I was looking for a place to retire that would become “the home for my heart, mind, and soul.” That is important for me—after all I’ll be spending my retirement years in that place. I wanted, of course, to be close enough to visit my family in States if I wanted to, and to find a place where I would able to be involved with people that were like-minded, open-minded, and respectful of the surrounding community and each other. Somewhere that had options for adventure, peacefulness, friendliness, and acceptance.
I didn’t know if I could find that utopia or not, but I was going to look.
I’ve always wanted to travel, live in other countries, meet other cultures, and live simply and sustainably. I never got the chance to do this while raising my children, going to nursing school, and then caring for my oldest daughter while she was on dialysis. Then I started my nursing career, went into management, and was also raising my grandson because my daughter couldn’t due to her health condition.
This all led to a pretty busy lifestyle and not much time to think about living simply (although I dreamed about it quite often), no free time to travel or even think about going on vacation, let alone going to another country.
But when I turned 50 and after spending most of my nursing career working with the elderly and disabled populations (and knowing first-hand what they were experiencing in their daily lives), I seriously began to think that I might very well be facing that same dismal retirement situation if I didn’t at least start thinking about my options.
So I began what was the start of my search for retirement options.
I soon became aware after looking at all the options, both domestic and overseas, that if I wanted any quality of life, I would have to retire outside of the United States, which was fine with me and exciting at the same time.
It was during my research when I heard the word expat for the first time. Retiring out of the United States was no problem for me, I’d always wanted to travel anyway, experience different locales, different ways of life, and most of all, live simply and sustainably. I also realized that I wanted to be in Latin America—just not sure exactly where.
While I was looking at travel and retire overseas sites, I came across all types of glossy, too-good-to-be-true retirement information. I ignored most of these and was doing my own research on different countries, but something made me click on a link that said something like “How To Retire Overseas.”
Little did I know what that one click would do…
When I clicked on Belize, I found a wealth of information, including a link to a place called Carmelita Gardens. Everything I read about it was so interesting and exciting to me because it sounded like everything that I was already interested in, knew something about, and even more.
The property was going to be developed into a self-sufficient, off-the-grid community with organic gardens and orchards, and was bordered by a river. I remember seeing a dirt road and the beginnings of the organic orchard. I kept going back to that picture and article many times.
I remember thinking, “This is my kind of place, how much better could it get?”
Then my daughter that was on dialysis passed away, and for a time, I put everything on hold—I didn’t even look at traveling or any other retirement options.
Six years later, in 2016, I started looking again. I went back to the Live and Invest Overseas website—thank goodness those emails kept coming.
I found out that a conference was going to be held in Las Vegas, Nevada, with representatives from many different countries available to talk to and ask questions.
With an open mind, I went to my first conference with Live and Invest Overseas, and boy, did I learn. After talking to many representatives and entrepreneurs at the conference, I realized that Belize was really where I wanted to be.
At the conference, I met one of the staff members of Carmelita Gardens and asked her many questions. I ended up taking all the information from every destination that I thought was even a remote possibility to consider to my hotel room. After looking at all the literature, I always circled back to Carmelita Gardens. At the end of the conference, I knew Belize was where I would ultimately want to be.
My next step was going to a conference in Belize to find out more, and, finally, in January 2019, I went to Belize. From the moment I saw Belize, I loved it. After reading everything I could get my hands on about Belize, all I needed was a trip in person to really make sure this was what I wanted.
My youngest daughter Shanna, who’s also a nurse, came with me to Belize. After the conference, we went to a tour of Carmelita Gardens. As soon as she saw Carmelita Gardens, she said “Mom, this is your place. This is so you, you’re done looking.”
After the tour, she asked “Well, when are you coming back? What are your options for buying property? Because I know you’re going to!”
In October 2019, I came back to Carmelita Gardens and stayed for six nights. During my stay, I was able to experience what life is like living there, thanks to their residents offering to take me under their wings and show me what a typical shopping day was like, what they did day-to-day, the activities that they participated in with both the other residents at Carmelita Gardens and the surrounding communities of La Familia, San Ignacio, Santa Elena, and Spanish Lookout.
My goal is to get my cottage built as soon as I sell my home in Texas. COVID-19 crisis or not, I am continuing onward and forward with my journey to Carmelita Gardens.
I’m looking forward to starting a life that I’ve always wanted to live with like-minded people who come from many different backgrounds, simple, down-to-earth living, clean food, off-grid living, interacting with the community, peacefulness…
And the best is yet to come!