Articles Related to Retire to belize

Caroline told me that what convinced her and her husband to leave Michigan and start over on Ambergris was the experience they had on their first visit to the island. They came for a vacation with no thought of anything beyond that. But during that brief visit, they were won over completely by the people they met. They chatted with the locals and were invited to participate in local events and even to attend services at a local church. They were so impressed by the openness and hospitality they encountered that they decided this was a place they'd like to call home. The sense of community they found on Ambergris was unlike anything they'd known in Michigan, where they'd grown up. They were so taken by the idea of becoming part of that community that they decided to move. What a thing!

Today they couldn't be happier. Caroline knows everyone and everything that goes on on Ambergris. She's a great lady to have around, a great friend. And she's a great example of the kind of person you meet on this island.

What do Carline and Ed and all the other expats living on Ambergris do with themselves? 

They play in the water. This is the Caribbean, after all, and the diving is phenomenal, some of the best in the world. The barrier reef that lies offshore from mainland Belize parallels Ambergris about a quarter-mile out, creating hundreds of great dive sites.

If you're not a diver, try the snorkeling. If you're not interested in getting wet, take a tour of Belize's famous Blue Hole from above; TropicAir offers two-hour aerial tours. Or take a boat out for some fishing; again, it's among the best in the world.

If you prefer to stay on land, you'll still have plenty to do. The big year-round expat community means lots of pot-luck lunches and dinners, happy hours, wine tastings, etc. The Exotic Caye beach resort sponsors Sunday-Funday each week. They bring in local musicians and organize horseshoe tournaments and other events. It's a fun day when everyone comes to the beach and hangs out for a little bit to get to know each other. 

The wine shop Wine Devine sponsors wine and cheese pairings every Friday. 

A boardwalk has opened on the back side of the island, and there's a movie theater now. There are lots of great restaurants—Thai, Italian, French, and, of course, lots of seafood choices.

About 15 minutes from Ambergris by water taxi is Caye Chapel, a smaller island that is dedicated entirely to golf. You can take the water taxi over in the morning, golf for the day, and then return to your home on Ambergris Caye in time for cocktails at sunset.

The island life isn't for everyone, but if it's what you think you're after, I strongly recommend you give Ambergris a good look. Come on down and visit. You'll be most welcome.

Rachel Jensen

P.S. Rachel Jensen was one of 25 expert speakers who participated in this week's Live and Invest in Belize Conference. Today's essay is excerpted from her live presentation, which was recorded along with every other presentation over the three days of the event.

Now that the conference has concluded, those recordings are being edited to create our all-new Live and Invest in Belize Home Conference Kit.

We're making this bundle of resources available pre-release for more than 50% off for two more days only.

Go here now to purchase for more than half-off while this pre-release offer remains in effect.

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To state the obvious, a beach condo puts you right on the beach but keep in mind that little Belize has a long mainland coast and cayes offshore, meaning lots of beach choices, and not all beaches are created equal. Some beaches in this country are Robinson Crusoe-style. Others are rowdy and noisy with lots of nightlife and tourists. Again, it comes down to what you're looking for. Do you want privacy or company, solitude or parties?

A home in a planned community means privacy and security, peace and quiet. Planned communities are relatively new to Belize. Most are being built to North American standards, meaning you won't have the quirkiness of a Belizean home (lights that turn on when you push the switch down, for example) and you won't have Belizean neighbors, either. This could be a plus for you or a minus. Planned communities are outside the towns for the most part, meaning that, while you'll be safe and secure behind the guarded gate, you'll also be a drive from shopping and restaurants. A drive at night in this country can be an adventure because the roads are basic, often dirt, and almost always unlit.

A home in a planned community also means fees. Monthly HOA fees support the upkeep of community amenities and services. These can range from US$150 to US$200, something to keep in mind when doing your budgeting.

A home in town can be your most convenient option and also your most affordable. The trade-off is that, with rare exceptions, houses in Belizean towns are local Belizean houses. You may have to search for a while to find one that will be comfortable for you. 

Not only is a local-style house in town more affordable than a new-built house in a planned community, but it also comes without a monthly HOA fee.

If you're thinking of buying something local in town, understand that zoning doesn't exist in this country. If you buy or rent a nice big house in a nice part of town with a vacant piece of land next-door, don't be surprised if, a year later, someone buys that piece of land and builds a disco or a car repair shop. I'm not saying that will happen, but it could.

How can you know how much you should pay for the kind of property you're interested in buying? You have to compare apples with apples, and that's not easy in this market. You want to consider the cost of a condo or house on a per-square-foot basis, but you also have to pay attention to what's included in the square feet. It's like asking, "How much does a bag of groceries cost?" It depends what's in the bag. 

In Belize somebody might tell you they can build you a house for US$80 per square foot, but you can't let the conversation end there. Ask what's included in those square feet. You might be surprised to learn that that per-square-foot price doesn't include windows, for example, or plumbing or cabinets. You don't expect a house to come with appliances, but most of us don't think of a water heater as an appliance.

If you're looking for rental income, focus on San Pedro or Placencia. Those are Belize's highest trafficked tourist destinations. 

If you are looking for appreciation, focus on Cayo and Corozol. These are the fastest-growing districts in this country.

Another option you may be considering is building your own house. In this case you should know about the Central Building Authority (CBA). This is a new government agency, maybe three or four years old. When I arrived in this country, you could build whatever you wanted. Now the CBA is putting some standards in place. Now, for the first time in this country, there is a building code that you need to adhere to.

One more thing you should know: There are no escrow companies in Belize, and you can't take escrow for granted. It's not typically part of the buying process. You can insist on it, but you'll have to set it up. I'd recommend doing that through your attorney. If you have a good attorney, this can work. I don't recommend using the seller's attorney, and I really don't recommend using the seller's attorney for escrow!

Jim Hardesty
Live at this week's Live and Invest in Belize Conference

P.S. from Kathleen Peddicord: Jim Hardesty was one of 25 expert speakers participating in this week's Live and Invest in Belize Conference. If you weren't in the room to hear Jim live, don't worry. I wasn't either. But we don't have to miss out entirely.

My team on the ground is keeping me up-to-date day by day, sending notes and recordings of the live presentations. I'll continue to share these with you throughout the week. 

Meantime, we're making the complete bundle of recordings and presentations from this week's event in Belize available pre-release for more than 50% off. As soon as the conference has finished, we'll edit the materials to create our new Live and Invest in Belize Home Conference Kit. However, right now, as the event continues live, you can purchase your kit, again, for more than half-off.

Do that here now.

Continue Reading: How To Retire Overseas Resources Naming Top Retirement Havens For 2015

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Shopping for food here is similar to shopping for food in Europe. You go to meat stores to buy your meat, you go to a bakery to buy your baked goods. It's all fresh. The cattle you see grazing in the fields... that's the beef you're buying in the meat shop. It's all very healthy. 

Back in the States, I didn't cook much. Here, I realized quickly, I had no choice. I went online for recipes, and I started cooking. And I found out that I like cooking. I've also discovered that I like to wash dishes. It's hard to find dishwashers here. If you build your own home, you can import one to install in your kitchen, but rentals aren't going to have them. So I learned how to do dishes. I had to go online. Seriously. I'd never washed dishes by hand before. There's a method to it. A dishwasher sterilizes, and that's what you need to do living here. I learned this the hard way, too. I got a parasite. When I went to see the doctor, he gave me some instructions in washing dishes and in preparing food.

Belize doesn't have fast-food restaurants. I like that. Belize does have fast food, though. It's called beans and rice or rice and beans, and they're not the same thing. Beans and rice are mixed together; rice and beans are separate. Try it either way with "stew chicken," as Belizeans call it. It's great. 

The other big thing we had to figure out when we got here was relationships. My family, our kids, everyone thought we were crazy for doing this. "You're going where and why?" they wanted to know. In the beginning I tried to explain what we were doing by saying it was David's dream. And so they'd say, "Well, OK, you'll be back in a year." That was one part of the relationships challenge—staying connected with friends and family in the States who really didn't get what we were doing.

The second part of the challenge was meeting new people here. This part was way easier to deal with because it's way easy to meet new people here. I thought I had a lot of friends in the United States. We have many more friends in Belize, all different kinds of friends. Not just people like us, in our age group, in our church, or at our gym. I'm talking diverse ages, diverse ethnicities, diverse mental health (no kidding!)—diverse. The people here are so interesting. 

I decided when I moved to Belize that I was going to be outgoing. Being shy when making a move like this just is not an option. As soon as we got here, we started going to everything expat we could find. 

David: Once a week, we shoot darts. I had never played darts in my life, but in San Ignacio there is an open-air bar with New Jersey-style pizza. A couple of people from New Jersey make the pizza and provide free beer. You can't beat it. 

Once a week, we go country line-dancing. There are a lot of people here from Texas who think that country dancing is the only way to go. 

We go to potluck lunches and dinners. At one, I sit at the men's table and Cathy sits with the women. These are all different groups, not the same people going from activity to activity. In other words, there are a lot of expats living here in Cayo, many more than we would have guessed at first.

Cathy: We've found a church here that we like. I didn't think that would be possible, and I never could have guessed what it would turn out to be. It's in Spanish Lookout, which is where the Mennonites live. So when we go to church in Spanish Lookout, we're hanging out with the Mennonites. They are super interesting people. 

We've gotten to know so many people here, and these relationships are taking the place of what I used to distract myself with. We used to go to the movies or watch TV. We don't do those things here. In the winter, in northern Idaho, where we're from, it's cold. For seven or eight months out of the year, people cocoon in their houses because it is freezing. Everyone is isolated for much of the year. Here it is beautiful all year round, and everyone is outside all the time.

David: Of course, it's not all sunshine and flowers. Some challenges are ongoing. In the area where we live, the Internet is beyond slow. In the States, 1MB to 3MB is slow. Where we are living, I'm not even getting 1KB per second. I'm getting 500 bytes. I scheduled a software upgrade, and I got a little message on the side telling me how long it would take: 23 days 14 hours and 8 minutes. In other areas of the country, the Internet is better—not super fast but a whole lot faster than what we've got. It depends where you choose to live.

Cathy: Electricity and gas are expensive. On the other hand, a lot of other things are cheaper here than they would be in the States. A big example is medical care. We have paid half or less than we would have paid in the United States for different kinds of care. David has even had surgery here, which was very successful and very cheap. 

So here we are at the end of our trial year. What are our plans now?

We're staying put. We have no intentions of returning to the States. We love it here.

I came to Belize with the idea that I would suffer through a year for my husband. It was his dream, so I agreed to give it a try. Now it's my dream. I feel like this is my dream come true, a dream I didn't even know I had.

This year in Belize has taught me that I can do anything I want. A year ago, I didn't feel that way. A year ago, I felt my life was over. I was quitting a job that I loved to sit at home. Belize has changed everything. Here in Belize I've made new friends who are just as close to me as family. Belize has given me a second chance... a whole new life. 

Kathleen Peddicord

P.S. Cathy and David Thayer delighted the crowd at this week's Live and Invest in Belize Conference with the story of why and how they chose to reinvent their lives in this beautiful English-speaking country.

If you weren't able to join the group in Belize, don't worry. I wasn't able to be there either, but my team on the ground is keeping me up-to-date day by day, sending notes and recordings of the live presentations. I'll continue to share these with you throughout the week. 

Meantime, we're making the complete bundle of recordings and presentations from this week's event in Belize available pre-release for more than 50% off. As soon as the conference has finished, we'll edit the materials to create our new Live and Invest in Belize Home Conference Kit. However, right now, as the event continues live, you can purchase your kit, again, for more than half-off.

Do that here now.

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David: Cathy was a social worker in the States. She loves people, and she doesn't like to sit idle. One big concern I had when we started seriously considering making this move was what we'd do with ourselves all day long, especially Cathy. 

Cathy: That was a big concern for me, too, and it's a big part of the reason I was interested in Belize when I wasn't so interested in Ecuador or Panama. Everybody speaks English here. Belize is the easiest place in the world for people like us to meet people. That's partly because of the kind of people you find in Belize, but it's also because they all speak English. 

So I fell in love with Cayo for the people, but also because this is a more affordable place to live than the cayes. Also, it's cooler than on the islands or the coast. So we settled on Cayo as our location for our year-long visit. But I put another hurdle in the way. I said, "Let's see if we can find a place to live in Cayo where we'll be comfortable." I really didn't think we would, because I am picky. 

Finally, the next to the last day of that trip, as I was thinking I was off the hook because we weren't going to find a place that passed muster, we met a guy in a smoothie shop who made a call to a friend who knew about a house for rent. I agreed to go see the house even though it was in Cristo Rey village. 

I'd said that I wouldn't live outside San Ignacio. I wanted to be in the main town, for the shopping and for the people. "Cristo Rey is too far away," I said. 

The next thing I knew we were driving up this road into the most beautiful area I had seen anywhere. We passed through a beautiful gate and came to a stream with waterfalls, and I thought, "We've found our house."

We met the landlord, put some money down, and I realized it wasn't going to be easy to get out of this now. I'd agreed. We'd committed. 

After 32 years of marriage and four children, we were moving to Belize.

The next question was: What in the world were we going to do with all our stuff?...

Kathleen Peddicord

P.S. I wasn't able to be in Belize for this week's Live and Invest in Belize event, so I missed hearing Cathy and David Thayer delight the crowd with the story of why and how they chose to retire to this beautiful little English-speaking country.

Fortunately, though, I'm not missing out entirely. My team on the ground is keeping me up-to-date day by day, sending notes and recordings of the live presentations. I'll continue to share these with you throughout the week. Stay tuned tomorrow for part two of Cathy and David's great Belize adventure.

Meantime, starting today, we're making the complete bundle of recordings and presentations from the goings-on in Belize available for more than 50% off pre-release. As soon as the conference has finished, we'll edit the materials to create our new Live and Invest in Belize Home Conference Kit. However, right now, as the event continues live, you can purchase your kit, again, for more than half-off.

If you, like me, couldn't be in Belize to join the party in person this week, this is the next best thing... and right now is your chance to get in on the fun for 50% off.

Do that here now.

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"I'll serve," I replied, reaching for a towel to tie around my waist as an apron and a pitcher to fill with water.

By now the dining room was full, and our tour-goers were visibly unhappy.

I set the tables as quick as I could with the mismatched china we found in the kitchen cabinet, poured water all around, and took orders (fried versus scrambled), while Josianne fired up the gas stove. We served eggs, toast, juice, and tea that morning to our 40 guests and made it out the door in time to meet the bus scheduled to take us on our first property-viewing appointment of the day.

If you were among the 40 participants at that long-ago event, thank you. You're a good sport.

I hosted the second conference of my career a year later in Belize. Again, Josianne was my cohort.

Infrastructure isn't Belize's strong suit, even today. But 30 years ago this was a seriously undeveloped, unappointed little country. After two days of meetings in Belize City, we wanted to take the group south along the coast to look at beachfront lots and houses for sale. We needed a bus to transport the 50 of us. The bus we'd organized in advance was promised to be "modern." The bus that showed up outside our hotel that morning was an old U.S. school bus with broken windows, torn seats, and balding tires.

The best thing that could be said about the bus was that it was there, on the scene, as expected, at 8 o'clock that morning. The same wasn't true for the real estate agent who was to act as our tour guide for the day. The guy finally showed up an hour-and-a-half late and, Josianne and I realized quickly, drunk.

We knew Belize well enough to know that substitutions were not an option. The bus was the bus and the agent was the agent. We either went off with them for the day or we cancelled the day.

We loaded the group and set off.

The road we traveled was dirt (today it's paved). As we had no air conditioning, we opened the windows for ventilation. But, with the windows open, the bus filled with dust from the road. With the windows closed, temperatures became unbearable. So we pushed the windows down when the air became stiflingly hot and back up when the air became stiflingly dusty.

Josianne and I reviewed an itinerary for the day with our agent guide, who we positioned in the front seat so he could give instructions to the driver. Then we wandered up and down the aisle chatting with our tour-goers, trying to keep spirits up in spite of the transportation discomforts.

The things I didn't know back then about managing conferences and leading tours could have filled an encyclopedia. One of the things I didn't know but have learned since, for example, is that you don't, at any time, want to hand over control of the group to a drunk real estate agent.

After two hours had passed, Josianne and I became concerned and walked up front to check in with our intoxicated friend. The guy had passed out. We shook him awake and asked how much longer until we'd arrive at our destination.

The guy looked at us, at the driver, at his lap, out the window...

After a few long minutes, something finally registered and the guy began yelling at our driver. We'd missed our turn, Josianne and I came to understand, which was an hour-and-a-half back up the dusty road we'd just traveled.

Now what? Turn around? No. Better to continue on to our next stop. This, the agent explained, was another hour in a different direction.

"Where can we go for refreshments?" I asked the guy. "We need to take the group somewhere they can use a bathroom and buy drinks and snacks."

He knew a place, he said, and gave the driver new instructions. About 20 minutes later, we pulled up to a roadside shack alongside a river. We unloaded the bus. Our group used the facilities and ordered bottles of Coke and water, then stood in the shade of a big mango tree. The morning had been a bust, but the drinks and the shady respite cooled and calmed everyone down. Onward.

But where was the real estate agent? He wasn't in the shop. Our male tour-goers assured us he wasn't in the bathroom.

Josianne and I stood, with the group, at the door to the bus trying to figure out what we'd do if we'd lost our guide altogether.

Then, out of the corner of my eye, I saw the guy walking toward us. He was stripped down to his underpants and dripping wet. He'd gone for a swim in the river.

The agent, carrying his clothes, climbed back on the bus and took his seat. Josianne and I looked at each other, shook our heads, and followed our guide back inside the vehicle, along with the rest of the group.

By the time we arrived at our next destination, the guy had put his pants back on and sobered up enough to explain to us all what we were looking at. We toured for several more hours that day then returned late, dusty, and exhausted to our hotel in Belize City.

Josianne and I went on to lead tours and conferences together for several years, in Costa Rica, Belize, Mexico, and Argentina. I have more stories from those early years. Ask me about them next time you see me. Some are best told over a cold rum and Coke while watching the sun set.

I've been thinking about these stories from a lifetime ago this week as my current conference team has been finalizing our calendar for the next 12 months. Looking through 2015, we'll be returning to old haunts that continue to offer great opportunity for the would-be retiree and investor, including Belize, Panama, Nicaragua, and Colombia.

In addition, we've added new destinations of special appeal, including Portugal, which took top spot in our 2014 Retire Overseas Index, and the Dominican Republic, our top pick for retirement in the Caribbean right now.

We'll be hosting our annual Global Property Summit in March and our Global Asset Protection and Wealth Summit in October. This year's calendar also includes a first-ever Agricultural Investment Seminar, taking place in July. For our biggest event of the year, our annual Retire Overseas Conference, we're heading this 2015 to the Big Easy, New Orleans.

I've learned a few things since those early years, and this much I can promise you: Breakfast will be served every morning, buses will be air-conditioned, and real estate agents will wear pants.

Kathleen Peddicord

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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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