Belize is home to thousands of expats, each living a life they might have only dreamed about, had they not discovered this Caribbean paradise. When deciding where to live in Belize there are a variety of lifestyle options throughout Belize’s 6 districts. There is a spot suitable for just about everyone. Belize’s 6 Districts include; Corozal, Orange Walk, Belize, Cayo, Stann Creek, and Toledo. Among the most popular locations are the islands of Ambergris Caye and Caye Caulker; the Cayo district; the Corozal region in Northern Belize; and the Palencia peninsula.
Ambergris Caye is the largest and most popular island destination in Belize. Residents and expats living on the island enjoy the warm Caribbean Sea and its calm clear waters. There are always people out strolling along the beach and biking through San Pedro Town. Trade-in your car, because you’ll only need a golf cart here (and you might want a boat, too). You can walk the beach as you would a street. Stretching both north and south from town, it becomes more private (and quiet). Areas are reached by golf-cart path, or the Island Ferry has its multiple daily runs to transport passengers to and from town.
The largest settlement on Ambergris Caye is San Pedro Town. Here you will find an assorted mix of restaurants, bars, cafés, and live music venues. There are a number of small village communities and resorts scattered throughout the island. Although popular with tourists and expats, Ambergris Caye has managed to preserve the laidback Belizean feel which is such a big part of its charm.
You can’t live in Ambergris Caye for the same bargain you could back in the 1980s, but you can still find a place to call your own for a moderate price. An additional benefit is that the housing market is strong here and you should be able to find a buyer fairly easily if you need to sell. Ambergris Caye is home to some lavish resort communities and estates, if your tastes are a little more luxurious it is becoming an increasingly popular luxury destination.
Go Slow… This is the sign you will see everywhere on Belize’s second most popular island. It is an instruction to be heeded by vehicles and people alike. Living in Belize’s Caye Caulker offers a great escape from the noise and congestion that many have become uncomfortably used to. Caye Caulker is about 30 minutes by boat from Belize City and also 30 minutes by boat to San Pedro Town on Ambergris Caye.
Caye Caulker can be considered a less developed Ambergris Caye and a great place to invest in property for the future. It has a great community feel and a more laidback feel. There are no shopping malls or huge nightclubs here. That said if you feel the need for a big night out the boat to Ambergris Caye is only 30 mins and under $20 for a round trip.
If you are looking for a tranquil life in Belize’s inland, you need not look any further than the Cayo District. This lush, mountainous area is becoming a real draw for retirees looking to live off-the-grid. In recent years the government of Belize has worked on improving the infrastructure of Cayo in order to encourage development in the region. There is a growing expat population living in Belize’s Cayo District looking to take advantage of the self-sufficiency options and get back to simpler times. The lush green hills of Cayo are literally surrounded by archaeological sites as well as recent oil and gold finds. Cayo is a place where you might meet archaeology doctorates, field engineers, and even an organic teak tree farmer.
Corozal, Belize is located in Northern Belize, near the border with Mexico. Expats living in Corozal enjoy the off-the-radar local environment. It is a relatively quiet area with a little over 9,000 residents. This laid-back small town has the basic amenities of banks, restaurants, shops, doctors and dentists.
A quick 30 minute drive from Chetumal, Mexico, Corozal, is not far from first-world shopping centers and other amenities. In Corozal you have all the benefits of living on the Caribbean without the island price tag. If you are someone who can’t do without imported goods then you can find most of them at a reasonable price over the border in Mexico.
Palencia is a beautiful peninsula that juts out of the coastline in southern Belize. An airstrip located in the middle of Palencia divides the peninsula into two parts: the north and the south. In the southern portion of Palencia there is a busier atmosphere. Here you can find many restaurants, cafes, banks, and other small shops. In the north of Palencia lies the village of Seine Bight, with a quieter lifestyle and more luxurious resorts.
Palencia has some of the best beaches and fishing in Belize. An added bonus is that Palencia remains one of Belize’s more undiscovered areas meaning the beaches are not usually crowded. Even for Belize Palencia is a relaxed place to be so if you are looking for nightlife this might not be the best location. There is a strong expat community here though so socializing will not be a problem.
If you are looking to escape from the trials and tribulations of an increasingly chaotic and crazy world, then you won’t find a better retreat than Belize. Certainly not one that is only 2 hours flight from the U.S. Everything about Belize seems designed to make you feel more relaxed. Step outside and listen to the birds singing and the insects chirping and feel any stress evaporate away. Away from the bustling seaside towns Belize is a very peaceful place. From the deep still hush of the jungle to the gentle lap of the sea and the open plains where the grass bends softly on the breeze, all this is found under the warm, forgiving Belizean sun.
One of the most refreshing things about living in Belize is the lack of red tape. You can buy land here and build your own dream house more easily than almost anywhere else in the world. Belize is great for independent people. Living here you will be able to become almost entirely self-sufficient, should you choose to. You can use solar panels for your power. The climate allows you to farm everything else you need. With the right planning, crops can produce here all year round and if you get a fishing rod you can even eat fresh fish!
These are not as frequent as you might think (or as they have been in the past) but they do still occur. If for some reason repairs are needed residents will be given an advance warning of the blackout so you can stock up on candles and other supplies. Sometimes during bad weather, there are localized power outages but they are generally repaired quickly. As mentioned above, due to the number of sunny days, solar power is a great way to source your power in Belize.
The internet is improving and is mostly reliable however it is not at the same speed as elsewhere in the world. If you rely on an internet connection for your work then make sure you have a contingency plan for any disconnections.
Belize has an unspoiled beauty and enough different landscapes to appeal to anyone. It has a long Caribbean shoreline and many small islands dotted just off the coast. The warm water is many enticing shades of blue and the palm-fringed beaches are as fine as you will find anywhere in the world.
There are also ancient Mayan ruins to visit and enjoy. In fact some of the best-preserved sites can be found in Belize. There are dense jungles to explore and mountain trails to hike along.
The hand painted signs that say ‘go slow’ can be found throughout Belize. They provide warning for the sometimes crazed golf cart drivers not to drive recklessly but they also carry another meaning. Life in Belize is not like the hectic life that we in the west are used to and nor does it want to be. The people here like to do things in their own time. If Belizean’s think you are moving too fast they will be sure to let you know. Expect to hear ‘where’s the fire?’ anytime you are getting stressed or rushing from one place to another. It can take a little getting used to but once you do a whole new world opens up for you.
If you are an animal lover then Belize is a place you will love. For farmers the climate is kind enough that you can raise most of the animals you would expect to find in the U.S. with ease. Sheep are not as common as in the U.S. and tend to have hair rather than wool but they can also thrive in Belize.