In My Former Life, I Was Happy 14 Days A Year… Now I’m Happy Every Day
I was vacationing in the Caribbean all the time.
I was working 50 weeks a year, then I spent every two-week vacation in the Caribbean.
That meant 14 days a year I was happy.
What if, I finally thought, I were to move to the Caribbean?
Then I’d have two days each weekend to enjoy being in the Caribbean. Even without taking a vacation, that’d mean I’d be happy 104 days a year!
I’m no math wiz, but it seemed like a no-brainer to me.
It happened to be around Christmas that I was having these thoughts.
I was working as a management consultant, and I was traveling a lot. That year, I bought Christmas gifts for the front-desk staff at the Holiday Inn in Knoxville, Texas, and I thought to myself:
I am spending too much time at the Holiday Inn in Knoxville, Texas.
I am traveling way too much but for the wrong reasons.
That’s how I ended up in Belize.
Well, that’s how I ended up in the Caribbean. It took me three years to choose Belize.
I knew I wanted the island life, but I found that most islands in the Caribbean are really expensive.
Then, in my online searching, I happened upon Belize. I’d never thought about it before.
As I researched, I found that:
- The language in Belize is English…
- The country uses common law…
- Business owners are not required to have liability insurance…
I intended to run my own business, so that last one was important to me. It suggested a non-litigious society.
I also found that Belize is a much cheaper alternative to most Caribbean islands.
Once my wife and I had made our decision that Belize was the place for us, we moved quickly. I listed most all our household goods and furniture for sale on Craig’s List. Within 45 minutes of the posting, I had someone knocking on my door to buy my bed.
I sold everything in three days.
Then we moved to Belize with seven dive bags. It was all remarkably easy to organize.
What did we learn?
- You can’t find a rental in Belize on the internet. What’s posted is misleading or ridiculously out of date. We responded to one ad and found that the house didn’t even exist anymore. You’ve got to show up and ask around. Word of mouth is the way to find a rental in this country.
- Your cost of living is controllable depending on how local you go with your lifestyle, your shopping, your choices for eating out, etc.
- Salt air kills electronics. No way around it.
I needed to earn a living in Belize, and I knew I wanted to be in the tourism industry… so I bought a bar in San Pedro on Ambergris Caye called Crazy Canucks. We cater to 40-something and older gringos… and we do a lot of fun things to raise money for and interact with the local community.
Stop by any Tuesday night, for example, for our hermit crab races. Some weeks we get 200 to 300 people watching the crabs scurry. Half the purse goes to the winning crab; half goes to local charity.
Crazy Canucks also serves as a main meeting point and center of information for the Ambergris expat community. Stop by our place any given afternoon, and you’ll hear about everything going on across the island.
When I’m not working running the bar, what do I do with myself?
I love the water so I spend all my free time sailing, surfing, snorkeling, fishing…
People ask how often I go back to the United States. I’m from Cleveland. Why would I go back?
I do miss some things, though. Mostly, I miss variety. Living in Belize and living on an island anywhere one thing you sacrifice is choice. Our choices for many things are limited. We have abundant and delicious fresh fruit, for example… but only three or four kinds. If you want anything more exotic, you’re out of luck.
Bottom line, what do I think today, five years later, about my decision to move to Belize?
I’m happier than I ever was living in the States. I can honestly say I’m a truly happy person here. And I’d say that says it all.
Belize wouldn’t be for everyone. I did my research, and I knew what I was choosing when I chose Belize.
And I chose right. For me, I chose right, for sure.
Full-time Belize Expat and Entrepreneur