When the economy tanked in 2009, my husband, Marcos, and I decided to explore other alternatives to living in the U.S.
I had spent 25 years as a psychotherapist, a teacher, and a presenter in Santa Fe, New Mexico, while Marcos remodeled homes there. We both worked at least 40 hours per week, often did paperwork on weekends, and there was little down time. The crash forced us to reassess our priorities.
We began our search for a new kind of life in Costa Rica, Mexico, and Guatemala. However, when we thought about where we really wanted to live, we kept returning to the idea of making a home in Belize. We had spent considerable time there in the past, because my husband had family there. It was a place where we could live a slower, more affordable lifestyle.
We especially loved Ambergris Caye, Belize’s largest island, for the extraordinary beauty, gorgeous turquoise waters, and the diverse population you can find there. What sold us on a place we already knew was the richness of the culture, the convenience of having English as the spoken language, and the fact that the government is a parliamentary democracy (so the laws made sense to us). Plus, it was possible to start a business there.
With a little savings, and some income from using the internet to continue my small private practice in the States, we chose to live a simple lifestyle and put our money and energy into forming a new business.
We bought a boat, fixed it up, built a website, and created a private charter service. My husband is a boat captain and knows and loves the marine world, and I have business and cooking skills, so providing gourmet food for guests became our niche. The business has grown significantly every year since.
We’re based in San Pedro, a small, charming town on Ambergris Caye, which just happens to sit about one-and-half miles from the second-largest barrier reef in the world—making our charter service incredibly popular.
We have lived in San Pedro a little over five years now, and our new, slower pace of life has made the idea of ever returning to Santa Fe daunting. When we go back to the States to visit, we are always relieved to return to our Caribbean community and wave to our friends from our golf cart—that’s how people get around here. The maximum speed is between 15 and 20 miles per hour, so we all have lots of time to admire the brightly painted houses and the beautiful ocean views. As you might imagine, car accidents on the island are pretty much non-existent, and road rage absolutely never occurs. (The arms, however, do get a bit tired from waving at friends.)
San Pedro isn’t the cheapest place in Belize, but in comparison to the U.S., everything here is excellent value. We pay $1,000 to rent a lovely apartment on a beautiful canal, and our food budget is about $400 per month. All utilities, medical, and dental costs are about one-third of what they were in Santa Fe. We eat dinner out with wine for about $30 to $45 for two. Lunch is as low as $12 each for wonderful local food. Golf carts use very little gas, so that is not any expense at all, and insurance for the cart runs about $40 a year. We are able to live on as little as $3,000 per month; whereas in the U.S. we spent at least $8,000 per month.
With our income from our private charter business, and my therapy practice, we can live in complete comfort. Our life here is much more relaxed, enjoyable, and authentic.
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