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Virginia Krohn of Villa Cayo Belize – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
(ambergris caye – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingIt doesn’t matter what part of Belize you’re going to move to, it’s difficult. The roads are rough in a lot of areas on the mainland and there are extra considerations if you are moving to an island. To try to get any paperwork done it is just mind blowing how complicated it can be. Sometimes there are no rules, then there are new rules, and then there are rules that are just for you.
 
As an example, it could happen that you would put in all your paperwork for your residency and submit it to the proper government office. They check the application and your paperwork and they would tell you it is fine. Then you might go back in 3 months to make sure that your application is still being processed and you’ll find out that it’s piled on somebody’s desk and nothing has been done. Then you go back in 6 months and they’d tell you.... we really need you to redo this application and make sure all of these forms are certified originals.  You could tell them that you did it 6 months ago and you were told that everything was fine and that you shouldn’t have to redo anything but no matter what you do, just keep your cool and redo it. Sometimes it is worth it to pay a lawyer, a connected Belizean or an experienced expat that knows all the right people.  It’s quicker, it’s easier, and in the long run, you’re not going to spend any more money. 
 
For us one of the biggest frustrations was when we moved to Ambergris Caye and saw how people threw garbage everywhere.  They would just be driving along and throw a bag of garbage out onto the road.  The town board did finally put garbage cans in all the different areas for their convenience and began programs in the schools to teach the kids to put their gum wrapper in the garbage and not on the ground.  Barry Bowen added more cans on the beach and finally the garbage was not an issue anymore but this took years to accomplish.
 
The best thing about moving to Belize is the immediate connection to the people.  You honestly feel they are your best friends and you want to share your experience of life with them.  They want to accept your help but on their terms.  They don't want you to turn the country of Belize into the United States.  
 
((Ambergris Caye, Belize, pictured.)
Phil Hahn of Carmelita Gardens – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
La Ruta Maya race that goes through the property of Carmelita Garden Residences, Belize – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingEach person would give a different answer to what it was like to move to Belize.  I think that everybody will say that it's an adventure--- there is unpredictability.  You can do all the research and homework that you want and think that you have everything completely lined up, sewed up, and your schedule is set, but be you should be prepared for the unexpected.  It doesn't matter how many times you've done this, there's always a “next one” that you didn't see coming.
 
It's not always just Belize.  It is a strange time that we live in now. There's the unpredictability of the place you're leaving as well as where you’re going.  You think you've got it all perfectly set up and ready to go, I'm going to arrive in Belize and this is what is going to happen.  My goods are going to be shipped from Miami on such a day, and it will arrive on the port of Belize on such and such a day, and then things are all hung up in Miami. 
 
In moving to Belize, and probably this is going to apply to just about anywhere, be prepared for the unexpected.  But upon arriving in Belize and actually settling in and all that, the people, the locals, the people that would be your neighbors, the businesses that you patronize--- the restaurants and the stores, and all that, welcome you with wide open arms.  They are very hospitable, wonderful, generous and very welcoming.   And that to me, is the first thing that grabbed me when I came to Belize was just how generous and hospitable people were and you feel that they are genuinely happy to see you.  There is a not a superficiality to it.  A lot of people as they grow up in large metropolitan areas or places in the US, are just busy. Everybody's busy and they have something to do and there’s the sort of gratuitous “Hello how are the kids?” In contrast, here in Belize it's genuine. They look deep into your eyes and ask, "How are you doing? How are the kids and the family?"  They have some time to sit down and talk.  It's genuine and it's refreshing.
 
(La Ruta Maya race that goes through the property of Carmelita Garden Residences, Belize, pictured.)
 
 
 
Ryan Wrobel of Wrobel & Co., Attorneys-at-Law – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Menonite farmers in Belize – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingThe initial stages of moving to Belize can be a big change depending on where you come from and what your experiences have been. For me, personally, I had been in Belize and spent significant amount of time in Belize prior to actually moving here permanently, so I kind of knew what to expect.
 
Certainly, things can be very different. Some of the things that I personally experienced during the transition of transferring from New York to Belize City has to do with the pace of life outside of the US, especially, south of the US. Talk about the manana culture in Mexico. Well, we’re south of two borders here in Belize. Things move slowly as compared to New York. You have to have patience. Patience they say it’s a virtue. You really need your patience when dealing with just how things work and how the country operates. The culture of Belize is slow paced.
 
When you’re dealing with government, maybe the funding might not be to the level where it should be or where it can be. Thus, bureaucracy is a slow moving wheel at some point. Again, you need patience. That’s one thing that I would advise somebody considering moving into Belize. Come down, check it out, and remain patient. That’s number one. Things work differently here.
 
Somebody who has a lot of experience with the developing world and in seeing how things operate outside of the US for Americans would have a far easier time adapting than somebody that maybe jumped right in and showed up in Belize who had never been outside of the US before. It’s kind of hard to put a finger on how things work differently, but they do. These differences don’t necessarily need not to be a negative; they could be a positive. One of the best things in Belize to me is I find the quality of life to be extremely high. Things move slower, but that can actually be a positive thing. I think that the stress level is slower. There’s not that frantic rush, high paced lifestyle that might exist in some of the bigger cities in the US, and that’s a good thing. It’s good for your body. It’s good for your mind.
 
The food here is very different. Why is it different? Well, there are a lot fewer pesticides. There’s a lot less chemicals that are pumped into agriculture and animal food products, which is certainly different than US and Canada and parts of Europe. It’s a different way of life that’s not necessarily bad. In fact, I consider it to be good. That’s the reason why I chose to make Belize my home, why I came here, and why I’m here after almost 12 years. It’s not for everybody. Things are different. The quality of life is high. A person who is thinking about Belize really should take an opportunity to investigate, and do their due diligence prior to jumping in.  
 
(Menonite farmers in Belize, pictured.)
Irma Quiroz-Yuque of Belize Vacation Homes – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Belize Beach – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingFor us, moving to Belize was easy. We started visiting in 2006 so every year we would come.  We started with 2 weeks then we came 3 weeks then we did a month then we finally decided to purchase land in 2009. We already had our dream in place to move to Belize. 
 
We liked it for various factors.  Of course, it was English speaking, we love to be near the water, and it was so affordable for us to buy property on the water. 
 
It was an easy move for us, and easy transition. We were able to rent a condo for a few years during our build. It did take us a while because we were learning from everybody else’s mistakes; what they were doing when they built. As a result, when we were ready to build we had almost all the knowledge beforehand.
 
Renting before you buy was a very good option for us, especially. We got to know if we’ve really liked it here, for example, if we could really take the weather—it does take time for your body to adapt. Most people will come here thinking, “Oh yes, I’m going to retire,” but they’re never been here before
 
The mosquitoes and the bugs will attack you because you’re fresh blood. It did take me about a year for my blood to adjust to everything here and for the mosquitoes not to bite me anymore.
 
We’ve been here now for 4 years and I absolutely do not regret moving here. It’s been a beautiful time, in a beautiful area. I have more friends here in Belize than I ever did in the States. In the States I knew my neighbors, but I didn’t anyone else apart from work because that’s all your do is work, work, work and when you got home, of course, you just have time for dinner, watch a little bit of TV in bed, and then back to the same old routine every day.  Here, I don’t really have to worry about work. I don’t really have to worry about anything.
 
There are a lot of groups here.  There’s Roots and Shoots, which is a garden club, so if you love gardening there’s that for you. There’s what we call WAGS group, which his Women’s Activities Gourmet Services, where once a month they go to someone’s house and they’ll have a potluck or try a new restaurant in a new area and we’ll travel there and enjoy everything— the food, the Belizean cuisine. There’s poker groups every Monday where they play Texas Hold ‘em. It’s just a different lifestyle here.
 
I enjoy my time swaying on the hammock on the front porch looking at the view of the water, listening to the birds and animals.  It’s been more of a stress-free, relaxing type of lifestyle here in Belize compared to the States. We don’t have the noise, the congestion of the freeways, of the roads close by.  It’s not as big as population so you don’t have as many cars on the roads. It’s so carefree. We’ve made many friends, including the local people. It’s just a different type of lifestyle but a very nice and natural lifestyle.  It’s healthier.  We’re happy.
 
I was afraid at first that my husband and I would clash because, in the States, we’d only see each other like at night or in the morning when we woke up, but here we’re 24/7 with each other, together all the time. I found we kind of like our own little things to do. The husband has his friends and so he’ll go golfing or go drinking beer. I’ll have my friends and sometimes we’ll go somewhere for a Tuesday lunch or we’ll go play darts on Saturdays. We have get-togethers at people’s homes. It’s been very, very nice.  
 
(Expat on the beach in Belize, pictured.)
Mark Leonard of Paradise Found Belize Real Estate and Development – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Playing horseshoes in front of Blackbeards Bar in Cerros Sands, Corozol, Belize – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingWhen I first came down to Belize, I came with a three-day travel bag. Then, the second time I came down, I came down with two suitcases. In the beginning, I was going back and forth about three or four times a year and staying for a month to 6 weeks or 8 weeks at a time. So I took what I needed down in suitcases. For somebody who is making a formal move, it really depends on what they can part with. With these trips I bought down just about everything but my boat. 
 
I still have a lot of mementos in California in a friend of mine’s office building in the basement. If you really have a lot of personal items, then of course you really have to inventory what you want to bring down and you are going to find that you are not really going to bring any furniture unless you are attached to it. If you are coming down on a retirement program, you probably want to bring stainless steel appliances with you only because, that way, you can get exactly the one you want. So you could bring appliances, the clothing you need, the mementos you want to keep. No winter clothes. I brought a hockey stick if anybody wants to hang out with me. I also have nets and smaller sticks now for some of the kids around as we are now playing sand hockey. 
 
I have a carpenter shop now so I am building all my furniture out of solid Cedar. What would sell for probably US $10,000, here, I probably have $3,500 in cost in it. It is solid, beautiful, hand crafted Cedar. So beautiful furniture is readily available here in Belize. Mahogany is very popular here as well. 
 
For electronics, between Mexico and Belize, we get Sanyo, Sony, etc., all the major brands. Belize does not manufacture anything in the way of electronics.  The manufacturing here in Belize is more in the categories like babies, beer, pineapples, and sugarcane. As there are no companies in Belize that make TVs, for instance, so import duties can be a little higher on these items.  
 
If you are in love with your cookware or your flatware, then bring them. But for most people, after their trip down to Belize, and they find what they can find, they come back and make a shorter list instead of a big large one.  
 
In back of Blackbeards Bar, Cerros Sands, Corozol, Belize – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingI got down to Belize and looked at the water and the weather and of course the people and I said, “Oh my God…” and made the decision to live there as soon as possible. It was just so nice. That was off the boat, basically, without getting to know anybody.  
 
It was not difficult at all to move to Belize. I did not experience any immigration challenges. If somebody wants to come on a Qualified Retirement Program (QRP), this allows you to bring all your personal stuff in duty free. That means a couple of cars, a boat, a plane, or really anything you own.  Then you have to do the paperwork with BTB (Belize Tourism Bureau) and apply for the QRP.  There is a little bit of work to go through that. I didn’t go through it. I didn’t need to bring anything else in. Just a boat, which is still in California. If my technician Alan sees this ... Get her ready! I paid a couple of dollars for duty on a few things, but not much at all.  
 
Couples as well as singles come down to Belize looking around at property all the time. Most  “realtors” here are not “realtors” as you would understand the term in North America or Europe.  Many of the folks down there selling real estate are not realtors, and they do not belong to any international organization such as NAR (National Association of Realtors), which I do. 
 
Dog on the beach in the shade at Blackbeards Bar, Cerros Sands, Corozol, Belize – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingI recommend you come to Belize, but before you do, do tons of homework on the web, move around the country and compare the locations you have selected. Well these days, you pretty much know what you need. I would say make a list of your needs, with medical care somewhere on the top of the list, and you are going to find that everything else falls into place. Medical care is one thing that most people keep coming back to, and if so, they are going to probably wind up going north versus south, east, or west in Belize because you have to find healthcare, since it is not everywhere. But you can definitely try all the different locations and see what fits. 
 
I have people who buy properties they haven’t seen. They looked at all the websites, they studied the weather, the breeze and the looked at transiting between Mexico and Belize. They looked up ownership of cars, insurance, and all the other questions. I recommend making a trip, and, because Belize is a small country (from here in Corozal, you can go to Placencia in one day by car if you want to), you can see how you respond to all the different factors, and then make your decision.
 
Pictured:
  • Playing horseshoes in front of Blackbeards Bar in Cerros Sands, Corozol, Belize
  • In back of Blackbeards Bar, Cerros Sands, Corozol, Belize.
  • Dog on the beach in the shade at Blackbeards Bar, Cerros Sands, Corozol, Belize
 
Kate Corrigan  of Georgetown Trust – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
San Pedro Ambergris Caye pier looking towards shore – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingI moved to Belize from just outside of London, on the Essex and Suffolk border. It was not very difficult for me to move here.
 
I don’t think, however, that Belize is for everybody; especially not island life. Personally, I did not find it very difficult at all. Where I live in Ambergris Caye is a seaside town. It is tourist driven, like where I grew up in Cornwall, and so I understand the mentality of the working people here because I grew up in it.
 
Belize is a long way from home. Facebook becomes a friend. Most people do even keep up with the island life here on Facebook. You can find all the restaurants, what’s going on, if they have special offer, and there’s notification of live music every single night through social media. It is not really hard to move away from your family because you can see every step of their lives through Facebook and through other means.  It may not be quite the same as being there, but when I was in London, I hardly saw my mom. I only saw her maybe two or three times a year for a long weekend at times, whereas now I see her for a whole month or two at one time.
 
So I guess the hardest thing to do when moving to Belize is making the decision.  After the decision was made, it was just paperwork and packing, because communication and keeping in touch with family and friends is really not that hard once you get around it. I see families still connecting with their families here on vacation, with their iPhones in the hot spots in town, just saying, “Hey dad! How are you doin’?” and all the grandchildren are around and they have the ocean behind them, so you’re never ever far away than a phone call.

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