The only thing Doran Yount and his wife Kim regret about their move to Belize is that they didn’t do it 30 years earlier. “We could never have afforded our beautiful home on the beach in the U.S. or on any island. But here, it’s truly affordable,” says Doran.
As a native of Miami, Doran knew that he had salt in his veins. “Both my wife and I wanted to retire as close to the ocean as we could,” he says. “And sure, you’ll find ocean in Miami. But we disliked how congested the city was becoming. We wanted to take a deep breath. We were weary of the rat race.
“In 2004 we’d looked at property in Belize and decided to let the euphoria settle down while we really thought it out. But then a day came when it took me two hours to go 60 miles on the Florida Turnpike and cost me $13 in tolls. That was the final straw. I had it. That was the turning point. I called Kim and told her to contact the real estate agent.”
Three months later, Doran was on a plane from Miami to Belize with two chainsaws, a suitcase, and a plan. He was ready to clear the land where they would build their new tropical retreat. “I arrived first to build the cottage, which was eventually to become our guest house. Kim followed me in February 2006 with our five dogs and six cats, ready to begin our new adventure in life.”
Having fallen in love with the warm climate, the friendly people, and the less expensive lifestyle in Belize, the two reflect on their old life back home: “The U.S. mentality was, ‘If you don’t have credit, you’re worthless. If you’re not in debt to everyone, you’re worthless.’ We worked harder every year and only got further behind.”
“Here, you pay as you go. Millionaires and poor people live in wooden houses right next to each other,” says Doran.
Unlike south Florida, traffic in Placencia consists of three cars in the middle of the pastel-painted town. When they want to leave Placencia for the day, they pay no tolls and often feel as if their car is the only one on the wide-open road. Mountains in the far-off distance are often ringed in a purple mist. Air fresher than any they could get in Miami blows in their windows.
The salt-blooded Doran has his sea life with none of the stress. The Placencia Peninsula is a sliver of land reaching south along the coastline. Pristine sailboats glide through the turquoise waters alongside local fishing boats.
Fresh seafood is available year-round, as are healthy fruits and vegetables…and at a fraction of what the couple was used to paying. Another of Placencia’s many charms is its year-round temperature of 84 F— which for Doran and Kim is near-perfect.
The two didn’t even bother installing air-conditioning. Instead, they designed their home for maximum air-flow and use the ocean breezes to cool them. “We only have a small amount invested in our multi-level house, with a pool and a guest cottage,” Doran says. “Sometimes I just sit on my dock looking back at the house, and stare in amazement of where we live and what we have built for the small amount of money we have in this property.
“We still pinch ourselves,” Doran says. “Here we live richer for less. Even our property taxes are cheaper, at only $18 a year!” Typical U.S. foods can be expensive, so the Younts eat as locally as possible. Garbage pick-up twice weekly only sets them back $13.50 a month, while their Internet is only $26 a month.
As the Younts walk down the streets of their new hometown, they pass expats and local Belizeans alike. Everyone speaks English. Everyone is friendly.
Most evenings find Doran sitting at his desk in front of open windows. He faces his beloved sea, which is only 175 feet away, and lifts his face to the cooling, salty breeze. “I often think of my friends in the U.S. and Canada who are busy running their furnaces to the max and shoveling snow. Here I am in shorts and a tee-shirt, watching the moon rise,” he says.
“We love it here. We are home with the ocean, palm trees, pool, and all of it so affordable,” Doran says. “We have freedom. It just doesn’t get any better than this.”