Living In Belize And Choosing The Location That Best Suits You

Trying Belize On For Size

There’s something in the water, or maybe I should say there’s something about the water…

I moved from the northeast of the United States in October 2014 to the town of Punta Gorda, located along the southern coast of Belize. I had several reasons for making this move. 

There are small shops and inns along the main street in Punta Gorda
Small shops along Front Street in Punta Gorda, Belize

First, I had tired of the cold and brutal winters that kept me cocooned for too many months. Second, being retired, I wanted to spend quality time making a positive difference out in the world, and I could hardly do that stuck inside the house for months at a time. And, last but not least, Punta Gorda was the only placeI was invited to stay in Belize. 

After making the decision to try out a new life in Belize, I was part of a miraculous series of events that led me to board with a lovely lady in the town of Punta Gorda. There are residences to fit any lifestyle in Belize. The house where I stayed in Punta Gorda had six bedrooms, four baths with modern plumbing, and a host of other amenities that made my time there quite pleasant. But it wasn’t the house that kept me boarding there for eight months.

Quote: "There was something about the water" over an image of very blue ocean water

Driving into Punta Gorda, as soon as you make the turn into it, your eyes are delighted by the Caribbean Sea. Its vastness and charm drew me daily. I would wander down to the sea’s edge to meditate and greet the friendly passersby. 

I often went into town and socialized with the locals and villagers who come by the busloads to display and sell their homemade items and foods from their farms. Punta Gorda is really laid-back. Several times, I was nicely told that I could “slow down now.” I felt like I had found a new home… for a while. 

After a few of months, I realized that I had met most of the townsfolk and had seen pretty much all of Punta Gorda that I was interested in, but I still had not found the communities where I had hoped to make a positive difference. I had an interest in working with the deaf and the deaf-blind. 

Fruits and vegetables for sale at an outdoor market
A typical outdoor market in Punta Gorda

I also wanted to have more selection of goods to purchase. Much of what Belize has to offer has to be imported, and Punta Gorda in off-season seemed stuck with leftovers. That worked for me for a while, but when I felt it was time to try another part of Belize on for size, I began asking around. I explained that the place I was looking for had to have a larger population and more opportunities for shopping, cultural events, etc. And I always said that wherever I ended up in Belize had to be near the water. There’s just something about the water…

Every Belizean I spoke with told me the same thing: Corozal Town is very much like Punta Gorda but bigger and with more population and diversity.

So I pulled out my map and saw that Corozal Town is on the northern coast of Belize at Corozal Bay. I was convinced to make the trip up the coast to see it for myself because everyone described it to me as “just like Punta Gorda”… only bigger.

I made arrangements for a travel guide to escort me for the trip. As a senior female traveling alone, I wanted some support. I explained to the guide what I was looking for, and we settled on the dates he was available to help me to scout out Corozal. He was working as a teacher and had grown up in Corozal. He spoke English, of course, and Spanish as well. English is the official language of Belize, but a lot of Spanish is spoken in Corozal because of its close proximity to Mexico, only 9 miles away.

I made the necessary domestic flight arrangements with Tropic Air. My flight to Corozal had a layover in San Pedro on Ambergris Caye. Most all Tropic Air flights include at least one layover, sometimes publicized in advance, sometimes a surprise! 

The faster-moving pace of the people and the golf carts in San Pedro increased my energy level right away, and I went shopping during the time that I had on the ground. Once the plane took off again, Corozal was only a 20-minute flight away.

A taxi picked me up at the airport, which is about five minutes from Corozal Town, and headed me toward my hotel. We drove alongside the beautiful Corozal Bay… a welcoming sight. 

My guide had recommended the perfect hotel for me. It was modern and had everything I needed. It was also right at the outskirts of town and only about two blocks from Corozal Bay. I could walk there whenever I wanted, and I did. I felt safe and almost immediately at home. I was delighted to discover Corozal Town’s charming Central Park with its large clock that sounds on the hour. Across the street, vendors sold fresh fruits, vegetables, and other items. Nearby grocery stores sold refrigerated and frozen foods aplenty. 

The multicultural and thriving population was similar to Punta Gorda’s in its friendliness. There were just more of them and it. I was most pleased to find that there were even persons in the special needs community I was hoping to connect with. 

Aerial view of coastal town chetumal mexico
Nearby Chetumal, Mexico has even more ammenities if you can’t find what you are looking for in Corozal

While in the Corozal area, I took a day trip to Chetumal, Mexico, where I was treated to shopping options galore, many Americanized, including a Walmart and, if you want it, a McDonald’s. Living in Corozal, I realized, I would also be very close to the States in case I wanted to head there, and Cancún would be only a five-hour drive away. I had just about made up my mind to move to Corozal.

However, before I made a final decision to look for a place to stay, I spent time by Corozal Bay. I knew I would come to the right decision there. 

White sandy beach with palm trees and blue water
Corozal bay is slightly larger than Punta Gorda but retains the laid-back feel

To seal the deal, my knowledgeable guide showed me a quiet expat community just outside of town and close to some great restaurants, one of which delivers. The best part is that this community sits right on the shores of Corozal Bay.

I am now living in a wonderful apartment in a resort that is very affordable for me. I have access to a swimming pool and a Jacuzzi. But the best part is that, from every room in my home, I can see Corozal Bay and enjoy its gentle breezes. 

There’s just something about that water…

Marie Peay
For In Focus: Belize

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