The best reasons to retire in Belize would be the lack of stress, good neighbors, good weather, no heat bills, and the fun-loving community unlike anything I have ever experienced anywhere, and I am pretty widely traveled. That would be my top five best reasons. And definitively, for those coming down here, it is a much lower cost of living.
Yes, it’s funny because I get questions like, “Do you have central air?” I say, “No, we don’t have central air because we have no heating systems.” In order to have a central air unit, you have to have heating ducts and down here, we don’t build houses that way. In Michigan, where I came from, we used to catch a little bit of a break. We pay higher gas bills in the winter and the electric bills kind of drop back in summer, so it is a little less financially painful in the summer. I understand from people coming down on a regular basis that this is no longer the case and there is no more significant “recovery period” during the summer months. Now, it is just a standard drum beat of high bills. You pay the high heating bills in winter and now you pay the high electric bills in summer.
Down here in Belize, I have not turned my AC unit on at all since October so the electric that I am paying right now is just my average amount for the house, the clocks, the fridges, TV, etc. We have nonexistent bills for heating and very low electric bills.
My community is primarily expats. We do have Belizeans here. Those Belizeans who reside around us typically went to the States and made their fortune and then decided to repatriate.
We have people from Scotland and from Britain, Belgium, and Germany. We have people from all over the globe who have chosen Belize for a lot of reasons. Belize is unlike anything that you would think of at home. We have a very small community where everyone knows everyone. Everyone recognizes everyone’s car. You go out, you walk your dog, you ride your bike, people stop you, and they chat. It’s just a wonderful place to be.
When we go back to everything in America, it is all about “right now, right now, right now, got to have it right now.” When you first come to Belize, you struggle with that because it is a whole different mindset here and pretty soon you start to step back from that ledge a little bit and you find out that it really doesn’t matter if something does not get done right now. Unless there is a fire, “right now” doesn’t count.
When you learn to do that, everything evens out. We always laugh when new people come down to Belize and say, “I called the plumber and he said he’d be here on Tuesday.” The first question out of my mouth is, “Did you ask him Tuesday of what week?” You definitely learn to live with it.
Most of us live in more rural communities. I live six miles outside the town of Corozal. Most of us collect rainwater. We were "green" down here before it was even fashionable. In my particular instance, in my own home, the water storage is 22,500 gallons and that is in a system that is under the floor of my garage. When it rains, I collect rain water so I have no water bill.
On the other hand, a lot of folks are not comfortable drinking or cooking or utilizing system water for anything other than showers or laundry and they want drinking water. In our community, there is truck that comes down every Thursday that brings several things such as the local beer, the Coke products, and they bring water in 5 gallon bottles. All you have to do is put your bottles out on the curb and Mr. Felipe and company brings it back right into your house and pours it right where you want it. Water is US $1.50 for a 5-gallon jug. Coke is $19 Belize (US $9.50) a case.
Mr. Felipe doesn’t deliver ice cream. That would be another man who brings wonderful US ice cream that he imports from the States. The ice cream he brings is a little pricey here in Belize. However, if you want frozen yogurt, a Snickers bar, or you want a one-gallon tub of ice cream, it all comes to your door. It is $42 Belize for one gallon of ice cream, which translates to US $20.50, but that is for a gallon. So if you were buying two half gallons of Briar’s, I think in the States they run about $8 for a half gallon, or $16 for a whole gallon. So, we pay slightly more for ice cream.
Generally speaking, whether you are in Placencia or Ambergris Caye, the weather here in Belize is great, compared to the snow and the blow of especially the northern quadrant of the States going all the way across. In Belize, you will never see another snowflake other than on TV. And when people ask me frequently, “Don’t you miss the change of seasons?” I say, “No. I don’t.” If I want to be reminded of why I came here all I need to do is turn on the TV and watch the snowstorms, especially this last year. It made me very happy that I was here.
(Top picture: Picnic at Consejo Shores, Corozol, Belize.)