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Hannah Weber – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Belizean farmer, Belize – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingHow people treat you depends on how you are as a person. If you like to interact with Belizeans, they really appreciate that. If you behave like a snobby expat and tell people that you are from North America or Europe and that you know more than they do, then it will be very hard for you to make friends because nobody likes that kind of attitude.
 
Belizeans are very friendly in general. I have the feeling that it is harder to socialize with them because a lot of Belizeans see expats come and go and so I have a feeling that they look at you and think, “Hey, I don’t know how long you’re going to stay here so why should I be friends with you…” 
 
How you are treated in Belize also depends on what kind of life you intend to live here. The average income of a Belizean is around $700 to $750 Belize (US $350 to $375) per month, so you can imagine what kind of houses these people live in. If you are an expat who has an income of $4,000 Belize (US $2,000) a month and you invite them to come to your place, they wouldn’t be comfortable and vice versa. So I think, on that level, it is a bit difficult to socialize with them. But in general, if you are not a snobby expat, you will be treated friendly and with respect. There is no resentment towards expats in general in Cayo.
 
(Man tending to corn, Belize, pictured.)
Virginia Krohn of Villa Cayo Belize – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Children in San Ignacio, Cayo District, Belize – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingExpats are treated very well in Cayo with no racial tension anywhere in Belize. In the States if a big black man came up to me I might be afraid but here I don't even notice they are black.  All I see is that big smile.  This country is multi-cultural and everybody lives harmoniously because we all respect and appreciate each other’s religion and culture. We enjoy each other’s foods and customs enriching each other's lives.  By providing jobs for the locals we create a symbiotic relationship.  
 
Expats form great friendships with the local Belizeans. For me, I tend to socialize and be more comfortable with Belizeans who are from my own socio-economic group.  Not all Belizeans are poor working class.  Some are educated business people, fun loving and some are quite wealthy.
 
(Pictured: children in San Ignacio, Cayo District, Belize.)
Wilana Oldham of Hot Mama's Belize Limited – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Creole- speaking expat, Howard Oldham in black cowboy hat with wife Wilana in black lace top, pictured at US embassy party in Belize, – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingIf you have white skin and you are in the Cayo District, they are going to want you to pay more. The Belizeans here think that if you have white skin, regardless of where you are from, that you are very wealthy.
 
What my husband, Howard, has found is that learning to speak a little Creole makes you somehow part of the country of Belize but I might be saying this wrong and don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings nor step on anyone’s toes. People here in Belize are nice, in general. If you treat them nicely, they will do the same thing for you but there is still that little thing where because of your skin color, which is white, then it means you have a lot of money so they are expecting you to foot the bill all the time. You just have to tell them that you might have money but you do not want to spend it that way. Just speak up and tell them how you feel. It’s not about being American but it’s that you are not from here in Belize so automatically, some people might think that you have money because you are from another country.
 
It’s not that they treat foreigners badly but sometimes they don’t seem to know better. The Belizean dream is to have enough money and move to the US because the US, for them, is the land of milk and honey and paved with gold. To them, the US is a land of opportunities. So anybody who comes from anywhere else, they think that you have a lot because you come from a country that has a lot. However, this is changing a lot because with more access to the internet and television, people in Belize are starting to see and think a little bit differently because they realize that everybody is the same there and here. It is just a different environment.
 
In general, I don’t think Americans are treated any differently than someone from Guatemala, El Salvador, the UK, or from Europe, or Kenya. I couldn’t say that Belizeans are 100% welcoming to foreigners because there are some people who are resentful simply because that is the way they are but as a whole, Belizeans are open, friendly, and helpful. If you are lost, and you stop somewhere to ask for help, they will go out of their way to help you. They might even tell you to take them along and they will show you exactly where you are going!
 
Some Belizeans speak Creole, which is sort of a bad form of English. It is not difficult to learn.  You just have to listen carefully and understand that we don’t pronounce the “th” and some letters are dropped off from the front or the back of a word. So as an example, instead of saying “the”, you say, “da.” Very quickly, you would learn to understand what anybody speaking Creole is saying. It’s not difficult at all.
 
(Creole- speaking expat, Howard Oldham in black cowboy hat with wife Wilana in black lace top, pictured at US embassy party in Belize, pictured.)
Jonathan Lohr of Ceiba Realty Ltd. – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
one acre of land starting at $15,000, Cayo, Belize – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingOne of the nice things about the San Ignacio and the Cayo area in Belize is that it has a very diverse population. We do not have a predominant ethnic group. It is very, very diverse and there are a lot of expats here, too. It is very easy to come here to Belize, fit in, make friends, and locals generally welcome expats and visitors.
 
There may be some resentment between the haves and the have-nots but it is nothing that is out of the norm. There is a mixing of people here. When I was growing up, there weren’t very many expats here and so being that I am light-skinned it was a little bit difficult because I stood out. Nowadays, there are a lot of expats here so light-skinned people do not stand out that much anymore and they are accepted.
 
I had no problems growing up. I was accepted but it feels different that I was the only one who stood out. It’s not like that anymore. The expats here in San Ignacio, generally, fit in very well. They have friends and most of them have businesses like restaurants, coffee shops, and some of them do construction, real estate, and a lot of them are retirees.
 
Generally speaking, it is easy to get a work permit here in Belize. If you want to start a business, they won’t mind giving you a work permit because the Belizean government wants you to hire people once you get a permit. But if you are getting into something that they feel is going to compete with the locals, it is not as easy to get a work permit because they don’t encourage people to come and compete for the scarce jobs. They want people to come and create jobs.
 
Cayo is not an extremely wealthy area, so you will not see a lot of wealthy expats here. Cayo is one of the more affordable places to come so people who come here are the ones who are on a budget or the ones who are looking for a second home. That distinguishes the expats here from the expats in the more touristy areas such as Placencia. Out there in Placencia, the cost to get a condo is around US $500,000 while here in San Ignacio, you could get a cabin-style house for $200,000.
 
The type of expats that we have here are the ones who often are looking for a more affordable lifestyle than what they have in the US. San Ignacio is known to be one of the more affordable places to live in Belize. A lot of the people here are looking for a cheaper and more affordable lifestyle. 
 
(one acre of land starting at $15,000, outside of downtown San Ignacio, Cayo District, Belize, pictured.)

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