Finally… after three days inside the meeting rooms of the Ft. George Hotel, it was time to bug out of Belize City…
Belize City is poor, under-developed, and, in parts, unsafe.
I don’t mind the place. Beneath the gritty surface, I detect a long-faded charm. Or maybe I project one. Either way, I enjoy passing through.
However, I know that, for many, the best part about traveling to Belize City is leaving Belize City. We held this month’s Live and Invest in Belize Conference here because it’s the only place in the country with facilities big enough to accommodate us.
Finally, though, Friday afternoon, our conference attendees were free to take off to see for themselves all that this little country has to offer. Armed with the know-how and wisdom shared by our Belize experts and expats, the readers in attendance at our event this month dispersed to Belize’s four corners.
And that was where the real fun began.
Many of these soon-to-be expats took a quick hop over to Ambergris Caye, home to the largest expat enclave in the country. These folks want Caribbean, and they’re now spending time on Ambergris, Belize’s most developed Caribbean island, trying to determine if this is the Caribbean outpost they seek.
Ambergris is unadulterated, unpretentious Caribbean… the sea, sand, and sunshine of the Caymans or the Virgin Islands but without the price tag.
Another group of attendees headed in the opposite direction… and for the hills, the Cayo, where the appeal isn’t sand and sea but wide-open spaces, a back-to-basics lifestyle, and really cheap land. Phil Hahn, the developer behind the forward-thinking sustainable community on the banks of the Belize River known as Carmelita, is now introducing this group to his favorite part of this country.
The Carmelita plan calls for solar power and community gardens and orchards. The intent is a place where you could live completely independently if you wanted, reliant on no public services or third-party infrastructure.
A third conference contingency headed south to explore this country’s mainland coast around Placencia. This is another face of the beachfront life on offer in Belize. Several master-planned communities are popping up here, catering to those with a higher budget. You’ll find marinas and golf courses alongside large homes within gated neighborhoods. That said, plenty of affordable and charming options exist outside of these higher-end options.
Finally, a fourth scouting party headed north to see the northern mainland Belize coast around Corozal. While Ambergris Caye is a fully fledged expat community with all the trappings… Placencia offers luxury… Carmelita and the Cayo are all about being off the grid and self-sustainable… Corozal is about kickin’ back and layin’ low. This region is low-density and low-impact. The biggest attraction for some is the uninterrupted peace and quiet.
Meantime, Chetumal, Mexico, with its 17 hospitals and big-footprint shopping, is only 15 miles away.
Those attendees able to make the time are traveling among two or three or even all four of these spots, to get a better picture of the different lifestyle options Belize has to offer.
Each has its pluses and its minuses. Island living is always more expensive than life back on the mainland… meaning Ambergris is the most expensive lifestyle choice in the country. Most expensive and also most developed and turnkey.
Carmelita is being developed on a river. For some, river views don’t substitute for ocean vistas. Others prefer them.
Corozal boasts easy access to Chetumal, which could be a big advantage in case of medical emergency. On the other hand, day-to-day, you’d likely feel secluded here. Maybe that’s a plus for you… maybe a minus.
The northern coast around Corozal sees about 50 inches of rain a year. The southern coast, Placencia and south, can see three times that much rain or more each year. Maybe that bothers you… maybe it doesn’t.
Big picture, of course, all four of these regions are in Belize… which means the people speak English, the government is typically nowhere to be noticed, and your annual tax bill can be highly controlled.