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Who Retires To Belize

The 5th R, 2012 Survival Parties, And Aunt Bee On The Run

Friend Peter Zipper, President of Caye Bank in Belize, describes the people he meets on Ambergris Caye, the Caribbean island that lies just offshore from this country’s mainland coast, like this:

“Walk down the street on Ambergris,” Peter says, “and you hear the music of the Boomers all around–the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Janis Joplin…

“These folks, the Baby Boomers, they had a great time in the 1960s…listening to their music, growing their hair long, and getting stoned all the time…

“Then they became the most boring people on the planet. They made a lot of money…by ignoring everything but hard work.

“Now they’re looking to reclaim their lives. They’re finding their way, in retirement, in bigger and bigger numbers, to places like Belize…where they’re listening to their music again, growing their hair long again, and getting stoned all the time again.

“I’m joking about that last bit,” Peter is quick to add. “But my point is that Belize has what a lot of North American retirees are looking for at this point.”

Of course, as we discussed during our Live and Invest in Belize Conference in Belize City last week, it’s not only would-be retirees making their way to this English-speaking safe haven in fast-growing numbers right now.

In Belize last week for this event, I met and spoke with people of all ages and from all walks of life, including some nowhere near the retirement phase.

Lori Ann, for example. Lori Ann is a successful web designer from Northern California who is tired of the stress and the cost of life in that part of the world. Her plan is to move to Belize and to bring her very portable business with her.

And Joe from Chicago. Joe is decades from retirement age. He spent time on Ambergris Caye before the conference and then returned after the program to look seriously at business opportunities he has identified on the island.

Joe is in insurance, but he has been ready for a change for a long time. This trip and this conference were just the boost he needed, he told me, to motivate him to take action.

Gina and her sister Deborah were in Belize to help their parents find a place outside the United States where they could move, if they decided they need to, in a pinch. Their dad is in his 80s and has some health challenges, and the daughters are helping him and their mom check out possibilities for places where they could live or spend time on a controlled budget. They like Belize because everyone speaks English and also because of the asset protection advantages the country offers.

What else went on in Belize City last week? We heard from 27 speakers in all, including international asset protection attorney Joel Nagel. As Joel explained:

“Just like Belize, the United States has bank secrecy laws, too. Here’s how it goes in the U.S.: Your bank is required to give your personal information to the IRS…but to keep the process a secret from you. That’s U.S. bank secrecy law. It’s like the world of the Mad Hatter.”

Joel continued:

“Interest in foreign residency and expatriation has escalated dramatically during the last five years. A little old lady came to talk to me recently to tell me that she was seriously considering expatriating. This really took me by surprise because she reminded me of my grandmother…or Aunt Bee from “The Andy Griffith Show.” It made me realize how much things are changing and how quickly. It used to be that 200 to 300 Americans expatriated each year. More than 8,000 Americans expatriated last quarter…”

American expat Phil Hahn, who lives part-time in Belize, shared insights into life in this frontier land:

“In Belize,” Phil explained, “when people say ‘ATM,’ they aren’t referring to a cash machine. They are referring to Actun Tunichal Muknal, a spectacular place in Cayo. To get there you need to hike through the forest. Next you swim into a cave and then spelunk to get to it. It is amazing and unique in the world. Other countries would not let you visit such a place without restriction or a guide. There are Mayan artifacts everywhere. But here in Belize, the place is open for everyone to explore.”

We remind you often of the 4 R’s of Belize–reef, ruins, rivers, and rain forest. Expat Amma Carey told the group last week about Belize’s fifth R:

“The fifth R is for rum! Try the 5 Barrel,” Amma recommended. “You can get it in duty free at the airport for US$11.”

The Mayans are an important and respected part of Belizean culture and history. They believe, of course, that 2012 is going to be the end of the world. Attendees asked Steve Hack, a British expat living full-time in Belize, formerly in Belize with the British military, what he thinks will happen.

“I expect it will be stretched out into an extended holiday season,” Jungle Steve explained. “There will be a party to prepare for the end of the world, a party when the world is supposed to end, and an I Survived The End Of The World party…”

Kathleen Peddicord

Continue Reading: Single Women Retiring Overseas

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