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Franklin Syrowatka of Better Homes Belize – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Sprouted greens on sea bass at Vanilla Hills Lodge, Cayo, Belize – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingI will start with the negative things. The worst thing for Westerners living in Cayo is that you won’t find the selection of goods that you might be used to. If you want toothpaste, you can maybe choose from five different kinds but not 50. This is the same in all aspects of shopping. Most things here in Cayo are pretty basic and restricted in a certain way. There is a lack of variety and sophistication but you do not need to suffer. If you want a nice prosciutto, you might not get it here because 80% of the goods that are available here are targeted towards the local market, and Belizeans love tortillas and not prosciutto.
 
Also you won’t find sophisticated meat products. There is good local meat here so you could have a tasty grass fed steak but the selection is by far not as broad as in the Western 1st world countries. On the other hand, if you go to Belize City or to Placencia, they cater to a large number of expats so you have a bit better selection there. This is the common issue that expat wives face here in Cayo because they are the ones in charge of shopping. If you appreciate big city shopping, you will definitely miss that in Cayo. 
 
Apart from the lack of selection of goods, another annoying thing are the roads. I am from Germany and most, if not all roads in Germany are paved. Even farm roads are paved. Here in Cayo, it’s significantly different. After the rainy season the dirt roads are in bad condition and the paved roads have dangerous potholes. So when you are driving, you really have to pay attention and be careful all the time. The roads in Cayo have improved a lot  during the last years but we are not quite there yet. 
 
The best thing about living here in Cayo are the people. They are generally friendly and helpful. But Belizeans will not let you look down on them. If you do so, they will notice it right away and react accordingly. But if you treat them nicely, they will  be most pleasant and helpful. In 31 years of driving in Germany, I never had one single flat tire. I didn’t even know you could have a flat tire. When I came to Belize, I had to learn how to change a tire because in the 5 years that I have been here, I have had seven flats. The good thing about it was that people were always there to help me. There was never a time when I was left alone. When I had car trouble there was always somebody who stopped and offered to help me. In some cases, they even ended up under my car changing the tire for me. Where else does that happen?  Belizeans are innately kind. This is just their nature and this is the most positive thing that I see in them. I didn’t  know that anybody could be as nice as Belizeans.
 
There are times when I get embarrassed on how negative we Germans often are. If you take our Western standards and compare them to the way people live here in Belize, you will find a big gap in the standard of living. People are poor, there is no health insurance or old-age pension or anything like that for most of the people. Because of that, you might think that they have all  reason to be unhappy and be afraid of the future, but they are not. Belizeans are very positive. When you meet them, they would always have a smile on their face. When you see them in the streets, they smile and greet you, and it’s just normal. Being here in Belize for a while will definitely change you. You just can’t escape it. I think, in that respect, I have changed for the better just by living here in Cayo. 
 
Another good thing about Cayo is the weather because it is never really cold or extremely hot. We sometimes have rain storms but no hurricanes or very extreme weather conditions. You don’t have to worry about what to wear every single day because every day, you could wear jeans and a t-shirt, and that is adequate. 
 
There is lots of entrepreneurial spirit here in Cayo. A couple just knocked on my gate recently that started a business a few months ago, which is called Microgreens. They grow sprouts of all kinds, which are used for cooking or decorating meals. They drive to our little lodge once a week and we buy from them. We pay around $10 to $15 worth of sprouts and they deliver to our door. They told me that demand is good and their business is going uphill since they can offer something different. 
 
If you want to start a business here in Cayo, just come up with the idea. There is not too much red tape here. Think of a business and just do it. This is one of the reasons why I initially considered leaving Germany because I find my country to be over regulated.  If you want to come to a place where you have a lot of freedom, then Belize is the place.
 
(Sprouted greens on sea bass at Vanilla Hills Lodge, Cayo, Belize, pictured.)
Roberto Harrison of Chaa Creek – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Mick and Lucy Fleming 1977, Belize – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingOne of the best things that you would enjoy in Cayo if you were planning to retire is the peace of mind because of the safe communities, the cost of living is mid-range, and you can be in nature, which in itself is like a healing process. Although the cost of living here in Cayo is mid-range in Central America, it is still low cost compared to the US, Canada, and Europe. Belize is also more affordable compared to other countries in Central America. 
 
Many of the expats here in Cayo come from the big cities or what we call “concrete jungles” and I guess that is the reason why they do not want to live in town. Instead, they usually choose to live in the outskirts of town or in the rural areas. Another good thing about living here in Cayo is that you eat healthy because most of the food here are organic and is available at a competitive price.
 
The worst things about living here is that you might not be able to get the things that you are used to getting if you are coming from a First World country. As an example, we don’t have buses with air-conditioning. Our stores are well-kept, however, I noticed that many expats are used to certain brands, which are not available here in Belize. If you are moving to another country, you might encounter these kinds of difficulties. I know some expats for example, who could not fine their favorite can of some ingredient in order to make turkey for Thanksgiving.
 
(Founders Mick and Lucy Fleming  in 1977 and 30 years later still at Chaa Creek, Cayo District, Belize, pictured.)
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John Acott of RE/MAX Belize Property Center – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Placencia, Belize Seaspray Hotel – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingHere are some of the best things about living in the Cayo District in Belize:
  • The lack of mosquitoes and sand flies.
  • The lower density of gringos.  I’m not being rude, because “gringo” is not a bad word here. On the Cayes and Placencia, there are so many gringos living in a small area. Here we have thousands of them and they are everywhere, but they are spread out
  • The lifestyle here in Cayo is nice and easygoing.
  • It’s far cheaper here to live than in the Cayes and Placencia. The 3 main areas where the expats are driven to in Belize are Ambergris Caye or San Pedro, Placencia, and Cayo, which is why I use the other two as reference. It’s far cheaper living here – far cheaper property and cheaper to live. 
  • Cayo has nice restaurants, and plenty of things to do.  There are tourist things to do here as well. 
  • If you like traveling, you can drive to Guatemala, Honduras, and Salvador easily from San Ignacio. I drive to Cancun 3 times a year for 3 to 4 days to take a break.
  • The sea is an hour and a half to Belize City and two and a half hours to Placencia. 
  • Given that we are about 70 – 80 miles inland, if there’s a hurricane at the coast, we are only affected in a minor way.
Regarding the worst things about living in Cayo, I can’t think of any bad thing living here compared to other areas in Belize. I get most of the things I want. Sometimes I go to Belize City to buy something I can’t get here, which is probably the main bad thing about living here.  There are bigger stores in Belize City. Belize City has close to a third of population of Belize. I won’t live anywhere else other than Cayo, and I can say that after being to over 20 countries.
 
(Seaspray Hotel, holiday lodging in the center of Placencia, Belize, pictured.)
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Jonathan Lohr of Ceiba Realty Ltd. – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
River in Cayo District, Belize – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingAmong best things about living here in the Cayo District / San Ignacio in Belize is the cheaper cost of living. In addition, the people here are very friendly and there are lots of things to do because within just a short driving distance, you will get to waterfalls, Mayan ruins, caves, and a lot of other great activities. During weekends, you can just take a drive and you will end up in several nice places. There is lots of hiking, restaurants, and other places to go. There are a lot of good resorts in the vicinity, so therefore, there are more activities to do. You can go out for dinner. 
 
San Ignacio (the main city in the Cayo District) is just two hours away from the beach and 30 minutes away from Guatemala. This area of Guatemala has a Maya site which is an hour driving from San Ignacio, and which is a major site that rivals the Caracol Maya Site in Belize. A lot of people who come here and are interested in Mayan sites go there. You also have a Mayan town, which is on a little island in the middle of Petenitza Lake, which rivals the Tikao Maya site.
 
Belize City, which is a major commercial center, is also just an hour and a half away from San Ignacio, so San Ignacio and the Cayo District are very strategically located. It is also much safer in San Ignacio when there is a hurricane than it is in the coastal areas. Most people evacuate from the coast to San Ignacio when there is a hurricane. 
 
The river that runs through the middle of San Ignacio that divides the town in half is called the Macal River. A mile north the Macal River joins with another river to form the Belize River in an area called Branch Mouth River. There are some pretty well-known caves in Cayo like the Chechemha Caves, which are about a 30 minute drive from San Ignacio, where they are known for their Mayan pots. There are also pots and altars inside that show that there has been a lot of Mayan activity in this area. Then the Rio Frio Cave is up in the Pine Ridge Mountains and has a river that runs right through so you can walk through the cave. It’s very big and a very beautiful cave.
 
The closest beach you could get to from San Ignacio would be around Belize City. Hopkins also has nice beaches that are about two hours away from San Ignacio by car. 
 
In my opinion, the worst thing about living in San Ignacio is the road that connects San Ignacio to Belmopan, the capital city of Belize. It is not in the best condition. It is paved but it has a lot of speed bumps and it's narrow.
 
Another worst thing about living in San Ignacio is that you cannot get everything that you are used to getting back home. When you are at the grocery store, your selection is limited. There is no wide selection of cereal or coffee, which people in North America are used to.
 
The other thing that is bad about Belize is the Internet connection. It is expensive and it’s not high quality. 

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