Enjoying a Laidback Income in a Caribbean Paradise - International Living

When I'm back home in the States, I'm often asked why I moved to Belize. It's not a difficult question to answer...but with all the things I love about living here, the answer can be a long one.

Belize is a peaceful country where English is spoken, the cost of living is low, and the dollar is accepted everywhere. But there's so much more to this paradise to love.

Just south of Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula, the country boasts a jaw-dropping Caribbean coast that runs the length of the country. In the beach town of Placencia, where we live, the ocean is a sparkling turquoise and the beaches are pristine stretches of white sand, with brilliant green palm trees as far as the eye can see. And, with temperatures in the 80s F all year long, there are plenty of opportunities to enjoy it.

Just a short car ride from Placencia, you'll find some spectacular hiking spots, bird watching, mountains, rivers, tropical forests, Mayan ruins, and much more. My husband, Dave, and I love walking through town, and stopping for a seaweed shake from Brewed Awakenings, right in the village. Last week, we enjoyed a tranquil two-hour walk around the peninsula. All the beachfront is public, and you'll pass by by charming guesthouses, luxury homes, rustic resorts, beachfront bars, stretches of untouched natural beach, and wildlife like tropical birds and huge iguanas.

If you're a food lover, Placencia won't disappoint, with more than a dozen first-rate restaurants right in the village. There are plenty of places such as Wendy's or Cozy Corner, where you can get a four-star meal for less than $15, and they'll even cook your fresh-caught fish for you. High-end dining can be found at Rumfish, where the prices are in line with a mid-priced seafood restaurant in the U.S.—but the experience of dining on a balcony over the Caribbean can't be beaten.

When we arrived three years ago, we knew we'd need an income to fund our lifestyle here. We purchased a rustic piece of land with three fixer-up cabanas on the property. Over time we've added three more suites to the property and renovated the original cabanas. Higher-end suites like these are few and far between in Belize, which still has a rustic charm. As such, we were able to double the per-night price from when we bought the property, and our revenue has allowed us to live comfortably in Belize.

Although some luxury items can be tough to find, and expensive, everyday living is much less than the U.S. Our grocery bill is 60% of what it was in the U.S., thanks to the local farmers' markets, with fresh produce and chicken from the organic Mennonite farms in Cayo.

Placencia used to be a well-kept secret, but more and more expats are discovering everything this Caribbean paradise has to offer. It's so easy to get to—only a couple of hours from Houston or Miami—and more non-stop flights are going there every year. Today, there are still a lot of land and homes that can be purchased for much less than you can find anywhere in the U.S., which is a big factor in why we picked Placencia...but that's just one of the many reasons of course. We have a peaceful, healthy, low-stress life that we could only have dreamed of back in the States—and that's the real reason we love living here.

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