Corozal, on the northern edge of Belize, has captured the hearts of the 1,000 or so North American expats who call it home.
One of them is Angi Eurton, 46. “I was in the States for three weeks recently, and I was homesick for Corozal. We just love everything here,” she says, referring to the close-knit community, low cost of living, and Caribbean climate and lifestyle.
Angi’s lived in Corozal for a year-and-a-half with her husband, John, 39. Both are retired from the U.S. Navy—he was an F-14 fighter aviation electrician and air-traffic controller and she was a corpsman.
“It’s extremely cheap to live here. We spend far more than we need to simply because we can. You could easily spend less than $1,500 per month and live very well. Our rent is very inexpensive,” says Angi.
“In the past year-and-a-half, we’ve taken about 15 trips. We’ve been to the islands, Cancún, San Ignacio, and the Cayo District. We’ve been all over, and we can do it because it’s so affordable,” says John.
A relatively small town (about 10,000 people) set on a grid, Corozal is mostly a collection of small shops, restaurants, and simple homes. But this is a bustling burg, with walkways and parks lining the vast, turquoise Corozal Bay. The bay gives it that Caribbean feel. Locals lounge in the shade of the town square, and in the small farmers’ market you’ll find oranges, potatoes, carrots, and succulent mangos. You can walk away with a week’s worth of fruit and vegetables, plus dry goods and any imported must-haves available at local grocery stores, for under $50.
A huge draw for many is the thriving expat community, which is very active. In Corozal it seems everybody knows everybody, and they gather regularly for cards, clubs, parties, and other gatherings. “We all hang out together, and we all take care of each other if there is a problem. We work and play together, and we all feel that is how a community should work,” says Angi.
The vibe among expats at watering holes like Jamrock, along the bay, is super laidback, anything but stuffy. It’s a place of fast friendships—everybody there has something in common, after all. Friends old and new greet each other with hugs and even a stranger with a notepad was invited to some get-togethers that evening.
And despite being tucked away in the far north of the country, residents have access to world-class health care and other services right across the border in Mexico, which is just nine miles away.
Many expats in Corozal also take advantage of the proximity to Cancún—and the comfortable and cheap bus service going there—to use the Cancún airport. Mexico’s tourist hotspot has more and lower-cost flights to many North American destinations than the Belize City airport. Savings of $300 or more per ticket are common.
Bette and Tom Saffran, both 60, moved down from North Carolina less than a year ago as part of the Qualified Retired Persons program. (The QRP program allows expats over 45 to bring in household goods and a vehicle tax-free.) The two have felt welcomed since they arrived.
Rentals are available for those who want to test-drive life in Corozal. “You can rent a two-bedroom condo on the beach—furnished—for $275 a month,” says Angi. Several expats told me about similar deals.