We’re both 50 years old, we live on a Caribbean island, and we love running our restaurant,” says Jackie Feldman, who—along with her husband, Adam— moved to Ambergris Caye, Belize, three years ago. “We have great friends and our family regularly visits to share our experiences. Isn’t that what so many folks dream about?”
Two years ago Duane and Judy Allen moved full-time from Tampa, Florida, to Ambergris Caye, Belize. “I always wanted to live right on the beach, but not in a condo,” says Duane. “I wanted a home, and space around me to roam. For years I scoured Florida’s coasts, looking for an affordable property. But everything was out of reach.”
Belize is a small country, with only 330,000+ residents. Ninety percent of businesses here are small or microbusinesses, making it a good place for an overseas venture. I’ve lived here full-time for six years now, and I know expats running all types of businesses. It’s surprisingly easy. For example, Frik De Meyere, owner of Belize Wind Energy and a real estate agent with Mannsfeld and Associates, says he spent 80% of his time on paperwork back in Europe. But in Belize, paperwork only takes 10% of his time.
Meeting people is often as simple as taking a trip into town. Ambergris Caye is an active community. People get involved, and they enjoy the outdoors. Any day of the week you’ll run into people walking or running on the beach, riding their bikes into town—to run errands, work in their businesses, donate time at the Saga Humane Society, or meet friends at a favorite hotspot for lunch…
Nadege Thomas lived in Toronto, Canada for 22 years. She was a successful financial planner whose business was thriving in the 1980s and 1990s. But things began to change. “I didn’t like the direction the financial planning business was taking,” she says. “Overnight people expected 125% returns.”
It’s easy to grasp why Madonna wrote her the song Isla Bonita after visiting Ambergris Caye, Belize. Wherever you are on this 25-mile long island you can lay your eyes on a stunning Caribbean seascape. And, although part of Central America, the beaches, weather, and pastel-colored island architecture all reflect that Caribbean ambiance and lifestyle.
Dianne arrived in Belize from Canada a little over three years ago. Unlike many local expats, she’s neither baby boomer nor retiree—but an energetic 40-something single who came ready for a new adventure.
In February 1999, my husband Mike and I embarked upon our first Belize adventure. We joined a small group of adventurous International Living members headed for a tour of the country. As our 10-seater turbo-prop skidded to a stop on San Pedro’s small town runway, we had no inkling how much our lives would change.