Living on 60% Less, and Annual Property Tax of $50, in Belize

“I used to watch the sun set on the Empire State Building. Now I watch the sunrise over the Caribbean, on the bay of Corozal,” says Nancy Naftchi-Medoro, 46. For Nancy and her husband Tony, 68, the move has changed their lives for the better.

“We don’t have stress like we used to,” says Nancy. “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.

“I love New York City. It’s my hometown. I love her charm and her quirks. But Belize stands on her own, mesmerizing you with the moonlight and stars on quiet nights, while palm trees sway in the breeze.”

It also helps that the Corozal District is far more affordable than New York. It’s among the lowest-cost regions to live in Belize. Many expats in this area can live on their Social Security income.

In Consejo Shores, the quiet, bayside neighborhood Nancy and Tony call home, a couple who own their home can live well on around $1,600 a month (a couple renting can do it for around $2,200).

The Medoros estimate that they spend 60% less to live in Consejo Shores than they were spending in New York. “I stretch my dollar by buying local,” says Nancy. “Flour here is 40% less than New York. Yogurt is 50% to 60% less. And avocados are 30% to 50% less. But you can also grow them—as well as bananas, papaya, and many other fruits and vegetables—in your own yard.”

But a few cost differences really stand out. The Medoros seldom pay for water (homes in the community collect rainwater in a storage cistern). And they pay less than $50 a year for property taxes. They also appreciate the town’s proximity to the Mexican border, which makes it easy to enjoy amenities and certain foods they couldn’t otherwise get. You can satisfy any food craving at the mall in Chetumal, Mexico, 10 minutes away by boat.

Consejo Shores is a tranquil, attractive bedroom community seven miles north of Corozal Town. It’s one of the longest-established North American expat communities in Belize; expats started building here over 35 years ago. Situated on the Bay of Chetumal, it offers appealing water views on the private coastline. From the north part of Consejo Shores, you can see Chetumal just across the bay. The well-manicured community is peppered with green parks. It also has a nine-hole golf course where Tony regularly plays.

Consejo Shore’s tightknit community really appealed to the Medoros. Everyone knows their neighbors and there are plenty of opportunities to socialize.

“It’s like the U.S. used to be, when we knew our neighbors and they’d stop by unannounced,” says Nancy. “Since moving here, we take turns inviting our neighbors for brunches and dinners, especially on the holidays. My neighbors checked in on me when my husband was in the U.S. There is an extended-family atmosphere, and a neighborhood watch, too. You just can’t beat that. I have more close friends here than I have ever had in my whole life.”

As with any move, there was an adjustment period. “When you first come here, you find you have a lot of extra time on your hands, so you may take naps, stare at the flora and fauna, and get to know the neighbors. But that gets old fast. You have to be able to keep yourself occupied, entertained, and connected with friends and family. For instance, I have been able to better my skills at cooking. Tony keeps busy watching football and movies and building model ships.”

The couple knew they’d enjoy living by the sea. Before Tony retired from the New York Police Department six years ago, they checked out Panama, Costa Rica, and Belize. When they visited Belize, they knew they’d found their new home. And the fact that it’s English-speaking helped seal the deal.

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