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Cayo, Belize

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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 here.

Apartment or House Ownership Budget (for a couple)

 
Expense Monthly Costs Notes
Mortgage Not included here as too variable.
HOA Fees BZ$300 If in a private development, none if not.
Property Taxes BZ$30
Transportation BZ$500 Cost for car ownership, including gas, repairs, insurance, taxes, etc.
Gas BZ$40 Cost for cooking and hot water
Electricity BZ$100 Double this if using air conditioning in one bedroom. Triple this if using air conditioning in all rooms.
Water BZ$50
Cell Phone BZ$80 Monthly plans start at BZ$40.
Internet BZ$140 Cost for broadband bundled with cable TV.
Cable TV
Household Help BZ$240 Cost for two five-hour visits per week at BZ$6 per hour.
Entertainment BZ$520 Eating out twice a week at a mid-range, local restaurant: BZ$240 (BZ$15 per meal).
Drinks twice a week at a nearby watering hole: BZ$240 (BZ$6 per drink).
Movie theater trip twice a month: No movie theater in Cayo. Pool access fees at resorts: BZ$10 per person.
Groceries BZ$600 Basic items for a couple.
Gym Membership BZ$60
Medical Appointment BZ$70 Basic clinic/GP visit.
TOTAL BZ$2,730

Apartment or House Rental Budget (for a couple)

 
Expense Monthly Costs Notes
Rent BZ$1,600 Cost for a two-bedroom, comfortable apartment, roughly 70 to 100 square meters in size, with Western finishes. Local housing is cheaper
Transportation BZ$500 Cost for car ownership, including gas, repairs, insurance, taxes, etc
Gas BZ$40 Cost for cooking and hot water
Electricity BZ$100 Double this if using air conditioning in one bedroom. Triple this if using air conditioning in all rooms.
Water BZ$50
Cell Phone BZ$80 Monthly plans start at BZ$40.
Internet BZ$140 Cost for broadband bundled with cable TV.
Cable TV
Household Help BZ$240 Cost for two five-hour visits per week at BZ$6 per hour.
Entertainment BZ$520 Eating out twice a week at a mid-range, local restaurant: BZ$240 (BZ$15 per meal).
Drinks twice a week at a nearby watering hole: BZ$240 (BZ$6 per drink).
Movie theater trip twice a month: No movie theater in Cayo. Pool access fees at resorts: BZ$10 per person.
Groceries BZ$60 Basic items for a couple.
Gym Membership BZ$70
Medical Appointment BZ$60 Basic clinic/GP visit.
TOTAL BZ$3,460

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

 
Expense Monthly Costs Notes
Rent BZ$600 Cheapest part of town, basic one-bedroom rental.
Transportation BZ$200 Colectivo (shared) taxis and buses, traveling regularly.
Gas BZ$40 For cooking.
Electricity BZ$100
Water BZ$40
Cell Phone BZ$40 Cheapest option available.
Internet BZ$78
Cable TV
Entertainment BZ$160 Monthly cost for eating out twice a week: BZ$160 (BZ$10 per meal).
Groceries BZ$400 All local-brand items only, shopping markets and local vendors along with grocery stores.
TOTAL BZ$1,658

Click here for currency conversions at today’s exchange rates.

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

Cayo, BelizeAs 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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