“The problem isn’t the problem. The problem is your attitude toward the problem.”
“That was Jack Sparrow’s theory,” explained part-time Belize expat and full-time Belize businessman Phil Hahn to the crowd assembled for the opening session of this week’s Live and Invest in Belize Conference in Belize City.
“Jack’s words are good advice for anyone thinking about spending time in Belize,” Phil continued.
“Taxi you called for never showed up? Drink you ordered before dinner arrived after you’d already finished eating your meal? Electricity out? Internet slow? Roads bumpy? Those things aren’t the problem. The problem is your attitude toward those things… or at least that can be the problem.
“If you want to spend time in Belize… certainly if you’re thinking about moving to Belize, you’ve got to shift your perspective,” Phil told the group.
“This country has only been a country since 1981. It’s still figuring things out.”
After Phil had finished speaking, Belize’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Wilfred Elrington addressed the group.
“Belizeans are respectful, polite, and pleasant. They are also peculiar,” Minister Elrington explained.
“If something isn’t working… if there’s some disagreement, some problem or conflict, we just go home. We don’t argue or fight. We just move on.
“Belize was once a colony of Britain,” the minister continued. “This means common law and the English language, two things that make Belize a relatively easy transition for North Americans.
“However, historically, there have never been more than a few hundred British living in the country at the same time. Originally the British in this part of the world were buccaneers… who were good sailors… because the Belize coast is difficult to navigate. It’s very shallow thanks to the reef.
“The British brought in slaves from Africa to cut mahogany. This means the slaves were largely left on their own in the forests and the jungles for extended periods, cutting down trees. As a result, Belizeans today, largely descendent from these North African slaves, are independent and self-reliant. I believe this is also why we don’t argue or complain. When conflict presents itself, we just walk away and figure things out for ourselves.
“Also as a result of this cultural attitude, Belize has very good relations with its neighbors. Belizeans get along with everyone.
“Culturally, the mix is very rich. Belize welcomes immigrants from all around the world. Belize is a melting pot… yet, socially and politically, the scene is very stable.
“Tourism is growing by big leaps,” Minister Elrington continued. “Growing so much that our infrastructure is struggling to keep up. Our airport is too small to handle the current traffic, and the number of flights to and from Belize City continues to increase. Cruise traffic is growing, too, even though, again, we just don’t have the facilities to handle the cruise tourists once they come ashore. These limitations are the current priority focus of the government.”
Stephen And Laurie Brown Share Their Experience
This week in Belize City, Lief Simon has hosted an extended discussion on all things Belize. One after another, Lief has invited more than two-dozen of our Live and Invest Overseas Belize team—experts, expats, colleagues, and friends—to join him on stage to share their firsthand accounts of what it’s really like to live, retire, invest, and do business in this country.
Together, our Belize team has been showcasing all that this beautiful little English-speaking country has to offer.
Yesterday, Lief introduced a couple of relatively recent expat arrivals, Stephen and Laurie Brown.
“I attended Live and Invest Overseas’ conference in Belize in 2013,” Stephen told the group. “Laurie wasn’t able to make it, but I flew in from Saudi Arabia, where we had been living and working for five years.
“I very much liked what I saw of Belize and arranged to return with Laurie a few months later.
“Our first trip together was a drive-about all around the country to get a feel for the areas we liked. We followed that trip with maybe eight more trips of one to two weeks each between 2013 and 2016. Finally, we agreed. The Cayo was the place for us. Our plan had us retiring in that region of Belize full-time starting in 2020.
“In 2015, we moved from Saudi Arabia back to the Cayman Islands, where I based my consulting and training business and where we had a home. Then, late that year, the Caymans changed their immigration policies.
“No problem, we told ourselves. We’ll just pull our move date to Belize forward. And that’s what we did. We’ve been here in Belize now since September 2016.
“On arrival, I applied for the QRP and was approved in about 60 days,” Stephen told the group. “Laurie decided to stay in-country for the required time (50 weeks in a 12-month period) so she could apply for Permanent Residency that way. Her application was made in October 2017 and approved in December 2018.
“Since our arrival, we’ve been renting a small home in Cristo Rey Village, and we’d recommend that all new arrivals rent at first rather than buying a place to live right away. This gives you a chance to really get to know not only Belize but also the specific part of the country where you base yourself.
“Cristo Rey is about 3 miles from the Western Highway and the town of Santa Elena on the road to San Antonio. This is a quiet village. It’s ideal for us, but it wouldn’t be for everyone. Again, that’s why we’d really say rent at first so you can easily move if the place you locate yourself initially doesn’t ultimately suit you.
“After we’d been living in Cristo Rey for a few months and were certain it was the area where we wished to settle, we bought a parcel of land about a mile past Cristo Rey Village and started designing a house. This will be our long-term home.
“We began construction the first of May 2018 and anticipate moving in March of this year. All the pieces are falling nicely into place.”
This article was originally published in January 2016 and has been recently updated