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Christian Burn of Grand Baymen – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Retiree expats in Belize – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingThe island of Ambergris Caye is the most popular spot for tourists in the whole country of Belize, by far. About 70% of the tourists who come to Belize come to visit this island. There is also a large retiree population in Ambergris Caye, but the country of Belize has lots of expats, too. San Pedro (which is the main town on the island of Ambergris Caye) is by far the most affluent and the most popular destination in Belize, and Ambergris Caye tends to be the most popular for tourists and for expats.
 
In the country of Belize, however, there are expat communities in every town.
 
From my experience, expats generally congregate around good works. We have the Rotaries. We have a strong contingent of teachers and former teachers who like to tutor or offer enrichment classes. It is not just the bars, by any stretch. Personally, as an expat myself, I don’t go to the bars; I’m not interested in the bars. It is just not my cup of tea. I would rather be at community rallies for national holidays or causes, like Red Cross and AIDs,, etc. In Belize there are so many reasons to get out of your little space and participate in the community. Participating in any way in the community activity is fun, too. Some people just participate and some send their dollars.
 
There are also other opportunities to get together with other expats, like taking a class in an adult sailing school, which I think is really cool because you will learn from the various sailing coaches. Then on another lovely afternoon, you are meeting other expats and doing something fun together.
 
Expats also meet in Belize in all the various restaurants and bars. You can sit down and probably not know the person next to you very well, but you have probably have seen each other around, so you have some commonality, like a news event or a particular issue.
 
Politics is always a hot topic; even local politics. It is hysterical here in Belize because people do not really get too deep into politics here, yet their opinions are readily available.
 
All the little towns across Belize, I believe have similar opportunities; most definitely. There is always a Rotary, and the church generally has community meetings. (We have a very large Catholic society here.)  Some expats go out and volunteer with the animal Humane Society. They come together and walk the stray dogs, which is a lovely, lovely effort. Some work with the polyclinic (local healthcare facility) and that is the way these expats spend extra time with other expats. Some people just hang around their pool. Everybody is different.
 
We live in a little condominium down the beach in Ambergris Caye about five minutes south of the resort that has exactly that. The people there are homeowners and long-term tenants. We have Thanksgiving around the pool together and it’s just lovely. It is informal, it is casual, and strangers quickly become friends. 
Mark Leonard of Paradise Found Belize Real Estate and Development – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Blackbeard's Beach, at Cerros Sands, Belize – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingThere are six districts in Belize.  
 
Punta Gorda is down further south and gets a lot of rain. There are a few expats down there.  
 
North of Punta Gorda is Stann Creek, where Placencia is located and that area tends to draw a lot of expats, which drives up the prices. Hopkins is another area down south that is becoming popular with the expats. 
 
Ambergris Caye is the largest tourism area and there are a lot of expats living on the caye.  
 
Then there are some expats on the west side over towards San Ignacio, which is the Cayo District.  
 
Of course, there is a group of expats up here in the north, in Corozal. In Corozal, expats pretty much acclimate themselves to the areas of Consejo, Corozal Town, and Cerros Sands, where I am, and which is becoming more popular. Orchid Bay is just across the water from Cerros, but faces west and does not get the prevailing sea breeze. 
 
Placencia is the southernmost area where there is a large group of expats. It’s being developed more and more into large communities. They try to restrict the development, and there is the attitude of “we are here now and the world is complete.” I think anybody can go anywhere they want. It is right on the coast and there are some inland areas where people get their boat in their backyard. Prices compared to the north are probably three times more expensive. Sanctuary Bay would be a good one to compare to Cerros Sands. 
 
Home at Cerros Sands, Belize – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingHopkins is another area just north of Placencia that is being developed as well. Americans and Canadians are beginning to reside there. Hopkins is also right on the coast. There is lots of talk of some large-scale developments being built in Hopkins, but I don’t know if they had the approvals to do it yet. 
 
There has been a whole lot of discussion about an International Airport in the Placencia.  Don’t hold your breath.. 
 
In Belize, you have to be careful because people promise a whole lot and don’t deliver. You have people talking about golf courses left and right, as well the that airport. Much of this stuff I don’t ever imagine will get done because if you just look at the sheer economics of development, you cannot just put up eight golf courses. It is going to cost you $18 to $25 million per course to do it on a recognized international level. There is not a lot of population to support a lot of the things that some developers promise, anywhere in Belize. Its easy to figure when you look at the number of expats coming in that these are very futuristic endeavors. 
 
Ambergris Caye is an island, which is about 22 miles long, and it's widest part is just over 3 miles wide. It is being developed heavily. It is kind of cut between the north and south of the island, by a bridge, which connects the two. The north part is the first area that really developed and they are really pushing the limits of development there. That is pretty crowded, quite frankly. There used to get by with just golf carts, bicycles, and your bare feet. But now, with people have SUVs and they are having a real issue with waste disposal. It gets dusty and dirty. I lived on Ambergris Caye and enjoyed the island ambiance. If you want to sit on a beach bar, that’s fine. I just don’t want to do that 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You also have diving and fishing. They call it the drinking island with a diving problem! 
 
Greenhouse at Cerros Sands, Belize – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingI like Caye Caulker, another Caye which is south of Ambergris Caye. It is a little more laid back than San Pedro (the main town on Ambergris Caye). There are no cars on Caye Caulker. You may have a golf cart to get you around. You also have bicycles and you walk because it’s very small. It is very quaint. If you are going to travel to Belize, I would recommend you stay in Caye Caulker before you stay in Ambergris Caye, but that’s my personal opinion.  
 
I lived in San Ignacio for a while. I had a real estate office up there for a while as well. It’s nice but a little different ambiance. It is kind of a mixture between Napa and Hawaii. It has hills, valleys, it is very pretty, very picturesque. I guess that’s the word for that kind of thing for Belize. The only thing is that during the summer months of July, August, September, and October it is unbearably hot. You take a shower, you walk outside, and you are drenched. At night, it gets cool, which is okay and in the morning sometimes you will see the fog just like you would see over the valleys in Napa. It is a little different that way. I like the sea breeze by the shore, so Cayo did not work for me. 
 
I wouldn’t say that San Ignacio is up in the mountains because I don’t think the elevation is more than 2,000 feet, but for Belize, it is the mountains. San Ignacio is in the west, inland, up by the Guatemalan border.  
 
In my opinion, Corozal is more compelling. Down south of Belize, you get 180 inches of rain a year. If you go to Punta Gorda, it’s even more. As you work your way up the country going north, the rain diminishes. It gets up to about 60 inches of rain up in Corozal, which is very much like Florida. We have a very temperate climate. Cerro Sands, where I live, faces east so we get the sea breeze. I do not have air conditioning in my house, I have some ceiling fans and I rarely have to turn them on. You can have air-conditioning if you want but even in Corozal town, I had air-conditioning which I never used. Some people are used to it or want it and of course that could be built into any house. 
 
Corozal is on the northern part of Belize, right on the border of Mexico not too far from the Mexican town of Chetumal. Corozal is close to medical care also because it next to Chetumal, Mexico, which is a big city with good medical. Chetumal also has a Home Depot, Sam’s club, and all the stores you can think of. You even have Applebee’s, where the ribs aren’t bad. Chetumal is the capital of Quintana Roo. 
 
There is a little town before you get to Chetumal called Santa Elena but that is where the border is, the cross over. But you can get to Chetumal from Cerro Sands by boat. So for major medical emergencies, we will take people in by boat right over to the dock and they can have the ambulance waiting there.  
 
It is easy to get back and forth over the border between Belize and Mexico if you’re not a jerk. If you have a bad attitude as if to say, “Oh what are they looking into my bag for?” Or if you are bringing some stuff that you shouldn’t bring in, then of course you may have a problem.  
 
If you have residency in Belize, then to go to Mexico, you just get your passport stamped and then you go across. There could be no line or it could it be 20 or more people if a bus just pulled up. But I don’t think I’ve had waited over 20 minutes on the Belize side, ever. Then you cross over to a brand new bridge and it takes you over to the Mexican side, where they built a whole new immigration area. There you will fill out the normal paperwork you would do if you were coming into Mexico from anywhere else. Then it gets stamped and you are given 180 days’ visit. The Belize side tends to have a longer line because they tend to only have one person in the window when I’m there, so I have waited there as long as 30 minutes as the workers from the Free Zone were crossing at the same time. Sometimes, I’ve waited 5 minutes or sometimes not at all.

Within Corozal is Consejo Shores, which was developed by Mr. Bill Wildman. I refer to him as “Wild Bill” because the guy came over to Belize over 50 years ago and he definitely has the right attitude. He is around and we wish him well all the time. I just played in a golf tournament up there but it’s not much of a golf course. Consejo Shores is a large expat community next to a village called Consejo Village. Most expats live in Consejo Shores rather than living in Consejo Village. There is a lot of development planned for that area. Numerous projects have come and gone and never did anything. I know there is another proposing a golf course again, but I remain skeptical, as I cannot remember how many times I have heard it.. 
 
Right when you cross the border into Belize, you pass an area called Four Mile Lagoon, and there are some expats living in that area. Personally, I’m not a big fan lagoons, they are pretty to look at but I am not one to swim in one. I prefer to be on the open sea and enjoy the breeze. And then, of course, there is the Cerros area, which is up and coming. Not only Cerros Sands where I am living, but our neighbor Orchid Bay which is heavily promoted. Unfortunately, their prices are 3 times what we are selling properties for at Cerros Sands. 
 
There is another area, too which some expats are going, the Sarteneja fishing village, which is the furthest tip on the coast of Belize in the Corozal District on the east side. It is northwest of Ambergris Caye. The Progresso Area is home to more expats and does have a nice lagoon there. 
 
(All pictures are of Cerros Sands.  From top: Blackbeard's Beach, home being built, and our first greenhouse.)
Macarena Rose of Rainforerst Realty – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
In the country of Belize, there are expat communities everywhere. One of the reasons is that so many Belizeans moved to the US for work, got married, and their families moved back. So now,
these expats here have settled in every nook and cranny of Belize.  You can be far out in one of the jungle communities or river communities and find expats. It is amazing.
 
Predominantly, there are three areas in Belize where expats go and live: San Pedro, on the island of Ambergris Caye; San Ignacio in the Cayo District, and on the peninsula of Placencia. However, there are also expats in every other area of Belize. 
Boris Mannsfeld of Boris Mannsfeld & Associates – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Swimming pool in Belize with a woman in a lounge chair – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingThere are different towns where expats end up living in Belize. Placencia, Hopkins, and San Pedro are just some of the main areas where there are expat communities.
 
Placencia is a 16-mile long peninsula in Belize. You will see the Caribbean on one side and the lagoon on the other. On the other side of the lagoon is the mainland, and a short distance further you can see the Maya Mountains. There are lots of expats moving here permanently and others make Placencia their second homes. Some expats move to Placencia to set up businesses. There was a guy who came to my office today was looking to set up a business here. Placencia is probably the second biggest business tourist destination in Belize, so it draws more tourists.
 
San Pedro, which is on the island of Ambergris Caye, which is up North, is the number one tourist destination in Belize. I myself had come down here twenty years ago and the first trip I did to Belize was to San Pedro and I had a great time. A lot of expats have moved there, too. Again, they’ve set up second homes, they run the bars and the restaurants, etc. We have a lot of American and Canadian expats here. We are getting some more Europeans expats recently.
 
Then you have the Cayo district, within which is San Ignacio, the main town in the district. The Cayo district is in the western part of Belize on the border of Guatemala, in the mountainous area so it is cooler up there and a little more green. People want their own space in Cayo. You can live close to the river and grow organic vegetables. Some expats retire there. They are mostly Americans and Canadians and a few Europeans. People retire in Cayo because they want to live close to the jungle, they live on the river, they live off the land and become healthy. They do not lead the tourist life that the other two destinations I have mentioned have.
 
Up to the Mexican border, just below the Mexican town of Chetumal is Corozal, where you will also find some expat communities who are mostly Americans. I think one of the main reasons why people move up there is because it is cheaper to live up there. Even the land is cheaper. So Americans who don’t have the time and money can move to Belize and set up a life that is cheaper than that in the US, while being in the tropics. Across the border, in Mexico, there is a Walmart and other amenities that some Americans cannot live without. That’s why Corozal is termed the cheapest place to live in Belize for expats. The town is pretty and there is no mountain there, so it is flat. It is not the beautiful Belize that most people envision but it’s cheaper than other places in Belize.
 
Hopkins is between Placencia and Belize City and there are some expats over there. There are some new developments there, too, mainly condominium projects.

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