After nearly four years living in San Pedro town on the tropical island of Ambergris Caye in Belize, I still wake up every morning to the sweet sound of birds singing and think how lucky I am.
San Pedro is a lively little town with an engaged and active expat community. My husband Marcos is a Belizean-American, so we’d visited San Pedro many times over the years. It always felt like home. We loved the sub-tropical climate and the English-speaking population with their easy smiles and laidback attitude to all aspects of life.
Everything moves at a slower, more-relaxed pace here. Getting used to it was a challenge at first, but once you adjust, life becomes a much more enjoyable, low-stress affair. For instance, even standing in line at the bank is an opportunity to catch up with friend’s lives, and make new friends. Even transport moves at a slower pace—with golf carts being the main mode of transport on the island. Driving your golf cart at a top speed of 15 mph is the perfect way to enjoy the breathtaking island scenery.
Some folks come here to retire, in large part due to stellar immigration program—the Qualified Retirement Program. The QRP provides official residency and tax-free entry of household goods, a car, a boat, and even an airplane. Anyone over 45 is eligible and it also covers spouses and dependent children. People who choose to enter this program may not work in Belize, and must be able to show a monthly income of $2,000 from investments or pensions.
We are eligible for the QRP, but we’re not ready to retire yet. We both love the water—though we lived in the high desert of New Mexico for many years—so we bought a boat and formed a small tour company. We offer private charters to families and groups and still can’t believe that we’re able to earn an income doing something we love. In our second full season of operation, we are making a decent profit and coming up with new ideas every day.
We live in an apartment on the sunset side of the island. It is comfortable and has a large kitchen, a veranda, and a yard with orchids and almond trees. We pay $1,000 for rent and the utilities are tiny compared to those back home. I grow my own herbs here, and trade them for the fruits and vegetables that friends grow on their properties.
A hub of expat activity, San Pedro always has plenty of fun activities and events to participate in. Last weekend was the lighted boat parade, we have a Lobster festival each year and there are farmer’s markets nearly every weekend that we enjoy going to.
We are living a happy and productive life in San Pedro. There are always new experiences around the bend and we have the freedom to be creative and try new ideas. It feels adventurous but also safe.
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