Cayo, Belize

Rivers, Waterfalls, Caves: You Name It...

The little English-speaking country of Belize has long been discovered for its handful of Caribbean islands lying just offshore the mainland, especially Ambergris Caye of “Survivor” fame. However, now, in the current global climate, another face of Belize is also beginning to attract attention.

This country’s lush, mountainous interior, known as the Cayo District, is drawing the notice of retirees interested in a lifestyle that values self-sufficiency and independence more than Caribbean sand and seashores.

Cayo is the largest of Belize’s six districts and has quietly become the harbinger of this tiny country. From natural to manmade, the region is rich in resources. Cayo has more protected land than any other district; it is the top eco-tourism destination in the country; boasts the largest underground cave system in the western hemisphere; and, of course, its landscape is dominated by rivers and mountains.

Cost Of Living In Cayo

Monthly Budgets

Please note all prices are in Belizian Dollars. An exchange rate calculater can be found below.

Apartment or House Ownership Budget (for a couple)

Expense Item Cost Notes
Mortgage N/A Not included here as too variable
HOA Fees $100 to $400
Property Taxes: $100 to $200 Yearly.
Transportation (bus, taxi, etc.) $40 to $500 Bus fair: Cayo to Belize City = $10

Water Taxi: Belize City to San Pedro = $20

Taxi = $10

Domestic flights = $170

Gas (cooking/heating) $20 For a 30-gallon tank used for cooking and hot water daily, refilled every two months for $40
Electricity $150 Average electric bill with air conditioning and washer/dryer use
Water $50
Telephone $320 Land line installation = $100

Non-resident deposit = $200

Monthly bill = $20

Garbage collection $40
Internet $79 4 Mbps download and 4 Mbps upload.
Cable TV $60
Household Help $30 Total for 3 hours of cleaning help twice monthly, or $5 an hour
Entertainment $250 to $300
Groceries $450 Monthly.
Gym membership $75
Medical appointment $60
TOTAL $1,824 to $2,734 Housing cost not included.

 

Apartment or House Rental Budget (for a couple)

Expense Item Cost Notes
Rent $800 to $1,500 In a desirable part of town (city center, if applicable), unfurnished, two-bedroom, comfortable apartment.
Transportation (bus, taxi, etc.) $40 to $500 Bus fair: Cayo to Belize City = $10

Water taxi: Belize City to San Pedro = $20

Taxi = $10

Domestic flights = $170

Gas (cooking/heating) $20 For a 30-gallon tank used for cooking and hot water daily, refilled every two months for $40
Electricity $150 Average electric bill with air conditioning and washer/dryer use
Water $50
Garbage collection $40
Telephone $320 Land line installation $100

Non-resident deposit $200

Monthly bill $20

Internet $79 4 Mbps download and 4 Mbps upload
Cable TV Bundled with telephone fee.
Household Help $30 Total for 3 hours of cleaning help twice monthly, or $5 an hour.
Entertainment $250
Groceries $450 Monthly.
Gym membership $75
Medical appointment $60
TOTAL

 

$2,424 to $3,584
  • Vehicle insurance: $40 per month. Minimum policy.
  • Fuel: $9/liter
  • Upkeep: $2,000
  • Monthly payments
  • Parking: free

Penny-Pincher’s Budget (for a couple, bare minimum costs for all)

 

Expense Item Cost Notes
Rent: $200 Cheapest part of town, most basic kind of rental
Transportation (bus, taxi etc.) $40 No transport needed within town.
Gas (cooking/heating) $10 Monthly.
Electricity $40 Monthly.
Water $40 Monthly.
Telephone $0 If you use Wi-Fi (WhatsApp)
Garbage collection $0
Internet $0 If you use free Wi-Fi available at most restaurants and cafés
Cable TV $60 Bundled with telephone fee.
Entertainment $200 Monthly.
Groceries $200
TOTAL $790

Click here for currency conversion at today’s exchange rate.

Infrastructure In Cayo

Paved roads are always a good indicator of where the path of progress is headed. The British left a great legal, educational, and governmental foundation in Belize, but not much in the way of physical infrastructure.

Over the last few years, however, considerable investment has been made in improving the roads and bridges of Belize. Still, though (to help put things into perspective for you), there are but three highways in this country. The most significant artery in the country is the Western Highway, which connects Belize City (the largest city), Belmopan (the capital), and San Ignacio (the largest town in Cayo).

Not only road infrastructure, but infrastructure in general is limited in this country, including infrastructure for medical care. However, Cayo is home to the La Loma Luz Hospital and the San Ignacio Hospital. There are also clinics throughout. Recently, a portion of the main road in San Ignacio (Burns Avenue) was closed off, probably permanently. Mayan artifacts were discovered here, so the spot is now pedestrian-only

Cayo can allow a very self-sufficient lifestyle that comes with lots of advantages. One is that “self-sufficient” infrastructure is relatively low-cost. Important to a sustainable lifestyle is solar energy, and Belize’s Cayo District enjoys plenty of sunshine year-round. Water, too, is in abundant supply, meaning it’s easy to grow fresh fruits, vegetables, and herbs. In the self-sufficient communities forming in this region, gardens and orchards are interwoven among the housing lots so that owners can grow their own food. You can participate directly by planting and harvesting, or you can simply take advantage of the fruits and vegetables grown onsite and made available for residents.

Climate In Cayo

The temperatures range from 50 to 95 degrees Fahrenheit with an annual average of 79. November to January are traditionally the cooler months with a 75-degree average and May to September are the warmest at about 81 degrees on average.

Here in Cayo, colorful flowers and fruit-laden trees bloom year-round and vibrant and diverse species of birds are everywhere. In Cayo, you also find well-manicured productive Mennonite farmland. The region is reminiscent of the hills of Pennsylvania. If not for the palm trees, you might not know you were in Belize. The soil in Cayo is fertile and rich, and the Mennonite farmers who work it produce most of Belize’s food supply.

Expats In Cayo

As recently as a few years ago, the numbers of foreign retirees living in Belize’s Cayo District numbered but a few dozen. Today, small but ever-expanding communities of expats and retirees seeking a back-to-basics lifestyle have established themselves in this pristine land of rivers, waterfalls, and rain forests.

Many reaching this stage of life are reminded of what’s really important in this life. This realization is spurring a new generation of people looking for opportunities around the globe to embrace a self-sufficient, resilient lifestyle. In this context, Belize stands out.

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