3 Lessons I’ve Learned After 5 Years in Belize

I originally moved from cold Cleveland, Ohio, to Placencia, Belize, five years ago. My husband and I moved down to Placencia to build a boutique hotel on the beach. Five years later, we have opened a second small hotel in San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, and we are lucky enough to split our time between both places, which are very different and offer unique benefits. (Although you’ll find most expats have a strong preference for one or the other!)

No matter where you live in Belize, there are some things that are the same. And after a solid five years here, these are the top three things I have learned:

It’s nice not keeping up with the Joneses

It is very, very freeing to get away from the materialistic values in North America. In Belize, there is almost no materialism, and people are not judged by what they own, have, drive, or wear. In fact it looks strange and out of place to see fancy cars, shoes, bags, etc.

When you meet new people in the U.S., the first question is usually “what do you do?” Here it is “where are you from?” The most socially sought-after people here are not those that have “stuff,” but people who are happy and bring good energy to those around them. There is no shopping as a pastime in Belize, and people don’t spend much money to hang out and do things together. Most social events are centered on games, music, the beach and water.

Life truly is better with eternal summer

While I love Cleveland, the weather was depressing, tiring, and drab. I was so sick of the depressing end of fall when I knew I would be hibernating all winter, and then the desperation of rainy weekends in the summer because we got so few good weeks. I wasn’t sure if I would be someone who would miss the seasons, or miss boots, pants, snow, falling leaves, etc. Not only do I not miss those things, but I could never go back to them. Life feels very different in eternal summer. We have high and low season in Belize, which is how the year is marked. The high season is busier, crazier, and very fun, and you can meet people from all over the world in the tiny town here. Low season is a time to reconnect with other residents, take it easier, and to work on maintenance to get things ready for the next high season.

It’s important to remember you’re in paradise

If, like me, you plan to come to Belize to start your own business, it can be quite easy to get wrapped up in it and forget why you moved here in the first place. In Belize, the owners are a big part of the day-to-day running of any business. If you’re not careful—and if you bring a bit of workaholism with you from home—you can find that a week or more can go by where you didn’t enjoy the very reasons you came to live in eternal summer. The happiest and most successful people we meet never say no to a boat trip, and they realize the importance of taking time to go enjoy the natural, free, never-gets-old beaches and beauty in Belize.

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