are now to where you'd like to be.

As we stand today on the eve of a new year, where should you be focusing your thinking and your search? I made recommendations yesterday for some of the world's top options for 2013, including Panama, France, Belize, Ecuador, and Thailand...and I'll share more top picks for this New Year later on this week.

I realize, though, and I want to make sure you realize, too, that you aren't going to retire to Panama or Belize, to France or Thailand...and not to any other country either. You're going to retire to a neighborhood or a community, a region or a seaside town in whichever country you identify as your personal Shangri-la. Once you get serious about re-launching your life overseas, you realize that you've got to thin slice your options. You can't think about retiring to "Ecuador" anymore than you could think about retiring to the "United States."

What would that mean, to retire to the United States? What would the weather, the cost of living, the cultural distractions, or the scene outside your bedroom window be in the US of A? No way to answer that question, right? You could determine what the weather would be like in Scottsdale, Arizona...the cost of groceries for a couple of retirees in San Diego, California...or the view from your poolside patio in Naples, Florida...but you couldn't possibly answer those questions for the United States as a whole. Anymore than you could determine those particulars for any other country as a whole.

That's why our editorial mandate for choosing the best place to retire abroad in 2013 is all about thin-slicing. With this in mind, some introductions are in order.

I've been moving around the world with the focused agenda of identifying its best opportunities for living better and retiring well for coming up on three decades (yikes). I know a little not only about this beat, but also about this world of ours in this context. But I know some places better than others, and, I understand, I can't know everywhere well. That's where my far-flung, ever-on-the-move, and ever-expanding network of correspondents comes in. With the help of these savvy souls, this New Year, we're going to bring you more boots-on-the-ground, real-world, real-time, firsthand, and very thin-sliced glimpses of the world's top live, retire, and invest overseas havens.

If you've been reading for anytime, you probably know these folks already. Still, New Year's Eve is a time for reviewing and regrouping, so I'd like to take this chance to present:

  • Offshore investing guru Lief Simon. Lief is my husband, but, even if he weren't, I'd recognize that he's the real deal when it comes to moving your life, your money, your assets, and your business offshore. Lief has been embracing the global life for 20 years, and he's lived, invested, and run businesses in more than 20 countries, from Argentina to Chad, Nicaragua to Kazakhstan, Ireland to Panama, Spain to Panama, Thailand to the Philippines. Lief reports in his twice-weekly e-letter on where and how to diversify your life and monthly, in greater detail, in his Simon Letter subscription service. All of Lief's recommendations and counsel come from firsthand experience. Unlike many covering the "offshore" beat, Lief isn't reporting in theory; he's sharing hard-won, real-world wisdom born of two decades of living this lifestyle...
  • Intrepid Correspondent Paul Terhorst. Paul and his wife Vicki have been retired overseas for more than 30 years, since the tender age of 35. SmartMoney calls them the "George and Martha Washington of cashing out early." Paul and Vicki are long retired overseas, but they're retired nowhere in particular. They have spent extended time in Europe, in the Americas, and in Asia and currently write for these dispatches from Chiang Mai, Thailand. In addition, Paul writes a monthly retirement-planning column for my Overseas Retirement Letter, to help the would-be retiree overseas determine a budget and a financial plan for making his retire overseas dream a reality...
  • Latin America Correspondent Lee Harrison. Lee, too, took early retirement, more than a decade ago, at the age of 49. In the 11 years since, Lee and his wife Julie have been trying different Latin American options on for size, from Cuenca, Ecuador, to Montevideo, Uruguay, Itamaraca, Brazil, Medellin, Colombia, and beyond. In each case, Lee has not only become a resident of the thin-sliced havens he's identified as offering the greatest advantages, he has also invested in them. As a result, Lee knows more about where, how, and why to live, retire, or invest to Latin America than anyone else you'll find anywhere. You could meet Lee and ask him about his ongoing and still-unfolding adventures in Latin America in person at our Live and Invest in Ecuador Conference taking place in Quito in February...
  • Euro-Correspondent Lucy Culpepper. As Lucy likes to say, "not everyone is cut out for life in the tropics or the developing world." Lucy, a native of the UK, has lived in Spain and France and has traveled enough of the rest of the world to know that, for her time and money, nothing competes with the Continent. Lucy, therefore, covers the Euro-beat for these dispatches. She's also the Managing Editor for our Overseas Retirement Letter...
  • Asia Correspondents Wendy and David Justice. When Wendy was 5-years-old, her grandparents returned from a trip to Thailand, regaling her with exotic tales of the Far East. No surprise, therefore, that while she and her husband David have traveled extensively worldwide, Wendy's preferred beat is Southeast Asia, where she and David been living for the past seven years...
  • New Panama Editors Denis Foynes and David Sexton. Denis, who hails from Ireland, and David, from the East Coast of the United States, have recently joined our in-Panama Live and Invest Overseas team. Panama Letter subscribers can look forward to Denis and David's first co-edited Panama Letter issue in January...

In addition, in these dispatches and the other publications we offer, you'll also hear from Phil Hahn and Ann Kuffner in Belize; Mike Cobb in Nicaragua; Lynn Mulvihill in Ireland; Rich Holman in Colombia; Mike Sager in Ecuador; Steve Rosburg in Argentina; and Federico Fischer in Uruguay.

On behalf of the whole bunch of us, please accept my wishes for a healthy, happy, prosperous, adventure-filled 2013. May this year be the year that your live, retire, and invest overseas dreams all come true.

Kathleen PeddicordContinue Reading:

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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.

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