Wandering down the narrow, enchanting cobblestone streets of San Miguel de Allende, the peal of church bells directs me towards the town’s center of activity, the Jardin Principal (Main Garden).
The seafront widens into an expansive, soft-sand beach lined with lime green, yellow, orange, and plum-colored kiosks. They tempt you with margaritas, beers, and sweet treats. Occasionally a golf cart drives by, but most people get around on bicycles, or on foot.
Ten years ago it was mainly scuba divers, anglers and adventure travelers who knew of Belize's natural treasures. At that time few tourists could point to Belize on a map. But there's been a growing buzz about Belize for the last few years. The constant press coverage about predictions of what would happen at the end of the Maya calendar (December 21, 2012) catapulted Belize into the international spotlight. Ever since, tourism numbers have been on the rise. And a growing number of Baby Boomers are retiring there.
"Sitting on my sofa, I can look out to the Caribbean Sea and watch the water crash over the barrier reef," says Rose Alacantra. "The view from my condo connects me with nature. It helps frame my day-to-day attitude."
With its relaxed Caribbean lifestyle and spectacular beauty, Belize’s Placencia Peninsula has proven irresistible to a growing number of expats. This popular retirement and tourism destination boasts 17 miles of golden-sand beaches on the shores of the Caribbean Sea.
“We don’t have stress like we used to,” says Nancy Naftchi-Medoro. “If something doesn’t get done today, there’s tomorrow. Back in New York, the city that never sleeps, finding time to just nap was close to impossible. But now we take naps just because we feel like it.
If you’re considering Belize as a possible place to live, there are five regions where most expats settle. Each of these regions offers a somewhat different lifestyle, and the cost of living varies accordingly. In each region you’ll find at least one hub where expats gather to socialize.
Walking along Caye Caulker’s coastline, wherever you look the scenery is pleasing to the eye. Along the village’s front street, an expansive soft-sand beach extends towards the multi-hued aquamarine sea. The sea breeze ruffles the plentiful coconut palm fronds and cools your skin.
Belize is a charming little country with one foot planted in the Caribbean, the other in Central America. In addition to an abundance of natural beauty, the offshore World Heritage Mesoamerican barrier reef, and a multitude of Maya ruins, Belize offers expats an outstanding residence program for retirees. Another plus, English is the country’s primary language. For these reasons—and others—an increasing number of expats are moving to this laidback, democratic country.
Diana Moore and Tim Nutley are thrilled to be living on a Caribbean island. “Our lifestyle now is ‘chillaxed’, as people here say. We are no longer working long hours and then trying to get everything done on the weekend,” says Diana. “We like living here for simple reasons. The atmosphere is awesome. No one is in a hurry. There are no automobiles here. We get around on bikes. So there’s no polluted air or road rage.”