Paradise For The Quirky Expat
“One of my favorite things about being in Belize is the other expats. We’re all different, quirky in our own ways, but we have one big, important thing in common. We all left home to come somewhere completely new. It’s a pretty amazing and cool thing.” – Cathy Thayer, full-time Belize expat.
The self-sufficient life doesn’t appeal to everyone. But, if you’re at all intrigued by the idea, here are a few things you should know about making the transition to this rewarding lifestyle…
First, you don’t need a farming background. Whether you live in the city or country… whether you keep a garden or just some potted plants on your balcony… this is open to everyone. All you need is a love of nature and an interest in growing some of your own fruit, vegetables, and herbs.
Likewise, you don’t need to drop everything to become a full-time farmer. This is something you can do on a small or large scale, whatever you’re comfortable with… and as time allows.
Most of all, self-sufficiency is not about giving up on luxuries. It’s about having more control over your whole life… giving you and your family freedom and independence… and the satisfaction and rewards that come from growing your own.
We’ve chosen Cayo, Belize, as the base for our upcoming Self-Sufficiency Seminar this November—and for good reason…
For a start, the Cayo region is rich in resources—both natural and manmade. It has more protected land than any other district… it’s the top eco-tourism destination in the country… and it boasts the largest underground cave system in the Western Hemisphere.
Its landscape is dominated by fields and pastures, trees and jungle, rivers and livestock. Here and there, you’ll see a small house of concrete block or timber, and, in the distance, the Maya Mountains. Farmers tend corn and sugarcane, watermelons and citrus. Here, in this land of escape, life revolves around the land and values independence above all else.
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.
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 here is fertile and rich, and the Mennonite farmers who work it produce most of Belize’s food supply.
Then there’s the history…
Belize was founded by pirates and settled by the English. However, the English in this part of the world were under such constant pressure from Spain, they were reluctant to establish any formal government to manage Belize for at least a century. From the beginning, as a result, Belizeans had to be self-sufficient. This history remains a driving force behind Belizean culture today. The country has always attracted expats who value independence and freedom.
As recently as a few years ago, 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.
In Cayo you meet misfits, nonconformists, and outside-the-box thinkers from all around the world. Many of these folks have sought out this unsung region with a self-sufficiency agenda. Increasingly, these folks are creating lives that are both sustainable and very comfortable. Which brings me to another reason Belize stands out…
Here, you’re not living this self-sufficient lifestyle alone and trying to figure everything out from scratch. Or, at least, you don’t have to.
The growing community of expats in Cayo is welcoming of newcomers and willing to share its experiences. In fact, if you’d appreciate the help of a close community, you’ll find a number of developments here built around the idea of self-sufficiency. Here gardens and orchards are interwoven with the housing lots, so that owners can grow their own food, and homes are built to be energy-efficient.
In a development like this, you can participate directly by planting and harvesting or you can simply take advantage of the fruits and vegetables grown on-site that will be made available for residents. The idea of becoming part of a community like this, of like-minded individuals, takes some of the work out of being self-sufficient.