The standard of living in the Cayo District is good.
In the US, having amenities is a big thing and convenience is really big. Being able to go shopping 24/7 in the US is what it’s all about. It is not that way here in Belize. The stores here open at a certain hour and close for lunch, open back up at around 1 PM, then they close at around 5 PM. So being able to shop until 9 PM is not going to happen. Being able to say, “I’ll just go down the street to pick up something…” is not going to happen but it is getting better.
The conveniences are just not there, which is a huge difference compared to living in the US. People might say that we live in a Third World country. Yes, that is true but I have all the conveniences that I want available to me. I have just as good TV channels as there are in the US. I have whatever I want to watch on TV. I have Internet, so I can go online and have anything I want shipped to me and it’s no big deal. There are several different ways that you can get what you want shipped here in Belize and they get here in just a short period of time. So I don’t miss all the stores that are in the US because I can just go online and order whatever what I want and get it here within in a week.
So the standard of living in the Cayo District really all depends on you and how you want to live and that is what you need to make it. Our house is fully air-conditioned. Not everybody’s house here in Belize is air-conditioned. Although some have air-conditioning in their bedrooms but not everybody has central air-conditioning and it’s not a big deal. We have a couple of vehicles and we need a couple of vehicles but not everybody has vehicles here and that is okay. We have a fenced yard and we have a dog and not everybody might have that so it really all depends on what you want. You can have it all if you want to have it all. In a nutshell, your standard of living here in Belize depends on how you want to live and what things you want. If you want a simple life, you can have it. If you want to have an elaborate life, you can have it. You are just not going to have the ability to run to the mall in a minute or do a lot of shopping. Maybe you have to go to two or three stores just to find everything that you need but then you learn how to do that.
I think that the lifestyle and the needs that are available to me here are probably better than what I would have in the US because in the US, I would probably live in a subdivision and I would have neighbors that are all around me and I couldn’t play my music very loud because we would have some neighbor who doesn’t like the kind of music that I’m playing or it’s too loud and they would complain. I don’t have to deal with any of that here in Belize because basically, nobody cares.
One of the good things about living here in Belize is that we don’t have a rush hour. There are laws in place but there are not a lot of laws. If you learn what the laws are, then you won’t break them.
Belize might be a little bit backwards and a little bit slow. Sometimes, when you are dealing with the government, it could be frustrating because they are on a different timetable than you are but besides all that, it’s slower, better, the people here are very nice and you get to know everybody. So it’s a clearer way to live life. I don’t have any complaints. The shopping may be missing here in Belize but I am not really into shopping anyway, so I don’t miss that. If you are an individual who needs to be shopping all the time, then you would have a little bit of an issue here because there is no shopping.
For families who have kids who are in their early teens and older, it might be a little bit more difficult because there is not a lot of culture like what you would have in the US. My daughter-in-law lives in the US and has two kids. Their lives are so jammed that when we go to visit them, we only get to see them for dinner because they are all on the go. From the moment they wake up until when they go to bed at night, they are always on the go. The kids have softball, baseball, volleyball, etc. They are so full of activities. It’s a little bit different here in Belize.
In Belize, there are events but there are not a lot of cultural events. Some people look for ballet or going to the opera, or plays that you could go to every week but there is not a lot of that here so you have to find things to keep your kids busy. If you are retiring you might not want to be doing these kinds of things, anyway. As for us, Howard and I go to Guatemala to spend a weekend and to visit and do some nice things there. Guatemala is about an hour and a half drive and we go to Flores, which is a little island that sits on a lagoon. They have great food and activities. We have some friends there who we hang out and spend the weekend with. Then we drive back and it’s great.
Sometimes we go to the north of Belize and go over the border to Mexico, where they have Sam’s Club, Wal-Mart, and Burger King. So if you need those kinds of things, you can go to Chetumal, which is a city in Mexico across the border from Belize with roughly 450,000 people (which is more than the entire population of Belize!). You can spend a weekend there to do all that you want to do such as shopping.
Another thing we do on our weekends is take time to go to the beach and dip our feet in the salt water. We go fishing. I love fishing! There are so many different types of fishing here in Belize. We go to the north and go river fishing, which is different than going fishing in the sea. Sometimes we go fly fishing, which is different than spin casting.
We also like meeting up with friends. We were in Hopkins (on the coast of Belize, about half way between Placencia and Belize City) recently and lo and behold, a whole bunch of our friends showed up, too. It was great that we had a party that was not planned, but it happened that way.
(Friends of Howard and Wilana Oldham on a dock in Hopkins Caye, Belize, pictured.)