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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:

Image credit: drterdal

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"'Why did you do that?' I asked him. I couldn't understand why he'd take on a new job. He had been so looking forward to his retirement.

"The guy explained that his pension from the U.S. Postal Service wasn't enough for him to live on. He needed to supplement it.

"That was a turning point for me," Mike continued. "I realized at that moment that I needed to make a big change in my life. Bottom line, I needed to take control of my life. I had no interest in going to work at Wal-Mart during my 'retirement.' This realization launched my long search for what to do instead...for a Plan B. Eventually that search led me here to Ecuador.

"Back in the States, I might be retired. I've reached that age. But now, after more than eight years living in Ecuador, I can't imagine that.

"I chose Ecuador because I perceived it as a land of opportunity, and there's no question, for me, that's what it has been. Rather than winding down and worrying about making ends meet in the States, I've completely reinvented my life so that I'm starting anew. I've lived all over this country. I've met a woman and fallen in love. I've started a new family...and a new business.

"I'm still an American, and I still love my country. But I'm very worried about what's going on back there right now, and I believe things are going to get worse. I'm not a doomsayer, but I'd say it's not completely out of the realm of possibility that things could go really wrong, in the States, even globally. That we could be faced with real disaster.

"If that were to happen...if disaster were to strike...I can't imagine a better place to be. Ecuador isn't reliant on the power grid the way that much of today's world is.

"When the electricity goes out in New York, for example, the city comes to a screeching halt. Well, Ecuador is already at a screeching halt. That's the status-quo here. If the power went out, life would continue as usual, as it has for centuries.

"If supply lines disappeared in the United States, what would you do to get the things you need to live, to survive? Here, supply lines are so basic. Fishermen load up their horse-drawn carts and deliver their fish to the markets. That kind of supply line can continue no matter what happens anywhere else in the world.

"I can't imagine a better place to ride out that kind of storm."

Kathleen Peddicord

P.S. We recorded Mike's complete presentation sharing the story of how and why he chose to retire to Ecuador as well as colorful insights into what his life here is really like. We're recording every other presentation over these three days, too--27 presentations in total, covering everything from how to start an export business in Ecuador (I'll share more on this in another dispatch) to how to shop for a rental...from how to purchase a home of your own in this country to how to get involved in your new community as a volunteer...from health insurance to residency options, tax liabilities, and where to learn to speak Spanish...and on and on.

When the final speaker leaves the stage today, we'll commence editing the recordings to create our all-new Live and Invest in Ecuador Home Conference Kit. Meantime, you can purchase your copy taking advantage of a pre-release discount that saves you a full 50% off the retail price. Details on the Live and Invest in Ecuador Home Conference Kit are here.Continue Reading:

Image source: A Flores López

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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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